Beyond Literate Western Contexts: Honor & Shame and Assessment of Orality Preference

Editors: Samuel E. Chiang, Grant Lovejoy.

Published 2015 by International Orality Network, in cooperation with Capstone Enterprises Ltd., Hong Kong.

Third-party review: In the earliest days of the Church, Christians heard the Scriptures read aloud. All of the New Testament books that we so often read on printed pages were originally read aloud by a single reader in front of a gathered group of Jesus‘ followers. There were many factors important for those of the early Church as they read the words of God: the sounds of the words, the rhythm and cadence of the narratives, the way each spoken word hit upon the ear, the way readers were to emphasize certain expressions (e.g., „Let the reader understand“ [Mark 13:14]). By contrast, today an individual reader will sit down with the canonical collection of texts and silently read to him or herself the words which have been recorded on the page. Hearing Scripture read aloud in a group is a very different experience from silently reading Scripture to oneself. The orality movement emphasizes the acts of speaking and communicating the message of Scripture not only for historical reasons, but also in order to recover the means of teaching Scripture in a world that is highly illiterate. I commend these essays to you, believing that the New Testament Christians‘ earliest experiences in worship, especially when it came to hearing the reading aloud of the sacred text (including the words of their apostolic witnesses), offer an enriching experience. Not only is oral Scripture reading and teaching useful for our own spiritual edification in the context of community worship, but it also provides powerful new opportunities and vehicles for sharing the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By Dr. Robert B. Sloan, Jr., President, Houston Baptist University.