Oral tradition, ancient history and religious tourism knowledge

Schweinsberg, Stephen and Sharpley, Richard Anthony john orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2135-3206 (2024) Oral tradition, ancient history and religious tourism knowledge. Tourism Recreation Research . ISSN 0250-8281

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/02508281.2024.2319564


Religious tourism is one of the most longstanding forms of leisure related travel in the world with a history dating back to antiquity. However, there has been a hesitation amongst many tourism scholars to critically assess the role of ancient religious texts to understand the attitudes and behaviours of religious tourists and tourism destinations. With reference to literature on oral traditions, the aim of this exploratory paper is to critically consider the insights that can be derived from the Christian Bible for the management and scholarly understanding of contemporary religious tourism. This paper suggests that Christianity’s oral traditions and their ensuing written representation in the Bible provide an important means of understanding religion ‘as lived’ in the ancient world. Religious tourists are often driven by a pilgrim’s mentality to tread in the footsteps of the first apostles and other religious leaders. From a historical perspective, the oral formulation of the New Testament and its subsequent influence on the formation of the Bible as a religious text offers religious tourists an insight into such people and the places/ experiences that were important in the faith of the early church.

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