JOHN ELIOT: ""Apostle to the Indians. by Ola Elizabeth Winslow
Kirkus Star

JOHN ELIOT: ""Apostle to the Indians.

Email this review


Since completing her Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Jonathan Edwards in 1940, Miss Winslow has contributed a series of seventeenth century New England portraits, and this biography of gentle John Eliot (of Roxbury in the Massachusetts colony) is one of the best. With a willing suspension of twentieth century attitudes, the author intuits the world and direction of this ""Apostle to the Indians"" from clues as to the tumult and change within rapidly expanding communities: the organic adjustments of a theocracy bound to an orthodoxy which, at the time of Eliot's death in 1690, was already eroding; the violence and brutality latent in the colonists' attitude toward the Indians, tragically climaxed in King Philip's War. ""A very simple man"" who affirmed in his fifty-eight year ministry his belief in the sacred existence of the Indian's soul, who sought to bring the light of Christianity to the savage dark, Eliot not only translated the Bible into the Algonquin language, but set up Indian towns and churches, encouraged schooling. However, his efforts were not particularly appreciated by most of his contemporaries, who saw the Indians as dangerous obstacles to security and expansion, and Eliot's ""Praying Indians"" suffered. The at, thor brilliantly recreates the trial of Anne Hutchinson in which Eliot participated and the work of las Casas, another ""Apostle"" in the West Indies, as other pulsebeats to Eliot's times. Was Eliot justified in his ""conversions?'' ""One does not read history backwards,"" declares the author. With an exquisite discretion of scholarship, a stylish presentation, Miss Winslow bridges three centuries with sympathy and humanity. A triumph.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin