three aspects of my New Testament research that precipitated my research on Time in Memory
One: In 2012 and 2013, when I went over the road as a rookie trucker, my wife started reading my Year Books to my daughter. (You can still find them in my archives of 2006 & 2007, from 9 BCE to 14 CE). From hearing about their shared experience, it seemed I had succeeded in making each yearbook readable, but it also seemed I had failed to make the content absorb-able. It drove home to me that producing a comprehensive timeline of the New Testament Era might arguably succeed on paper but distributing such a publication might not be the best way to have people retain the material.
This distinction was one major reason why I did not continue writing Year Books into the reign of Tiberius. (My discovery of the biblioblogosphere in early 2008 and my first forays into Biblical Studies proper was the other main reason, but that's beside the point for today.)
Two: At the same time, during my rookie year of trucking, I decided to focus on writing up an academically viable treatment of my opinions about Matthew 2:22, primarily as a foothold for more arguments about the timeline but also as a proving ground for my academic advancement. During that year I began thinking more significantly about literary aspects of the text, such as whether Matthew's audience would have known enough of the Judean political chronology to achieve the same reading as I do, or at least something quite similar. After recognizing that audience knowledge of Archelaus's political future constitutes dramatic irony (because Joseph does not share that knowledge), I began reading Wayne Booth and there begins another new chapter in the story of my research.
What matters for today's post is that this gave me a second reason to think about how people remember chronology. In the first case (above) I wanted *my* readers to learn a collection of timelines. In this second case, I wanted to claim that Matthew's readers could have known one particular timeline.
Three: I was sitting in Odessa, TX, on 3-18-14 (and waiting to deliver pickles to a BBQ joint) when I was startled by Richard Bauckham's suggestion that readers of John 3:24 would have remembered THE COMPLETE TEXT VERBATIM of Mark 1:14. Without a doubt, my reaction was largely due to the previous two years of digging through the memory-based Jesus research of Keith & LeDonne; at any rate, I immediately thought THIS IS NOT HOW WE REMEMBER CHRONOLOGY... but then I was suddenly forced to ask myself WAIT, HOW DO WE REMEMBER CHRONOLOGY?
And that was the big one. The first two developments had primed my thinking to grab hold of this one. By June I had begun writing my blog series on Memory & Narrative and I continued to tug on that thread until early 2017, when I was invited to pursue my project on Joseph and Archelaus during formal graduate studies... at which point, for better and for worse, my forward progress on Time in Memory necessarily halted.
Because I wanted to use the core elements of that research in my thesis on Matt 2:22, I worked up an abstract and a presentation for ISSN 2021 (online only due to covid); a presentation which I posted here, later. And now the ISSN is meeting in Dallas next week. And I will be presenting an upgraded version of my research about how human beings remember timelines and storylines. Watch this space for more on that, soon.
Today's blogpost has itemized some key moments in my own history of questions about how we learn timelines. Although I can easily become engrossed in the cognitive theory I hope it seems clear that my interest continues to be driven by practical goals. First, I would like to improve the way we teach and learn historical eras, so "New Testament Context" might someday convey a fourth-dimensional aspect of development and change, rather than merely a static collection of facts and prevailing concepts. Second, I would like to predict ("retro-dict") what the popular narrative might have been about Archelaus's political career. Third, I would like to enhance our understanding of narrative storytelling as a vehicle for conveying (however distortedly) a series of changes from an author's limited perspective.
I could go on about those goals at length, unpacking and hopefully clarifying a great deal, but that is not the goal of today's blogpost.
In a nutshell, the fragmented chunks of narrative, offered above, comprise the basic gist of my own "whence and whither" regarding next week's presentation.
Just in case anyone finds themselves wondering.
For my regular readers, I will post the abstract soon, and maybe more.
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