The Times story does a decent job summarizing the debate, in which the overarching question is posed by historian David Hollinger (interviewed by the Century last year): Did liberal Protestants of midcentury win the culture war but lose the church?
If Americans of a certain age know anything about Puritanism, it is probably because they read something by the (atheist) historian Edmund S. Morgan, the great Yale scholar who died July 8. His bookThe Puritan Dilemma—which used the life of John Winthrop to describe the Puritans’ religious and political project in America—was widely assigned in high schools and colleges.
I had the good fortune decades ago to take a graduate class from Morgan on American colonial history.
Nearly 50 years ago, archaeologists found a charred and unreadable ancient scroll in a synagogue near the Dead Sea. Thanks to “virtual unwrapping,” a new technology developed at the University of Kentucky, the text is now readable. It is a fragment from the book of Leviticus that is identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, the authoritative version often used to translate the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles (New York Times, September 21).