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Reception History and Beyond: Toward the Cultural History of Scriptures

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After highlighting the substantial gains made by the reception historical approach, this article proceeds to point out some of its inherent limitations, particularly when applied to biblical texts. In attending to the material-aesthetic dimensions of biblical texts, media, and ideas of the Bible, especially in dialogue with anthropological, material-historical, and media-historical approaches, these limitations become acute and call for a harder cultural turn than is possible from a strictly reception-historical approach. This article proposes to move beyond reception history to cultural history, from research into how biblical texts and the Bible itself are received to how they are culturally produced as discursive objects. Such a move would involve a double turn in the focus of biblical scholarship and interpretation: from hermeneutical reception to cultural production, and from interpreting scripture via culture to interpreting culture, especially religious culture, via its productions of scripture. As such, it would bring biblical research into fuller and more significant dialogue with other fields of comparative scriptural studies, religious studies, and the academic humanities and social sciences in general.

Affiliations: 1: Case Western Reserve University


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