Thesis Title

A Quantitative Interpretation of Five Puritan Preachers Spanning Four Generations

Date of Graduation

Fall 1980


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

Mark Givens


Current historiography discloses a change in perspective in regard to Puritanism. Puritanism is now understood as far less unified and bigoted than it was once thought to be. From the prevailing view of the 1920's which saw Puritans as narrow-minded seventeenth-century fundamentalists, the pendulum swung in the 1930's through the efforts of Samuel Eliot Morison and Perry Miller to the acceptance of Puritans as Renaissance Protestants. David D. Hall interpreted Puritans as direct heirs of the Protestant Reformation. Darrett B. Rutman and Alan Simpson interpreted Puritans in terms of their understanding of conversion. A quantitative study of five Puritan preachers spanning four generations proves that Puritans defy blanket generalizations and command individual interpretation. Puritans, even of the same generation, cannot always be interpreted in the same way. This Puritan individualism grew out of the Reformed doctrine of the "priesthood of the believer" which the Puritan not only granted his neighbor but scrupulously applied to himself.

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© William L Luce