This book tells an extraordinary story of the people of early New England and their spiritual lives. It is about ordinary people—farmers, housewives, artisans, merchants, sailors, aspiring scholars—struggling to make sense of their time and place on earth. David Hall describes a world of religious consensus and resistance: a variety of conflicting beliefs and believers ranging from the committed core to outright dissenters. He reveals for the first time the many-layered complexity of colonial religious life, and the importance within it of traditions derived from those of the Old World. We see a religion of the laity that was to merge with the tide of democratic nationalism in the nineteenth century, and that remains with us today as the essence of Protestant America.
Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment is an extraordinarily rich evocation of the popular culture of seventeenth-century New England… A short review can only hint at the methodological brilliance and the interpretive richness of this relatively brief book. Hall succeeds not only in sketching out a new agenda for study of the New England mind but strikes out skillfully on the task of integrating the beliefs of the colonies with their everyday lives.
A remarkable work of cultural history… The mentality described will seem alien yet fascinating to most modern readers, but the hardy souls here depicted are people of rare courage and character. Hall deserves high praise for reopening an intellectual pathway to their world.
David Hall has written a work of deep learning and great subtlety. In discussing seventeenth-century New England culture, it provides a new way of looking at religious belief… Hall demonstrates that old ways simply will not do, and he redefines the character of religion and culture in New England. He has written a brilliant book, one that will stimulate its readers for many years.
David Hall’s highly innovative new work…provides close reading, profound insights, and trans-Atlantic comparisons that make this a book of very broad significance and interest.
In this remarkable book David Hall has carried the study of early New England to new levels of understanding… He shows us, as never before, how the sophisticated doctrines of the Puritan clergy meshed, clashed, and merged with the inherited attitudes and assumptions of ordinary people in their day-to-day grappling with the mysteries of their world. This is a model of historical analysis, not merely for what it tells us about early New England, but also for its brilliant insights into the way religion can operate in society.
- 336 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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