The claim that the Bible was 'the Christian's only rule of faith and practice' has been fundamental to Protestant dissent.
Dissenters first braved persecution and then justified their adversarial status in British society with the claim that they alone remained true to the biblical model of Christ's Church.
They produced much of the literature that guided millions of people in their everyday reading of Scripture, while the voluntary societies thatdistributed millions of Bibles to the British and across the world were heavily indebted to Dissent.
Yet no single book has explored either what the Bible did for dissenters or what dissenters did to establish the hegemony of the Bible in British culture.
The protracted conflicts over biblical interpretation thatresulted from the bewildering proliferation of dissenting denominations have made it difficult to grasp their contribution as a whole.
This volume evokes the great variety in the dissenting study and use of the Bible while insisting on the factors that gave it importance and underlying unity.
Its ten essays range across the period from the later seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century and make reference to all the major dissenting denominations of the United Kingdom.
The essays are woventogether by a thematic introduction which places the Bible at the centre of dissenting ecclesiology, eschatology, public worship and 'family religion', while charting the political and theological divisions that made the cry of 'the Bible only' so divisive for dissenters in practice.