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Title: Actor-network theory and the action of biblical texts
Author: Gent, Peter Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 4489
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is an investigation of the mechanisms of textual performativity: how do biblical texts bring about change, such that they can be thought of as enacting and configuring social reality? This methodology begins with Bruno Latour's work on actor-network theory, and proposed here is a model for the performativity of texts as nonhuman actors embedded within actor-networks. Three theoretical components form the basis to the argument: 1) Texts are nonhuman actors that have agency and act within actor-networks. Within these actor-networks, the text mediates the agency and action of other actors, shifting, transforming, and betraying the meaning and action it carries from the writing event to the reading event. 2) A text functions both as an artifact and a being of fiction, with action that emerges in the relationship between text and other objects to which it is attached, such that notions about the text are assembled together with the text and other actors, together configuring its action. 3) The text's action as a Latourian mediator provides the text with autonomy, and it is, thus, the reader's notion of meaning, not the author's intent, that is performative in the reading event. Any notion, however, of the creative event held by the reader shapes this emergent meaning. Finally, because texts are performative, notions of what an author meant, of a text's production, and of how to read are caught up in politics. In this analysis priority is given to what is rather than what ought to be, in what is referred to as a Realhermeneutik approach. In order to develop this theoretical framework with practical analysis, throughout this thesis, examples are drawn from the action of the Bible within American evangelicalism, concluding with a chapter that demonstrates this methodological approach by tracing the participation of the Bible in climate change.
Supervisor: Ward, Graham ; Barton, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bible ; Evangelicalism ; Religion ; Hermeneutics ; Evangelicalism--Social aspects ; Biblical hermeneutics ; Actor-network theory ; Literary theory ; Climatic changes--Political aspects