Dissent and the Bible in Britain, C.1650-1950

ISBN : 9780199608416

Scott Mandelbrote; Michael Ledger-Lomas
336 ページ
164 x 242 mm

The claim that the Bible was 'the Christian's only rule of faith and practice' has been fundamental to Protestant dissent. Dissenters first braved persecution and then justified their adversarial status in British society with the claim that they alone remained true to the biblical model of Christ's Church. They produced much of the literature that guided millions of people in their everyday reading of Scripture, while the voluntary societies that distributed millions of Bibles to the British and across the world were heavily indebted to Dissent. Yet no single book has explored either what the Bible did for dissenters or what dissenters did to establish the hegemony of the Bible in British culture. The protracted conflicts over biblical interpretation that resulted from the bewildering proliferation of dissenting denominations have made it difficult to grasp their contribution as a whole. This volume evokes the great variety in the dissenting study and use of the Bible while insisting on the factors that gave it importance and underlying unity. Its ten essays range across the period from the later seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century and make reference to all the major dissenting denominations of the United Kingdom. The essays are woven together by a thematic introduction which places the Bible at the centre of dissenting ecclesiology, eschatology, public worship and 'family religion', while charting the political and theological divisions that made the cry of 'the Bible only' so divisive for dissenters in practice.


1. A Family Bible? The Henrys and Dissenting Readings of the Bible, 1650-1750
2. Mary Fletcher's Bible
3. Scripture and Heresy in the Biblical Studies of Nathaniel Lardner, Joseph Priestley, and Thomas Belsham
4. Welsh Dissent and the Bible c.1750-1850
5. The Only Certain Rule of Faith and Practice: The Interpretation of Scripture amongst English High Calvinists, c.1780s-1850
6. The Bible and Varieties of Nineteenth-Century Dissent: Elizabeth Fry, Mary Carpenter, and Catherine Booth
7. The Common Sense Bible: Irish Presbyterians, Samuel Davidson, and Biblical Criticism, c.1800 to 1865
8. Conder and Sons: Dissent and the Oriental Bible in Nineteenth-century Britain
9. Biblical Criticism and Scots Presbyterian Dissent in the Age of Robertson Smith
10. A People Beyond the Book? Seebohm Rowntree, the Decline of Popular Biblicism and the Fate of Protestant England, c.1900-1950


Scott Mandelbrote, Fellow of Peterhouse, University of Cambridge; Michael Ledger-Lomas, Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King's College, London