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This essay challenges readings of American puritanism as a primarily inward-looking and self-contained affair, whose main significance lay in foreshadowing the rise of the United States and being the root cause of a national ideology of exceptionalism. The aim is to put New England religion and culture back into a European perspective, by demonstrating how large the Continent loomed in the puritan mind and emphasizing the significance of the many exchanges with like-minded groups on the Continent throughout the colonial period. Drawing on a growing body of revisionist scholarship, the chapter discusses what we have learned of these Continental-European connections, while offering new insights into the dialogue between American puritans and German-speaking Pietists. In doing so, it also pays attention to how these relations were often triangulated with Britain. Three aspects are treated in summary overview but always with special reference to the works of the leading Boston theologian Cotton Mather: (1) the general perception of Europe, in particular, how puritans looked at the varieties of European Protestantism and through that lens at themselves; (2) the networks and collaborations on mission, reform, and revival between New Englanders and groups on the Continent; and (3) the many theological and intellectual exchanges that took place through these networks.
This chapter focuses on the author of the first formal philosophical study of human rights in the United States: William Ernest Hocking. This philosophical giant of the twentieth century shaped how Americans understood human rights through his writings and through his work with liberal Protestant institutions. By tracing his philosophical formation, his spats with philosopher John Dewey, his theories of the state, and his influence on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this chapter puts forward two arguments. First, Hocking’s trajectory shows us that American formulations of human rights were intertwined with debates about religious liberty. Second, liberal Protestants like Hocking disassociated human rights from specific references to Christian theology, which constituted a form of secularization. Hocking’s career offers a view onto the meaning of human rights in the twentieth-century United States.
Theodor de Bry, his sons, Johann Theodor and Johann Israel, and their son-in-law, Matthäus Merian, are famous for chronicling the expansionist politics of European nations outside of Europe. Following closely the English, French, and Spanish into the Americas, and the Portuguese and Dutch into Asia, they created the first Protestant travel collection with truly global ambitions. Building on the latest research, this essay will show how this first global Protestant travel collection used Calvinist migrant networks to successfully address the European elites beyond all confessional barriers. The way in which the de Brys dealt with the question of idolatry is of particular interest, as it was so central to discussions of European belief at the time. Fascinated by South-American goldwork, they cherished their indigenous colleagues as equals while at the same time harshly condemning the production of idolatrous images and rituals by "heathens" as well as by Catholics. However, the first Protestant comprehensive travel collection, paradoxically, relied on images that continue to define our pictorial archive of early European expansion.
In the 1990s, scholarship increasingly focused on issues of gender and sexuality in Europe and the colonial Americas, though some studies were more global or comparative. New theoretical perspectives and new emphases have since developed, and this essay discusses four of these: First, the “emotional turn” which focuses on emotional communities, in which Protestants figure prominently, as well as emotional genealogies in other cultures. This allows for what global historians call “reciprocal comparison” where each case is viewed from the vantage point of the other. Second, processes of migration and movement that are part of the “spatial turn,” including the creation and critique of the “Atlantic World” as a site of interaction among gender cultures. Third, the “material turn,” which draws on material culture studies to assess the role of objects and the relationships between things and people in the wake of the Reformation and spread of Western Christianity. Fourth, the inclusion of a wider range of actors, including European women and indigenous people, in the processes Christian expansion and the transcultural exchange, blending, indigenization, and hybridity that resulted.
This contribution focuses on early modern refugee artisans, and their families, who engaged actively with print culture while cobbling together spiritual ideas, natural philosophies, local scientific knowledge, and dexterous craft skills during the earliest years of the industrial revolution. It provides a “deep” history of the little-known entrepreneur Jacques Fontaine (1658–1728), a Huguenot refugee. Together with his wife and sister-in-law, Fontaine invented a small fire machine to produce a cheap imitation-silk finish on a common woolen textile. Fontaine’s experiences working with this commodity embody the crucial strategy of the so-called New Luxuries. This beacme a mainstay of the vast majority of highly skilled refugee Huguenot artisans scattered throughout the Atlantic after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), who elevated local materials of little intrinsic worth to successfully imitate more desirable, expensive, and polite imported goods of greater intrinsic value, while jumpstarting the early industrial and consumer revolutions.
A significant body of literature argues that American evangelical missionaries working in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century directly contributed to the rise of Armenian nationalism. While acknowledging that missionaries had an effect on Armenian nationalism, this article finds that the impact of missionaries was much more unintended than is commonly assumed and resulted primarily from Armenian reactions to growing missionary influence. Employing new data on the biographies of Armenian nationalist leaders as well as comparative-historical methods, the article offers evidence that missionary influence spurred a backlash among the Armenian community that intensified preexisting local initiatives, increased investment in mass education in the provinces, and modernized its schooling system, all of which popularized and strengthened Armenian nationalism.
This concluding chapter offers some insights into the complex interplay between local, national, and transnational forces in the making of modern Korea during Japanese colonial rule with a central focus on gender and global Christianity. Highlighting the significant role of the global Christian network in fashioning modern gender relations, the chapter considers the ways in which the network both enabled and hindered major shifts in identity that marked the life and work of women discussed in the book. It also discusses the contribution of the book to the broader dialogue concerning gender and empire, and religion and modernity.
The introductory chapter lays out the specific historical context of the period from the late-nineteenth century to the eve of the Asia Pacific War when the competing forces of Japanese colonial power, Korean nationalism, and Western modernities fashioned changes in gender ideology, enabled transnational mobility, and fostered women’s engagement in sociopolitical and economic affairs. The concept of “Protestant modernity” is introduced as a heuristic device to unpack the complex dynamics that shaped gendered modernity in Korea under Japanese colonial rule. Placing gender and religion at the center of the analysis, the chapter diverges from the conventional understanding of modernity as “secularization” and provides a theoretical basis for the argument that the development of modern gender relations finds its roots in the transnational experience of Koreans rather than in the simple nexus of the colonizer and the colonized.
Historians of American religion generally agree that religious debates over slavery were characterized by a reliance on the plain meaning of the Bible. According to the conventional wisdom, antebellum Americans were uninterested in or even overtly hostile to tradition and church history. However, a close study of pro- and antislavery literature complicates this picture of ahistorical biblicism. For some defenders of slavery, not merely the Bible but also Christian tradition supported their position, and these Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists mined the past for examples of Christian slaveholding. On the other hand, both white and Black antislavery authors used religious history to bolster their cases against the peculiar institution, with African Americans leading the way in developing an antislavery account of the Christian past. The previously unnoticed historical dimensions of religious arguments over slavery prove central to understanding why these debates failed, while also modifying how we conceive of scripture, tradition, and religious authority in nineteenth-century America. Arguments over slavery show that religious Americans—even many who claimed to be biblicists—did not read the Bible alone but always alongside and in relation to other texts, traditions, and interpreters.
Chapter 4 looks at the beginnings of human rights dissent in East Germany, starting with the Christian churches in 1968 as part of a plebiscite on a new socialist constitution during the International Year for Human Rights. Although Christians were among the loudest voices calling for the entrenchment of human rights during the discussions surrounding the constitution, Protestant church leaders decided, in the wake of the Helsinki Accords, to endorse the SED’s claims to realise human rights. In so doing, they hoped to gain recognition from the state and more effectively facilitate private protests against state abuses of their congregants. Many seeking to leave the GDR turned to human rights provisions in the Helsinki Accords and other international agreements to argue their case, but when these demands were refused human rights rhetoric was largely abandoned. Similarly, while the East German intelligentsia became increasingly disillusioned with the GDR in the 1970s, few wanted to take up the cause of human rights against the SED for fear of being seen as endorsing Western anti-communism.
In the 1980s, many disillusioned East Germans dropped out of the official social system and created a parallel civil society within the Protestant Church, striving towards disarmament, demilitarisation and environmentalism. While these activists sought to eschew politics, the SED’s repression of a social sphere outside of party-approved organisations demonstrated to many that political reform was imperative to achieving even purely moral goals such as peace. In 1986, a small group of activists created the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights, sparking a rallying cry for disparate groups of disaffected East Germans, who invoked human rights not as the antithesis of socialism but as a core value forgotten and abused by the SED. Simultaneously, the SED’s ideological bulwark against such a movement began to crumble as it sought to create a socialist version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite initial enthusiasm from allies who saw it as a means to unify the socialist world against Western pressure, one country after another pulled out, scared off by various human rights guarantees contained within. Simultaneously, reformers began to see human rights as a rhetorical tool to liberalise sclerotic political institutions to save the socialist project as a whole.
In the history of the religion-state relationship in China, a model of subordination of religion to the state has been dominant for centuries. In recent years, some Chinese Protestant churches have advocated the model of separation of church and state. Through a historical and theological analysis, this study argues that in order to relieve the tensions between Chinese Protestantism and the contemporary Chinese government, a better conceptual alternative is to reconsider the issue in terms of autonomy rather than separation or subordination, and to argue for legally allowing the coexistence of both official and nonofficial churches and grant different degrees of autonomy to each.
The nature of empire is that it is always at heart contradictory, suggesting a totalising unity but not homogeneity or equality. This chapter focuses on three very different Irish men of letters, Charles Gavan Duffy, Thomas Moore and Charles Lever, exploring the contradictions at the heart of their engagement with the British Empire and the imperial project generally, and its influence on their writing. It also suggests ways in which these contradictions are later to be found in one of the great imperial novels – Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901). Charles Gavan Duffy was an Irish nationalist and a prime minister of a British colony, who saw Thomas Moore’s poetry as the product of an ‘imperial mind’. Moore, in his turn, can be seen as the colonised figure incarnate, beholden to imperial patronage for his livelihood and yet able to find ways to express subversive feeling in his poetry and prose. Charles Lever was perhaps the Empire’s favourite Irish novelist in this period, and yet he seldom wrote about the Empire, and when he did, it was almost always negative in tone. Although he was a moderate Tory in politics, Lever’s work suggested that the Irish could never be good Britons, or successful colonists. In contrast, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, who in so many ways represents the anomalous position of the Irish in imperial terms, is presented as succeeding precisely because of his Irishness, even though he does not know what that is. The contradictions in Kim reflect the ironic relationship between the Irish and the Empire as a whole, and as such the novel can claim to be the greatest ‘Irish’ imperial novel, a term which is itself a contradiction in terms.
Patriot sentiment in eighteenth-century Ireland often called upon imperial analogies in the articulation of its political vision. Despite its status as a sister kingdom, Ireland all too often appeared, as William Molyneux put it in his classic work of Irish patriotism, The Case of Ireland Stated (1698), to be viewed ‘only as a Colony from England’. Correspondingly, this chapter reads Irish fiction – from the anonymously published Vertue Rewarded (1693) to Charles Johnston’s The History of Arsaces, Prince of Betlis (1774) via selected works of Jonathan Swift – within a longuedurée narrative of fictional and discursive evolution informed by analogous views of empire. In doing so, it suggests a complex imbrication of colonial and imperial concerns with other, better-recognised, issues of civility, ethnicity, and identity pertaining to Ireland. Such imaginative complexities, invoking global and historical comparisons with Spanish imperialism, the American War of Independence, and the early growth of the British empire in India (amongst others), are embodied in these fictions under the umbrella of the emerging patriotism characteristic of the Protestant Ascendancy.
This essay focuses on the contribution which the Dublin schoolteacher, writer, and elocutionist, Samuel Whyte, made to the Irish private theatrical movement and to Irish social, political, and cultural life in the 1760 and 1770s. The private plays Whyte directed and his writing on ’Bon Ton Theatricals’ reflect the moral, cultural, and political values of the Dublin Protestant professional class, and these values, I argue, were shaped by two other influential Irish reformers: the actor/manager, educational theorist, and elocutionist, Thomas Sheridan, and Charles Lucas, the populist politician. The sectarian strain of thinking that was part of the Lucasian brand of civic republicanism (Hill), however, also surfaces in the discourse on private theatricals, as I show through an analysis of the hostile response to the Macbeth which Luke Gardiner, a politician known for this pro-Catholic sympathies, staged at his Phoenix Park home in 1778, and a discussion of Whyte’s own poem The Theatre (1790) in which he laments the ascendancy of ‘Paddy’ and his unlettered ‘herd’ in the dramatic arena. Political issues are here translated into cultural ones but this private theatrical discourse nevertheless forms part of the larger contentious conversation on politics, culture, and religion in late eighteenth-century Ireland.
For W. B. Yeats, George Berkeley’s youthful reference to ‘We Irish’ marked the beginning of a national intellect based on a perceived distinction between Irish philosophical idealism and the materialism supposedly characteristic of the English. Upon this enigmatic remark of Berkeley’s, Yeats erected a system that offered to illuminate the national characteristics of eighteenth-century authors – most importantly, Swift, Goldsmith, and Burke – including a profound suspicion of abstract ideas. The wealth of eighteenth-century Irish writing, still in the process of recuperation, is not easily accommodated within Yeats’s scheme, however, more readily revealing diversity than similarity. Yet the fact of Irish birth, education, or employment, as much as their subject matter, did mark out writers as Irish, whether the identification was self-willed or imposed by those outside the island. The ways in which national identity manifested itself between 1700 and 1780 are explored through examples of prose, verse, and drama written or published both in Ireland and abroad. In so doing, the chapter outlines the first halting attempts, by male and female writers including John Toland, George Berkeley, Jonathan Swift, Henry Brooke, Frances Sheridan, Elizabeth Sheridan, and Edmund Burke, to create the idea of a national Irish literature in English.
This article explores the path of the National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS) to publishing its annotated edition of Proverbs in the Mandarin Union Version in China during the Republican era. After providing an overview of how the NBSS became the first Bible society to publish annotated Chinese Gospels and Acts in the 1890s, this article examines why it took more than three decades thereafter for the NBSS to publish an annotated edition of another biblical book. It argues that one of the main reasons was that the NBSS had difficulty securing reputable scholarly Protestant missionaries’ services to prepare the necessary annotations. Moreover, this article suggests that the familiarity of the Chinese people with short and pithy sayings was a condition favourable for the reception of Proverbs in China. This, together with the status of the Mandarin Union Version as the standard biblical text for Chinese Protestants, helps explain why the NBSS eventually published an annotated edition of Proverbs in the Mandarin Union Version. Annotations in that edition of Proverbs are analysed to understand how they could help bridge the gaps between Proverbs and its Chinese readers, so as to shed light on why such an edition of Proverbs was well-received as an evangelistic tool.
The high ideals of the faith to which medieval Latin Christians were repeatedly exhorted had rendered ideas and initiatives of reform virtually coextensive with Christendom for centuries before the Protestant Reformation. The imitation of Christ through the practice of the virtues was not so much hard to understand as it was difficult to enact, whether among lay Christians, members of the secular clergy, or those men and women whose solemn vows in religious orders obliged them, at least in theory, self-consciously to pursue this virtuous imitation. “You must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”; “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors”; “None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” Such admonitions were all but guaranteed to produce a gap between prescription and practice. No sooner were Jesus’s commands proclaimed than Christians more often than not failed to realize them, whether they were members of the unlettered rural laity, skilled artisans and merchants in Western Europe’s burgeoning cities, parish priests scraping by on meager benefices, or powerful prelates whose positions offered constant opportunities to indulge sinful desires. No medieval Christian with the scantest grasp of the faith could have doubted that sins abounded in Christendom.
In contrast to the transcendent image eliding idolatry through immateriality or dematerialization, the transgressive image courts sin to transcend the self. Through the Abrahamic story of the prophet Joseph and Zuleikha, transformed from Judaic and Islamic exegesis to poetry and painting, Chapter 8 explores the trope of the transgressive image. Development of the story from the Talmud into the Bible and subsequent interplay between Jewish and Islamic commentaries suggests close interreligious communication. The story’s fifteenth-century romantic popularization in Persian poetry, first by Sa’di and then by Jami, used tropes of dreams and idols to transform the story into a parable describing the path to divine union. Combining text with image, Bihzad’s famous rendition of the climactic scene responds to the poem’s intermediality. Comparison with the transgressive dream vision central to the tale of Shaykh Sam’an in Attar’s Language of the Birds underscores a broader recognition of idolatrous transgression as a path to salvation. The chapter concludes by contrasting the mystical, humanizing interpretation embodied in these tales with depictions of the same romance in Europe. Recognizing the independence of European painting from text as an inappropriate paradigm for manuscript paintings embedded in texts, the chapter suggests the need for contextual critical reading of poetry through theology as well as politics to ascribe visual meaning.