God's Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism by David S. Katz
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God's Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism
Yale University Press; First Edition edition (March 10, 2004)
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This wide-ranging book is an intellectual history of how informed readers read their Bibles over the past four hundred years, from the first translations in the sixteenth century to the emergence of fundamentalism in the twentieth century. In an astonishing display of erudition, David Katz recreates the response of readers from different eras by examining the "horizon of expectations" that provided the lens through which they read. In the Renaissance, says Katz, learned men rushed to apply the tools of textual analysis to the Testaments, fully confident that God's Word would open up and reveal shades of further truth. During the English Civil War, there was a symbiotic relationship between politics and religion, as the practical application of the biblical message was hammered out. Science - Newtonian and Darwinian, as well as the emerging disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, and geology - also had a great impact on how the Bible was received. The rise of the novel and the development of a concept of authorial copyright were other factors that altered readers' experience. Katz discusses all of these and more, concluding with the growth of fundamentalism in America, which brought biblical interpretation back to the Lutheran certainty of a demonstrable authority.
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