thread: 2007-01-04 : Self-identification vs. Membership

On 2007-01-12, Sydney Freedberg wrote:

We don't often applaud in our church—and it can break focus in the ritual if you do it often—but music and song are absolutely, absolutely essential. When my daughter was about 18 months old, she would cry out angrily "Mo singing!" whenever they stopped.

"Wundergeek" (and I'm sorry, I don't remember your real name): "Anyone who claims that the Gospels were written by their respective authors is just plain wrong.....

Yes, yes, we know. The disciples were all or mostly illiterate, the Gospels are oral tradition written down later, and—with the possible exception of the Gospel of John, which may be as early as 90 AD from what I've read—they were all written down after 100 AD, after not only the apostles they are named for had died but as the first generation of Christians was dying out altogether, and in fact [i]because[/i] they were dying. I don't think anyone in this particular discussion has ever claimed or implied anything else. There are Biblical literalists about, but not, I think, on Vincent Baker's blog.

In any case, "oral tradition" does not mean "false." Obviously there had to be distortions and errors of transmission introduced between the eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus and the original writing-down, plus copying errors and editorial insertions in the centuries since. But if people made the same sweeping judgments about the unreliability of, say, African or Amerindian oral tradition that they do about 1st century Christian tradition, they'd be pilloried as bigots. People in general are quite capable of remembering and retelling a story with a high degree of consistency about essential themes and select details if they cared intensely enough to pay attention in the first place—quick! Ask any geek to tell you the plot and select dialogue from [i]Star Wars[/i]!—and preliterate cultures are, by force of necessity, even better than people like us.


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