Monday, 15 September 2014

Book Three with OUP

I am excited to announce that I have a third contract with Oxford University Press to publish a book entitled, Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture. In this single-authored monograph, I will be analyzing how Edwards's works were published during the eighteenth century, in order to illuminate the larger transatlantic world of printing and communications of early evangelicals.


Stay tuned for more information about this project in future posts.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The McCulloch Manuscript

I recently finished reading The McCulloch Examinations of the Cambuslang Revival, edited by Keith Beebe. This is a two-volume critical edition of a manuscript originally transcribed by the parish minister of Cambuslang, William McCulloch, who interviewed 109 people that had reportedly experienced conversion during revivals in his parish during the summer of 1742.

While scholars are generally familiar with the Great Awakening in America, very few people know that significant revivals took place at roughly the same time in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Wales. In Scotland, the largest revival occurred at Cambuslang and the surrounding western region in 1742. Although the parish of Cambuslang consisted of only about 1,000 people, the revival there drew estimated crowds of 30,000 to 50,000 during its two communion services in July and August at a time when the nearby town of Glasgow had some 17,000 residents. McCulloch intended to publish his interviews, but for various reasons, never did. Instead, the two-volume manuscript remained with him until his death in 1771, when it was passed down through the family to his granddaughter Janet Coutts, who eventually donated it to the New College Library at Edinburgh in May 1844.

Beebe has done an important service for scholars interested in eighteenth-century transatlantic revivals, and Scottish evangelicalism in particular. Until now, scholars wanting to learn about the Cambuslang revival had to rely on secondary sources like Arthur Fawcett's often cited Cambuslang Revival, and published essays by T. C. Smout, Ned Landsman, and other historians. With the publication of The McCulloch Examinations of the Cambuslang Revival, scholars can now consult the heavily annotated conversion narratives of each person interviewed as well as the editorial additions and deletions made by McCulloch and four other ministers.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Summer Reading List

This past summer, I read a lot of literature related to Jonathan Edwards and the history of the book. But I also read some books in the broad category of American religious history that have no connection with my current research projects. Here are some of the highlights:

On the subject of Jonathan Edwards, I recently finished Philip Gura's Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical. I decided to take a break about halfway through Susan Stinson's new historical fiction account of the Great Awakening, A Spider in a Tree, and read Gura's biography. If you have read George's Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life, you may not think that there is anything more to say about Edwards's life. At least that is what I thought, before beginning Gura's biography, but I quickly changed my mind. He tells the story of Edwards's life with such elegance and clarity that it feels like you are reading a good novel. And even though I know a lot about this period in history and Edwards, I marveled at Gura's insight on such publications as Religious Affections (1746). I did have a few quibbles, however, with aspects of the book. Gura, for instance, describes Sarah Edwards's ecstatic experience in 1742 as her "conversion" (pp. 106-7), which, of course, is not the accurate term since she experienced conversion much earlier as a child. There is also Gura's suggestion that Sarah Edwards might have been infatuated with the visiting preacher Samuel Buell while her husband was away preaching at the town of Leicester (p. 106). But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a breezy biography of Edwards.

In the history of the book category, I greatly benefited from Julia Miller's Books Will Speak Plain: A Handbook for Identifying and Describing Historical Bindings. This is an amazing book for people interested in early book bindings. I can't tell you how much I learned about the surprisingly numerous bindings that have been used since the Gutenberg Press. I found myself rushing to look at the antiquarian books that I own, to study the specific bindings on these books with fresh eyes. A major benefit of Miller's monograph are the color photographs that she includes as well as the separate dvd that comes with the book, providing a vivid list and description of all the images described by her. 

Another helpful title on the material aspect of the book that I read is Philip Gaskell's A New Introduction to Bibliography. Have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between a folio, quarto, octavo, or duodecimo size? Gaskell explains such topics as well as the nuts and bolts of how books are put together, and the overall history of book production during the past centuries.

Besides the books related to my current research projects, I also found time for some "fun" reading, including Nancy Koester's Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life. Stowe, of course, gained national attention for her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, but there is much more to her life than her literary contribution to the abolitionist movement. Stowe grew up as a Beecher, the daughter of one of the most prominent ministers in New England (Lyman Beecher), and the sister of "the most famous man in America," Henry Ward Beecher and  education innovator, Catharine Beecher. Reading Koester's biography helped me understand the type of Christianity that Stowe adopted. Koester explains Stowe's move away from her father's Calvinism towards High Anglicanism, and, later in life, Spiritism, as she tries to make a connection with her deceased son.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Early Evangelicalism: A Reader as a Course Text

This semester I am teaching a new course that I am calling, "The History of Evangelicalism." This is a 400-level elective. Besides using the History of Evangelicalism series published by IVP, I am also incorporating my own Early Evangelicalism: A Reader and Barry Hankins's Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism: A Documentary Reader.

I welcome hearing from other professors who are using Early Evangelicalism: A Reader for current courses that they are teaching. Most recently, I heard from a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, who is requiring the book for a course in cooperation with the Andrew Fuller Conference on George Whitefield and the Great Awakening. This looks like an exciting conference with speakers such as Tommy Kidd, Bruce Hindmarsh, and David Bebbington