Stanford University Press Home
cover for An American Bible
An American Bible
A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1880

Paul Gutjahr


1999

276 pp.
45 illustrations, 4 maps.
ISBN: 9780804734257
Cloth $62.00
ISBN: 9780804743396
Paper $25.95

Description
Reviews
"A fascinating journey through the history of the Bible in America, unprecedented in its scope, erudition, and imagination."—Jon Butler, Yale University

"This pathbreaking study of the production of Bibles in the early history of the United States is a splendid effort in every way."—Mark A. Noll, Wheaton College


"An American Bible is an extremely compelling piece of cultural history that succeeds in making rich rather than schematic sense of the major dramas that lay behind the production of over 1,700 different American editions of the Bible in the century after the American Revolution. Gutjahr's book is especially powerful in demonstrating how nineteenth-century efforts to purge the Bible of textual and translational impurities in search of an 'authentic' text led ironically to the emergence of entirely new gospels like the Book of Mormon and the massive fictionalized literature dealing with the life of Christ."—Jay Fliegelman, Stanford University

"Gutjahr not only presents a fascinating and comprehensive picture of the Good Book's history, but brilliantly illumines the explosive world of 19th-century printing and marketing."—New England Quarterly

"An American Bible is a major achievement. . . . It is also an engrossing and readable book . . . rich in detail and color."—Christianity and Literature

"A fascinating look into a neglected area of U.S. cultural history." —Library Journal


"A very readable treatment of an important chapter in American cultural and religious history.—Christian Science Monitor

"This meticulously crafted volume is one of those wonderful scholarly volumes that raises questions as well as addresses them. . . . The extensive notes together with the narrative provide a status quaestionis for the issue of the bible in American culture. As one of the first scholarly studies of this phenomenon, it will long be a standard beginning point for the discussion of the demise of the Bible in American culture; and, therefore a standard work for the continuation of the project of understanding of the intersection of religion and culture in the American experience."—Stone-Campbell Journal

"Seldom does one encounter such a fascinating book as this one. Well researched and clearly and engagingly written, it breaks new ground concerning the production of Bibles and the interaction of the Bible with social and cultural currents of the time. . . . This excellent book has certainly demonstrated why the Bible moved away from being "the center of American print culture.""—Libraries & Culture

“Attacking a topic of this magnitude deserves kudos, and Gutjahr’s work provides a solid outline for future scholars to work from, as well as some fascinating analyses.”—American Studies International

"An American Bible is an extremely compelling piece of cultural history that succeeds in making rich rather than schematic sense of the major dramas that lay behind the production of over 1,700 different American editions of the Bible in the century after the American Revolution. Gutjahr's book is especially powerful in demonstrating how nineteenth-century efforts to purge the Bible of textual and translational impurities in search of an 'authentic' text led ironically to the emergence of entirely new gospels like the Book of Mormon and the massive fictionalized literature dealing with the life of Christ."

—Jay Fliegelman,

Stanford University

During the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, American publishing experienced unprecedented, exponential growth. An emerging market economy, widespread religious revival, educational reforms, and innovations in print technology worked together to create a culture increasingly formed and framed by the power of print. At the center of this new culture was the Bible, the book that has been called "the best seller" in American publishing history. Yet it is important to realize that the Bible in America was not a simple, uniform entity. First printed in the United States during the American Revolution, the Bible underwent many revisions, translations, and changes in format as different editors and publishers appropriated it to meet a wide range of changing ideological and economic demands.
This book examines how many different constituencies (both secular and religious) fought to keep the Bible the preeminent text in the United States as the country's print marketplace experienced explosive growth. The author shows how these heated battles had profound consequences for many American cultural practices and forms of printed material. By exploring how publishers, clergymen, politicians, educators, and lay persons met the threat that new printed material posed to the dominance of the Bible by changing both its form and its contents, the author reveals the causes and consequences of mutating God's supposedly immutable Word.




Follow Us





How to cite this web page