Ancient Road Publications


The Bible of the Revolution

By Kyle Pope


n 1782, six years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence the war wearied colonists who had banned together to form a sovereign nation found themselves in the midst of a spiritual crisis. Before the war had begun colonists could easily obtain English bibles through the Oxford and Cambridge University presses which were under the authority of the British crown. In the years before the war it had been illegal to print English bibles without royal authority in order to protect the accuracy of the sacred text. Yet when the war began and commerce with England was impeded, shipments of Bibles were stopped. This left the deeply religious patriots, who in the Declaration itself had affirmed their “...Reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” lacking the very source of their spiritual foundation.

           The first step taken to remedy this problem involved the newly formed Continental Congress. In July of 1777 three Philadelphia preachers placed a petition before the body bringing the matter to their attention. The petition stated “...The holy scriptures contained in the old and new Testaments are growing so scarce and dear, that we greatly fear that unless timely care be used to prevent it, we shall not have bibles for our schools and families, and for the publick worship of God in our churches.” In response the congress first tried to import Bibles from Holland and Scotland. This proved problematic during wartime.  The final solution came in 1782 when the congress sponsored the first complete printing of the English Bible on American soil.  It was produced by Philadelphia printer Robert Aiken, and has been known ever since that time as “The Bible of the Revolution.”

           One cannot look back on events such as this and not be touched by the unique spirit which drove the men and women of the early days of America’s history. While I would certainly differ with the Calvinistic teachings (on the one extreme) and Unitarian views (on the other extreme) of these “Founding Fathers,” at the same time I respect their love for God’s word. A casual study of literature from this period shows the stark contrast between the people of that time compared to our own age. The early Americans focused their spirits on the content of Scripture. Its principles permeated their language and their treatment of others. America’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams illustrates this in claiming—“The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”

           Such a spirit is sorely needed by men and women in our day. The Bible is not some “outdated relic of antiquity,” it is as relevant to man now as it has ever been! In Scripture we have the mind of God revealed to man giving to us the “words” that will judge us in the Last Day (John 12:48). I ask any who may have questioned the Bible’s importance in your life, give it a second chance! Remember - “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV).   

Pope, Kyle. "The Bible of the Revolution" Biblical Insights 8.5 (May 2008): 17  

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