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Donald Harman Akenson

Corey winner

The Albert B. Corey Prize

2024

Donald Harman Akenson, The Americanization of the Apocalypse: Creating America’s Own Bible (Oxford University Press, 2023).

This is a study of prodigious research and analysis, written with clarity and verve. In a strongly transnational work, Donald Akenson examines the migration of individuals and religious ideas from Britain and Ireland to Canada and the United States, while also paying attention to the significance of topography and geography in the creation of networks which fostered the spread and popular impact of evangelical and apocalyptic Christian ideas. More than a study in intellectual history or religious history, The Americanization of the Apocalypse treats people, as individuals or in groups, as vectors in the transport of ideas. In that regard, Akenson demonstrates that the St Lawrence River-Great Lakes region was similar to the Braudelian Mediterranean World in facilitating the circulation and dispersion of cultural influences. The analysis of the creation of The Scofield Reference Bible as a product of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century radical evangelical movement also provides a foundation for understanding modern American evangelicalism and the Christian right. The book is highly readable, even amusing in places, as reflected in such chapter titles as “Big Deal at Amen Corner”. It promises to spark debates about the historical, geographical, and theological shaping of American fundamentalist Christianity.