‘What about the wolves?’: The use of scripture in YouTube arguments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reading and interpreting the Bible is an important practice in Evangelical Christian communities, both online and offline. Members of these communities employ biblical exegesis not only in convincing others about the validity of their beliefs, but also influencing the development of the social context in which they interact. Thus, reading and interpretation of the Bible serves both a theological purpose, allowing users to provide textual evidence for beliefs, and a practical social purpose, allowing users to map their own and others’ actions onto biblical texts, either to condone or to condemn them. For users who hold the same belief about the importance of the Bible in making moral judgements, the biblical text can be a particularly useful tool to position oneself and one’s actions. In this article, I employ concepts from positioning theory, to analyse how Evangelical Christian YouTube users read across the books of the Bible by treating similar uses of metaphorical language as interchangeable, and using them to position particular users and to make moral judgements about their actions. The analysis shows that reading and exegesis of scripture can be used in dynamic online environments to map characters and storylines from diverse biblical passages onto a particular online argument, providing a common resource for users from different backgrounds and contexts. Findings show that reading and interpretation of scriptures provide a powerful means of claiming authority for Evangelical Christians in the community, and are used to position oneself and one’s actions, influencing the subsequent discourse and emerging social context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-238
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage and Literature
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016


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