Donald H. Akenson

Exporting the Rapture

John Nelson Darby and the Victorian Conquest of North American Evangelicalism

Oxford University Press/McGill-Queen’s University Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network November 1, 2018 Crawford Gribben

Don Akenson, who is Douglas Professor of Canadian and Colonial History at Queen’s University, Ontario, is one of the most eminent scholars of Irish...

Don Akenson, who is Douglas Professor of Canadian and Colonial History at Queen’s University, Ontario, is one of the most eminent scholars of Irish history. Exporting the Rapture: John Nelson Darby and the Victorian Conquest of North American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, 2018; McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018) is the second of a projected three-book series of monographs that will explain how a new set of ideas about the church and the end of the world were developed among the Anglo-Irish elite in the 1820s, and how these ideas were transplanted in the very different social, political and religious cultures of North America to provide, in modified form, the architectonic structure of protestant fundamentalism as it developed at the end of the twentieth century. At the centre of this story is John Nelson Darby, a formidably energetic preacher, pastor, theologian and Bible translator, whose international travels and wide-ranging correspondence did most to consolidate the new religious movement known as the Plymouth Brethren and to energise the circulation of the ideas that become known as “dispensationalism.” In this reconstruction of early Brethren history, Akenson offers vivid accounts of missionary expeditions to Switzerland and the near east, and an analysis of the theological controversy that divided the movement and – ironically – created the structures that did most to facilitate its expansion into North America.


Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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