‘out of their owne mouths’? Conversion Narratives and English Radical Religious Practice in the Seventeenth Century

Donatella Pallotti


This article focuses on a form of writing, the conversion narrative, which was familiar to mid-seventeenth-century godly readers. The purpose of the narrative, which was a prerequisite for admission to the Church of Visible Saints, was to give the congregation a spoken account of the experience of conversion and of the workings of Grace in the life of the regenerate individual. Some of these reports were transcribed, revised, and published by the ministers of the churches. By focusing on the complex relationships between the ‘original’ experience, its expression, and subsequent written transmission, the tension between individuality and conformity, and the various forms of editorial intervention adopted by the ministers, this study attempts to highlight the collaborative nature of the textual construction of the conversion narrative and to address some crucial issues concerning both the authenticity of the memory recorded and its ‘true’ author.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/JEMS-2279-7149-10636

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