Reviews of In Search of Promised Lands: a Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario have appeared in both scholarly and popular periodicals. Find them through the links below.
Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia (September 28, 2015). “Book Review” by Robert Martens.
Canadian Mennonite (August 17, 2015): 33 “New Definitive History of Mennonites in Ontario” by Barb Draper.
Mennonite World Review (July 20, 2015): 7 “Diverse Ontario a Leader in Unity” by James C. Juhnke.
Waterloo Region Record (July 18, 2015): D4 “The Evolving History of Ontario’s Mennonites” by Jim Romahn.
Amazon.ca (July 15, 2015): “The Definitive Work on Ontario’s Mennonites.” See at: http://www.amazon.ca/product-reviews/0836199081/ref=dp_db_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
Steiner is very thorough in covering the details of life that built and broke congregations over the centuries, that made for cultural and religious identification then and now, and theological positions of the very many different groups of Mennonites ranging from the completely assimilated to the very separated. Every page I turn exposes similar nuggets of insight and I ordered a copy of this encyclopaedic volume to have the information at my fingertips for future reference. For non-Mennonites, this book will provide an appreciation of the great depth and diversity of the Mennonite Church in Ontario and its relationship to the wider Mennonite community nationally and globally.
Journal of Mennonite Studies (2016): 342-344. Reviewer Jeremy Wiebe’s final paragraph reads:
This is an assiduously research book, as its extensive and valuable endnotes review. Written with clarity, it finds room in a complicated narrative for the personal stories of the women and men who were involved. It will be the definitive reference on Ontario Mennonite history.
Mennonite Quarterly Review (July 2016): 402-404. Reviewer Esther Epp-Tiessen’s final paragraph reads:
In Search of Promised Lands is a major contribution to Canadian Mennonite history. Large clear photos, helpful tables and maps, and a comprehensive glossary all add to the book’s usefulness. The length of the book–600 pages of text and 200 pages of endnotes–may turn away the average reader, but for decades to come students and scholars of Mennonite history in Canada will consider Steiner’s work indispensable.
Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 106-111. Available at http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/77992/JAPAS_BookReviews_vol4-issue1_pp106-120.pdf?sequence=1. Reviewer Mark Louden writes:
Steiner’s In Search of Promised Lands will undoubtedly be considered the standard work on the development of Ontario Mennonite and Amish groups; no other monograph comes close in terms of breadth and depth in describing what is a profoundly complex and diverse tapestry of Anabaptist communities in Canada.
Conrad Grebel Review 34, no. 3 (Fall 2016): 307-309. Available at: https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/publications/conrad-grebel-review/issues/fall-2016/search-promised-lands-religious-history-mennonites-ontario. Reviewer Timothy D. Epp begins his review:
Without a clear guidebook, the complexity and diversity of Mennonite groups can seem confusing. Samuel J. Steiner’s In Search of Promised Lands: A Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario has answered the need for a clear history of Mennonites in the Canadian province. This volume is excellently written, extensively documented, solidly researched, and presented in an accessible style.
Ontario History 108, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 140-142. Reviewer Julia Rady-Shaw begins her review:
Samuel J. Steiner’s In Search of Promised Lands: A Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario is a comprehensive account of the rich past of one of the province’s early settler groups. Steiner’s archival record is voluminous, yet he weaves the evidence together into a rich, cogent, and accessible history of the Mennonites in Ontario.
Mennonite Historian 42, no. 4 (December 2016): 11-12. Available at http://www.mennonitehistorian.ca/42.4.MHDec16.pdf. Reviewer James Neufeld ends his review:
Congratulations, Sam Steiner, on the completion of this pioneering effort to describe the Mennonite and Amish landscapes of the province where I grew up. It will certainly be for many years the “go to” resource for understanding this religiously diverse and fascinating segment of the Christian church.
Anabaptist Witness 3, no. 2 (December 2016): 137-138. Available at: http://www.anabaptistwitness.org/journal_entry/samuel-j-steiner-in-search-of-promised-lands-a-religious-history-of-mennonites-in-ontario/. Reviewer Maxwell Kennel concludes:
In conclusion, In Search of Promised Lands is both comprehensive and accessible, although its comprehensiveness may be a barrier to continuous reading. Both scholars and individuals interested in Mennonites will doubtless find the book to be a valuable resource and reference work. Reservations aside, as historical reflection on Mennonite groups continues, Steiner’s proposed spectrum “from traditionalist withdrawal to conservative boundary maintenance to evangelical renewal to progressive assimilation” should serve as a helpful framework for further research and thought.
Brethren in Christ History and Life (April 2017): 161-163. Available at: https://bic-history.org/journal-articles/in-search-of-promised-lands/. Reviewer Lucille Marr writes:
The Canadian Brethren in Christ are fortunate to have their story told in Morris Sider’s 1988 publication Two Hundred Years of Tradition and Change. Yet it is worth noting that the Meeting House, an Anabaptist mega-church of the Canadian Brethren in Christ, was only in its infancy when Sider’s book was published. Although Steiner’s history treats the Brethren in Christ only peripherally, for those interested in the larger story of Ontario Anabaptist circles in recent decades, it will be well worth reading Steiner’s detailed history as one way of putting that story in broader context.
Steiner’s history of Mennonites in Ontario is also relevant for those farther away, with its distillation of knowledge gained over a lifetime of archival and historical work, including many years as managing editor of the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (http://gameo.org). Although it is too early to get the depth of historical perspective, the later chapters provide a valuable and informative reference resource including stories of people, institutions and the varieties of Mennonite church life.