Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

America's Book

The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

Mark A. Noll



In stock
Ready to ship


Oxford University Press Inc
10 August 2022
America's Book shows how the Bible decisively shaped American national history even as that history influenced the use of Scripture. It explores the rise of a strongly Protestant Bible civilization in the early United States that was then fractured by debates over slavery, contested by growing numbers of non-Protestant Americans (Catholics, Jews, agnostics), and torn apart by the Civil War. This first comprehensive history of the Bible in America explains why Tom Paine's anti-biblical tract The Age of Reason (1794) precipitated such dramatic effects, how innovations in printing by the American Bible Society created the nation's publishing industry, why Nat Turner's slave rebellion of 1831 and the bitter election of 1844 marked turning points in the nation's engagement with Scripture, and why Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were so eager to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. Noll's magisterial work highlights not only the centrality of the Bible for the nation's most influential religious figures (Methodist Francis Asbury, Richard Allen of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Catholic Bishop Francis Kenrick, Jewish scholar Solomon Schechter, agnostic Robert Ingersoll), but also why it was important for presidents like Abraham Lincoln; notable American women like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frances Willard; dedicated campaigners for civil rights like Frederick Douglass and Francis Grimké; lesser-known figures like Black authors Maria Stewart and Harriet Jacobs; and a host of others of high estate and low. The book also illustrates how the more religiously plural period from Reconstruction to the early twentieth century saw Scripture become a much more fragmented, though still significant, force in American culture, particularly as a source of hope and moral authority for Americans on both sides of the battle over white supremacy-both for those hoping to fight it, and for others seeking to justify it.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 170mm,  Width: 226mm,  Spine: 64mm
Weight:   1.361kg
ISBN:   9780197623466
ISBN 10:   0197623468
Pages:   848
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction Part I. Creating a Bible Civilization 1) The Bible after Independence and before Paine 2) The Paine Provocation 3) Custodial Protestants vs. Sectarian Protestants 4) Francis Asbury and the Methodists Part II. A Protestant Bible Civilization 5) The Bible Civilization in American History 6) Naming, Writing, and Speaking in a Hebrew Republic 7) Publishing 8) Personal Religion 9) The African American Bible Part III. Fractures 10) Slavery and the Bible before the Missouri Compromise 11) Slavery and the Bible, 1819-1833 12) Democracy 13) The Law and a Christian America 14) The Common School Exception Part IV. The Eclipse of Sola Scriptura 15) 1844 16) Whose Bible? (Catholics) 17) Whose Bible? (Lutherans, Jews, Nay-sayers, Natives) 18) Whose Bible? (Women) 19) The War Before the War 20) Scriptural Arguments in Context 21) The Civil War Part V. After the Bible Civilization 22) 1865-1875 23) The Centennial Divide: 1876 and After 24) Protestant Wounds of War 25) Protestant Realignments 26) Marginal No More (Jews and Catholics) Part VI. Toward the Present 27) Still A Bible Nation 28) An Enduring Cultural Landmark 29) Civil Religion 30) Still Under a Bushel Epilogue Short Titles for Notes Notes Acknowledgments General Index Scripture Index Index of Scriptural Persons and Events

Mark A. Noll is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. His recent publications include In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783 (2016); America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (2002) and, as co-editor, Protestantism after 500 Years (2016).

Reviews for America's Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

"Noll covers the contentious place the Bible had in shaping ""a Bible civilization""...(i)f there was an issue of religious and public debate during the nineteenth century, the Bible was part of it, and Noll covers it. * John M. Mulder, a former president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a historian of American Christianity, The Presbyterian Outlook * America's Book stands as a monumental scholarly achievement, but it is also valuable for lay readers. All future scholars who study this subject will cite and rely upon America's Book, and they will come to depend on its survey and synthesis of the primary sources, and for filling in and identifying important gaps in the existing scholarly literature. * Yisroel Ben-Porat, Ph.D. candidate in early American history at CUNY Graduate Center, Tradition Online * America's Book documents the extent of the Bible's reach -- from the printing and distribution of Bibles and the creation of Sunday schools to the intellectual dead ends into which unwise handlers of the Bible were led. The book's breadth is a tribute to Mr. Noll's career as an interpreter of Protestantism in North America * D.G. Hart, The Wall Street Journal * No one knows more about the Bible in American public life than Mark Noll. In this landmark volume, he shows how the Protestant dream of a Bible civilization collapsed in the exegetical impasse over slavery. He also brings his subtle insight and unflinching honesty to bear on other plot lines, producing an epic history worthy of Scripture itself. Everyone interested in American religion must reckon with this book. * Peter J. Thuesen, author of Tornado God: American Religion and Violent Weather * Mark Noll's America's Book recounts the public role of the Bible in the United States from the beginning of the republic through the early twentieth century. Noll tells a complex and fascinating story with measured judgments and penetrating insights. Filled with fascinating details, this book is a work of both original research and impressive synthesis. Noll is attuned to ironies and silences but is also deeply respectful of the human struggle with both the scriptures and the culture. Reviewers may run out of superlatives. * George C. Rable, author of God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War * Noll tells a story of extraordinary breadth and complexity both briskly and clearly. He consistently embeds the Bible's role in American life in the cultural conditions that made it possible. Noll's erudition is like old money: always present but tastefully held in the background. The book will provoke a host of responses, both popular and academic, but it is hard to imagine that any will rival, let alone surpass, the sheer brilliance of his achievement. * Grant Wacker, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Christian History, Duke Divinity School * America's Book shines as the magnum opus of arguably the most eminent historian of American Christianity during the past century. This magisterial volume is the authoritative study of how the Bible and American national history shaped each other. Meticulously researched, compellingly argued, and masterfully written, it belongs on every serious reader's bookshelf. * Candy Gunther Brown, author of The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880 * In a breathtaking scholarly work, Mark Noll explores the doomed experiment of a republic built on an unwritten law of sola scriptura. * Brad East, The Christian Century *"

See Also