A Look at the Jesus Story, Oral Tradition and Eyewitness Memory
by Eric Chabot
Even though the Christian can always offer certain dates for the Gospels, there was a gap of time between the ascension of Jesus and when the Gospel authors actually wrote their individual biographies about the life of Jesus. Therefore, there was an oral period where the words and deeds of Jesus were committed to memory by the disciples and transmitted orally. Oral Tradition is the transmission of a teaching or saying from person to person or from generation to generation by word of mouth rather than by the use of writing. The home, the synagogue, and the elementary school was where Jewish people learned how to memorize and recall information such as community prayers. It is true that we don’t have access to the oral phase of the Jesus story. Thus, there aren’t any sound recordings or videos of the disciples of Jesus talking about Him that remains today. Therefore, all we have is the written evidence. The New Testament contains 27 texts, and all of them were written sometime during the first century CE. Also, none of these appear to be transcriptions or descriptions of an oral performance of Jesus.
Given that many skeptics assume the New Testament is biased they tend to ask for sources that are written about Jesus outside the New Testament. Furthermore, since the request for these sources must be written by non-Christians, this supposedly equates to pure objectivity and no propaganda. Sadly, the demand for this wishlist shows…