John Bunyan

Contemporary and Annotated Editions

The following are the volumes which I have completed and published with annotations and more contemporary language:

A Brief Biography of Bunyan

  • Born at Harrowden (1 mile southeast of Bedford) in the parish of Elstow, christened November 30th, 1628.
  • Died in London, August 31st, 1688.
  • Received very little formal schooling and followed his father in the tinker’s trade. Was in the parliamentary army from 1644-47.
  • Married in 1649, lived in Elstow till 1655, when his wife died and he moved to Bedford.
  • Married again in 1659.
  • Received into the Baptist Church in Bedford by immersion in the Ouse River, 1653.
  • In 1655 he became a deacon and began preaching with great success from the start.
  • In 1658 he was indicted for preaching without a license but continued and was eventually imprisoned in November 1660.
  • He was taken to the county jail on Silver Street in Bedfored and kept there (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666) till January 1672.
  • In January 1672 he became pastor of the Bedford church.
  • In March 1675 he was again imprisoned for preaching and this time kept in the Bedford town jail on the stone bridge over the Ouse River. He was freed after six months.
  • In August 1688 on his way to London he caught a severe cold from being wet and died at the house of a friend on Snow Hill.
  • Bunyan is best known for authoring The Pilgrim’s Progress in two parts. The first appeared in London in 1678 and had been begun during his imprisonment in 1676. The second part was published in 1684. The two would eventually be combined into one volume in 1728.
  • A third part was falsely attributed to Bunyan and appeared in 1693 and continued to be reprinted as late as 1852.
  • Bunyan wrote volumes, two of his more notable works are The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680), an imaginary biography and the allegory The Holy War (1682).
  • Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) is an autobiographical work.
  • Bunyan was a Puritan theologically, but not particularly partisan nor did he carry the gloominess often associated with Puritans.
  • Robert White, a friend of Bunyan, drew a faithful portrait in which Bunyan was tall, had reddish hair, a prominent nose, a large mouth, and sparkling eyes.
  • He was not a scholar in most senses, but knew the English Bible intimately.
  • He was greatly influenced by Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (1575 translation).
  • Before his final release from prison he became involved in a controversy with Kiffin, D’Anvers, Deune, Paul, and others regarding the necessity of baptism by immersion for participation in communion. In 1673 he published Differences in Judgment about Water-Batism no Bar to Communion in which he argued that, “the Church of Christ has not warrant to keep out of the communion the Christian that is discovered to be a visible saint of the word, the Christian that walks according to his own light with God.” While he believe that water baptism was God’s ordinance he refused to make an idol of it, as he suggested those who made it a condition of participation in the church.
  • Kiffin and Paul wrote a refutation in Serious Reflections (London, 1673) and this received approval from Henry D’Anvers in his Treatise of Baptism (London, 1674).
  • The result was that among Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists the question of whether communion should be given to those not baptized by immersion was left open.
  • Bunyan’s church admitted pedobaptists to fellowship and finally became pedobaptist (Congregationalist).
  • In the 19th century the best edition of Bunyann’s Complete Works was by G. Offor and R. Philip in 3 volumes (London, 1853 with a new edition in 1862).
  • The best biography of Bunyan in the 19th century was by John Brown (London, 1885, new ed. 1902). Other good biographies include J.A. Froude in English Men of Letters (1887), E. Venables in Great Writers Series (1888), and W.H. White in Literary Lives Series (1904).

Notes on Sources

Resources on John Bunyan