The first English translation of the Bible led to the rise of fundamentalist interpretations of scripture, a Harvard professor writes in a new book. In Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and its Reformation Opponents, James Simpson writes that once the general public no longer had to rely on clergy to decipher Bible passages, some began interpreting it very literally.
New Protestants lived in fear of persecution, or eternal damnation, from incorrectly reading into the passages, LiveScience writes. The phenomenon can help explain Islamic extremism today, Simpson says. “We see the same phenomenon: Newly literate people claiming that the sacred text speaks for itself, and legitimates violence and repression. And the same is also true of Christian fundamentalists.”