Archive for August 29th, 2009


Textbooks (For Classes I’m Not Actually Taking)

As an unrepentant book addict, one of the most dangerous times of the year is textbook season—when a bunch of books other than those required for my courses somehow find their way into my shopping bag.  But I’ve been good this year, indulging in just one extra purchase.  And here it is:


The Bible and the People

Lori Anne Ferrell

In the eleventh century, the Bible was available only in expensive and rare hand-copied manuscripts. Today, millions of people from all walks of life seek guidance, inspiration, entertainment, and answers from their own editions of the Bible. This illustrated book tells the story of what happened to the ancient set of writings we call the Bible during those thousand years. Anchoring the story in material evidence—hundreds of different translations and versions of the Bible—Lori Anne Ferrell discusses how the Bible has been endlessly retailored to meet the changing needs of religion, politics, and the reading public while retaining its special status as a sacred text.

Focusing on the English-speaking world, The Bible and the People charts the extraordinary voyage of the Bible from manuscript Bibles to the Gutenberg volumes, Bibles commissioned by kings and queens, the Eliot Indian Bible, salesmen’s door-to-door Bibles, children’s Bibles, Gideon Bibles, teen magazine Bibles, and more. Ferrell discusses the Bible’s profound impact on readers over the centuries, and, in turn, the mark those readers made upon it. Enjoyable and informative, this book takes a fresh look at the fascinating and little-recognized connections among Christian, political, and book history.

Lori Anne Ferrell is professor of early modern history and literature at Claremont Graduate University. She lives in Claremont, CA.

    And if you’d like to check out the course that actually goes with this book:

    RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity: History of the Bible

    Harry Gamble

    Although the Bible comprises the authoritative scripture of Christianity and stands as a monument of Western culture generally, most are ignorant about how this came to be.  This seminar will focus on the history of the Bible (as distinct from “biblical history” or history in the Bible) – that is, on the formation and transmission and use of the Bible as a book.  By examining ancient manuscripts, we will consider how the biblical literature was first written, how various parts of it were initially collected and how, when and to what effects the Bible as a whole came to be formed.  We will also consider the various translations of the Bible in antiquity, and the means of its dissemination and use from antiquity through the middle ages.  Then we will move on to discuss the emergence of printed Bibles in the 15th century and late medieval/early modern translations of the Bible into European vernaculars.  Finally, we will compare and discuss various modern English editions and translations of the Bible.  In short, the seminar will trace the history of the Bible as a book, including its forms, its uses and attitudes toward it, from antiquity to the present.

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