Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity

I recently had the pleasure of reading Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013). My review is up on the Books & Culture website — I characterize Mormon Christianity as “brilliant, provocative, and occasionally maddening.” The maddening, from my vantage point, is what I consider a rather [Read More...]

ZOMIA AND ISRAEL

James C. Scott is a distinguished scholar who works on multiple topics and diverse eras. At Yale, he holds the intriguing title of Sterling Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Forestry, and Environmental Studies. Even he might be surprised, though, to find himself cited on matters of Biblical history and archaeology. He may well offer a [Read More...]

Evangelicals and the Death Penalty

Santoro

Anthony Santoro’s Exile and Embrace: Contemporary Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty features one of the more arresting book covers I’ve seen in recent years. A pierced and bloody Jesus sits in an electric chair, wearing a crown of thorns and a waistcloth. The photo is of a wax sculpture by Paul Fryer, who offers [Read More...]

Shattering the Illusion, Part 1

Rosa Parks

  When authorities in Montgomery, Alabama arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white patron on December 1, 1955, African Americans in the city formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) in order to organize a direct action campaign.  Led by twenty-six year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., the MIA launched a boycott [Read More...]

Howell Harris and Wales’s Great Awakening

January 23, 2014 marks the 300th birthday of the remarkable but troubled Welsh revivalist, Howell Harris. Harris was one of the foremost preachers of the Great Awakening in Britain, and a close friend (for a time) of George Whitefield (the subject of my current book project), who was born later in the same year, 1714. Whitefield [Read More...]

Rome or Death

I’ve just returned from a month of travels in Italy—Orvieto, Ravenna, Rome, Naples.  (The life of a scholar is sometimes tough, but someone has to do it.)  One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to work in the Vatican archives for the first time; I read there the correspondence from the nineteenth [Read More...]

THE KOLLAM PLATES

Map01

Some years ago, in The Lost History of Christianity, I wrote about the world of Asian Christianity during the first millennium. Now, an amazing body of documents throws light on that lost world. This material also demonstrates how the Internet can make historical information freely available. In the mid-ninth century, legal transactions were inscribed on [Read More...]

The Power of Biography

From the Anxious Bench archives: Especially because my colleague Thomas Kidd and I both like the genre of biography, we’ve touched on that topic periodically on this blog. A while back, he blogged about five compelling religious biographies. I was thinking about that subject again while reading my erstwhile University of South Alabama colleague and [Read More...]

Antebellum African Missions and the Evangelical South

I recently read Erskine Clarke’s remarkable By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey, which tells the epic chronicle of John Leighton Wilson and Jane Wilson, antebellum southern missionaries to west Africa. Clarke is one of the most gifted historians of American religion, with particular mastery of the antebellum southern Christian mind. By the [Read More...]

ONIONS AND OLIVES

72mysteryhill

I recently posted on Philip K. Dick’s book The Man in the High Castle, and what it suggests about the construction of historical memory. For historians of religion especially, we can learn a lot about the invention of history, and how new histories, new memories, come to be seen as solid fact. The godfather of [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X