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Annual Symposium on Information and Religion

IMAGE: Center for Study on Information and Religion

Center for the Study of Information and Religion

Fall 2014 Symposium

Monday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.
Kent State Student Center, Room 317

If you missed the event but would like to hear the discussion, the presentation is now online at:

Download Dr. Fowler's notes from his presentation

IMAGE: Robert Fowler

Robert Fowler, Ph.D.

Professor of Religion, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio

♦ ♦ ♦

“The Gutenberg Parenthesis of the Bible, or,
Why Everything You Know About the Bible Is Wrong”

The Bible is surely the textbook example of a body of material that has seen every era of media history, from ancient oral culture, to handwritten manuscripts, to the print culture driven by Gutenberg's printing press, to the current transition into what we might call the Electronic Age. Living as we do today in a transitional moment between two grand eras in media history, the ages of print and electronic communication, circumstances have arisen in which we are able to understand better than ever how humans have communicated in all of these eras. When we think of the Bible, we typically think of a printed Bible, but such Bibles have only been readily available for a little over 500 years.  Surprisingly, perhaps, a number of scholars have observed how the move into electronic culture seems to recuperate a number of the attitudes and habits of ancient orality. We need to consider the likelihood that the printed Bible is a product of the "Gutenberg Parenthesis," a relatively brief span of time in the vast history of the Bible that represents a momentary departure from the dominant media attitudes and habits that preceded it, attitudes and habits that are re-emerging again at the closing of the parenthesis in the Electronic Age.
Robert Fowler is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio, where he has taught for 34 years. For 21 years he was chairperson of the department. He earned his Ph.D. in Bible from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is perhaps best known for his literary-critical studies of the Gospel of Mark: Loaves and Fishes: The Function of the Feeding Stories in the Gospel of Mark (Society of Biblical Literature) and Let the Reader Understand: Reader-Response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark (Trinity Press International). As a member of "The Bible and Culture Collective,” he collaborated in the writing of The Postmodern Bible (Yale University Press). Among the courses on the Bible that he teaches regularly is "History of the Bible," which he describes as a survey of the media history of the Bible, from ancient oral culture to the Electronic Age.

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