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Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States$
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Seth Perry

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179131

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179131.001.0001

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Taking a Text

Taking a Text

Reading and Referencing the Bible in the Early Nineteenth Century

(p.40) Chapter Two Taking a Text
Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States

Seth Perry

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines bible reading and referencing in the early nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on reference as an essential aspect of Protestant religious authority. It first provides an overview of literacy, biblical literacy, and bible reading in early America before discussing the increased availability of reference materials as well as indexes and concordances as part of early national bible culture. It then considers how indexical materials became the primary means of locating scripture texts among all classes of American bible readers and how the resources of biblical citation were utilized by preachers during the period. It concludes with a discussion of the trajectory of Ellen Harmon White's career, and more specifically how she harnessed the print-bible culture of the period to parlay her visionary authority into a fully articulated bible-based authority.

Keywords:   religious authority, literacy, bible reading, reference materials, indexes, bible readers, citation, bible culture, Ellen Harmon White, visionary authority

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