Monday, September 7, 2015

Ad Fontes Today: The Audiobook

The oral tradition has existed far longer than any physical literary work on earth. Before literacy spread world wide, stories were shared by well respected and talented orators. These stories were passed on from generation to generation, with some tweaks and minor changes along the way. In fact, many classic Christian stories began as oral tales before they were finally written down to what we now know as The Bible (White).

Many myths and legends originated from oral traditions but the label of "myth" or "legend", reveals an interesting element of oral story-telling. The purpose of retelling a story through the oral tradition is not to tell it exactly as it happened, but rather, to explain why or how an event happened, usually through symbols or emblems. This would explain why Biblical stories are loaded with symbolism that isn't always easy to interpret in our times.

With the development of books, kindles, and computers our society has come to rely less on orators and the symbolism of the tradition is seen as a literary technique rather than a literal interpretation. However, there is one particular outlet that returns to the source of oral tradition: the audio book. Yes the stories are pre-written and authored by a single source, but the essence of listening simply for the sake of enjoyment is reminiscent of the reason why the oral tradition was so popular and powerful during it's time.

This digital age we live in it touted as a "New Age" of sorts, yet many of our newer media sources are still rooted in tradition—indeed, there is a source of origin we can always return to.

Works Cited:

Colapinto, John. "The Pleasures of Being Read To." The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 14 May 2012. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. <>.
Koester, Helmut, and L. Michael White. "Importance of the Oral Tradition." PBS. PBS, Apr. 1998. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <>.

1 comment:

  1. Such an interesting look at oral communication and the audio book. I never thought of audio books as a form of oral tradition, but I definitely think it works that way and there is power in listening to things rather than reading them.