Memory, Method, and Text 


Social memory theory and related sociological and/or cultural anthropological studies have become important new players in the exegetical discourse. The research done in the last decades has proven that the application of memory studies can indeed enhance both the understanding of biblical texts and contexts and the reception of those texts and contexts in the first two centuries. One of the most important and controversial question of the current debate is how memory theory achieves this. As social memory theory is not a method but rather a hermeneutical lens it is difficult to speak of a memory approach . The research unit aims both to explore how social memory theory can inform methodology and develop tools for reading and understanding Early Christian traditions and texts based on the interdisciplinary theoretical work of social scientists like Maurice Halbwachs and experts for particular cultures like Jan Assmann (Egyptology) or Aleida Assmann (Anglistics) and others. The goal is to move beyond traditional historical questions that aim to uncover earlier sources and reconstruct the past to an understanding of these traditions and texts as diverse processes of receptions of the past among groups of Jesus followers within their different cultural contexts. The sessions of the research unit will begin with a general survey of the state of the discussion and its theoretical foundations and then focus on the development of exegetical tools and their application to Early Christian texts, both biblical and non-biblical, with a special focus on liturgy and ritual. 



Memory Studies, Social Memory Theory, Early Christianity, Hermeneutics, Methodology, Identity, Memory and Community, Orality


Pavel Langhammer
Charles University

Christian Handschuh
University of Passau

Kyle Parsons

Charles University

Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

Putting the Tools to the Test II: Memory approaches to biblical and non-biblical texts
The sessions of the fourth year of our research unit will focus on broadening the scope of textual-source material while simultaneously exploring and employing new tools and methods from memory studies. We would like to focus on two areas of development:

  1. New tools in the field of memory studies: What new ideas end methods can be applied successfully to the field of biblical studies from the field of memory studies? 
  2. Expand the scope with additional texts: We would like to broaden our focus on a broader range of texts. Along with New Testament texts, we are interested in Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, non-canonical Second Temple Jewish and early Christian literature.


To this end, the Memory, Method, and Text research unit aims for four sessions this year, which will be a mixture of lecture/discussion panels and workshops. After beginning with exploring new tools and methods from memory studies, we will witness these tools put to the test in the second and third sessions. If possible, we may work on a text together in the third. The fourth and last session is dedicated to discussing insights from the workshops and implications for further research.


The group invites proposals for the two main sections: new tools from the field of memory studies and canonical and non-canonical biblical material.