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Description: The advances of geologic science, Darwinism, theological liberalism, and higher textual criticism converged in the nineteenth century to present an imposing challenge to biblical authority. The meteoric rise in secular knowledge exerted tremendous pressure on the Protestant theological elite of the time. Their ruminations, conversations, quarrels, and convictions offer penetrating insight into their world--into their perspective on Scripture and authority and how their outlook was challenged, defended, and sometimes changed across time. Moreover, the nineteenth-century imbroglios greatly illuminate a recent controversy over biblical authority. Some influential modern scholars of American religion contend that the doctrine of the inerrancy of the original autographs is a recently contrived theory, a theological aberration decidedly out of concert with mainline orthodoxy since the Reformation. They argue that pressure from biblical critics incited late nineteenth-century Princeton theologians to fabricate the notion as a way to quell criticism against Scripture. American fundamentalists, they insist, unwittingly adopted inerrancy as orthodoxy, being deceived by this innovation. This story has become standard scholarly currency in many quarters. However, The Sacred Text indicates that fundamentalists and conservative Protestants more generally are the standard-bearers of the ascendant theory of biblical authority commonly endorsed among many of the leading Protestant elite in nineteenth-century America. Endorsements: ""This is an outstanding work and a great contribution. It is wide in its research, concise in its expression, and extremely helpful."" --John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church and President, The Master's College and The Master's Seminary ""Learned, deeply researched, and forcefully argued, Sacred Text affords a powerful and sharply focused revisionist interpretation that, to my mind, effectively establishes the hegemony of literalism and inerrancy among most Protestant theologians and scholars. In a brilliant concluding chapter on the famous heresy trial of Charles Briggs, Satta makes a most plausible argument that the misinterpretations of Ernest Sandeen and other historians of American religion can be traced to Briggs's defense. The book is sure to stir up fruitful debate among scholars of American Protestantism."" --Robert Westbrook, Professor of History, University of Rochester ""The Sacred Text is an excellent historical study of biblical authority in the nineteenth century. Satta argues that the Princeton defense of biblical inerrancy was anchored in careful scholarship and historic Protestant doctrine. His account of the Briggs controversy and the resultant anti-Princeton historiography is first-rate."" --Roger Schultz, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Liberty University ""Ronald Satta provides a careful and lucid defense of a position I had thought to be mistaken until his research persuaded me otherwise: he argues that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the original manuscripts is not an invention of late-nineteenth-century Protestantism but was in fact widely held throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by a range of American theologians and scholars."" --Edward Wierenga, Department of Religion and Classics, University of Rochester About the Contributor(s): Ronald F. Satta is an American historian at Finger Lakes Community College. He earned his research doctorate in American history from the University of Rochester and his professional doctorate in homiletics from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of three books and many scholarly articles.
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