A Tale of Two Bibliographies

Unlike Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally, when I pick up a new book, I do not read the last page first so that I’ll know how the story ends in case I die before I can finish reading it. For non-fiction, however, I do sometimes start by taking a peek at the bibliography. A bibliography does more than just list the works that the author found helpful in writing a particular book. It sheds light on the author’s perspective, and can be a gold mine of recommendations for further reading.

My upcoming book Sowing the Seed of Truth has two bibliographies: one of my own, and one that I inferred from the quotations that Murray Shipley included in his sermons.

In developing my own understanding of historic Quaker preaching, I leaned particularly heavily on three resources:

  • Samuel Bownas’ A Description of the Qualifications Necessary to a Gospel Minister. This work, originally printed in 1750, provides insights into the personal qualities that early Friends valued in their ministers, as well how those ministers were expected to preach. Bownas’ guidelines often served as a benchmark for me as I examined the ways in which Shipley hewed to traditional Quaker practices and the ways in which he deviated from them.
  • Michael Graves’ Preaching the Inward Light: Early Quaker Rhetoric. Graves not only expertly analyzes the sermons of seventeenth-century Friends, but he also inspired the organization of my own book. I divided Shipley’s sermons into chapters that reflect the rhetorical characteristics and themes that he used to communicate his message: personal anecdotes; dramatic narratives; parables, allegories, and analogies; current events and social reform; explications; exhortation; and eulogies.
  • Thomas Hamm’s The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907. This indispensable work explores the changes that were occurring in Orthodox Quaker theology, worship, and ministry during Shipley’s lifetime. It illuminates the context in which he lived and preached, and helped me understand his place on the theological spectrum, particularly with regard to the holiness movement.

Shipley’s journal did not include a bibliography per se, but he was diligent in attributing the quotations he used in his sermons to the authors he read, sometimes down to the page number. His reading list demonstrates the extent to which he was influenced by non-Quaker theologians and writers. Indeed, the only book Shipley referenced that had any remote connection to Friends was Charles Buxton’s Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Thomas Fowell Buxton was a member of the Church of England, but his mother was a Quaker, and he attended Quaker meetings with his wife, the former Hannah Gurney, sister of Joseph John Gurney, whose preaching had tremendous impact on Orthodox Friends.

I must acknowledge that it would not have been possible to assemble Shipley’s bibliography if it weren’t for websites such as hathitrust.org, archive.org, and books.google.com. With as little information as the author’s name, a date range (publication prior to 1876, when Shipley’s journal ended), and an unusual turn of phrase, I was able to find almost all of the works that Shipley quoted.

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