Halle Pietism, Colonial North America, and the Young United States
The collected articles in Halle Pietism, Colonial North America, and the Young United States detail the multifarious legacy of Halle's brand of pietism in North America, and to a lesser extent in England and India, from the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries. The theology, adherents, institutions, and networks of Halle's pietism profoundly affected the German-speaking peoples and their adaptation to the New [End Page 142] World, especially in Pennsylvania. The authors in this collection of articles draw on a variety of methods and sources to illustrate the "full panoply of Halle-inspired activities" (9), and the resulting articles, which were first presented at a conference in 2002, build and expand upon on another, sometimes disagreeing in interpretation but, like any really good conference, inspiring avenues for further investigation.
Each of the fourteen individual articles presents a different line of inquiry roughly fitting into one of five subthemes: theology, pastors, politics, science, and identity. Brought together, they clearly show that Halle's pietism influenced more people than its pastors did, that those people influenced culture in more arenas than religion, and that religion was therefore important to colonial and early republic Americans. Some articles present a counterargument: instances in which Halle pietism failed to influence its students. Each article addresses the question of how much Halle could influence German speakers in America. Surprisingly, the answer is simultaneously a great deal and not at all.
Peter Vogt, Theodore Runyon, and A. G. Roeber set the groundwork for exploring the theological influences of Halle pietism. Vogt argues that German-speaking migrants to eighteenth-century Pennsylvania held theologically determined ideas about church, which influenced their capacity for adaptation and contributed to the rise of American religious pluralism. Runyon traces the innovative influence of pietistic theology—especially the experience of conversion, heart religion, mutual support institutions, public outreach, and lay leadership—on John Wesley and the rise of Methodism. Roeber, in turn, proceeds to the early nineteenth century, when Lutherans struggled over church order, yet stubbornly misinterpreted Martin Luther's "Orders of Creation," relegating marriage to a legal contract, rather than accepting the doctrinal influence that Luther intended.
Wolfgang Splitter, Norman Threinen, Mark Haberlein, and Marianne Wokeck move to the practitioners of Halle pietism and their influence over congregations. Splitter examines the near failure of Halle to procure adequate ministers for the congregations in Pennsylvania, with the subsequent establishment of an independent Lutheran ministerium in the state. Threinen builds on Splitter's work by exploring the declining role of the aging Ziegenhagen, the man in charge of Halle's pietistic missionary activities, in maintaining links with North America. Haberlein explores the consequences of the dearth of Halle-trained ministers in the Lancaster congregation that led to tensions between its laypeople and [End Page 143] pastors. And Wokeck challenges this decline by emphasizing the success of the pioneer pastors of the 1740s and 1750s who used the Pfarrhaus or parsonage as model of "exemplary Christian life" and thereby retained a visual link to Old World traditions (224).
Donald Durnbaugh, Paul Baglyos, and David Ellis explore politics, both within and without the church institutions upon which the pastors relied. Durnbaugh focuses on the acrimonious exchanges between two German-speaking leaders in Pennsylvania, Christopher Sauer and Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, over Bible printing, the distribution of medicines, and the Charity School movement, which was really a debate over theological and political influence. Baglyos examines the influence of Halle pietism on Muhlenberg's middle son, Frederick, who became a politician in Pennsylvania, but whose studies at Halle solidified both his identity as an American and his disdain for material greed. Ellis explains how the political debates in Halle at the beginning of the nineteenth century over liberal or rational interpretations of the Bible encouraged Old Lutherans to migrate to the United States.
Carola Wessel and Renate Wilson have the tricky task of linking science and pietism in the age of Enlightenment. Wessel examines the few German-language broadsides in North America advertising books and medicines, illustrating the trade link between Halle and North America. Meanwhile Wilson uncovers the contribution of two German-speaking scientists and clergy, Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg and Johann Chrisopher Kunze, who resurrected a "German-American network in the natural sciences" (236). Both Wessel and Wilson link the two continents, and the devotion of German-speaking leaders, to both pietism and academic study.
Last, Carla Mulford and Steven Nolt tackle the formation of German identity and ethnicity in America. Mulford reexamines Benjamin Franklin's famous pronouncements on German inferiority within the context of an emergent British nationalistic discourse; these fears of national identity loss created new "ethnizing" divisions. Nolt explains why these ethnic divisions were so important to German speakers who resisted Charles Grandison Finney's revivalist message, fearing that the broadly Protestant movement would intrude on their long-held attachment to personal freedom.
Fourteen articles, each individually stimulating, are brought together in a book that reads like a great conference with well-written, precirculated papers. I want to go to that conference and listen to the panelists [End Page 144] discuss their interpretations. How much do German speakers in America need Halle's interest? Which is more influential: the theological or nontheological aspects of Halle? Despite some inconsistency between the authors on the level of jargon, the book is accessible to a broadly academic audience, and of special interest to those studying Germans in America, Lutheran theology, the role of pastors, identity, ethnicity, use of print, and migration. Overall, it is the intellectual satisfaction of a conference without the headache of asking for travel funding.
Marie Basile McDaniel is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis. She is currently working on her dissertation, " 'We Shall Not Differ in Heaven:' Marriage, Revival and War in Philadelphia, 1710–1775."