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Jesus Wife Gospel: HDS digital control and mistake

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  • Claire Clivaz
    Dear all, I would like here to decipher the Jesus Wife Gospel s affair from the digital cultural point of view. It is a very interesting case of digital
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22, 2012
      Dear all,

      I would like here to decipher the Jesus Wife Gospel's affair from the digital cultural point of view. It is a very interesting case of digital control by the Harvard Divinity School (HDS), but the famous institution did also a mistake regarding the use of the new digital culture, as I will develop in a few remarks.

      The HDS website page illustrates in an acute way the emergent digital culture. First of all, a draft of a Harvard Theological Review article is already available online, underlining what is announced since a long time by DH experts: the inadequacy of the «review» system regarding the digital support of publication. If Harvard itself offers online its articles before to publish them in the journals, it is an evidence that the academic system of the peer-reviewing articles is in transformation.

      Secondly, the webpage illustrates the multisensoriality proper to the digital culture, and even the victory of the image and sound on the written information. Indeed, I take no risk by considering that almost all the people will have cliked on the 2’29 min youtube moovie of the HDS webpage, but only very few of them would have read the 52 pages article… A scientific news is announced by a media that uses emotional impact (image, sound of a voice, words transmitting emotion, etc). It is a total revolution in the academic style of expression. We are here very far away from Leopold von Ranke advising to put out all emotional style from the historical writing, and worried to annoy his readers…

      Such a youtube impact is also to situate in the US context: as we know, in May 2012, Dan Wallace has announced also on a youtube moovie the discover of seven very early NT manuscripts… Does HDS try here to offer a kind of «counter-announcement»? Academic fight and discussions are now largely using youtube. What a news!

      But, last and not least, HDS did also a very important digital cultural mistake in its website page, in my opinion. HDS did not consider  one of the main features of the emerging digital culture: the interactivity. There is no possibility to add a point of view, to react – may by with another youtube moovie!!! – on the HDS website page. A lot of blogs have begun to react, our yahoo forum included, as well as comments on youtube. But HDS would have got a still more strong impact by adding the possibility to react on its website. By offering an interactive rubric, HDS would have been able to moderate the reaction of people, to choose the critics and comments, and so to offer on the webpage with the scholarly debate as well, and with Karen King answers. That would have been a complete digital control of the communication. For the next time, probably….

      Claire Clivaz
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