The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather

The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather

by Rick Kennedy


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An accurate, sympathetic account of influential colonial Christian leader Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was America's most famous pastor and scholar at the beginning of the eighteenth century. People today generally associate him with the infamous Salem witch trials, but in this new biography Rick Kennedy tells a bigger story: Mather, he says, was the very first American evangelical.

A fresh retelling of Cotton Mather's life, this biography corrects misconceptions and focuses on how he sought to promote, socially and intellectually, a biblical lifestyle. As older Puritan hopes in New England were giving way to a broader and shallower Protestantism, Mather led a populist, Bible-oriented movement that embraced the new century — the beginning of a dynamic evangelical tradition that eventually became a major force in American culture.

Incorporating the latest scholarly research but written for a popular audience, The First American Evangelical brings Cotton Mather and his world to life in a way that helps readers understand both the Puritanism in which he grew up and the evangelicalism he pioneered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802872111
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 07/02/2015
Series: Library of Religious Biography (LRB) Series
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Rick Kennedy is professor of history at Point Loma Nazarene University, secretary of the Conference on Faith and History, and author of various books and articles on the history of colonial New England. His previous books include Jesus, History, and Mount Darwin: An Academic Excursion.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 The Last Decades of Puritan Boston, 1663-1674 1

The Pastor's Study 1

Home School and Catechism 5

Ezekiel Cheever and the Latin School 12

2 Cambridge: City of Books in the Republic of Letters, 1674-1681 15

Saving Harvard 15

The Bible in Logick 19

Stammerer in the Library 23

The Eclectic American Scholar 27

3 Listening for a Call, 1681-1688 30

Closure with the Lord Jesus Christ 30

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction 31

Angelic Encounters 32

Accepting Vocations 35

Healer of Whole Persons 38

Historian of Demon Possession 41

4 Entanglements of Church and State, 1688-1698 47

Friendships, Fellowship, and Neighbors 47

April 18, 1689: Eleutherians in Revolt 52

The Protestant Interest 58

The Devil in Salem 63

The Levitation of Margaret Rule 67

American Historian and Boston Ebenezer 72

5 The Birth of the American Evangelical Tradition, 1698-1707 78

The Evangelical Interest Tugs at the Protestant Interest 78

An All-Day-Long Faith 87

Charles Morton, the Spirit of Man, and Sanctification 91

"God Threw My Daughter in the Fire" 94

Thwarted from the Presidency of Harvard 98

6 A Biblical Enlightenment, 1707-1713 106

Defining "Enlightenment" 106

Eat This Book 108

Was Nebuchadnezzar a Werewolf? 116

Humanitarian Acts and Institutions, Freedom, and Liberty 123

"The Month That Devoured My Family" 127

7 The Practice at the Top of Christianity, 1713-1728 130

Winter Piety 130

An Accomplished Singer 137

A Burning Bush 143

Acknowledgments and Bibliography 146

The Cotton Mather Trail: A Walking Tour in Boston Connected to the Freedom Trail 152

Index 159

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