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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q
Mournet, Terence†C.

TŁbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005 pp. xv + 327. Ä64.00

Series Information
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 195

Description: With this work, Terence C. Mournet contributes to the ongoing discussion regarding oral tradition and the formation of the Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic studies have been marked by an excessive bias towards exclusively literary models of Synoptic interrelationships. Despite the widespread recognition that oral tradition played a significant role in the formation of the gospel tradition, the gospels are often examined as literary works apart from their relationship to oral performance. While not dismissing the use of written sources in the process of gospel composition, a study of the relationship in antiquity between oral communication and written texts leads us to re-examine any solution to the Synoptic Problem that does not take into adequate account the influence of oral tradition upon the development of the gospel tradition. Orality studies, and in particular folklore research, can help provide additional insight into the transmission of the early Jesus tradition and the formation of the Synoptic Gospels. The author examines various so-called Q pericopes in light of the folkloristic characteristics of variability and stability, and he raises questions about how we envision the form and scope of a Q text. While not discounting the assured results of literary methods of Gospel analysis, it is suggested that more serious attention be given to an oral performance model of early Christian tradition transmission.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Literature

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Review by Robert K. McIver
Published 5/10/2008
Citation: Robert K. McIver, review of Terence C. Mournet, Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2008).

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