Test Cover Image of:  The Book of Books

The Book of Books

Biblical Interpretation, Literary Culture, and the Political Imagination from Erasmus to Milton

In The Book of Books, Thomas Fulton charts the process of recovery, interpretation, and reuse of scripture in early modern English literary culture, exploring the uses of the Bible as a combination of text and paratext that revolved around sites of social controversy and was continually transformed for political purposes.

Author Information

Thomas Fulton is Professor of English at Rutgers University. He is author of Historical Milton: Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England, as well as co-editor of The Bible on the Shakespearean Stage: Cultures of Interpretation in Reformation England and Rethinking Historicism from Shakespeare to Milton.


"The Book of Books explains in refreshing detail how early Protestant readers of the English Bible praised its 'literal' sense, but applied the scripture in all kinds of non-literal ways to justify their political ideas. Thomas Fulton shows how early modern authors from Tyndale to Milton drew creative inspiration from the dynamic interplay between the texts of early printed Bibles and their printed glosses. His findings constitute a tour de force in the study of early modern biblical and literary culture."—Mark Rankin, James Madison University

"This is an impressive and important book on a topic that continues to generate interest from a variety of directions—literary and political history, the history of the Bible-as-book, Reformation studies and the history of religion. In moving between the big picture and insightful case studies, Thomas Fulton demonstrates the fervor and political stakes around biblical interpretation in the Reformation and the century and a half following, moving from the more specifically theological arena into a wider literary and cultural field."—Kevin Killeen, author of The Political Bible in Early Modern England

"Fulton's magisterial study shows the complex and reciprocal ways in which the English Bible informed the early modern political imagination. Challenging long-held assumptions about early translations, Fulton moves from Erasmus to Tyndale to the Geneva Bible, before offering a series of dazzling new insights on how biblical reading shaped literary form and meaning for Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. The Book of Books is a model of thorough and superb scholarship in every respect."—Laura L. Knoppers, University of Notre Dame

Audience: College/higher education;