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5 Books That Reveal the Bible’s Influence in American History

Selected by Paul Gutjahr, Ruth Halls Professor of English at Indiana University and editor of 'The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America.'
5 Books That Reveal the Bible’s Influence in American History

In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492–1783

Mark A. Noll

In the Beginning Was the Word, the first installment of an expected two-part history, is the culmination of some 40 years of thinking about the Bible’s role in American public life. Mark Noll follows the ebbs and flows of the Bible’s power in the lives of individuals and communities and the nation as a whole.

In His Steps

Charles M. Sheldon

The urtext of various “What Would Jesus Do?” movements, Charles Sheldon’s novel began as a sermon series preached to his Topeka, Kansas, congregation. The narrative follows a group of citizens who form a covenant to live together for one year, guiding their every decision by the question “What would Jesus do?” Published in 1896, In His Steps became an overnight sensation.

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

Edward J. Larson

Larson offers a lucid and rich retelling of the famous Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925. The book gives a thoughtful analysis of how this “trial of the century” brought out complicated tensions between biblical views of Creation and Darwin’s theory of evolution. Larson’s study reveals much about the Bible’s ongoing power to shape understandings of education, personal piety, science, law, and politics.

The Late Great Planet Earth

Hal Lindsey

A hybrid treatise on the Bible, thermonuclear war, and the imminent second coming of Christ, Lindsey’s book became the best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970s. Its vast popularity attests the incredible cultural resonance of apocalyptic thought based on biblical prophecy among Americans, as seen ...

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5 Books That Reveal the Bible’s Influence in American History
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December 2017

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