The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society  -     By: John Fea
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The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society

Oxford University Press / 2016 / Hardcover

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Product Description

A cause for celebration---the 200th birthday of this grand organization! Fea exhaustively sets forth the American Bible Society's agenda and its global impact from the printing of the Good News translation to placing Bibles in the hands of every soldier. How Christianity became interwoven into the very fabric of our nation. 384 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 0190253061
ISBN-13: 9780190253066

Publisher's Description

Endorsed in its time by Francis Scott Key, John Jay, and Theodore Roosevelt, the American Bible Society (ABS) is a seminal institution for American Protestants. The group was founded in 1816 with the goal of distributing free copies of the Bible in local languages throughout the world. Today, the ABS is a Christian ministry based in Philadelphia with a $300 million endowment and a mission to engage 100 million Americans with the Bible by 2025. In The Bible Cause, noted historian of American religion John Fea demonstrates how the ABS's primary mission - to place the Bible in the hands of as many people as possible - has caused the history of the organization to intersect at nearly every point with the history of the United States.

For the last two hundred years, the ABS has steadily increased its influence both at home and abroad, working with all Christian denominations in the US and internationally, aligning itself whenever possible with the gatekeepers of American religious culture. Over the years ABS Bibles could be found in hotel rooms, bookstores, and airports; on steam boats, college and university campuses; the Internet; and even behind the Iron Curtain. Its agents, Bibles in hand, could be found on the front lines of every American military conflict from the Mexican-American War to the Iraq War. However and wherever the United States developed, the ABS was there.

Throughout the last two centuries ABS has never wavered in its mission, and its commitment to be the guardian of a Christian civilization has been proven many times over.

Author Bio

John Fea is Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Editorial Reviews

"Fea's work, which will appeal to anyone interested in American religious history, offers a well-written account of the history of a group that has had a tremendous impact on religious life in the United States and worldwide, adapting to new situations and technologies while remaining true to its original mission." --Augustine J. Curly, Library Journal

"John Fea's history of two hundred years of the American Bible Society is full of unusually perceptive insights. The book shows how the society advanced both evangelistic and nationalistic purposes, sustained great activity at home and abroad, balanced heavenly-minded goals with up-to-date business savvy, promoted an old religion through modern technologies, and prospered with inter-denominational cooperation while surviving considerable controversy. It is a splendid book to mark a noteworthy anniversary." --Mark A. Noll, author of In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783

"The Bible Cause is far more than a definitive history of the American Bible Society, though it succeeds admirably in that respect. John Fea also tells a broader story about American culture, how religion came to play such a central role in shaping national identity and how, in turn, secular ideals have shaped American belief and behavior. It is an important story, told with affection, care, and thoughtful critique." --Margaret Bendroth, Executive Director of the Congregational Library & Archives

"In an engaging survey of the American Bible Society, Fea leads us through Bible distribution in ever-widening circles. His expansive sweep highlights dissemination on the U.S. frontier, within the war-ravaged communities of the postbellum American South, and around the globe. He shows how the Good Book both followed and accompanied U.S. imperial aspirations, and also how its influence motivated believers to see America as a Christian nation united by reverence for the Word." --Laurie Maffly-Kipp, author of Setting Down the Sacred Past: African American Race Histories

"This comprehensive history, written to commemorate the American Bible Society (ABS) bicentennial, explores the ABS's roots, guiding philosophies, evolving mission, and influence domestically and internationally . . . Fea references 'sensational accounts of the struggles faced in Bible distribution' included in ABS publications, and highlights individuals such as Frances Hamilton, ABS's first female agent, who stayed in Mexico through the 1910 Revolution, and 'Aunt Sue,' an African American ABS volunteer who in 1943 boarded a bus full of whites to explain how the Bible would bring racial harmony. These stories put a human face on this national movement."-Publishers Weekly

"Institutional histories are tricky to writeELFea should be commended for completing in 2016 what no less a scholar than Kenneth Scott Latourette was unable to finish in 1966."-Religion in American History

Product Reviews

4 Stars Out Of 5
4 out of 5
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(4 out of 5)
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
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  1. Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    In-depth history of the American Bible Society
    May 19, 2016
    Debbie from ChristFocus
    Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    "The Bible Cause" is an in-depth history of the American Bible Society. The book started with the formation of the ABS in 1816 and ended in 2003 (with the epilogue covering 2003-2015 and future goals). The author described the changing structure, methods, goals, programs, and campaigns of the ABS. He tied these changes into changing social attitudes and new technologies. He described the motives behind the ABS's efforts and how their efforts affected American culture.

    We're told about the ABS outreaches to the poor, blacks, Native Americans, immigrants, soldiers, and the blind. We learned about the controversies involving the different Bible translations they were willing to sell and their changing relationship with Catholics. We learned about their early efforts in Mexico and China and later in post WWII Germany, Russia, Japan, China, and Korea.

    Considering the length of this book, I would have preferred an author who was enthusiastic about the ABS's work. Instead, the author seemed disinterested or mildly disapproving. For example, the ABS tended to set high goals for Bible distribution. The author repeatedly labeled these efforts as failures because they didn't meet these goals even though what they did achieve was impressive. Overall, I'd recommend this book to people deeply interested in the American Bible Society, but probably not to those only mildly interested.

    I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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