Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quick Review of Life of John Knox

I love books.  I especially love old books.  I am beginning to use e-readers a little more but I am confident that nothing will ever be able to replace the look and feel of having a book in your hand; especially an old book. 

Attic Books (a division of the New Leaf Publishing Group) is doing something amazing; they are taking old biographies and putting them back in print.  A few months ago I had the opportunity to review The Life of Luther by Barnas Sears.  Shortly after that review I requested a copy of The Life of John Knox in exchange for a review. 

I will repeat here what I said in my review of Life of Luther:

As a bibliophile (that’s book lover) I have to say that the look of these books is amazing.  I love the “old” feel to them, with their somewhat dilapidated looking edges and rustic covers.  There is something that makes reading history feel more significant when the book feels older. 

This Life of John Knox was originally published in 1833 by the American Sunday-School Union.  Because it comes from a different time period the biographer is able to be a little more slanted that what is accepted in our day.  That is part of what I love about these older biographies.  As an example, rather than commenting as a neutral observer on the Mary Queen of Scots’ involvement in the religious issues of Scotland, the author of this work leaves no doubt where he stands:

In the mean while the reformation was still making progress, and its secret enemy, the queen-regent, from political causes, was under the necessity of wearing the mask a little longer, in order to accomplish her schemes…but as soon as the artful regent attained her wishes she began to throw off the mask.  (46)

I love reading history that is written not from a detached observer but from someone that is passionate about the subject.  One certainly has to be careful in reading this type of history—but it is engaging and at times very helpful nonetheless. 

Reading the Life of Knox is not drudgery.  It is actually only 140 short pages.  It is a very quick read, but sometimes a little difficult because the paragraphs sometimes take up three to four pages.  If you plan on reading this in a couple of sittings or chapters at a time you will not find the longer paragraphs too burdensome. 

Who is John Knox?

I will not assume that all of my readers know of John Knox.  Knox is mostly known as the father of the Scottish Reformation.  As many of the Reformers in this period did, Knox spent a good amount of time in and out of prison or exile for non-conformity.  One area where Knox did conform however, was in wearing a sweet beard like many other Scots in his day.  Every man would hope to have his beard a subject of his eulogy—Knox is one of those fortunate ones, as one biographer notes:

John Knox was a man of small stature, and of a weakly constitution; and according to the custom of the times, wore a long beard reaching down to this middle.  (129)

Knox was a bold man that not only preached the gospel boldly before congregations each Lord’s Day but also did not tickle the Queen’s ears.  Knox boldly proclaimed the truth of Jesus to a Mary Queen of Scots and it did not gain him many friends. 

His life is a fascinating story and a model of faithfulness to Jesus despite persecution. 

At only 140 pages this biography is certainly one that is worth adding to your library.  You can do so here

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