The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.4 X 1.5 inches | 1.4 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

John Fea is Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.


"The Bible Cause is a sagacious telling of history; Fea turned what I had anticipated to be a rather pedestrian and insignificant story into a poetically strong historical narrative with rich sociological lessons." -- Joseph T. Cochran, American Theological Library Association

"Fea is at his best when interweaving this story of a new nation with one of that country's most important religious organisations as both struggled to establish the boundaries of faith and public life. This struggle continues through to the book's skilfully written last pages. The Bible cause is required reading for scholars interested in American religious nationalism, evangelicalism, mission history and history of the book." -- Joseph S. Moore, Gardner-Webb University, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"Fea's work is comprehensive and insightful, and his study will complement an array of recent historical scholarship on American Christian print culture and biblicism."-Shari Rabin, Journal of Religion

"For two hundred years, supporters have opened their wallets to fund the [American Bible Society], trekked into unknown lands on its behalf, and distributed Bibles with its name stamped inside the cover. Fea tells this story perceptively and with care. He ably sets the ABS in the context of US history in a way that makes The Bible Cause especially helpful for those interested in the history of missions, US imperialism, the Bible (both in the United States and globally), and biblical translation. Ultimately, Fea's work offers a well-researched and thoughtfully argued account of the institution and people who dedicated themselves to the Bible cause."-Andrew Klumpp, Reading Religion

"By integrating anecdotes of colorful and heroic agents such as P. M. Ozanne, Young Bin Im, and Frances Hamilton, Fea makes organizational history an enjoyable read. In an institution
dominated by white men, he also goes out of his way to stress the importance of laypeople and women in accomplishing the society s goals...[The book] will be of most interest to historians of the early republic, national identity, and American religion."--Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains

"Fea's work is scholarly but accessible...Readers who are interested in the Bible in popular culture or American religious history will find this an engaging read."--The Bible Today

"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." --Augustine J. Curly, Library Journal

"John Fea's history of two hundred years of the American Bible Society is full of unusually perceptive insights. The book shows how the society advanced both evangelistic and nationalistic purposes, sustained great activity at home and abroad, balanced heavenly-minded goals with up-to-date business savvy, promoted an old religion through modern technologies, and prospered with inter-denominational cooperation while surviving considerable controversy. It is a splendid book to mark a noteworthy anniversary." --Mark A. Noll, author of In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783

"The Bible Cause is far more than a definitive history of the American Bible Society, though it succeeds admirably in that respect. John Fea also tells a broader story about American culture, how religion came to play such a central role in shaping national identity and how, in turn, secular ideals have shaped American belief and behavior. It is an important story, told with affection, care, and thoughtful critique." --Margaret Bendroth, Executive Director of the Congregational Library & Archives

"In an engaging survey of the American Bible Society, Fea leads us through Bible distribution in ever-widening circles. His expansive sweep highlights dissemination on the U.S. frontier, within the war-ravaged communities of the postbellum American South, and around the globe. He shows how the Good Book both followed and accompanied U.S. imperial aspirations, and also how its influence motivated believers to see America as a Christian nation united by reverence for the Word." --Laurie Maffly-Kipp, author of Setting Down the Sacred Past: African American Race Histories

"This comprehensive history, written to commemorate the American Bible Society (ABS) bicentennial, explores the ABS's roots, guiding philosophies, evolving mission, and influence domestically and internationally . . . Fea references 'sensational accounts of the struggles faced in Bible distribution' included in ABS publications, and highlights individuals such as Frances Hamilton, ABS's first female agent, who stayed in Mexico through the 1910 Revolution, and 'Aunt Sue, ' an African American ABS volunteer who in 1943 boarded a bus full of whites to explain how the Bible would bring racial harmony. These stories put a human face on this national movement."--Publishers Weekly

"Institutional histories are tricky to writeELFea should be commended for completing in 2016 what no less a scholar than Kenneth Scott Latourette was unable to finish in 1966."--Religion in American History

"John Fea has written a lively and reasonably comprehensive bicentennial history of the American Bible Society (ABS)...this outstanding public history deserves careful consideration from both religious executives and university scholars."--The Journal of American History