A few hours ago my oldest daughter and I returned home from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best

Live Tour Ever! At one point toward the end of the show, as Perry the Platypus and the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz were engaged in their standard climactic battle, something interesting happened. Perry and Dr. Doofenshmirtz were doing their choreographed, pseudo-karate moves as the lights flashed around them. Suddenly, somehow, both of them had lighted swords that, in another context, would have looked like lightsabers, and the combatants switched from staged punches and kicks to staged thrusts and parries. At the same time, the typical Phineas-and-Ferb style alternative rock music faded just a bit, and over top of the heavily distorted guitars came the sounds of John Williams’s Star Wars music. In the end, of course, Perry was victorious and Dr. Doofenshmirtz was vanquished. The sights and sounds of the show caught my interest for a couple of reasons that are relevant for this book. First, the multisensory allusion to the Star Wars epic gave added depth to what everyone in the audience already knew: the battle between Perry and Doofenshmirtz was a battle between good and evil. Second, for the parents in the audience who grew up in the shadow of the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, the allusion enabled us to join our children and experience (at least part of) the show from the vantage of our childhood. Third, the duel between Perry and

Fourth. that unusual word—ekballō— opened a window onto a much larger traditional world. to hear the old sacred traditions about Moses. encompassing tradition added a layer of meaning to the narrative. No one needed them to explain why they included the allusion. it summoned the entire Star Wars epic all at once (and. fifth. or to witness a public performance of a letter from Paul or James or Peter. especially: Is Dr.1 The allusion is subtle. David. nor did anyone need them to explain what it meant. And finally. It just “worked. in just a couple of seconds). When Mark tells us that the Spirit of God “cast out” (ekballō) Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the satan. watching Perry and Doofenshmirtz parry and thrust their lightsabers raised some fairly odd questions. and certainly some of Mark’s readers . I should add. Preface Oral Tradition and the New Testament (T&T Clark International) Rodríguez ii Doofenshmirtz did not call to my mind a particular scene from any of the six Star Wars movies. Doofenshmirtz Perry the Platypus’s father? All of this from two lighted swords and a couple of measures of familiar music! The writers and choreographers of Phineas and Ferb: The Best Live Tour Ever! managed to creatively interweave their narrative of a crime-fighting platypus into the larger cultural tradition of good and evil embodied in the Star Wars space epic. and the prophets recounted. the connection with a larger. Like a lightsaber in the hands of a giant green platypus.” because the writers creatively included traditional material into their musical score and their choreography and because the audience was prepared to interpret their intention. anyone who did not pick up the allusion (my daughter didn’t) nevertheless continued to enjoy the show despite not having access to this added depth. This book argues that something similar happened for the earliest Christians when they gathered to tell stories from and about Jesus.0. judging from the reaction of the kids in the audience.

Dominic Mattos was receptive to the idea of a volume on oral tradition in the .” The twentieth century saw a massive rise of interest in oral tradition and the New Testament. It is also my proposal for the future agenda of NT media criticism. The Oral and the Written Gospel (1983). objective summaries of the current state of NT media criticism. In the 1980s and 90s. In the second half of the century.). interdisciplinary research from Homeric studies. writing. etc. this book is more than an introduction to NT media criticism. the form critics—especially Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann—were largely responsible for raising the issue.g. In other words.0. Early in the century. Even so. from oral to written expression). This book sets out to introduce the basic elements of NT media criticism. and especially of the significance of shifts from one medium to another (e. NT scholars began to take in- creasingly sophisticated account of these alternative ways.” I have tried to provide broad discussions of the field.. Preface Oral Tradition and the New Testament (T&T Clark International) Rodríguez iii would have missed it. A number of people have been helpful at various stages of the production of this book. The explosion of media-critical work has not only continued but accelerated in the first decade-plus of the twenty-first century. cultural anthropology. especially in the wake of Werner Kelber’s seminal book. ritual. for those with “ears to hear. at every step I provide analytical and evaluative discussions rather than providing disinterested. But that hardly matters. but by the end of the century most students of the NT were dissatisfied with how they handled the dynamics and consequences of oral tradition. The allusion is there. which I define as “the analysis of the function and dynamics of various media of communication (speech. and other fields offered alternative ways to address questions of oral tradition.

Unfortunately. and if the quality of this book suffers just a little bit (and hopefully no more than just a little bit). The editorial staff at T&T Clark International. and stories beckoned. homework. Andrea. I should also mention that. I would like to thank Chris Davis and the administration of Johnson University for my Sabbatical during the Fall 2012 term. and our daughters. especially Jon Hale and Heidi Berryhill. have answered my every request for any article or book. has been remarkably flexible when I had to push back a deadline once or twice (or thrice!). Their persistence makes me the husband and father I am. Timothy Gombis and James Crossley. More importantly (and more often). and so on. Crossley 2010). games to be played. but he graciously supplied me with a pre-publication copy of his manuscript. Janelle and Josephina. helped me think about what an introduction to oral tradition and the NT should look like. late in the production of this volume. I learned of Eric Eve’s forthcoming volume. the majority of this volume was written during that time. homework to be completed. . The library staff at Johnson University. especially Caitlin Flynn. games.0. Lydia Wade worked through nearly the entire manuscript and provided invaluable assistance preparing the manuscript. They have often permitted me to linger at my computer when there were chores to be done. Of course. I am fine with that. Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition (SPCK). stories to be read. and they have always done so cheerily. the lion’s share of my appreciation goes to my wife. they have not let me linger at my computer when the chores. I was not able to take account of Eric’s work. Preface Oral Tradition and the New Testament (T&T Clark International) Rodríguez iv Guides for the Perplexed series when I pitched it to him in Atlanta at an SBL Annual Meeting. both of whom contributed their own Guides for the Perplexed (Gombis 2010.

which is much too young.12 in Chapter 5. below. . 22 September 2012. I dedicate this book to her memory. Rafael Rodríguez Johnson University 15 February 2013 1 See the discussion of Mark 1. Preface Oral Tradition and the New Testament (T&T Clark International) Rodríguez v On Saturday. She was twenty-nine years old. my sister Rikki Erin Bera (née Sommervold) finished her fight with cancer.0.

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