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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Oral Ethos of the Early Church: Speaking, Writing, and the Gospel of Mark
Dewey, Joanna

Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013 pp. xviii + 204. $24.00

Series Information
Biblical Performance Criticism


Description: To experience the gospel message as first-century people heard it is to move into an oral world, one with very little reliance on manuscripts. The essays in this book explore this oral world and the Gospel of Mark within it. They demonstrate the oral style of Mark's gospel, which suggests that it was composed orally, transmitted orally in its entirety by literate and nonliterate storytellers, and survived to become part of the canon only because it was widely known orally. Women's storytelling also thrived during the first centuries of Christianity. With the transition to manuscript authority beginning in the middle of the second century, women's voices were often minimized, trivialized, or completely omitted in written versions. Further, when the Gospel of Mark was one of four written Gospels these voices were quickly ignored. An ancient audience hearing Mark performed, however, enjoyed a vibrant experience of the gospel message and its urgent call to follow.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, Literary Approaches

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Review by Werner H. Kelber
Published 7/28/2016
Citation: Werner H. Kelber, review of Joanna Dewey, The Oral Ethos of the Early Church: Speaking, Writing, and the Gospel of Mark, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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