by Hugh Fogelman
(Excerpt from Christianity Revealed)
A Puritan is a name often misunderstood. During the 17th century English Civil War (known as the Puritan Revolution), the Puritans were Protestant fundamentalists who wished to “purify” the Church of England. Some of the Puritans, known as Separatists “separated,” forming their own church. The Puritans felt that Parliament, and not the King, should have the final say and that the moral guidance for all legal decision should come from the Jewish Bible which they considered to be the highest authority in all matters.
The Puritans were obsessed with the Bible and came to identify their political struggle against England with that of the ancient Hebrews against Pharaoh or the King of Babylon. Because they identified so strongly with ancient Israel, they chose to identify with the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). (World Book Encyclopedia & Encyclopaedia Judaica) In 1620, the “Separatists” sailed for America on the Mayflower. The Separatists/Puritans who settled at Plymouth Colony called themselves “Pilgrims” because of their wanderings in search of religious freedom. The Puritan culture of New England was marked from the outset by a deep association with Jewish themes. No Christian community in history identified more with the Israelites of the Bible than did the first generations of settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the biblical drama of the chosen people―they were the children of Israel and the ordinances of God’s Holy covenant by which they lived were His divine law. Since they viewed themselves as the persecuted victims of the sinful Christian establishment of the Old World (England), the Puritans also had a natural sympathy for the Jews of their own time. The Protestant Puritan leader Cotton Mather repeatedly referred to the Jews in his prayer for their conversion as God’s “Beloved People.” The New Israel―The influence of the Hebrew Bible marks every step of the Puritan exodus to their Zion in the wilderness of the New World. The Jewish Bible formed their minds and dominated their characters; its conceptions were their conceptions.
The Pilgrims at Plymouth lived a life of spiritual journey in the New World. William Bradford was governor of Plymouth Colony in the 17th century, in what is today the eastern bay of Massachusetts. He was a religious separatist from England who led Pilgrims to the New World on the naval vessel Mayflower. He described his time in the New World through his journal, which anyone can download and read, typically titled Of Plymouth Plantation. [Download it here.] We remember his life through his journal and by unique epitaphs inscribed on a memorial later erected over his grave. In Hebrew, it is written, “Yehovah is help of life.” It is interesting to note that the complete vowel sequence for God’s name is written just as it occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures. In Latin, it is written, “What our fathers with so much difficulty attained do not basely relinquish.”