Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings

Article excerpt

Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings. Edited by Charles Wallace, Jr. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. xvi + 504 pp. $65.00 (cloth).

Although few eighteenth-century Anglican women are as readily recognized by name as Susanna Wesley, this is the first edition of her complete works. Most of the documents are well-known, though sometimes only in versions expurgated by John Wesley or by Victorian Methodist editors. The volume also includes more recent discoveries.

There can be no doubt that Susanna Wesley's theology and devotional practices deeply influenced her two famous sons, and through them, the Methodist movement. But the editor justly pleads that we should use these documents as sources for understanding Susanna Wesley herself, and not only her sons. Moreover, there is fascinating material for social history here, particularly for the study of devotion and gender roles in an eighteenth-century Church of England rectory.

Wallace has done his editing carefully, verifying the texts, dating the documents, explaining allusions, and seeking (often unsuccessfully) the sources of unattributed quotations. He has modernized the text for the convenience of "the interested general reader," then has added reams of footnotes to report what he has done.

The editing is not unintrusive, for Wallace likes to tell the reader how to interpret the text. For instance, for each of the 255 sections of Wesley's journals he has assigned a title, which in many cases reflects his own interests more than his subject's. Sometimes lie tells us which parts of the text should be read most carefully (e.g., p. 117, p. 252). lie -alerts us when Wesley's theology might be considered "naive" (P. …

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