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Reiner Smolinski


Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1987


Early American Literature 


Professor Smolinski is particularly interested in noncanonical documents in early American religious literature, history, and culture. Since 1984 he has been working on the Mather Family Papers, Puritan historiography, and hermeneutics. Professor Smolinski’s The Threefold Paradise of Cotton Mather examines Mather’s eschatological ideology in light of his hermeneutical response to the 17th-century philological and historical-contextual challenges of the Bible as text by Grotius, Hobbes, Spinoza, Whiston, and Newton. The book includes a critical edition of Mather’s unpublished manuscript “Triparadisus” (1720-27).

Among Professor Smolinski’s ongoing projects is a study of biblical hermeneutics in 17th and 18th-century England and North America. He is the general editor of Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana (c. 1693-1728), colonial America’s first commentary on all the books of the Bible. A massive holograph manuscript of more than 4,500 pages (folio), Biblia Americana is in the process of being edited in a 10-volume critical edition, published in collaboration with Baker Academics and Mohr Siebeck. Biblia Americana is the centerpiece of The Mather Project, an online database of the published and unpublished works of the Mather dynasty—Richard, Increase, Cotton,  and Samuel Mather—currently under construction.

As a teacher and researcher, Professor Smolinski encourages graduate students to turn to noncanonical texts and unpublished manuscripts—sermons, diaries, histories, poetry, auto/biographies, and miscellanies—as original resources for their M.A. or Ph.D. dissertations. In 1992-93, he was a visiting professor of American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Germany, and in 1998-99, he held a DAAD Visiting Professorship in American Literature at Universität Potsdam, Germany.

Professor Smolinski is the director of two faculty and student exchange programs with Johannes Gutenberg Universität (Mainz) and Eberhard-Karls Universität (Tübingen) and co-director of the Tri-National Summer Seminar (faculty and doctoral candidates) convening in Mainz, Atlanta, and Beijing (China).


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The Threefold Paradise of Cotton Mather. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1995.
“Israel Redivivus: The Eschatological Limits of Puritan Typology in New England.” New England Quarterly 63.3 (1990): 357-95.

“The Logic of Millenial Thought: Sir Issac Newton Among His Contemporaries,” in Newton and Religion. Eds. Richard H. Popkin and James E. Force. International Archives of the History of Ideas (ARCH 161). Dordrecht, Boston, London: Klower Academic Publishers. 1999: 259-89.