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date: 22 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an overview of the history and historiography of some of the nonverbal aspects of American Bibles, focusing on format, bindings, and paper. These features of Bibles have evolved both materially and symbolically, owing to changing technologies, economic considerations, aesthetic preferences, and, crucially, a tension between two opposed ideals regarding the Bible’s physical presence. Americans with various stakes in Bible production have shared a sense that Bibles should be both materially impressive and widely accessible. The changing forms of Bibles make particularly legible the push and pull between transcendence and immanence, a contest ongoing in the digital age.

Keywords: Bible—publishing history, bookbinding, family Bible, book history, material culture, iconic books, Lorenzo Dow, Billy Graham

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