Hearon, Holly E. "The Implications of 'Orality' for Studies of the Biblical Text." Oral Tradition 19:1 (2004), 96-107.
Hearon observes that the twentieth century saw a ground shift in biblical scholarship, particularly as the scholarly community began to consider orality after Kelber's ground-breaking (1983) The Oral and the Written Gospel (Hearon 2004, 96). Hearon's intention in this paper is to suggest directions in which further studies might progress, particularly in New Testament scholarship.
The written record we have may be best considered as a transcription or interpretation of an oral work. The works of the Bible were primarily experienced by hearing. This should influence the way we try to understand them (Hearon 2004, 97). Interestingly, Hearon finds this to argue for, rather than against, a written "Q" document, though it is also possible that the "Q" material was a solid kind of oral tradition (Hearon 2004, 98).
Because biblical texts emerged from a highly aural culture, we should expect a meaningful choice of words and sentence structures which would particularly move understanding and emphasis in a direction which may be different from that expected in a fully literary work (Hearon 2004, 99). There would even be likely interactions between the performer and the auditor. Because the relationship between the performer and the audience could differ, there may be some variation in the way ideas would be expressed (Hearon 2004, 100).
The actual transmission of a written text could also be understood differently in light of orality studies. Hearon observes that there has been tension concerning how a text is reproduced. An eyewitness model places significant demands on the memory of eyewitnesses. On the other hand, it is possible that authoritative texts emerge from some sort of communal memory in which a collective tradition governs the shape of the information (Hearon 2004, 101). The model of a rhetorical culture of a community, which governs the general speech patterns and ways of managing topics may be valuable in terms of dealing with the divide between orality and literacy (Hearon 2004, 102). Hearon emphasizes the limited scope of literacy in the time when biblical texts arose (Hearon 2004, 103).
In conclusion, Hearon simply observes that we have taken great strides in terms of understanding the interaction of orality and the biblical texts. She trusts the progress will continue.