Friday, October 16, 2009

The Search for Edward Fisher

As mentioned before, Christian Focus has republished The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher with the notes of Thomas Boston. The work is particularly a blessing because it is re-typeset in such a way as to present clearly Fisher's text and Boston's notes in a manner manageable to the reader. But I wish to draw special attention to the historical introduction by William Vandoodewaard, A Journey Into the Past: The Story of The Marrow of Modern Divinity.

It provides excellent historical context for a book which in and of itself is worth reading by every Christian. About the author, little is known certainly, but historians have long ascribed the identity of "E.F." on the original 1645 title page to Edward Fisher, Esq. (fl. 1627-1655), son of Sir Edward Fisher of Mickleton. Prevailing opinion, relying much on Anthony Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, has been that Edward Fisher was a royalist who engaged in religious controversies over the Christian Sabbath and 'holy days' with Puritan John Collinges. Mr. Vandoodewaard believes this to be unlikely and makes the case for ascribing authorship to another Edward Fisher (d. 1650), who was a Puritan, a London barber-surgeon and bookseller, in fact. This gentleman, as Mr. Vandoodewaard demonstrates, moved in the Presbyterian and Independent circles that one would expect given the theology of The Marrow and those who endorsed its contents, as well as other writings believed to have been written by The Marrow's author. I encourage readers to read the introduction for themselves since it reads like an historical mystery investigation. The author who put forth the gospel of grace so nobly deserves to be better known. I think the case for his identity is well made by Mr. Vandoodewaard and worth the read.

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