Published Jan 2010
The translation of the Bible into English in the sixteenth century was one of the most important events in English history. Previously the sacred text had been accessible only to a tiny minority: now anybody could read or listen to it.
This book explores some of the effects of the Bible – on English literature during its greatest century, on social, agrarian, foreign and colonial policies. During the seventeenth-century Revolution the Bible was used to justify both resistance to and defence of the King, democracy, communism, regicide, the rule of the saints, the overthrow of international Catholicism, even free love. It called into question all established institutions and practices.
But the Revolution revealed the impossibility of agreeing on what the Bible said. Scholarly discussions convinced many that it could not be the Word of God because it contradicted itself. The later seventeenth century saw rapid decline in the importance of the Bible as a guide to immediate political action. This book should help us to a better understanding of England’s most controversial century.
‘[Contains an] astonishing wealth of material…a remarkable book’ Times Literary Supplement