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First-Century Media Culture and Johannine Studies

September 6, 2011

This weekend I received in the mail, The Fourth Gospel in First-Century Media Culture (ed. Anthony Le Donne and Tom Thatcher; LNTS 426).

Fourth Gospel in First-Century Media Culture (Library Of New Testament Studies)

So far I’ve had an opportunity to read the first few essays and I’ve been awakened to the importance of media studies for Johannine studies. I’ve read Werner Kelber (the pioneer of much work done in this area) and some of Thatcher’s previous work in the area of media studies (see especially his book, Why John Wrote a Gospel), but beyond that I had not considered this an issue of major importance. Thatcher’s first chapter (he has two in the book) is entitled, “The Riddle of the Baptist and the Genesis of the Prologue: John 1.-18 in Oral/Aural Media Culture.” In the essay he argues against the long-held source-critical theory that Prologue developed piecemeal and consists of earlier hymnic material and Johannine insertions. Building upon Kelber’s idea of “equiprimordiality,” Thatcher uses assumptions and tools from media studies to argue that the Prologue was an oral, compositional unity.

I look forward to finishing the book over the next week. I’ll try to post more reflections here.

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