Every Leaf, Line, and Letter

Every Leaf, Line, and Letter

Evangelicals and the Bible from the 1730s to the Present

Edited by Timothy Larsen

Every Leaf, Line, and Letter
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Published: May 04, 2021
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-4175-2
  • Item Code: 4175
  • Case Quantity: 32

"I was filled with a pining desire to see Christ's own words in the Bible. . . . I got along to the window where my Bible was and I opened it and . . . every leaf, line, and letter smiled in my face."The Spiritual Travels of Nathan Cole, 1765

From its earliest days, Christians in the movement known as evangelicalism have had "a particular regard for the Bible," to borrow a phrase from David Bebbington, the historian who framed its most influential definition. But this "biblicism" has taken many different forms from the 1730s to the 2020s. How has the eternal Word of God been received across various races, age groups, genders, nations, and eras?

This collection of historical studies focuses on evangelicals' defining uses—and abuses—of Scripture, from Great Britain to the Global South, from the high pulpit to the Sunday School classroom, from private devotions to public causes.


  • David Bebbington, University of Stirling
  • Kristina Benham, Baylor University
  • Catherine Brekus, Harvard Divinity School
  • Malcolm Foley, Truett Seminary
  • Bruce Hindmarsh, Regent College, Vancouver
  • Thomas S. Kidd, Baylor University
  • Timothy Larsen, Wheaton College
  • K. Elise Leal, Whitworth University
  • John Maiden, The Open University, UK
  • Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
  • Mary Riso, Gordon College
  • Brian Stanley, University of Edinburgh
  • Jonathan Yeager, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"Evangelicals have always been people of 'the book.' Regardless of their levels of literacy, they have loved and tried to live by the contents of the Bible. Some have done so as highly learned theological exegetes. Most have been more simple hearers and doers of the Word. But no matter their ethnicity, race, gender, or social class, they have done their best, when at their best, to honor every 'leaf, line, and letter' of the Scriptures. This all-star cast of first-rate scholars and associates of David Bebbington, one of the most important evangelical scholars of our age, has compiled the best collection of short essays ever written on the diversity of evangelical uses of the Bible. This book is a must-read for serious students of evangelicalism, their study of the Scriptures, and the historiographical legacies of Bebbington himself."

Douglas A. Sweeney, dean and professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"Those readers, whether friendly or hostile to evangelicals, who imagine that there is one standard 'evangelical' approach to the Bible will receive a salutary surprise from this volume of essays. Each piece is of high scholarly level, marking an advance in its own area; together they demonstrate that the relation of evangelicals to the Bible has always been relative to history, geography, politics, and culture, and that this contextual shaping of the evangelical mind is especially true of the new generation of evangelicals in the Global South. Yet the reader is enabled to recognize an evangelical identity in all the diversity and is left with a greater understanding of how, for evangelicals, this stems from a confidence that the biblical text has the capacity to transform human lives. The book is itself an outstanding example of a new era of evangelical scholarship and demands to be taken into account henceforth by all who presume to write about 'evangelicals,' an achievement which is due in no small measure to its skillful compilation by Timothy Larsen."

Paul S. Fiddes, professor of systematic theology, University of Oxford, and author of A Unicorn Dies


Introduction, Thomas S. Kidd

Part 1: The Eighteenth Century
1. British Exodus, American Empire: Evangelical Preachers and the Biblicisms of Revolution, Kristina Benham
2. Lectio Evangelica: Figural Interpretation and Early Evangelical Bible Reading, Bruce Hindmarsh
3. Faith, Free Will, and Biblical Reasoning in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards and John Erskine, Jonathan Yeager

Part 2: The Nineteenth Century
4. "Young People Are Actually Becoming Accurate Bible Theologians": Children's Bible Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century America, K. Elise Leal
5. Missouri, Denmark Vesey, Biblical Proslavery, and a Crisis for Sola Scriptura, Mark Noll
6. Josephine Butler's Mystic Vision and her Love for the Jesus of the Gospels, Mary Riso

Part 3: The Twentieth Century
7. The Bible Crisis of British Evangelicalism in the 1920s, David Bebbington
8. Liberal Evangelicals and the Bible, Timothy Larsen
9. "The Only Way to Stop a Mob": Francis Grimké's Biblical Case for Lynching Resistance, Malcolm Foley
10. "As at the Beginning": Charismatic Renewal and the Reanimation of Scripture in Britain and New Zealand in the "Long" 1960s, John Maiden

Part 4: Into the Twenty-First Century
11. The American Patriot's Bible: Evangelicals, the Bible, and American Nationalism, Catherine A. Brekus
12. The Evangelical Christian Mind in History and Global Context, Brian Stanley

Acknowledgements, Thomas S. Kidd
List of Contributors
Scripture Index

Timothy Larsen

Timothy Larsen (PhD, University of Stirling; DD, University of Edinburgh) is McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. He is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity at Edinburgh University, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and he has been a visiting fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and All Souls College, Oxford.

He is the author of several books, including George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles, John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life, The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith, A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians, and Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England, and The Oxford Handbook of Christmas.

BY Timothy Larsen