Community Of The Cross: Moravian Piety In Colonial Bethlehem

Paperback | November 5, 2012

byCraig D. Atwood

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was a unique colonial town. It was the first permanent outpost of the Moravians in North America and served as the headquarters for their extensive missionary efforts. It was also one of the most successful communal societies in American history. Bethlehem was founded as a "congregation of the cross" where all aspects of personal and social life were subordinated to the religious ideal of the community. In Community of the Cross, Craig D. Atwood offers a convincing portrait of Bethlehem and its religion.

Visitors to Bethlehem, such as Benjamin Franklin, remarked on the orderly and peaceful nature of life in the community, its impressive architecture, and its "high" culture. However, many non-Moravians were embarrassed or even offended by the social and devotional life of the Moravians. The adoration of the crucified Jesus, especially his wounds, was the focus of intense devotion for adults and children alike. Moravians worshiped the Holy Spirit as "Mother," and they made the mystical marriage to Christ central to their marital intimacy. Everything, even family life, was to be a form of worship.

Atwood reveals the deep connection between life in Bethlehem and the religious symbolism of controversial German theologian Nicholas von Zinzendorf, whose provocative and erotic adoration of the wounds of Jesus was an essential part of private and communal life. Using the theories of René Girard, Mary Douglas, and Victor Turner, Atwood shows that it was the Moravians’ liturgy and devotion that united the community and inspired both its unique social structure and its missionary efforts.

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was a unique colonial town. It was the first permanent outpost of the Moravians in North America and served as the headquarters for their extensive missionary efforts. It was also one of the most successful communal societies in American history. Bethlehem was founded as a "congregation of the cross" where all ...

Craig D. Atwood is Charles D. Couch Associate Professor of Moravian Theology and Ministry and Director of the Center for Moravian Studies at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.67 inPublished:November 5, 2012Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271058552

ISBN - 13:9780271058559

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. The Moravians and Transatlantic German Pietism

2. Zinzendorf and the Theology of the Heart

3. The Body of Christ

4. Bethlehem

5. Ritual

6. Union with Christ

7. Living in the Side Wound of Christ

Conclusion

Appendixes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Craig Atwood has successfully interpreted a difficult component of Moravian liturgy, shedding light on colonial Bethlehem in the process. Roman Catholic readers may well be intrigued by this Protestant group’s devotions to Christ’s wounds. Atwood’s Community of the Cross persuasively interprets the unique conclusions that the Moravians drew from this devotion.”

—Jeff Bach, Catholic Historical Review