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Bible in America

(see also Abolitionism, Catholic Church Reform, Christian Fundamentalism, Christian Missions, Christian Pacifism, Christian Right, Christian Zionism, Liberal Protestantism, Liberation Theology: US & Europe, Liberation Theology: Latin America, Liberation Theology: Africa & Liberation Theology: Asia, Pentecostalism, Separating Church & State, & Utopianism)


The Bible, once familiar to virtually all citizens of the United States, has lost its key position in our culture as a whole. More & more its reading & interpretation have been relegated to the Christian faithful of the evangelical, pentecostal & fundamentalist traditions, for whom it has divine authority & may even be taken literally as a "rule-book" for life. In that sectarian & often dogmatic reading, the Bible tends to reinforce rather than subverting worldly authority; & in recent times a variety of television preachers have used it to propagate their belief in war, capitalism, privatization, plutocracy, homophobia, nationalism, punitive incarceration, capital punishment & a variety of other ideas & institutions that would surely have horrified Jesus of Nazareth, not to mention the earlier Jewish prophets by whom he was inspired.

But the Bible has been read & interpreted in many ways by Americans; & on this page we seek to remind readers of some alternative American readings -- those that tend to liberate rather than oppress, inviting Biblical people to a respectful & egalitarian practice of love. More & more Christians these days are said to be asking themselves "What would Jesus do?" The answer, most of these authors would argue, is not to "be powerful," or "be greedy," or "be self-righteous & doctrinaire," or "be terrible in vengeance." It is always to "be kind."

On the Web: Articles

On the Web: Specialized Sites

In the Library: Articles

Stackhouse, John G. "The battle for the inclusive Bible," Christianity Today (11/15/99):83-.

In the Library: Non-Fiction Books

Allen, Steve. Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, & Morality (Amherst NY: Prometheus, 1991).

Borg, Marcus. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but not Literally (San Francisco, Harper, 2001).

Brown, Robert McAfee. Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (Philadelphia, 1984).

Chase, Mary Ellen. The Bible & the Common Reader [1944] (NY: Macmillan, 1962).

Doorly, William J. Prophet of Justice: Understanding the Book of Amos (Mahwah NJ: Paulist, 1990).

Gomes, Peter J. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind & Heart (NY, 1996).

Helminiak, Daniel A. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality (San Francisco: Alamo Square, 1994).

Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets: An Introduction (NY, 1962).

__________. The Prophets (2 vols.; NY, 1969).

Jefferson, Thomas. The Jefferson Bible, being the Life & Morals of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The Essence of the Four Gospels in the Words of Christ Himself (NY: David McKay, 1946).

Jenkins, Philip. The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (NY: Oxford, 2006).

Jordan, Clarence. The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles (NY: Association, 1968).

__________. The Cotton Patch Version of Luke & Acts: Jesus' Doings & The Happenings (NY: Association, 1969).

__________. The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew & John (NY: Association, 1970).

__________. Sermon on the Mount (Valley Forge PA: Judson, 1970).

__________The Cotton Patch Version of Hebrews & the General Epistles (NY: Association, 1973).

__________ & Bill Lane Doulos. Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation (Scottdale PA: Herald, 1976).

Newsom, Carol A. & Sharon H. Ringe (eds.) The Women's Bible Commentary (Louisville KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1998).

Pixley, George V. God's Kingdom: A Guide for Biblical Study (Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 1981).

Segovia, Fernando F. Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins (Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 2000).

Spong, John Shelby & Denise G. Haines. Beyond Moralism: A Contemporary View of the Ten Commandments (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986).

__________. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture (San Francisco: Harper, 1991).

__________. Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes. Freeing Jesus from 2,000 Years of Misunderstanding (San Francisco: Harper, 1996).

Winks, Walter. The Bible in Human Transformation: Towards a New Paradigm for Biblical Study (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973).

Wright, G. Ernest. The Book of the Acts of God: Contemporary Scholarship Interprets the Bible (NY: Anchor, 1957).

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