"Written in the style of antiquity": Pseudo-biblicism and the early American republic, 1770-1830

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Students of early America have overlooked the fact that Americans published numerous pseudo-biblical texts, a practice that peaked from approximately 1770 to 1830. This unique and forgotten tradition of writing "in the style of antiquity" was the product of an age still suffused with the Bible yet at the same time Enlightened as to the liberal use of that book's language, notably for political issues across the ideological spectrum. Employing the full range of the stylistic measures of the King James Bible's English, from biblical-like titles and short numbered verses to a distinct Jacobean vocabulary, this pseudo-biblical tradition in America sheds light on a host of historical issues and problems: from the ways in which Americans attempted to reclaim authority as they experienced the diminishing influence of traditional sources of social power, to new modes of religiosity and attitudes toward time and history. This remarkable practice thus presents an ideal vantage point from which to gain a better understanding of the intellectual processes and historical consciousness that accompanied the momentous transformations that the American republic endured during the decades following its creation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)800-826
Number of pages27
JournalChurch History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies


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