A Critical Look at Histories of Hutchinson and the Antinomians

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A Critical Look at Histories of Hutchinson and the Antinomians In the seventeenth century, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded as a haven for Puritans, who sought religious freedom and harmony. In order to achieve this haven, the settlers in Massachusetts Bay devised a system of government that would serve as both a political and moral authority. Between 1636 and 1638 the relative harmony of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was shaken by an uprising that has become known as the Antinomian Controversy. At the center of this controversy was Anne Hutchinson, a Boston woman bold enough to challenge the teachings of local ministers and to criticize New England churches. Hutchinson was extraordinary for a variety of reasons. Her theology of “free grace” and her claim to have received immediate revelations from God were considered a dangerous deviation from Puritan theology. She was also a woman challenging the established male hierarchy of Puritan society. In addition, her theological ideas had important implications for political theory and attracted many followers in seventeenth-century New England. However, despite all that is known about Hutchinson’s life and the details of the Antinomian Controversy, there are no written records of her beliefs. Instead, contemporary historians, political scientists and feminists must interpret her actions, trial records and the accounts of her contemporaries to determine why she chose to challenge Puritan society in the way that she did. Because little is known about why Anne Hutchinson acted as she did, she has become a veritable chalice into which historians, political scientists and feminists can pour their own ideas. As a result, interpretations of Ann... ... middle of paper ... ...6. Hall, David D. The Antinomian Controversy 1636-1638: A Documentary History. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1968. Koehler, Lyle. “The Case of the American Jezebels: Anne Hutchinson and Female Agitation during the Years of Antinomian Turmoil, 1636-1640.” The William and Mary Quarterly 31, pp. 55-78. Lang, Amy Schrager. Prophetic Woman: Anne Hutchinson and the Problem of Dissent in the Literature of New England. California: University of California Press, 1987. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Puritan Oligarchy: The Founding of American Civilization. New York: Scribner’s Press, 1947. Westerkamp, Marilyn J. Women and Religion in Early America, 1600-1850: The Puritan and Evangelical Traditions. London: Routledge, 1999. Williams, Selma. Divine Rebel: The Life of Anne Marbury Hutchinson. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1981.

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