Manufacturing Tradition by Performing the Past

Zusammenfassung / Summary

This study will examine the concept of tradition from the perspective of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network theory. It will argue that, whether conceived of as a general category of human experience, or a specific group of figures, customs, texts, and past events, tradition does not simply exist as an artifact. That is, it is not a stable entity that can be picked up and used as the explanation for behavior. Instead, this paper will suggest that tradition is created through performance by spokespersons in identifiable settings, along distinct paths, and for precise goals. Investigating tradition through this lens will demonstrate that tradition is never an independent dataset that can be utilized by social actors to support their goals. Rather, tradition is produced by these actors with their goals in mind. This paper will show how this manufacture of tradition operates by highlighting its production in the prologue of Greek Ben Sira, Josephus’ Against Apion 1.38-42, and the prologue of the Sibylline Oracles.

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