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The Trouble with Christian History: Thomas Prince's “Great Awakening”

Abstract

The Christian History, a revivalist newspaper edited by the Boston minister Thomas Prince, is perhaps the most important cultural artifact of eighteenth-century revivalism in New England. It provides source material for countless studies, and more recently served as an exemplar of how revival participants constructed a “Great Awakening.” This essay undertakes a close historical, textual, and quantitative analysis of this two-volume periodical. It reveals complex divisions among revival supporters and surprising alignments among those who disagreed over revivalism. Attitudes toward the social order were a key factor. The Christian History was central to the construction of the “Great Awakening,” (a process shaped both by social power and contingencies), but failed to promote moderate revival activity as intended. Ironically, the newspaper designed by Prince to unite the Congregationalist establishment only contributed further to existing controversies.

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Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
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