Tag Archives: Bible

Book notice. Mark Noll, “In the Beginning was the Word. The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783” (OUP, 2015)

9780190263980Mark Noll’s most recent work promises to be a fascinating – a book of many ironies and complexities about the Bible in American public life. According to a reviewer, Noll shows how Americans have consistently regarded the Bible as being ‘on their side’, always legitimating their policies, their causes and their concerns and/or blessing the status quo. Of course, they’re not alone in this dangerous delusion, but considering the USA’s prominence in modern history, it makes for a darn good case study to bring up the dangers in handling the Bible.

“Though Noll writes as a believing historian who regards the Bible as divine revelation, he resists the urge to write a purely celebratory account of “America’s Book.” Instead, he writes a “cautionary tale” (his words) recognizing both the life-transforming power of Scripture for countless individuals and the “host of destructive or delusionary results manifest among those who believed in that power.” Scripture, in other words, frequently served as an instrument of both personal redemption and imperial ambition.” (Peter J. Thuesen, “America’s Book”, review article in Books & Culture)

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