Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Bunyan-Burrough Debate

The Pamphlet Debate between John Bunyan and Edward Burrough, 1656-57

edited by Larry Kuenning

When Puritan John Bunyan and Quaker Edward Burrough tore into each other's theologies in a series of pamphlets in 1656-57, each quoted and criticized numerous passages of the other's work. Each also, of course, complained that the other had misquoted and misunderstood him. In 1659 George Fox wrote a further Quaker reply to Bunyan's pamphlets in the same style of quoting and criticizing selected passages.

This site presents all the documents in the debate, with the cross-references among them automated in the standard format of Web documents. This makes it much easier to study the flow of the debate by jumping back and forth among the documents as they quote each other.

My dissertation was based on a study of this material. It too is at this site, similarly linked in with the documents.

Navigating the Debate

Whenever words are underlined and in color - or highlighted in whatever system your browser uses for text links - they indicate that the author is referring to another passage. Usually (but not always) the highlighted words are a quotation formula such as "he says," "thy next words," or "I wrote." Clicking on a link of this type will take you to the passage the author has in mind.

When there is a graphic icon in the text - either a thought balloon [cloud image] or a pencil [pencil image] - it means that someone refers to the words following the icon. Clicking on the icon will take you to a quoting passage, one that refers to the text you are looking at. The thought balloon indicates references by the 17th-century authors; the pencil indicates my own comments. If you use a text-based browser, you will see a bracketed expression such as "[cited by Burrough]" instead of the icon. Most other browsers will show these words as pop-up text if you let your mouse pointer linger briefly over the icon. (The intended pop-up text feature was broken for several years, due to changes in browser behavior, but has been restored in June 2014 and tested to work in Firefox and Explorer.)

One sentence in Fox requires four references at once: "And they say four times that Christ ascended." I have linked each of the four words of" they say four times" to a different passage in Bunyan.

The Texts Used: Feedback Wanted

When I first decided to investigate the Bunyan-Burrough debate I was in a hurry to get started. For three and a half years I had been working on a different dissertation topic, which had become too unwieldy. In order to get the new topic done within the deadline, I immediately began typing Bunyan and Burrough. Unfortunately, all the nearby theological libraries had just closed for Christmas vacation, so I used the texts I had on hand. These were a 19th-century edition of Bunyan's Complete Works (London: Virtue& Co., 1860) the only printing ever of Burrough's Memorable Works (London, 1672, edited by Ellis Hookes), and the standard 8-volume set of Fox's Works (Philadelphia and New York, 1831).

I later obtained xeroxes of the first editions of the Burrough and Fox texts, and a copy of the scholarly 20th-century edition of Bunyan by T. L. Underwood (The Miscellaneous Works of John Bunyan, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980). I considered substituting these for what I had already typed but was afraid of violating Underwood's copyright. Instead I simply changed the typed texts where this seemed needed for accuracy. In many cases, minor differences between Underwood's text of Bunyan and the text used here are signaled by another graphic icon [cf. MW1, page:line, will appear as the pop-up or in text-only browsers] - a simplified version of the Oxford University Press logo.

I would like to hear from users of this site about which direction you would like to see the texts improved. For sheer scholarly accuracy it might be desirable to conform to the first edition of each document. On the other hand, when you use your browser's "Find on this Page" feature, your results will be more reliable if I impose a consistent modern spelling on all the documents, since 17th-century spelling is not only archaic but inconsistent. If you find this site interesting, please let me know what format you would like it to take in a possible future revision, or any other improvements you would like to see added.


The division of the documents into numbered parts is not original to the sources, and is intended chiefly to make downloading more manageable on slower systems. KB figures are approximate file sizes.

John Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened

Edward Burrough, The True Faith of the Gospel of Peace

John Bunyan, A Vindication of Some Gospel Truths Opened

Edward Burrough, Truth (the Strongest of All) Witnessed Forth

George Fox, The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded (selections)

Larry Kuenning, The Bunyan-Burrough Debate Analyzed

Larry Kuenning <larry@qhpress.org>

Last modified 6/15/2014.