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