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Themes and Issues from Pilgrimís Progress
The Pilgrimís Progress: An Outlined Study Manual with Accurate Text Revision
by Barry E. Horner
by Fred G. Zaspel
Few people have spent the time and enthusiastic energy studying Pilgrimís Progress and the works of John Bunyan than Barry Horner, and here he shares the fruits of his efforts in a series of studies intended to enhance our understanding and appreciation of this immortal Puritan classic.
Hornerís The Pilgrimís Progress: An Outlined Study Manual (Reformation Press, 1999) seems intended to accompany his public lectures in which he provides a scene-by-scene commentary on the Bunyanís most famous work. The outline is rather bare, but it is helpfully suggestive of the direction Horner would take in his lectures. And it will certainly prove helpful for anyone preparing to teach The Pilgrimís Progress.
His Themes and Issues (Evangelical Press, 2003) provides a thematic commentary, exploring subjects ranging from the need and relevance of The Pilgrimís Progress today, its precise literary style, and its remarkable influence, to its teaching of the significance of Christ and the meaning of the cross, its display of conversion and sanctification, and its portrayal of the role of the law, of sovereignty and grace, and of the role of the local church. In all this Horner provides interpretation of many of Bunyanís memorable scenes in light of the overall character of the story, its varied details, and the broader corpus of Bunyanís works.
Two particularly helpful chapters are chapters five and six. In chapter five Horner expounds ďThe Gospel in The Pilgrimís Progress,Ē emphasizing Bunyanís Christocentric outlook and his understanding of the cross. The themes of substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness are warmly displayed in a way that makes Pilgrimís Progress all the more enjoyable. In chapter six Horner provides careful interpretation of Bunyanís understanding of conversion as displayed in the scenes of the Wicket Gate and the Place of Deliverance. Many - perhaps most - have understood the scene of the cross to be the point of Christianís conversion, but Horner argues effectively that the point of conversion is at the Wicket Gate where Good-will (Jesus) pulls Christian through the gate, rescuing him from the arrows of Beelzebub. The scenes of the cross (Place of Deliverance) reflect Bunyanís own post-conversion struggles with doubts which were finally dispelled with his clearer grasp of the significance of the cross and the imputed righteousness of Christ. Very helpful also is chapter eleven, ďImages of Jesus Christ in The Pilgrimís Progress.Ē
Horner also provides a helpful annotated bibliography of the various childrenís versions of The Pilgrimís Progress that have appeared, as well as a list of 150 study questions regarding the book. There is a helpful subject and Scripture index also.
Horner has clearly studied Bunyan deeply and has provided very helpful works that anyone attempting a serious study of Bunyanís great classic will want to read carefully.