The End of the Word as We Know It

The Cultural Iconicity of the Bible in the Twilight of Print Culture


  • Timothy Beal Case Western Reserve University



Bible, scripture, icon, cultural icon, print culture, Christian scriptures, Biblezine, manga Bible


This essay attends to a distinction that requires closer examination and theorization in our discourse on iconic books and other scriptures: the difference between iconic object and cultural icon. How do we conceive of relations between the particular, ritualized iconicities of particular scriptures in particular religious contexts and the cultural iconicities of scriptures in general, such as “the Bible” or “the Quran,” whose visual and material objectivity is highly ambiguous? How if at all are the iconic cultural meanings of the ideas of such books related to the particular iconic textual objects more or less instantiate them? These questions are explored through particular focus on the relationship between the particular iconicities of particular print Bibles, as iconic objects, and the general iconicity of the cultural icon of the Bible.

Author Biography

Timothy Beal, Case Western Reserve University

Florence Harkness Professor of Religion Department of Religious Studies, Case Western Reserve University.


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How to Cite

Beal, T. (2012). The End of the Word as We Know It: The Cultural Iconicity of the Bible in the Twilight of Print Culture. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 6(1-3), 165–184.