1st Edition

Narratives of the Religious Self in Early-Modern Scotland

By David George Mullan Copyright 2010

    Drawing on a rich, yet untapped, source of Scottish autobiographical writing, this book provides a fascinating insight into the nature and extent of early-modern religious narratives. Over 80 such personal documents, including diaries and autobiographies, manuscript and published, clerical and lay, feminine and masculine, are examined and placed both within the context of seventeenth-century Scotland, and also early-modern narratives produced elsewhere. In addition to the focus on narrative, the study also revolves around the notion of conversion, which, while a concept known in many times and places, is not universal in its meaning, but must be understood within the peculiarities of a specific context and the needs of writers located in a specific tradition, here, Puritanism and evangelical Presbyterianism. These conversions and the narratives which provide a means of articulation draw deeply from the Bible, including the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. The context must also include an appreciation of the political history, especially during the religious persecutions under Charles II and James VII, and later the changing and unstable conditions experienced after the arrival of William and Mary on her father's throne. Another crucial context in shaping these narratives was the form of religious discourse manifested in sermons and other works of divinity and the work seeks to investigate relations between ministers and their listeners. Through careful analysis of these narratives, viewing them both as individual documents and as part of a wider genre, a fuller picture of seventeenth-century life can be drawn, especially in the context of the family and personal development. Thus the book may be of interest to students in a variety of areas of study, including literary, historical, and theological contexts. It provides for a greater understanding of the motivations behind such personal expressions of early-modern religious faith, whose echoes can still be heard today.

    Contents: Apologia pro libro; Prologue; Part I Lives and Times: Memoirs and confessions of justified sinners; Shining lights and burning hearts: evangelical ministers and lay disciples; Surviving childhood; Negotiating adulthood. Part II Constructing the Evangelical Self: Affective piety; The language of piety; Matrimony metaphorical; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.


    David George Mullan is Professor, Department of History and Fine Arts at Cape Breton University, Canada.

    'Narratives of the Religious Self is meticulously researched, and Mullan is the sort of experienced historian who has read widely enough to know the significance of what he finds in the archives and on antiquarian bookshelves. At various points, he contributes significantly, and offers new material, to scholarly discussions of marriage and family, education and literacy, gender, and popular religion, and he has an eye for comparative history, placing his material often in the context of similar developments in England and New England or within continental Catholicism and earlier church history.' Journal of British Studies ’In Narratives of the Religious Self in Early Modern Scotland, David George Mullan plies his skills both as an historian and a theologian as he delves into the undiscovered country of early modern Scottish autobiography... On the whole this book provides a valuable resource for people interested in Scottish social and religious history as well as for individuals involved in studying different ways in which people of the past constructed their sense of self within changing social and cultural conditions.’ Sixteenth Century Journal ’Overall, this book represents an important contribution to the cultural history of early modern Scotland.’ Scottish Literary Review ’Narratives of the Religious Self is a book which will be of great interest to those who are specialists in seventeenth-century Scotland or those who study international Calvinism.’ Journal of Northern Renaissance '... this book offers a magisterial account of the evolution of the Scottish self in a period of national political and ecclesiastical fragmentation. It deserves to be widely read, both by historians and by practitioners of other disciplines.' Northern Scotland 'This book is a major achievement in its own right but also provides a stepping-stone for much future exploration of the religion and culture of Scotland during the early modern period.' Review of Scottish Cu