by Brett M. Rogers
University of Puget Sound
From BPC Editor: Consider the role of "the teacher" (διδάσκαλος) in the NT and the verb "to teach" (διδάσκειν)
Scholars and performers have long been familiar with a curious feature in the language of Greek drama: the technical term for the classical Greek dramatic poet-director was διδάσκαλος. The evidence for this phenomenon is widespread. In Aristophanic comedy, the chorus explicitly calls the poet-director διδάσκαλος. Various forms of epigraphic evidence (e.g., production lists, victor lists, and other choregic monuments) refer to the poet-director as διδάκαλος or indicates that he “produced” (ἐδίδασκε/ἐδίδαξε) a given drama or dramas4 . Similar in diction but later in date, several surviving hypotheses inform us that a given drama ‘“was produced’” (ἐδιδάχθη) or that a poet ‘“produced’” (ἐδίδαξε) or even ‘“reproduced’” (ἀνεδίδαξε) his tragedies or comedies. ...
None of this is curious in itself; rather, the oddity arises when we examine didaskein language from a diachronic perspective, comparing the diction for dramatic production to other occurrences of the verb didaskein and its cognates that either antedate or are contemporaneous with the development of Greek drama. In most surviving archaic and classical Greek texts, didaskein does not mean “to produce” or “to direct,” but “to teach” or “to instruct.”
(Oxford University Press, 2013)
Social memory studies offer an under-utilised lens through which to approach the texts of the Hebrew Bible. In this volume, the range of associations and symbolic values evoked by twenty-one characters representing ancestors and founders, kings, female characters, and prophets are explored by a group of international scholars. The presumed social settings when most of the books comprising the Tanak had come into existence and were being read together as an emerging authoritative corpus are the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods. It is in this context then that we can profitably explore the symbolic values and networks of meanings that biblical figures encoded for the religious community of Israel in these eras, drawing on our limited knowledge of issues and life in Yehud and Judean diasporic communities in these periods. This is the first period when scholars can plausibly try to understand the mnemonic effects of these texts, which were understood to encode the collective experience members of the community, providing them with a common identity by offering a sense of shared past while defining aspirations for the future. The introduction and the concluding essay focus on theoretical and methodological issues that arise from analysing the Hebrew Bible in the framework of memory studies. The individual character studies, as a group, provide a kaleidoscopic view of the potentialities of using a social memory approach in Biblical Studies, with the essay on Cyrus written by a classicist, in order to provide an enriching perspective on how one biblical figure was construed in Greek social memory, for comparative purposes.
A quote from Alexander V. Prokhorov, "Taking the Jews out of the Equation: Galatians 6.12-17 as a Summons to Cease Evading Persecution," JSNT 36.2 (Dec 2013) 172-188:
[In Gal 6.11] Paul explicitly demands the audience's visual attention: 'Look up: in very large characters I wrote to you with my own hand'. There is a robust consensus that the reading of this letter was an aural event. Martyn (1991:161) puts it like this:
Paul wrote Galatians in the confidence that God intended to cause a certain event to occur in the Galatian congregations when Paul's messenger read the letter aloud to them...the theology of Galatians is focused on that aural event, as it was intended and actively participated by Paul...
In this context, what does the call to visual attention in v. 11 signify? It is probably the point at which it is intended that the reader should lift up the manuscript and demonstrate some of Paul's handwriting to the audience. (pp. 173-174)
University of Illinois Press, 2012
Ancient Greek epics composed by oral poets and the hyperlinked networks of the Internet share something fundamental. According to the late John Miles Foley of the University of Missouri in his posthumously published book, Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind, both oral tradition and Internet technology involve navigating through "linked networks of potentials" (17) that, far more than the experience of reading the fixed text of a published hard copy book, replicate the actual thinking processes of the human mind. That is, oral tradition, exemplified in the Homeric poems and still carried on by, among others, Basque and Sardinian poets (33-35) who compete in oral poetry competitions, bears a striking resemblance to that most up-to-moment of technologies, the Internet with its seemingly infinite, interconnected panoply of web pages, wikis, social media sites, et alia.
Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014
The last three decades have seen an explosion of biblical scholarship on the presence and consequences of the oral expression of tradition among Jesus' followers, especially in the earliest decades of the Common Era. There is a wealth of scholarship focused on ‘orality'. This scholarship is, however, abstract and technical almost by definition, and to date no introductory discussion exists that can introduce a new generation of biblical students to the issues being discussed at higher levels of scholarship. Rafael Rodriguez address this gap.
Rodriguez adopts a fourfold structure to cover the topic, beginning with basic essentials for further discussion of oral-tradition research and definitions of key terms (the ‘what'). He then moves on to discuss the key players in this area (the ‘who') before examining the methods involved in oral-tradition research among New Testament scholars (the ‘how'). Finally Rodriguez provides examples of the ways in which oral-tradition research can bring texts into clearer focus (the ‘why'). The result is a comprehensive introduction to this key area in New Testament studies.