John Eliot's Mission to the Indians before King Philip's War
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Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of Pages: 352
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.5 cm
No previous work on John Eliot's mission to the Indians has told such a comprehensive and engaging story. Richard Cogley takes a dual approach: he delves deeply into Eliot's theological writings and describes the historical development of Eliot's missionary work. By relating the two, he presents fresh perspectives that challenge widely accepted assessments of the Puritan mission. Cogley incorporates Eliot's eschatology into the history of the mission, takes into account the biographies of the proselytes (the "praying Indians") and the individual histories of the Christian Indian settlements (the "praying towns"), and corrects misperceptions about the mission's role in English expansion. He also addresses other interpretive problems in Eliot's mission, such as why the Puritans postponed their evangelizing mission until 1646, why Indians accepted or rejected the mission, and whether the mission played a role in causing King Philip's War. This book makes signal contributions to New England history, Native American history, and religious studies.
Based on a decade and more of research, this book offers a full and balanced treatment of the work of the most notable English missionary to native Americans in the 17th century and one of the half-dozen most intriguing personalities in early New England. Cogley brings to the study a fuller grasp of Puritan thought than previous students of the subject. He sheds fresh light on English and native cultures, the style and psychological functions of Eliot's famous praying towns, and the distinctively 'puritan' element in the place and period. With no ideological axe to grind, and grasping Eliot's project within the larger sweep of Puritan religious and eschatological ideals, he offers a number of correctives to prevalent views of Eliot's mission as a tool of English cultural and geographical imperialism. His argument, that the mission was more a way to counteract rather than to aid English domination, will spark lively debate. -- T. D. Bozeman Choice The emergence of new approaches to Indian history in the 1970s brought a dramatic shift in scholarly treatments of John Eliot...This book is an attempt to restore balance to the subject. Richard Cogley devotes much of the work to addressing such criticisms, particularly those of Francis Jennings, and makes a persuasive case for swinging the pendulum back...Though his focus is clearly different from that of Jennings and others, Cogley also works to give the Indian perspective, noting ways they used the mission to advance their material well-being and authority within English and Indian cultures. -- Jenny Hale Pulsipher Ecclesiastical History Cogley's greatest contribution to Eliot research has always been his insistence that the 'theology' of the mission is as important as (indeed inseparable from) its practice...Cogley provides the fullest picture we have of the Eliot mission within its English religious, political, and transatlantic contexts; and for this his book is of considerable value. -- Joshua David Bellin The New England Quarterly