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Inventing the "Great Awakening" [Paperback]

By Frank Lambert (Author)
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Item description for Inventing the "Great Awakening" by Frank Lambert...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Princeton University Press
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 23, 2001
Publisher   Princeton University Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0691086915  
ISBN13  9780691086910  

Availability  108 units.
Availability accurate as of May 23, 2017 06:41.
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More About Frank Lambert

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Frank Lambert is Professor of History at Purdue University. He is the author of "Pedlar in Divinity" and "Inventing the "Great Awakening"" (both Princeton).

Frank Lambert currently resides in the state of Indiana. Frank Lambert was born in 1943.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Colonial Period > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Protestant

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Reviews - What do customers think about Inventing the "Great Awakening"?

Faulty Conclusions, Fascinating Reading  Oct 23, 2006
Frank Lambert sets out to prove in this book that the Great awakening was the creation of a particular group of evangelical Christians who saw themselves as pioneers and promoters of the work of God. He contends that fiery preaching alone cannot account for the legendary status of the religious awakenings that permeated the transatlantic area of the United States fromj 1735-1745. Credit must also be given to revivalists like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and John Gillies, who knew how to use the printed word as a medium to spread their interpretation of what was happening in the colonies.

Lambert also notes the indefatigable work of Old Light clergymen such as Charles Chauncy, who vigorously opposes the revivals and their emotional excesses. These excesses, along with Whitefield's excoriating missives against parish ministers, and the eloquent anti-revivalist propaganda, helped to cool off the revival fires burning across the American landscape.

Lambert writes well and holds the attention of the reader, and he is right that the revival narratives of Prince and Edwards and others played a role in establishing the "legendary status" of these awakenings.

But Lambert does not give enough credit to the Spirit of God, nor enough accolades to men like Whitefield and Edwards, who crafted compelling pieces of theological rhetoric that were used by the Lord.

I recommend this book as interesting history, but would also direct the reader to the primary source documents of the Great Awakening, namely, the sermons of Whitefield and the writings of Edwards.

Rev. Marc Axelrod
Inventing the "Great Awakening" by Frank Lambert  Jun 25, 2005
The only inventing uncovered by this book is the inventing that Frank Lambert did in weaving together what he claims are historical facts to showcase his obvious disdain for things Christian and any Christian influence on the history of the United States. He cannot possibly objectively write about something that he does not in anyway understand and that he clearly abhores. Frank Lambert fancies himself an historian but he is nothing more than a propagandist plying his craft on unsuspecting but predesposed readers.
Thoughtful  Jan 23, 2005
This is a very thorough and well written analysis of the first Great Awakening. Lambert's point of departure is a fairly narrow point of historiography, the existence of the Great Awakening. Some scholars have argued recently that the Great Awakening was actually only one of a series of local revivals in Colonial America and that the concept of an inter-colonial Great Awakening was imposed retrospectively by 19th century American evangelicals looking for a 'usable' past. Lambert examines the evidence for a Great Awakening as traditionally conceived, its origins, dynamics, and conclusion. Lambert reasserts the existence of the Great Awakening as an inter-colonial event. While it was triggered by and preceded by local revivals in parts of New England and the middle colonies, several features, including the important role of itinerant preachers like the famous George Whitefield, the use of proto-modern publicity, the sense of a general phenomenon, and its trans-Atlantic character, were all novel. Lambert shows well how the Great Awakening began with groups with well established revival traditions, notably New England Puritans and some Presbyterian groups of Scots origin. These movements became linked with a broader reform movement in England led by the Oxford Methodists and with revival movements in Scotland. The trans-Atlantic character of these movements served to reverberate and amplify the significance of events on each side of the Atlantic. The robust print culture of the greater British world made possible the linkages and innovations characteristic of the Great Awakening. Lambert shows well how the Great Amakening was a planned, not spontaneous event. Implicit in his narrative is the sense that the Great Awakening was a crucial factor in the development of an American religous marketplace in which the laity play the key role of discriminating consumers. Recommend strongly for those interested in colonial America.
A must-read for fans of Lambert or colonial America  Aug 10, 1999
This is a well-written analysis of a much misunderstood event in western history. Lambert attempts to explain the establishment and perpetuation of the First Great Awakening in the American colonies and effectively argues his case that the event was one of deliberate planning and execution rather than a spontaneous, pervasive religious revival. The reader is drawn into Lambert's discussion of the causes and effects of the Awakening on both sides of the Atlantic and can not help making comparisons to modern evangelists attempts to spread their messages to the masses. While not of interest to all, this book is a rewarding and entertaining read. I eagerly await his next opus.

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