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A Commentary upon the Book of the Revelation: Volume 1 (Durham)

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Reformation Heritage Books

English Puritanism and Scottish Presbyterianism in the seventeenth century had many bright and shining lights. Of these, James Durham (1622–1658), ranks alongside the greatest of his generation, for his theological depth, faithful preaching, and particularly for his moderate spirit at a time when such was in scarce supply. While he could have been a professor of theology in any university, Durham instead spent a brief ten year ministry preaching and lecturing for the most part in the Inner-Kirk of Glasgow Cathedral. It was thought that he poured so much of himself into his studies for sermons and lectures that it brought about his early death at the age of thirty-six. His works were often reprinted and left an impression that lasted for centuries. Recently, all of his sermons in two volumes and his lectures on the Book of Job and on the Ten Commandments have been published in new critical editions. Continuing with his lectures, the publishers are pleased to offer now a new critical edition of James Durham’s largest book, which, while it is his more theologically intense work, retains the same practical Uses and Applications of his sermons and other lectures.

Volume One. Lectures on Chapters 1–3. This first of three projected volumes comprises a third of the lectures and fully half of the theological essays. The text covers chapter one in nine lectures (the most on any chapter) and the letters to the seven churches in Asia. The theological lectures contained cover such subjects as the doctrine of the Trinity, a call to the ministry and qualifications for the ministry, church government and church discipline, repentance, the difference in common and saving grace, and preaching and application in preaching. The text has been collated with a 1653 manuscript and an appendix contains texts and full lectures that are significantly different than the published edition of 1658. A new biography will appear in volume two. Volume three will contain a bibliographical essay covering Durham’s works and recent manuscript discoveries, as well as the indices, including an index of errata of prior editions.

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“This commentary on Revelation provides what was, as Principal John MacLeod said, ‘in past days, the accepted Protestant view of that book.’ While James Durham’s historicist reading of Revelation is no longer the standard view, that should not deter readers, for, as Spurgeon said, ‘it would not be easy to find a more sensible and instructive work than this old-fashioned exposition. We cannot accept its interpretations of the mysteries, but the mystery of the gospel fills it with sweet savour.’ The finest treasure in this commentary is not, however, Durham’s exegetical work (helpful though this is!). Contained in his commentary are independent treatises which are the purest of theological gold. These extended essays present Reformed thought at its best. As Richard A. Muller has said, this work “offers significant access to seventeenth-century Reformed and Presbyterian thought ... Durham’s work illustrates the relationship of Scripture with doctrine and piety and dogmatics.” — Donald John MacLean, author of James Durham (1622–1658): And the Gospel Offer in its Seventeenth-Century Context.