Today a package arrived in my mailbox. What's this? I thought as I opened it. As I tore the package open and the name of the book emerged
, I thought, "My gosh, a perfect title!" Simultaneously I thought (in regards to historical Jesus research) - "it is about time!"
Of course I haven't had time to read and digest all that Le Donne has to say yet. But I can see already that this book is a "must" read. It is pioneering, taking seriously the study of social memory and applying it to what Le Donne thinks we can and can't say the Jesus traditions.
Refreshingly he establishes himself as an historian who is not trying to get back to "unrefracted memory" (that is, what actually happened), but to account for the earliest memory refractions in Jesus' story. So "authenticity" and "historicity" are redefined to point to earliest memories of Jesus and Le Donne maps out the criteria that he uses to pick up this information.
Le Donne works with the concept of memory refraction in the Jesus tradition and analyzes how the stories and saying of Jesus were distorted as they were handed down and consciously and unconsciously reframed. Anthony argues that the analysis of memory refraction allows historians to escape the problems between memory and typology and recover the earliest memories of Jesus.