Recommended resources: Bible in America
Overviews of the story of the Bible in America include Nathan Hatch and Mark Noll, eds., The Bible in America (1982); George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture (2006); Paul Hanson, A Political History of the Bible in America (2015); Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley II, and Peter Thuesen, eds., The Bible in American Life (2016); Paul Gutjahr, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America (2018); and Diana Severance, The Living Word (2020).
Read more about the Bible in the colonies and the early republic in Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness (1952); Nicholas Miller, The Religious Roots of the First Amendment (2012); James Byrd, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War (2013); Jonathan Den Hartog, Patriotism and Piety (2015); Mark Noll, In the Beginning Was the Word (2016); Daniel Dreisbach, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers (2017); Carl Esbeck and Jonathan Den Hartog, eds., Disestablishment and Religious Dissent (2019); and Abram Van Engen, City on a Hill (2020).
Learn about the Bible and the Civil War in James Moorhead, American Apocalypse (1978); Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood (1980); C. C. Goen, Broken Churches, Broken Nation (1985); Harry Stout, Upon the Altar of the Nation (2006); George Rable, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples (2010); Mark Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2015); and James Byrd, “A Holy Baptism of Fire and Blood”: The Bible and the American Civil War (2021).
Read about the Bible and nineteenth-century reform in Paul Gutjahr, An American Bible (1999); Kathi Kern, Mrs. Stanton’s Bible (2001); Candy Gunther Brown, The Word in the World (2004); Christiana de Greet and Marion Taylor, Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible (2007); and Jennifer Woodruff Tait, The Poisoned Chalice (2011).
Find out more about African American approaches to biblical interpretation in David Chappell, A Stone of Hope (2004); Erskine Clarke, Dwelling Place (2005); Katherine Clay Bassard, Transforming Scriptures (2010); Allen Dwight Callaghan, The Talking Book (2008); Herbert Marbury, Pillars of Cloud and Fire (2015); David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (2018); Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black (2020); and S. Jonathan Bass, Blessed Are the Peacemakers (2021).
Check out the history of the American Bible Society in Peter Wosh, Spreading the Word (1994) and John Fea, The Bible Cause (2016).
To learn more about biblical themes in American literature, look at Harold Gardiner, American Classics Reconsidered: A Christian Appraisal (1958); Sacvan Bercovitch, ed., Typology and Early American Literature (1972); David Reynolds, Faith and Fiction (1981); Giles Gunn, The Bible and American Arts and Letters (1983); Lawrence Buell, New England Literary Culture (1986); Roger Lundin, Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief (2004); Robert Alter, Pen of Iron (2010); and Leland Ryken, The Legacy of the King James Bible (2011).
Read about the Bible and the movies in Richard Campbell and Michael Pitts, The Bible in Film: A Checklist, 1897–1980 (1981); J. Cheryl Exum, ed., The Bible in Film (2006); J. Stephen Lang, The Bible on the Big Screen (2007); David Shepherd, Images of the Word (2008) and The Bible on Silent Film (2013); and Adele Reinhartz, Bible and Cinema: Fifty Key Films (2013) and Bible and Cinema: An Introduction (2013).
Finally, for a fun look at what common phrases we got from English Bible translations, check out Stanley Malless and Jeffrey McQuain, Coined by God (2003).
Christian History issues
Read past issues on our website—some are still available for purchase:
• 3: John Wycliffe
• 9: Heritage of Freedom
• 16: William Tyndale
• 38: George Whitefield
• 41: American Puritans
• 43: How We Got Our Bible
• 100: King James Bible
• 102: People of Faith
Videos from Vision Video
Videos on this issue’s topic include The Great Awakening; Azusa Street Project; God’s Outlaw; Harriet Tubman; John Wycliffe; KJV: The Making of the King James Bible; KJB: The Book that Changed the World; Man with a Mission; Saints and Strangers; Passion for Justice; People of Faith; Sheffey; The Stranger; and We the People. On RedeemTV you can also watch Gospel of Liberty and Sacred Space. For children check out the Torchlighters episodes on William Tyndale and Harriet Tubman.
Bible museum websites provide a wealth of information on the Bible in America. They include the Biblical Heritage Gallery at Cedarville University; Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University; the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC; the Library of Congress Bible Collection (also in DC); the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas; and the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in Philadelphia.
Institutions distributing Bibles in the United States (and worldwide) include the American Bible Society, Biblica, Wycliffe, and the Gideons.YouVersion offers a great Bible reading plan about the Bible and the movies, put out by the Museum of the Bible. CH
By the editors and authors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #138 in 2021]
“I am Cyrus”
Harry Truman’s support for the creation of the State of Israel was rooted in his interpretation of ScripturePaul Charles Merkley
A Nation on a Mission
William McKinley saw America's unexpected opportunity in the Philippines as a sign from God—and set the U.S. on a new course of global influenceRichard V. Pierard
Civil Religion in America
Presidents have often served as chief pastors of the nation's shared beliefsGary Scott Smith
Hot Words in the Cold War
In his controversial "Evil Empire" speech, Ronald Reagan sought to re-moralize America's conflict with the Soviet UnionPaul Kengor
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