Horsley, Richard. "Oral Tradition in New Testament Studies." Oral Tradition 18:1 (2003), 34-36.
Horsley considers the field of New Testament scholarship to be focused on written composition of what is understood as the Word of God. He states that "oral tradition in the broader sense assumed in other fields poses a considerable threat to New Testament (Biblical) scholars" (Horsley 2003, 34). He then extrapolates that work done by New Testament scholars pertaining to oral tradition "is heavily derivative from work in other fields" (Horsley 2003, 34).
Recent work has suggested that literacy, even among Jews, was not widespread, so oral communication would have been of great importance (Horsley 2003, 34). Additionally, scholars are finding reason to believe that reading, reciting, and hearing were closely interconnected. Further, discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that written texts, even those considered authoritative, could develop in different versions within the same community (Horsley 2003, 35). Fourth, oral traditions may have developed into two threads, which "anthropologists would call 'great tradition' and 'little tradition'" (Horsley 2003, 35). A current parallel might be high art and folk art. Finally, Horsley considers that the speeches of Jesus as recorded were sample perfodqrmances which would be replicated but adapted for the particular use of the audience.
Horsley does not provide recommendations for New Testament scholarship, but his five areas mentioned surely can provide food for thought.