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Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea [Paperback]

By Anthony Grafton (Author) & Megan Williams (Author)
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Item description for Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea by Anthony Grafton & Megan Williams...

"Grafton and Williams demonstrate how, in late antiquity, when the papyrus scroll and the codex were both being used to create books, Christian scholars Origen and Eusebius pioneered techniques such as the use of parallel columns, multiple colors, and complex tables to create a new form of scholarship,"---Choice. 384 pages, softcover. Harvard University.

Publishers Description

When early Christians began to study the Bible, and to write their own history and that of the Jews whom they claimed to supersede, they used scholarly methods invented by the librarians and literary critics of Hellenistic Alexandria. But Origen and Eusebius, two scholars of late Roman Caesarea, did far more. Both produced new kinds of books, in which parallel columns made possible critical comparisons previously unenvisioned, whether between biblical texts or between national histories. Eusebius went even farther, creating new research tools, new forms of history and polemic, and a new kind of library to support both research and book production.

"Christianity and the Transformation of the Book" combines broad-gauged synthesis and close textual analysis to reconstruct the kinds of books and the ways of organizing scholarly inquiry and collaboration among the Christians of Caesarea, on the coast of Roman Palestine. The book explores the dialectical relationship between intellectual history and the history of the book, even as it expands our understanding of early Christian scholarship. "Christianity and the Transformation of the Book" attends to the social, religious, intellectual, and institutional contexts within which Origen and Eusebius worked, as well as the details of their scholarly practices--practices that, the authors argue, continued to define major sectors of Christian learning for almost two millennia and are, in many ways, still with us today.,

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Pages   367
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.14" Width: 5.62" Height: 1.03"
Weight:   1.02 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2008
Publisher   Belknap Press
ISBN  0674030486  
ISBN13  9780674030480  

Availability  0 units.

More About Anthony Grafton & Megan Williams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University.

Anthony Grafton currently resides in Princeton. Anthony Grafton has an academic affiliation as follows - Princeton University Princeton University, New Jersey Princeton Univer.

Anthony Grafton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. New York Review Books Classics
  2. Norton History of Modern Europe
  3. Penguin Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Early Civilization
2Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > General
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Books & Reading > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Books & Reading > Literacy
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Reviews - What do customers think about Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea?

Terrific story of innovation in early Christian texts  Dec 19, 2008
Did you know that early Church Father Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, invented the hyperlink? Neither did I, until I read Grafton and Williams's wonderful book. (Well, it wasn't really the hyperlink, but it was the first simple means of navigating point-to-point within a text.)

Clearly and beautifully written, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book is an expansive literary tour of all of the Hellenized cultures of the eastern Mediterranean in the third and fourth centuries CE. But mostly it is about the innovative work of Eusebius and Origen, who invented new methods of presenting textual information and in so doing revolutionized book production.

Grafton and Williams zoom in on Origen's Hexapla, which compared six Hebrew and Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible in parallel columns, and on Eusebius's Chronicle, the first history of the known world organized as what today we would call a time line. But they also zoom out to look at the larger world of libraries, literary patronage, and scribal cultures among early Christians, pagan philosophers, and Hellenized Jews.

I am no scholar of this field and so not qualified to pass judgment on some of their academic arguments, but for a civilian with an interest in the evolution of information in culture, this is one very good read.
". . . we are still the heirs of Origen and Eusebius"  Oct 2, 2007
There is much to like about this book. While a few assertions and historical models are certainly debatable, Grafton and Williams have authored a fascinating account of the origin of rigorous western scholarship. Among the giants of philological erudition as well as text collection, preservation, translation and analysis, Origen was the titan of the titans. He was "a man of encyclopedic learning, and one of the most original thinkers the world has ever seen." His contemporaneous and subsequent opponents have had to admit to his intellectual gifts, including his emphasis on documentary evidence. His Hexapala "was one of the greatest single moments of Roman scholarship," and he has cast a very long shadow in which we stand today. Of course, he didn't live and work in an intellectual vacuum, as the authors demonstrate at some length. The following excerpts will lend some small sense of their book:

". . . the scholars of Christian Caesarea lived in a time of seismic cultural change, a time when one regime of book production and storage supplanted another . . . they were themselves impresarios of the scriptorium and the library, and developed new forms of scholarship that depended on their abilities to collect and produce new kinds of books . . . they struggled to devise texts that could impose order on highly varied forms of information. . .
". . . Christian scholars used written materials--both those they inherited from others, and those they created themselves--in ways that drew upon classical precedents, but they also developed these in new directions. They made their technical mastery of the production of complex books the basis of new kinds of intellectual authority, which in turn shaped new modes of scholarly inquiry. . . We in the modern university owe a great debt to this particular strand of the Christian intellectual tradition."

Among those given to selective oversimplification, skewed piety or ideological combat, Eusebius has had his detractors and Origen his outright assailants. In its very dispassion, a text like this one from Grafton and Williams is an important perspective and corrective. This volume certainly belongs in the library of any bibliophile and/or historian of scholarship itself.

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