A Note on Crossway’s New Edition of John Owen’s “Works”

Today in the mail I got a new Crossway edition of John Owen’s Works, Volume Seven. It was sent to me for review. It’s pretty easy to review John Owen’s writing for me. It’s not easy to read, but it’s wonderful and excellent in so many ways. Five stars! But what about a new edition of his Works? I’m not against new and updated editions of old classics. That’s what the editors of this new Crossway edition of Owen’s works were aiming for.

Before opening the new Crossway edition of Owen’s Works, I wondered how it would differ from the Banner of Truth/Goold edition. Earlier today, I spent some time comparing the two editions of Owen’s “The Reason of Faith” found in volume IV of the Goold edition and volume 7 of the Crossway edition. In a word, they’re almost exactly the same. The new Crossway edition does have a few updated words (e.g. “affordeth” is changed to “affords”; “hath been” is changed to “has been, “etc.). But the text of the Crossway edition is otherwise around 99% the same as the Banner/Goold edition.

The Crossway edition does have added subtitles before each major section. And the Crossway edition has around one footnote per page (on average) explaining a hard word or concept. But those footnotes aren’t too extensive, so you’ll still probably need a dictionary if you’re unfamiliar with older words or intricate theological concepts. Finally, the Crossway edition has some updated introductions to Owen’s Works and writings.

Bottom line: If you already have the Banner/Goold edition, you certainly don’t need to spend money on the Crossway edition (when all the volumes are finally published). I have the Banner/Goold edition and I’m definitely sticking with that. If you don’t have Owen’s Works yet and are thinking about getting them in the future, here’s my advice: get whichever set is less expensive. The new Crossway edition does make Owen’s Works slightly easier to read, but only very slightly. (As a side, if you care about what your books look like, in my opinion, the Crossway edition isn’t very attractive. The covers remind me of the old Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.) Anyway, no matter which edition you use and read, you’ll be reading the works of one of the Christian church’s great theologians of the past, so it’s ultimately a win-win situation!

NOTE: Only two volumes of the Crossway edition of Owen’s Works are out at this point. I believe it is a six-year endeavor.)

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002

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