Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts 2019-10-07T09:12:12+00:00 Brad Anderson Open Journal Systems <p>This journal is devoted to the academic study of scripture around the globe and is the official journal of SCRIPT, the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Society for Research on Iconic and Performative Texts</a>. It deals with the rich panoply of engagements with texts that are foundational in the lives of individuals and communities around the world -- texts that travel under the name of 'scripture' or 'sacred' text. It aims to open up the discussion of sacred texts by crossing traditional boundaries, bringing different disciplinary tools to the process of analysis, and opening up a sustained dialogue between and among scholars and others who are interested in religion, textuality, media and mediation and the contemporary world.</p> Guest Editor’s Foreword 2019-08-10T21:33:18+00:00 James W. Watts 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Performing Scriptures 2019-10-07T09:12:12+00:00 Yohan Yoo <p><em>Seolwi-seolgyeong</em> is a Korean shamanistic ritual in which shamans recite scriptures while being seated. This ritual suggests a comprehensive way of performing scriptures; scriptures are recited, written and materialized so that their sacred status is secured and their power is maximized. The recitation is the nucleus of this ritual. Though lay participants do not understand the meaning of recited scriptures, they regard the recitation as effective because the gods and evil spirits are thought to understand it. For<em> seolwi-seolgyeong</em> to be most efficacious, the recitation of scriptures should be supported by the materialization of scriptures. Evil spirits become frightened by reading the paper banners on which the names of gods and other words of scriptures are written. Geometric paper figures that depict gods visually scare evil spirits and those that reflect the scriptures’ cosmology can hedge them in and trap them. In this ritual process, scriptures are privileged and distinguished as sacred beings in several ways. First, scriptures are ritualized when shamans and other participants in <em>seolwi-seolgyeong</em> treat the scriptures as no less than the words of the gods. Second, reciting the scripture is equated with the proclamation of divine words. This ritualization is considered more effective when scriptures are recited more skillfully. Third, the contents of scriptures are also ritualized when they are considered so sacred as to subdue evil spirits and heal patients and when shamans materialize the contents into paper figures on the basis of their interpretation of the cosmology and theology in scriptures.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Embodying the Qur’an 2019-08-10T21:33:28+00:00 Katharina Wilkens <p>Mohammed was said by his wife Aisha to be a “walking Qur’an”. This saying is taken both as a statement of his exemplary character as well as an image for the fact that he embodied the words of the Qur’an. Memorization and recitation from memory is conceived of as embodying the holy text and it is also the primary aim of Qur’anic education. In West Africa, drinking the ink of the writing boards is the closing ritual of a lesson at Qur’anic school, the text being thus embodied both mentally and physically. Drinking the Qur’an, literally incorporating its words infused in water, is also widely considered to be an effective medicine, in which materiality and sonality of the sacred words contribute to its efficacy. In my paper, I will take up the notion of embodying and sounding the Qur’an as an aesthetic ideology governing its ritual uses.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Scriptures, Materiality, and the Digital Turn 2019-08-10T21:33:34+00:00 Bradford A. Anderson <p>The “digital turn” witnessed over the past several decades has had a significant impact on the use of sacred texts, although the full extent of these developments is far from settled. This essay explores some of the social and cultural dynamics involved in converting or translating scriptures to digital formats, issues which take on heightened significance because of the sacred status of these texts in their respective traditions. Drawing on the notion of diverse functional dimensions of scriptures, this study highlights the complex way in which the use of sacred texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is being affected by the digital turn. Specific focus is placed on the iconic role of scriptures, an aspect often bound up with issues of materiality. I conclude with some theoretical reflections that build on Jonathan Westin’s “vocabulary of limitations,” which itself draws on the sociology of translation, to suggest that the material dimensions of scriptures in this liminal age highlights the role of these texts as objects which both embody and contribute to social and cultural values. These comparative perspectives offer suggestive possibilities for reflection on such material texts as “sacred beings.”</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Being the Bible 2019-08-10T21:33:40+00:00 Dorina Miller Parmenter <p>Bring Your Bible to School Day has been a rapidly growing annual event in US schools since 2014. It involves a ritual with the processional object, the Bible in its many personalized variations, operating as an icon that invokes the presence of God and legitimizes evangelical Christians who see themselves as the agents of God’s return to American schools and society. In this ritual, the Bible also functions to index its possessors as affected biblical bodies, or visible manifestations of God’s word. This article analyzes the activities and discourses surrounding Bring Your Bible to School Day in light of material attitudes and practices in Protestant Christianity, including iconoclasm and biblicism, and recent scholarship on iconic books.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Body Building in the Hindu Tantric Tradition 2019-08-10T21:33:46+00:00 Rachel Fell McDermott <p>This article investigates what happens when Tantra, a Hindu esoteric system that is based on the interpretation of the human being as a living, ritualized embodiment of scripture, becomes exotericized through a devotional framework. Building upon the work of Gavin Flood, who coins the term “entextualization” to refer to the way a textual tradition is “written upon” or divinizes the human body, we chart the changes in the medieval Sanskrit Tantric tradition of internalizing the Hindu goddess K?l? when it is taken up by eighteenth-century Bengali devotional poets. What is lost when the esoteric comes out into the open?</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Saints’ Lives as Performance Art 2019-08-10T21:33:49+00:00 Virginia Burrus <p>If scriptures are fundamentally textual in their semantic, performative, and iconic dimensions, as James Watts has argued, Saints’ Lives are fundamentally performative, I suggest. The literary Lives of Saints are marked by a distinctive textual performativity, and icons – here not books, as for Watts, but painted images (eikones) and relics – are also distinctly performative qua objects, as expressed above all in an animistic capacity for intimate relationship. In a slight modification of Watts’s nomenclature, we might then name the three performative dimensions of Saints’ Lives the textual, the visual, and the thingly. Circulating through all of these dispersed media is the presence of the saint’s body, at once vivid and elusive, unified and plural: the saint’s performance is first and foremost a bodily performance, in all its dimensions. In order to develop this claim, I juxtapose passages from two late ancient literary Lives of Saints with contemporary performance art, moving on to consider more briefly the performativity of the visual and thingly dimensions of the lives of saints. Ultimately, we see not only how the line blurs between literary Life, on the one hand, and the life of a saint as it emerges across other media, on the other, but also how the three dimensions of the life – the textual, the visual, and the thingly – cross and converge.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Aspiring Narratives of Previous Births in Written and Visual Media from Ancient Gandh?ra 2019-08-10T21:33:59+00:00 Jason Neelis <p>A wide range of practices emerged for venerating the Buddha’s embodied presence in textual and visual relics.This article considers ways in which hagiographical narratives of previous births preserved in written and visual media may be considered as embodiments in Dharma (Dharmak?ya). The study focuses on G?ndh?r? Buddist manuscipts with abbreviated written summaries of narratives labeled as Avad?nas and P?rvayogas. Results of a survey of images identified as J?takas in Gandh?ran art are also integrated for a comprehensive understanding of the iconic function of rebirth narratives, which were emplaced in the sacralized landscape of the Northwest.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Daoist Writs and Scriptures as Sacred Beings 2019-08-10T21:34:02+00:00 Jihyun Kim <p>The formation and solidification of canonical scriptures in Daoism facilitated the establishment and development of the religious tradition. In particular, medieval Daoism was grounded on a unique conception of writs and scriptures. The Daoist concept of scripture is founded on a belief system in which letters and sounds are particular forms of qi, or the omnipresent “pneuma and energy.” Such a way of thinking provides a lead for understanding the Daoist veneration of scriptures and other various practices. The aim of this paper is to explore the characteristics of Daoist canonical scriptures as “sacred beings,” mainly through an investigation of the Daoist perspective on scriptures, scripture-worship, and the relationship between scripture and practice.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd. Books as Sacred Beings 2019-08-10T21:34:07+00:00 James W. Watts <p>Research on the ritualization of sacred texts highlights the common cross-cultural analogy between books and people or other beings. In this essay, I argue that this analogy stems from a reader’s experience of using books and the effects that books seem to exert on readers. Three different effects can arise from ordinary book use: an out-of-body experience, an experience of transcendence through the resurrection of ideas, and a transformative encounter that encourages religious description as a theophany. These three effects correspond to the ritualization of books in the semantic, expressive, and iconic dimensions. This correspondence raises questions about the influence of literacy on religious experience. It also opens the possibility that ordinary book use may provide a new avenue for analyzing religious experience.</p> 2019-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Equinox Publishing Ltd.