cover image Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby

Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby

Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden. Princeton Univ, $29.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-691-17735-9

Biblical scholars Moss (The Myth of Persecution) and Baden (The Historical David) become dogged investigative journalists as they seek to understand how the Green family, the billionaire owners of Hobby Lobby, have aspired to influence national politics. In four densely packed chapters, the authors examine the development of the Green family’s collection of Bible-related antiquities, their mediation of scholarly access to the collection, and the use of the collection to promote Bible education in public schools. Their efforts will coalesce in the founding of the Museum of the Bible, projected to open in November. This thoroughly sourced and rigorously argued work raises troubling questions about the participation of the Green family (and their employees) in the global antiquities market; their attempts to import business practices, such as nondisclosure agreements, into educational research settings (thus hampering peer review); and their resistance to accepting that their own Christian nationalist vision is rooted in a Protestant understanding of the Bible. While depicting the Greens as well-intentioned, Moss and Baden make an impassioned case for fighting against the family’s efforts to limit access to their questionably sourced collection and to misrepresent their work as nonsectarian when it is entrenched in a deeply American evangelical worldview. The antiquities (many of which were recently forfeited after federal prosecutors discovered they were smuggled out of Iraq) include Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, Torah scrolls, papyri, a fragment of a copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans from the third century, and rare fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, among others. This is a timely read for those interested in the relationship between money, faith, and American politics. [em](Oct.) [/em]