Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Richard Hooker, of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: A Critical Edition with Modern Spelling/Richard Hooker and the Vision of God: Exploring the Origins of 'Anglicanism'

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Richard Hooker, of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: A Critical Edition with Modern Spelling/Richard Hooker and the Vision of God: Exploring the Origins of 'Anglicanism'

Article excerpt

Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: A Critical Edition with Modern Spelling. Edited by Arthur Stephen McGrade. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Three volumes, cxiv + 1100 pp. $450.00 (cloth).

Richard Hooker and the Vision of God: Exploring the Origins of ?Anglicanism.' By Charles Miller. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2013. 350 pp. $50.00 (paper).

Recent decades have witnessed a resurgence in serious academic study of Richard Hooker's thought, largely thanks to the publication of the multivolume Folger edition of Hooker's collected works between 1977 and 1998. This resurgence has been matched, however, with an inexorable decline in popular reading of Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity : the exorbitant cost of the Folger edition has kept it the preserve of academic libraries, and the rarity of earlier critical editions has also led to a waning influence. The past decade has seen various attempts to remedy this situation, but they all share a similar weakness of providing only abridged selections. While affordable, these abridged selections are arranged to suit the interests of political philosophers or popular readers who want an easy arrangement of what Hooker had to say about isolated theological ideas. As a result, such selective editions variously obscure the context, complexity, and interdependence of Hookers thought across the Laws. A. S. McGrade's new critical edition of the Laws and Charles Millers introductory text both attempt, in their own ways, to provide a more comprehensive view of Hookers theological vision at an affordable price and in an accessible way.

A. S. McGrade, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, caps a lifelong academic love affair with Hooker by providing a cheaper (although still relatively expensive) version of the definitive Folger edition of Hookers Laws. It includes all eight books, modernizes the Elizabethan spellings, introduces the structure and content of the Laws, and offers critical appendices. Without doubt, McGrade's achievements deserve high plaudits and his critical edition should become the standard reference work for years to come. McGrade acts as the consummate teacher in his introduction, written in accessible and yet academically rigorous language, expressive of his contagious joy in Hooker and yet cognizant of Hookers limitations as a writer and thinker. McGrade covers the historical provocation for the Laws, tours the reader around an "itinerary" which takes in the broad themes and structure of each book, and considers Hookers multiple audiences, including posterity and the modern reader. Briefly and gently, McGrade gives a strong apologia why Hooker remains pertinent not only as a beautiful writer, but also as a thinker with beautiful ideas about public life and the common good.

McGrade s textual expertise and sensitivity remains consummate in the new critical edition. Spellings are modernized word-for-word, without paraphrase or substitution, thereby respecting Hookers original syntax and yet rendering it easier for the modem eye to parse. Although some purists may be alarmed at the modem spelling, translations of other major early modem texts (of various languages) into modem English should ameliorate such concerns, and certainly helps reduce the sense of distance between Hooker and the modem reader. McGrade translates non-English material into the English vernacular in both the main text and in Hookers footnotes; the original texts are either given on the page or in an appendix. The critical appendices themselves exhaustively provide a glossary of terms, a guide to sources and people mentioned in the Laws, indices of scriptural citations, persons, and subjects, as well as a thorough bibliography. These appendices mean that the text of the Laws remains uncrowded with immediate exegetical gloss, but still rigorously supported when the reader wants explanation or help navigating the text. …

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