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Orthodoxies in Massachusetts

Rereading American Puritanism

Orthodoxies in Massachusetts

Rereading American Puritanism

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Hardback

£77.95

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674644878
Number of Pages: 316
Published: 31/01/1994
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.5 cm
Reexamining religious culture in seventeenth-century New England, Janice Knight discovers a contest of rival factions within the Puritan orthodoxy. Arguing that two distinctive strains of Puritan piety emerged in England prior to the migration to America, Knight describes a split between rationalism and mysticism, between theologies based on God's command and on God's love. A strong countervoice, expressed by such American divines as John Cotton, John Davenport, and John Norton and the Englishmen Richard Sibbes and John Preston, articulated a theology rooted in Divine Benevolence rather than Almighty Power, substituting free testament for conditional covenant to describe God's relationship to human beings. Knight argues that the terms and content of orthodoxy itself were hotly contested in New England and that the dominance of rationalist preachers like Thomas Hooker and Peter Bulkeley has been overestimated by scholars. Establishing the English origins of the differences, Knight rereads the controversies of New England's first decades as proof of a continuing conflict between the two religious ideologies. The Antinomian Controversy provides the focus for a new understanding of the volatile processes whereby orthodoxies are produced and contested. This book gives voice to this alternative piety within what is usually read as the univocal orthodoxy of New England, and shows the political, social, and literary implications of those differences.

Janice Knight

Janice Knight is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.

Brilliant...Attuned to the insights of recent literary theory, Knight shows how that assertion of an early unity influenced the idiom of later canonical American authors. Her book is both a rigorous work of scholarship and an artful plea for intellectual diversity. Times Literary Supplement Knight offers nuanced and sensitive interpretations of many Puritan texts, teasing out differences of emphasis and sensibility within the widely shared religious culture of early New England. She demonstrates that a broadly consistent Puritan theology could support strikingly different interpretations in the hands of particular preachers and writers. -- Eric Hinderaker Religious Studies Review In this pioneering and provocative book, adapted from the author's Harvard dissertation, Janice Knight offers a most helpful, if controversial, corrective to one of the chief historiographical conclusions regarding American Puritanism of the first-half of the seventeenth century...'Orthodoxies in Massachusetts presents an immensely provocative and cogently argued thesis, debunking the older myth of Puritan monolith... Janice Knight has shown the other strand of Puritan orthodoxy, the Sibbesian-Cottonian tradition, and how the articulated resistance of this group before, during, and after the Antinomian controversy can help to contextualize and rectify our reading of early American Puritanism. -- Paul C-H Lim Westminster Theological Journal Knight's work is passionately written...Whether or not one has an investment in the ongoing debates about the import of New England Puritanism, Knight reminds us that New Englanders sought passionately to understand better their relationship to the divine and how to make it evident in their social relations. Orthodoxies in Massachusetts demands that we acknowledge the varieties of religious experience this search engendered. -- Philip F. Gura William and Mary Quarterly Janice Knight has given us a provocative and elegant book that yields new understandings of Puritanism in old and New England...This is a work of intellectual and literary history of a very high order. -- Mark Valeri Journal of Religion

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