cover image The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society

The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society

John Fea. Oxford, $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-19-025306-6

This comprehensive history, written to commemorate the American Bible Society (ABS) bicentennial, explores the ABS's roots, guiding philosophies, evolving mission, and influence domestically and internationally. Founded in 1816 by prominent philanthropic nationalists to widely distribute the Bible "%E2%80%98without note or comment,'" the ABS believed it "imperative that the United States be unified... around Protestantism and the social virtues that logically flowed from its teachings." American history professor Fea (Why Study History?) examines campaigns of different eras: the "General Supply," an early endeavor to give every family a Bible; the pre-Civil War emphasis on "defeating the Catholic threat"; efforts to bring Bibles to Native Americans, freed slaves, new immigrants, and interred Japanese-Americans; and the ABS's role in 20th-century ecumenical and evangelical movements. Fea references "sensational accounts of the struggles faced in Bible distribution" included in ABS publications, and highlights individuals such as Frances Hamilton, ABS's first female agent, who stayed in Mexico through the 1910 Revolution, and "Aunt Sue," an African American ABS volunteer who in 1943 boarded a bus full of whites to explain how the Bible would bring racial harmony. These stories put a human face on this national movement. (Apr.)