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E-Scripture: The Impact of Technology on the Reading of Sacred Texts (2013)

Stewart, Emily R. (2013) E-Scripture: The Impact of Technology on the Reading of Sacred Texts (2013). Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The tradition of religious readers in transition is not new: Augustine expressed “amazement” that Ambrose read silently and not aloud, movable type in the fifteenth century made the Bible publishable without scribal work, and today, electronic pages have become interactive in ways scarcely imagined a short time ago. How readers of today imagine a page (now conceptualized as a ‘web-page’) and consequently, reading in general, has profound implications for the 21st century. Acknowledging the fact that “the significance of a religious book lies not only in the message of its content, but also in the form and self-presentation with which it makes itself available to worship and transmission,” this project assumes that a great deal of perspective is provided by looking at this current transition in light of the old. In virtually all previous reading transitions, a religious ‘pattern of reading technology’ can be seen, whose pieces are all well-known but have not been collectively applied to the current situation of e-reading. The pattern operates with a three part assumption: readers will initially use a new technology to perform the same functions as the old technology, only more quickly, with more efficiency, or in greater quantity. This early use of new reading technology, in other words, largely attempts to imitate the functions and appearance of the old format. The second part is that the old technology becomes sacralized or ritualized in the face of the new technology’s standardization. As this standardization occurs, the new technology develops its own unique and innovative functions, exclusive to that form and shedding some or most of the imitative appearance and functions of the old technology – the third part of the pattern. Reviewing these transitions of the past and present, it becomes clear that perhaps fear of the new technology – however relatable – proves somewhat unfounded. New reading technology does not prove ultimately inimical to the old formats, or to religion, and despite many initial practical concerns, actually provides a multitude of benefits in the reading of sacred texts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Stewart, Emily
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairShear, Adamashear@pitt.eduASHEAR
Committee MemberKane, Paulapmk@pitt.eduPMK
Committee MemberKranson, Rachelkranson@pitt.eduKRANSON
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 April 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 18 April 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 71
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religious Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: History of the Book, Reading Technology, Religion, Ritual, Print, electronic, Internet, e-reader, scripture
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 16:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11


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