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Bible culture and authority in the early United States

Author: Seth Perry
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2018] ©2018
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Early Americans claimed that they looked to "the Bible alone" for authority, but the Bible was never, ever alone. Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States is a wide-ranging exploration of the place of the Christian Bible in America in the decades after the Revolution. Attending to both theoretical concerns about the nature of scriptures and to the precise historical circumstances of a formative period  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Church history
Electronic books
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
(OCoLC)1004939295
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Seth Perry
ISBN: 9781400889402 1400889405
OCLC Number: 1035556372
Description: 1 online resource
Contents: Introduction: Authority, identity, and the Bible in the early republic --
Part I. Print-Bible culture in the early United states --
Creating the American Bible Reader, 1777-1816 --
Taking a text: reading and referencing the Bible in the early nineteenth century --
Part II. Beyond Bibles --
Joshua, when the walls fell: Biblical roles in changing times --
"Write these things in a book": scripturalization and visionary authority --
The many Bibles of Joseph Smith: scripturalization in early national America --
Conclusion: Abandoned quarries.
Responsibility: Seth Perry.
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Abstract:

Early Americans claimed that they looked to "the Bible alone" for authority, but the Bible was never, ever alone. Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States is a wide-ranging exploration of the place of the Christian Bible in America in the decades after the Revolution. Attending to both theoretical concerns about the nature of scriptures and to the precise historical circumstances of a formative period in American history, Seth Perry argues that the Bible was not a "source" of authority in early America, as is often said, but rather a site of authority: a cultural space for editors, commentators, publishers, preachers, and readers to cultivate authoritative relationships. While paying careful attention to early national bibles as material objects, Perry shows that "the Bible" is both a text and a set of relationships sustained by a universe of cultural practices and assumptions. Moreover, he demonstrates that Bible culture underwent rapid and fundamental changes in the early nineteenth century as a result of developments in technology, politics, and religious life. At the heart of the book are typical Bible readers, otherwise unknown today, and better-known figures such as Zilpha Elaw, Joseph Smith, Denmark Vesey, and Ellen White, a group that includes men and women, enslaved and free, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians, and Quakers. What they shared were practices of biblical citation in writing, speech, and the performance of their daily lives. While such citation contributed to the Bible's authority, it also meant that the meaning of the Bible constantly evolved as Americans applied it to new circumstances and identities.

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"Perry's essential argument is elegant, compelling, and important. Early national Americans, he argues, used the Bible as an instrument of self-fashioning and for the construction of intersubjective Read more...

 
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