Weir, David A.

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Weir, David A.

PERSONAL:

Education: Haverford College, B.A.; Princeton University, M.A., Ph.D.; University of St. Andrews, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Nyack College, 1 South Blvd., Nyack, NY 10960. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and educator. Nyack College, Nyack, NY, professor of history.

WRITINGS:

The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1990.

Early New England: A Covenanted Society, W.B. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

David A. Weir is a graduate of Haverford College, in Pennsylvania, and he holds doctoral degrees from both Princeton University and the University of St. Andrews. Weir has served as a professor of history at Nyack College, a Christian institution of higher education in Nyack, New York. In addition, he has released several publications regarding ecclesiastical history including The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought and Early New England: A Covenanted Society.

The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, published in 1990 by Clarendon Press, addresses "the rise of Covenant Theology within Reformed Protestantism in the sixteenth century," according to an article by J.E. Platt in the Journal of Theological Studies. Platt observed that the text's initial appendix "devotes no fewer than thirty-six pages to an impressive list of the publications which have appeared up to 1989 on the topic of Federal Theology up to 1750," and the "the main body of the work is relatively brief." Covenant theology, or federal theology, is an ideological framework that serves as an organizing principle through which Christians can interpret the teachings of the Bible. This theological perspective maintains that there exists a relationship between God and man established by certain promises, or covenants, such as redemption and grace. In examining the foundations for this particular framework, and its incorporation into the Protestant sect of Christianity, Weir includes an analysis of the impact of early Church philosophers, such as Sebastian Castellio and his translation of the Bible, and incorporation of the teachings of Foedus. Platt observed that Weir "sets the background for the emergence of the covenant by examining the Reformed teaching on predestination, particularly in the writing of Calvin and Beza," which includes the "bilateral versus unilateral controversy." Platt further acknowledged that he was "impressed by the clarity of the work and by the evident industry that has gone into its research and writing," and he felt that Weir is successful "in making his case for the location and dating of the first appearance and early development of the Adamic covenant of works."

Weir's next book, Early New England, released in 2005, develops the historical argument presented in The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, and analyzes the Christian covenant within the regional context of New England. In an essay for the Catholic Historical Review, William K.B. Stoever noted that the text attempts an explication of Alan Simpson's 1955 characterization of Puritan New England as a community engendered by the covenant. Stoever observed that "Weir examines colonial charters and patents, town compacts, and church covenants, from 1620 to 1708," in an effort to discern the Puritan colonists' relationship linking religion with societal organization and the methods they put forth to fulfill their perceived contract with God. These primary source materials allow an insight into the implementation of Puritan beliefs into daily life as well as their implementation into legal transactions and dispute resolutions. Church History contributor Ava Chamberlain found that Early New England constructs a thesis in relation to Perry Miller's 1935 opinion on the Puritan's amalgamation of civil and religious rudiments. Chamberlain stated, "Instead of analyzing the theological treatises of Puritan divines, the dominant approach to covenant studies since Miller, Weir takes the covenant texts themselves as a lens through which to view the interrelation between religion and civil society in Puritan New England." Weir's approach is significant, for, as Robert E. Cray, Jr., remarked in his review for the Journal of Church and State, the language appearing in these diverse documents "made possible not only the rigidly strict Puritan community of New Haven, but the religiously tolerant Rhode Island colony, with various church-state arrangements in between." Consequently, Cray concluded that "historians interested in Puritan studies should find Weir's work valuable for illuminating the nuances of the covenant."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December 1, 1991, Dewey D. Wallace, Jr., review of The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, p. 1520; December 1, 2006, David D. Hall, review of Early New England: A Covenanted Society, p. 1500.

Catholic Historical Review, January 1, 2006, William K.B. Stoever, review of Early New England, p. 129.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February 1, 2006, R.P. Gildrie, review of Early New England, p. 1078.

Church History, September 1, 2006, Ava Chamberlain, review of Early New England, p. 679.

Historian, March 22, 2007, John Saillant, review of Early New England, p. 126.

Journal of American History, June 1, 2006, Avihu Zakai, review of Early New England, p. 176.

Journal of British Studies, July 1, 2006, Thomas Carney, review of Early New England, p. 641.

Journal of Church and State, January 1, 2006, Robert E. Cray, Jr., review of Early New England, p. 223; March 22, 2006, Robert E. Cray, Jr., review of Early New England, p. 472.

Journal of Law and Religion, June 22, 2006, Robert Bruce Mullin, review of Early New England, p. 291.

Journal of Religion, October 1, 1992, Richard A. Muller, review of The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, p. 597.

Journal of the History of Ideas, January 1, 1991, review of The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, p. 176.

Journal of Theological Studies, April 1, 1999, J.E. Platt, review of The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, p. 389.

Law and History Review, September 22, 2006, Michael P. Winship, review of Early New England, p. 682.

Sixteenth Century Journal, June 22, 1991, Martin I. Klauber, review of The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought, p. 371.

William and Mary Quarterly, July 1, 2006, Michael McGiffert, review of Early New England, p. 600.

ONLINE

Nyack College Web site,http://www.nyackcollege.edu/ (August 1, 2008), faculty profile.