When the first European colonists came to America, they brought with them the foreign religion of Christianity. They brought various Bibles; they interpreted the texts in a new light; and they searched for an authentic American religion. Throughout the history of struggles, war, civil unrest, feminism, Civil Rights, and freedom of religion, the Bible has remained a fixture in American culture; regardless of the multiplicity of interpretation. It has been used for uplifting the downtrodden and it has been used to condemn those who did not deserve condemnation. And although it was originally written in languages that no American speaks, the text is often seen as American as the constitution itself. While the debate of America’s supposed Christian founding will forever rage on, there is little debate on whether the founders knew the Bible. The cases before you show a small window into how early Americans used and viewed the biblical text, with some of those traditions continuing into today. Many Americans, such as Herman Melville, interpreted the Bible to show that Americans were the new chosen people of God. The only thing certain is that Americans have created a plethora of interpretations of how the Bible fits in the history of America.
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