Primitive Christianity Revived

by William Penn

Translated into Modern English by Paul Buckley

For the people called Quakers, the foundation of all religious belief is this: God, through Christ, has placed a guide in each person to show them their duty and has provided each with the ability to follow this guidethese are the people of Godand those who live in disobedience to it and are not God’s people regardless of what they say. This is the Friends’ ancient, first, and unchanging principle. This is the testimony they have made and will continue to make to the whole world.

—William Penn

William Penn’s classic 1696 work, Primitive Christianity Revived, describes how the ways of the early Christian church as established by Jesus and his apostles had been restored “in the Faith and Practice of the People called Quakers.” Central to this short treatise is the Quaker belief in the reality of “the Light of Christ in Man, as the Manifestation of God’s Love for Man’s Happiness.” This doctrine, he wrote, distinguished the Religious Society of Friends from all other Christians, and “as the Fingers shoot out of the Hand, and the Branches from the Body of the Tree; So True Religion, in all the Parts and Articles of it, Springs from this Divine Principle in Man.” This book was written by a Christian Quaker to other Christians, and it remains an invaluable resource for twenty-first-century Quakers and Christians.

William Penn outlines in only a few dozen pages the beliefs and behaviors that define the Friends’ way of life. The simplicity and precision of Penn’s description is unsurpassed in the three centuries since it was first published, but seventeenth-century English vocabulary and grammar have obscured his message. In this new edition, Paul Buckley has translated Primitive Christianity Revived into modern English, revealing the straightforward clarity of Penn’s reasoning for a new generation.

About the author
Paul Buckley is a Quaker historian and theologian, well-known among Friends of all stripes for his workshops, short courses, and retreats. He has written books on William Penn, Elias Hicks, and the Lord’s Prayer; and co-edited The Quaker Bible Reader

Now available:
115 pp.: Hardcover, ISBN 978-0-9998332-0-9, $25.
115 pp.: Paperback, ISBN 978-0-9998332-1-6, $15.

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Read excerpt: Chapter 1

Related title now available:
Primitive Quakerism Revived, by William Penn, translated into modern English by Paul Buckley

Copyright © Paul Buckley, 2018

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