Attempting to reconstruct the history of an early modern bible enables us to better understand its place at the intersection of sacred and secular culture. A copy of the second folio edition of the Bishops' Bible (1572) in the University of Iowa Special Collections Library demonstrates both wider patterns of use and the contradictory nature of the evidence. This book was presumably first used as it was intended, but it was subsequently removed from its exalted place at the pulpit. The bible was used by several different owners, most notably the seventeenth-century Moreton family, who turned the book into a family archive and an object of private devotion. This volume represents a vivid example of the broader shift between public and private reading, the continuity of church-state authority across the seventeenth century, and the continuing tension between this authority and the routine use of the bible for more prosaic purposes.

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