Check out Joi Weaver’s short piece on listening to stories in an oral culture, and in our own.
How important is it to hear a work like Beowulf or the Odyssey? It’s true that adding sensory perception makes any experience more memorable, and music has long been known to aid in memory and recitation. But perhaps it’s more than that. When one reads, it is usually a solitary pursuit. We often speak of “getting lost in a good book.” But some works were not meant to work that way. In the oral traditions, it is impossible to have a solitary experience of the story. There must always be a storyteller, and there must always be someone to hear the story. There must always be a community.
Obviously, huge chunks of the Bible were also intended to be recited (or sung) to an audience, not read in solitude.