Voices of the Turtledoves

The Sacred World of Ephrata

By (author) Jeff Bach

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 March 2006

Length of book:

304 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271027449

Winner, 2004 Dale W. Brown Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies

Winner, 2005 Outstanding Publication, Communal Studies Association

Co-published with the Pennsylvania German Society/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

The Ephrata Cloister was a community of radical Pietists founded by Georg Conrad Beissel (1691–1768), a charismatic mystic who had been a journeyman baker in Europe. In 1720 he and a few companions sought a new life in William Penn’s land of religious freedom, eventually settling on the banks of the Cocalico Creek in what is now Lancaster County. They called their community “Ephrata,” after the Hebrew name for the area around Bethlehem. Voices of the Turtledoves is a fascinating look at the sacred world that flourished at Ephrata.

In Voices of the Turtledoves, Jeff Bach is the first to draw extensively on Ephrata’s manuscript resources and on recent archaeological investigations to present an overarching look at the community. He concludes that the key to understanding all the various aspects of life at Ephrata—its architecture, manuscript art, and social organization—is the religious thought of Beissel and his co-leaders.

“Where numerous scholars failed in past centuries to write a definitive work about Ephrata Cloister during its peak years as an ethnic, religious, and cultural curiosity in America, Jeff Bach successfully articulates the context in which Ephrata was created and functioned. His research is grounded in thorough knowledge of the European religious thought, practice, and writing that heavily influenced Ephrata’s founder and spiritual leader, Conrad Beissel.”

—Nadine A. Steinmetz, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Site Director of Ephrata Cloister, 1984–1995