I've been looking at the new website created by Hall and Joan Worthington
and devoted to the life and writings of George Fox.
Here are my observations:
First: I was wary when I read that they had "modernized" the language, since this is often a rationale for watering down the content of early Quake writings, but I put my mind at ease after reading a fair number of epistles and comparing them to the "original" text at other sites. The modernizing seems to consist mainly of changing "thee" and "thou" to you, changing obsolete verb endings such as -eth to modern equivalents, and occasionally inserting a clarifying word. For example, in epistle number 2 they have changed from Rejoice not in the flesh, but in the spirit, which crucifieth all fleshly boasting: if the fleshly will be fed, then carelessness cometh up, and they fall into flatness, (from the spirit,) and are mindless of the Lord God; such are soon up and down. toRejoice not in the flesh, but rather in the spirit,
which crucifies all fleshly boastings:
if the fleshly will be fed, then carelessness cometh up,
and they fall into flatness, (from the spirit),
and are mindless of the Lord God;
such are soon up and down.
Second: As the above example shows, their breaking down of the text into separate lines greatly improves readability.
Third: They have an article under "Editors' comments" called "Government Protests". It points out that the early Friends' testimony against wars didn't generally involve actually protesting wars or trying to end them. It also makes the argument that mass anti-war protests are not really in the spirit of the peace testimony. I would draw different conclusions in the end, but their argument deserves to be listened to.
Fourth: In another article under "Editors comments" called "Imitation of Early Quakers" they protest against the use of "plain speech" and "plain dress" that imitates early Quaker patterns but in their opinion is untrue to the spirit of the real early Quaker testimony about plainness. Here I feel much closer to what they are saying than I do to their point about anti-war marches, though I don't feel, as perhaps they do, that the quaint forms of plainness are actually a bad thing.
Fifth: While I too am a great admirer of George Fox, I feel a tad put off by their statement that "We believe George Fox to be the greatest man the world has known since Jesus Christ left the earth."
Finally: I notice that they say they are not members of any church or religious society since they have not found anyone who agrees with their beliefs. Yet it seems likely that somewhere along the way they have had contact with Friends, since few other groups would have pointed them to the writings of George Fox. One wonders what they think of Friends.
I think this website is fascinating. I'd love to hear what other Friends make of it.
Labels: George Fox, Hall Worthington, Joan Worthington, Quakerism and Christianity
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