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Daniel and Abraham Marshall: Pioneer Baptist Evangelists to the South.

Daniel and Abraham Marshall: Pioneer Baptist Evangelists to the South. Edited by Thomas Ray. Springfield, MO: Particular Baptist Press, 2006. 330 pp.

Judging from the title of this book, one might think that it is a biographical treatment of a father and son who became prominent Separate Baptist preachers in the South during the late eighteenth century. What the reader will discover instead are two brief (seventy pages in all), sympathetic sketches highlighting the ministerial activities of the Marshalls. Daniel, who often does not garner as much attention as his famous brother-in-law Shubal Steams, is presented as a powerful, albeit ineloquent, self-educated pastor who wielded great influence on early Baptist life in the South through his mentoring of many Baptist pastors, especially in Georgia. Abraham is portrayed in similar fashion, although he gained notoriety primarily as an itinerant evangelist. Interestingly, despite lacking formal ministerial education, both father and son saw great value in an educated ministry.

The brief sketches are followed by Memoirs, written by Abraham and originally published by his son, Jabez, in 1824. Jabez distributed Memoirs because some had "egregiously misrepresented" (75) his father's life, and he wanted to set the record straight. These detractors may have been Congregationalists or Regular Baptists resistant to what they deemed as emotional excesses of the Separate Baptists.

Memoirs essentially consists of a journal detailing some of Abraham's travels as an itinerant evangelist, one of Abraham's sermons, several folk poems that include verses praising hominy as a tasty dish, Abraham's muddled notes on various Bible verses, and a few stories that Jabez included in hopes they would reveal his father's character.

The latter third of the book contains an appendix followed by a helpful index of subjects and persons. The appendix contains some interesting items such as the transcribed notes from an interview that historian David Benedict conducted with Abraham in 1810, the Last Will and Testaments of both Daniel and Abraham, and the articles of faith of the Kiokee Baptist Church founded by Daniel in 1772. The Kiokee church, the oldest continuing Baptist church in Georgia, was served as pastor by Daniel, Abraham, and Jabez.

Perhaps the best story in the book has to do with a stance Georgia Baptists took concerning the issue of religious liberty. In 1785, Abraham took a leading role as the Georgia Baptist Association protested an act passed by the Georgia legislature. The act entitled ministers of all religious groups to be paid salaries taken from government funds. Although Baptists, the largest religious group in Georgia, would have received the greatest benefit from this legislation, they opposed it vigorously, and the act was repealed.

This volume would have been improved by excising the brief account of Daniel's ministerial activities and presenting instead a more elaborate and objective account of the life of Abraham followed by his Memoirs. A more thorough study of Daniel's life should be examined in a separate work. Nonetheless, readers who have an interest in Baptist beginnings in the South in the eighteenth century will enjoy what this volume offers.--Reviewed by Jerry L. Faught II, Dickinson Associate Professor of Religion, Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
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Author:Faught, Jerry L., II
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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