Of Puritans and Prophets: Cotton Mather's Interpretation of Ezekiel in the Biblia Americana

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cotton Mather designed his Biblia Americana with a grand purpose: to bring together all that is best in human intellectual achievement, including the newest thinking of Enlightenment scholars, and to marry it, amicably if possible, with the truth revealed in scripture. Mather’s love of learning, his erudition, and his intimate familiarity with the most recent European intellectual advances set him apart from his New England Puritan contemporaries. For all his love of the new sciences and philosophies, his hermeneutics and his orthodoxy were untouched by them. He remained an old-fashioned Renaissance humanist. Despite Mather’s virtuosity, he was unable to bridge the gap between the old intellectual world and the new one. One can hardly attribute this to some failing on Mather’s part. It was endemic to the late Renaissance and early Enlightenment. The beliefs of the dominant culture of the period, whether religious, political, or social, were still, by in large, invariable. But the questions and assumptions about how the world fit together and how one should interpret the world were radically divergent. The Biblia Americana is testament to an age of emergent ideological pluralism, and to Mather’s earnest but ultimately doomed efforts to forge an accord between the old and the new.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter Ezekiel: Essays on the Reception of a Difficult Prophet
PublisherT&T Clark
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameLibrary of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies


  • Cotton Mather, Ezekiel, Puritan, Biblia Americana


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