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June 15th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: How I constructed 'The American Bible'

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Over the past year or so, I have been working on a book called "The American Bible." The hardest part was the table of contents.

“The American Bible” isn’t a new translation of the Christian Bible. It’s my term for the texts that function like scripture in American public life, the voices to which we are forever returning as we reflect together on what America is all about.

In some cases, we refer explicitly to these texts as “sacred” or “immortal.” At a campaign stop in Mesa, Arizona, in February, Mitt Romney implied that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution might be “inspired by God.”

In all cases, however, we treat them like scripture, returning to their words as we ponder the meanings and ends of our country, and invoking their authority in debates over gay marriage and taxes. In other words, these are the speeches and songs, letters and novels that continue to stir commentary and controversy, the voices that bring us together into the collective conversation that I see as the rite of our republic.

But which voices to include in my book? Which texts have “we the people” embraced as scripture? And what are the key commentaries upon them? As I struggled to answer these questions, I knew I'd be criticized for the choices I made.

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When "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know" appeared in 1987, author E.D. Hirsch was widely criticized for producing a list of “core knowledge” that was too conservative and too white. His 63-page list of people, places and events neglected knowledge that is central to the experiences of African-Americans, Latinos and women, many argued.

With Hirsch and his critics in mind, I began the quest for my canon by devising some defensible guidelines. I decided right away that the book should be descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, I would aim not to create a canon but to report upon one; I would include not the voices that inspire me but those that “we the people” have revered.

I then fixed on two criteria. First, I would look for texts that have generated conversation and controversy, books we value enough to fight about. Second, I would look for texts that speak to the meaning of “America” and “Americans,” telling us where our nation has been and where it should be going.

I also decided that I would include alongside my “biblical" books extensive commentary about each, tracking their "afterlives" over the course of U.S. history. In other words, my “American Bible” would look something like an “American Talmud,” with extensive commentaries tracking the conversations Americans had about the Declaration of Independence during the Civil War and about the Gettysburg Address during the civil rights movement.

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When Nathaniel Philbrick referred to "Moby-Dick" as “our American Bible,” he meant that Melville’s classic is a big book that carries inside it the “genetic code” of American life. In my view, however, "Moby-Dick" has not been as influential as either Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" or Mark Twain’s "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," each of which has carried considerable weight in our national conversation about race. So I eliminated "Moby-Dick."

Other cuts were more difficult. I am a big fan of “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman's love letter to democracy. But I thought that “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ran even deeper into the American psyche, so "Leaves of Grass" had to go. Eventually, as the book ballooned beyond its limits, I had to let Longfellow's "Revere" gallop away, too. It just hadn’t provoked enough arguments.

Also slighted in "The American Bible" are more recent voices, since it is harder to generate a vast commentary tradition for a work from the 1990s or 2000s than for one published during the revolution or the Civil War. Still, I admit that most of the voices in this collection are those of dead white men. In fact, the only living author of an "American Bible" book is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial architect Maya Lin.

Nonetheless, women, native Americans, African-Americans and Muslims are among the authors of my “biblical” books, and voices of the commentators — from Frederick Douglass to Rosa Parks and Gloria Steinem to Alan Greenspan — are far more diverse.

"The American Bible" also ranges, in its primary and secondary texts, far and wide across the political spectrum. Radical historian Howard Zinn and consumer activist Ralph Nader are heard here. So are conservative activists and intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr., Robert Bork, Rush Limbaugh and Antonin Scalia.

When I finished constructing "The American Bible," I was delighted to see that there are lessons aplenty here concerning both what our forbears have said about our country and how they have said it. In a time when party passions threaten to divide the country, it is gratifying to recall the words our fellow Americans have used to try to unite it.

In his Farewell Address, Washington warns us against the "mischiefs of the spirit of party." In his First Inaugural, Jefferson says, "We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists." "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies," says Lincoln. And closer to our own time, Kennedy reminds us that "civility is not a sign of weakness."

My table of contents appears below. How have I done? What did I miss? What should I have cut? It's your book. Let me know.

Genesis

The Exodus Story

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630)

Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" (1776)

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

Noah Webster, "The Blue-Back Speller" (1783)

Law

The Constitution (1787)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Roe v. Wade (1973)

Chronicles

Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" (1852)

Mark Twain, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884)

Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged" (1957)

Psalms

Francis Scott Key, “The Star-Spangled Banner” (1814)

Irving Berlin, “God Bless America” (1938)

Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land” (1940)

Proverbs

Benjamin Franklin, “Remember that time is money” (1748)

Benjamin Franklin, “God helps those who help themselves” (1758)

Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death” (1775)

Abigail Adams, “Remember the ladies” (1776)

Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?” (1851)

Abraham Lincoln, “With malice toward none, with charity for all” (1865)

Chief Joseph, “I will fight no more forever” (1877)

Calvin Coolidge, “The business of America is business” (1925)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people” (1932)

John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” (1961)

Ronald Reagan, “Evil empire” (1983)

Prophets

Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” (1849)

Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961)

Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” (1963)

Malcolm X, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" (1965)

Lamentations

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)

Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982)

Gospels

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933)

Ronald Reagan, “The Speech” (1964)

Acts

The Pledge of Allegiance (1892, 1954)

Epistles

George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to the Danbury Baptists” (1802)

Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Books • Church and state • Culture wars • History • Leaders • My Take • Opinion • Politics • United States

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. David O

    MAV

    That should be inerrency. Some days I hate autocorrect.

    June 17, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  2. KathyS

    To Kill A Mockingbird.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  3. Jack

    thestarofkaduri.com

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,

    that whoever believes in him shall not – *perish – but have eternal life.

    The Bible ... John 3: 16

    June 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Cq

      But what if people would rather perish than spend eternity worshiping some god?

      June 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      The devil is gods first created and he was supposed to protect the earth

      June 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      So what is the point, purpose or motivation of living for eternity in worshipful bliss of God(s)? If you thought an Atheists life has no meaning .. just imagine an eternity of no meaning!

      June 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      only a demented deity could logic out that he was helping people by sacrificing his own son. koo-koo!

      June 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • just sayin

      To those that are perishing, Salvation seems foolish. God bless

      June 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The argument is moot. EVERYONE perishes in the end.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Answer

      We all know that 'just sayin' and 'jack' will be be going to hell. XD

      June 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • truth be told

      jack and just sayin are deserving of hell as is all mankind but they will never see hell because they belong to Jesus

      June 17, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  4. Answer

    No matter how many other religious people affirm to you -the christian- will be going to heaven -you- will never get there.

    Try your whole circle of 3 billion? religious nutbags and you'll still get that huge gaping hole in your gut that you can never push away. You'll still be empty – keep clinging to heaven. I love to see the comedy of your plight. XD

    June 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Answer

      I have a great plan for you religious types if you're interested...

      Everyone of you- go and sign a declaration- stating that you all (who sign it) will vouch for each other (everyone) that you ALL will get to heaven. Try it. Go make yourself happy and relieve that emptiness. lol

      June 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      The ones I watch out for are those that insult and try to demean Christianity and then judge Christians for being against certain things. I call them hypocrites.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Cq

      You could also all use it to sue God if you all don't get into heaven as promised. Or sue him if it turns out that he lets everyone in; and you all wasted your time worshiping him, believing in the rapture and creationism.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Answer

      You religious people believe in the superiority of numbers correct? Always pointing out just HOW MUCH you have in people who believe the garbage...

      What's the matter with the principal of voting yourself into heaven? 3 Billion strong voices each consenting that you ALL WILL go to heaven can't be wrong correct?

      Don't tell me you ARE DOUBTING that not everyone will make it? Too unbelievable.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Goddidit

      The true number cannot be determined..for a nonbeliever you have no logic at all answer

      June 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Church Lady

      "The true number cannot be determined..for a nonbeliever you have no logic at all answer"

      How conveeeeeenient!

      June 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Answer

      @godit

      A good lie to yourself no less.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.
    See is results at prolapsed.net.

    June 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      action changes things; prayer wastes time.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • the wages of sin is death

      the only prayer that would be available to you would be the sinners prayer. Those who know and love God find great value in conversation with Him.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      This is not the original Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things but is one who is willing to share Truths although we are not acquainted with prolapse.net

      June 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • just sayin

      God bless

      June 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      will produce atheism, atheism followed to its logical conclusion will produce filth

      June 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • midwest rail

      ^ ^ ^ Nonsense.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Mike

      Has trolling changed anything in your life?

      June 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  6. true god

    Folks the only true God is the FSM. He sent his only meatball to give you savory salvation. Open your hearts to his love and be touched by his noodle appendage. Repent from the evil life of the Taco. As it is written in the Holy Cook Book, Oregano 3:14-17

    June 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • wasnt funny when it was coined

      let alone the trillionth time

      June 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i have been touched by his noodley appendage!

      all hail the great FSM!

      RAMEN!

      June 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      will result in atheism

      June 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  7. Karon

    Im curious if he considered the inscription on the Statue of Liberty? I like his choices just think it needs to be there too. I have argued many times over what liberty says and its very effective when it comes to immigration.

    June 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • mickey1313

      To bad that is French, not American. And we don't need anyone else's tried hungry or poor, we have plenty already.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Daryl

      Mickey1313: The statue was made in France, but the inscription was by an American poet, Emma Lazarus. Your comment that we don't need any more tired or hungry or poor might give more weight to Karon's idea of including "The New Colossus" because there are differing opinions about its message.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Eric

      Karon, that is a good call. Especially since some people clearly don't know their history.

      http://www.libertystatepark.com/emma.htm

      June 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

      Prayer changes things????? Yeah, it sure does – it p!sses me right off! Quit whining and complaining and begging and asking – do you have ANY idea how annoying that is? And at least the atheists are using their brains to think – why do you think I created brains, you simpleton. You know, I really get tired of that "prayer changes things" crap. It doesn't. Doesn't help in the least.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changeth things
      Proven
      Powerful
      Pervasive
      Prayer changes things

      June 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prolapsed.net is my website all about the power of prayer.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • truth pssttt

      People who pray waste a day

      June 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • truth pssttt

      Humm, do your realize that "prolapsed" is the side effect of a girl who had to much anal. you might want to change the name of your website.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~

      June 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  9. Keith

    This sort of speaks for itself:

    April 30, 2004
    John 7:37-38, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

    It had been a busy four months. Geno and myself had been on the road since the beginning of January, and the weekend of April 30, we were scheduled to speak in North Dakota. This however, was a special meeting. It was to be held on an Indian reservation, plagued with countless vices, and in recent weeks with the spirit of suicide as well. It was an open meeting, where Christians and non-Christians had been invited. For the past two weeks I had been praying for direction as to what I should speak. It was a new forum for me, and I knew I needed guidance and direction. As the day drew nearer, I prayed even more, but had received no answer.

    I had worked third shift the previous night, and had only had enough time to take a shower, and put on some fresh clothes before we were scheduled to make the long drive. Since I was thoroughly tired, I let Geno drive, and I went to sleep in the passenger seat, still troubled in my mind over what I was to speak.

    As I slept, I had a dream. I dreamt I was at the base of a tall mountain, with a beautiful waterfall running down its center. As the water fell down the mountain, at certain intervals there were gathering pools, where the water would acc.umulate, then spill over to continue its trek down the mountainside. A great number of people were at the bottom of the mountain kneeling beside the lowest gathering pool sipping the water. As I looked up the mountainside more people were at the other gathering pools as well, but as the elevation grew, less and less people could be seen. As I was taking in the scene, and wondering what it meant, I noticed a man dressed in white standing beside me, his hands clasped behind his back. It was the same man I had dreamt in previous dreams. He was looking at the mountain, and the running water as intently as I was.

    Finally, I looked at him, and asked: "What does this mean. I do not understand."

    "It is the answer to your question," he answered. Before I could say anything else, he began to walk, turned his head and said, "Walk with me."

    We walked to the first pool of water, and made our way through the crowd until we were standing on the edge, people were still scooping up the water and drinking hungrily. "Taste it," the man said pointing to the water. It looked clean, but as I scooped a handful and put it to my lips, I noticed it had an earthy taste. I winced, the man smiled, and he continued walking up the mountainside. It was a rough and rocky path, and although the man seemed to have no difficulty climbing, I stumbled a few times, slipped on a few stones, but managed to keep up with his pace. Halfway up the mountain, we stopped at another pool. There were fewer people there than at the bottom, so it was easier for us to make our way to the edge. "Taste it," the man said. I did as before, and scooped some water with my cupped hand, brought it to my lips, and tasted it. Although it tasted much better than the previous pool, there was still a tinge of a sour taste.

    We continued to walk up the mountain, until finally, we reached the top. What had been obscured by distance before was now very clear to me. At the top, there was no gathering pool, but a constant torrent of water that came right out of the mountain itself. The rush of water was so powerful that as it came out of the mountain, one could not help but get sprayed if they stood close to it. Those standing at the top, much fewer in number than those at the bottom, were already wet, and in a few minute’s time I was thoroughly soaked as well. "Taste it", the man finally said after we stood and watched the beauty of the spring for some time. The water was unlike anything I’d ever tasted. It was cool and crisp, and my thirst was quenched after a few sips.

    Although it was a beautiful sight to behold, I was still confused, and after some time I asked the man, "what does it mean?"

    "You prayed to the Father, and asked what you should speak. It is the answer to your prayer. This spring is the word of God. When at its source it is pure, and gives life, but as men continue to twist it and interpret and dilute it, it loses its essence, it becomes bitter. Speak the truth of His word, and the thirst of those listening will be quenched."

    "What was the meaning of those at the bottom of the mountain?" I asked.

    "They are those who are content with half truths, many know cleaner water is found on the mountaintop, but choose not to exert themselves. It is a hard climb, and to know truth one must be diligent in knowing the Word. For now the difference between those at the base of the mountain, and those who stand here, nourishing themselves with the pure word of God is negligible to the human eye. While the day abides, in the eyes of men they are all the same, but the day will not abide forever."

    As the man spoke those words, what had just an instant before been blue and sunny skies, turned pale, then pitch black. In an instant there was darkness as far as the eye could see.

    "Now behold the difference", the man said. As I looked I understood what he meant. The base of the mountain was engulfed in darkness. Not one flicker of light was visible, but those standing on the mountaintop began to shine with an inner glow that allowed them to see the path before them clearly. The man who had been standing next to me shone brighter than us all.

    "Only the pure truth of God’s word will be as an anchor in the storm, and as a lamp in the darkness," the man said. "All else will fade away into nothingness. For the days to come are dark days filled with turmoil and great anguish. Even upon this land toward which the Father has shown such great mercy, the day is soon coming when its fate will stun the world. Be bold in the truth servant, and work while you still may that your reward will be complete."

    I woke up, thinking it had only been a short while since I’d fallen asleep. I was surprised to hear Geno tell me we were only minutes away from our destination. That night, the meeting was held in the ballroom of a casino, and as instructed I preached the truth of God’s word. It was a simple message on Jesus being the truth, the way, and the life, yet this simple message stirred the hearts of those listening. It was one of the most powerful meetings we’ve had on this tour, with people being saved, delivered, and rededicating their lives to the Lord Jesus. Since then, I have prayed much concerning whether or not to share this dream, and I felt in my heart it was time to do so. God prepares His children in advance, and offers them sufficient time to cling to Him, and trust in Him, that they may weather the storm, and see His victory through it all.

    Revelation 22:17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

    With love in Christ,

    Michael Boldea Jr.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Keith

      Much has been lost/misinterpreted from the original Hebrew and Greek. The modern translations are some of the absolute worst.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • one minor problem

      the Bible is a repulsive crock of sh!t.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

      Hey – don't look at me! I didn't write that crap! And I certainly didn't tell any of you slugs to write it and put MY name on it.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Which God??

      This is pure spam from a troll.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  10. This is a True Story

    About three years ago, my little boy Ian wanted to learn about Jesus, so I said Ok, and was reading the Gospels to him.
    After a little while, Ian said "Dad, I don't like Jesus."
    I said "You don't?" and he said "No. I think he was a liar. He's creepy!"
    So I said "You know what? I agree." and we took the New Testament out back and put it in the barbeque, and I squirted a bunch of lighter fluid on it, and lit it on fire.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • stupid followed to it's logical conclusion

      results in atheism
      there is no greater child abuse than to deny a child its relationship with God

      June 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • truth pssttt

      There no greater child abuse than teaching children about God, after all he r.apped a young girl promised to another man.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Keith

      Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Sue

      No book should be burned!

      June 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      will result in someone like truth psst misinterpreting the Hebrew into the wrong English translation and thinking itself smart.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, there is no greater child abuse than to continue to lie to your children.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      atheism IS a lie

      June 17, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  11. ElectricLion

    Is there a reason why you left out Susan B. Anthony?

    June 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  12. *frank*

    Prothero, you're killin' me.........................

    June 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  13. THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

    LISTEN!!! You insects. No, you're less than insects! You tiny, meaningless things! Enough with the delusions that I give a crap about you. You're less meaningful to me than a school boy's forgotten Grade 1 science experiment. You live; you die; you kill; you are killed. Guess what???? Don't care. You're built to die, otherwise you'd overrun everything. You're built to die. How, when, where – I do not give a divine crap. Cancer makes me laugh. The 2004 Tsunami? I was taking a whizz in the Pacific. Get it yet? You get one ride on the merry-go-round. Just one. So knock your socks off. Enjoy! But stop with the constant praying, OK/ Or I'll get really ticked!

    June 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      And people wonder where respect went? It is little kids like this commenter that were deprived of much needed love as an infant.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

      Alright Gaul – that's it. You're next. A plague of frogs is coming your way, big time! You've got a lot of gall (ha ha – get it? Gall. Gaul. Ah, never mind, you insect.) Just who are YOU to presume what God would say, and how he would say it? Awfully arrogant of you, you worm.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Evangelical

      You need to get your heart right with God.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

      You, too, Evan – you sanctimonious turd. I flippin' can't stand your kind! Putting the "mental" in "fundamentalist" – that's you!

      June 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Karen

      'evangelical' is a word that really means "cowardly, bigoted and stupid"

      June 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Julius Caesar would have never forgave you for calling him a Gaul? the horror?

      June 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • THE*ONE*TRUE*GOD

      And don't you DARE blame me for being who and what I am – a vicious, vindictive, arrogant, angry, petulant brat of a god who likes to do virgins as much as he likes genocidal murder. Just read the Bible – I'm in there! Direct from the mind of man. (And NO, the Bible ISN'T my divine word! Do you think I'm THAN much of a screw-up that I couldn't keep my stories straight?????

      ps – I made gay people gay – they are my real chosen people!

      June 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      results in atheism

      June 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  14. jackenstien

    "Bible" is just a word that means "BOOK".
    Good Idea Stephen Prothero, but Big Deal!
    Equating the declaration of Independence and Huckleberry Fin as scripture by calling it the American Bible is playing games with semantics. Many people (believers or not) hear the word "Bible" and think of ancient scriptures.
    Calling his creation the "American Bible" is deceptive and is cheap low class marketing.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Cq

      The Bible is just the collected works that Jewish, and later Christian people, use to identify their experience and identi.ty. That's where he gets to call this a book about the American Bible.

      June 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  15. Jack

    thestarofkaduri.com

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,

    that whoever believes in him shall not – *perish – but have eternal life.

    The Bible – John 3: 16

    June 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Elbow deep in god

      Check out Jacks homepage prolapsed.net, its all about lost scriptures from Paul!

      June 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Cq

      But, if Jesus was actually also immortal God, how much of a "sacrifice" was this?

      June 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Chad

      Jesus is separate and distinct from the God of Abraham, Jesus is the Son, God is the father.

      so, quite a sacrifice. One that it should be noted, Jesus didnt want to submit to, but did so out of obedience and love.

      He[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke

      June 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  16. RLM

    I'd have included FDR's "Four Freedoms." And surely W. E. B. DuBois should be in the book somewhere, not to mention Richard Wright. Ambrose Bierce's short stories evoke deep emotions on the horrors of war. Niehardt's "Black Elk Speaks" has been taken up by many Native Americans as a spiritual touchstone. Harry Emerson Fosdick's hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory" expressed deep piety and warns against materialism and jingoism.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    oh this is good stuff...finally a book NEARLY every US citizen can adhere to!

    minus the stuff about god.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • truth pssttt

      Yep, take out that wizard miracle crap, and it's not too bad.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Truth

      Sorry you never experienced a miracle.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • ME II

      @Evangelical
      "Sorry you never experienced a miracle."

      Apparently, you aren't praying enough...

      June 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Evangelical – "Sorry you never experienced a miracle."

      What miracle (s) have you experienced?

      June 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Evangelical

      God told me that something would come to pass and how, and it surely did, exactly how God told me it would.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jen

      A psychic told me something would happen and it did...I feel bad now that I didn't start worshiping her immediately.....

      June 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      miracle don't exist,.. a miracle is something happening outside of natures design and the one thing we know about nature is nothing happens out side her will, know if you fall up when you slip on a banana pill a rocket up to the moon, a dance with rabbits while eating cheese in a Cristal palace up there that would be a miracle ,.. but if you find a 10 dollar bill on the ground when you haven't eaten in 5 days so you fall to the ground and say "god" (any god or goddess) help me then find the bill that's not a miracle that within her design.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Gods fister

      God spoke to me, he said find all your answers at prolapsed.net.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  18. tinyprof

    Dear Mr. Prothero, Despite the fact that you state that this is not a new translation, I think it definitely qualifies as a paraphrase version. I teach a course in the history of the English bible, and I think your book will be a good addition to my syllabus. I look forward to teaching it, and to the responses of my students to the issues it presents. I intend to use your book just after having my students read (and read about) the Jefferson Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the context of discussion of uniquely American perspectives on Biblical text. Keep up the good work.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Lol

      You don't have very good reading comprehension, do you?

      June 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  19. Dj

    1Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
    3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • truth pssttt

      you do know its a fable story book, right

      June 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Sam Yaza

    Declaration of Independence inspired by God,.... hahahahahhahahahahahahahahaahahhahahahahaahhahahahah

    wow

    hahahahahahahahahahaahah

    now that tyrants even takes credit for my work,.

    hahahahahahahahahahha

    i the one who inspires those to rebel to claim there independence,.. I'm the great rebel dude that was my work,.. seriously i inspired Jefferson,.. just look at some of the things he said about the christian god

    They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
    -Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

    god with a lower case means a god but which one i will give you a hint its ether Me or Lilith because we are the rebel God who never bow to tyranny and teaches out followers to break the chains of Slavery,.. the christian god is a slave master

    "The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

    -Thomas Jefferson

    June 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.