How did the Bible survive the Enlightenment? In this book,
Jonathan Sheehan shows how Protestant translators and scholars in
the eighteenth century transformed the Bible from a book justified
by theology to one justified by culture. In doing so, the Bible was
made into the cornerstone of Western heritage and invested with
meaning, authority, and significance even for a secular age.
The Enlightenment Bible offers a new history of the
Bible in the century of its greatest crisis and, in turn, a new
vision of this century and its effects on religion. Although the
Enlightenment has long symbolized the corrosive effects of
modernity on religion, Sheehan shows how the Bible survived, and
even thrived in this cradle of ostensible secularization. Indeed,
in eighteenth-century Protestant Europe, biblical scholarship and
translation became more vigorous and culturally significant than at
any time since the Reformation. From across the theological
spectrum, European scholars--especially German and English--exerted
tremendous energies to rejuvenate the Bible, reinterpret its
meaning, and reinvest it with new authority.
Poets, pedagogues, philosophers, literary critics, philologists,
and historians together built a post-theological Bible, a monument
for a new religious era. These literati forged the Bible into a
cultural text, transforming the theological core of the
Judeo-Christian tradition. In the end, the Enlightenment gave the
Bible the power to endure the corrosive effects of modernity, not
as a theological text but as the foundation of Western culture.
Subjects: Religion, History
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