A professor emeritus of American religious history at Harvard Divinity School sheds new light on the diverse forms of Puritan belief and practice in England, Scotland, and New England, providing an account of a cultural movement that judged the Protestant reforms of Queen Elizabeth's reign to be unfinished.
This fake news of liberty, abundance and prosperity found a ready audience, among them members of the religious communities whose long experience of harassment and persecution is narrated so vividly in The Puritans. Mr. Hall’s magisterial work provides a ground-breaking international history of this controversial religious movement as it emerged in the Old World and evolved to shape the New. In constructing his chronicle, Mr. Hall, an emeritus professor at Harvard Divinity School, builds upon a career of extraordinary achievement in this field. His voluminous endnotes compress many decades of wide reading into what will become one of the definitive histories of its subject.
His history is not so much one of ranters as of honest men and women trying to get right the most fundamental things of all: the human relationship with God, and hence the right way to be living and the right sort of society to be ordering ... The modern secular reader might think of [Puritans] as killjoys or bores. Hall dispels this feeling ... Hall, like [C.S.] Lewis, reawakens in the reader the intense excitement of the men and women who wanted to finish the Reformation. He makes you see how thrilling the theology was for them ... Hall does not make me like the Puritans much, but he does help me to see what made them tick, and to recognise the heroism of the ‘Saints’ who set out for New England ... This austere, impressive book would not gladden anyone’s Christmas, but I felt edified reading it, even at those moments which reminded me why puritanism, both in its authentic 17th-century forms and in its modern equivalents, will always repel me.
... magisterial and thought-provoking ... exhaustively researched and elegantly told ... Hall has 'taken the Cross' and acquitted himself admirably in presenting a definitively researched explanation for a phenomena many of us still don’t understand ... goes a long way toward explicating the inexplicable and should stand as the definitive history for some time to come.