Most helpful critical review
A missed opportunity: great book with a big BUT
on 24 May 2015
This book is a fantastic resource for historians working on anything involving the revisions of the Prayer Book. A neat, comprehensive and comparative study like this has been long overdue. One is presented with the very first version of the Book of Common Prayer, the first Edwardine version of 1549, then with the Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559, and finally with the 1662 version which is still the authorative one to the present day. The editions of the text seem excellent and trustworthy. So far this is all very useful.....
BUT why on earth is the 1552 second Edwardine Prayer Book version not included????? This version was far more important than the 1559 version: 1552 introduced huge changes to the 1549 next, reflecting a far more radical and 'reformed' approach and theological understanding. Admittedly, the 1559 version is quite similar to the 1552 one - but then, it would be more helpful for the context of such a study to have the earlier version (i.e. 1552). As it is, if one wants to know whether a change found in the 1559 version was introduced as early as 1552, one has to go and find that version: and that can be quite an enterprise - as there is no recent good, scholarly edition of the 1552 text.
Btw, yes, there was also a 1560 Latin version (for use at the universities) which is not included here. No problem with that, as it was never really of any major importance. But 1552 is a big elephant in the room to miss.
Anyhow, for what it is, the book is very well prepared and helpful, with informative explanatory notes. It's a shame it turns out to be slightly useless - or not sufficient, to say the least - if one wants to trace the development of a certain text through the different versions of the Prayer Book. What a shame... This could have been a marvellous resource - the definitive study on the Prayer Book. As it is, however, it's a big missed opportunity...