Satan and Salem: The Witch-Hunt Crisis of 1692


Product Details

University of Virginia Press
Publish Date
5.65 X 0.69 X 8.53 inches | 0.77 pounds

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About the Author

Benjamin C. Ray is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the Director of the award-winning Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and an associate editor of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.


The unmistakable achievement of this book is Benjamin Ray's close reading of court records, which has enabled him to correct a host of assertions made by others and to offer, in their place, a persuasive reinterpretation of whys and whens.

--David D. Hall, Harvard University

Benjamin Ray is one of the leading scholars of Salem witchcraft. His knowledge of the field is deep and extensive, and he has combed the archives in pursuit of new information about the outbreak. Satan and Salem is a leading work in the field that will appeal to both professional historians and those interested in the occult and religion.

--Richard B. Latner, Professor Emeritus, Tulane University

At least once a generation a scholar promises to give the final word on the origins and course of the 1692 Salem witchcraft outbreak. Ben Ray's Satan and Salem is a book that finally delivers on that ambitious claim. By combining shrewd analysis of newly transcribed and discovered documents, a corrected timeline of events, and a truly broad consideration of the religious, social, and political context for the outbreak, Ray makes us sympathetic to not only the tragedy of Salem but the complex world that produced it.

--Gretchen A. Adams, Texas Tech University, author of The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America

Measurably deepens our understanding of the underlying dynamics, especially the parts played by important participants.

--John Demos, New York Review of Books

Satan and Salem offers a synthetic overview of the witch hunts that builds on previous scholarship while also presenting new insights into the importance of Samuel Parris and the Salem Village church. Ray's most significant argument is that the primary division in Salem wasnot geographic or economic but religious.... [Ray's] insights about religion are invaluable.

--William & Mary Quarterly

[A] clearly written and compact recounting of the major events of the Salem witch crisis. Its focus on the participants' fear that their religion was under attack by Satan adds an important dimension to the on-going scholarly debates about this seminal event in seventeenthcentury New England.

--Nova Religio

Ray's analysis of the voluminous historical documents produced during the Salem witch trials and in their aftermath is second to none. The book is also intensely readable, as Ray's economical and compelling prose brings the reader through the key factors in the trials from the fate of seventeenth-century covenant theology to the effects of the loss of the colonial charter to the genre of confession and the status of spectral evidence. I can think of very few scholars who have such extensive knowledge of the Salem documents or who have assimilated them so thoroughly.... [E]ssential reading for any serious student of Salem.

--American Historical Review

Benjamin C. Ray brings a high measure of authority to his analysis of the Salem witch trials in Satan and Salem.... Ray's book is not a conventional narrative of the events in Salem and surrounding communities. Instead, it is a thematically united collection of essays that explore key aspects of the crisis that began in Salem and the subsequent judicial processes.... Ray's Satan and Salem is essential reading for anyone interested in the Salem witch trials.

--Journal of American Culture

Thoroughly researched, the book helpfully directs the reader to the original court records and associated primary source documents throughout via endnotes, which will prove immensely useful to any scholar.... The book is written in such a way that it will likely appeal to the lay reader with a passing interest in the Salem witch trials, as well as to students and scholars involved in research.

--Reading Religion

Satan & Salem emerges from the editorial project of the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archiveand the new print edition Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.... Ray elegantly retraces the course of events, correcting emphasis and details along the way and generally updating it from the vantage point of current research onearly modern witchcraft.

--American Studies