Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 11:3 (Summer 2002) p. 179
A Field Of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity And Village Revivals In Northwestern Connecticut, 1792–1822, David W. Kling. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993. 296 pages, cloth, $38.50.
Field of Wonders is the winner of the 1993 Kenneth Latourette Prize in Religion and Modern History, which honors “the historical study of religion’s interplay with other elements of modern culture,” David Kling’s book is highly recommended. Kling starts with an effective personal disclosure that invites the reader to know the New Divinity men in a more personal way. The result is a delightful discovery into the lives and joys of the revival successes, as well as the sobering discovery of their theological convictions and movement’s passing.
This 1985 doctoral dissertation matured into a significant volume for every friend or foe of revival. Kling’s “primary purpose is to show how the complex phenomenon of religious revival occurred, how it was conveyed, and how it was appropriated” (14). Kling makes a significant contribution to historical studies by offering an interesting model for integrative history. The author integrates “a three-dimensional portrait” by weaving three profiles (13). The first profile (chapters 1–4) examines the New Divinity revival leaders and revival movement. The second profile (chapter 5) takes a microscopic lens to examine the “contentions” of revivals within the history of Farmington First Church. The third profile is a thoroughly researched portrait of the converts, conversion narratives,
RAR 11:3 (Summer 2002) p. 180
demographics, economics, and politics of the awakening (chapters 6–7).
The title of the book comes from a letter used in William Sprague’s published Lectures on Revivals. The New Divinity leader, Edwin Dorr Griffin, wrote, “I could stand at my doorstep in New Hartford, Litchfield County, and number fifty or sixty congregations laid down in one field of divine wonders” (3). This carefully selected quotation reveals Kling’s in depth research and understanding of the revival leaders.
The reader will learn that the New Divinity revival leaders were born out of pastors’ homes, where they were trained to be New Divinity men after graduation from Yale. These homes were called “schools of the prophets,” “New Divinity finishing schools,” “parish parlors,” or “log colleges” (29–33). This wasn’t an association of pastors based exclusively on geography. This was a revival movement with shared Scriptural language and spiritual fatherhood going back to their association with Jonathan Edwards. Kling writes, “A social portrait of these New ...
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