“In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783” by Mark A. Noll— The Bible and Everything Else

in the beginning

Noll, Mark A. “In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783”, Oxford University Press, 2015.

The Bible and Everything Else

Amos Lassen

The English Bible came to America in the 17th century with Protestant Christianity and this, of course, is much later than the initial arrival in the New World of those who came here for reasons dealing with religious freedom. With the Puritans came an intense devotion to the holy book along with their ideal of Christendom — a civilization characterized by a union of the Bible with everything else. That ideal began this country’s journey from the Puritan’s City on a Hill to the Bible-quoting country the U.S. is today even though it took a bit longer for fundamentalism to take root. In this new book, we see that the Bible remained important even when the original Puritan ideal changed during the early years in the colonies.

We clearly see here how the conflicting models of European scriptural authority— the Bible under Christendom (high Anglicanism), the Bible over Christendom (moderate Puritanism), and the Bible against Christendom (Anabaptists, enthusiasts, Quakers) existed at that time. The eighteenth century, shows that the colonists turned increasingly to the Bible against Christendom and this was the fuel for the Revolution against Anglican Britain and was responsible for a new country founded on the separation of church and state. This thoroughly researched volume is an overview of the relationship between scripture (the Bible) and the public issues of the time. We go back to the he beginning of European settlement in order to understand the very definite biblical roots of American history. The Bible was ubiquitous in the formative years of the new country; it provided solace and authority.

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