Document of Learning – The Puritans, History, and The Holy Bible


The thought came to me while Mr. Jackson was talking about the criteria for the project. Not the holiest of ideas but I’m probably damned anyway – so I figured I’d go for it. With total certainty now, I decided I was going to chop up a bible.

I went home and found a bible in my basement. Don’t worry, it wasn’t nice and I don’t think (?) there was a curse inscribed in it. I brought it upstairs, then looked online. The search ‘controversial bible verses’ yielded some good results. I found an article describing the chapters where I could find words on genocide, rape, and even slavery, which was perfect. Something I never thought I would say about those things.

So I looked them up in the bible, and without further ado, I put them under the knife, cutting out the right verses. The next step, after I had them all out, was to mount them on something. A cue card nearby was conveniently placed, but also the right size. I pasted the verses together, making them say what I needed them to. After mounting, I finished off my project but taking a sharpie to some parts of it – effectively redacting the parts of the verses that weren’t in the message I was going for.

I snapped a picture, photoshopped it excessively, and here is the result:



Sorry, that may be a little hard to read. But essentially, it is every section of a bible that mentioned controversial things that I could find.

My question was “How is the selection of bible verses by the Puritans to justify genocide, slavery etc. different from that of modern religious extremists?”

What I believe this represents is the justification of the Puritans in the 15 and 16 hundreds. They selected verses of the bibles that best fit their actions against the natives to justify actions against the natives, enslaving hundreds and killing thousands in the name of God. My question asks if this is somehow different than the cherry-picking of biblical lines by groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church to justify opposition to things such as homosexuality or foreign people in America.

The cutting and pasting of the verses for me indicates the picking and choosing that went on and still goes on throughout history, as well as the sharpie lines that effectively redact and eliminate words or phrases that do not fit with the actions. Additionally, I have cut out some independent words and pasted them together to form messages, such as in ‘striking eachother with their swords‘ I think this represents the use of two verses, likely from different chapters or possibly even from different testaments, put together as one to justify actions. An example of this is by the Westboro Baptist Church using both verses from the Titus chapter, and from the Matthew chapter to justify their picketing of the hilarious comedian Jeff Dunham. I’d link the post, but a) the URL ( is not something I want to blacken my blog with, and b) I’d hate for them to get the page views of you checking it out.

At any rate, I find many parallels between the Puritans and modern religious extremists, most of all their picking and choosing of bible verses to act as a shield of holiness. I believe the bible is not a get out of jail free card for anything, and that simply stating that you do it for religion is not protection for actions from genocide, to slavery, to being extremely homophobic.

3 thoughts on “Document of Learning – The Puritans, History, and The Holy Bible

  1. Hey Lyle!

    Interesting idea, it’s very different from the other questions I read. I was a bit confused in your explanation though, did the bible physically state or indicate that genocide was okay and homosexuality was not? Also, how did the olden days use the bible as their law? Was Columbus under the protection of the bible as well?
    Great post, it was interesting to read.

    All the best,

  2. Hey Lyle
    I think your idea, and the dramatic way you photoshopped the picture makes it stand out and really get your point across. Good job. :)

  3. Hey Lyle,

    Unique idea for your document! The “picking and choosing” from the bible is still going on a lot today so your post is pretty relavent. I think when the bible says something about a certain group of people, people go off that one line to choose how they live their lives. I think it also shows how people might tunnel-vision on those lines, and not care about all of the better things you can take from the bible. Well done document Lyle!


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