Monday, January 17, 2011

Jesus of Wikipedia: A Modern Example of Redaction

Wikipedia turns ten years old this week. While it has been a much maligned source on the internet, I find it helpful. It is a good first stop for quick answers. I would never use it as the final arbiter on most subjects, but it can often point you in the right direction

As part of the celebration, I found an interesting article detailing the life of "Jesus" entry. It details how over the course of nine years there have been thousands of edits made to the article. Sometimes information was added other times it was edited out.

The motivation behind these changes was sometimes theological and other times historical. For instance, one of the first edits was a change to a sentence that said Jesus was "a central figure in Christianity" to "the central figure". Another time disputes erupted over the correct way to date events. Should it be A.D. or C.E.? Both are now used in the article. And from time to time "vandals" messed with the article prompting "Jesus" to get a security detail to protect his article from the unorthodox.

The article is meant to be a humorous look at the life of "Jesus" on Wikipedia. But I also found that it relates in many ways to the redaction process of the gospels. Those who have studied the gospels are not only aware of the way the authors edited one another, but were also edited by later copyists. And as with Jesus of Wikipedia, details about Jesus were often changed for theological, historical and even political reasons.

It seems that the practice of redaction continues. But it has moved from papyrus and vellum to cyber space.

You can read the article about Jesus of Wikipedia here.

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