Prophets, Presidents, and Papists Canonical Considerations of the Early Republic

David F. Holland

in Sacred Borders

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753611
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895113 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

Prophets, Presidents, and Papists Canonical Considerations of the Early Republic

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This chapter opens with an exchange of letters between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wherein they discuss the early republic's problem with prophets. From that discussion, it argues that the strictly closed scriptural canon formed an important foundation on which Americans' notion of religious freedom developed. It examines the missions of various early American prophets and critiques the ways these figures have been characterized in the scholarly literature. It details the early stages of biblical criticism in the first part of the nineteenth century, arguing that a more historical approach to scripture and a more skeptical approach to the question of translation effected a sense of distance between Americans and the Bible. It explores the impact that rising Catholic immigration had on the canon debate. And it concludes by considering the interplay of revelation and race in the early republic.

Keywords: religious freedom; Providentialism; prophets; Swedenborgianism; Bible translations; Bible history; Catholics in America; slavery; African-American religion

Chapter.  17410 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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