The Bible and the People


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Lori Anne Ferrell

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Since its first translation from the Latin, the Bible has become more and more accessible—and more and more influential

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.

"This unusual and very readable book offers an insight into the reception of the Bible by ordinary people at different times in history. Full of historical gems, this is a fascinating account of the world's most read (and owned), but least understood, book."—Christopher Rowland, University of Oxford

"There are a great many books about books, but by emphasizing the symbiosis that brings people and texts into subtle alignment, Ferrell brings the lives and loves of the Bible's countless readers before us with staggering poignancy. This is an unforgettable book."—Louis Ruprecht, Georgia State University

'In this lively, learned, and beautifully illustrated book, Lori Anne Ferrell takes us on a guided tour through a millennium of Western history, when the Bible was made and re-made for (and by) an ever-growing body of readers. Always interesting and often entertaining, The Bible and the People has much to teach us about our books, our beliefs, and our selves.'—William H Sherman, University of York

"Lori Anne Ferrell's attentive scrutiny to detailed facts and clues about how, why, where and when so many versions of the Bible have existed, carries the reader forward on an intelligent read conveyed in rich flavour and content. It reveals abundant scholarly insights, witty flair and parenthetical asides, all designed to inform and entertain the reader in search of further knowledge about the cultural and historical circumstances of this remarkable book."—Ben Christensen, Professor Emeritus of San Diego State University and Dean of the San Diego School of Christian Studies

“In a world beset with religionists of all persuasions, this is a must read. It shows the foundation text of Christianity to be a miracle of revision and interpretation, ever reinvented, ever new. A book to die for.”—Michael Olmert, author of Milton’s Teeth and Ovid’s Umbrella and The Smithsonian Book of Books

"In this . . . engaging text, Ferrell tours the history of the Bible as it has been copied, translated, annotated, dressed up and every which way adapted to changing times for English-speaking readers. . . . Ferrell rightly recognized this text's crucial place in the evolution of Anglo-American Christianity and in the heart of Christians."—Publishers Weekly

"Impressive scholarship illuminates the interplay between the divine Word and its diversely human readers."—Booklist (starred review)

“…Ferrell has thought-provoking things to say about the history of the Bible and its place in people’s lives.” - Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

"A brisk and compelling cultural history of the English Bible from the Middle Ages to the present."—Wilson Brissett, Virginia Quarterly Review

"This energetically written, wonderfully illustrated book seeks to demonstrate how generations of people have sought, through a seemingly endless array of methods (some quite strange), to make the Bible their own in their personal and religious lives. . . . [Ferrell] has a rare talent for bringing a wide variety of biblical texts to life, often starting with a stray note or short inscription and imaginatively building to construct a lively account of how and by whom such materials were constructed and subsequently used. . . . Highly recommended."—L. J. Greenspoon, Choice

“Engaging . . . Ferrell writes in a breezy fashion, making [her] work more accessible to a mass audience than is the Bible itself.”

--Charles H. Lippy, Catholic Historical Review

"The Bible and the People offers a fascinating analysis of the distinctive features of successive incarnations of the Christian holy writ from the Middle Ages to the present in the English-speaking world. Writing in an engaging style, Lori Anne Ferrell unfolds the religious, political, and social motivations behind ever new incarnations and translations of the Scriptures, the theological intent of their layout, marginalia, graphics, and personal interlinear commentary, and, perhaps most intriguing of all, their impact on the authority of the Bible itself."—Milton J. Coalter, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

‘This book was a joy for me to read…In short, this is a very remarkable book.’ — Norbert A. Wethington, Christianity and Literature, Winter 2010

"If one needs a ready text to begin an exploration of the rich diversity of Bibles throughout history, Ferrell's book is a perfect choice." —Paul Gutjahr, Sharp

"[an] enticing new book."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

"Ferrell’s work is scholarly and readable."—Revd Alec Gilmore, Baptist Times

"Lori Anne Ferrell’s delightful, scholarly and personal introduction to a world of Bible-making and reading may give you may surprises."—The Sign

"…accessibly written and attractively illustrated."—David Cornick, Reform

"…a highly readable and approachable book. Her [Ferrell’s] accessible scholarship and perceptive prose make a valuable contribution…"—David Pearson, Times Literary Supplement

"It succeeds, for it is a fast-paced, accessible and well-illustrated romp through the history of the Bible's impact on people and people's impact on the Bible. . . . Readers who want to be challenged in their assumptions about how the Bible has functioned and continues to function as a text and about the history of its remarkable stability and malleability will find reading The Bible and the People to be a satisfying experience."—Patrick J. O'Banion, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300114249
Publication Date: December 15, 2008
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
60 b&w