Memory, Method, and Text 


Social memory theory and related sociological and/or cultural anthropological studies have become important new players in the exegetical discourse. The research done in the last decades has proven that the application of memory studies can indeed enhance both the understanding of biblical texts and contexts and the reception of those texts and contexts in the first two centuries. One of the most important and controversial question of the current debate is how memory theory achieves this. As social memory theory is not a method but rather a hermeneutical lens it is difficult to speak of a memory approach . The research unit aims both to explore how social memory theory can inform methodology and develop tools for reading and understanding Early Christian traditions and texts based on the interdisciplinary theoretical work of social scientists like Maurice Halbwachs and experts for particular cultures like Jan Assmann (Egyptology) or Aleida Assmann (Anglistics) and others. The goal is to move beyond traditional historical questions that aim to uncover earlier sources and reconstruct the past to an understanding of these traditions and texts as diverse processes of receptions of the past among groups of Jesus followers within their different cultural contexts. The sessions of the research unit will begin with a general survey of the state of the discussion and its theoretical foundations and then focus on the development of exegetical tools and their application to Early Christian texts, both biblical and non-biblical, with a special focus on liturgy and ritual. 



Memory Studies, Social Memory Theory, Early Christianity, Hermeneutics, Methodology, Identity, Memory and Community, Orality


Pavel Langhammer
Charles University

Christian Handschuh
University of Passau

Kyle Parsons

Charles University

Member Area

Toulouse 2022 Call for Papers

Putting the tools to the test: New Testament and Apocryphal texts

The sessions of the third year of our research group will focus on the application of methodology and on putting the tools that have already been developed to the test. We would like to focus on two texts, one from the NT and one from the field of apocryphal texts.The group aims for four sessions, which will this year have the character of workshops in which attendants and panelist indulge in practical work with the tools. After the first session has provided us with a set of tools and methods by invited speakers, we will put these tools to the test in the second and third session. Both texts will briefly be introduced by an expert from the field and then be analyzed be the group with the tools that have been introduced in the first session. The fourth and last session is dedicated to discuss insights from the workshops and implications for further research, including the refinement of methodology.

The group invites proposals for the first session (tools) and expects papers that propose applicable methodological steps for working with texts within a social memory framework. Additionally, the group hopes that the presenters join the group for at least one of the workshop-sessions and the wrap-up session in order to discuss and further develop the methods.