RELIGION IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH: Protestants and Others in History and Culture

Beth Barton Schweiger, Editor, Donald G. Mathews, Editor . Univ. of North Carolina $59.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-8078-2906-6 ISBN 978-0-8078-5570-6

Mathews's 1977 book Religion in the Old South stands as one of the seminal studies of antebellum Southern Christianity. Now Mathews (UNC–Chapel Hill) and co-editor Schweiger (University of Arkansas) offer a state-of-the-field anthology showcasing work by young, cutting-edge scholars of Southern religion. Emily Bingham's essay on the "apostasy" of antebellum Jewish North Carolinian Rachel Mordecai Lazarus sheds new light not only on the Southern Jewish experience but also on the nature of evangelicalism and religious revivals. Kurt Berends examines the oddly understudied question of how "the Civil War shape[d] Christianity in the Confederacy," arguing that in the 1860s, Southern doctrines of salvation changed. No longer was Jesus' blood the only path to heaven; a hero's death on the battlefield also provided entry through the pearly gates. The gem here is Mathews's own essay on lynching, which examines a central image of the postbellum South—that of Christ-like black men hanging on trees. Caveat emptor: this is a decidedly academic anthology. The primary audience is scholars, and armchair historians who pick up this volume may wish to skip those essays (like Schweiger's) that are primarily concerned with historiography, not history. For professional historians, though, this is an excellent introduction to new fields of inquiry in Southern religion. (Nov. 22)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 340 pages - 978-0-8078-5570-6
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