Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem

Front Cover
Penn State Press, Nov 1, 2010 - Religion
0 Reviews

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was a unique colonial town. It was the first permanent outpost of the Moravians in North America and served as the headquarters for their extensive missionary efforts. It was also one of the most successful communal societies in American history. Bethlehem was founded as a &"congregation of the cross&" where all aspects of personal and social life were subordinated to the religious ideal of the community. In Community of the Cross, Craig D. Atwood offers a convincing portrait of Bethlehem and its religion.

Visitors to Bethlehem, such as Benjamin Franklin, remarked on the orderly and peaceful nature of life in the community, its impressive architecture, and its &"high&" culture. However, many non-Moravians were embarrassed or even offended by the social and devotional life of the Moravians. The adoration of the crucified Jesus, especially his wounds, was the focus of intense devotion for adults and children alike. Moravians worshiped the Holy Spirit as &"Mother,&" and they made the mystical marriage to Christ central to their marital intimacy. Everything, even family life, was to be a form of worship.

Atwood reveals the deep connection between life in Bethlehem and the religious symbolism of controversial German theologian Nicholas von Zinzendorf, whose provocative and erotic adoration of the wounds of Jesus was an essential part of private and communal life. Using the theories of Ren& Girard, Mary Douglas, and Victor Turner, Atwood shows that it was the Moravians&’ liturgy and devotion that united the community and inspired both its unique social structure and its missionary efforts.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Moravians and Transatlantic German Pietism
Zinzendorf and the Theology of the Heart
The Body of Christ
Union with Christ
Living in the Side Wound of Christ
Membership Statistics of the Brudergemeine in 1743
Bethlehem Bookstore Catalog March 101755
Moravian Litanies Used in Bethlehem

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 9 - In a ritual, the world as lived and the world as imagined, fused under the agency of a single set of symbolic forms, turn out to be the same world, producing thus that idiosyncratic transformation in one's sense of reality to which Santayana refers in my epigraph.
Page 11 - Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32. but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.
Page 18 - A Collection of Hymns for the use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren.

About the author (2010)

Craig D. Atwood is Charles D. Couch Associate Professor of Moravian Theology and Ministry and Director of the Center for Moravian Studies at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic information