Companion Site of the Biblia Americana Edition
America's First Comprehensive Bible Commentary
A World of Early American Learning and Piety
Fully Edited and Annotated
About this Site
In addition to publicizing information about the Biblia America, this site also houses resources about Cotton Mather’s life, writings, family, and wider network. As such, this is a unique resource for anyone interested in colonial New England religious and intellectual life.
Biblia Americana: America's First Bible Commentary
For nearly three centuries, the Biblia Americana, a handwritten manuscript of more than 4,500 pages, has slept almost untouched in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The Biblia, never before transcribed or published, is the first comprehensive English-speaking Bible commentary from colonial British North America. It was produced by the famed Puritan theologian Cotton Mather (1663-1728) between 1693 and 1728. Now, Mather’s work is finally seeing the light of day in a ten-volume, fully annotated scholarly edition published by Mohr Siebeck.
Since the early 2000s a team of international scholars under the directorship of Reiner Smolinski (General Editor) and Jan Stievermann (Executive Editor) has been editing the manuscript. To-date, seven volumes have appeared and the final three are expected in 2026. In total, the letterpress edition will comprise more than 10,000 pages.
Biblia Americana represents one of the great untapped resources in American religious and intellectual history as well as a treasure-chest for those seeking to deepen their understanding of Scripture. It is a foundational work of American Evangelicalism which has the potential of transforming our understandings of the early years. Combining extensive discussions of biblical scholarship with scientific speculations and pious or experiential applications, Mather’s scriptural interpretations reflect the growing influence of Enlightenment thought in America and the rise of the transatlantic evangelical awakening. Biblia Americana also marks the beginning of historical criticism of the Bible in New England theology. Biblia Americana thus represents the greatest achievement of an American theologian before Jonathan Edwards.