The Library of Early English Protestantism


The Library of Early English Protestantism is a project to make available in new, modernized, scholarly but accessible editions seminal writings from key but neglected 16- and 17th-century Church of England theologians, focusing initially on the period 1590-1640. This was a period that was in many ways a high point of English Protestantism, in which King James I and VI encouraged irenicism, piety, theological depth, and rigorous scholarship among his bishops and churchmen, leading one to remark by the 1620s, clerus Anglicanus stupor mundi—”the clergy of England are the wonder of the world.” This was a time in which the divisions between “puritan” and “Anglican” loomed much less large than at any other period, with many churchmen fairly comfortably straddling the divide. This was also a time in which English Protestants saw themselves as part of the broader family of Protestant churches on the Continent, particularly the Reformed churches in France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Low Countries. The English delegation to the Synod of Dordt in 1618, initially consisting of the great divines George Carleton, John Davenant, Joseph Hall, and Samuel Ward, played a pivotal role in the discussions that defined the shape of Reformed orthodoxy for future centuries. However, these and other English churchmen also contributed luminous commentaries on the English liturgy, devotional texts, and defenses of episcopacy that would help nourish the distinctive identity of the Church of England in the decades to come, and eventually its offspring in the Anglican Communion.

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As the gap between the Reformed and Anglican traditions widened in the succeeding centuries, many of these great men and their writings disappeared from view. Today, however, as the challenges of late modernity are leading to renewed growth of Protestant irenicism, and many churches both Reformed and Anglican are seeking to deepen and broaden their understanding of their theological tradition, to provide resources for a thoughtful and irenic orthodoxy, these texts deserve to be retrieved and re-read. Our aim is to make that as easy as possible for contemporary clergy, seminaries, students, and theologically-concerned laypeople, by doing the following:

  1. Translating (some texts were written in Latin and need to be translated in full; many others have Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew notes and quotations that need translation)
  2. Modernization of spelling and punctuation
  3. Clarification and expansion of footnotes, annotations, and abbreviations
  4. Clean modern typesetting and formatting
  5. Concise introductions to orient the reader

Our hope is, funding permitting, for this to be a multi-year project that will eventually see dozens of volumes—on dogmatic theology, liturgical theology, pastoral theology, ethics, politics, and more—to print.

 

Volumes Currently in Process

George Carleton, Jurisdiction Regal, Episcopal, Papal (edited by Dr. Andre Gazal)

John Davenant, Dissertatio de Praedestinatione et Reprobatione and Dissertatio de Morte Christi (edited by Michael Lynch)

James Ussher, Writings on the Reformed Episcopal Church (edited by Dr. Richard Snoddy)

Thomas Morton, The Lord’s Supper (edited by Rev. Paul Dominiak)

George Downame, A Godly and Learned Treatise on Prayer (edited by Rev. Daniel Graves)

Joseph Hall, Christian Moderation (edited by Rev. Samuel Fornecker)

 

More information about this project will be posted soon. If you are interested in financially supporting this important work, you will soon be able to pre-order here on our website one or all of the volumes above, or you can make a tax-deductible donation, using our Donate form and designating your gift for “Library of Early English Protestantism.”