Eduard Nielsen’s Oral Tradition Sixty Years After

Hans Barstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When Eduard Nielsen’s Oral Tradition appeared in 1954 the author’s main motivation for writing it was frustration with what was felt to be serious shortcomings in current methods of Old Testament research. Influ-enced by “Scandinavian” scholarship (above all Pedersen, Nyberg, and Engnell), Nielsen wishes to replace historical critical approaches with more adequate, updated methods. In particular, he wants to integrate insights into the oral processes that lead to the creation of the literature of the Hebrew Bi-ble into his exegetical techniques. For comparative purposes, Nielsen utilizes texts from ancient cultures where orality was predominant. He discusses above all Greek, Mesopotamian, and Old Norse sources. In view of the huge interest in orality and memory in academia today it is obvious that Nielsen was far ahead of his time. It is more than regrettable that so little attention has been paid to this pioneering work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-21
Number of pages14
JournalScandinavian Journal of the Old Testament
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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