Friday, January 29, 2010

I love the Westminster Standards

In 1855 James Henley Thornwell became a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. He was asked if he accepted the Westminster Confession. "Accept it?" he said "I love it."

I heartily agree, and I am grateful for all the available theological and historical tools to help me understand the Westminster Standards. Those available resources are being added to in a significant way. Iain D. Campbell points us to some news about this:

The Westminster Assembly Project and Reformation Heritage Books

The Westminster Assembly Project, best known for the edition of Assembly minutes and papers to be published by Oxford University Press, has now entered an extensive publishing agreement with Reformation Heritage Books.

John Bower has joined historian Chad Van Dixhoorn in launching three new series of books by the Westminster Assembly, and one series of new and classic studies on the Assembly, all being published by Reformation Heritage Books. It is hoped that both texts and studies will stimulate further research in the Assembly and the religious dimension of English civil war politics. Certainly future publications on British post-Reformation theology and Puritanism will be enriched by these publications, briefly described here.

The first volume on the
Larger Catechism, and prepared by John Bower, will be out in March 2010.

You can order this volume here

Here's the blurb:

The Larger Catechism stands as one of the three major doctrinal standards produced by the Westminster Assembly. Often overshadowed by the Shorter Catechism and the Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism exhibits the Assembly’s most mature theological reflection and insight.

In this remarkable volume, John Bower provides extensive historical background for the making of this colossal catechism. He traces the history of the Assembly’s efforts from the initial call for a catechism, through deliberations on its form and content, and down to the intricate process of monitoring its printing.

The centerpiece of the volume is Bower’s critical text of the catechism. Painstakingly checked and indexed, the critical text is supported by a four-column comparison of the authoritative manuscripts and printings. Graced with a glossary and a catalogue of corrected proof-texts, Bower’s text is sure to be the benchmark for future study, modern editions, and foreign translations for years to come.
And here is the recommendation from Carl Trueman:
The Westminster Standards are today of interest both to the confessional tradition of Reformed Christianity and to a growing number of scholars who see the Westminster Assembly as an important factor in understanding British politics and religion in the seventeenth century.

Thus, the arrival of this new series, dedicated to the production of scholarly editions of documents associated with the Assembly, will be greeted with pleasure by both groups. This first volume, a critical edition of the Larger Catechism, will no doubt rapidly establish itself—and the series as a whole—as a standard starting-point for anyone wishing to learn more about Reformed life and thought as articulated by the Westminster Divines.
Here are some more details about the series:

Principal Documents of the Westminster Assembly. This series will produce the six chief works authored by the Assembly for covenanted uniformity of religion in England: the Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, Directory for Public Worship, Directory for Church Government, and The Psalter. Each volume will contain a historical introduction, a critical text, and multi-column comparisons of original manuscripts and early editions.

Writings of the Westminster Divines. The aim of this series is to provide scholarly editions of texts by Westminster Assembly members and commissioners. Volumes will include previously unpublished manuscripts as well as republications of rare editions. Carefully determined editorial standards will be used to ensure an authoritative product that is accessible to modern readers, while remaining reliable for students and scholars.

Westminster Assembly Facsimiles
. With this new series, Reformation Heritage Books and the Westminster Assembly Project are providing electronic and print access to publications by Assembly members in their original form. Free PDF downloads will be made available through the Westminster Assembly Project website. The same text can be purchased for your collection in paperback and hard cover from Reformation Heritage Books.

Studies of the Westminster Assembly
. Complementing the primary source material in the other series, the Assembly studies will provide access to classic studies that have not been reprinted and to new studies, providing some of the best existing research on the Assembly and its members.

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