American evangelicalism has, for some time, been dominated by Baptists. American Baptist churches attract tens of millions of worshippers, and the Southern Baptist Convention stands unrivalled as the single largest Protestant denomination in the country. And yet, despite their numerical hegemony, American Baptists have not attracted commensurate attention from historians.
Exile has long been central to our understanding of certain Early Modern topics. The flight of English Protestants, and then Catholics, to the Continent in the 16th century, or the exodus of Huguenots (many to England and Ireland) after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the 17th, are perhaps the best known examples to UK audiences.
In this engaging new book, Thomas Marsden examines the repressive campaign against the Russian Old Believers [staroobriadtsy] launched by the conservative Minister of Internal Affairs Dmitrii Gavrilovich Bibikov (1792–1870) in 1853, just as Nicholas I’s reign (1825–55) was drawing to a close.
In 1775, Samuel Johnson had already identified the central paradox of United States history. He notoriously challenged British readers to explain why ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes’. Generations of historians have tried to answer that question. How could a movement espousing belief in liberty include so many slaveholders?
Jane Lead and the Philadelphian Society are not particularly well known figures to most scholars of late 17th- and early 18th-century religion. Born in 1624, Lead experienced a spiritual awakening aged 16. On Christmas Day 1640, while her family danced and celebrated, she was overwhelmed with a ‘beam of Godly light’ and a gentle inner voice offering spiritual guidance.
Samuel Marsden was a Yorkshireman of humble origins (as his detractors liked to point out). After a brief spell at Cambridge, in 1793 he was appointed the second official Anglican chaplain in the recently established convict colony of New South Wales. In 1814, he took the Gospel to New Zealand.
This is an extremely ambitious, thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring book.
A simple man from humble beginnings, Joseph Warren earned himself the titles of doctor, husband, father, author, leader, soldier, and martyr through his expressions of compassion and qualities of leadership. With a sense of moral righteousness, as well as deeply rooted personal motivations, Warren fought for American independence with both the pen and the sword.
The title of A History of Borno, Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State has two ambiguities. Situated in the Sahel, Borno did not span the Sahara. It was Trans-Saharan by being linked culturally and economically to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, rather than to the Atlantic. Whether the failing state is Nigeria or Borno is also unclear.
The Birth of Modern Belief is seriously good. It is erudite, insightful, and cogent; but, above all, it enables us to think hard about the relationship between our past and our present.