Early Americans have long been considered "A People of the Book" Because the nickname was coined primarily to invoke close associations between Americans and the Bible, it is easy to overlook the central fact that it was a book-not a geographic location, a monarch, or even a shared language-that has served as a cornerstone in countless investigations into the formation and fragmentation of early American culture. Few books can lay claim to such powers of civilization-altering influence. Among those which can are sacred books, and for Americans principal among such books stands the Bible. This Handbook is designed to address a noticeable void in resources focused on analyzing the Bible in America in various historical moments and in relationship to specific institutions and cultural expressions. It takes seriously the fact that the Bible is both a physical object that has exercised considerable totemic power, as well as a text with a powerful intellectual design that has inspired everything from national religious and educational practices to a wide spectrum of artistic endeavors to our nation's politics and foreign policy.
This Handbook brings together a number of established scholars, as well as younger scholars on the rise, to provide a scholarly overview-rich with bibliographic resources-to those interested in the Bible's role in American cultural formation.
Paul C. Gutjahr is Ruth Halls Professor of English at Indiana University. Among his numerous books and articles, he is the author of An American Bible: The History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1881 (1999), Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy (2011), and The Book of Mormon: A Biography (2012).