Dual Conventions: The Oral Delivery of New Testament Writings in Light of First-Century Delivery Practices

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


Nässelqvist’s contribution examines different models for understanding the oral delivery of New Testament writings. He finds evidence in favor of the existence in antiquity of both oral performance from memory and public reading directly from a manuscript. These types of oral delivery not only involved different delivery practices, but were also used in dissimilar settings for distinct text genres. For example, Nässelqvist finds that oral performance was largely confined to the delivery of oratory and drama, whereas public reading was used for all literary genres (including oratory and drama). In the second half of the chapter, Nässelqvist examines early Christian sources and finds that they describe the oral delivery of New Testament writings in terms of public reading (rather than as oral performance, a notion forwarded by scholars engaged in performance criticism). Finally, the practical details of the two types of delivery are compared in relation to the stance of the performer, the skills required, and the use of gestures, movement, facial expressions, vocal expression, manuscripts, and furniture.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • Public Reading, Oral Performance, reading culture, New Testament Studies, Oral Delivery, Delivery Practices
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Social Memory and Social Identity in the Study of Early Judaism and Early Christianity
EditorsSamuel Byrskog, Raimo Hakola, Jutta Maria Jokiranta
Place of PublicationGöttingen
PublisherVandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783647593753
ISBN (Print)978-35-2559-375-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sep
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameNovum Testamentum Et Orbis Antiquus/Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments (NTOA/StUNT)
PublisherVandenhoeck & Ruprecht
ISSN (Print)1420-4592