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Baptist Life and Thought: A Source Book.

Revised edition. Edited by William H. Brackhey. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1998. 550 pp.

Baptist Life and Thought: A Source Book, edited by William H. Brackney, now professor of religion in the Religion Department at Baylor University, is an updated and expanded edition of a book originally published in 1983.

The 1983 edition clearly set forth three purposes that continue to serve as the foundational purposes of this new edition. First, Brackney sought to provide a collection of Baptist primary writings, and he hoped to include lesser-known materials which had not recently been published and which were not readily available. Brackney succeeded in these areas. Numerous brief yet intriguing excerpts are provided, beginning with one from John Smyth's application to establish ties with the Dutch Anabaptists and ending with a Canadian Baptist hymn written in 1967 by Anne Skinner.

Second, the collection was compiled in such a way as to encourage further scholarly investigation. By including introductions for each section and subsection, inserting headnotes before each entry, and providing an extensive listing of useful materials at the end of each section, Brackney has succeeded in providing a sourcebook that inspires its readers to engage in additional reading and research. One glaring omission in the first "Suggestions for Further Study" is the failure to include Leon McBeth's Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness in the listing of general references. McBeth's 1987 book offers an exhaustive introduction to Baptist history and thus should be included as a beginning resource for all persons interested in Baptist studies.

Third, Brackney sought to explore trends and cultural patterns in Baptist life and thought. The titles of a few of the subsections ("Social Ethics and Christian Life-Style," "Evangelism, Expansion, and Missions," and "Relationships with Other Baptists and Christian Groups") reveal that the trends and cultural patterns of interest are ecumenicism and diversity within Baptist life.

A fourth purpose set forth in this revised edition is to provide recent material on the heritage of American Baptists and to include a section on the Canadian Baptist experience. The last fifty-nine pages of the book are devoted to a very brief exploration of Canadian Baptist history.

The revision of the 1983 edition enhanced an already solid sourcebook, and it will continue to be a collection used by many seminary students. Yet, because Brackney has chosen to focus primarily on Northern Baptist life and thought after 1880, this collection has limited appeal to students of Baptist history in the South. Although it is hard to justify expanding a collection that is already 550 pages, Baptists in America would have been better served had the editor provided more excerpts from Southern Baptist life following the Civil War

One highlight of this collection is that Brackney has captured some of the quirkiness of Baptist life. For example, excerpts are included about the debate among Baptists in the late-nineteenth century concerning the use of wine versus grape juice in communion and the use of the common cup versus the individual communion cup.--Reviewed by Pamela Robinson Durso, assistant professor of church history, Campbell University Divinity School, Buries Creek, North Carolina.
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Author:Durso, Pamela Robinson
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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