Bibles for a Growing Nation
During the first part of the nineteenth century, a growing number of commentaries as well as specialized Bible translations were printed in America. Bible Societies were established, and new printing techniques made the Bible readily accessible to all.
The Bible was at the center of much of the nation’s education and culture, as well as its religious life. An example can be seen in the campaign poster during Abraham Lincoln’s first campaign for President, in 1860, showing the U.S. Laws and the Holy Bible as the two foundations of the American Republic. (Library of Congress LC-USZ62-3980)
During the nineteenth century, one of the most published Bible commentaries was that by Thomas Scott. Thomas Scott was an English clergyman who succeeded John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”) in the Olney Parish when Newton moved to London. Scott had been a Unitarian but came to accept Jesus as Redeemer and Lord largely through Newton’s influence. Scott wrote of his conversion in The Force of Truth, a testimony of God’s grace still in print today. Scott’s 6-volume Commentary on the Bible, first published in America in 1804, was extremely popular and went through numerous American editions in the 19th century. The Dunham Bible Museum has 5 copies of Scott’s commentaries, published between 1804 and 1845. Scott’s “Preface” to his commentaries, printed below, was often reprinted in Bibles, without the commentaries. R. A. Torrey heavily relied on Scott’s Commentaries when writing his Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge.
Read excerpts from Thomas Scott’s Commentary: