What would make the evangelists take pains to utilise writing even if they could still proclaim the gospel orally? This article argues that a plausible answer to this question can be offered when one gives due attention to four intentional uses of writing in an oral society: to help memory; to overcome geographical distance; to freeze a specific version of the tradition; and to increase the authority of a message. Although the dominant means of communication in the first-century Mediterranean world were oral delivery and aural reception, ancients intentionally chose the medium of writing because it was more effective than oral communication in fulfilling certain tasks. This article then argues that these intentional uses of writing may well have met the needs of the evangelists, who wished to convey a specific portrayal of Jesus more powerfully in various regions and for succeeding generations.


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pp. 313-332
Launched on MUSE
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