Social and cultural memory theory examines the ways communities and individuals reconstruct and commemorate their pasts in light of shared experiences and current social realities. Drawing on the methods of this emerging field, this volume, edited by Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher, both introduces memory theory to biblical scholars and restores the category “memory” to a preeminent position in research on Christian origins. In the process, the volume challenges current approaches to research problems in Christian origins, such as the history of the Gospel traditions, the birth of early Christian literature, ritual and ethics, and the historical Jesus. The essays, taken in aggregate, outline a comprehensive research agenda for examining the beginnings of Christianity and its literature and also propose a fundamentally revised model for the phenomenology of early Christian oral tradition, assess the impact of memory theory upon historical Jesus research, establish connections between memory dynamics and the appearance of written Gospels, and assess the relationship of early Christian commemorative activities with the cultural memory of ancient Judaism.
Alan Kirk is Associate Professor of Religion at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Tom Thatcher is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University and the author of the The Riddles of Jesus in John: A Study in Tradition and Folklore (Society of Biblical Literature)
“Kirk’s introduction provides valuable groundwork for understanding ‘memory’ as an analytical category, and these essays illustrate its impact on biblical studies. For example, Horsley comments that many scholars work ‘with a modern (mis-) understanding of memory rooted in the modern western understanding of knowledge’ (p. 63). He demonstrates how social memory studies challenge assumptions/approaches of form criticism and the Jesus Seminar. This is a volume that merits reading.” — Robert S. Dutch, Journal for the Study of the New Testament
Hardback edition available from Brill Academic Publishers (www.brill.nl)
© 2014, Society of Biblical Literature. All Rights Reserved.