Dr. Catherine Brekus, professor of American religious history in the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, is the recipient of the 2013 Aldersgate Prize for her book Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America.
Indiana Wesleyan University’s John Wesley Honors College awards the Aldersgate Prize each year to celebrate the outstanding achievement of an author whose scholarly inquiry yields a broad and integrative analysis of life’s complexities and sheds fresh light on ultimate questions that enliven historic Christian conceptions of human flourishing.
From a field of nearly 80 nominations, the selection committee chose Sarah Osborn’s World: “Brekus’s study offers a penetrating reconstruction and analysis of early American evangelicalism’s encounter with the intellectual currents of Enlightenment Europe in an elegantly written biography of a long-forgotten female religious leader.”
Summing up the consensus of the committee, one member noted: “Brekus, with deep human sympathy, illuminates a world of spiritual awakening that is at once quite different from, and yet in deep continuity with, our own experiences and trials. The scholarship in Sarah Osborn’s World is meticulous, the range and depth of the research authoritative, and the result is a powerful reading experience such as is unusual in a bench-mark academic work.”
Brekus will accept the Aldersgate Prize and its monetary award of $3,500 at the 2014 Celebration of Scholarship Luncheon (April 16, 2014) at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she will offer the keynote address. Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America is published by Yale University Press.
The selection committee also named an honorable mention for the 2013 Aldersgate Prize: Daniel Philpott’s Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation published by Oxford University Press. The committee was impressed with how this work by the Notre Dame professor of Political Science opens up a more “universal discourse” as related to an ethic of reconciliation and elevated “the discussion… bringing into fresh interface the fundamental theological perspectives with which peace and reconciliation have to deal.”
The selection committee for the Aldersgate Prize includes the faculty of the John Wesley Honors College, the IWU Provost, David Lyle Jeffrey (Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, Baylor University), Willem Van De Merwe (Blanchard Chair in Physics, Indiana Wesleyan University, retired), and John Wilson (editor, Books and Culture).
Nominations are open for the 2014 Aldersgate Prize.