Westar Institute Bible Seminar: Once and Future Bible

Paper Presentation Pamela Eisenbaum
1.    How the Bible came to be and how it needs to change
2.    Developed a course on the formation of the canon.  Question of what the bible is, both materially and technologically, as a whole.
3.    Discuss the move from scroll to codex; correspondence between the rise of Xtianity and codex –the book technology.
4.    Bible software is widespread.  Avatars of the Word – James Augustine; Question whether there is a concept of an emerging canon in the dead sea scrolls; how important was it to early Xtianity;
5.    The Orthodox corruption of Scripture.
6.    Window into early Xtian scribal culture – gives hints about what they thought scripture was.
7.    Connection between what happened in the first few centuries regarding the formation of the Bible and what is happening now.  Both involve a technological shift that impacts the form in which the Bible is read, transmitted, and studied.
8.    In addition, understand how cultural and technological forces impacts how scripture and canon are conceptualized and how does it affect form.
9.    Digitization of information has revolutionized scholarship; is radically changing how we communicate, but also changing how we think and learn and conceptualize reality.
10.    The Bible is going to become something very different.  Scholars may have a different role to play in mediating this process.
11.    The medium is the message: Marshall McLuan: The form of the message defines what the message is, and therefore what it means.
12.    So the image of the Bible up to now is a book.  Future people may have a different mental image of online/onscreen Bible.
13.    “The Rise and Fall of the Bible” – The end of print culture will be the end of the Word as we know it – the end of the idea of the Bible as THE book.
14.    Hypertextual, cross-textual, and process-oriented – changed; revised constantly.
15.    Collaborative – bloggers, readers can comment on it and revise it – [will we have a talmud??? commentary on the Christian Bible?]
16.    The Bible was never a fixed, stable unchanging thing.  This was an illusion caused by codex and print.
17.    Is this a good thing?
18.    Will progressive Xtian values win the day because of more participation in interpretation.
19.    The Bible is ubiquitous–everywhere.  This could potentially increase the idea that the Bible is the divine word.  Are lay readers any more likely to land on sites.
20.    Search engines; wikipedia; yahoo; amazon; The Bible is the Amazon of sacred texts.  Could maintain its cultural dominance.
21.    With new technologies the right has tools that can reach as never before.
22.    Most makers of Bible popular software are evangelical right wingers who want to convert the world.
23.    It has been largely evangelicals who have embraced popularizing technologies.
24.    The ability to call up any portion of the bible can lead to even more proof-texting and simplification.
25.    More likely to open the canon – but will it be? What’s lost is the narrative context.
26.    Does the software do the interpretation work?
27.    Biblical scholars as mediators of the text are therefore diminished.
28.    Every English translation was either done by scholars, or totally dependent on a scholarly translation.  Most people never think about this; the problem with the unawareness of the role of scholars is that it further diminishes the human aspect in the Bible and the role humans play.  This can result in a more authoritarian view of the bible.

Discussion
1.    Relationship between canon and text; goes along with terminology clarification;
2.    Two ways to look at the prioritizing: 1) procedural; 2) cultural urgency

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