Voices of the Turtledoves
The Sacred World of Ephrata
By (author) Jeff Bach
Publication date:15 March 2006
Length of book:304 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
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.
—Nadine A. Steinmetz, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Site Director of Ephrata Cloister, 1984–1995