Pre-modern Scriptures in Postmodern Times

The Philosophical Movement to Revive Traditional Reading Practices


  • Diana Walsh Pasulka University of North Carolina



pre-modern exegetical practices, Wesley Kort, Paul Griffiths, Catherine Pickstock, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, William Graham, Martin Heidegger


A contemporary movement in Christian religious thought advocates for the recovery of pre-modern exegetical practices. Wesley Kort, Paul Griffiths, and Catherine Pickstock are among several theorists who support a return to pre-modern reading and writing practices as an answer to the crisis of modernity. In the context of scripture studies, the works of Kort, Griffiths, and Pickstock can be understood as examples of analyses that focus on the performative elements of scripture. Their stress on memorization, recitation, and reading reflect the influence of studies of the performative function of scriptures by Wilfred Cantwell Smith and William Graham. Kort, Griffiths, and Pickstock take this line of argument even further, by arguing that is it the very loss of scripture as performance that has inaugurated a loss of the sacred in modernity. This development thus tackles the philosophical issues at stake between secularism and theology and moves beyond the localized analysis of the meaning of specific scriptures. The following analysis places this development in an historical and philosophical context by revealing the theoretical precedents that each scholar draws upon, specifically the later writings of Martin Heidegger.

Author Biography

Diana Walsh Pasulka, University of North Carolina

Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.


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How to Cite

Pasulka, D. W. (2008). Pre-modern Scriptures in Postmodern Times: The Philosophical Movement to Revive Traditional Reading Practices. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 2(2-3), 293-315.