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This chapter first traces the history of Bible in North America, and then the issue of publishing of the Scripture. The strongly Protestant cast of American history is indicated no better than in the intense personal application to Scripture undertaken by countless individuals in every generation from the early seventeenth century to the present. Americans also have sustained an enormous rate of bible publication and an even more astonishing appetite for literature about the Bible. The Scripture has been a vital element in American popular life, and has also provided powerful themes for Americans to define themselves politically, both as a people and as a nation. The chapter discusses the experiences of two minority groups in North America, Jews and the African Americans, for whom the Bible has been central. It ends with discussions on the Biblical scholarship, and the history of the Scripture in Canada.
Scripture was the soul of Christian belief and practice from the beginnings of the church. Quite early in the third century a more technical exegesis, following the methods of textual study in the grammatical, rhetorical and philosophical schools of the Graeco-Roman world, led to the emergence of the biblical commentary. If the purpose of preaching in the early church was to instruct in the Christian faith, then catechesis, or pre-baptismal instruction in the faith, can be distinguished from homilies, which were for the purpose of post-baptismal Christian instruction. Origen and those preachers of his circle or spiritual school of Christian philosophy used the method of allegorical interpretation with the goal of leading listeners to the likeness of God. The earliest attestation of Christian scholia in the technical sense comes in the late 300s, possibly with Pseudo-Athanasius, but definitely by the 390s with Evagrius, not to mention Hesychius of Jerusalem.