Monday, 13 June 2016
Memory and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,
Tom Thatcher ed., SBL, 2014, page 180
Keith's third conculsion concerns the manuscript's ability to reflect identity:
One cannot physically see and touch oral tradition. Oral tradition thus cannot play the visual and aesthetic roles in reading communities - in particular in liturgical settings - that a physical manuscriot is capable of playing. Furthermore, one can craft a aterial artifect in order to reflect group identity, whereas one cannot (to state the obvious) physically shape oral tradition.
A manuscript can be decorated, put in a cover, read by candlelight and its perfomance surrounded by spoken and physical liturgy; imagine trying to do the same for an oral tradition. Notice, however, that this does not devalue personal testimony, sharing or oral delivery in their appropriate contexts.