Document Type

Article

Date

2012

Embargo Period

4-27-2015

Keywords

literacy, scribes, scholars, authority, legitimacy, iconic books, monuments

Language

English

Disciplines

Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Reading and Language | Religion

Description/Abstract

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 exhibit at least four forms of iconic textuality: monumental inscriptions, portraits of scribes, displays and manipulations of ritual texts, and beliefs in heavenly texts. The spread of literacy did not displace the social prestige of scribal expertise that was established in antiquity. The every-growing number and complexity of texts accounts for the continuing cultural authority of scholarly expertise. The tension between expert and non-specialist uses of texts, however, explains scholarship’s avoidance of the subject of iconic books and texts while drawing constant attention to their semantic interpretation instead.

Additional Information

First published in Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds 6 (2010/ 2012), 331-344. Reprinted in Iconic Books and Texts (ed. J. W. Watts; London: Equinox, 2013), 407-418.

Source

local input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Share

COinS