The Bible in Australia

A book charting the history of interaction of Australians with the Bible has won this year's Australian Christian Book of the Year award.

Written by historian Meredith Lake, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, was described by awards coordinator Michael Collie as "a timely and revealing contribution to our debate about the role of faith in Australian life and conversation".

Judges Akos Balogh, Bill Brown and Judith Nichols said the book was "a history of national importance and a unique insight into Australian culture".

"In The Bible in Australia, Meredith Lake gives an arresting and comprehensive account of how preachers, suffragists, unionists, politicians, writers, painters, musicians, immigrants and Indigenous people have used the Bible to shape Australian history and culture..." they said. "Lake shows that Australia has been neither a secular society nor a Christian nation. At every level the Bible has been held to be everything from a resented imposition to the word of God. However, even while Bible reading and Biblical literacy decline, the Bible remains an indelible part of our story."

Dr Lake, an honorary associate at the University of Sydney's Department of History, accepted the award, which carries a $3,000 prize and is awarded by SparkLit, at a ceremony held in Melbourne late last week.

The book beat a shortlist of 10 - selected from more than 70 entries - to win the award. Other books on the shortlist included Roy Williams' and Elizabeth Meyers' Mr Eternity: The Story of Arthur Stace, John Dickson's A Doubter's Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Believers and Skeptics, and EP George's novel, The Bidura Effect.

The night also saw the presentation of the Australian Christian Teen Writer of the Year award to Jessica Dinning for her novel, The Mirror.

See Sight's review of The Bible in Australia here.