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5_Puritans_in_Massachusetts - Puritans in Massachusetts A...

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Puritans in Massachusetts: A Different Kind of Colonization Lecture 5 Summary, Fall 2011 Prof. K. Wood, FIU If you were not able to view Lecture 5, or simply want to check your notes, please read this carefully. Note that you should also study the Powerpoint slides, as this file does not include the images presented in the Powerpoint presentation. I. Puritan Myths & Realities A. Prudes Image of Puritans as being “puritanical,” opposed to drinking, dancing, flirting, sex, fun. To call someone “puritanical” is to say that they take virtue too far. But this was not always the American stereotype of the Puritans. In the 19 th century, for example, the Puritans were romantic heroes. Not romantic in the Romeo & Juliet, “Titanic” sense, but romantic in the sense of popular myths that idealize people. B. Romantic Heroes Romantic heroes for bringing the book – the Bible – literacy, civilization, and good order to the New World and its savages. In painting, the posture of the Indians is supposed to suggest submission. The posture of the white men is proud and strong but not warlike; presence of women, children, and elderly men suggests a society of well-ordered families with a common moral purpose. II. Puritan Theology A. Unmediated relationship with God B. Bible study and literacy Puritans deeply valued the Protestant idea that ordinary people could have a direct relationship with God. 1
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A Puritan got to know God not just by going to Church, listening to sermons, and praying, but also and especially by reading the Bible . This meant that the bible had to be in the vernacular , or the local language, and not in Latin. Literacy was enormously important to Puritans as a matter of religious faith. Literacy rates much higher among them than in VA – for women as well as men. Because reading was so important, books were important too, and Boston became the first publishing center in the future United States. o If you search historical collections of print material for the 17 th century, you can find over 700 publications from Massachusetts – and so far, I’ve only found 5 from the Chesapeake colonies. (AAS, English Short Title Catalogue.) Cover page of book of Psalms, published in Mass: specific mention that there is “discourse” at the beginning which declares “not only the lawfullness, but also the necessity of the heavenly Ordinance of singing scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God.” o this refers to the Puritans debate about whether it was permissible to sign – as opposed to simply speak – the Psalms.
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