Those criticisms aside, I find myself enjoying the current essay very much, perhaps more than I've enjoyed any other thing Kelber has written. With that, I'd like to quote Kelber's analysis of biblical scholarship and why objections to cross-cultural and/or transhistorical analytical models are red-herrings.
As an academic discipline, biblical scholarship is laden with centuries of received manners and mannerisms. Not infrequently it has operated in a state of culturally conditioned and/or institutionally enforced isolation. More to the point, many of its historical methods and assumptions about the functioning of biblical texts originated in perennial working relations with print versions—typographic constructs of modernity. Plainly, New Testament (and biblical) studies stand in need of a rethinking of the communications environment in which the early Jesus tradition participated. (181)
Kelber is exactly right. The danger—for Kelber as well as for any of us who search for sociological and anthropological models to help illumine ancient texts—is thinking that we have avoided misapprehending the biblical texts while everyone else sees them through culturally inappropriate lenses. Kelber may too easily critique other scholars for assuming an inapplicable communications model, but his work also constantly reminds that our own ways of perceiving, processing, transmitting, and working with words differ in nearly every respect from Jesus, Paul, and every other figure from antiquity. Cross-cultural models help us become better aware, at the very least, of our own ways of verbalization and so to question how ancient communicative techniques and technologies may have functioned in ways different from our own.