- アメリカ太平洋研究 (ISSN:13462989)
- vol.3, pp.77-93, 2003-03
This paper focuses on the narrative of Elizabeth Knapp's possession in 1671 and attempts to explain the occurrence of witchcraft as a form of religious enthusiasm. This narrative is well known as a detailed and quintessentially demoniac description in early New England. Because social expectations within the historical setting determine the authenticity of possession, the narrative reflects the kind of religious experiences that ministers and people in the colony shared. During Knapp's possession, the central issue was whether she had signed the devil's compact. Her master and pastor, Samuel Willard, cautiously and patiently led her to the confession, which was a ritual of cleansing and restoring her to the divine territory. Knapp responded to him well. Both of them faithfully fulfilled roles consistent with the contemporary idea of witch-craft despite a slight difference in ministerial ideas and popular beliefs of it. When Knapp confessed, she suffered from such pains and displayed spectacular body languages, both of which were archetypal features of religious enthusiasm. She even wanted God's goodness during those fits, although she was mostly under the control of the devil. As a truly godly person in her heart, Knapp wanted to be saved. Her possession can be then explained as a somatic conversion experience, which was extraordinary and would not have been accepted by the Puritan orthodoxy. Thus, witchcraft has its place in the history of religious enthusiasm in New England from heresies such as Antinomians to revivals such as Jonathan Edwards.