Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Wesley Works Editorial Project, which is hosted by the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition at Duke Divinity School, has just published a new volume of the works of John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, in conjunction with launching a website for the project.

The new volume, The Works of John Wesley Volume 27: Letters III (1756-1765), published in October by Abingdon Press, was edited by Ted A. Campbell, a professor of church history at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. The third of seven volumes of Wesley's correspondence, this volume is devoted to letters he wrote from 1756 to 1765.

The letters illuminate critical developments in the Wesleyan movement during that time period, including significant rifts between Wesley and his brother Charles, as well as between John Wesley and his wife Mary. They also show John Wesley's attempts to deal with radical enthusiasts and separatists such as Thomas Maxfield within the Methodist movement, his relationship to the Greek Orthodox leader Gerasimos “Erasmus” Avlonites, and his activities related to the Seven Years War.

The Wesley Works Editorial Project was launched in 1960 by Duke and three other theological schools in Methodist-related universities to provide a critical edition of the writings of John Wesley to illustrate his contribution to catholic and evangelical Christianity. Frank Baker, professor emeritus of English church history at the Divinity School, was recruited to guide this project and gathered the massive collection of original manuscripts and copies of items in other collections that provided the basis for the publication of Volume 27.

The project, which includes a team of international and interdenominational scholars researching the theology of John and Charles Wesley, is now under the direction of Randy L. Maddox, general editor and the William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School.

In conjunction with the volume’s publication, The Wesley Works Editorial Project also has launched a website that provides information on the 20 volumes of The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley already in print, and provides a growing set of other resources for the study of his writings.

The new volume adds nearly 50 letters to those available in previous editions and provides more scholarly annotation for each of the letters included, Maddox said. “The website includes an important expansion of our understanding of John Wesley’s correspondence, offering full text transcriptions of all letters addressed to him that are known to survive. These letters not only help understand Wesley’s responses, they provide direct access to the voices of many of the lay women and men involved in the early Methodist movement.”

Other sponsoring institutions of The Wesley Works Editorial Project, in addition to Duke and Southern Methodist universities, are: Drew Theological School at Drew University, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Boston University School of Theology, The General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the World Methodist Council.