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BOOK REVIEWS 671 Many fine artists have recorded them-Jean Redpath, Ian Bruce, Ronnie Browne, and Wendy Weatherby, among others. After learning more about his life, I think I'll continue to take my Robert Burns ala carte. As John Crowe Ransom wrote in a different context, ''Art needs a little separating:' Daniel Ritchie Bethel University Experimental Theology in America: Madame Guyon, Fenelon, and Their Readers. By Patricia A. Ward. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009. ISBN 1602581975. Pp. xvi + 279. $44.95. Patricia A. Ward's Experimental Theology in America is a detailed and remarkably erudite study on the impact that Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon and Francois de Fenelon, the Archbishop of Cambray, had on Protestant devotional literature from the eighteenth century onward. Ward provides a comprehensive explanation as to why these two Catholic mystics have proven to be such an enduring force within Protestant, Evangelical,and charismatic circles in the United States, particularly among Methodists and Quakers. Through a careful appraisal of the works of Fenelon and Guyon and their relation to more than three centuries of Protestant literature, this study investigates why, by the beginning of the twentieth century, these two French Quietists were regularly invoked as spiritual authorities and as figures that exemplified the experience of sanctification. Ward is not the first to analyzethe connection between Quietism and American Protestantism. Scholars such as W. R. Ward and Iurgen Schrader have already explored the links between the Quietism that Guyon and Fenelon refined and popularized toward the end of the seventeenth century and Pietism, Methodism, and Quakerism. But these studies haveto a large extent downplayed the importance ofGuyon and Fenelon within these traditions. W.R.Ward, as Professor Ward points out, minimized Guyon's influence, arguing that there was nothing "distinctive" in her Quietist mysticism. In so doing, he thus remained "puzzled by her popularity in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Scotland" (x). Along similar lines, in "Le Pietisme et la litterature de la langue allemande" (1997), Schrader seems to suggest that Guyon's Quietism was to a large extent watered down and diffused in its translation to German Pietism insofar as the doctrines of other mystics were often falsely attributed to her in an effort to lend them credence. For both thinkers the direct influence of Guyon or Fenelon's work is thereby consistently downplayed and, at times, even denied. It is thus Guyon's almost legendary status as a religious martyr (and Fenelon's status as her most tenacious defender) more so than her actual theology that is cast as having left an indelible mark on both Pietism and on 672 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE American Protestantism more generally. Experimental Theology in Americapresents a challenge to such interpretations, as it convincingly demonstrates the ways in which Guyon and Fenelon's passive mysticism was carefully adapted, first, by German Pietists and later by American Protestants. Asa result, what emerges overthe course of the work isawell-developed narrative of the ways in which interpretation, translation, and, at times, rather drastic revisions and rewritings enabled various religious traditions to metabolize Quietism, thereby rendering it an integral (though at times overlooked) part of the history of experimental theology in America. Largely autobiographical in nature, chapter I narrates the author's religious upbringing, her earliest encounters with Fenelon and Guyon's religious doctrine, and what Ward describes as a peculiar tendency within certain Protestant circles to read these two French, Catholic writers. The narration of the author's own experiences within various religious communities adds weight to the question as to how it is that the theological contributions of Guyon and Fenelon, though so little read in France, are still widely read within. various religious communities in the United States. . Chapters II and III paint a remarkably vivid tableau of the life of Jeanne Guyon and of the controversy in France that arose on account of the publication of her Short and EasyMethod of Prayer (1685) and of Fenelon's Explanation of the Maxims of the Saints on the Interior Life (1697). This controversy led to Guyon's eventual imprisonment in the Bastille from 1695 to 1703. Ward outlines, first, the historical context in which the controversy unfolded and, second...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 671-675
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-14
Open Access
No
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