Thursday, September 10, 2015

On Writing the History of the American Bible Society--Update #108

I continue to be in a state of limbo on the American Bible Society book.  I am waiting for the good folks at Oxford University Press to finish the copy-editing process so that I can make some final changes to the manuscript.  I am expecting that the document will arrive any day now.

In the meantime, I have been working with the marketing department about promoting the book.  It looks like the American Bible Society is going to help in this regard as well.  The folks at ABS read the manuscript and offered suggestions for changes, but in the end I had complete academic freedom to write the story in my own way.  (I did, however, incorporate some of their suggestions when I thought they were fair). Some of the ABS brass were a bit uncomfortable with a few chapters and had some small concerns about my attempt to position the ABS as a promoter of Christian nationalism, but overall I think that they are relatively happy with what I have written.  

Two endorsements have already arrived.  Here they are:


“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 (Oxford University Press, 2015)

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