Seers Of God

Overview

Observing that intellectual changes within late-seventeenth-century Massachusetts Puritan culture closely paralleled changes within Puritan culture in England, Michael Winship re-examines one of the more nettlesome issues in the intellectual history of early New England. How did the logic Puritanism square itself with the increasingly hostile assumptions of the early Enlightenment? And, faced with a new intellectual world whose parameters were formed to a large extent in opposition to Puritanism, how did Puritans...

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Overview

Observing that intellectual changes within late-seventeenth-century Massachusetts Puritan culture closely paralleled changes within Puritan culture in England, Michael Winship re-examines one of the more nettlesome issues in the intellectual history of early New England. How did the logic Puritanism square itself with the increasingly hostile assumptions of the early Enlightenment? And, faced with a new intellectual world whose parameters were formed to a large extent in opposition to Puritanism, how did Puritans try to maintain credibility? In Seers of God, Winship's compelling analysis of topics ranging from theology to witchcraft places the problem of intellectual change fully in a transatlantic context.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

William and Mary Quarterly
Winship's sophisticated and compelling study of Puritan providentialism in Massachusetts during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries examines the impact of cultural politics in Restoration England on New England's intellectual history and sheds new light on the ways in which Puritan thinkers responded to the imperatives of the early Enlightenment.
American Studies International
This is an impressive book. It explores with subtlety one of those fascinating moments when the intricate connections between a certain kind of religious discourse shades into that outlook we connect with the Enlightenment, and discloses how rooted was the English Enlightenment in certain matters of theological discussion. As an exploration into a mentality, it is a test case in the analysis of 'Weberian disenchantment' and of a society struggling with cognitive disonance... Winship is especially strong in clarifying the political use of disenchantment and the political meaning of reason for Restoration Anglicans—seldom has a theological shift in its political context been so clearly delineated.

— Dewey D. Wallace, Jr.

American Studies International - Dewey D. Wallace
This is an impressive book. It explores with subtlety one of those fascinating moments when the intricate connections between a certain kind of religious discourse shades into that outlook we connect with the Enlightenment, and discloses how rooted was the English Enlightenment in certain matters of theological discussion. As an exploration into a mentality, it is a test case in the analysis of 'Weberian disenchantment' and of a society struggling with cognitive disonance... Winship is especially strong in clarifying the political use of disenchantment and the political meaning of reason for Restoration Anglicans—seldom has a theological shift in its political context been so clearly delineated.
Booknews
Winship (history, U. of Georgia) examines how Puritans in early America dealt with the tension between their logic and their belief that the workings of God were to be found in such events as storms and earthquakes, fainting, and depression. Focusing on Cotton Mather, he emphasizes how the tension influenced the witch trials and the eventual decline of belief in wonders. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael P. Winship is an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The Providence of the Massachusetts Puritans 9
2 Providence Besieged 29
3 Israel Strikes Back 53
4 Cotton Mather and the Hand of God 74
5 Cotton Mather and the Perils of Natural Philosophy 93
6 Cotton Mather and the True Power of Devils 111
7 Cotton Mather and the Decline of the Demonic 124
8 A Farewell to Wonders 138
Notes 153
Index 219
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