The Bible and the People

The Bible and the People

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Bible and the People
    Book Description:

    In the eleventh century, the Bible was available only in expensive and rare hand-copied manuscripts. Today, millions of people from all walks of life seek guidance, inspiration, entertainment, and answers from their own editions of the Bible. This illustrated book tells the story of what happened to the ancient set of writings we call the Bible during those thousand years. Anchoring the story in material evidence-hundreds of different translations and versions of the Bible-Lori Anne Ferrell discusses how the Bible has been endlessly retailored to meet the changing needs of religion, politics, and the reading public while retaining its special status as a sacred text.

    Focusing on the English-speaking world,The Bible and the Peoplecharts the extraordinary voyage of the Bible from manuscript Bibles to the Gutenberg volumes, Bibles commissioned by kings and queens, the Eliot Indian Bible, salesmen's door-to-door Bibles, children's Bibles, Gideon Bibles, teen magazine Bibles, and more. Ferrell discusses the Bible's profound impact on readers over the centuries, and, in turn, the mark those readers made upon it. Enjoyable and informative, this book takes a fresh look at the fascinating and little-recognized connections among Christian, political, and book history.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14261-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION The Bible and the People
    (pp. 1-11)

    It is a cool and sunny February morning in the high Mojave, on the road to Joshua Tree National Park. California Route 62, the Twentynine Palms Highway, is better paved than it was a decade or so ago, its roadside attractions much less dusty and perhaps even slightly less dubious. Twenty-four-hour bail bond services, tattoo parlors, and all-night liquor stores have given way in places to super-sized pharmacies, a Wal-Mart, even a Starbucks (drive-thru). The relative prosperity of the 1990s made its brief impact on even this hardscrabble region, now clotted with Bank of America kiosks and Nissan dealerships.


  6. CHAPTER ONE THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: The English Bible, c. 1066–1200
    (pp. 12-26)

    In the monasteries of the medieval age, The Word became Book. Here, in purpose-built rooms called scriptoria, men and women pledged to conduct their lives by counsels of perfection – poverty, chastity, and obedience, to work daily and pray without ceasing – copied the lines of the Christian scripture. The creators of medieval Bibles occasionally embellished this holy script, populating their text with fantastic beasts that clawed at the margins and gilded capital letters that framed lively little narratives in one act. Completed over years of labor, produced for immensely powerful patrons or ecclesiastical foundations, designed to honor apostles, saints, or the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO ON THE ROAD AND IN THE STREET: The English Bible, c. 1200–1500
    (pp. 27-55)

    By the year 1300, the very middle of the Middle Ages, the Bible should have been the exclusive property of a few high-level clerics and a small cohort of Latin-educated elites – nearly all of them male.¹ Each Bible could only be produced by hand, individually and occasionally. And those that had been so produced were shelved in cathedrals, churches, and monasteries: hardly the private haunts of even the most pious laypersons. The Church’s official disapproval of any version of the Christian Bible save the Latin of Jerome’s Vulgate pitted the power of absolutist authorities against those who would have their...

  8. CHAPTER THREE THE POLITICS OF TRANSLATION: The Bible in English, c. 1500–1700
    (pp. 56-94)

    Matthew Parker (1504–75) was Queen Elizabeth’s first Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the major architects of her restored Protestant Church, the general editor of the “Bishops’ Bible” of 1568, and an adept in both the living language of ecclesiastical Latin and the dead one of Anglo-Saxon. In 1571, Parker produced a translation of the four Gospels in this last, one of Britain’s ancient and nearly forgotten tongues. Parker’s native British Bible was, as even its preface admitted, “most strange.”¹ Printed in quaintly decorative, largely unfamiliar characters and punctuated by an over-ingenious system of “prickings,”The Gospels of the Fower...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR MISSIONS AND MARKETS: The Bible in America, c. 1600–1800
    (pp. 95-126)

    The naturalization test for immigrants seeking US citizenship asks:Why did the Pilgrims come to America?

    TheMayflowerfirst dropped anchor in America in the winter of 1620. On board were 102 English souls. Nearly half had spent time in Holland as religious refugees before making voyage; after a few false starts, they and the rest of the passengers finally boarded at Plymouth. Few people died in passage; the ship made port safely, near enough to its intended destination; altogether, it was an uneventful trip for an age routinely chastened by reports of the perils of sea travel. It wasn’t...

    (pp. 127-157)

    “There are many writings for beginners,” St John of the Cross advised Ana de Jesus, Mother Superior to the sixteenth-century Carmelites of St Joseph’s in Granada, Spain: the Bible, however, was not one of these. It was instead a trap for the unwary (especially those who were so foolish as to think themselves intelligent), who would find in its pages, John promised, “absurdity rather than reasonable utterances.” Best to understand it mystically, in a spirit of ravishing love as John was wont to do (especially with the piercingly erotic Song of Solomon, the text that most gripped him over a...

    (pp. 158-191)

    What happens when the human impulse to make the Bible accessible extends even more radically, even to the altering of the material shape and form of the scriptures? The scriptures have been interactive since early Christians decided to keep reading their Hebrew Bibles and simply add new material to them, but the books featured here take scriptural interactivity into new territory. And so we will begin our exploration with what many of us consider an unthinkable practice indeed: the willful destruction of books, orbiblioclasm.

    In this enlightened age, we treat books with respect — and a bit too much hands-off...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN TRAVELING COMPANION: The Bible in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 192-220)

    The nineteenth-century Methodist clergyman William Taylor described his work among the “forty-niners” of northern California in classic up-by-the-bootstraps style:

    I went into Sonora at nine o’clock one Saturday night, not knowing a man in the place; and finding the streets crowded with miners, who had gathered in from all parts of the surrounding mountains, I felt a desire to . . . preach the Gospel to them, so I asked a brother whom I chanced to meet to roll a dry-goods box into the street nearly in front of a large crowded gambling house . . . my congregation packed...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT OLD WINE IN NEW WINESKINS: The Bible in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 221-242)

    “Man and woman a simultaneous creation, with an equal title deed to this green earth/Gen.,” wrote Elizabeth Cady Stanton inside a copy of her most famous work,The Woman’s Bible, dedicating it to the Kearney (New Jersey) Suffrage Club. The inscription referred not only to Stanton’s commitment to a woman’s right to vote, but also toWoman’s Bible’s radical re-reading of the Book of Genesis, which took as inspiration and provocation the fact that there are two versions of the Creation story. Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis states only “male and female He created them,” while Genesis 2...

    (pp. 243-254)

    And sothisbook, chronicling the long, symbiotic history of a book and its readers both real and imagined, will close with two very different episodes, related if disparate examples of where Bible culture is tending in this new century.

    The first begins with remarks I overheard while shamelessly eavesdropping on visitors at the Huntington Bible exhibition in late 2004. It stars two Bibles and two people:

    Two woman are peering intently into a glass case containing the last exhibition item of the show – a gorgeous 2003 facsimile ofThe Lindisfarne Gospels, a medieval manuscript Bible owned by the British...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 255-266)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 267-273)