Review Of "Community Of The Cross: Moravian Piety In Colonial Bethlehem" By C. D. Atwood

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The Moravians' creation of a successful religious, communitarian experiment in Bethlehem, PA, in 1741 is well known. This thoroughly researched book by Atwood (Wake Forest Divinity School) makes its primary contribution in the integration of the "heart" theology of Count von Zinzendorf (as illustrated through the church's liturgical practices) with the life of the town. Religious belief becomes the key to economic practices, the choir system, the school, and missionary endeavors. Zinzendorf emerges as a creative Pietist emphasizing the Motherhood of the Holy Spirit; admitting errors in the Bible; advocating the mystic marriage of men and women to Jesus; valuing single life as well as sex, children, and marriage; and granting authority to women. His emphasis on the "blood and wounds" of Jesus, particularly the spear wound in the side, integrated these beliefs into the liturgy, provided a way of social control, and separated Moravians from outsiders. Atwood argues that Zinzendorf's mystical Pietism remained a consistent feature of Bethlehem's liturgy at least through the 1760s. This excellent religious history supplements earlier books that focus on the social history of early Bethlehem. A necessary purchase for collections emphasizing Colonial America, American religious history, and communitarian experiments, it will also interest those studying women and religion. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Interested upper-level undergraduates; graduate students and above.


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