The Book That Changed Europe: Picart and Bernard's Religious Ceremonies of the World

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Overview

Two French Protestant refugees in eighteenth-century Amsterdam gave the world an extraordinary work that intrigued and outraged readers across Europe. In this captivating account, Lynn Hunt, Margaret Jacob, and Wijnand Mijnhardt take us to the vibrant Dutch Republic and its flourishing book trade to explore the work that sowed the radical idea that religions could be considered on equal terms.

Famed engraver Bernard Picart and author and publisher Jean Frederic Bernard produced The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All the Peoples of the World, which appeared in the first of seven folio volumes in 1723. They put religion in comparative perspective, offering images and analysis of Jews, Catholics, Muslims, the peoples of the Orient and the Americas, Protestants, deists, freemasons, and assorted sects. Despite condemnation by the Catholic Church, the work was a resounding success. For the next century it was copied or adapted, but without the context of its original radicalism and its debt to clandestine literature, English deists, and the philosophy of Spinoza.

Ceremonies and Customs prepared the ground for religious toleration amid seemingly unending religious conflict, and demonstrated the impact of the global on Western consciousness. In this beautifully illustrated book, Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt cast new light on the profound insight found in one book as it shaped the development of a modern, secular understanding of religion.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books

A major study of Picart and Bernard's work...In recent years, a number of historians have reminded us that one could be Enlightened without abandoning Christianity (or Judaism). Calls for bringing religion up to date by setting it on a modern philological and historical basis and by testing its precepts and practices against the touchstone of reason formed a central part of the Enlightenment project—more central, it seems, than calls for strangling the last king in the bowels of the last priest. Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt have added a distinctive chapter to the story.
— Anthony Grafton

The Tablet
[This] stunning new work, The Book That Changed Europe, [is] an exhaustive and exhilarating inquiry into the meaning of Picart and Bernard's massive undertaking. At once an exercise in scholarship and a tribute to its subject, this volume makes clear why Picart and Bernard ought to be household names, as familiar to us as Voltaire and Diderot...By taking its readers behind the scenes, The Book That Changed Europe helps us to understand what lay behind the enduring impact of its namesake and why it matters in the long run...Equally entertaining and instructive, it makes us care, and care deeply, about the fate of an earlier publication, underscoring the power of words to effect change and touch the heart.
— Jenna Weissman Joselit
Books & Culture

In The Book that Changed Europe (a book that is almost as absorbing as the book it is about, and that is high praise indeed), historians Lynn Hunt, Margaret C. Jacob, and Wijnand Mijnhardt make clear just what was at stake in Bernard and Picart's undertaking: they were mapping a way to imagine religious toleration.
— Lauren Winner

Tablet Magazine

[This] stunning new work, The Book That Changed Europe, [is] an exhaustive and exhilarating inquiry into the meaning of Picart and Bernard's massive undertaking. At once an exercise in scholarship and a tribute to its subject, this volume makes clear why Picart and Bernard ought to be household names, as familiar to us as Voltaire and Diderot...By taking its readers behind the scenes, The Book That Changed Europe helps us to understand what lay behind the enduring impact of its namesake and why it matters in the long run...Equally entertaining and instructive, it makes us care, and care deeply, about the fate of an earlier publication, underscoring the power of words to effect change and touch the heart.
— Jenna Weissman Joselit

Choice

With this riveting history of a seven-volume marginalized "blockbuster" about world religions (1723-37) and the fascinating men who produced it (author/editor/publisher Jean Frederic Bernard and engraver Bernard Picart), Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt present a marvelous addition to 18th-century studies that meticulously explores faith and metaphysics in the context of society, culture, and biography.
— L. A. Rollo

New Republic

[A] wonderful new book...Cutting-edge scholarship...One of the most exciting things about The Book That Changed Europe is that it may serve as a model of how historians should read images.
— Peter N. Miller

H-France Review

The Book That Changed Europe makes a compelling case that Religious Ceremonies of the World deserves a more prominent place in studies of the Enlightenment. By example, it also makes a compelling case for collaborative historical research...Picart and Bernard's magnum opus is sure at last to receive the greater recognition it deserves.
— Daniel Stolzenberg

John Marshall
A brilliant and important work about one of the most fascinating books in European history by three of the leading scholars in the world on the Enlightenment.
Charles H. Parker
A penetrating analysis of the overlooked but highly influential book on world religions by Bernard Picart and Jean Frederic Bernard. The authors offer compelling evidence that interaction with the broader world played a vital role in the development of the European Enlightenment. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this could well turn out to be the book that changes our view of European history and modernity.
Siep Stuurman
Reflecting the combined expertise of three eminent historians of the Enlightenment, this important book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the Radical Enlightenment as well as to eighteenth-century European cultural and intellectual history more generally. Well written and highly accessible, the book illuminates a major turning point in European Enlightenment thought and includes many illustrations by one of the premier engravers of the eighteenth century, which few present-day readers will have had the opportunity to see elsewhere.
New York Review of Books - Anthony Grafton
A major study of Picart and Bernard's work...In recent years, a number of historians have reminded us that one could be Enlightened without abandoning Christianity (or Judaism). Calls for bringing religion up to date by setting it on a modern philological and historical basis and by testing its precepts and practices against the touchstone of reason formed a central part of the Enlightenment project--more central, it seems, than calls for strangling the last king in the bowels of the last priest. Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt have added a distinctive chapter to the story.
Tablet Magazine - Jenna Weissman Joselit
[This] stunning new work, The Book That Changed Europe, [is] an exhaustive and exhilarating inquiry into the meaning of Picart and Bernard's massive undertaking. At once an exercise in scholarship and a tribute to its subject, this volume makes clear why Picart and Bernard ought to be household names, as familiar to us as Voltaire and Diderot...By taking its readers behind the scenes, The Book That Changed Europe helps us to understand what lay behind the enduring impact of its namesake and why it matters in the long run...Equally entertaining and instructive, it makes us care, and care deeply, about the fate of an earlier publication, underscoring the power of words to effect change and touch the heart.
Books & Culture - Lauren Winner
In The Book that Changed Europe (a book that is almost as absorbing as the book it is about, and that is high praise indeed), historians Lynn Hunt, Margaret C. Jacob, and Wijnand Mijnhardt make clear just what was at stake in Bernard and Picart's undertaking: they were mapping a way to imagine religious toleration.
Choice - L. A. Rollo
With this riveting history of a seven-volume marginalized "blockbuster" about world religions (1723-37) and the fascinating men who produced it (author/editor/publisher Jean Frederic Bernard and engraver Bernard Picart), Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt present a marvelous addition to 18th-century studies that meticulously explores faith and metaphysics in the context of society, culture, and biography.
New Republic - Peter N. Miller
[A] wonderful new book...Cutting-edge scholarship...One of the most exciting things about The Book That Changed Europe is that it may serve as a model of how historians should read images.
H-France Review - Daniel Stolzenberg
The Book That Changed Europe makes a compelling case that Religious Ceremonies of the World deserves a more prominent place in studies of the Enlightenment. By example, it also makes a compelling case for collaborative historical research...Picart and Bernard's magnum opus is sure at last to receive the greater recognition it deserves.
New York Review of Books
Other historians have taught us a great deal about the rise, in early modern Europe, of a distinct and self-conscious culture of the crafts. The Book That Changed Europe thus adds a fascinating new chapter to this story.
— Anthony Grafton
Books & Culture
In The Book that Changed Europe (a book that is almost as absorbing as the book it is about, and that is high praise indeed), historians Lynn Hunt, Margaret C. Jacob, and Wijnand Mijnhardt make clear just what was at stake in Bernard and Picart's undertaking: they were mapping a way to imagine religious toleration.
— Lauren Winner
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674049284
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Pages: 383
  • Sales rank: 1,212,212
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Hunt is Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History, University of California, Los Angeles.

Margaret C. Jacob is Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles.

Wijnand Mijnhardt is Chair of Comparative History of the Sciences and the Humanities, Utrecht University.

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Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Introduction: One Book, Two Men, and a New Attitude toward Religion

  • Part I: The World of the Book
  1. A Marketplace for Religious Ideas
  2. Bernard Picart: Religious and Artistic Journeys
  3. Why Holland?
  4. Jean Frederic Bernard: The Tumultuous Life of a Refugee Publisher
  5. A Writer’s Mental Universe
  6. Picart’s Visual Politics

  7. Part II: The Book of the World
  8. Familiarizing Judaism
  9. Cutting Roman Catholicism Down to Size
  10. Idolatry: West and East
  11. Rehabilitating Islam
  12. Dissent, Deism, and Atheism

  • Conclusion: Literary Fortunes
  • Appendix A: The Seven Volumes of Religious Ceremonies of the World
  • Appendix B: Editions of Religious Ceremonies of the World
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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