chercheur, anthropologue, pédagogue

Category: Academic work

Just published : The Forgotten Compass

It is an event. The Forgotten Compass – Marcel Jousse and the Exploration of the Oral World is the first collective book devoted to the actuality of Marcel Jousse’s work in the academic field of biblical scholarship. It brings together contributions in English from eight international specialists and also gives voice to Jousse himself through the text of two of his lectures. Marcel Jousse’s work in this field is like a “compass” that the book proposes to rediscover.


This book is published as part of a specialized collection that aims to renew this field of research: Biblical Performance Criticism Series. Like Marcel Jousse in his time, this collection makes the following observation:

The ancient societies of the Bible were overwhelmingly oral. People originally experienced the traditions now in the Bible as oral performances. Focusing on the ancient performance of biblical traditions enables us to shift academic work on the Bible from the mentality of a modern print culture to that of an oral/scribal culture.” [i.e., where writing belongs to scribes]

It follows the publication in this collection in 2018 of Memory, Memorization, and Memorizers: The Galilean Oral-Style Tradition and Its Traditionists, a collection of texts by Jousse edited and translated into English by Edgard Sienaert, with a foreword by Werner Kelber. This volume will also be published in 2023 in its French version by the Cerf editions.

Edited by Werner Kelber, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Rice University (Texas, USA) and Bruce Chilton, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Bard College (New York State, USA), The Forgotten Compass is the culmination of several years of work. A milestone was the seminar on Marcel Jousse and Oral Theory held on November 26, 2019 at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego. Organized by Werner Kelber, the high quality of this seminar was unanimously appreciated by the participants. So much so that the decision was made to transform the trial into a collective work. 3 years later, it is done!


As form criticism arose, the French anthropologist Marcel Jousse developed a hermeneutical paradigm, global in scope and prescient in its vision but opposed to the philological paradigm of biblical studies. While the philological methodology came to define modernity’s biblical hermeneutics, Jousse’s rhythmically energized paradigm was marginalized and largely forgotten. Although Jousse has left relatively few traces in writing, many of his more than one thousand lectures, delivered at four different academic institutions in Paris between 1931 and 1957, have been edited and translated into English by Edgard Sienaert. The Forgotten Compass surveys Jousse’s views on biblical tradition and scholarship, documenting the relevance of his paradigm for current biblical studies. What distinguishes Jousse’s paradigm is that it is firmly established within the orbit of ancient communications and deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. The Forgotten Compass challenges readers to come to appreciate the print Bible’s lack of fluency in the very sensibilities privileged by Jousse’s paradigm and to raise consciousness about the multivocal, multisensory culture in which the biblical traditions emerged and from which they drew their initial nourishment.”  (source : Wipf and Stock)


List of Contributors
1. The Work of Marcel Jousse in Context | Werner H. Kelber | 1
2. Mimism and the Ancient Biblical Recitatives | Marcel Jousse | 54
3. The Anthropology of Mimism, of Memory, and of the Invisible | Edgard Sienaert | 71
4. An Oral Perspective on Proverbs 31:10–31 | Mark Timothy Lloyd Holt | 104
5. What Use is Jousse? Oral Form as a Mnemonic Device in the Hodayot | Shem Miller | 127
6. Sound, Memory, and the Oral Style | Margaret E. Lee | 150
7. Jousse, Oral Composition, and the Gospel of Mark | Joanna Dewey | 180
8. Origin and Techniques of the Biblical Recitations | Marcel Jousse | 198
9. The Au/Orality of the Aramaic Gospel | Bruce Chilton 211
10. Marcel Jousse, the Synoptic Problem, and the Past and Future of Gospel Studies | Matthew D. C. Larsen | 234
11. Conclusion: Implications of the Work of Marcel Jousse | Werner H. Kelber | 258


In order to give the public an overview of the important issues addressed in the book and the perspectives it opens up, Werner Kelber has given us permission to share the pages that close the book.

Download this extract (6 pages)

Buy online

Somes appreciations on the book

“Experience the excitement of discovery—of an author whose work may well change your way of looking at the Bible. This book lets Marcel Jousse speak for himself but also allows us the privilege of accompanying major scholars as they step out of their routine to engage critically and enthusiastically with Jousse. Unsurprisingly, Jousse taught in Paris. Perhaps surprisingly, he was a Jesuit priest.”

—Bernhard Lang, University of Paderborn

“This excellent introduction to the French ethnographer Marcel Jousse’s pioneering and groundbreaking work on orality and memory within the Palestinian Jewish milieu of Jesus enables readers to (re)discover his contributions to the study of the New Testament and modern intellectual history. Combining two of Jousse’s lectures with an introduction and critical assessments, the book indicates his avant-garde ideas and their relevance for contemporary scholarship.”

—Catherine Hezser, SOAS University of London

“What a joy this volume is for anyone interested in orality! Though focused on biblical studies, it equally appeals to communication or media ecology scholars by its introduction of the work of the anthropologist Marcel Jousse to new generations. Seeing and hearing Jousse in the context of his work makes him come alive and opens up additional ways of thinking about how people interact with their communication environments.”

—Paul A. Soukup, SJ, Santa Clara University

The Forgotten Compass points the way to a paradigm more fully suited to the Aramaic Targumic world of Rabbi Jeshua of Nazareth. A global anthropologist and contemporary of Rudolf Bultmann, Jousse offers a robust, full-bodied approach to the Scriptures, at once very old and very new. Jousse is a treasure trove indeed for younger scholars especially who seek alternative pathways to discovery.”

—Randolph F. Lumpp, Regis University, emeritus

“Jousse used an argument from the astronomer Laplace: great discoveries occur when previously distant concepts finally meet. The Forgotten Compass is one of those rare events. This magnificent collection constitutes a true reencounter, where Gospel studies come again face to face with the investigation of the traditions of oral style. The intellectual gestures of both sides will create a current able to irrigate the unified field of biblical studies and oral traditions.”

—Gabriel Bourdin, Institute of Anthropological Research

“Marcel Jousse was well known for his groundbreaking study of oral tradition and memory. To celebrate this work and to probe further its significance and ongoing relevance for biblical studies and Jesus research, editors Werner Kelber and Bruce Chilton have assembled an impressive roster of scholars who assess Joussean thought. Rich with insight, these essays move forward in positive ways the study of orality.”

—Craig A. Evans, Houston Baptist University

Call for papers on the anthropology of gesture

Gabriel Bourdin, professor of anthropology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, invites to answer a call for papers for the journal Mundaú, published by the Universidade Federal de Alagoas in Brazil.

He is coordinating, with a colleague from this university, the dossier for issue 11 of the journal, which will be published in late 2021, on the theme of the anthropology of gesture.

Articles should be submitted by July 30. They can be written in Spanish, Portuguese, French or English.

Here is the presentation of the theme:

Translation of the instructions to authors

Would you like to send contributions to the journal? We invite you to visit the About the Journal section and read the available section policies and author guidelines. Authors must register on the website before submitting an article. If you are already registered, simply log in and start the 5-step submission process.

Purpose and scope

Mundaú is a biannual electronic journal edited by the Graduate Program in Anthropology of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Federal University of Alagoas. It publishes articles in continuous flow and in the form of thematic dossiers. Its objective is to contribute to the anthropological debate, to the advancement of research and to the dissemination of articles by specialists in the field, gathering themes and issues of contemporary debate in the discipline. Revista Mundaú is open to the collaboration of researchers from universities and national and international research institutions in the field of anthropology, in the form of articles, in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French.

Peer review process

The publication of articles is conditioned by the approval of peers and, if so, by compliance with their recommendations. The originality of the treatment of the theme, the coherence and rigor of the approach, its contribution to the social sciences and the thematic line of the journal are taken into account. The names of the reviewers will remain confidential, and the names of the authors will not be revealed to the reviewers.

Open Access Policy

This journal offers free and immediate access to its content, following the principle that making scientific knowledge freely available to the public enables a greater democratization of knowledge on a global scale.

Guidelines for authors

1. The journal Mundaú accepts for publication unpublished articles in the social sciences that are not simultaneously presented in another journal. Reviews of works or themes from the region are also accepted, when they are related to the thematic core of the respective issue.

2. The publication of the works is conditional on the approval of the referees and, if so, on the fulfillment of their recommendations. The originality of the treatment of the theme, the coherence and rigor of the approach, its contribution to the social sciences and the thematic line of the journal are taken into account. The names of the reviewers will remain confidential, and the names of the authors will not be revealed to the reviewers.

3. Articles are published in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. The maximum recommended length is 40,000 characters, including spaces. The articles are accompanied by an abstract of 150 words maximum in Portuguese, French, English and Spanish, in which the objectives, methods and conclusions of the work are synthesized, and a list of 3 to 5 key words, separated by periods and with the first initial in capital letters.

4. Articles are submitted anonymously, in plain text and without the use of sophisticated formatting resources, via the journal’s web page. For submission and follow-up, it is necessary to register in the access area, provide information about your academic background, the organization and field in which you work, your full mailing address, and, if you wish, to indicate up to two most relevant recent publications.

5. The Mundaú journal offers two modes of submission: for specific thematic dossiers, within predefined deadlines, or as a single text. Texts for thematic dossiers are evaluated en bloc and the decision is announced after the submission deadline; single texts are evaluated in continuous flow and their approval is conditioned by the concrete prospect of publication.

6. The salient points of the text are in italics. Footnotes, when essential, are short and substantial, numbered sequentially and without specific formatting.

7. Graphs, figures and tables are sent in a separate file, with program and version identification; they cannot exceed the size of the journal page (16.5 x 11.5 cm). The sequential numbering and title, as well as the source of the data, are inserted in the text as placeholders.

8. Reference notes are inserted in the text, according to the following model: (AUTHOR, year, p. xx), (AUTHOR1, year, p. xx; AUTHOR2, year, xx) or (AUTHOR; AUTHOR, YEAR). If there is more than one work by the same author in a year, it is accompanied by a sequential letter of the alphabet. Example: (AUTHOR, 1998a; 1998b).

9. References are listed at the end of the document in alphabetical order and without numbering, in accordance with NBR 6023.

(a) book: FAMILY NAME, Name. Title in bold. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, year.

For example: FERNANDES, Florestan. A revolução burguesa no Brasil: ensaio de uma interpretação sociológica. 3. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara Publishers, 1987.

b) chapter: FAMILY NAME, Name. Title of the chapter. In: SURNAME, N. (org.). Title of the book in bold. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, year. p. xx-yy.

For example : McCARTHY, Thomas. Practical discourse: on the relationship between morality and politics. In : CALHOUN, C. (Org.). Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge: The Mit Press, 1992. p. 51-72.

c) article: FAMILY NAME, Name. Title of article. Title of periodical in bold, v. year-or-volume, n. number-or-issue, p. xx-yy, year.

For example: BENHABIB, Seyla. The decline of sovereignty or the emergence of cosmopolitan norms? Rethinking citizenship in times of instability. Civitas, v. 12, n. 1, p. 20-46, 2012.

d) electronic publications: follow the model above, according to their genre, plus DOI or full address and date of reading.

DIAS, Bruno. Approved the resolution on research ethics in the humanities and social sciences. In: Page of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health. April 15, 2016. Available at: Accessed on: January 2017.

10. All literature should be submitted for DOI verification at

11. If there is more than one author, the editors will be informed of each person’s contribution to the text from research to final writing.

12. The author will inform, with identification, the source of funding for the research and potential conflicts of interest.

13. The spontaneous submission of articles and the subsequent acceptance of their publication automatically implies the transfer of the rights of the first publication to the journal Mundaú. The copyright remains the property of the author. Any subsequent reproduction, by any means whatsoever, may only be made after prior agreement between the magazine and the author and with the citation of the source.

14. The concepts expressed in the articles are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board.

Conditions of submission

As part of the submission process, authors are required to check the submission for compliance with all the items listed below. Submissions that do not meet the standards will be returned to the authors.

The contribution is original and unpublished, and is not under consideration for publication by another journal; if not, a justification must be provided in the “Comments to the Editor” section.
The submission file is in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or RTF format.
The text is single-spaced; it uses a 12-point font; it uses italics instead of underlining (except in URLs); figures and tables are inserted in the text, not at the end of the document as attachments.
The text follows the style standards and bibliographic requirements described in the Guidelines for Authors on the About the Journal page, and the bibliographic information is correct and complete.
The instructions available in Ensuring Blind Peer Review have been followed (author identification has been removed from the text and “document properties”).
The submission is accompanied by information regarding the academic background, organization, and field in which they work, as well as the author’s and author’s complete email and mailing addresses, source of research funding, and potential conflicts of interest.

Privacy Policy

Names and addresses provided to the journal will be used exclusively for the services provided by this publication and will not be made available for other purposes or to third parties.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén