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Articles - CfP Topic

Vol. 7 No. 1 (2021): Materiality of Writing. Reconsidering Religious Texts

Materiality of Religious Books: A Brief Sketch of Sometimes Disregarded Aspects of Book Culture

September 15, 2020


Being acquainted with Christian manuscripts – Eastern and Western – and with ancient and rare printed books we can observe a growing interest in  material and codicological aspects of our book heritage. In other words, there is an emerging bias towards the non textual realities of books – at least of ancient books. This is particularly true for manuscript studies. The question of materiality, however, remains unavoidable even nowadays when we decide to edit a book in hard copy along with electronic or digital versions. As it has always been the case, there is a direct correlation of the material quality in use, of the confection techniques and the external appearance of a book. Normally, it is not to be expected to find best and fine inks, paper or parchment on the one hand and low quality scribes or illuminators on the other hand at the same time. Therefore, we will have to consider here together with the immediate material aspects corresponding but usually expensive issues like: sewing and binding techniques, layout (mise-en-page) and decoration. They too, are conditioning our assessment – even unconsciously – when we meet religious books.