An updated edition of The Existence and Attributes of God written by Stephen Charnock and edited by Mark Jones has been published by Crossway. This is a new two-volume set that updates the language and original formatting of Charnock's classic work of the nature of God in a leather-like, hardback edition.
The Classic Work on the Nature of God
Stephen Charnock's classic work on the existence and attributes of God is one of the top ten classic works in all of church history. It is a peer to timeless Christian classics like Angustine's Confessions, Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
Many consider Charnock's work as "perhaps the finest, most extensive theological-practical work written the English language on th doctrine of God." (3) Since most of the works on God were written in Latin before the 17th century, his classic work organized with a homiletical mindset, remains a standard reference work on the nature of God.
Features of the Updated Two-Volume Set by Crossway
What sets this updated edition apart? Well, here are at least five.
1. Modernized Language
The first feature is the updated language which has been modernized from Charnock's 17th century English to 21 century English. Archaic punctuation, words, and phrases have been updated for today's reader. However, this update is not a paraphrase or a "dumb down version" of Charnock. Some of Charnock's vocabulary is preserved, so when you are reading this update, you are definitely still reading Charnock's classic work.
2. Helpful Footnotes
Throughout the entire two volumes, the editor has increased copious footnotes that are helpful for today's reader. Some footnotes expand, clarify, or enhance the original sources Charnock had referenced. Other footnotes give added context to modern readers that may have been assumed for readers of the 17th century.
3. Chapter Summaries
The editor has included a chapter summary that precedes each of Charnock's discources. These summaries can be help for the unacquainted reader to have a high level view of Charnock's arguments before reading the full, complete text. These chapter summaries are very helpful if one wants to search and discover content based on topics.
Most readers will not read these two volumes cover to cover. Instead one may read one specific discourse or search for Charnock to cite what he has written on a specific aspect of God's nature and attributes. These chapter summaries will aid those purposes.
4. Brief Biography
A brief biography of the life of Stephen Charnock is placed at the front of the first volume. This 20 page biographical sketch will acquaint the reader to the author. I had never read any biography on Charnock, so this introduction to his life was welcomed.
5. Quality of the Hardback Edition
Compared to my older hardback edition, this imitation leather TruTone hardboard edition looks beautiful and feels wonderful to the hands. The typeface, the paper quality, and the size of the print make reading this edition a very enjoyable experience.
Commentary on the Updated Edition
The gentle modernization of Charnock's original text was perfect. I was very anxious that this would be a modern paraphrase, but I was reassured by the first 10 pages that all edits are simply to aid the reader with the common challenges of reading Charnock.
- Paragraphs are broken into smaller one.
- Latin words are tranlated when Charnock did not provide an English translation (which he often does not).
- Certain archaic words have been modernized, both Charnock's original content and quotations from the KJV. For example, doth has become does, and thou has become you.
I was able to read through Charnock with much less mental energy expended, and I didn't have to re-read his run-on sentences multiple times to digest his original intented thought.
My wife wants this set to replace my original volume in our formal living room, as its classic appearance and aesthetics is appealing.
My Final Thoughts
The Existence and Attributes of God two volume set by Crossway is the best edition to get for today's readers, but it does come with a higher price tag. For those who are price-sensitive, you may just want to read the original edition on monergism.com since there are no copyrights on the original edition.
But if you want to get a hard copy that will last you a lifetime and an edition you can pass onto your children, this updated edition by Crossway is the one to get.
The Existence and Attributes of God (Updated Edition)
Written by Stephen Charnock | Edited by Mark Jones | Crossway (2022)