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Kenneth Bailey's Theory of Oral Tradition: Critiquing Theodore Weeden's Critique

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Author: James Dunn
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Abstract

This article is a response to the critique of Kenneth Bailey's depiction of oral tradition made by Theodore Weeden in the preceding essay. The anecdotal evidence for the thesis certainly leaves the thesis open to criticism, but Weeden's critique suffers from a resolute antipathy to Bailey's thesis; it misrepresents the point Bailey is making on several occasions, and it consistently misunderstands the way oral tradition functions, which Bailey's examples well illustrate. Bailey's theory in fact provides a better explanation for the enduring nature and format of the Synoptic Jesus tradition, its repeated character of the same yet different, than any of the alternative predominantly literary explanations.

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