In this episode, Professor Seth Perry explores key aspects of his book Bible Culture & Authority in the Early United States (Princeton University Press, 2018). He brings to life the influence of American Bible printing on the early generations of a new republic. Through important advances in printing technology, American Bible publishers created a mass market for their product, empowering readers with a greater sense of their own authority in interpreting the scriptures. Moreover, their printings reinforced the concept of “text”—rather than institutions like the monarchy—as representing the ultimate authority in a democratic republic. In our discussion, Dr. Perry draws from a course he teaches at Princeton to explain how Mary Baker Eddy and her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures connect to the overall landscape of American Bible culture
Dr. Seth Perry is an author and Assistant Professor of Religion at Princeton University. He is interested in American religious history, with a particular focus on print culture and religious authority. His current book project is a biography of Lorenzo Dow, the most famous itinerant preacher of the early national period. Perry’s article on Dow appeared in 2015. His work has appeared in publications that include the Chronicle of Higher Education, Common-place, The Huffington Post, and the LA Review of Books.