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John Bunyan: A Sectary or a Puritan or Both? A Historical Exploration of His Religious Identity

September 19, 2011

Richard Greaves, a leading Bunyan scholar, proposed a thesis that studies John Bunyan (1628-1688) in the light of the sectarian tradition.[1] This thesis, however, is not original with him. William York Tindall, in his book John Bunyan: Mechanick Preacher (1934), had already set Bunyan in a sectarian context.[2] Twenty years later came Roger Sharrock’s biography of Bunyan, which devotes a chapter to Bunyan as a sectary.[3] Then, in the late 1980s Christopher Hill’s volume appeared, A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 1628-1688, which further places Bunyan in a radical sectarian milieu.[4] All these books have been supplanted by Greaves’s biography of Bunyan, Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (2002), which, from Greaves’s own mouth, is “the first to deal with all of his [Bunyan’s] works in the context of his life and the broader world of nonconformity.”[5]

Usually scholars who situate Bunyan within a sectarian framework question his identity as a Puritan, and consequently slight his spiritual riches, a treasure found in other Puritans. This paper will argue that Bunyan uniquely possessed the spirit of both sectarianism and Puritanism.

 

To continue reading the article, see Brian G. Najapfour, “John Bunyan: A Sectary or a Puritan or Both? A Historical Exploration of His Religious Identity,” Puritan Reformed Journal 3, no. 2 (2011): 142-159.


                 [1] Richard L. Greaves, John Bunyan and English Nonconformity (London: Hambledon Press, 1992), viii.

                 [2] William York Tindall, John Bunyan: Mechanick Preacher (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934; reprint, New York: Russell & Russell, 1964).

                 [3] See chapter two of Roger Sharrock, John Bunyan (London: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1954; reprint, London: Macmillan, 1968), 29-51.

                 [4] Christopher Hill, A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 1628-1688 (Oxford: Calderon Press, 1988), 19. Also published in the U.S. as A Tinker and A Poor Man: John Bunyan and His Church, 1628-1988.

                 [5] Richard Greaves, Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), viii.

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