Jill Hicks-Keeton and Cavan W. Concannon, "Does Scripture Speak for Itself?: The Museum of the Bible and the Politics of Interpretation" (Cambridge UP, 2022)


Is the Bible the unembellished Word of God or the product of human agency? There are different answers to that question. And they lie at the heart of this book's powerful exploration of the fraught ways in which money, race and power shape the story of Christianity in American public life. The authors' subject is the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC: arguably the latest example of a long line of white evangelical institutions aiming to amplify and promote a religious, political, and moral agenda of their own. 

In Does Scripture Speak for Itself?: The Museum of the Bible and the Politics of Interpretation (Cambridge UP, 2022), Jill Hicks-Keeton and Cavan Concannon disclose the ways in which the Museum's exhibits reinforce a particularized and partial interpretation of the Bible's meaning. Bringing to light the Museum's implicit messaging about scriptural provenance and audience, the authors reveal how the MOTB produces a version of the Bible that in essence authorizes a certain sort of white evangelical privilege; promotes a view of history aligned with that same evangelical aspiration; and above all protects a cohort of white evangelicals from critique. They show too how the Museum collapses vital conceptual distinctions between its own conservative vision of the Bible and 'The Bible' as a cultural icon. This revelatory volume above all confirms that scripture – for all the claims made for it that it speaks only divine truth – can in the end never be separated from human politics.

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