The aim of this collection of essays is, at least in part, to remedy the lack of attention that studies of early Christianity have paid to recent developments, in the fields of sociology and anthropology, in the study of memory. An excellent introductory survey by Alan Kirk of recent developments in memory studies is followed by eleven essays applying some aspect of the approach to various texts or problems in the study of early Christianity, and then by responses by Werner Kelber and Barry Schwartz. While the various contributions interact in different ways with the relevant theories and models, all share an understanding of memory as a complex interaction between knowledge of the past and its appropriation in the present. Although the collection as a whole is strong, a few essays stand out: Richard Horsley’s “Prominent Patterns in the Social Memory of Jesus and Friends,” in which he locates possible continuity between Jesus and later literary traditions such as Q and Mark in general patterns of Israelite social memory; and Phillip Esler’s reading of the Israelite heroes presented in Heb 11. The insights generated by the application of memory studies to the study of early Christianity are welcome, and, as the editors suggest, long overdue.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Dupertuis, R. R. (2007). [Review of the book Memory, tradition and text: Uses of the past in early Christianity, by A. Kirk & T. Thatcher (Eds.)]. Religious Studies Review, 33, 246. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0922.2007.00204_6.x
Religious Studies Review