American Bible Society

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AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY was organized in 1816 by Elias Boudinot, who also served as its first president, to distribute the Bible through a nondenominational and nonprofit vehicle. In its first year, forty-three state, county, regional, and local Bible societies already in existence associated with the American Bible Society. As auxiliary organizations, these local groups helped to publish and distribute the Scriptures in English and other European languages, as well as in American Indian languages. The American Bible Society was part of a growing evangelical press, which blanketed the expanding nation with printings of the Bible, denominational newspapers, and religious tracts throughout the nineteenth century.

The program's emphasis gradually shifted from national to worldwide distribution. The American Bible Society has drawn upon scholarly expertise to translate the Bible (in its entirety or in part) into over 1,500 languages, representing over 97 percent of the world's population. To meet the challenge of presenting the biblical message

to new generations unfamiliar with traditional expressions, translators also prepare new popular-language biblical translations. New production techniques enabled the American Bible Society to reproduce the Scriptures on records, cassettes, and compact discs, as well as in braille. In the early 2000s the American Bible Society cooperated with the United Bible Societies in a global coordination of Scripture translation, production, and distribution on every continent.

The society's headquarters is in New York City, with regional offices in Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. This interconfessional organization is governed by its own elected officers, managers, and committees, and is supported by churches and individual donors.


Gutjahr, Paul C. An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777–1880. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Wosh, Peter J. Spreading the Word: The Bible Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994.


See alsoMissionary Societies, Home ; Missions, Foreign ; Religious Thought and Writings .

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American Bible Society