Kenneth Bailey contended for a model of oral tradition behind the Gospels based on Middle Eastern practices of passing on tradition. James D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright and others developed his basic model. Theodore Weeden, however, severely critiqued the model, noting some significant problems in Bailey’s data. Some scholars, such as Eric Eve at Oxford, have taken a nuanced view, acknowledging some of Bailey’s weaknesses but showing from other scholarly work that Bailey’s proposal resembles what studies of oral history also suggest.
In this new article in Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, I respond to Weeden’s critique of Bailey. Although some of his observations are correct, Bailey’s model still has a great deal to offer, and Eve (and Dunn, Wright and others) have been right to point this out. (I should note: although most of my posts on this site are at a more popular level, this one is more academic.)
(Note for those later finding this post in my archives: after the print version of the journal comes out, perhaps in late summer or fall of 2018, their web version will come down.)