April 5, 2008

Last call for the Works

The New Foundation Fellowship reports in their latest Foundation Papers that their stock of George Fox's Works is almost gone. They printed a batch in 1991, and are working to publish a CD-ROM of them, but I have to admit that having printed copies (though they were expensive) has made it much much easier for me to explore Fox's writings. Having them in hardcover has made it easier for me to travel with them, too.

They apparently have (had) ten sets left, along with a very few individual copies of everything except Volume II, the second part of the Journal. They also have a set of Lewis Benson's Notes on George Fox available for $50, and are making a reprint of A Universal Christian Faith (formerly Catholic Quakerism) available.

They aren't very clear on how to order the individual volumes or the Notes, though I do see the set available online. There's a note about free shipping until May 1st, as well.

March 19, 2006

George Fox's Works

In 1831, defending themselves against charges that they had strayed from Quakerism, Hicksite publishers assembled and printed an 8-volume collection of The Works of George Fox. That collection was reprinted in 1975 by AMS for libraries, and again in 1990 for the George Fox Fund and the New Foundation Fellowship. Its contents are also available through Earlham School of Religion's Digital Quaker Collection.

(The easiest way for me to navigate through Fox's works in the DQC and elsewhere is through the Quaker Heritage Press's catalog entry for Fox.)

The eight volumes break down as follows:

  • Volumes I-II are George Fox's Journal, in the version edited by Thomas Ellwood, including the preface by William Penn.

  • Volume III, a book responding to a vast number of critics of Quakerism, is usually referred to as The Great Mystery, but the full title and explanation is The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded; and Antichrist's Kingdom Revealed Unto Destruction, with another two paragraphs of similarly contentious description on the title page. Fox definitely expressed his opinions strongly!

  • Volumes IV-VI are the "Doctrinal Books", containing a wide variety of publications Fox wrote. It lacks a Table of Contents, but the catalog entry for Fox breaks out individual titles of pieces included here.

  • Volumes VII-VIII are Epistles of George Fox, letters organized chronologically. It's a wonderful volume to open to random pages and read for inspiration, though I'm also trying to read it in sequence.

The collection isn't quite complete, as, for example, A New England Fire-brand Quenched isn't in it. (I've tracked that down on microfilm.) Still it's a vast set of George Fox's writings that goes well beyond the Journal, and which provides endless material for contemplation.

February 6, 2006

Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity (2001)

Unlike the other collections I've mentioned, Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity, by Sorin Books, is more a collection of quotes for contemplation than an organized set of readers to explain what Quakerism is about.

Whitmire introduces each chapter with a few paragraphs for context, and then different sections of each chapter contain brief excerpts of prose and poetry. Chapters have titles like "Keeping to Plainness by Choosing" and "Growing Together in", with sections like "Community", "Decision-Making", and "Reconciliation and Forgiveness". It's easy to find a selection of quotes on a lot of different subjects, but browsing the book generally is also fun.

Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings (2005)

Someone at Harper Collins apparently liked the Paulist Press series "The Classics of Western Spirituality", but decided they were too long for today's readers. As a result, they've published several shortened editions, including Emilie Griffin's shorter version of Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings. It's much smaller than the original version, but still includes key writings by George Fox, John Woolman, Caroline Stephen, Rufus M. Jones, and Thomas R. Kelly.

Isaac Penington and Fox's Epistles aren't included, and a foreword by Rick Moody reflecting on his interest in Quakers replaces Douglas Steere's extended introduction.

Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings (1984)

Douglas Steere's Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings includes selections from George Fox (the Journal and the Epistles), Isaac Penington, John Woolman, Caroline Stephen, Rufus M. Jones, and Thomas R. Kelly. The selections are generally longer than they are in the Quaker Reader, and more focused strictly on religion, though Steere provides some historical background as well.

This book was published by Paulist Press, which focuses on Catholic publishing. This book is part of a series called "The Classics of Western Spirituality", which includes authors from many traditions.

The Quaker Reader (1962, 1992)

The Quaker Reader was one of the first books I bought on Quakerism, mostly because it was the only book on the subject my local Borders had in stock. It proved a great choice.

Pendle Hill Publications reprinted this 1962 book in 1992, updating the introduction slightly. Sixty-one separate entries explore Quaker faith and history. One of my favorite features is that it includes pieces from non-Quakers, and not always friendly non-Quakers, as well as identifying Quakers from the early period, Quakers who were born into the commmunity, Quakers who were convinced, and a few Quakers who left.

If you're looking strictly for religious insights, this may not be the right book. However, if you want a sense of how those religious insights related to how their proponents lived, it's an excellent book.

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