How the iPhone became divine: new media, religion and the intertextual circulation of meaning Academic Article uri icon


  • This article explores the labeling of the iPhone as the Jesus phone in order to demonstrate how religious metaphors and myth can be appropriated into popular discourse and shape the reception of a technology. We consider the intertextual nature of the relationship between religious language, imagery and technology and demonstrate how this creates a unique interaction between technology fans and bloggers, news media and even corporate advertising. Our analysis of the Jesus phone clarifies how different groups may appropriate the language and imagery of another to communicate very different meanings and intentions. Intertextuality serves as a framework to unpack the deployment of religion to frame technology and meanings communicated. We also reflect on how religious language may communicate both positive and negative aspects of a technology and instigate an unintentional trajectory in popular discourse as it is employed by different audiences, both online and offline.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 5.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Campbell, H. A., & La Pastina, A. C.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Campbell, Heidi A||La Pastina, Antonio C

publication date

  • November 2010