Alan Jacobs on Christianity and the Future of the Book

Articles by Alan Jacobs are always worth reading, and I think I’ve enjoyed this one from the The New Atlantis more than any other.

Consider, for instance, the variety of writing technologies discernible just in the Old Testament: the “brick” on which Ezekiel is commanded to inscribe an image of Jerusalem (4:1), the “tablet” used by Isaiah (30:8) and Habakkuk (2:2), the stone on which the Decalogue is inscribed (Ex. 24:12, Joshua 8:32). The styli used by Isaiah (8:1) and Jeremiah (17:1) may have been used to write on metal. Clay tablets were kept in jars (Jeremiah 32:14) or boxes (Exodus 25:16, 1 Kings 8:9). But the Scriptures themselves, it is clear, were typically written on papyrus scrolls and kept in cabinets.

And then along came the codex, compared to which even Gutenberg’s newfangled printing device was technologically something of an afterthought—Codex 1.1, if you will. So the question now is: What do all these iPads and Kindles portend? All in all, just another brick? Or is there something more revolutionary afoot? What will be required of this generation?

Read the whole thing here.


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    I’ve produced a couple combox novels and at least one twitter play. I be an author.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Coincidentally, I finished reading The Last Gentleman last night, on a Nook. The Nook’s built-in dictionary allowed me to look up some of the good Doctor’s more arcane word choices (‘friable’, ‘spavined’, etc.) without breaking the spell of the story.

    I’ll be sure to look at this Jacobs piece. Thank you for linking to it, Mr Finnegan.

  3. I think the revolution afoot will be the filter, either human or mechanical, that can go through all these websites (this one included) and sift out the sparks of brilliance, like Cubeland’s novel.

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