'Though I am a stranger to you by face, yet in neere bonds by faith': a transatlantic puritan republic of letters

Searle, Alison (2008) 'Though I am a stranger to you by face, yet in neere bonds by faith': a transatlantic puritan republic of letters. Early American Literature, 43 (2). pp. 277-308. ISSN 0012-8163

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eal.0.0002


The model of a religious republic of letters has recently been put forward as a way of approaching the epistolary relationships of a group of Catholic humanists during the Renaissance. This centers upon the notion that “friendships were not ‘set apart’ or private but were instead public, religious relationships developed in order to navigate the dangerous world of public transactions” (Furey 5). The exchange of letters enabled individuals to “demarcate a realm of spiritual meaning—a new kind of religious community bound together by affective relationships and a shared interest in spiritualized scholarship” (Furey 5). These relationships formed a community that embraced the lives and works of the individuals involved which functioned “as a hermeneutic, a locus of spiritual practices, a manifestation of spiritual values, and a pathway for intimacy with each other and with Christ” (Furey 9). The incorporation of religion within the traditional rubric of the republic of letters deconstructs its usual binary opposition to secularization and allows the exploration of “ideas and relationships that are imbued with a transcendent dimension” fostered through the creation of “affective, activist friendships” (Furey 170, 13). It may seem odd to move from Catholic humanists to American Puritans, but the concept of a religious republic of letters can be usefully deployed in understanding the correspondence of two American ministers, John Eliot and John Woodbridge, with the prominent English Nonconformist Richard Baxter. These men were part of a similar spiritual “communion of saints.” This association was nurtured through an affective understanding of divine and human relationships, shared theological values and reading, a commitment to learning and scholarship, and the constant possibility of persecution by the authorities.

Item Type: Journal Article
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2010 15:59
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:18
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/117754

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