George Bush (1796-1859) was a prominent biblical scholar, preacher and controversialist. After graduation from Dartmouth in 1818 and study at Princeton Theological Seminary, Bush was ordained at the Salem Presbytery in Indiana (1825) and was appointed pastor of a church in Indianapolis. His religious views, described as 'liberal' or 'progressive,' rapidly came into conflict with those of his more conservative parishioners and in 1828, this conflict culminated in his termination, following a statement in which he disputed the scriptural authority of Presbyterian church government.
From 1831 to 1847, Bush was Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature at New York University and pursued a prolific publishing career that established a strong scholarly reputation. His contributions include The Life of Mohammed (1830), A Grammar of the Hebrew Language (1835), an extensive series of commentaries on books of the Old Testament, and the highly controversial Anastasis: or, the doctrine of the resurrection of the Body, rationally and scripturally considered (1844), all showing the marks of Bush's encyclopedic knowledge and his highly rationalistic approach to theological and scriptural questions. His fame as a preacher and educator blossomed at N.Y.U., and during this time he also became a committed advocate for the immediate abolition of slavery.
In the early 1840's, Bush developed what was to become a lifelong interest in spiritualism and mesmerism. 1845 he converted to the New Jerusalem Church (also know as The Swedenborgian Church in North America) based on the writing of Emanuel Swedenborg. Although Bush rejected ecclesiastical rites, he consented to ordination in the New Church in 1848. With an international reputation already established in the basis of his scholarship, Bush soon became one of the most prominent spokesmen of New Church views, and he made significant contributions to the spread of the church in both the U.S. and Britain. Bush served as editor for the New Church Review and the spiritualist magazine, The Hierophant, and he authored and helped disseminate a large number of Swedenborgian tracts, including the widely read Statement of reasons for believing the doctrines and disclosures of Emanuel Swedenborg (1846) and Mesmer and Swedenborg (1847). Bush continued his promotional work for the New Church until his death, following a protracted and debilitating illness, in 1859.