A Media Ecology of the King James Version

by Paul Soukup

The media ecology approach to communication study proposes theanalysis of the environments of communication—technological, historical, linguistic,psychological, and so on—in an attempt to better understand how sometimeshidden aspects of communication work together to affect theunderstanding, impact, and use of communication and communication products.As with any environment, the interaction of the elements offers new opportunities;an unstable or changing environment provides a particularly fruitfullaboratory to understand communication. This essay applies the media ecologymethodology to the translations project of the King James Version of the EnglishBible, first published in 1611, during a tumultuous period of change in communicationmedia and social relations. It examines eleven of the contexts of thattranslation project—Gutenberg’s invention, the book trade, the scholarly world,the practices of translation, libraries, politics, language, rhetoric, the media, theology,and reception. Each of these involves some aspect of communication andthe social practices that developed along with it. In addition to its relevance tocommunication study, the method also offers a set of tools for translation studies,which inhabit a world similar to that of communication.

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