Author: Atwood, Craig D
Date published: June 1, 2012
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Pietism was one of the most important religious movements of the modern period, but it has not received much attention from American historians until recently. As Hartmut Lehmann summarized, Pietists tried "to transfer religious belief and religious convictions from the area of theology and dogmatic theory to the arena of practice and daily life" (351). Pietism originated in Germany, but it defined American Protestantism. The essays in this volume explore both the European and American contexts of Pietism, with special attention to the ways Pietists created various forms of religious communities within the emerging modern states. Famous organizations like the Moravian Brethren and the Halle Pietists figure prominently, but many lesser-known groups, like the Korntal Brethren, the Harmony Society, and the Haugeans of Norway are included. The essays were originally presented at a conference held at Emory University in 2006 on the theme of "Pietism and community." Not every contribution was precisely on topic, but the individual contributions are well researched and informative. Jonathan Strom did a commendable job organizing such diverse pieces coherently. Senior scholars like Lehmann and Hans Schneider provide helpful summative pieces, while many younger scholars present detailed examinations on particular themes such as the perceived threat Pietism posed to the social order. The price of the book will prevent many individuals from purchasing it, but it should be part of any historical research library. Scholars interested in modern forms of community building and "communities of discourse," especially virtual communities that extend across borders and oceans, should consult the essays in this book.
Moravian Theological Seminary