The Bible in America

History From its founding in 1816, the American Bible Society has grappled with the task of making the Word of God available to Christians and churches in America. From its earliest days, it has worked to provide scriptures to the men, and later women of the military, to local and international bible societies, and to translate the Holy Bible to other languages used by peoples in the United States so that they could not only possess scripture, but could understand its importance in their own lives.

Leaders Starting with a leader of the American Revolution, Elias Boudinot, John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and going right down to the most recent president Lamar Vest, The American Bible Society has always been led by “true believers” in the Bible cause.


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The Bible in American History

CEV Bible From the earliest days, the colonies were peopled, among others, by Christians whose beliefs, shaped by their understanding of the Bible, caused them to be unwelcome in their home countries. Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, Huguenots and many others were persecuted in their home countries, by “state” churches.

When the colonialists rose up against the King of England, many found justification in their faith and in the words of the Bible for the freedoms they believed all men are entitled to through the grace and wisdom of God. The congresses and conventions of the founding fathers were not only meetings to produce strategies and documents, they were also times of prayer and worship. From those days down to the present, the Bible has guided the leading lights of the country.

pictured, a Large Print Contemporary English Version Bible, or CEV

The American Bible Society

In the early days of the history of the United States, it became apparent to religious leaders (in both senses of the phrase), that there were not enough bibles. Without access to bibles, preachers and lay people would miss out many of the important lessons in God's word which lead not only to eternal life, but to good practices in society - stewardship, justice, morality. Indeed, there was not even a bible available for every church.

American Bible Society Logo The American Bible Society was founded to meet this need, the supply of bibles to America's churches and believers. From those earliest days up till the present, the American Bible Society has avoided joining any organized church or denomination, but has instead focused on assisting every denomination, as well as individual churches, translating the bible into other languages spoken in America, providing versions appropriate to the different denominations. In more recent times, the Good News and Contemporary English versions of the bible, completed by ABS, were published to make the Bible understandable to “modern man” who found older versions to be unapproachable and distant.

In this website you will find information on the history of the American Bible Society and its leaders. We hope you will join us in our prayer that the American Bible Society continue to be supported by the blessings of God in making the bible available and understandable to all of the people in these United States and around the world.

Elias Boudinot - first president of the American Bible Society

1740-1821, ABS President 1816-1821

detail of E Boudinot portraitThe first president of the American Bible Society was less than sanguine about the possibility of establishing the organization amid the fraternal disputes of members of differing denominations, but worked steadfastly toward this aim, in which he invested so much hope and prayer. Read more here

John Jay - first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

1745-1829, ABS President 1821-1827

detail of J Jay portraitAlthough he believed himself to be to infirm of health to serve, John Jay accepted the elevation to president of the American Bible Society as an obligation. The support of the Bible Cause was fundamental to his faith. Read more here