Memory patterns and the dream narratives of Matthew 1-2

Shaw, Alistair Neil (2017) Memory patterns and the dream narratives of Matthew 1-2. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of this thesis is to explore the cultural background of Matthew’s dream narratives and in particular to try and establish whether the literary practice underlying them is closer to that of OT or Graeco-Roman literature. This will be done by looking at the ways in which the dreams were remembered and transmitted, analysing the text in search of “memory patterns”, devices used in oral and semi-literate societies with the aim of helping people remember a poem or a narrative. Many of these techniques use sound (e.g. alliteration, assonance and rhythm), but some engage with the structure of the material; occasionally an image might be applied to aid memory. Thereafter dream reports from a variety of other ancient sources will be analysed to reveal the memory patterns which underlie them. Subsequently the results will be compared, with attention focused on the few devices which are culturally specific and elsewhere noting the frequency with which devices are used as authors typically express themselves.
The outcome will be to identify the cultural background within which the Matthean dream narratives emerge.

The thesis will take the following shape. After an introductory chapter, there will be the literature review, followed by a chapter on methodology. The method used in the analysis of dream narratives is new and will provide a novel interpretive approach to this section of Matthew. Chapters on memory, orality and rhetoric, Matthew, and a comparison of his text with dream narratives in other literature will follow. Finally there will be a conclusion.

In this thesis I argue that the Matthean narratives have greater affinity to Jewish material and OT in particular than to Graeco-Roman literature. The data gathered in the course of research also allows for other comparisons. Of particular interest are comparisons between the writers of OT and those of Hellenistic background and between Josephus and both the groups just mentioned.

Several contributions are made to scholarship. Arguably the greatest of these is the methodology employed in the thesis. I also introduce the concept of ‘translation distortion’, which affects memory where an account of the past is originally expressed in a different language. I introduce comparison of Matthew’s use of oral sources with similar use in Herodotus and Pausanias, the latter living in the second century CE and his work rarely applied to NT studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Memory patterns, memory devices, orality, rhetoric, dream narratives, Matthew 1-2, biblical register, cultural background.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
P Language and Literature > PJ Semitic
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Adams, Dr. Sean
Date of Award: 2017
Embargo Date: 9 May 2021
Depositing User: Mr. Alistair N. Shaw
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8167
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 10:07
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 06:20

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