Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution

Hardcover | June 15, 2013

byJames P. Byrd

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On January 17, 1776, one week after Thomas Paine published his incendiary pamphlet Common Sense, Connecticut minister Samuel Sherman preached an equally patriotic sermon. "God Almighty, with all the powers of heaven, are on our side," Sherman said, voicing a sacred justification for war thatAmericans would invoke repeatedly throughout the struggle for independence. In Sacred Scripture, Sacred War, James Byrd offers the first comprehensive analysis of how American revolutionaries defended their patriotic convictions through scripture. Byrd shows that the Bible was a key text of the American Revolution. Indeed, many colonists saw the Bible as primarily a bookabout war. They viewed God as not merely sanctioning violence but actively participating in combat, playing a decisive role on the battlefield. When war came, preachers and patriots alike turned to scripture not only for solace but for exhortations to fight. Such scripture helped amateur soldiersovercome their natural aversion to killing, conferred on those who died for the Revolution the halo of martyrdom, and gave Americans a sense of the divine providence of their cause. Many histories of the Revolution have noted the connection between religion and war, but Sacred Scripture, Sacred War is the first to provide a detailed analysis of specific biblical texts and how they were used, especially in making the patriotic case for war. Combing through more than 500 wartimesources, which include more than 17,000 biblical citations, Byrd shows precisely how the Bible shaped American war, and how war in turn shaped Americans' view of the Bible. Brilliantly researched and cogently argued, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War sheds new light on the American Revolution.

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On January 17, 1776, one week after Thomas Paine published his incendiary pamphlet Common Sense, Connecticut minister Samuel Sherman preached an equally patriotic sermon. "God Almighty, with all the powers of heaven, are on our side," Sherman said, voicing a sacred justification for war thatAmericans would invoke repeatedly throughout ...

James P. Byrd is Assistant Professor of American Religious History, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research, and Fellow in the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:June 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019984349X

ISBN - 13:9780199843497

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. ''The Curse of Cowardice'': Biblical Patriotism and the Martial Power of the Sermon2. ''The Lord is a Man of War'': Moses, the Exodus, and the Spirit of '763. ''Curse ye Meroz'' and ''Cursed Be He that Keepeth Back his Sword from Blood'': Deborah, Jeremiah, and the Militant American Jeremiad4. ''Teacheth My Hands to War, and My Fingers to Fight'': David's Revolutionary Heroism ''After God's Own Heart''5. ''The Liberty wherewith Christ hath Made Us Free'': Peter, Paul, and Patriotism6. ''The Fierceness and Wrath of Almighty God'': Revelation in the RevolutionEpilogue: An American Patriot's BibleNotesIndex