Wednesday, 22 June 2016
A Threefold Transition II
Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 17=18
As the Israelites hear Moshe speaking, Assmann explains what is going on - a memory making:
What the Children of Israel must not forget is, on the one hand, the law, and on the other, the story of the exodus from Egypt that has been lived through and that thereby acquires the status of a normative past. These things have been experienced by the generation of contemporary witnesses who now, after forty years in the wilderness, are about to die. To make sure that this memory does not die with them, it has to be transmuted into tradition, into the symbolic forms of cultural memory.
How is Moshe to accomplish this? He solves the problem by employig a dazzling display of elaborate memory technique.
Twice, in chapters 6 and 11, the framing text of Deuteronomy spells out the forms of this cultural memory technique that salvages memory from oblivion and elevates the experience of the exodus, revelation, and the wilderness to the status of a normative past for all future generations.