What is the “Verbal Performance of Scripture”?

Michael Zeigler discusses the “verbal performance of Scripture” with David Schmitt, including his own performative reading of Romans 1–3.


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2 responses to “What is the “Verbal Performance of Scripture”?”

  1. Kyle Avatar

    David does a great job! I think this is very helpful!

  2. Rick Strickert Avatar
    Rick Strickert

    The enthusiasm for the “verbal performance of Scripture” appears in a 2013 book, Bring the Word to Life: Engaging the New Testament through Performing It, by Richard F. Ward and David J. Trobisch (Wm B. Eerdmans, 110 pages).

    Referring to a Christmas party in which Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth was read by United Theological Seminary professor Thomas Boomershine, Richard Ward writes:

    The manner of his presentation was also intriguing. It was similar to other modes of performance I was familiar with but didn’t quite conform to any one of them. It resembled theatre because Tom treated the biblical text like a “script” and spoke it as if he were “acting” the part of the biblical narrator. Yet he wasn’t “in character” — he wasn’t impersonating a character developed by a playwright. The presentation had the spontaniet of storytelling, but the teller of the story was sticking closely to the words of a text that he himself had not created. It was more like an oral interpretation of a text, except he had internalized the actual text — it was not something that he held in his hands or referred to on a lectern….

    One of the things that biblical studies awakens is an interest in “origins,” as in “Where did this text come from?” Performing a text awakens an interest in origins too — “How was a text like this done?” “How was it ‘performed’?” And then, “How shall I perform it now?” Asking these questions together brings about a vital collaboration between performance studies and biblical interpretation through the practice of performing literature. Performance study of biblical texts yields new, imaginative ways to experience them and to present the interpreter’s understanding of both the texts and the narrative worlds they come from. [pp. ix-x]

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