Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers  -     By: Daniel L. Dreisbach
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Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers

Oxford University Press, USA / 2016 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Having published a series of well-received articles on the role the Bible played in the days of the American Revolution, Dreisbach now presents this thoughtful overview of how the Founding Fathers perceived those grand themes of liberty, justice, virtue, authority, and faith. An investigative bonanza. 352 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Vendor: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 0199987939
ISBN-13: 9780199987931

Publisher's Description

No book was more accessible or familiar to the American founders than the Bible, and no book was more frequently alluded to or quoted from in the political discourse of the age. How and for what purposes did the founding generation use the Bible? How did the Bible influence their political culture?

Shedding new light on some of the most familiar rhetoric of the founding era, Daniel Dreisbach analyzes the founders' diverse use of scripture, ranging from the literary to the theological. He shows that they looked to the Bible for insights on human nature, civic virtue, political authority, and the rights and duties of citizens, as well as for political and legal models to emulate. They quoted scripture to authorize civil resistance, to invoke divine blessings for righteous nations, and to provide the language of liberty that would be appropriated by patriotic Americans.

Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers broaches the perennial question of whether the American founding was, to some extent, informed by religious-specifically Christian-ideas. In the sense that the founding generation were members of a biblically literate society that placed the Bible at the center of culture and discourse, the answer to that question is clearly "yes." Ignoring the Bible's influence on the founders, Dreisbach warns, produces a distorted image of the American political experiment, and of the concept of self-government on which America is built.

Author Bio


Daniel L. Dreisbach is a professor in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University in Washington, D.C. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. He has written extensively on the intersection of religion, politics, and law in the American founding.

Editorial Reviews


"Well-researched and beautifully written, Daniel Dreisbach's Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers immerses readers in an era when American culture was greatly influenced by the Bible. One of the book's chief strengths is demonstrating how the Scriptures informed the thinking of both devout Christians and religious skeptics during America's early years. While Dreisbach wants us to appreciate the Bible's role as a practical guide and source of inspiration for America's founding generation, he also wants us to take action. As Bible engagement steadily declines in our own day, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers uses history to stretch our cultural imagination: How might the Bible inspire a new generation of Americans to tackle the crises facing our republic today?"--Roy L. Peterson, President and CEO, American Bible Society


"For far too long, scholars have neglected the Bible's influence on America's founders. In this elegantly written book, Daniel L. Dreisbach argues convincingly that the Holy Scriptures 'shaped the world of the founding fathers in profound and manifold ways.' Exhaustively researched and judiciously argued, this volume makes it impossible to ignore the Bible's central role in the founding era." --Mark David Hall, Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics, George Fox University


"For several years Daniel Dreisbach has been publishing extensively researched articles on specific aspects of the Bible's presence in Revolutionary America. Now he has expanded that research, added to the subjects considered, and provided a rich interpretive context. Although the resulting book does not answer all questions concerning how Scripture was put to use, it does represent a landmark investigative triumph and a splendid contribution to early United States history." --Mark A. Noll is the author of In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783


"This book can be read in an evening but mined for a lifetime. The elegant prose and the enticing topics of liberty, justice, virtue, authority, and faith in the American founding era make it hard to stop reading. But beneath the text, the voluminous notes and quotes are a treasure trove that scholars of many fields will be mining for a very long time. A brilliant achievement." --John Witte, Jr., Director, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University


"Daniel Dreisbach's fascinating Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers is a model of compelling research and sound judgment. It convincingly demonstrates just how deeply the Bible shaped the Founders' writings, speeches, and ideas." --Thomas S. Kidd, author of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution


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