Book: Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings
Chapter: Scriptures, Materiality, and the Digital Turn: The Iconicity of Sacred Texts in a Liminal Age
Much discussion today about written textuality focuses on the transformative changes brought about by e-books and online texts. Though many people lament the loss of physical contact with material books, little of this discussion has actually focused on digitization’s effects on iconic texts. That is the topic broached by Brad Anderson, who surveys popular as well as academic discussions of the digitization of religious scriptures. Despite much discussion of the ritual use or misuse of digitized texts, he finds that iconic ritualization of scriptures still tends to utilize, with very few exceptions, a material book rather than its digital equivalents. Contemporary investigations of materiality in religious practices underscore the agency of physical objects in ritual practice, and elsewhere. Ritualizing iconic books, therefore, draws attention to the limitations of digital formats.