English Bibles on Trial: Bible burning and the desecration of Bibles, 1640–1800, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

English Bibles on Trial

Bible burning and the desecration of Bibles, 1640–1800, 1st Edition

By Avner Shamir


212 pages

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pub: 2016-11-14
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The aim of this book is to explore antagonism towards, and acts of violence against, English Bibles in England and Scotland (and, to a lesser degree, Ireland) from the English Civil War to the end of the eighteenth century. In this period, English Bibles were burnt, torn apart, thrown away and desecrated in theatrical and highly offensive ways. Soldiers and rebels, clergymen and laymen, believers and doubters expressed their views and emotions regarding the English Bible (or a particular English Bible) through violent gestures. Often, Bibles of other people and other denominations were burnt and desecrated; sometimes people burnt and destroyed their own Bibles. By focusing on violent gestures which expressed resentment, rejection and hatred, this book furthers our understanding of what the Bible meant for early modern Christians. More specifically, it suggests that religious identities in this period were not formed simply by the pious reading, study and contemplation of Scripture, but also through antagonistic encounters with both Scripture itself and the Bible as a material object.


"Shamir tells a compelling, formidably researched and many-faceted story, and the book comes warmly recommended."

-Alec Ryrie, Durham University, UK

Table of Contents

1. Bible Burning: The Historical Significance of a Gesture

2. Desecrating and Burning Bibles

3. Bible Burners and Their Motives

4. The Gesture

5. Phantom Bible Burners

About the Author

Avner Shamir is Assistant Professor at the SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General