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

Pasulka, "Pre-Modern Scriptures in Postmodern Times"

Three essays focus particular attention on the function of performative readings of scriptures. In “Pre-modern Scriptures in Postmodern Times: The Philosophical Movement to Revive Traditional Reading Practices,” Postscripts 2.2-3 (2006) 293-315, Diana Walsh Pasulka notes that reading as a kind of individual devotional performance has been the subject of much recent theorizing. She provides a review and critical analysis of philosophical attempts by Wesley Kort, Paul Griffiths and Catherine Pickstock to revive pre-modern scriptural reading practices. These thinkers argue “that is it the very loss of scripture as performance that has inaugurated a loss of the sacred in modernity. This development thus tackles the philosophical issues at stake between secularism and theology and moves beyond the localized analysis of the meaning of specific scriptures” (p. 293). Diana compares their theoretical move to Martin Heidegger’s attempt to use ancient notions of art to similarly recover a sense of the sacred. Like him, Kort, Griffiths, and Pickstock “each hopes to instill in his or her readers a belief that the experience of the sacred is possible in the present. In this way, each is part of a movement within contemporary Christian religious thought that is reassessing the function of scriptures in conveying sacred presence” (p. 313).

The full article is available here from Equinox publishing.

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