|Martyrs' mirror: persecution and holiness in early New England. Oxford, 2011. 218p index afp; ISBN 9780199743117, $55.00. Reviewed in 2012mar CHOICE..|
Weimer (history, Providence College) argues that martyrs are central to the self-understanding of New England's Puritan orthodoxy and their Antinomian, Baptist, and Quaker opponents in the 17th century. Tracing New England's concern with martyrs to the Elizabethan era, when John Fox published his Acts and Monuments to glorify the sufferings of Protestants under Queen Mary, Weimer posits that Protestantism's use of martyrdom has always depended on a carefully established balance between persecuted and imperial faith. Claiming that stories of martyrs are deployed to justify believers' suffering and political power, Weimer presents a new model for understanding the Puritans' reliance on a mythology of persecuted faith, even when persecuting members of other faiths. Weimer demonstrates how competing religious groups equally relied on historical martyrdom to justify their cause while creating new stories of persecution and suffering to advance their cause, a process that accommodated a range of persecutors, including Puritan legalists and Wampanoag warriors. Despite some minor redundancies, Weimer's book offers a valuable contribution to the study of transatlantic Protestantism by complementing such works as Theodore Dwight Bozeman's To Live Ancient Lives (CH, Feb'89, 26-3436) or Janice Knight's Orthodoxies in Massachusetts (CH, Nov'94, 32-1478). Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.