SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society

Oxford Univ. Apr. 2016. 384p. notes. ISBN 9780190253066. $29.95. REL
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Using archival material and personal interviews, Fea (history, Messiah Coll., PA; Was America Founded as a Christian Nation??) recounts the development of the American Bible Society, founded in 1816 to produce nondenominational Bibles in all languages. Expanding on Peter Wosh's Spreading the Word, which concentrated on the 19th-century history of the organization, Fea demonstrates how the society considered itself a key element in the development of the nation's morals. The author treats the expansion of the society into far-flung places such as China and the Levant, the relationship with the Catholic Church, and recent controversies, including that relating to the society's English translation of the Bible, Good News for Modern Man. Interspersed throughout are telling anecdotes about the effect of scripture reading on individuals, culled from reports sent to the central office over the course of years.
VERDICT 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.

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