Harry Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church, Introduction

I have written several posts for my friend Yuri regarding the various roles that speech and words take in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (so far parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6a, and 6b — together with a post on texts and another on oceanic models of causation in The Brothers Karamazov). This project has forced me to read Harry Y. Gamble’s Books and Readers in the Early Church a bit more closely. Gamble deals with questions of orality and literacy in ways that bear directly upon the arguments I was making in response to questions I was asking; since he intervenes in a wide and deep stream of pivotal scholarly research on the relationship between orality and literacy, close attention to his work is very rewarding. 

Therefore, here is an introduction to the book, to be followed by posts concerning each of the five chapters, each with some critical analysis from scholarly reviews, and my own impressions.  Continue reading

Excerpt #24 — Alasdair MacIntyre on The Nothingness of The Modern Self

Riffing off of the last excerpt post by David Bentley Hart, it seemed appropriate to list here a similarly themed excerpt from Alasdair MacIntyre about the modern self, and modern freedom.

Since I am nearing the end of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, I thought to list just one passage from it here, and settled on this one because of its similarity to that excerpt.

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Excerpt #23 — David Bentley Hart on Modern Freedom

We all talk about freedom, or freedoms: the modern period is shot through with liberating the individual from the tyrannical claims of the group, and various self-help and movement-politics trends position themselves as furthering the cause of freedom.

Talk of freedom –the concern for further spreading freedom-as-liberties, for maximizing personal freedom-as-autonomy– is everywhere today, and the pursuit and establishment of freedom are a hallmark of the modern period. Financial success and stability is marketed as offering freedom. The Stoic trend that has steadily risen in philosophically-oriented self-help fora concerning liberation from one’s own passions is one form of this concern for freedom — it simply turns the eyes of the individuals from liberation from external forces and conditions that enslave to liberation from internal masters. The LGBTQ movement is another form of this, overturning conventions and taboos for the sake of freedom. Fears about potential or actual threats against journalistic freedom are another form of this; concerns about religious freedom are another form of this; movements to bring about a state of greater economic parity between segments of the population are yet another form of this. I could go on.

The concern for freedom is everywhere. But what is freedom?

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The Shepherd of Hermas Concerning Orality, Writing, and the Role of the Heart (“Some Baseless Speculations about…”, Part 6b)

For Yuri. Continued from parts onetwothreefourfive, and six-a (6a).

Part six will need to be broken up into sections, so that I can release them at all, given that my workday is now 14 hrs long, with 1.5 hrs of commuting. After I am finished with the course I’ve laid out here, I’ll post them together in either a summary or a collection. 

Across these sections of the sixth post, I thought it was wise to linger over the transition from the earliest writings in the New Testament vis-à-vis our themes of writing vs. speaking, the role of the heart, and the nature of basically prophetic or oracular speech –particularly the writings of St. Paul in the years following A.D. 50 and 60– towards the third and fourth century. Continue reading