Professor to Explain ‘Why Everything You Know About the Bible Is Wrong,’ Oct. 6

If you missed the event but would like to hear the discussion, the presentation is now online at: Download Dr. Fowler's notes from his presentation.

Robert Fowler, Ph.D., professor of religion at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, will be the keynote speaker for the fall 2014 symposium for the Center for the Study of Information and Religion (CSIR), a research initiative of the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University. His presentation is titled "The Gutenberg Parenthesis of the Bible, or Why Everything You Know About the Bible Is Wrong."

The symposium will be held at Kent State University on Monday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. in Room 317 in the Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

In his keynote address, Fowler will use the Bible, a body of material that has seen every era of media history, as a textbook example to discuss the theory of the "Gutenberg Parenthesis."

Prior to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, the Bible was not the printed book we know it to be today. Fowler will walk his audience through the four eras of human communication - oral, handwritten, printed and electronic - to demonstrate how the Bible is once again changing in the dawn of the Electronic Age.

Fowler explains, “Living as we do today in a transitional moment between two grand eras in media history -- the ages of print and electronic communication -- circumstances have arisen in which we are able to better understand how humans communicated in each of these eras.”

Scholars have observed how the transition into electronic culture seems to replicate a number of the attitudes and habits of ancient orality and the need to consider the likelihood that the printed Bible is a product of the intervening “Gutenberg Parenthesis.” The Gutenberg Parenthesis of the Bible can be seen as a relatively brief span of time in the vast history of the Bible, a momentary departure from the dominant media attitudes and habits that preceded it and that are re-emerging again in the Electronic Age.

Fowler earned his Ph.D in Bible from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. For 34 years, Fowler has taught in the Department of Religion at Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio, where he currently holds a position as professor of religion. For 21 years, he was the chairperson of the department. Among the courses on the Bible that he regularly teaches is "History of the Bible," which he describes as a survey of the media history of the Bible, from ancient oral culture to the Electronic Age.

Perhaps Fowler's best known works are his literary-critical studies of the Gospel of Mark: Loaves and Fishes: The Function of the Feeding Stories in the Gospel of Mark (Society of Biblical Literature) and Let the Reader Understand: Reader- Response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark (Trinity Press International).

Fowler is also a member of "The Bible and Culture Collective," where he collaborated in the writing of The Postmodern Bible (Yale University Press).

CSIR is a research initiative of the School of Library and Information Science. Its goal is to facilitate research on the various institutions and agents of religion. In addition to the annual fall symposium, CSIR hosts an annual spring conference that attracts scholars from around the world.

The School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University offers a Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) and Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM). In addition, the school participates in an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the College of Communication and Information. With more than 700 students enrolled, SLIS has the largest graduate program at Kent State. Its M.L.I.S. is the only American Library Association-accredited master’s program in Ohio, and is recognized by U.S. News and World Report among the nation’s top 20 LIS programs, with a youth services program that is ranked 10th. For more information, visit

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Flo Cunningham

POSTED: Friday, September 19, 2014 04:33 PM
UPDATED: Thursday, December 08, 2022 12:23 PM
Flo Cunningham

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