Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Kuenning dissertation
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Faculty Advisor: [signed] William S. Barker
Second Faculty Reader: [signed] D. Clair Davis
Chairman of the Field Committee: [signed] Darryl G. Hart
Librarian: [signed] Darryl G. Hart
A computer hypertext edition of two works by John Bunyan and two by Edward Burrough from 1656-57 was created in order to examine in detail the numerous polemical cross-references among the documents. The two authors were found to be working from very different models of the conduct of religious controversy, Bunyan embedding his criticisms of Burrough's Quakerism in a highly structured theological treatise in the typical Puritan style, Burrough declaiming in prophetic tones reminiscent of the Old Testament against Bunyan's misrepresentations of Quaker doctrine. Differences in theological vocabulary acquired from their respective communities were found to contribute to misunderstanding between Bunyan and Burrough as well as to misreading of both by scholars.
Despite serious failures of communication between Bunyan and Burrough, close examination of the debate was found to clarify several important theological differences between Bunyan's Calvinist orthodoxy and Burrough's Quakerism. Bunyan's critique of Quaker Christology was found to be rooted less in features of that doctrine per se than in the requirements of Bunyan's own Anselmian and Dort-conformant soteriology with its emphases on irresistible grace and limited atonement. Burrough's actual Quaker Christology, not grasped by Bunyan, was found to be of a popular type, innocent of academic theology and not yet rationalized by the Quaker apologists of the Restoration era, featuring a peculiarly literalistic but emotionally powerful doctrine of the "heavenly flesh" of Christ manifested within the saints. Soteriological differences between the two were found to focus on the proper nature of conviction of sin and of the transition from thence to saving faith, Bunyan making a much sharper division than Burrough between Christ's creative and salvific roles, and Burrough repudiating Bunyan's classical Reformation doctrine of the forensic imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer.
The hypertext edition can be viewed on the World Wide Web at http://www.voicenet.com/~kuenning/qhp/bunyan/ [now obsolete]. The author hopes to post an improved version at http://www.qhpress.org/texts/bvb/ [and has in fact done so since these words were written].
As is usual with dissertations, this work was made possible by the help of other people. Librarians at Westminster Theological Seminary and at Haverford College Library deserve thanks, especially Grace Mullen at the former for help with inter-library loans, and Elizabeth Brown at the latter for allowing repeated renewals of needed books, especially Underwood's edition of the Bunyan texts, and for providing photocopies of the original printings of works by Burrough and others. Haverford College Library's Quaker Collection has also, for a period of over twenty years, been my low-cost source for a wide variety of old Quaker books from their duplicates room, including my copy of Burrough's Memorable Works. Bibliographical suggestions from Richard L. Greaves and H. Larry Ingle drew my attention to relevant secondary works.
Two groups deserve special thanks as having made possible my understanding of the two religious traditions involved in the Bunyan-Burrough debate. Westminster Theological Seminary's commitment to Calvinist orthodoxy provided an environment in which I could reenact many of the classic theological debates between their tradition and my own. Professors who have contributed to my understanding of Reformed theology include especially D. Clair Davis, Richard Gaffin, Sinclair Ferguson, and of course my advisor William S. Barker. Without the background they provided I would probably have missed much of the structure of Bunyan's thought.
My own small religious community, Friends of Truth, has for nearly twenty-eight years been the context in which I have learned early Quaker theology by trying to recreate it in practice, a procedure which has unintentionally involved much trial and error. Without their loving and faithful support not only this dissertation and my studies at Westminster but my entire religious development during those decades would have been inconceivable. Those members who are also my immediate family have provided the kind of home support that dissertation authors always count as indispensable. In addition, my mother proofread my initial typing of the Bunyan and Burrough texts, and my wife, who has been my intellectual as well as spiritual and emotional partner throughout our marriage, performed the painstaking and arduous task of converting my computer hypertext of Bunyan and Burrough into a columnar page layout suitable for the appendix.