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America's Public Bible

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In the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was not unusual for newspapers to publish Bible verses. Nor was it uncommon for journalists to cite the Bible in their editorials or make biblical references in their articles. Lincoln Mullen, a historian of religion at George Mason University, created this website to illuminate the role of the Bible in the American press and popular culture. First, Mullen analyzed the newspapers available in the Library of Congress's extensive Chronicling America collection. Then, he used machine learning to identify biblical quotations in these newspapers. (Those interested in learning more about Mullen's process can do so via the Sources & Methods Section). With this information, Mullen identified the 1,700 most commonly quoted verses and created a number of engaging visualizations with this information. Visitors to this website can explore Mullen's research in a variety of ways. In Explore the Quotations, visitors can manipulate an interactive graph to see the prominence of biblical quotations across a number of themes. In Topics & Verses, visitors can explore charts of the most common quotations by decade along with a visualization of biblical passages frequently quoted together. As Mullen explains: "By looking at uses of the Bible in newspapers, we can see which parts of the Bible were in common currency among Americans, as well as the range of interpretations that were given to those verses."
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Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2017-02-17
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2017/0217

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