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The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media

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The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media is a convenient and authoritative reference tool, introducing specific terms and concepts helpful to the study of the Bible and related literature in ancient communications culture. Since the early 1980s, biblical scholars have begun to explore the potentials of interdisciplinary theories of oral tradition, oral performance, personal and collective memory, ancient literacy and scribality, visual culture and ritual. Over time these theories have been combined with considerations of critical and exegetical problems in the study of the Bible, the history of Israel, Christian origins, and rabbinics. The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media responds to the rapid growth of the field by providing a source of reference that offers clear definitions, and in-depth discussions of relevant terms and concepts, and the relationships between them.

The volume begins with an overview of ‘ancient media studies’ and a brief history of research to orient the reader to the field and the broader research context of the book, with individual entries on terms and topics commonly encountered in studies of the Bible in ancient media culture. Each entry defines the term/ concept under consideration, then offers more sustained discussion of the topic, paying particular attention to its relevance for the study of the Bible and related literature.

Resource Experts
  • Includes reference material for study of biblical and other ancient literature
  • Contains helpful introduction to orient the reader to the study of past and present media
  • Provides resources for further study
  • List of Contributors
  • Table of Abbreviations
  • How to use this Book
  • Media Studies and Biblical Studies: An Introduction
  • Entries A–Z

Top Highlights

“Traditionsbruch is a term coined by Jan Assmann to describe the crisis brought about by the breakdown of social/institutional frameworks for the transmission and cultivation of a community’s foundational traditions. Assmann also refers to this as the ‘crisis of memory’.” (Page 429)

“Additionally, differences in the cultural positioning of these letters include issues surrounding Jewishness, leadership, and gender, moving from the early egalitarianism of Gal. 3:28 towards more institutionalized, hierarchical communal structures. Moreover, changes in ritual life, a diminishing charismatic orientation, and a greater desire for accommodation of the movement within Greco-Roman society indicate that a different mode of religion was evolving, causing a lasting shift in the cultural orientation of Christianity. This shift is seen, for example, in the inclusion of the household codes in Col. 3–4 and Eph. 5–6.” (Page 279)

“Similarly, the lack of urgency to explain God’s ongoing covenant with Israel makes these letters puzzling, at least to their ‘new perspective’ readers. It is quite possible that these letters emerged later, shaping early Christian social memory and identity by mimicking Pauline letter writing, giving more novel community praxis (such as rejection of Torah observance) historical roots anchored in the legacy of Paul while simultaneously embellishing his reputation as the apostle par excellence.” (Page 279)

“Through the ritual rehearsal of its master narratives and other commemorative traditions, a group constantly reconstitutes itself as a moral community and reproduces its cultural identity in ever-changing social and historical circumstances.” (Page 60)

Tom Thatcher is Professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University. He has authored or edited numerous books and articles on the Johannine Literature and early Christian media culture, including Memory, Tradition, and Text (with Alan Kirk; SBL 2005), Why John Wrote a Gospel (WJK 2006), and Jesus, the Voice, and the Text (Baylor University Press 2008). A co-founder and former chair of the ‘Mapping Memory’ research group in the Society of Biblical Literature, Tom now serves on the program committee of the SBL’s Bible in Ancient and Modern Media section.

Chris Keith is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and Director of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham, UK. He is the author of The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John and the Literacy of Jesus, a winner of the 2010 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, and Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee. He is also the co-editor of Jesus among Friends and Enemies: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels, and was recently named a 2012 Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar.

Raymond Person, Jr. is Professor of Religion at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio.

Elsie R. Stern is associate professor of Bible and vice-president for academic affairs at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is the author of From Rebuke to Consolation: Exegesis and Theology in the Liturgical Anthology of the Ninth of Av Season and of several articles on the ideological construction and public reception of scripture in early Judaism. She is also a contributor to the Jewish Study Bible and the Women’s Torah Commentary.


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Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Digital list price: $176.40
Regular price: $87.99
Save $22.00 (25%)