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Beyond the written word : oral aspects of scripture in the history of religion (William A. GRAHAM)

Beyond the written word : oral aspects of scripture in the history of (…)

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William Albert Graham est membre de la faculté des Arts et des Sciences de Harvard depuis 1973. Il est actuellement doyen de la Harvard Divinity School (2002 -). Ses axes de recherche principaux sont l’histoire religieuse de l’Islam, avec un accent particulier sur le Coran et les littératures du Hadith. (Source : Harvard University)


The concept of ’scripture’ as written religious text is re-examined in this close analysis of the traditions of oral use of the sacred writings of religions around the world. Pointing out the central importance of the oral and aural experience of religious texts in the life of religious communities of both Eastern and Western cultures, William Graham asserts the need for a new perspective on how scripture has been appropriated and used by the vast majority of all people who have been religious, most of whom could neither read nor write. Graham first probes the history of literacy, focusing on the prominent role of the written word in modern Western culture and its history in Western civilisation. He then considers the unique case of scripture, examining the problems of communication of texts to illiterate or semi-literate religious communities, the various oral uses of scripture, and affective impact of the spoken holy word vis-à-vis the silently written page.

Table des matières

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 west; Part II. Of Written and Spoken Scripture: 4. Scripture in Judeo-Christian perspective; 5. Holy writ and holy word; 6. Scripture as spoken word: the Indian paradigm;

Part III. ’An Arabic Reciting’: Quran as Spoken Book: 7. Revelation and recitation; 8. Muslim scripture as spoken word; 9. Voicing the Quran: questions of meaning;

Part IV. ’The Lively Oracles of God’: Bible as Spoken Word: 10. The spoken word of Christian holy writ; 11. God’s word in the desert; 12. Hearing and seeing: the rhetoric of Martin Luther; Conclusion.

(Source : Cambridge University Press)

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