Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Sabbath Journal of Judith Lomax (1774-1828)

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Sabbath Journal of Judith Lomax (1774-1828)

Article excerpt

The Sabbath Journal of Judith Lomax (1774-1828). Edited by Laura Hobgood-Oster. American Academy of Religion, Texts and Translations Series, No. 25. (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, c. 1999. Pp. [x], 162. Paper, $24.95, ISBN 6-7885-0538-6.)

Like many members of Virginia's downwardly mobile post-Revolutionary elite, Judith Lomax sought solace in evangelical Christianity. Keeping a religious journal was an act of self-actualization for Lomax, as it was for many other nineteenth-century women. Unlike most of her contemporaries, however, Lomax also found in religion a substitute for conventional family attachments and domestic life. Living simply and alone in a home of her own, the unmarried Lomax cultivated a deeply gendered piety, envisioning herself as the virgin bride of Christ. Her journal, as edited by Laura Hobgood-Oster, spans the years from 1819 through 1827 and affords us an entry into her spiritual, intellectual, and social lives. Hobgood-Oster asserts that Lomax's piety--her "love mysticism" (p. 20)--and her immersion in the world of evangelical meetings and services sustained her as an independent woman in the midst of a patriarchal society.

In writing her journal Lomax constructed her identity as a sanctified Christian woman who attended Sabbath services and sermons, taught Sunday school, held women's prayer meetings, studied theology and devotional literature, and anticipated eternal union with her "heavenly Bridegroom" (p. 109). Lomax also grappled with a dual identity: she was an evangelical Episcopalian who praised the emotional sermons of the Baptists and Methodists but repeatedly lamented the absence in her Caroline County community of clergy to perform the Episcopal liturgy. …

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