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Publisher PDF: the final published version of the article, with professional formatting and typesetting

Publication Date



Christianity | History of Christianity | History of Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Scandinavian Studies

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

It is now over 150 years since Squire Adamsson appeared in bookstores and helped to launch its author, P.P. Waldenström, to prominence within the religious revivals that were then sweeping across Scandinavia. The themes of the novel touched on many aspects of Christian life and its challenges, but particularly drew from the theology of one group of dissenters in the Lutheran state church, the so-called “new evangelical” Pietists surrounding Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-1868). There are a variety of themes that can be found in this text, but perhaps none both so provocative and poignant as the unique presentation of congregational life, and the joys and struggles involved in understanding and embracing the free and limitless grace of God. Contemporary readers who take time to listen in on the conversations between “Squire Adamsson” and “Mother Simple” as they discuss hard life questions, will undoubtedly find many insights that remain timeless and applicable today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Paul Peter Waldenström (1838-1917) was a clergyman, revival preacher, educator, prolific author and editor, and one of the foremost figures in the 19th century spiritual awakening. Born in Luleå in northern Sweden, he attended Uppsala University, where he earned a doctorate, as well as completed the examination for ordination in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, which was the state church. His primary occupation was as a teacher at several upper secondary schools (högreläroverk) where he taught theology and classical languages (in Växjö, Umeå and Gävle). In 1868, he assumed the role of editor for the devotional journal Pietisten (“The Pietist”), following the death of his mentor and predecessor Carl Olof Rosenius. Decades of dissatisfaction among Pietists in the Church of Sweden resulted in 1878 in the formation of the Swedish Mission Covenant (Svenska Missionsförbundet, now part of Equmeniakyrkan), also inspiring the formation of the Evangelical Covenant Church in North America in 1885 among Swedish emigrants. Waldenström’s writings and theology played a pivotal role in the formation of both these denominations. A lifelong avocation as an itinerant preacher took him on extensive preaching and study tours, including numerous tours of North America, Europe, the Middle East and China. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology from Yale University in 1889. He also served in the Swedish parliament, Riksdag, from 1884-1905 as a representative for the city of Gävle.

Original Citation

Paul Peter Waldenström. Squire Adamsson, Or, Where Do You Live? An Allegorical Tale from the Swedish Awakening. Translation with commentary and notes by Mark Safstrom. Foreword by Gracia Grindal. (Seattle: Pietisten 2013).