The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather  -     By: Rick Kennedy
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The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / Paperback

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Product Description

An accurate, sympathetic account of influential colonial Christian leader Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was America's most famous pastor and scholar at the beginning of the eighteenth century. People today generally associate him with the infamous Salem witch trials, but in this new biography Rick Kennedy tells a bigger story: Mather, he says, was the very first American evangelical.

A fresh retelling of Cotton Mather's life, this biography corrects misconceptions and focuses on how he sought to promote, socially and intellectually, a biblical lifestyle. As older Puritan hopes in New England were giving way to a broader and shallower Protestantism, Mather led a populist, Bible-oriented movement that embraced the new century - the beginning of a dynamic evangelical tradition that eventually became a major force in American culture.

Incorporating the latest scholarly research but written for a popular audience, The First American Evangelical brings Cotton Mather and his world to life in a way that helps readers understand both the Puritanism in which he grew up and the evangelicalism he pioneered.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 168
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
ISBN: 0802872115
ISBN-13: 9780802872111

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Publisher's Description

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was America's most famous pastor and scholar at the beginning of the eighteenth century. People today generally associate him with the infamous Salem witch trials, but in this new biography Rick Kennedy tells a bigger story: Mather, he says, was the very first American evangelical.

A fresh retelling of Cotton Mather's life, this biography corrects misconceptions and focuses on how he sought to promote, socially and intellectually, a biblical lifestyle. As older Puritan hopes in New England were giving way to a broader and shallower Protestantism, Mather led a populist, Bible-oriented movement that embraced the new century -- the beginning of a dynamic evangelical tradition that eventually became a major force in American culture.

Incorporating the latest scholarly research but written for a popular audience, The First American Evangelical brings Cotton Mather and his world to life in a way that helps readers understand both the Puritanism in which he grew up and the evangelicalism he pioneered.

Watch a 2015 interview with the author of this book here:

Author Bio

Rick Kennedy is professor of history at Point LomaNazarene University, secretary of the Conference on Faithand History, and author of various books and articles on thehistory of colonial New England. His previous books includeJesus, History, and Mount Darwin: An AcademicExcursion.

Editorial Reviews

Themelios 
"An engaging and insightful introduction."

The Catholic Historical Review
"Rick Kennedy's lively take on Cotton Mather's extraordinary life is very welcome. . . . Not your grandfather's Mather."

Douglas A. Sweeney
— author of The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement
"Cotton Mather is widely seen as a moralistic hypocrite, a one-dimensional bad guy we moderns love to hate. But in this lively new biography, he takes on flesh and blood and, more importantly, a heart. . . . This courageous little book offers readers a better feel for Mather's vibrant, quirky, learned, evangelical spirituality than anything before."

Margaret Bendroth
— author of The Spiritual Practice of Remembering
"Few historical figures have been as misunderstood as Cotton Mather, roundly dismissed in our own time as the ultimate Puritan killjoy. Rick Kennedy's richly textured account reminds us why Mather still matters — why we should care about, maybe even embrace, this complex man who made such an indelible impact on our religious world today."

George M. Marsden
— author of A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards
"Mather's life is one of the most fascinating in all of American history. Rick Kennedy has done a fine job in providing a sympathetic, engaging, and yet brief account of such a many-sided and influential personality."

Reiner Smolinski
— general editor of Cotton Mather's Biblia Americana — America's First Bible Commentary
"In this charming biography, Cotton Mather emerges as the grandfather of American evangelicalism, who valiantly guided his community through troubled times. Kennedy enables us to look into the heart and soul of this Puritan pastor who adapted New England's old-time religion to the needs of a new age. This is a fresh and perceptive introduction to Mather's complex life."

World Magazine
"The author humbly avoids a judgmental tone toward Mather or the Puritans. He does not indulge in chronological snobbery and assume the tone of moral superiority typical of many other historians. Instead, Kennedy sets Mather in a historical context and highlights his strengths and weaknesses accordingly. . . . [He] tries to capture the evangelical heart of Mather, as a bridge builder from the Puritan era to the next wave of the Holy Spirit in the Great Awakening led by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield."

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  1. West Union, OH
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Outstanding Read!
    August 28, 2015
    Jimmy Reagan
    West Union, OH
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Have you fallen prey to the prevalent misconception that Cotton Mather was the moralistic, harsh perpetrator of the Salem Witch Trials? If that is the case, you do not really know the man. Author Rick Kennedy takes us to the heart of the man and Mather is, in fact, a man worth knowing. Kennedy succeeds in a short biography at what some massive tomes cant even delivera winning biography that is enjoyable to read and brings life to the subject.

    I must confess that I came to greatly admire Mather by the end of this book. His faith was real. Though he worked at scholarly efforts on many occasions, he never lost his full confidence in Gods Word. He was in no way a fake. He was sincere in his home and ministry. The members of his church loved him and stood by him all his days. His faith was tested and stood as he buried 13 of 16 children and 2 of 3 wives.

    Kennedy makes a good case that Mather is not the last American Puritan, but rather the first American Evangelical. He had only a cursory involvement in the Salem Witch Trials, but has had his reputation altered by a disreputable rival.

    You will see just how good this book is in the first chapter entitled The Pastors Study. While that title may bore you, I have never come to know someone better in the first chapter before. The scene he draws is vivid and makes the study a vibrant place.

    He doesnt hide Mathers weak points. He almost took his thoughts on angels too far. He relentlessly promoted his own books. His last marriage had problems and he always had trouble managing his own finances. All these things only made him real. The fine man remained. I simply loved this book!

    I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
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