The Bible is both the most conservative and the most subversive of books. Throughout the centuries, it has been repeatedly cited both to prop up the established regime and to proclaim a totally different, rival source of authority – the individual conscience rather than the dictates of the state. As Nick Spencer shows in this engaging and stimulating new book, it has provided texts for the divine right of kings and Milton’s democratic republicanism, for Malthusian political economy and the egalitarianism of the Chartists. Spencer’s argument pivots on the rival claims of freedom and order. In practice, it would seem, the political uses of biblical precepts mean that anything goes.