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The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England Paperback – September 8, 1988

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195056457 ISBN-10: 0195056450

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Stout provides an exhaustive, scholarly survey of the content of both regular and special-occasion sermons in New England from 1630 to 1776. Unlike most previous studies, this monograph treats manuscript sources as well as printed sources. The more than 2000 sermons Stout studies are divided into five generational cohorts based on the dates of the clergy's education, and they give a creditable sample of what the average colonial New Englander heard from the pulpit. For Stout, all five colonial clergy generations experienced and preached a continuing concept of New England settlers as a convenanted people with a unique relationship to God similar to ancient Israel's. Strongly recommended for academic and seminary libraries.Susan A. Stussy, Marian Coll. Lib., Indianapolis
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"Both the sources he employs and the scope of his study set his work apart from all that have preceded it....The first study of New England preaching to span the entire colonial period....A very important book."--Journal of American History


"A massive achievement, will stand as the definitive work on this important subject."--Reviews in American History


"One of the most impressive studies of Puritan New England society to appear in this century....Throughout the work, Stout enriches, supplements and revises much of the current knowledge about colonial New England. His language, which is both precise and playful, makes the volume a delight to read."--The Historian


"Will surely become a benchmark in the study of early American history and culture."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion


"So soundly based on exhaustive research and so lucid in presentation, that even its most surprising conclusions carry conviction. An impressive achievement."--Daniel Walker Howe, University of California, Los Angeles


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 8, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195056450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195056457
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Lawson on June 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Harry S. Stout (Ph.D., Kent State University) is currently a professor of American religious history at Yale University. Building on the groundbreaking work of Perry Miller, Stout published The New England Soul in 1986. The study is more extensive than its paperback size might suggest. The main body of the work covers nearly 150,000 words and is supplemented by 68 pages of extensive end notes. The work has become a standard text for college and graduate courses in colonial American history.
Stout's work centers on the content, role, and power of the sermon in Puritan (later New England) America from the first landings to the beginning of the American revolution. His thesis, which is strongly supported through the work, is that the sermon was the central agent in creating a cohesive culture that evolves toward eventual self-identity and independence. Drawing extensively on primary sources, Stout brings to the contemporary reader the piety and passions of the people whose culture forms the soil for the American nation.
Stout follows the sermon through five generations of New England preachers. These generations are marked by gradual but significant changes in the style and, to some degree, content of the sermon. These five generations he labels invention (1620-1665), arrangement (1666-1700), style (1701-1730), delivery (1731-1763), and memory (1764-1776).
These five stages are, he admits, not dramatic shifts as much as a continual evolution. Through these stages Stout demonstrates changes in style (from plain to "Anglican") and, to some degree, in content. He asserts, however, that the essential core elements of the sermon remain consistent, and that the changes reflect the sermon's adjustment to a changing environment.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Hart on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a much more thorough study of Congregational culture and doctrine than that of Perry Miller. Miller's work relied entirely on published weekday sermons. Stout mined the unpublished sermon notes of hundreds of New England preachers to find a balance that Miller missed. Stout convincingly shows that the ministers' commitment to the salvation of their listeners was always paramount, and finds a consistency in their messages that link the ministers of the 1630's with those of the 1770's. Stout finds few doctrinal differences between Old Lights such as John Cotton and New Lights such as Jonathan Edwards. It's a tough read (being intellectual history), but it's well worth the effort if you wish to get inside the Puritan mind.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The theme of this excellent book is that, from 1620 and 1630, with the advent of the Pilgrims at Plymouth and the Puritans at Boston, the vast majority of the regular ministerial preaching was about the salvation of souls, while the occasional sermons, the election and fast day sermons, and as the American Revolution approached, were far fewer, and considered dependent on the regular Sunday homilies.

Harry Stout's knowledge of his material is massive.

For members of the clergy, from Stout's anecdotes, and not just about preaching, calls to mind the French proverb, 'the more things change, the more things stay the same.' The basic framework of a Congregational sermon was 'sin, salvation, and service.' In 1663, Rev. Higginson that the Boston area was 'a plantation of religion, not a plantation of trade.' Stout does an excellent job in portaying the perennial divide between the churches and ministers who 'specialized' in portraying the emotional side of faith, versus those who thought that the essence of faith is rational.

Stout concludes with the almost universal preachers who spoke in favor of being in favor of what became the American Revolution, but ironically it was the Revolution, by stirring up lay political leadership, that bumped the local church and minister from its central, dominating role in the culture of New England.

My one critique of this book is that, the several times Stout quoted excerpts of sermons which demonized Roman Catholics as papists, the whore of Babylon etc., Stout did not declare what those verses were, instances of the Puritan anti-Catholicism.

However, this caveat mentioned, the overall effect of this awesome book is to underscore the central, fundamental role of Christian faith and praxis in colonial New England, and that civic, political themes were secondary and dependant on the former.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Catherwood on October 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a great book by a brilliant historian who is deeply revered on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be the definitive work. Christopher Catherwood, author of CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE (Zondervan, 2003)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ng on February 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An extremely useful and good book for anyone who is interested in the history of New England Puritanism. The book is in a great condition.
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