The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 5, 2013

5 historical pioneers of social media: Martin Luther invented the listicle

LONDON — Before PSY blew up YouTube, before @Horse_ebooks became a Twitter superstar, even before the world discovered LOLcats, there was the apostle Paul - early Christian missionary, eventual saint and, it turns out, a pioneer of viral media.

Today, we think of social media as a uniquely modern, uniquely digital phenomenon, one that only took off in the last decade - really in just the last five years. In fact, today's bloggers and tweeters are heirs to a surprisingly deep and rich tradition that began with the Romans 2,000 years ago, helped cause the split within the Catholic Church, aided the U.S. fight for independence, and prepared the way for the French Revolution.

Put down the iPad, my children, and gather round. Here are five historical pioneers of social media - figures who went viral long before the Internet.

1. The Apostle Paul

Paul of Tarsus was the most adroit user of the Roman social-media system, harnessing it to amass followers and bind together the scattered communities of the early Christian church, and promote his ideas on how the church should develop. Written on papyrus rolls in the 1st century AD, his open letters - or epistles, as we now know them in their New Testament form - were addressed to specific churches (the Book of Romans is a letter to the church in Rome, for example, and Corinthians is a letter to the church in Corinth) but were clearly intended for wider distribution, like a Tumblr post sent out into the world to be blogged and reblogged. Initially, church leaders would read them out to the members of their congregation. But Paul also expected recipient churches to copy and share his letters with other churches nearby. As he wrote in his letter to the Colossians: "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." Copies of the letters rippled across Paul's network of churches, so that they each ended up with a complete collection. Readings from Paul's letters became a part of Christian worship, and they eventually came to be seen as scripture by the early church, whose leaders incorporated them into the New Testament.

In its early years, Christianity consisted of rival movements whose members disagreed over the meaning of Christ's teachings and his intended audience for them. Paul used social media to ensure that his view prevailed, cementing the establishment of the Christian church as a religion open to all, not just to Jews. Such is his influence that his letters are still read out in churches all over the world today - a striking testament to the power of social distribution.

               

2. Martin Luther

Text Only
Southeast Iowa
  • New boilers cost district $380,000 The summer boiler replacement projects will be getting underway after the Centerville School Board approved a $380,801 bid from Capital City Boiler and Machine Works out of Des Moines during their April 14 meeting. Six bids were received and the boar

    April 18, 2014

  • Troy Rider.jpg Judge grants motion on witness comments

    Judge John Lloyd has granted a motion, filed by Troy Neil Rider's defense, to limit extrajudicial comment by witnesses regarding the sexual abuse case against Rider. 

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DOT photo Public learns latest about Northwest Bypass at DOT meeting

    OSKALOOSA -- Many area residents learned the latest about the U.S. 63 Northwest Bypass of Oskaloosa at a public information meeting held Wednesday evening at Oskaloosa Middle School. The two-hour meeting featured tables with maps of the three propose

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 18, 2014

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • raceway concept drawing.jpg Raceway Rebate passes the House

    Rep. Greg Heartsill reports that the bill to provide up to $2 million in sales tax rebates to the Knoxville Raceway has passed out of the Iowa House of Representatives, 78-15. 

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National