How 19th-Century Americans Quoted Their Bibles

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 2:30 PM
Columbia 6 (Washington Hilton)
Lincoln Mullen, George Mason University
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” went one verse that Americans were apt to cite when discussing the Bible, but that did not mean that Americans found each passage of Scripture equally profitable—or quotable. Different verses of the Bible waxed and waned in popularity, and those trends are a barometer on how Americans treated the Bible as a common yet contested text that spoke to issues of politics and war, race and gender, wealth and poverty, the home and the public square. This paper draws on America’s Public Bible <>, a digital project which has analyzed the Chronicling America and 19th Century U.S. Newspapers collections of newspapers to uncover the locations and contexts of millions of quotations from two Protestant, one Catholic, and two Jewish versions of the Bible in English, the German Luther Bible, and the Book of Mormon. This paper will demonstrate the main trends in how these different Bibles were used over the course of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
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