Skip to main content

tv   Bible in American Public Life  CSPAN  December 12, 2015 8:31am-9:56am EST

8:31 am
headquartered in austin, minnesota. history tv ican noll discusses his between about the bible 1492 and 1783. e argues that americans frequently relied on the bible to support and oppose political ideas. hosted this nter 90-minute program. > it is my pleasure to introduce this afternoon's speak mark noll thessor professor of history at dame.rsity of notre he's the author of many books ncluding "god and race in american politics, a short history" published in 2008. theological and
8:32 am
kraoeufp and america's god. recent essays include treatment canada, the in 300th anniversary celebration of the king james version of the and catholic uses of scripture in 19th century america. today he will speak on his new book which is available outside seminar in beginning as the word the bible and american public life 1492 to 1783. mark noll. mr. noll: thanks for the opportunity of being here and especially to the woodrow wilson center, american historical association, the national history seminar. to be in ivilege washington on a warm november day. the image on the screen is the english language bible published in north america. aiken had done printing for the continental congress and
8:33 am
made with eak was britain where the monopoly for king james bible was held by the king's printers here was an opportunity to publish in english the bible in the united states. will be indicate i couldn't have of the history i will talk about today is the procedure that led to the printing of this bible. robert aiken petitioned congress for permission to publish the bible. the continental congressmen did know what to do in response they did tition, but authorize a committee of two to check the proof a ets to make sure it was completely certified and good representation of what had come from britain. the was a moment looking to past, looking to the future was something quite different. the era of the american
8:34 am
became a nearly indispensable resource for anyone who wanted to venture any opinion on the controversies of when y so it was in 1765 john adams published his dissertation on the canon and law in response to the stamp act of that year. e described the tendency of monarchs and priest to abuse ower as a persistent participate of evil and he drew known blical vocabulary o protestants to explain this tendency. he said it personified the man quoting the bible the mystery ofabylon and iniqui iniquity. on march 23, ter riveted the henry virginia delegates at st. john's
8:35 am
as they richmond considered whether to join massachusetts in the fight against parliament. speech he said give me liberty or divisive me death included at least 10 istinct bible echos in the 20-clip sentence that preceded the final declaration. 1776 common sense proved convinces colonists problem with british rule was not mistakes of parliament but governance by a king. the heart of his argument was samuel sition of first chapter 8 where the lord god and chastised israel for asking for a king like the nati nations around them. of his argument as scholars have shown quite villagesed many scripture could be posed against
8:36 am
monarchical rule. ebuttal followed as you might expect. william smith an anglican paine's wrote about arguments. there was never a greater script clear. the rector of the community church of new york city and anglican bishop of nova scotia said i would have to bible in i believed this republican. , benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson were asked propose images for the new nation coming into existence. here knows neither franklin nor jefferson could be paragonparagons.ox they were not highly regarded by religious establishment of their day yet their proposal for
8:37 am
new fficial seal of the united states depicted the ites safe cross of the sea. then there was the same biblical reference to memorialize what place after the revolution. ne of the early hitches otis warren in verse described britain's commercial empire as a g pharoah. i end the new book by suggests in the of the bible revolutiona revolutionarier influenced the the bible to this present day but the book is devoted to longer how a much history going back to the start of the protestant reformation involving a great deal of british history led directly to
8:38 am
hat happened in the revolutionary era. for almost of all of clonalial -- colonial history it to view what happened from two angles. it was a british story and it protestant. story. i'm able to speak about three carry away points. first concerning the strong connection between private life.on and public second concerning the thoroughly political role that scripture colonial society. thirds concerning the intriguing script clear escaped the direct force of political pressure. olonial american history was rotestant because almost all col olonists were descends
8:39 am
d'antonis who regarded script lears the authority for spiritual lives and every aspect of life in the world. terms,ly in chronological the bible in american history begins with catholics. 1490's christopher olumbus put together a large ompendium of mostly religious esearch aimed at showing isabella and ferdinand that he was god's person for the world.tion of the new his expertise with the bible was considerable. except d like a puritan he took his queues from medieval catholics. dominican who spoke avorably for native americans did the same plumbing the scr t
8:40 am
to defend his positions in opposition to much activityanish colonial with native americans. the first archbishop. also will a plan for into ating the bible native languages including a plan that had gone some distance before in the middle decades of he 16th century the spread of protestant attachment to script tightening craft restrictions on dissemination nd translation of the bible into vernacular languages so by the time european settlement catholic north america use of scripture is presents but ighly contained within the institutional hierarchy of the church and story that unfolds in is a erican colonies protestant ndant -- story.
8:41 am
of est attendant character early american history leads to the first point. the bible played a very large in american public life but ly y because it so consistent and constantly shaped the many e lives of individuals. with there connection it is bvious where martin luther should be regarded as a hugely important figure in american history. a formrance -- energized of christianity in which the clear became a matter of life and death and a pattern ith great influence wherever protestantism was spread. older and younger martin luther. 1540's d man writing in he detailed the religious breakthrough that occurred in
8:42 am
years before.t 30 he reported that he had been erplexed, confused and driven almost to despair by one phrase of paul'sirst chapter epistle to the romans. it the ryder cup god is reveal. he was transfixed because it took it to be an authoritative of how far short sevenful human beings fell from of reich ect standard includesness. hence game his anguished that i hated that word god.eousness of but then he said he reported he xperienced the mercy of god that overcame the one particular passage. gospel meantat the od giving giving his righteousness to needsy sinners as a gift so as he wrote am 1545
8:43 am
i felt i was altogether born again and entered paradise gates. open then came the sentences that experience a aradigm for later lift including the -- history including the american colonies. a totally other faith showed ntire scripture itself to me and i ran through he scriptures from memory and found other terms as an analogy as the work of god, that is what does in us. the power of god with which he makes us strong. god that makes us wise. strength and salvation and glory god. the sacred book which had been a uzzle and obsession and academic challenge and distress to life.e the pathway for luther very soon thereafter
8:44 am
also a e became political book when the peasant 1524 and 1525 revolted against the masters and broad sides quoting a bible and martin luther. he responded by saying you have incorrectly, ble you have applied the text wrong fairly seriously cla principle backed the violent crackdown that took lives of the peasants. his connection between a book that was alive in personal spiritual life and used to public policy would continue through the history of 17th n, in the 16th and desire and early american history. i'm passing by a lot of thingsnt and interesting particularly for how the bible came to new england and had such
8:45 am
influence on society there. > to the 18th century, the continuing influence of the bible read for personal religion xplains why it always remained ready to hand in the american colonies for public purposes. any number of possible examples to illustrate that elationship here is one particularly telling example. .he year was 1755 fpl sarah osborn a middle aged woman n newport, rhode island published a book perhaps the irst by a woman in colonial america. it was titled "the nature, evidence of true christiani christianity". s documented in a splendid study recently osborn's book to the public what she had written in an unpublished in diaries anded correspondent.
8:46 am
engaged d been a fully participant in the colonial upsurge in ing and aith of george whitfield attracted attention. her book fleshed out in practice proceed val preachers sermon.aimed in their it recorded a journey that from despair on sinfulness to grateful trust in god's mercy. the way she described it was characteristic of almost in ything she expressed public. spirits wall rescue came -- came after she in despair as a young widow at random and reads these words from the isaiah. get remember weudz dough haofrd because our maker
8:47 am
is our husband and lords of host is his name and redeemer the oly one of israel the gods of the whole earth shall he be called. the same text from isaiah 54 was the text george whitfield in in the summer of 1742 fter a festive scottish communion season. at ds reliably estimated 25,000 to 30,000 hanging on whitfield as he maker is thy husband. she was so born thoroughly immersed in the king hardly anything pass phrase some scriptural or reference. her experience is not necessarily typical. her life history fleshed out in preachers at revival
8:48 am
in the bible drenched language of their sermons. in new port leaders society because her religion seems top e bible perfectly fulfilled the ideal of devotion.l she held meetings in her home .nd attracted men and women there were meetings in which black and white people met extraordinary was for the periods. nd in disputes in her local congregational church she and widows were the deciding factors though none of vote because they sa looked to for the sanctitity of their lives. throughout the colonial period idea of personal redemption was a fixed element feature of religion.
8:49 am
now shifting attention to the same year sarah osborn published the account of 1755.eligious experience, in order to else straight a second reality about colonial history. is in a word that history was protestant a british story because religious evelopments and most developments not so explicitly eligious took place in the stendom. british chri leap is inative essentially for understanding this earlier history. what has been defined by hit as a society where there are close ties between the church andthe and everyone is assumed to be christian and hristianity provides a common
8:50 am
language shared by the devout and religiously newborn. because the colonies represented religion on of that was near the surface of colonial of especially in times crisis with a almost complete interweaving of social and concerns. political in 1755 virginians kwaeuld in their homes because of the of the seven years war in the colonies the french and indians war. july of that year the british braddock ed by edward and virginia militia led by much destroyedon near present day pittsburgh by native americans allied with britain's bit ter enemy. frontier the colonial spetzed to french troops and allies. so at the same time revival
8:51 am
perform were deepening attachment to scripture military conflict turned the bible into a servant of empire. as one historian has written french opening of the and indian war with to the paris in 1763 in sermon after sermon new england lifted the british liberty tkpwaepagainst roman ca france. of a ch noted sermons virginia clergy indicates this ontrasting of liberty and tyranny extended far beyond new england. davies delaware born and a presbyterian academy in pennsylvania plays he key role in winning civil rights for his fellow press by anglican es in virginia. determinedderate but promoter of evangelical revival.
8:52 am
is advocacy for press by alternatives in -- presbyterians in virginia was successful rallying support against france. beginning in august 1755, one month after the british disaster on the pennsylvania frontier, he began a remarkable series of that gave full scope to his renowned oratory. demonstrated the power usage as he used .he bible to propel threats he did pause to drive home the evangelical imperative as it filled his week by week needs to confess sins and eagerness of christ to repentant sin earnings and true believers. d he revealed a mind
8:53 am
bible in the check james to a degree almost unimaginable times. own most salient in the addresses and by a long margin for purposes the identification of virginia and britains with old testament and complete be a sorpbgs protest -- protest attendant theology. all came from the hebrew clears. aim most chapter 3 -- amos 3 here this word you only have i known of all the earth therefore i will punish you for all your iniquities. that do the work of the lord stkaoeft fully and keep sword from blood in seconds samuel 10, 12. be of good currently and play the plan nor our people and the
8:54 am
god and lord do that which deem him goods. virginia stories were fighting the bee beleaguered d -- old testament narrative. they heard turning to god hope of rescue almost treasures exclusively in terms of british cronial safety. came into the picture when he filled out the larger meaning of the conflict. and y you will have kearvultur, hungry slaves were poised your religion, religion of jesus in the sacred fountain scriptures the most excellent rational and divine known to themade
8:55 am
sons of men. from bibly text to rhetoric. was the spirit patriotism, the best of kings blessing of british hreubtd. on the other sides were the host darknesses and these are all the phrases from these sermons. the eternal enemy of liberties. the power of france. of iless savage, the act indians torture. savages., he maintaining many ied -- angled bodies smoking on the grounds. infernal fury arbitrary power, slavery, tyranny and massacre. oppression and tyranny of power.ary the changes of french slavery.
8:56 am
or samuel davies biblical religion came alive. enlisted for an ertzly kingdom. sermons like osborn's personal religion maintained a tradition and d pointed to much that would follow. the first english language bible ith official support was published in 1539 although the called rsion had been the official version this was officially authorized by parliament. this 1539 erers opened -- bible the first thing they saw this showing viii handing script clears
8:57 am you can't probably read it but crowds of orders narrow piedmont appear saying god save the king. the title page includes a crowded fields of banners all save the king in latin nd most quote being biblical passages. in 1611 when the king james the title page had a similar passage. moses and aaron were the large -- largest figures to greets. it continued in this era. every advance in bible new stage in very biblical interpretation, every biblical preaching involved scripture in a
8:58 am
as well as ory religious story. in other words, to understand so prominent was in the era of the american to lution it is necessary grasp the role it occupied in british politics from the era of because m -- viii and the bibles that akpdz colonist accompanied colonists in america came out of a political came with a strong rotestant position of anti-catholicism. for centuries positive belief that the scriptures were able to make the wise through salvation n christ jesus with be meshed by a negative conviction that catholic corruption of scripture eviscerated true christianity. this combination of foundational commitment, scripture and alvation, scripture and
8:59 am
politics, script clear and anti-catholic inch grounded the christian faith in and came d scotland into the revolutionary era and beyond. anti-catholicism of british -- protestant t scripture the bible grew more important as one f the great prizes in imperial conflict and bible grew much less important as merely one of imperial conflict. major development in the colonial history of the bible and many ways the most important a striking counterpoint. in the religion of the revival spread the
9:00 am
christianity felt a definite weakening. they stressed an internal change heart. you must be born again led by eorge whitfield and paid more attention to the externals of religious practice than had prote protestant leaders. many leading 18th century active cals were champions of the british empire. message to drive the of biblical salvation deeper -- revivalists led to inadvertent developments. until the era of great awaken african-americans were slow to accept it. first a trickle then a steadies christianity.d one factor shouts from the
9:01 am
formerleft by slaves and slaves was the salience of largely separate. population iism led ic evangelical it a deeper influence for mid century. christendom from it brought a much different silenced, t had been ignored or actively enslaved. a number of recent historians have published outstanding works explaining why the era of the reat awaken iing represented a religious watershed for african-americans. whoier angley can ministers worked amongst south america
9:02 am
slaves in the first years of the 18th century found his labors planterstly blocked by who feared converted slaves with freedom and their battling against planters who were nervous about his activity slaves himself came and nders about the goals methods he was pursuing and his wonderment came about because of best slave student who began to read and then quoting to his master from joel, 2.apter there would be a dismal time and the moon would be turned into would be death and darkness and before the went the consequences of such experiences he scaled back his teaching efforts with this conclusion. it had been better if those that
9:03 am
the search after curious matters had never seen a book. with the coming of revival changed. the most successful preachers abolitionists. one of the major revivalists attack attacked slavery. many of you know george bake an active promoter of allowing slavery to georgia whi. n their preaching the major revivalists urged throws responding to their sermons to themselves.le for it made no difference who the converts much as with sarah newport. after thunderstorms in taken a presbyterian colleague reported with pleasure hanover countyee churches he oversaw hundreds of
9:04 am
besides white people can ead and spell who a few years since didn't know one letter. his pastor said the sacred hours of the sabbath that used frolicking, n dancing are employed in ttending on public ordinances in learning to read at home or praying together and singing the of god and the lamb. public indications by colonial only in the year 1760 in the midst of an empire up in war fever. but when slaves and ex-slaves print they ge of testified to a different fever. one of the first two publications by an was from erican britain hammonds a massachusetts lave who published a short account of his adventures that service capture at sea, in the british navy and other interesting stuff.
9:05 am
concluded d pamphlet bo -- blical various virtuosity by mix being the jesus with id and carefully selected quotations psalms.o different this is how he ended the first publication ever by an african-american. now in the providence of that delivered tkaoeuftd of the paw of the lion and bear i'm a long and dreadful worse savages than they and return to my to show great things mahas done let's exalt his name that men with praise goodness and is woman works to the children of men. published work from an african-american or
9:06 am
the author drew but not a ptures structures. those he same peubly capital quotation came from a poem from hammond a slave man on long island. t started with salvation repeated 20 more times in the poem and direct use of script specifying the original engi origin. he says salvation comes by jesus christ alone redemption to everyone that love his holy words. is an overflow and transcript clearly phrases describe the gift of salvation. so there is a paraphrase from chapter 6 lord unto whom we shall go.
9:07 am
isaiah 55 n echo of everyone that hunger has. psalm 23 salvation be there leading staff. of saufpl 34 our heart and souls to meets again luke chapter 2 glory be to god on high. as with britain hammond's narrative this poem kept its a scriptural on messages of personal salvation overtly n anything military, cultural or political. a rare copy of a later hammond published in honor of phyllis wheatley. to ttle bit of exception this early britain and african-american writing because although phyllis wheatley knew the bible well she wrote about things. she used quite a bit of classical imagery in other
9:08 am
poems. the one by jupiter hammond for in the styleley is of some of the older puritan writings. stanza has a biblical reference beside it that clue to some kinds of why hammond thought phyllis was such appear important person for frican-americans and for good list literature and the causes of the century. again the poem is remarkably free.cs so, it continues through the black atlantic with the publication of the works that publishediscussed and new. 1774 a narrative of the most particulars in the narrative of and the lord's wonderful deals with
9:09 am
black now going to preach the gospel in november he takes up the american revolution in a half sentence. david george's account of his experience as a slave in outh carolina, a liberated loyalist in nova scotia and pine sierra in peubly calley s a nfused person who applied standard metaphors. moses.n was the new america was egypt from which he had been liberated. the best known work of the life published in relating his life in the preceding 30 years. counted the bible references more than one a page
9:10 am
and again about a half paragraph on the american revolution. poem of wheatley did the pattern deviate but only a lot. of them describe how a word or words of scripture brought life, healing and hope and they shared a great deal ith their white evangelical count parts. the difference was in the bible a african-americans was not bible for british empire. pure, municated spiritual forth imperial power. now a brief conclusion. great collectionity of the in nial area is the bible support of christianity and moving away from the structures f christianity were increasingly important at the same time. it is closer together. for others they moved apart and bond ill others the between christianity and scripture grew stronger and
9:11 am
time.r at the same thus, even as colonists the citly took for granted peubly calendar character of many features of british ocieties some were being ly its -- spiritual transfixed. the pairing much the bible for and empire igion continued to shape the history very long e for a time. especially as the bible for the the bible pulses at the heart of the british empire new e the bible for a nation, the bible pulses at the heart of the united states of america. thank you. [applause] get to our discussion section. we have a few ground rules feel is wait until the
9:12 am
microphone referrals you before please identify yourself as you talk. e will start over here with steven. >> i'm steven shore. can't help estion i but ask. having denounced the french and during the french and indian war how did many of he same writers respond to t french alliance? was that as problematic for them soviet pact was for communists in 1939? because the necessity dictated this it had although charles english that i quoted will a .ield day after the alliance he maintained the traditional what atholicism to say kind of fraudulent defense of iberty do we have now where supposedly the sons of liberty heve aligned themselves with t --porters of pope shall tier
9:13 am
popish tyranny and his argument fraud.t it was a witty, fan of mark knoll. two questions. one about the beginning and one the end. the beginning when you talked the the 1781 approval of continental congress for the edition of the american edition i'm interested in some of the politics there. war se the revolutionary will spent a great deal of time talking about talking about freedom of press againstch and many were licensing of books especially spiritual books and what printers of the american edition of the bibling continental congress. i'm interested about the last use of the lecture and the bible as a narrative of
9:14 am
liberty. from the monarchy and slavery. you have a lot of wonderful echos and paraphrases but it speaks firmly about monarchy and slavery. the echos and phrases that the bible provides, what the colonists and early the can revolution narrows hermaneutic to use it as an anti slave ry slavery and anti-catholic document. mr. noll: i believe you supplied word.ight it was a reflex. continental congress didn't ever authorize the bible printing by official act because the rising tide against notions of licensing. it did appoint these two masters to make sure the text
9:15 am
was all right. that even as the ounders much the new american nation were shaking off much that they thought represented an british power, the instincts of more than mellinium public and religious life intertwined were difficult to shake. could say is in much of american history that christianity form replaced the formal. he informality would come with the separation of church and state and laws against needing to license religious works but would be other voluntary ways of maintaining that connection. then on the the narratives of mention a i should fine book published by john could have theme ofich traced the scripture to the american civil
9:16 am
movement as a powerful set of text not just the the children of israel from egypt but the setting prisoners free and giving sight to the gave reference by being picked up by jesus in the new ame testament. he use of liberation language drawn from the scriptures in the 1760's and 1770's has to be a interested inyone moral reflection and a problem believe e like me that the bible is a direct revelation from god. -- there's very a bible tention to message regarding slavery -- freedom for enslaved from the first decade of 18th
9:17 am
1770.ry until there are four quakers who in 18th ddle decades of the century wrote against slavery drawing heavily on scriptures. sanford and lay who are never studied although the works were benjamin franklin. there is no one that paid attention. however, with the ly nse of liberty political 1772 there 1771, begins to be what would 10 in the united states to be a debate on whether the bible legitimated slavery. first tract published like this it was divided. of slavery in the british caribbean trotted out about abraham the waobook of instructions in paue
9:18 am
to slaves obeying masters and said what could be more obvious recognizes le slavery. develville -- granville sharp there was the opposite by the mid 1770's to 1780's a lot of bible oriented libertarian argument against slavery. is a different story that needs to be spun out. matter.was a contested the language of political complicated re because most of the bible use is the early t in illustrations is rhetorical rather than argumentative. tom paine is argumentative but good e. love e passage from peter
9:19 am
god and honor the emperor were paine's face as long as they could have access to the printing press and that was the loyalists in 1777 and 1778. workswere however serious on atriots particularly jonathan pter 13, mayhugh had one of the most extensive ones. there much several that came the middle colonies and south saying romans 13 looks blanket christian the emperor, bey the king. but we know that the apostle challenged authority when the authority abused itself. appe an argument. there were arguments from the side. again there was a printing problem for the loyalists.
9:20 am
eist st extensive loyal stand fast in hrebt where christ made you free was published by and an maryland jonathan boucher in 1775 and not published until he couldn't because get access to a press in america great to publish in britain. the use of biblical rhetoric sacred aura tous arguments for the revolution, ut that rhetoric was a lot stronger than the arguments for the same. thank you. as someone who is not at all amiliar with religious history or much american history i'm
9:21 am
of thennedy i'm director national history center. if you could say a about how you are trying to frame this book and in the larger debates bout the role of the bible and religion in early american your y and where you see arguments that are diverging some others that have been made in recent years nd more generally how that speaks to our contemporary and standing of religion the bible in american politics and american life. enough?hink that's mr. noll: many of us become istorians because we like dealing with dead people that can't speak back.
9:22 am
he intervention that i would like to make in this book i try to explain in the preface for particularly interested in religion i help it how thoroughlynse religion was part of the moral framing of the american nation. of the revolutionary years but coming out of a long tradition. just british protest protestants. 18th century. political ideology most accepted.atriots the american presentation of locke. ll of these things came with a biblical dress, by no means was every argument for liberty nor every construction of public biblical language but most of them were.
9:23 am
so, for anyone wanting to nderstand anything about the moral dimensions of american some understanding of the bible is required. are -- who honor scriptures not the christian scriptures of which in the e more and more united states and have been since the late 19th century, i lesson book will be a sacred text to a a public space and how not to sacred text to a public space. christian people who have attachment and there are various ways of being attached divine book as a for christian people being book ed to it as a divine i hope there's a very sober ssessment of where scripture as enabled people to act all
9:24 am
raue which isically, to act charitily and in some accord biblical principles like made ofade of -- god is all peoples of one race, of one blood. i hope that people who share my belief that the bible is a to heart k will take the mistakes that have been made. was out of control when he went after the french. here may have been an argument for mobilizing virginia against marauding french and indian allies but in the context of the 18thial wars century this was not a situation liberty od and all against all evil and all tyranny. sake the absolutes of a sacred volume to
9:25 am
advance temporal means was and problem.a >> if i could follow up on that, the ems to me that revolutionaries in the republic to advance ripture their political cause. you will have loyalists thing.ting to do the same this notion that mistakes are ade, looking back you can say given our views today this was a work but that touch historical. i not hearing something. r. noll: it is certainly not ahistorical to say mistakes were made. hat i take from the revolutionary period is the overwhelming, nearly overwhelm tendency, nearly
9:26 am
overwhelming pressure, once a crisis occurs to gather that you are able to side.r to support your and christian people are upposed to have an organization, a priority of, an genda of loyalties in which loyalty to the nation is very important but it is not the loyalty. i do think there actually were examples -- i try to provide as possible in the book -- of people who, while being loyal, kept the rioritization of loyalty somewhere in balance. the i would take away from rhetoric of the seven years war, rhetoric of the american not that some kind religious passivism is
9:27 am
putting the ut sacred, putting sacred warrants the purpose of temporal goals is a process fraught with danger the temporal product but more to the religious actors claims. those mistakes were made. s it possible to learn from mistakes? what i think people can learn they istakes is not that should forget about religion when it comes to public life but about ious as possible how religion is applied to the great crises of public life. you.hank >> i'm from the american historical association, retired. i'm curious and maybe it is a little outside the scope of what you are talking about, but if
9:28 am
ou compare, say, the english speaking world with the rest of euro it?ope, how different was mr. noll: there is a peubly biblical verlay and rhetoric that is applied in the spanish empires coming from the top down bishops and not always monarchs but officials imperial court. think a difference in the english speaking world balls of prote in anantism because the use of propelled from the lower and middle part of society as above. i spent a the will of time in england's and 1650's in because that when earnest bible
9:29 am
opportunity to apply the norm and were unable because they were conflicting with themselves but in the ending because of the of restrictions on what could be published you get signal works -- like r williams roger williams's plea for freedom that nobody else ever paid attention to almosthe 1770's and then nobody paid attention to until the 1970's. influential but it was indicative and his argument the puritan effort to con train people -- constrain people to live by the bible the bible teachings. so that was different in that rgument using the authority of scripture were coming from every place on the political spectrum the social ace in spectrum.
9:30 am
nd then it is not like in the 19th century where anyone with a little money and access to a publish press can anything but in the colonies you ear from more and more nonauthorized voices trying to xplain to the public how the bible should be interpreted. these early quakers that i entioned are really very interesting people. they are quite they are quite eccentric. one of them began to reenact some of the quaker early days of disrupting services. he given a quaker service with a book, a bible. ofsecreted a bladder full the juice and said to the quakers, "you are killing the scriptures balance.."
9:31 am
-- you are killing the scriptures." no one paid attention. it was very much a voice from ofow powered by the notion the protestant ideal has not really worked out very well in practice until you get to the 19th century. >> [inaudible] noll: the christendom of catholic and protestant places meant that there was a lot of expression in public places of the bible. >> thank you. the gentleman of here. candidate atoral the university of maryland in early american history. i think the question about what the intervention is is probably a good question, especially for
9:32 am
people who are maybe not real first in history. since i'm a graduate student, i could summarize several hundred years of history, since that is what we do. if i could clarify, especially for people that are less first, what i think you are saying -- your intervention is a little bit in the lines of this sort of narrative that we know people are pretty religious and theerned about the bible in 1600s, particularly in new england, and then it is starting to go downhill, maybe the great awakening, which some people do not necessarily believe happened, and it stems the tide temporarily. by the revolution, people are not concerned about religion anymore. i think that what you're saying is that it is more complicated than that, and particularly by paine's work, you're saying there is a vocabulary out there, and the bible resonates for good reason. i think you are sort of joining
9:33 am
other people who are now challenging the narrative. james byrd's book comes to mind. is that fair to say? that you are complicating the narrative and saying it still is important by the time of the revolution? mr. noll: the reference is to james byrd. he did a lot of traveling through published and unpublished things. there is no comparison references, authoritative references to older literature, scripture. there is no comparison. daniel to respond-- the book by aaron shalev, "american zion," carries the story into the 19th century. showing that, particularly for the force three or four decades
9:34 am
of early national history, the image of the united states of the new israel is everywhere. not quite everywhere, but almost everywhere. for contemporary purposes, this very good scholarship poses a question, more than it answers it. it poses the question, what should be thought about a national history in which sacred text, christian sacred text, played such an important role? i think i would like to take pause and think about an answer before responding. is a good thing from a christian angle that there is a lot of bible or a bad thing? because of when there was so much abuse of the bible. is a good thing from a secular point of view that moral values remain prominent in public life? it was not just the market, it was not just personal satisfaction.
9:35 am
it was some kind of moral language inflected in public debate in the united states. so, there are glib references to christian america, or glib references to the "godless constitutional" era do not cut it. >> thank you. we will go with amanda. amanda: amanda from the national history center. you said he wanted to think about the question of whether or not it is a good thing that christianity is a part of the national history. before you ask that question, do you need to ask whether the bible is part of, whether it is a national history, or is the history of the bible a transnational history, a transatlantic history?
9:36 am
american religious activity and knowledge and communities were heavily transatlantic. >> that's a good question. the bible in american public life, you go to 150 before you get to it. is important for understanding american history that the christian bible, and later other scriptures, were very important. it is important for the history of the bible to realize that this is never a strictly national story. robert aitken's bible is the first english label bible completely published in north america. star several german link which
9:37 am
additions, from christopher sauer in eastern pennsylvania from the 1760's. that brought to the colonial british empire not just text, but also debate on how text should be used and printed from the central part of europe, which is not part of germany. and then, the translation of the bible into the indian languages, the first complete bible published in north america. that is also a story that certainly has, what we would say today, mexican, canadian, and american resonance. then, you get to the beginning of the globalization of the christian faith. the story of the bible today is far, far more than just an american story. over here? >> hi, can you talk actually more about how african americans read the bible?
9:38 am
they were interested in it as salvation from empire. are you saying this is part of spiritual life, but not public life? their anti-slavery entities in these debates, or even empire debates, when each side was trying to win african americans. to the extent that sometimes public sources could potentially be misleading compared to what people as a whole thought, is there any way to get at that? mr. noll: i'm glad you mentioned that. this is very deliberately part of the way the public uses the history of the bible. this book was supposed to be a 75 page introduction to the 19th century. it just grew and grew and grew. it is 300 pages.
9:39 am
it is still only the public use or virtually only, whereas the african-american story, all of the different strands are more than public stories. in the mid 19th century, you have print from african-americans that is exceptional for being mostly nonpolitical. actually, most of it is not arguing about slavery. equiano has a few paragraphs. the first african-american full-scale attack on slavery came relatively late in the 1780's, 1790's. there's a publication by daniel coker in the early 19th century. it is later went public african american use of the bible takes on the explicit argument for or against slavery.
9:40 am
i think what is obvious from what is published early on is that life for in slave people -- enslaved people set up some for being open to a message of spiritual liberation. for some, that message does not stop with spiritual liberation. in the 1760's, they remain slaves. but, it was clear that there was not just these of the bible, but a personal voice to push against slavery. he was purchased by a boston order in 1771. -- owner in 1771.
9:41 am
she learns to read the bible, but she is an effective voice for what you might call a bill of sized consciousness-- biblicized consciousness in the movement against slavery. early on, this is mostly english quakers and evangelical church anglicans who publicly attack slavery. benjamin rush is a figure who is hard to place religiously. he is all over the map. he is one of the first american to makes a biblical antislavery case in 1772. >> don? all the way in the back. we'll get to you.
9:42 am
don: i'm don wilkinsburg or with the woken center-- wilkin's center. in the run-up to the revolution, does the record show sermons delivered by the church of england in the u.s.. was very uniform take on how the bible was being interpreted as america prepared for more antirevolutionary rhetoric? mr. noll: >> minsitries from england tended to be conventional loyalists who encouraged loyalty to the monarchy. there were anglican ministers. jacob duchenne was chaplain of the continental congress, and he preached sermons that looked like he was a patriot. once the british occupied philadelphia, in 1777, he went
9:43 am
back to britain. in it up as a loyalist exile--he ended up as a loyalist exile. there are ministers who supported the patriot cause or were neutral. it should be obvious, the stream and thomas jefferson, there were a lot of anglican leaders who did not think anything of the loyalist argument. interestingly, the division in britain did probably fall closer along denominational lines. most anglicans in britain supported the king. many congregationalists, presbyterians, activists, leaned in the other direction. there were english anglicans who
9:44 am
urged parliament to be more conciliatory toward the colonies. there were some who thought the monarchy was acting correctly in trying to put down the rebellion. >> and now jim? jim: james banner. you made a distinction in passing that i would like you to pursue. as a skeptic, i have to be deeply troubled by the application of any sacred text to public affairs, whether the koran or the bible. what is puzzling to me is how i interpret the application of the bible to public affairs, whether sincere or advantageous. you make a distinct which -- disagreements between rhetorical and argumentative application. can you tell us what you mean by that? it may help me not as a
9:45 am
historian, but as someone living in our day and age. mr. noll: i hope it helps you first as a historian. this is one of the clearest distinctions to be found, not just in the revolutionary period. but most of the 18th century. rhetoric, i mean the use of biblical allusions and analogies and examples, applied to the current situation. i would call the sermon that i quoted from samuel davies rhetorical. the text, wherever it was, from first samuel is pretty hard to apalan anti-french, anti-people
9:46 am
message out of it. davies said that our position was like the children of israel who are threatened by their enemies. they trusted in the lord, and so should we. are united in text,-- argumentative text, beginning in the 1750's, when colonial ministers try to explain why, that categorical imperative, the powers that be ordained by god, if you disobey the monarch, your disobeying god. why should that passage not be considered categorical and universal? there were some arguments toward learned people of the past.
9:47 am
those types of performances were not as common as analogy, example, typology, but did take place during the mid-1760's on into the 1770's. some of the best arguments, in terms of skillful deployment of reason, learning, had to do with whether a bishop was necessary for a well-running church. this is probably 50 years old. he explains that there was really a good theological reasoning about how to interpret the new testament in particular, with respect to the bishops. were they necessary? if so, it was prejudiced that kept the colonists for receiving an anglican bishop. if not, it made more sense to
9:48 am
think of the anglican angle to be a political ploy to get more top-down power. these tracks on that subject tended to be a lot less dependent on mere invocation of bible language. does that do anything for a skeptic? i don't know. you have to look, for example, at the sermons of jonathan bucher, who argues for the sinfulness of rebelling against your rightful emperor. i am not sure a skeptic would be necessarily swayed by the argument. they are made under the assumption that the bible as a determinative of authority and is the duty of christian people to discover what that authority is. no one could make a judgement about who is making a sound art
9:49 am
event without applying it to themselves. i sternly haven't found this in american situations, even for people referencing cato and john locke. you don't get a lot of straightforward political argument where the bible is introduced that does not make more of a rhetorical man and expository case-- than an expository case. this did generate an enormous amount of counterargument. most of this, i would not recommend to a skeptic.
9:50 am
but there were a few pieces that were not too bad. >> we are coming to the end of our time here. any final comments or questions? it is right behind you. stephen: stephen shore. i'm curious with roman catholic opinion was as the revolution approached, both in the colonies and in the u.k.? mr. noll: at most 25,000 catholics in what become the united states and the wealthier families in maryland that were catholic tended to move in the patriotic direction. the question about what happens when there is an alliance in france, it does implicate some colonial catholics. the colonial alliance in france
9:51 am
proved that this breakaway movement is morally bankrupt. in the colonies, it is a little different. new england, people who took part in the american invasion of canada under benedict arnold, who actually came back from new france, felt a little better about what being counted. that experience of the invaders actually cushioned some of the anti-catholicism, leading to the first recognized catholic congregation in boston in 1789 and 7090.
9:52 am
-- in 1789 and 1790. the anti-catholic ideology was still there. but when real catholics showed up on the ground, things were a little less strident. i would say that the language and argumentative edge -- it becomes anti-papal, the pope as an exemplary of top-down tyranny. very little discussion of transubstantiation or the virgin mary. there's more focus on the abuse of power, as in john adams. >> think you to the audience. thank you to mark noll. [applause] >> every weekend on american programsv, 48 hours of
9:53 am
and events that tell our nation's story. this afternoon at 2:00 eastern, on theans and authors black power movement in the united states and an organizer power revolution party. charles cobb.d by >> still recalls the citizens movement and apprenticeships in struggle, and i think he was about right in that matter where you come out five years later -- i mean, stokely eventually moves to africa, embraces pan african socialism. other people embrace the democratic arty. >> at 8:00, elizabeth gray on the 19thf opium in century and public opinion of its abuse by men and women. >> the attitude toward women tricking at the time was that this was very inappropriate,
9:54 am
that a woman should not drink. be would lot number something she could look to as an alternative? thatnday at 10:00, we look to the 2000 campaign of al gore as he tours the state of new hampshire. >> for the last six and a half years, you have seen new hampshire change from a time when you were losing 10,000 jobs a year to a time now where you are gaining 12,000 jobs a year, and that is partly because we fiscal responsibility president clinton and i put in place an economic plan that has balanced the budget and turned the biggest deficit into the biggest surplus. >> al gore went on to win the democratic nomination but lost the presidential race to george bush in one of america's most highly contested elections.
9:55 am
>> next on american artifacts, we'd tour colonial williamsburg. a historical interpreter brings us through the house and gives us the story of the governor and his family who fled on the eve of the american revolution. >> i one of the curators of textiles and historic interiors here at colonial williamsburg foundation. i work with not only our textile and quilts and needlework exhibition. right now we are at the governor's palace. it would have been the symbol of power and authority for the british crown and it would have represented power to the columnists of virginia. -- the colonists of virginia. the building was the home of seven royal governors including alexander foxwood.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on