Inventing the "Great Awakening"

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2001 - History - 300 pages
1 Review

This book is a history of an astounding transatlantic phenomenon, a popular evangelical revival known in America as the first Great Awakening (1735-1745). Beginning in the mid-1730s, supporters and opponents of the revival commented on the extraordinary nature of what one observer called the "great ado," with its extemporaneous outdoor preaching, newspaper publicity, and rallies of up to 20,000 participants. Frank Lambert, biographer of Great Awakening leader George Whitefield, offers an overview of this important episode and proposes a new explanation of its origins.

The Great Awakening, however dramatic, was nevertheless unnamed until after its occurrence, and its leaders created no doctrine nor organizational structure that would result in a historical record. That lack of documentation has allowed recent scholars to suggest that the movement was "invented" by nineteenth-century historians. Some specialists even think that it was wholly constructed by succeeding generations, who retroactively linked sporadic happenings to fabricate an alleged historic development. Challenging these interpretations, Lambert nevertheless demonstrates that the Great Awakening was invented--not by historians but by eighteenth-century evangelicals who were skillful and enthusiastic religious promoters. Reporting a dramatic meeting in one location in order to encourage gatherings in other places, these men used commercial strategies and newly popular print media to build a revival--one that they also believed to be an "extraordinary work of God." They saw a special meaning in contemporary events, looking for a transatlantic pattern of revival and finding a motive for spiritual rebirth in what they viewed as a moral decline in colonial America and abroad.

By examining the texts that these preachers skillfully put together, Lambert shows how they told and retold their revival account to themselves, their followers, and their opponents. His inquiries depict revivals as cultural productions and yield fresh understandings of how believers "spread the word" with whatever technical and social methods seem the most effective.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

Inventing the "great awakening"

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Recent scholarship has sought to diminish the scope and scale of the Great Awakening, as the mid-18th century evangelical revival was called on this side of the Atlantic, attributing it to the ... Read full review

Review: Inventing the "Great Awakening"

User Review  - Sam Newton - Goodreads

Lambert argues that the Great Awakening was an invention, but it was one invented by evangelicals at the time, not later in the 19th century, as other historians have argued. He does not believe it ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
PART ONE OPENING EVENTS THE GREAT AWAKENINGS OF THE 1730s
17
that Religion may revive in this Land
21
Revival Traditions
25
In Such an Age as This
32
Declaring the Acceptable Year of the Lord
43
the first fruits of this extraordinary and mighty Work of Gods Special Grace
54
Revival in New Jersey
55
similar facts are now united Constructing a Transatlantic Awakening
151
BritishAmerican Revival Networks
155
The Progress of the Gospel in England Wales Scotland and America
165
The Great Awakening in Salvation History
171
CONTESTED INVENTIONS 17421745
181
The grand delusion or great Mistakes of the present Day
185
The Revival as Artifice
189
Antirevivalist Message
206

Awakening in the Connecticut Valley
62
The Northampton Revival as Told and Retold
69
WIDER CONNECTIONS AN INTERCOLONIAL GREAT AND GENERAL AWAKENING 17391745
83
imported Divinity
87
George Whitefield and Revivalism in England
92
News of the English Evangelical
102
Why1739?
110
Promoting Whitefield in the Coloniew
116
The Revival at
125
Local and Regional Dimensions
128
A Common Script
143
Antirevivalist Publications
212
This is the Lords Doing
222
Defending the Revival as the Work of God
223
Attacking Opponents of the Work of God
236
Distinguishing the Work of God from Enthusiam
240
The late Revival of Religion
251
Notes
259
Selected Bibliography
281
Index
295
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 277 - THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE OF AN ASSEMBLY OF PASTORS OF CHURCHES IN NEW ENGLAND, at a meeting in Boston, July 'ith, 1743. Occasioned by the late happy revival of religion in many parts of the Land...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Frank Lambert is Professor of History at Purdue University. He is the author of "Pedlar in Divinity" and "Inventing the "Great Awakening"" (both Princeton).

Bibliographic information