… And the reason they need the Bible, of course—and why we shouldn’t praise orality excessively, as a substitute for literacy—is that, to the degree that they don’t become literate, they’re going to always be secondhanders.
And I think it’s paternalistic to make a person a permanent secondhander. Because if the stories are all in this book, and we’re teaching them that they can learn it from us orally, then they’re going to be constantly dependent upon us and not just the book.
It may take a generation or two to get the book translated and to produce literacy, but what an arrogant thing it would be—wouldn’t it?—to say that orality is just as good as literacy. We’ll give them the stories they need, and now they can, for the next 100 or 300 years, or until Jesus comes, do everything in their way, not your Western literacy way. I think that is incredibly paternalistic.