The linkage of biblical translation with the development of the nation and the standardisation of spoken languages is not a new theme in scholarly studies of modern nationalism.
By extension, the issue of modern biblical translation also became drawn into the politics of empire. Whether explicitly stated or not, modern biblical translation often posed a challenge to imperial institutions, testing the limits of a national agenda, and illumining the relationship between empire and nation. I
Chosen peoples demonstrates how biblical themes, ideas and metaphors shaped narratives of racial, national and imperial identity in the long nineteenth century. Even and indeed especially amid spreading secularism, the development of professionalised science and the proclamation of ‘modernity’, biblical notions of lineage, descent and inheritance continued to inform understandings of race, nation and character at every level from the popular to the academic. Although new ideas and discoveries were challenging the historicity of the Bible, even markedly secular thinkers chose to explain their complex and radical ideas through biblical analogy. Denizens of the seething industrial cities of America and Europe championed or criticised them as New Jerusalems and Modern Babylons, while modern nation states were contrasted with or likened to Egypt, Greece and Israel. Imperial expansion prompted people to draw scriptural parallels, as European settler movements portrayed ‘new’ territories across the seas as lands of Canaan. Yet such language did not just travel in one direction. If many colonised and conquered peoples resisted the imposition of biblical narratives, they also appropriated biblical tropes to their own ends. These original case studies, by emerging and established scholars, throw new light on familiar areas such as slavery, colonialism and the missionary project, while opening up exciting cross-comparisons between race, identity and the politics of biblical translation and interpretation in South Africa, Egypt, Australia, America and Ireland. The book will be essential reading for academic, graduate and undergraduate readers in empire, race and global religion in the long nineteenth century.
have tended to focus on the movement as an ideology or as a political network. J. Wilson identifies some of its key ideological traits as ardent monarchism, fundamentalist Protestantism and shrill imperialism.
The fact that Wilson could still observe these tenets first-hand in 1968 also indicates the staunchly conservative nature of the movement. It emerged from a specifically late Victorian confluence of khaki conservatism and evangelicalism. By the early twentieth century, Anglo-Israelism claimed to have 2
ammiyya – the ‘common’ language of the masses – meaning in forms of Arabic that were regionally and socially variable and that closely resembled what people spoke. (Note that English-speaking academics tend to translate
ammiyya as ‘colloquial’, and refer to its forms as ‘dialects’.)
The choice of the BFBS to translate and publish in colloquial Arabic had political implications. By undermining the primacy of literary Arabic during an age of incipient anti-colonial Arab
regarding the Aryan provided a means whereby Indian history could be used to create a fresh historical tradition that expressed specifically European political and ideological interests. What Europeans sought in India was not Indo-European religion, but a reassessment of Judaeo-Christianity.
India, What Can It Teach Us?
This question, adopted by Max Müller as the title of a collection of essays, addresses the fundamental concern of this chapter, namely, that a fictive India and fictional Aryan ancestors were constructed in the West
Quarterly Journal of Prophecy , 12 (1860), 395–7; see also London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Literature, Art, and Society , 4 October 1862, p. iv.
Elliott, like Chamberlain, was a learned man: a one-time fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, he ended his days as incumbent of St Mark's, Kemptown, in well-heeled Brighton: see J. Bateman, The Life of the Rev. Henry Venn Elliott (London: Macmillan and Co., 1868
Biblical literacy and Khoesan national renewal in the Cape Colony
need for Christian converts to become literate in order to substantiate missionaries’ interpretations of Scripture in their own reading, and created an image of Protestant Christianity as a Bible-oriented religion among Khoesan. Biblical literacy (knowledge of idioms, narratives and tropes) held out the prospect of subverting and blurring social hierarchies for dispossessed and displaced Khoesan forcefully integrated into Cape society as a labouring underclass. With the Bible established as a significant cultural and political resource in a settler-colonial society
’. Democratising soteriology had immediate political significance. Because espousing Christian faith was long regarded as a signifier for white identity, nonconformist missionaries committed to universally spreading the gospel effectively disrupted the social hierarchy of colonial society. Even the capacity to read the biblical text itself became a means by which the Khoesan ‘could seek to claim a measure of social equality’ and delivered ‘a language through which a new, Christian “nation” could be imagined and articulated, and which could challenge settler-colonial hierarchies
The biblical identity politics of the Demerara Slave Rebellion
prosecution charged, Smith had been in contact with Quamina and Jack. The revolt had arisen from Bethel Chapel and its biblical identity politics.
Historiography and sources
The role of the Bible in shaping ethnic and national identities has attracted a growing body of scholarship. Critics of ‘modernist’ theories of nationalism have argued for ‘the sacred sources of national identity’, noting that Old Testament themes of election, covenant, deliverance, promised land and sacral kingship were integral to the
. This is reflected in our occasional use of a very long nineteenth century indeed: recognition that ‘nineteenth-century’ ideas had their roots in earlier thought; and that the theologies, ideas and images we examine did not die out in 1900.
This book, then, starts from the contention that it is impossible to understand empire, nationalism and race in our period without considering the Bible, both as an established source of images, metaphors and political ideas, and as a quarry in which scholars and ordinary readers alike could turn up new and