I had to submit a short literature review (in a sense a historiography) as part of the thesis writing process. This serves to make sure that I am keeping focused on my topic and not reading too far astray. It also shows that I have given the topic some thought and did enough background reading so that I am not flying blind. Below is a copy.
Adventist history, while important within the denomination, is not a subject much researched and written about outside of denominational circles. My thesis seeks to place the beginnings of Adventist denomination within the greater historical context of slavery and the American Civil War. Consequently, the following sources broach a wide variety of topics starting with Adventist histories and continuing on to works covering the Antebellum and Civil War periods.
George Knight who is a history professor at Andrews University, an Adventist College and Seminary, specializes in Church History. He has written several books and devotionals on the Bible but for our purposes his two series, the “Adventist Heritage Series” and other concerning Ellen White provide background for our topic. Ellen White’s World: A Fascinating Look at the Times in Which She Lived provides a brief overview of the society during Ellen White’s day. Knight has divided his topic into before the Civil War and after the Civil War periods, yet at 144 pages it is hardly a comprehensive study of the topic. Meeting Ellen White: A Fresh Look at Her Life, Writings, and Major Themes again provides a brief introduction to the topic. Starting with a short biographical sketch, Knight then outlines some of Mrs. White’s writings and overarching themes she presented to the church. Reading Ellen White: How to Understand and Apply her Writings provides the reader with the background necessary to interpret the variety of Ellen White’s writings.
A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists, the first of Knight’s Adventist Heritage Series, is an introduction to the history of the denomination. Starting with Adventism’s Millerite roots and spanning the century plus until modern times, again Knight provides a brief 156 page overview. A Search for Identity: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs is similar to Knight’s History except that it explores the evolution of Adventist beliefs. Particularly helpful in understanding Adventism’s Millerite roots is Chapter 3 “The Millerite Theological Foundation”. Rounding out the series is Organizing to Beat the Devil: The Development of Adventist Church Structure. This short 180 page work covers the structural evolution of the church from a loose collection of believers connected through publications to a modern denomination with a strong congregational structure organized into conferences, unions, and divisions.
Knight has also written biographies of central figures in the Advent movement. William Miller and the Rise of Adventism is the most recent biography of the man who predicted Christ’s return in 1843 and then 1844. In, Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism, Knight puts forth the case that as Adventist’s first theologian and historian, he drove the movement from disappointed Millerites to Sabbatarian Adventism and the beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
George Knight is not William Miller’s only biographer. God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World by Middle Tennessee State University history professor Davil L. Rowe, puts Miller’s life in context of the times. In an age of religious ferment, Rowe argues that Miller is more mainstream than others portray him. (Knight would argue his work is more comprehensive as he takes the reader from historical Millerism to the rise of the Advent movement.)
Another leader in the Adventist church was James White. Gerald Wheeler’s biography James White: Innovator and Overcomer focuses on his contribution to the evolving Seventh-day Adventist church. More than just Ellen White’s husband, James was a man of vision and energy, but more importantly, Wheeler paints a picture of the human side of James White warts and all. Gary Land presents Uriah Smith’s contributions to Adventism in Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator. As editor of the Review and Herald and author of numerous pamphlets and books Smith was certainly a contributor to the development of SDA beliefs.
As prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist church Ellen White has had several biographies written about her. Paul B. Ricchiuti’s 1988 Ellen: Trail and Triumph on the American Frontier, much like Wheeler’s book on James White, tries to show Ellen White as a human being. Ricchiuti is an Adventist so for him White is still a prophetess, but that does not deny her humanity. By contrast, Rene Noorbergen’s Ellen G. White: Prophet of Destiny is a gushing biography that puts Ellen White up on the pedestal that Ricchiuti argues against. Oxford University Press’ Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet, contains a series of essays on various aspects of the life of Ellen White. Though published by a university press, this book contains numerous essays by Adventist scholars. Of the eighteen essays, fifteen are written by scholars associated with the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Two volumes of Arthur L. White’s five volume biography of his grandmother provide a near first hand account of the period. Ellen White: The Early Years covers the “Great Disappointment” and beginnings of the Advent movement from 1827 to 1862. Ellen White: The Progressive Years covers the years 1862 to 1876 with the initial chapters focusing on both the Civil War and the incorporation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Several works examine America on the eve of the Millennial movement. Paul Jonson’s A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 provides insight into the changes occurring in the “burned over district” that sets the stage for religious revivals and northern reform movements. Ronald Walters’ American Reformers 1815-1860 gives shape to that American reform movement. The more recent America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election that Transformed a Nation by John Bicknell, follows the current trend in highlighting particular events in a given year. It sets the background for the beginning of my study as the “Great Disappointment” occurs in October, 1844.
Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role by Ernest Lee Tuveson examines the school of thought that sees the Unites States as chosen by God for some special mission. James Brewer Stewart’s Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery and Southern Enterprize: The Work of National Evangelical Societies in the Antebellum South by John W. Kuykendall provide background material for religion and the abolitionist movement.
Religion in conjunction with the Civil War is a subject that is just beginning to be studied. Several works provide excellent background material for my examination. C.C. Goen’s Broken Churches, Broken Nation: Denominational Schisms and the Coming of the Civil War addresses the role of churches in the years leading up to the Civil War. Almost as a prelude to the splitting of the nation over slavery, the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches split. A Shield and Hiding Place: The Religious Life of the Civil War Armies by Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr. while focusing on the revivals and clergy in the two armies, does provide a nice overview of the state of religious thought on the eve of war, as well as sermons given related to the war.
A Visitation of God: Northern Civilians Interpret the Civil War by Sean A. Scott looks at the religious thought of the northern home front during the war. It helps provide the background against which Adventist attitudes will be measured. Also contributing to this background is George C. Rable’s God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War. Rable’s which examines religion on both sides of the conflict.
The official publications of the fledgling and then incorporated Seventh-day Adventist Church are The Midnight Cry and the Review and Herald. Ellen White’s visions for the church and the American Civil War are contained in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1. Sermons given by non-Adventist preachers provide insight as to the attitudes and beliefs of other denominations toward the war. God the Giver of Victory and Peace: A Thanksgiving Sermon, Reverses Needed: A Discourse Delivered on the Sunday after the Disaster of Bull Run, and the article “The Victory of Manassas Plain” fall into this category.
Atkinson, Joseph M. God the Giver of Victory and Peace: A Thanksgiving Sermon.
Raliegh, NC, 1862.
Brooklyn Eagle. November 21, 1842.
Bushnell, Horace. Reverses Needed: A Discourse Delivered on the Sunday after the Disaster of Bull Run. Hartford, CT: L.E. Hunt, 1861.
Miller, William. Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, About the Year 1843. Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1842.
“The Battle of Bull Run – Gen. McDowell’s Report,” The New York Times. August 9, 1861.
Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference Archives. The Midnight Cry.
Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference Archives. Review and Herald.
Smith, Uriah. The United States in the Light of Prophecy; or, An Exposition of Rev 13:11-17. Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1874.
Smyth, Thomas. “The Victory of Manassas Plain,” The Southern Presbyterian Review Vol. XIV No. 4 (January 1862).
White, Ellen G. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948.
Aamodt, Terrie Dopp ed. Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Bicknell, John. America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election that Transformed the Nation. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2015.
Johnson, Paul E. A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1978.
Goen, C. C. Broken Churches, Broken Nation: Denomination Schisms and the Coming of the Civil War. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985.
Knight, George. A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999.
__________. A Search for Identity: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2000.
__________. Ellen White’s World: A Fascinating Look at the Times in Which She Lived. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998.
__________. Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2004.
__________. Meeting Ellen White: A Fresh Look at Her Life, Writings, and Major Themes. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996.
__________. Organizing to Beat the Devil: The Development of Adventist Church Structure. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2001.
__________. Reading Ellen White: How to Understand and Apply Her Writings. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1997.
__________. William Miller and the Rise of Adventism. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2010.
Kuykendall, John W. Southern Enterprize: The Work of National Evangelical Societies in the Antebellum South. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982.
Land, Gary. Uriah Smith: Apologist and Biblical Commentator. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2014.
Noorbergen, Rene. Ellen G White: Prophet of Destiny. Brushton, NY: TEACH Services, Inc., 2001.
Rable, George C. God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A religious History of the American Civil War. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
Ricchiuti, Paul B. Ellen: Trial and Triumph on the American Frontier. Dodge Center, MN: The Upward Way, 1988.
Rowe, David L. God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.
Shattuck, Jr., Gardiner H. A Shield and Hiding Place: The Religious Live of the Civil War Armies. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987.
Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1976.
Tuveson, Ernest Lee, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role. Chicagi, Il: The University of Chicago Press, 1968.
Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers 1815-1860. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1978.
Wheeler, Gerald. James White: Innovator and Overcomer. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2003.
White, Arthur L. Ellen G. White: The Early Years. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1985.
__________. Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1985.