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date: 21 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Nineteenth-century interpretation reflected traditional Protestant devotion to scripture and hermeneutical conventions from American experience, especially the democratic empowerment of ordinary people and a republican resentment of intellectual aristocracy. In the antebellum era, interpretations flowed from long-standing Protestant convictions adjusted to republican common sense. Contention over the Bible and slavery generated the sharpest differences. After false starts from Tom Paine in the 1790s and a few New Englanders in the 1840s, modern biblical criticism affected interpretations from the 1870s. In the postbellum era, some Protestants adopted a more liberal understanding of scripture because of the earlier standoffs over slavery. Groups previously marginalized (Catholics, Jews, skeptics, women, African Americans) also became more visible.

Keywords: common sense, criticism, culture, democracy, evolution, hermeneutical conventions, historicism, republican, slavery, traditional

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