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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the variety of ways in which the Bible was used over the turbulent decades of the 1640s and 1650s. Since all sectaries were committed to the right of ‘ordinary’ people to read and interpret scripture, a rich variety of interpretations surfaced. Movements differed significantly in the use to which they put the Bible: and the chapter explores the different emphases in writings by Ranters, Diggers, Levellers, Baptists, and Quakers, on questions ranging from the Bible and money, to authority, to the practicality and worldliness of the scriptures. The relative freedom afforded by the abolition of monarchy and the dismantling of other pillars of authority allowed a rich variety of hitherto ‘heretical’ and subversive ideas to circulate in print, couched, for the most part, in allusions to the Bible and supported by scriptural texts.

Keywords: radical Bible, Levellers, Diggers, Winstanley, biblical interpretation, radicalism, Ranters

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