Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Heyman, "Canon Law and the Canon of Scripture"

George Heyman, in “Canon Law and the Canon of Scripture,” Postscripts 2 (2006) 209-225, charts similar developments in Roman Catholic teachings about the Bible on the one hand and canon law on the other. He argues that using the common term “canon” for each betrays their common interest in social control. On the basis of M. B. ter Borg’s theory of canon, Heyman argues:

The success of a canon follows not from the assent or agreement of the populace, but rather from the embedded quasi-personal relationship that produces a sense of belonging and identity. The objectified canon takes over this quasi-personal feature, which guarantees a canon’s sanctity. Calling scripture or law “canonical” thus transcendentalizes a text and allows it to retain a sacred quality that in turn effects social control through a shared sense of belonging. This thesis is confirmed and elaborated through a review of the conceptions of canon operative in the Catholic Church during the thirteenth, the sixteenth, and the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In all these periods, the Catholic Church modified its conception of the canonical nature of both its scriptures and its laws in order to strengthen corporate identity and to establish order and control within and without its perimeter. (p. 209)

The full article can be read here in .pdf from Equinox publishing.

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