I'll also take this moment to note that my SNTS presentation from this past summer, extending my thoughts in this Early Christianity article, will be appearing in Journal for the Study of the New Testament: "The Kerygmatic Narratives of the Gospels and the Historical Jesus: Current Debates, Prior Debates, and the Goal of Historical Jesus Research."
Saturday, January 2, 2016
Early Christianity 6.4: "Social Memory Theory and Gospels Research: The First Decade (Part Two)"--Chris Keith
I'm glad to say that Part Two of my article, "Social Memory Theory and Gospels Research: The First Decade," has appeared in Early Christianity 6.4: 517-42. You can access it online here. In this second part of the article, I proceed from the methodological discussions of Halbwachs, Assmann, and Schwartz in Part One to assess four issues in current Gospels scholarship: the transmission of the oral Jesus tradition; criteria of authenticity; "the new historiography" in Jesus studies; and the historical reliability of the Jesus tradition. I also take time to respond to Paul Foster's article that pronounced memory studies as a "dead end" in historical Jesus work. Readers of the blog will no doubt already know that I disagree with that statement, though I agree with Foster (and Zeb Crook) that memory theory does not, and cannot, demonstrate by itself that any tradition in the Gospels is historically reliable. I conclude that such pronouncements are always in the hands of scholars using theory, not theory itself. In other words, in the new historiography in Jesus studies, social memory theory is not a replacement for historiography proper. It is simply an approach that aids the task of historiography.