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Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity
Jonathan A. Draper
SemeiaSt 47
Publication Date
July 2004


Essays in this collection, edited by Jonathan A. Draper, explore the complex relationship between text and orality in colonial situations of antiquity from Homer, Plato, and Mithras to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and rabbinic tradition. Orality could be a deliberate decision by highly literate people who chose not to put certain things in writing, either to exercise control over the tradition or to preserve the secrecy of ritual performance. Exploring both theoretical issues and historical questions, the book demonstrates the role of text as a form of imperial control over against oral tradition as a means of resistance by the marginalized peasantry or marginalized elite of Israel and the early church.

Jonathan A. Draper is Professor of New Testament, School of Theology, at University of Natal, South Africa.


Introduction: Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity
—Jonathan A. Draper

Indigenous Poems, Colonialist Texts
—John Miles Foley

Cognition, Orality-Literacy, and Approaches to First-Century Writings
—Pieter J. J. Botha

Moving beyond Colonialist Discourse: Understanding Oral Theory and Cultural Difference in the Context of Media Analysis
—J. A. “Bobby” Loubser

Why Did Plato Write?
—Jean-Luc Solère

The Cult of Mithras: An Example of Religious Colonialism in Roman Times?
—Baudouin Decharneux

The Origins of the Hebrew Scriptures in Imperial Relations
—Richard A. Horsley

Roman Imperialism and Early Christian Scribality
—Werner H. Kelber

Practicing the Presence of God in John: Ritual Use of Scripture and the Eidos Theou in John 5:37
—Jonathan A. Draper

Response from the Perspective of Orality in the Rabbinic Tradition
—Martin Jaffee

Oralities, Literacies, and Colonialism in Antiquity and Contemporary Scholarship
—Claudia V. Camp