Texto e Autoridade. Diversificação Socicultural e religiosa com a sociedade bíblica em Portugal (1804-1940)

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In the transition of modernity, between the 18th and 19th centuries, the reference to the Bible played a role on the expansion of Christianity, being a differentiation factor between the currents that existed and those which emerged meanwhile. A part of that history was promoted by the Bible Societies which appeared in that period. The object of this thesis is the appreciation of the complex process of implantation of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) in Portugal and the analysis of the Bible dissemination problematic as well as of the cultural impact imposed by the prosecution of this project. Thereafter, a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of that institution was pursued, not only within its limits, but also regarding the shaping of its goals and their pursuit within the context of the Portuguese society. This process is analysed from the foundation of the BFBS (1804) to the first Portuguese Bible Congress (1940). With its programme of dissemination of the Bible, which was supported by the development of an extensive network of collaborators, by the establishment of an Agency in Lisbon, by the implementation of the colportage system and by the establishment of the “Bible Depôts”, the BFBS led a pioneer action in the Portuguese society, developing its work in a specific field of confrontation of legitimacies, namely the liberty to publish, the free access to the biblical text in vernacular languages, and the right to publish several Bible versions in the same language. In that sense, the history of the Bible Society allows us to monitor a dynamic of circulation within the Portuguese society which, in spite of being centred around the edition of the biblical texts, goes beyond the religious field, precisely because that sacred text tended, by its nature, to enhance dynamics of conflict. Indeed, the Bible introduced important concepts such as those of Truth and Authority in the cultural debate and led them to be confronted them with those of Liberty and Consciousness, which were differently perceived, combined and opposed by the various receivers of that biblical message and advocates and opposers of that project. The trajectory of the Bible Society in Portugal and its Bible dissemination programme were an active part of the process of religious recomposition which took place in the 19th and 20th centuries in the country. During that period the Bible Society promoted the first Christian interfaith and evangelical interdenominational experiences in Portugal and constituted itself as a benchmark of frontier between those who appropriated themselves of its action in order to promote the protestantization of the country and those in the catholic field who opposed that project basing themselves in the specific relationship of the roman Catholicism with the Bible and in the hegemonic position that same church had in the Portuguese religious and cultural context. Actively intervening in that differentiation process, the role of the Bible Society also developed itself in the extensive complexification of the religious system which was part of the construction of the liberal society in Portugal.
Original languagePortuguese
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Lisbon
  • Ferreira, António Matos, Supervisor
  • Ramos, José Augusto, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date22 May 2017
Place of PublicationLisboa
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

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