/1/ I am grateful to Baldwin-Wallace College for Gigax and Gund Grants in the 1993-1994 year, which gave me the time and resources to write this article. The grants also allowed me to work with a student research assistant, Holly White, who has been a valued collaborator.

/2/ Issued primarily to the Westar Institute, but with an eye toward a larger audience, Funk's call is provocative, a gauntlet thrown down before church and academy alike. Funk wants nothing less than to re-open the question of the contents of the biblical canon: "What should be the agenda of the Canon Council? 1. To determine what should be added to the canon or deleted from the canon. 2. To determine the organization of the works to be included in the new canon. 3. To decide the name of the new canon and its subdivisions"; Funk, "Call for a Canon Council," 13.

/3/ Bolter, Writing Space, 2.

/4/ Fowler, Loaves and Fishes; idem, "Who Is 'the Reader'?"; idem, "Rhetoric of Direction and Indirection"; idem, Let the Reader Understand; idem, "Figuring Mark's Reader."

/5/ See the forthcoming work of the Bible and Culture Collective, The Postmodern Bible.

/6/ Bolter, Writing Space, 156-59; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 6; Landow, Hypertext, 70, 117, 126, 169.

/7/ Fowler, Let the Reader Understand, 228-60.

/8/ Ong, Orality and Literacy.

/9/ In the light of such an historical framework, I spend a lot of time problematizing the course title, "The History of the Bible." A better title, perhaps, would be "The Histories of Biblical Traditions." Among the points I hammer on in the course are: (1) Just as there were oral biblical traditions before there was writing, there may (electronic) oral traditions 'after writing.' That is, "biblical tradition" is a far broader, more inclusive category than "Bible"; "tradition" can be oral or written, but "Bible" implies the practice of writing in manuscript and print cultures. (2) The biblical traditions have always been plural, never singular, with multiple oral traditions, multiple manuscript traditions, variations between manuscript copies, variations between canonical lists (once those begin to appear), multiple translations, and so it goes. (3) Even the word "Bible" itself once was a plural, not a singular noun--ta biblia--"the little books."

/10/ Fowler, "Networking Religious Studies"; idem, "The Secondary Orality of the Electronic Age."

/11/ Barrett, Sociomedia; Delany and Landow, Hypermedia and Literary Studies; Harnad, "Post-Gutenberg Galaxy"; Landow and Delany, The Digital Word; Miller, "Literary Theory"; Tuman, Literacy Online.

/12/ All three authors have not only written about, but have also produced, hypertexts; all three of these books come both in print and hypertext forms. Bolter and Landow have also been involved in the development of hypertext software.

/13/ Will we still use the word "literature" when our "texts" come to us, no longer on paper, but through the Internet or on CD-ROM, and contain not only written words, but also video clips, stereo sound, animation, and color graphics? What would the Bible look and sound like, translated into such electronic multimedia?

/14/ Landow, Hypertext, 33.

/15/ Bruce, Canon of Scripture; Gamble, New Testament Canon; McDonald, Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon; Metzger, Canon of the New Testament; von Campenhausen, Formation of the Christian Bible.

/16/ Barr, Holy Scripture; Childs, Old Testament as Scripture; idem, New Testament as Canon; Kermode, "Argument about Canons"; Sanders, From Sacred Story to Sacred Text.

/17/ Altieri, "Literary Canon"; Fiedler and Baker, English Literature; Gates, "Canon Formation"; idem, "The Master's Pieces"; Graff, "Teach the Conflicts"; idem, "Other Voices, Other Rooms"; idem, Beyond the Culture Wars; Harris, "Canonicity"; Kermode, "Institutional Control of Interpretation"; Mooij, "Canonizers and the Canonized"; Perloff, "Ca(n)non to the Right of Us"; Scholes, "Canonicity and Textuality"; von Hallberg, Canons.

/18/ Coward, Sacred Word and Sacred Text; Denny and Taylor, Holy Book in Comparative Perspective; Graham, "Scripture"; idem, Beyond the Written Word; Levering, Rethinking Scripture; Smith, What is Scripture?

/19/ I am building on William Countryman's definition of authority in Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny?; on biblical authority, see also Bartlett, Shape of Scriptural Authority.

/20/ Jonathan Z. Smith argues that the social setting for the invocation of a "canon" of authoritative symbols in primal cultures is the practice of divination; Smith, "Sacred Persistence." Actually, this sheds unintended light on the function of canon in the Electronic Age, where there may be no longer a fixed written canon, but nevertheless constant 'canonical moments' of ethical and political decision-making, which one might argue is the analog of "divination" in the Electronic Age.

See Robert Scholes's or Wilfred Cantwell Smith's comments on the frequent compiling of authoritative collections of literature in the Hellenistic age; Scholes, "Canonicity and Textuality"; Smith, "Scripture as Form and Concept." The biblical canon is thus only one example among many of the writing and collecting of traditions in the manuscript culture of late antiquity.

/21/ Tracy, The Analogical Imagination, 98-153. For the sake of argument, if a new Christian canon were to be defined today, is there any reason why all Christian "classics" should not be considered for inclusion, and not just those written before 500 CE?

/22/ McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy; idem, Understanding Media; Ong, Rhetoric, Romance, and Technology; idem, Interfaces of the Word; idem, Orality and Literacy; Bolter, Writing Space.

/23/ Finnegan, Literacy and Orality.

/24/ All this talk about a monumental transformation in the dominant media of communication is new to us, but not to the Bible. The biblical traditions have undergone media transformation several times in their long histories, first from orality to manuscript, and then from manuscript into print; see Ong, Orality and Literacy; Boomershine, "Biblical Megatrends."

In the late 20th century the transformation of the biblical traditions from print to electronic media is already well under way. As evidence, most biblical scholars use electronic versions of one or more English translations of the Bible, as well as electronic versions of the Hebrew and Greek texts. Several CD-ROM collections of biblical translations, original language texts, and reference works have appeared. But all of that is merely to recycle already existing printed texts in electronic form. Things will get really interesting when original electronic mutations of biblical traditions begin to appear. For example, the American Bible Society has produced what might be called an 'MTV-style' videotape dramatization of the story of the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5:1-20. The video is being incorporated, along with reference material and other video clips, into an interactive multimedia CD-ROM. The ABS has two more videos and related interactive CDs in production.

/25/ Nelson, Literary Machines 93.1, 0/2; Nelson's emphasis. Ted Nelson is one of the three godfathers of hypertext, along with Vannevar Bush and Douglas Englebart; Bush, "As We May Think"; Nelson, Computer Lib/Dream Machines; idem, Literary Machines 93.1; Fraase, "The Birth of Hypermedia."

/26/ Landow, Hypertext.

/27/ Landow, Hypertext, 4-5.

/28/ Bolter, Writing Space, 132-39.

/29/ If, as Lanham observes, "digitization has made the arts interchangeable" (The Electronic Word, 130), then the implications are staggering. To consider only higher education, as an English professor, a composition teacher, and a student of the history of rhetoric, Lanham believes that college students today need to be taught a "digital rhetoric" suitable for a networked, hypertextual, Electronic Age.

/30/ Fowler, "Networking Religious Studies."

/31/ World Wide Web was developed by CERN, a high energy physics laboratory in Switzerland. Mosaic was developed by NCSA, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Macintosh and Windows versions of Mosaic are available free from NCSA's FTP server, "";

/32/ Nelson's "Xanadu Project," which once sounded more like a drug hallucination than reality, is the kind of project that hard-nosed corporate-takeover types are now scrambling to bring to reality (Nelson, Computer Lib/Dream Machines; idem, Literary Machines 93.1). The technical advances are reported daily by newspapers, news magazines, and television, as well as the Internet.

/33/ Landow, Hypertext, 178-79, 184; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 6, 76; Bolter, Writing Space, 29, 117, 153-59.

/34/ Joyce, "Siren Shapes."

/35/ Lanham, The Electronic Word, 6.

/36/ Landow, Hypertext, 177-78.

/37/ Landow, Hypertext, 52, 207; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 16; Bolter, Writing Space, 31, 43, 155.

/38/ Bolter, Writing Space, 31, 54, 71.

/39/ Bolter, Writing Space, 155. As Lanham says, "in digital media there is no 'final cut'" (Lanham, The Electronic Word, 7).

/40/ Bolter, Writing Space, 124. For hypertext fiction, see the growing catalog of titles distributed by Eastgate Systems, Inc., 134 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02172 (phone: 800-562-1638).

/41/ Bolter, Writing Space, x, 7.

/42/ Landow, Hypertext, 57-58, 60-62, 109-10, 112; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 7, 125, 129; Bolter, Writing Space, 86-87, 143, 162-63.

/43/ Bolter, Writing Space, 121.

/44/ Landow, Hypertext, 11-13, 66, 70, 77.

/45/ Landow, Hypertext, 76-77.

/46/ The reader is invited to re-read this paragraph, substituting the word "canon" for the word "center."

/47/ Landow, Hypertext, 70.

/48/ Landow, Hypertext, 23-27, 57-58, 66- 67; Bolter, Writing Space, ix, 201, 231-32.

/49/ Bolter, Writing Space, 112-14.

/50/ Landow, Hypertext, 66-67.

/51/ Bolter, Writing Space, 232.

/52/ Landow, Hypertext, 88-100, 124-25, 141, 144, 179; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 13, 71; Bolter, Writing Space, 202.

/53/ Landow, Hypertext, 88-100.

/54/ Landow, Hypertext, 88.

/55/ Landow, Hypertext, 124-25, 179.

/56/ Landow, Hypertext, 23, 31-33, 70, 172, 174, 176-78 ; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 102-103, 108, 200; Bolter, Writing Space, 117, 143, 232-33.

/57/ Landow, Hypertext, 178.

/58/ Miller, "Literary Theory,"17-18.

/59/ Landow, Hypertext, 174.

/60/ Bolter, Writing Space, 143.

/61/ Landow, Hypertext, 169-78.

/62/ Graff, "Teach the Conflicts"; idem, "Other Voices, Other Rooms"; idem, Beyond the Culture Wars.

/63/ Miller, The Complete Gospels.

/64/ Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels.

/65/ Originally developed for "Dungeons and Dragons" and other online role-playing fantasy games, a "multi-user dungeon (or "domain")" (="MUD") can just as easily be used for an online meeting of a corporate board of directors or of a scholarly seminar. With graphical user interfaces, such as the Macintosh and Windows, the MUD mutates into a "MOO," a "multi-user domain, object oriented"; Rheingold, The Virtual Community.

/66/ I believe it was Kenneth Burke who once said: "Yes, I know you are a Christian, but who are you a Christian against?" Whether this is fair to Christianity or not, it is the way that canons work--a canon is always for someone or something and against someone or something else. The ethical and political nature of canon formation cannot be avoided; it is either recognized and dealt with or swept under the rug.

/67/ Smith, "Contingencies of Value."

/68/ Bolter, Writing Space, 2.

(Go to the next section)
(Go to the previous section)
(Go to the Outline)