Saint Paul's Shudder

in Courting the Abyss

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780226662749
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226662756 | DOI:
Saint Paul's Shudder

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This chapter describes Saint Paul as a theorist of communication. The discourse network of Paul's time informs his reflections on communication, specifically, about the difference between speaking by letter and speaking in person, presence, and absence. Paul effectively adapts the letter as a genre of preaching and intervention in Christian culture. His scribe for the epistle to the Romans was appropriately named Tertius, who takes the liberty of adding his own greeting to Paul's long list of personal greetings to the saints at Rome. His letters began and ended as voiced speech, and were designed to be read and heard aloud in the assembly, not as private silent reading, which was relatively rare in antiquity anyway. Paul's vision of a collective that is united ritually at a distance is a central source for the western tradition of theorizing mass communication, and anticipates print culture's national readerships and electronic media's simultaneous but dispersed audiences.

Keywords: Saint Paul; Christian culture; mass communication; western tradition; liberalism

Chapter.  18392 words. 

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