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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

John Winthrop - Teaching Tips

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  • Review the "Core Context" segment on typology in this unit. Divide students into groups and ask them to locate typologizing moments in Winthrop's "Model of Christian Charity" or in his Journal. (The sermon is a particularly good source since Winthrop notes many parallels between the Puritans and the Old Testament Hebrews within it.) Ask students to consider the significance of the Puritans' insistence on understanding their own history as prefigured by the Bible. What kinds of pressures might this tendency to read biblical and divine significance into everyday affairs put on individuals and on communities? How might it work to comfort and reassure people?

  • The theological issues at stake in Winthrop's condemnation of Anne Hutchinson's Antinomianism are quite complicated, but even students bored by a discussion of the distinction between a covenant of works and a covenant of grace will be interested in the political and social implications of this controversy. Ask them to think about the role gender plays in Winthrop's attack on Hutchinson. Would her preaching be so threatening if she were not "a woman of a ready wit and bold spirit"?

  • In September 1638, Winthrop notes that Anne Hutchinson delivered a stillborn, misshapen child. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, stillborn children and children with birth defects were called "monstrous births" and understood to represent either God's displeasure or the devil's influence over the mother. How does Winthrop describe Hutchinson's "monstrous birth" in his Journal? Why does her miscarriage seem so significant to him? Ask students to think about Winthrop's attitude toward motherhood, women's bodies, and childbirth. Keep in mind that Hutchinson served as a midwife within the Puritan community for many years prior to her banishment.

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