My copy arrived Christmas Eve. More exciting than anything Santa brought! Looks great.


Evangelical Millennialism

January 5, 2011

Crawford Gribben’s new book Evangelical Millennialism in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1500-2000 has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Crawford is a leading authority on the history of millennialism and his books are a pleasure to read. His last work in this area, Writing the Rapture, a study of the rapture fiction genre, had me laughing out loud in places.

Here is the publisher’s blurb:

This book offers the first complete overview of the intellectual history of one of the most significant contemporary cultural trends. In the early seventeenth century, European evangelicals recovered those expectations of an earthly golden age that had been deemed heretical by medieval and reformation theologians. Throughout early modernity, and across the spectrum of evangelical belief, these millennial expectations were deployed to mount a series of radical critiques of church and wider culture. In modernity, these expectations were appropriated by religious and cultural conservatives, who found in millennial theology the framework of their hostility to an unbelieving world and a rationale for their critical engagement with it – a critical engagement that ranged from an attempt at the wholesale reconstruction of a Christian society to an expectation of its imminent and catastrophic demise. This account guides readers into the origins, evolution, and revolutionary potential of evangelical millennialism in the trans-Atlantic world.

You can bet that I will be getting a copy myself.

Check out the online collections at the Princeton Seminary Library. They have digitised the ‘Studies in Reformed Theology and History’ series, a collection of short monographs. Pick of the bunch would be Tony Lane on John Calvin and Bernard of Clairvaux. There are also interesting studies by Torrance Kirby on Richard Hooker and Boersma on Richard Baxter and infant baptism. Barth, Edwards, John McLeod Campbell – it’s all there!

There are also digitised manuscripts of Charles Hodge’s European journal and some sermons.

Found on the Internet

January 2, 2011

I recently came across searchable PDFs of two useful books. Not sure what they are doing online! How long they will be there, I cannot say.

The first is Alister McGrath’s  Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification which I have found indispensible over the years.

The second is his The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation. I read this years ago as I was getting more interested in historical theology. Whilst I have some quibbles, this is one of McGrath’s most helpful books. It is also one his least annoying, perhaps because he doesn’t get onto the subject of Protestant scholasticism!

Oh Dear!

March 2, 2010

I started reading started reading John F. H. New’s Anglican and Puritan: The Basis of Their Opposition, 1558-1640 (Stanford, 1964) this evening. Now this is a book which I fully expect to disagree with for all sorts of reasons but even so, in a book from an academic publisher I feel entitled to a certain level of scholarship and argument. The following comes from page 6:

The Emperor Constantine’s calling of the Council of Nicea (325) to resolve the Church’s dispute with Arius is a classic example of what massive consequences can hang upon one letter of a single word. The question then was the consubstantiality (homoiousia) or the similarity (homoousia) of the Son and the Father in the Person of the Trinity.

I kid you not. This hardly fills me with confidence.


The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, eds. John Coffey and Paul C.H. Lim (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

For what it’s worth, a few thoughts:

Up until last week, if you had asked me what was the best place to approach the study of Puritanism from I would have had to scratch my head and think about it. There was no really obvious starting point to begin reading. It would depend on one’s special interests and the period under consideration. For those simply wishing to read Puritan practical divinity for personal edification I would still recommend J.I. Packer’s The Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (published as Among God’s Giants in the U.K.), but for anyone embarking on a serious study of Puritanism I would now confidently recommend The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism.

This collection comprises an introduction and twenty essays. The first section gives an account of English Puritanism by period; the second takes the reader further afield with descriptions of Puritanism in New England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, with a discussion of the interchange of ideas with continental Reformed Protestants; the third dissects a number of important themes such as ecclesiology and millenarianism. The fourth and final section considers the legacy of the phenomenon and its historiography. From these essays, their notes and suggested further reading, one begins to appreciate the vast expanse of the field of Puritan scholarship.

Highlights must include the chapter by Patrick Collinson. The godfather of modern puritan research sets up the discussion of English Puritanism which follows with an examination of ‘Antipuritanism’. This encapsulates Collinson’s nominalist reading of Puritanism and the dialectical relationship between the godly and the ungodly. Anthony Milton’s chapter, ‘Puritanism and the continental Reformed churches’, describes a complex and changing relationship ‘characterised as much by tension and ambiguity as by instinctive fraternalism’ (p. 109). This intertraffic with the continent, the Netherlands playing a particularly important role, was conducted on many levels, and this chapter is a warning against insularity in the study of Puritanism. Margo Todd’s solution to ‘The problem of Scotland’s Puritans’ is a real gem. By not overreaching and by sticking to the question of whether there were Puritans in Scotland, and to some extent that depends on how one defines the terms, she supplies one of the most enjoyable contributions. Alex Walsham’s analysis of ‘The godly and popular culture’ is judicious and in many ways develops the discussion begun earlier by Collinson.

The final two chapters alone are worth the price of the volume. John Coffey scrutinizes the treatment Puritanism has received at the hands of modernity theorists such as Weber, Tawney and Hill, as well as Whigs, sociologists, historians of science, and those seeking the origins of an American identity. He notes the flaws in much of this work and the obsession with Purtanism’s secular by-products rather than the living religious legacy it has left to evangelicalism today. Peter Lake, with characteristic humour, charts the historiography of Puritanism from Richard Bancroft down through Gardiner, Neale and Collinson, to the twists and turns of revisionist and post-revisionist schools. These surveys of the plethora of literature on Puritanism will provide a sound orientation for those setting out on their study of the subject.

There were only two chapters which disappointed. One in which the author seemed to be trying to be a little too clever, and another in which the occasional sentence was tortured to the extent that I could barely bring myself to watch. In addition, Ann Hughes, in her essay on ‘Puritanism and gender’, claims that Puritanism ‘inspired the prosecution of vulnerable and deluded women as witches’ (p. 295). This questionable assertion is not buttressed by so much as a footnote, and is left hanging there, unqualified and unsubstantiated. The editors’ use of the term ‘legalism’ (p.3) to describe Reformed teaching on the role of the law in the Christian life was also unfortunate.

Such minor gripes aside, this is a book well worth purchasing for reading and future reference. It will greatly assist the student of Puritanism and also the non-specialist who has to teach something about the subject. The editors are to be commended for bringing together such an illustrious team to provide an accessible introduction to Puritanism.

Cambridge Companion Countdown

September 20, 2008

(I have an affinity for alliteration, don’t I).

Amazon.co.uk claim they will have the Cambridge Companion to Puritanism in stock in 10 days time. This will be essential reading for all students of the period. I have pasted the contents list below. Juicy.

Introduction John Coffey and Paul C. H. Lim

 Part I. English Puritanism

 1. Antipuritanism – Patrick Collinson

 2. The growth of English Puritanism – John Craig

 3. Early Stuart Puritanism – Tom Webster

 4. The Puritan revolution – John Morrill

 5. Later Stuart Puritanism – John Spurr

 Part II. Beyond England

 6. Puritanism and the Continental Reformed Churches – Anthony Milton

 7. The Puritan experiment in New England, 1630–1660 – Francis J. Bremer

 8. New England, 1660–1730 – David D. Hall

 9. Puritanism in Ireland and Wales – Crawford Gribben

 10. The problem of Scotland’s Puritans – Margo Todd

 Part III. Major Themes

 11. Practical divinity and spirituality – Charles Hambrick-Stowe

 12. Puritan polemical divinity and doctrinal controversy – Dewey D. Wallace, Jr.

 13. Puritans and the Church of England: historiography and ecclesiology – Paul C. H. Lim

 14. Radical Puritanism, c. 1558–1660 – David R. Como

 15. Puritan millenarianism in old and New England – Jeffrey K. Jue

 16. The Godly and popular culture – Alexandra Walsham

 17. Puritanism and gender – Ann Hughes

 18. Puritanism and literature N. H. Keeble

 Part IV. Puritanism and Posterity

 19. Puritan legacies – John Coffey

 20. The historiography of Puritanism – Peter Lake