Memory, collective memory, orality and the gospels

21 Jun 2011

This article first explores individual memory as understood from the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans to modern-day neurology and psychology. The perspective is correlated with collective memory theory in the works of Halbwachs, Connerton, Gillis, Fentress and Wickham, Olick, Schwartz, Jan and Alida Assmann and Kirk and Thatcher. The relevance of ‘orality’ is highlighted in Kelber’s works, as well as in oral poetry performance by illiterate Yugoslavian bards, as discussed in studies by Parry, Lord and Havelock. Kelber’s challenge of Bultmann’s theory of oral tradition in the gospels is also covered. The article concludes with observations and reflections, opting for a position of moderate−to−strong constructionism.