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Religious Americans view others

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

It is only human for most people to think more highly of themselves and the groups (academic, professional, social, religious, political and national) that they identify with, than they think of others. It is only natural to notice more of your own and your own groups virtues than the virtues of others; and it is only normal to to be less aware of your own groups vices and prejudices than those of others groups.

Thus, it is not surprising that a survey last week by Pew Research, found that Evangelical Protestants, who are confident that they are going to Heaven, score a warm rating of 79 with people who called themselves “born-again” or evangelical, but only receive a rating of 52 from others, a 27 point difference.

Catholics also give themselves a similar warm 80 score, while non-Catholics give them a six point warmer score than Evangelical Protestants rating at 58. but that still is a 22 point difference.

And Jews, who do not fear original sin and eternal damnation, rate themselves at a very warm 89, while non-Jews rate Jews as a warm 63, which is 5 points warmer than Catholics, and 11 points above Evangelical Protestants, but still a 26 point difference between self and others ratings.

On the other hand while Atheists gave themselves a 62 rating, others gave them a cool 41 rating, a 21 point difference.

White Evangelical Protestants rank Buddhists at 39, Hindus at 38, Muslims at 30, and atheists at only 25; the lowest score of any group.

Atheists give evangelicals an equally low overall rating of 28. But Atheists give much warmer ratings to Buddhists 69, Jews 61 and Hindus 58.

Americans are somewhat polarized about evangelicals. The survey found that, “roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27 percent) as give them a warm rating (30 percent).”

The most important results for Jews in this study is the very positive views Americans have of Jews and Judaism. Jewish anxieties about religious anti-semitism are greatly exaggerated.

On the other hand, many Jews need to examine their own negative attitudes toward evangelical Protestants who clearly differ with us in as many areas as we differ with them, yet still have a warmer view of us then we have of them.

White evangelicals rated Jews at a very warm 69, while Jewish respondents gave evangelical Protestants a very cool 34. Most people explain this as due to their ‘southern style’ and Evangelical Protestant Missionary efforts to convert Jews; which acts to offset their support for Israel.

Jews and Catholics have warmer views of each other than Jews and evangelical Protestants have because Catholics have no active missionary activities directed toward Jews, and Jews are more likely to know Catholics then they are likely to know evangelical Protestants.

Thus, Catholics are viewed more warmly than evangelical Protestants (58 vs 34), and this is only a little less than the Catholic view of Jews at 61.

These ratings are not a fluke. The Pew results match closely with a similar study in 2007 by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell for their 2010 book, ”American Grace.” The overall order of warm-to-cold views for religious groups is unchanged between the two studies.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


Only 22% Americans know a Hindu

English: Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscr...

Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript. North India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Only 22 percent Americans know someone who is Hindu, according to a Pew Research Center survey published on July 17.

This number is lowest than any other religion/denomination surveyed.  Catholics rank highest with 87 percent, followed by evangelical Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mormonscial , Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

Americans express warmest and more positive feelings towards Jews (average rating 63); followed by Catholics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., the survey adds.

Reacting to this survey findings, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged American Hindus to make outreach efforts towards non-Hindu communities, do charity, invite others to visit Hindu temples/ashrams, offer help to neighbors, be good role models, act for the benefit of all, volunteer, try to stay pure and exhibit warmth and love towards fellow Americans.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) urged us to act selflessly without any thought of personal profit.

Rajan Zed suggested to each American Hindu to take a vow of undertaking at least one charitable project during this year for less fortunate members of the community. Quoting scriptures, Zed stressed that charity was a duty, which should be undertaken with sympathy and modesty.

Headquartered in Washington DC, “Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”. Alan Murray is President.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.


Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Ensuring a Spiritual Approach is in the Treatment Plan

English: Emil Kraepelin

German psychologist Emil Kraeplin first distinguished between manic–depressive illness and “dementia praecox” (now known as schizophrenia) in the late 19th century – via Wikipedia

This article is a good example of how the Catholic Church understands many psychiatric issues. I almost didn’t post it because imo a few points are simplistic. Mental health and illness is a complicated topic, and I think the power of the scientific ethos can have a deleterious effect on some individuals when it is uncritically (or incompetently) applied. Having said that, we must begin the discussion somewhere. And Brother Christopher makes a good stab at it, given the reservations just mentioned. — MC

By Brother Christopher

Once called manic-depressive illness, Bipolar Disorder it affects around 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6% of the population in the United States. According to the literature most people will start to see symptoms of bipolar when they are around 25 years of age or older. Race, creed, culture, gender, social class, and age do not seem to have any bearing on the diagnosis.

According to the study done by the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two thirds of people living with Bipolar Disorder will have a history of bipolar disorder within their family, which typically includes at least one close relative who has the diagnosis or unipolar major depression.

Statistically there are three times as many women over men who experience rapid cycling bipolar. Other studies show that women tend to have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than men do.

When it comes to children with bipolar and the teens who present with it, they usually have one parent who has the disorder. Children who have parents with this illness will have a risk of 15% to 30% to be diagnosed with Bipolar. If both of the parents have it then the risk will be increased to 50% to 75%.

So, what are the symptoms of Bipolar? Bipolar Disorder causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior—from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of severe depression on the other. More than just a fleeting good or bad mood, the cycles of bipolar disorder will last for days, weeks, or months. And unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with the ability to function in life’s day to day challenges. The initial symptoms can be subtle and confusing and many people with Bipolar Disorder are often overlooked or misdiagnosed—resulting in unnecessary suffering for all involved. But with proper treatment and support, everyone can lead an abundant and satisfying life.

During a manic episode (the high), a person might impulsively quit their job, charge up huge amounts on credit cards, or feel rested after sleeping only two hours sleep, if that. While during a depressive episode (the low), the same person might be too exhausted to get out of bed, and be full of a self-loathing and hopelessness temperament over being unemployed and in debt or just disgusted with life in general. These cycles of up and then down wreak havoc on not only the individual but the family and friends in his or her circle. And those friends and family, often stressed themselves by the actions of the individual’s disorder, often separate themselves from the afflicted over time. The causes of Bipolar Disorder aren’t completely understood, but it often it appears to be hereditary. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry it was reported ‘in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells.’ This report theorizes that ‘the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder.’ Other studies suggest that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause of the illness; while other studies suggest that an imbalance of these substances is the real problem, i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters. And still other studies propose that they have identified evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the causing issue. In summation, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of Bipolar Disorder, but further research is still required to verify the exact underlying cause. What we have determined is that research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job; from the birth of a child to a move (stress affects each of us differently). The stressful event can be just about anything. Once the disorder is triggered and progresses it takes on a life of its own. Once the cycle begins both the psychological and biological processes take over and keep the illness active.

So to provide an exact cause of the illness the best explanation, according to the current research available, is what is termed the ‘Diathesis-Stress Model.’ (Diathesis meaning’ a physical condition that predisposes a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases.) The Diathesis-Stress Model states that each person inherits certain physical vulnerabilities to problems that may or may not appear depending on what stresses occur in his or her life. The bottom line in the causality of Bipolar Disorder is something you were born with that lays dormant until something in your life sets it off; at least this is the working model until research finds something new.

There are different faces of bipolar disorder in which the medical community classifies the illness.

Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) – This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode.

Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – In Bipolar II disorder, the person doesn’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.

Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.

The most effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder is a combination of medications and counseling. Physicians often treat the mania symptoms associated with bipolar disorder with one set of medications, and use another set of medications drugs to treat the depression. Specific medications are also used for ‘maintenance care’ to maintain a stable mood over time. And although chemic al (medication) treatment is primary, ongoing counseling is important to help patients, and their families better cope with the disorder.

Today, the recommended treatments for Bipolar Disorder may include medications like lithium, anticonvulsant medications, antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers, or a combination of any these medications they are prescribed with the goal of tempering moods without igniting the manic episode. It is important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and not to stop them. Should the patient feel the need to stop the medication both the patient and the family together should consult the doctor. Many of these medications have harmful effects if discontinued suddenly and should be tapered under the care of the prescribing physician.

As a pastoral counselor our role is to be involved with the counseling aspect of the treatment. ‘Talk’ therapy is an important part of the treatment for Bipolar Disorder. During therapy those involved, both patient and family can talk over their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are causing problems within their lives. It’s easy to feel alone and abandoned by God. But God has not abandoned his faithful. It is the person who abandoned God because of the way their disease performs. It is here that a program which includes not only mind and body approach, but an approach to strengthen the spiritual relationship with God; a renewal of faith must be part of the healing process.

Such a Christian approach to treatment is based on the belief that:

God who created us and loves us (Genesis 1:26)

-Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

Jesus the Christ who redeems us (Isaiah 53:5)

-But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The Holy Spirit who guides us (Acts 1:8)

-But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’

Within this approach the goal is to minimize symptoms, help individuals address life problems that they have in developing their lives, and to provide the tools to live a more fulfilling life. While God certainly has the ability to work miracles and cure any malady, He often allows us continue our journey with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to remind us that He is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).

2 Corinthians 12:7–9

7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If a Christian had diabetes or cancer, he would seek medical advice from trained doctors, take prescribed medications and treatments, and seek righteous counsel on how to deal with both his physical and emotional symptoms. The same must hold true for a believer with Bipolar Disorder. Because Bipolar Disorder affects the way a person thinks, finding spiritual counsel and spending time in God’s word are essential to reconnect to God. In order to do what is right, we must identify what is True. Bipolar Disorder alters a person’s perceptions of reality, so a strong and consistent foundation in truth is a necessity when dealing with its symptoms. Followers of the Christ should treat the afflicted with Bipolar Disorder with the same Jesus-like compassion they would show toward everyone else.

Article Source:

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.

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Divorce Depression Turns Around

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By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Divorce rate was depressed by seven percent when the great recession hit; and then slowly started to rise as the recovery began. From 2009 to 2011, about 150,000 fewer divorces occurred than would otherwise have been expected, sociologist Philip Cohen estimated.

The American divorce rate among married women dropped by 7%; from 2.09% to 1.95% from 2008 to 2009, then crept up to 1.98%  (still down 5%) in both 2010 and 2011 according to a study to be published in Population Research and Policy Review; and reported in the L.A. Times (1/28/14)

Cohen cautioned that the exact reasons behind the economic ebb and flow of divorce were still murky. His study found that unemployment, state by state, had no apparent effect on divorce rates; other research examining earlier periods had found the opposite.

Cohen did find that joblessness seemed to cut down divorce for college graduates — but statewide foreclosures pushed up divorce rates for college grads.

Marriage rates were also depressed by the great recession but they have already  been in decline for many years.

Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data released 12/14/11.

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.

Since couples living together split up more frequently than married couples, the actual divorce rate including unmarried couples that split up is even higher.

The Pew Research analysis also found that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that depressed many wedding consultants.

The United States is by no means the only nation where marriage has been losing “market share” for the past half century. The same trend has taken hold in most other advanced post-industrial societies, and these long-term declines appear to be largely unrelated to the business cycle. The decline marriage rates have persisted through good economic times and bad.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:

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More American men will end up alone and ill in the future

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

An analysis of data comparing 2011 with 1990 shows that in 2011 (the most recent year available for  review)., just 2.9%of every 100 divorced or widowed Americans remarried, down from 5% per 100 in 1990. This is a 40% decline in remarriage rates in 21 years. The remarriage rate has dipped for all ages, with the greatest drops among those younger than 35: a 54% decline among ages 20-24, and 40% for ages 25-34.

At older ages, the remarriage rate has remained relatively stable over the past two decades. The remarriage rate for previously marrieds ages 55-64 was 2.% in 1990 and 1.7% in 2011, a 15% decline.

Of course, the marriage rate for first marriages has also dropped significantly during this time frame, so almost one-third of all marriages in 2010 were still remarriages, according to an earlier analysis by the Bowling Green center.

Much of the drop is due to the rise of cohabitation. Unmarried couples of all ages are moving in together  (7.8 million, according to 2012 Census data). And 37% of cohabiters have been married before. Between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1% to 11.3%.

The increase in the number of couples living together has reduced both the marriage rate and the divorce rate; because couples living together break up at much higher rates than married couples.

Since many studies have shown that married men live longer than single men, these trends bode ill for male life span in future decades.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


Gays don’t undermine marriage; the uneducated do

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Fewer women. especially undereducated woman, are getting married according to a new Family Profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

According to “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” the U.S. marriage rate now is 31.1 marriages per 1,000 married women. the lowest it’s been in over a century, compared to 1920, when the marriage rate was a 92.3 per 1,000 married women..

Since the 1970’s, when workers wage growth slowed and then started to decline, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.

Furthermore, “the average age at first marriage for women and men is at a historic highpoint, and has been increasing at a steady pace” states Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the Center. This has helped reduce the rate of divorce; as teen and early twenties brides have higher divorce rates than older couples.

There has also been a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who are separated or divorced. In 1920, less than 1 percent of women were currently divorced. Today, 15 percent are currently divorced. The divorce rate  has slightly declined in the last two decades, but individuals today are less likely to remarry than they did in the past.

The marriage rate has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the education divide has grown.

In the last 50 years there have only been small changes in the percentage of women married among the college educated. The greatest declines in marriage rates have been among women without a high school diploma.

The Bowling Green State University report uses government gathered statistics that do not include data about religion, but from dozens of other surveys we know that women who identify themselves as religious have above average rates of marriage.

Jews and Catholics still have higher than average marriage rates and lower than average divorce rates, but they are slowly becoming more normal; alas.

Finally, 48 percent of first births now take place outside of marriage, says a report released (3/13) by the National Marriage Project, the Relate Institute and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. There are giant differences between woman who are high school drop outs, college grads, and those in-between.

Among young women with high school diplomas, 58 percent of first births are now outside marriage. For high-school dropouts it’s 83 percent. For college grads it’s only 12 percent and for Jews it’s less than 5 percent. The report notes that 54 percent of young women in the U.S. are high school graduates and 37 percent are college graduates. The majority of Jewish women are collage graduates.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:

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Early American Bibles: The First 200 Years of Bible Publishing in the U. S

English: WPA poster-Ephrata : Visit the ancien...

English: WPA poster-Ephrata : Visit the ancient cloisters of the early German pietists in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Ron Davis

The Bible, New Testament, and various books of the Bible were translated into fifteen languages in America by the time of the Civil War. In the first 200 years of Bible publication in America the Bible or New Testament was printed in Algonquin, German, English, Greek, Latin, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Cherokee, and Hawaian, it that chronological order. Scripture portions were translated into three additional Native American languages: the Gospel and the Epistles of John into the Delaware language in 1818; the book of Genesis in 1835 and the Gospels in 1850 into Chippewa; the books of Acts, Romans and Galatians in 1835, and the book of Isaiah in 1839, into Mohawk. Portions of Scripture into Cherokee were begun in 1831, and the New Testament was printed in 1857. The New Testament with Hawaian and English text in parallel columns was also published in 1857.

The most famous and valuable early America Bible, the first Bible printed in America, was in the Natick dialect of the Algonquin language. The Bible was tanslated by John Eliot (1604-1690), a Congregational minister and missionary, and published in Cambridge, Masschusetts for Native Americans. Eliot had graduated from Cambridge University in England and had migrated to America in 1631. The New Testament was published in 1661 and the whole Bible in 1663, having been printed by Marmaduke Johnson (sent over from England) and Samuel Green, with help from an Algonquin. The first book ever printed in America, The Bay Psalm Book, a Psalter, had previously been published in Cambridge in 1640, with the help of John Eliot and Cotton Mather. The book, though frequently reprinted, is now rare. When a copy does come to auction, it brings the highest price of any book printed in Colonial America.

John Eliot saw at least 4000 Native Americans turn to Christ during his thirty years of missionary work. Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the Irish-born chemist and physicist, and formulator of Boyle\’s laws of gases, was a major contributor from England to the Eliot Bible. Because substantial financial support for publication came from England, and because the ‘Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England’ had been organized in England in support of the mission work in Massachusetts, Bibles were sent back to England. Forty copies of the 1661 first edition were sent to London to the Governor of the Commissioners of the New England colonies. Later they were placed in public institutions in England. Darlow and Moule summarize the historic significance of the Eliot Bibles, ‘They constitute the earliest example in history of the translation and printing of the entire Bible in a language as a means of evangelization.’

The first Bible published in America in a modern language was by Christoph Saur (1693-1758). This German Bible was published in Germantown, Pennsylvania, adjacent to Philadelphia. It is essentially a Martin Luther version, but with revisions from the Berleburg Bible (published 1726-1742). Saur was an immigrant from Germany and of pietistic Anabaptist (Brethren) persuasion. He published the Bible in 1743, in a large and heavy quarto. In 1745 and 1755 he published a German New Testament. Saur published these Bibles for fellow German refugees in Pennsylvania, and stressed that ‘for the poor we have no price.’ Saur sent a dozen copies of his 1743 German Bible to Dr. Heirich Luther in Frankfurt, Germany, since Luther had sent the metal type to Saur to print the Bibles. The Bibles sent to Luther are now in public institutions in Germany. In 1940 Edwin Rumball-Petre, in America\’s First Bibles registered 134 copies of this Bible in America, Germany, and England.

Christoph Saur II (1721-1784) published the second Saur Bible in 1763, the first Bible printed in America on American paper. Rumball-Petre located only 125 copies of this edition in public and private collections worldwide. In addition the son printed at least six editions of the German New Testament, the last being in 1775. Finally, in 1776 Christoph Saur II printed the German Bible in an edition of 3000. It has been dubbed the ‘Gun Wad Bible,’ because the Bible pages were supposedly used by American or British soldiers to make gun wads for their rifles, as well as for firewood and horsebedding. In a sad footnote to American history, Christoph Saur II, in 1777, was accused, apparently falsely, of being disloyal to the American colonies. He was arrested, and his property, including the printing press, confiscated. Christoph Saur II, a Brethren elder, was a pacifist, but not a Loyalist. Two of his sons, however, were apparently Loyalists and migrated to Canada after the war. Much of the 1776 edition did not survive; in 1940 only 195 copies of the 1776 German Bible were registered extant. Rumball-Petre registered 454 copies of all three editions (1743, 1763, 1776) of the Saur Bible, the earlier editions being scarcer and more valuable than the 1776 edition. Christoph Saur II also published Psalters in the 18th century.

Samuel Saur, the youngest brother of Christoph Saur II, published Psalters in 1791, 1796, and 1797, the 1796 Psalter likely being the first portion of Scripture published in the South. He developed, according to Isaiah Thomas\’ History of Printing in America, a type making business in Baltimore, S. Sower & Co., which cast type for a small Bible, the ‘First American Diamond Edition,’ published in Baltimore in 1812. Variations on the Saur name are Sauer and Sower, books printed in the English language using the latter spelling.

In 1787 German New Testaments were also printed in Pennsylvania by Dunker brethren of the Ephrata Cloister and by a German Lutheran  printer, Michael Billmeyer. Both the Ephrata Brethren and Billmeyer had Saur connections.

German Seventh Day Baptists led by Conrad Beisssel had established the Ephrata Cloister, a Protestant monastic community in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Christoph Saur I had been with Beissel in Ephrata before either man had established a printing business. Saur, in his first year of printing, began work on an 800-page hymnal for Ephrata. The Ephrata Cloister\’s own publishing business began soon after Saur\’s, and between 1745 and 1795, produced over 40 books. In addition to German New Testaments, Psalters, and hymnals, the Cloister published, in German, The Bloody Arena (Martyrs Mirror), the most masive book ever printed in Colonial America. Christoph Saur and Conrad Beissel were the first German-language printers in America, besides Ben Franklin, who had experimented with a German-language periodical.

Ephrata Scripture items are now scarce, and, remarkably, are not listed in O\’ Callaghan\’s meticulous, 19th-century reference book on the Bibles printed in America prior to 1860. The Ephrata imprints are described in books by Oswald Seidensticker (1889) and John Wright (1894). The Ephrata Brethren published New Testaments in 1787 and 1795, and Psalters in 1793 and 1795. The two Testaments and two Psalters are all in different versions. These were all printed in duodecimal (12 mo). The Ephrata 1787 New Testament, Das Ganz Neue Testament unsers Jesus Christi, is according to Oswald Seidensticker ‘not Luther\’s translation, but one originally made in Switzerland.’ Wright\’s Early Bibles in America (3rd edition) illustrates the title page of the 1787 Ephrata Testament, and elaborates on the book, ‘It is printed in bold, clear-faced type, and is a most admirable example of early book-making. It is greatly prized by collectors, and brings a high price.’ A note at the end of the New Testament explains that this version was ‘Formerly printed in Zurich. Basle, as well as Frankfort and Leipsic: now however, at Ephrata, at the expense of the Brethren, in the year 1787.’ Four hymns are also printed at the end of the New Testament. This fairly scarce New Testament is in collections of the University of Bern, Switzerland, the Naturalistes Parisiens (Society), and Goshen College, Indiana among others.

The 1795 Ephrata New Testament lists Salomon Mayer on the title page, as does the 1795 Ephrata Psalter. The 1795 Ephrata Psalter, Das Kleine Davidische Psalterspiel der Linder Zion\’s is the same version as Samuel Saur\’s 1791 and 1797 Psalters. Seidensticker writes of this German Psalter, ‘The American reprint became popular with some Sects, Dunkers, Mennonites, etc, as evidenced by the numerous editions of the book: 1744, 1760, 1764, 1777, 1778, 1781, 1791, 1795, 1797, 1813, 1829.’

Michael Billmeyer (1752-1837), a Lutheran, with his father-in-law Peter Liebert, a Brethren minister, acquired, in 1783, what was usable of the Saur printing eqipment. They established a printing business in Germantown. After about three years, Liebert started a new printing establishment, and Billmeyer became sole proprietor. Billmeyer was a prolific printer of German New Testaments in the Martin Luther version. The Testaments have the following publication dates: 1787, 1795, 1803, 1807, 1808, 1810,1811, 1815, 1819, 1822. These are duodecimals with brass clasps on the leather. The Billmeyer New Testaments, particularly the 19th-century editions, are easier to find than the Saur and Ephrata Scriptures.

Billmeyer also printed Psalters in 1803, 1815, and 1828. The Psalter was widely used by Lutheran churches, but also by other groups. For example, the same Lutheran Psalter printed by Billmeyer  was also published in 1793 by the Ephrata Cloister of Dunker tradition. The Billmeyer Bibles, Psalters and related religious books are in library collections especially where the German heritage is significant.

In 1805 Gottlieb Jungmann in Reading, Pennsylvania printed a German Lutheran quarto. In 1813-14 Rev. Freidrich Goeb, in Somerset, Pennsylvania, printed the first Bible west of the Alleghanies, also a German Lutheran quarto. In 1819 Johann Bar in Lancaster, Pennsylvania printed a massive German folio Bible, the largest book printed in America to that time. The Bar Bible was substantial in both printing and binding.

The Aitken Bible was the first Bible published in English in America. This was shortly after the close of the Revolutionary War. During the War of Independence, Bibles from England were unobtainable, and Congress considered importing them from Holland and Scotland. In the Colonial era, England had banned the printing of the English Bible in America in order to give a monopoly to British publishers licensed by the Crown. Robert Aitken (1734-1802), a Quaker and Scottish immigrant, had been one of five printers who had made bids to Congress to print Bibles. Aitken already published the Congressional Quarterly and owned the largest bookstore in Philadelphia. His publication of the New Testament in English in 1777 had been a financial success so he published reprints of the Testaments in 1778, 1779, and 1781, including a school edition in 1779. In 1782 Aitken published 10,000 copies of the whole Bible, a small duodecimal (just over 5 by 3 inches in size) without pagination and with almost no margins. It was the only Bible ever authorized by Congress, but ruined Aitken financially. He had published the nearly 2,000 page Bible in a large edition, the Revolutionary war soon ended, and better and cheaper imported Bibles became available. Aitken never again published Bibles. In 1940 Rumball-Petre registered 71 copies, and estimated that there were less than 100 extant copies worldwide. These are in either one volume or two, and typically in poor condition. Aitken sent a presentation copy of the 1782 Bible to Oliver Hazard in London England, ‘the frist copy of the first edition.’ It was in two volumes and bound in olive green leather. This Bible is now in the British Museum. Another, almost perfect, copy in original binding, is at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, an important repository of old Bibles and canonical manuscripts.

In 1790, Mathew Carey (1760-1839), an Irish journalist and immigrant, printed, in two volumes, the first

Bible (and first quarto English Bible) in America from the 1763-64 Challoner edition of the Rheims-Douai version. This was printed in smaller numbers (about 470 copies) than any other early American Bible. This was because there were far fewer Catholics than Protestants in early America. John Carroll, the American Catholic superior who had encouraged Carey, estimated a Catholic population of 25,000 out of 3.5 million inhabitants in America in 1785. The Carey Catholic Bible is rarer than either Eliot\’s Bible or Aitken\’s Bible. In 1954 only 35 copies of the Carey Catholic Bible were located. Carey didn\’t publish another Bible for over ten years, but in the first two decades of the nineteenth century he became one of the biggest booksellers, and the most prolific publisher of King James Bibles in America. He also became one of America\’s most prominent and respected printers. He was the first president of a company organized in 1801 in New York that represented American booksellers nationwide.

Saur, Aitken and Carey the first three printers of Bibles in modern languages in America, were from Philadelphia. Another Philadelphian, William Young, printed in 1790, according to bibliographer Margaret Hill, the first American Bible (a duodecimal) that contained the Metrical Psalms of David (Scotch version).

Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) colonial printer, philanthropist and patriot, published the first folio Bible in America in Worcester and Boston in 1791, offering buyers a choice, which included fifty plates of illustrations. He had previously published A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible for children in 1788, with 500 small woodcuts. He published quarto, octavo, and duodecimal Bibles between 1791 and 1798, including the 1797 United States of Columbia Bible. Thomas was editor of the Massachussetts Spy newspaper, and founder of the American Antiquarian Society, which is still active today. He wrote The History of Printing in America in 1810, and pioneered the illustrated Bible in America. Thomas\’ son-in-law Anson Whipple printed the first New Hampshire Bible in Walpole in 1815.

In 1790 Isaac Collins, a Quaker from Trenton, printed the first Bible of New Jersey, a large quarto. Remarkably, he obtained the support not only of Quakers, but of Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Baptist bodies of the state. His family and others meticulously proof read this Bible, and were paid for any errors found in the text. Because of the accurate text, Collin\’s Bible became a standard for later Bible printers.

Hugh Gaine printed the first New Testament in New York in 1790. In 1792 Hodge and Campbell printed, by subscription, the first complete Bible in New York, a folio without pagination. It was an edition of John Brown\’s Self Interpreting Bible. George Washington was the first subscriber.

The first Septuagint translated into English was completed by an American Presbyterian, Charles Thompson, who had been Secretary of the American Congress from 1774 to 1789. The Septuagint was a very early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) done by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Africa about 250 years before Christ. The Thompson English Septuagint was printed in four volumes by Jane Aitken, daughter of Robert Aitken. She was likely the first female publisher of a Bible.

The first Greek Testament (12mo) printed in America in 1800 was by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. A New Testament with Greek and Latin in parallel columns was published by John Watts in Philadelphia in 1806. America\’s first Hebrew Bible, based on Van der Hoog\’s 1705 Amsterdam edition, was printed by William Fry and published by Thomas Dobson in Philadelphia in 1814. The first French Testament published in America was in 1810 in Boston; the first French Bible in America was published by the New York Bible Society in 1815. The first New Testament printed in Spanish in the Western hemisphere was in 1819, a duodecimal by the American Bible Society in an edition of 2500. It is today very rare, only a few copies being found in collections. A Catholic Spanish Bible was published by A. Chandler in New York in 1824, and a Catholic Portuguese New Testament was published by the American Bible Society in 1839. The American Bible Society printed bilingual New Testaments with the texts in parallel columns in the 1850\’s: German/English (1854), French/English (1854) Dutch/English (1856), Spanish/English (1856), Hawaian/English (1857), Greek/Latin (1858).

Mathew Carey, Isaiah Thomas, and other commercial publishers could only compete with the non-profit Bible societies by going to more expensive, illustrated Bibles. The first stereotyped Bible in America was printed in 1812 by the Philadelphia Bible Society with plates imported from England. The U.S. and England were at war, but cooperated in this Bible publication effort. Stereotype printing greatly increased the availability of Bibles in America over the next decades. The American Bible Society, established in 1816 in New York, was, by the Civil War, publishing over a million Bibles a year. Its first Bible was printed in New York in 1816 by E & J White.

Noah Webster (1758-1843) published a revision of the King James Bible in 1833 in New Haven, Connecticut. He updated antiquated vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation. He, unfortunately, removed words which he considered offensive. The octavo Webster Bible was not a financial success, the King James Version being popular.

Harper Brothers produced (1843-46) the most extravagant Bible ever produced in America. Harper\’s expenses amounted to over $20,000, a large amount for the nineteenth century. The Illuminated Bible was embellished with 1,600 engravings by J. A. Adams, mostly from original drawings by the American artist J. G. Chapman. The first electrotype from woodcuts had been done in in America by Adams in 1841, enabling the making of this Bible. A reprint of the Harper Bible was printed in 1859.

Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), from Prussia, was a leading Jewish Rabbi, and foremost Jewish scholar in America. In 1846, he published, in five volumes, the Pentateuch in Hebrew and English, titled The Law of God. In 1849 he published the Hebrew Bible with points (vowels). In 1853 he published The Twenty-four Books of the Holy Scriptures, an English translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Leeser spent fifteen years in preparation for this work, the only English work consulted being Bagster\’s Bible, a King James edition.

Leeser\’s Philadelphia contemporary was Francis P. Kenrick, who produced, from the Latin Vulgate, the first Catholic translation of the Bible in America. It was published in six volumes between 1849 and 1862. The four Gospels came out in 1849, the rest of the New Testament in 1851, and a complete one-volume New Testament in 1862. Kenrick published the Old Testament in four sections: The Psalms, Books of Wisdom, and Canticle of Canticles in 1857; Job and the Prophets in 1859; The Pentateuch in 1860; The Historical Books in 1860. Kenrick became the Archbishop of Baltimore. He died in 1863 before he would complete a revision of the whole Bible for publication in a single volume. The Kenrick Bible never became an official Catholic version.

The first 200 years of American Bible publication in America (1660-1860) have been explored. The importance of the early American Bibles historically is being more widely recognized. Some of these Bibles, particularly the Eliot, Saur, Aitken, and Thompson Bibles, are highlighted in exhibits around America from a collection of Bibles and manuscripts assembled by the Steve Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby. The Green Collection contains over 40,000 Bibles and manuscripts, the world\’s largest private collection. The collection is to be permanently housed in a museum in Washington, D. C.

Works Cited:

Darlow, T. H., and H. F. Moule. Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scriptures in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 4 volumes. London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1903-1911.

Herbert, A. S. Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1968.

Hills, Margaret T. The English Bible in America 1777-1957. New York: American Bible Society and The New York Public Library, 1961.

O\’ Callaghan, Edmund Bailey. A List of Editions of the Holy Scriptures and Parts Thereof Printed in America Previous to 1860. Albany, New York: Munsell and Rowland, 1861 (Detroit: Gail Research Company, 1966).

Rumball-Petre, Edwin A. R. America\’s First Bibles with a Census of 555 Extant Bibles. Portland, Maine: Southworth Anthoensen Press, 1940.

______________. Rare Bibles. New York: Philip Duschnes, 1963.

Seidensticker, Oswald. The First Century of German Printing in America 1728-1830. Philadelphia: Schaefer and Noradi, 1893 (New York: Krause Reprint Corporation, 1966).

Simms, P. Marion. The Bible in America. New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1936.

Thomas, Isaiah. The History of Printing in America. 2nd edition. Edited by Marcus A. McCorison. New York: Weathervane Books, 1970.

Wright, Rev. John. Early Bibles of America. New York: Thomas Whittaker, 3rd edition, 1894 (Mansfield Centre, Connecticut: Martino Publishing, 2004).

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About the Author

Physician whose passion is glorifying God in living a world Christian lifestyle. Involved in mission mobilization and community health evangelism. Supports pro-life issues and opposes ongoing genocides . What does the Lord require of me but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God (paraphrasing the Bible prophet Amos).


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