James W. Watts: 0000-0002-4872-4986
iconic books, relics, texts, book history, scriptures
Biblical Studies | Comparative Methodologies and Theories | Other Arts and Humanities | Religion
Religious traditions typically ritualize their scriptures in three dimensions. Other kinds of texts may be ritualized in one or two dimensions (e.g. the performative dimension of the scripts of plays or sheet music, the semantic dimension of national law codes), but the regular ritualization of a text in all three dimensions usually distinguishes it as a scripture or sacred text. There are, however, some texts or, more accurately, some specific copies of texts, that tend to be ritualized only in the iconic dimension, and scriptures feature prominently among them. I term such texts “relic books.” Relic books are writings that are valued for being the specific objects that they are. These objects are rare, if not one-of-a-kind, and are in theory not reproducible. This paper describes relic texts and illustrates how they function both within religious groups and in secular society with examples from recent news stories.
James W. Watts, "Relic Texts," Iconic Books Blog June 8, 2012. © James W. Watts 2012
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