A Dictionary of the Puritans

Product Details Since I’ve been reading some of the lesser known Puritans in the last two years, I’ve also been interested in a resource that gives a synopsis of the different Puritans (including their dates, ministry context, and major writings).  For various reasons, I don’t typically like to do much online research, so when I came across this resource, I purchased it without much hesitation: Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006).

Meet the Puritans is a 800+ page dictionary that gives a brief snapshot of the lives and writings of over 100 Puritans (including the Scottish and Dutch Puritans).  Each entry is listed, of course, in alphabetical order.  Furthermore, each entry includes an explanation of the birth, life, ministry, writings, and death of the Puritan being discussed.  In this book you’ll find entries on the well-known Puritans like William Ames, Thomas Watson, Thomas Brooks, and William Perkins, but you’ll also find entries on lesser known Puritans like William Bridge, Matthew Poole, and Thomas Vincent.  Each entry also gives a list and summary of the major writings of the Puritan under discussion.

The book also includes an introduction to the Puritans in general, a biography of the secondary sources on the Puritans, an article about the Puritans for today, a glossary, a primary bibliography, and an index.  For these reasons, it is an outstanding study resource. One of the only weaknesses of this book, in my opinion, is that it could have been a bit more critical of some aspects of different teachings of the Puritans. I haven’t yet read every entry, but I have read many of them and have found only a few mild critiques thus far. While I love the Puritans and have profited much from their writings, I do think it is helpful to give criticism where criticism is due.  However, this weakness does not detract from the usefulness of the book.

If you’re looking for a good resource on the Puritans – one that you can use for years to come, I highly recommend Meet the Puritans.  It is full of fine scholarship, helpful biographies, and it is bound in such a way that it will last for many years.  It is over $25 new, but I believe it is well worth the price.

shane lems