The Spirit of the Quakers

Geoffrey Durham, Author
Edited by Geoffrey Durham., Yale Univ., $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-300-16736-8
Open Ebook - 257 pages - 978-1-280-57140-4
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Durham is an English Quaker, "convinced" (the Quaker term for those not born to the faith) to join the faith in 1999. The book is fairly idiosyncratic in its organization. The lengthy history of Quakerism (begun around 1650) is covered in a four-page chronology. Durham's exposition introduces excerpts from major Quaker writers. This principle makes theoretical sense, since Quakers, known early as "publishers of truth," have been voluminous writers and journal-keepers. But major points get submerged; Quakerism has a notable history in America of objecting to the institution of slavery, for example, but that's not apparent in this book. Additional exposition would have better marshaled and provided context for the excerpted material. Durham's British roots and his affiliation with the unprogrammed wing of Quakerism also dramatically affect his selection of essential writers and even his timeline. Rufus Jones and William Penn are underrepresented; Richard Foster, a well-known evangelical Quaker, is altogether absent. Anthologies invariably evoke this kind of debate. Yet this is a disappointingly limited introduction for Americans. British Quakers may well be more satisfied. (Nov.)
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