To Live Ancient Lives

The Primitivist Dimension in Puritanism
Theodore Dwight Bozeman
Paperback price: $60
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: OIEAHC
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 01/1988
Reprint Date: 01/2011
Pages: 424
Paperback ISBN: 9780807896273
Paperback Publication Date: 01/2011
Ebook ISBN: 9781469600093


To Live Ancient Lives signals a sharp redirection of Puritan studies. It provides the first comprehensive study of Puritan primitivism, defined as the drive to recover and return to church and society the ordinances of biblical times. This work traces a campaign to purify English Christianity of postapostolic accretions from the Henrician Reformation to the Great Migration of 1630 and through the first five decades in New England.

Taking their bearings from a special past, Puritans were not concerned with the future in a modern sense. The Great Migration was not intended as an errand to reform the world or inaugurate the millennium, but as a flight to a free world in which long-lost biblical rules and ways could be reinstituted.

Drawing on hundreds of sermons and tracts, Bozeman demonstrates how the search for the long-lost helps to identify Puritanism as a discrete order within Protestant dissent, and he locates that movement within the larger spectrum of restorationist Christian movements and of Western mythology.

Originally published in 1988.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition — UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

About The Author

Theodore Dwight Bozeman is professor of religion and history at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Protestants in an Age of Science: The Baconian Ideal and Antebellum American Religious Thought.


“Bozeman offers a major corrective to current views of American Puritanism that locate in the settlement of New England the beginnings of a progressivist dynamic later associated with the ‘American Way.’ All scholars of early American history and culture must wrestle with his arguments.”–Philip F. Gura

“Bozeman has provided a valuable reappraisal of the forces which drove Puritan ideology in New England. . . . His analysis challenges in a new way an idea which has shaped many recent studies: that New England’s Puritanism was forward-looking, ‘straining towards modernity’ and the fashioning of American nationhood. . . . [This] book presents a stimulating and controversial revaluation.”–Ecclesiastical History

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