I'm interested in hearing what Quaker books you're reading and really enjoying right now and why?

Three I've recently ploughed through and have loved:
a) Catholic Quakerism - Benson
b) George Fox - Thomas Hodgkin
c) Through Flaming Sword - Arthur Roberts

I'm really impressed with all three of these books for different reasons. The Hodgkin book is particularly well written and insightful, I've never read any of his stuff before. Steve Angell told me about him this summer and suggested I check him out. I'm glad I have.

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I would add to the list Irene Lape's Leadings:A Catholic's Journey Through Quakerism.

Although Irene Lape has "moved on" from Quakerism and critiques some Quaker positions, her narrative of what Quakerism gave her is first rate, and shows a far deeper appreciation of our tradition than many official apologias by people who are still Friends. Also, I think it would serve us well to understand why in the end our Society didn't fill the spiritual need that she felt.

I enthusiastically second the choice of Lewis Benson's Catholic Quakerism. It stand up very well, in my opinion.

I'm also reading Arthur Roberts' book (Through Flaming Sword) and so far am not as impressed as other commenters. Perhaps I haven't given it a good enough chance yet. I noticed that he speaks of Fox "winning souls for Christ". That might be one way of describing Fox's impact on seekers, but it doesn't sound quite right to me. I need to read more carefully to see how Friend Roberts is using the phrase. At first blush, it seems to me that the convincements Fox catalyzed were something a little different than what modern evangelicals would mean by "winning souls for Christ".

There seems to be some buzz in my Meeting about the new book about John Woolman. I thnk it's called "The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman" and is by Thomas P. Slaughter. I haven't read it yet, but those I know who have find it to be wonderful.
Cat Chapin-Bishop said: I would _love_ to find a good biography of Nayler, but this really didn't feel like I could rely on it, alas. (And if anyone knows of one, I'd be grateful!)

Hi Cat! Clearly some aspects of Fox are very unloveable but then he was a prophet and prophets are usually a bit gritty and upset things. In terms of a Nayler biography, I would recommend The Sorrows of the Quaker Jesus: James Nayler and the Puritan Crackdown on the Free Spirit, by Leo Damrosch. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1996 and James Nayler, 1618-1660: The Quaker Indicted by Parliament by William G. Bittle (the latter mainly for the detailed treatment of the trial by Parliament).
I just finished Slap Your Sides by M.E. Kerr, who has written lots of novels for young people. This story about a family of Quakers in a small town gave me insights on the attitudes toward CO's in the US during World War II. I recommend it to youth and others who are figuring out their stance toward war.

Jay Thatcher
Dear Friends,
I've been reading the Gospel of John RSV. I'm eager to get deeper into it. Can anyone recommend additional translations? Commentaries? I saw one by William Barclay. Can anyone tell me about him? Thanks!
Hi Alison,

From a Quaker perspective Howard Brinton has both a Pendle Hill Pamphlet (79 - Light and Life in the Fourth Gospel) and a book (The Religious Philosophy of Quakerism: The Beliefs of Fox, Barclay and Penn as Based on the Gospel of John).

I would also recommend the Catholic biblical scholar Raymond E Brown on John. For a short commentary see "The Gospel and Epistles of John" and for an understanding of the Joannine community see ""The Community of the Beloved Disciple".


PS - This is what Wikipedia has to say about William Barclay:

William Barclay (5 December 1907, Wick – 24 January 1978, Glasgow) was an author, radio and television presenter, Church of Scotland minister and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow.

While professor, he decided to dedicate his life to "making the best biblical scholarship available to the average reader". The eventual result was the Daily Study Bible, a set of 17 commentaries on the New Testament, published by Saint Andrew Press, the Church of Scotland's publishing house. Despite the series name, these commentaries do not set a program of regular study. Rather, they go verse by verse through Barclay's own translation of the New Testament, listing and examining every possible interpretation known to Barclay and providing all the background information he considered possibly relevant, all in layman's terms. The commentaries were fully updated with the help of William Barclay's son, Ronnie Barclay, in recent years and they are now known as the New Daily Study Bible series.

While this detailed approach is not to everyone's liking, the 17 volumes of the set were all instant best-sellers and continue to be so to this day. A companion set giving a similar treatment to the Old Testament was endorsed but not written by Barclay.

Barclay wrote many other popular books, always drawing on scholarship but written in a highly accessible style. In The Mind of Jesus (1960) he states that his aim was "to make the figure of Jesus more vividly alive, so that we may know him better and love him more".
Dear Friends, I have come upon "The unvarnished gospels," translated by Andy Gaus (Threshold, 1988.) It's a more direct translation, and I find it really exciting. Your recommendations of commentaries on the gospel of John are still very welcome.
I just finished the main body of Carole Spencer's Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism. It's very strange to read history by someone who seems to agree with my opinions about early Quakers, but then diverge as we get closer to the present. I'll be posting a real review and a lot of blog posts as soon as I get through the appendices, which also look interesting.
Hi Alison,

Barclay's commentary is an excellent introduction. I've read it more than once.

And parts of Brinton's book, The Religious Philosophy of Quakerism, are great/ He brings up a few things from a different angle than Barclay. I just finished reading it again
last month.

What was that old quote? About how we never read a book twice, because we are at a different place in our journey on the second time through..

Hope you had a joyous Christmas. I did, partially because I ran into another of my former students:-)

Daniel Wilcox

Alison P. Martinez said:
Dear Friends,
I've been reading the Gospel of John RSV. I'm eager to get deeper into it. Can anyone recommend additional translations? Commentaries? I saw one by William Barclay. Can anyone tell me about him? Thanks!
I've just started "If God is Love," by Philip Gulley (of the delightful & insightful Harmony, IN novels) and James Mulholland, also a Friends pastor. Approachable but profound challenge actually to believe what Jesus tells us!
Hello. I recently attended my first meeting and was quite moved by the experience. I'd like to read some introductory-type books about Quakerism. Any suggestions?


Hi, I just started reading Holy Silence by J. Brent Bill about Quaker worship and how people are naturally drawn toward silence even though we sometimes don't know what to do with it.
I'm also reading the Essential Writings of Rufus Jones. Sometimes when I read him, I feel like he's speaking directly to me. His writings had a lot of influence on me and my convincement.
A Briefer Barclay

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