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The book that changed Europe; Picart and Bernard's Religious ceremonies of the world.


The book that changed Europe; Picart and Bernard's Religious ceremonies of the world.

Hunt, Lynn Avery.

Harvard University Press


383 pages




The authors, Hunt (history, UCLA), Jacob (history, UCLA) and Mijnhardt (comparative history of the sciences and humanities, Utrecht University) chronicle the production, contents, transmission and influence of Picart and Bernard's eighteenth century Religious Ceremonies of the World. The authors were French Protestants who had fled to the Netherlands. The book was actually several volumes published over time, covering all the religions the authors could find information on. They were extremely anti-Catholic but managed to be even-handed enough to offend Protestants too. They were the first to write about religions as if they all shared commonalities. It is argued here that Religious Ceremonies of the World was a major influence in the development of an atmosphere ready to accept the Deism of the Enlightenment. Many of Picart's engravings are reproduced, causing one to imagine that for some the Religious Ceremonies was the Enlightenment version of National Geographic. The book became immensely popular and was translated, often with omissions and changes, into several languages. This story is an enjoyable excursion into the attitudes and beliefs of the tolerant society of Holland and the lives of two men who became obsessed with transmitting that tolerance to the rest of Europe.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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