The Three Dimensions of Scriptures

  title={The Three Dimensions of Scriptures},
  author={James Watts},
This article proposes a new model for understanding the ways that scriptures function. Several big media stories of recent years, such as those surrounding controversies over Ten Commandments monuments in U.S. courthouses and Qur’ans desecrated at Guantanamo Bay, involve the iconic function of scriptures. Yet contemporary scholarship on Jewish, Christian, or Muslim scriptures is ill-prepared to interpret these events because it has focused almost all its efforts on textual interpretation. Even… 

Scriptures, Materiality, and the Digital Turn: The Iconicity of Sacred Texts in a Liminal Age

  • Bradford A. Anderson
  • Art
    Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts
  • 2019
The “digital turn” witnessed over the past several decades has had a significant impact on the use of sacred texts, although the full extent of these developments is far from settled. This essay

Iconic Scriptures from Decalogue to Bible

An “iconic book” is a text revered primarily as an object of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. The emerging study of iconic books and texts draws especially on

Performing the Bible in the Korean Context: Korean Ways of Reading, Singing, and Dramatizing the Scriptures

The present study explores the performative nature of the Bible as a sacred text in the Korean context. Drawing on the theory of scriptural performance advocated by James W. Watts, I investigate its

Books as Sacred Beings

  • James Watts
  • Philosophy
    Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts
  • 2019
Research on the ritualization of sacred texts highlights the common cross-cultural analogy between books and people or other beings. In this essay, I argue that this analogy stems from a reader’s

“Winged Words”: Scriptures and Classics as Iconic Texts

We consider first some difficulties of facilely differentiating “religious” from “cultural” phenomena, and similarly “scriptures” from (“religious” or “cultural”) “classics.” Texts in the latter

Sacred Texts in a Digital Age: Materiality, Digital Culture, and the Functional Dimensions of Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

From scroll to codex, and from manuscript to moveable print, sacred texts have long been influenced by technological developments related to the production and transmission of texts.1 As with all of

Narrative, Lists, Rhetoric, Ritual and the Pentateuch as a Scripture

Case a The Pentateuchʼs juxtaposition of different genres within a narrative framework provides some of the evidence for building source- and redaction-critical theories of the Pentateuchʼs literary

Performing the Torah: The Rhetorical Function of the Pentateuch in the Second Temple Period

The Torah comes equipped with instructions for its own performance. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses instructs the Levites to “read this law before all Israel in their hearing” every seven years at Succoth

Ancient Iconic Texts and Scholarly Expertise

This essay probes the origins of iconic textuality in the ancient Near East, informed by post-colonial perspectives on iconic texts. The surviving art and texts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

Saints’ Lives as Performance Art

  • V. Burrus
  • Art
    Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts
  • 2019
If scriptures are fundamentally textual in their semantic, performative, and iconic dimensions, as James Watts has argued, Saints’ Lives are fundamentally performative, I suggest. The literary Lives



Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions

From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors,

Ten Commandments Monuments and the Rivalry of Iconic Texts

The legal and political controversy over Ten Commandments monuments in the United States revolves around iconic texts holding a discrete symbolic value compared to texts whose function primarily is

To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual

In this broad-ranging inquiry into ritual and its relation to place, Jonathan Z. Smith prepares the way for a new approach to the comparative study of religion. Smith stresses the importance of

Scripture and Knowledge: An Essay on Religious Epistemology

At the core of Scripture and Knowledge lies the problem of the nature of religious knowledge. The author argues that religion is a particular framework rather than a particular content or defined set

African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures

Pre-texts: the study of the Bible as ethnography the study of the Bible as socio-cultural hermeneutics the study of the Bible as cultural-historical reality. Con-texts: flight, or cultural

The Qur'ân's self-image : writing and authority in Islam's scripture

List of Figures ix List of Tables ix Preface xi A Note for the Non-Arabist xiii Table of Transliterations and Abbreviations xv Introduction 3 1.The Qur'an as a Book 13 2.The Qur'an's Rejection of

Beyond the written word : oral aspects of scripture in the history of religion

Preface Acknowledgements Introduction Part I. Of Written and Spoken Words: 1. Writing and written culture 2. The print textuality of modern culture 3. Books, reading and literacy in the premodern

After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy

After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy. By Catherine Pickstock. Challenges in Contemporary Theology Series. Oxford, UK and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers,1998. xv + 292 pp.

Religious Reading: The Place of Reading in the Practice of Religion

What social conditions and intellectual practices are necessary in order for religious cultures to flourish? Paul Griffiths finds the answer in 'religious reading' - the kind of reading in which a

The Study of Religion and the Study of the Bible

NE OF THE most exciting new developments on college and university campuses in recent times, and also one of the most significant and potentially creative developments on the religious scene, is