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4.6 out of 5 stars159
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2009
Rather than reviewing Pilgrim's Progress, which is clearly a masterpiece and of immense spiritual value to Christian readers, I would simply like to commend this Oxford World's Classics edition.

Having read and worked with a few different editions, I favour this one for three reasons. First of all, unlike some other editions, this one doesn't miss bits out. Second, Bunyan's language is largely unaltered. While updating the spelling and vocabulary undoubtedly makes Pilgrim's Progress more accessible for a wider and younger audience, it also tends to cover over some of Bunyan's teaching points. If you can cope with having to re-read some sentences and check the odd endnote, there is simply more gold in this original text than in many of the touched-up modern alternatives. Finally, this edition has Bunyan's own marginal notes, helping the reader to recognize Biblical allusions. Lots of editions have someone else's notes, but what could be better than the original?

Please don't think, by the way, that this edition is hard to read. It may be slightly harder going than a more modernized text, but Bunyan's capacities as a storyteller must not be underestimated. He had a way with words and a spiritual insight that few have been able to match. When Bunyan preached in his own day great crowds of people from all walks of life flocked to hear him - from this edition one can see why.

Overall, John Bunyan is the one worth listening to (rather than any editor) and this Oxford World's Classics edition seems to put his text and his intentions front-and-centre. I think W. R. Owens has done a super job, making available the towering masterpiece of someone who was both a heroic Christian and one of history's great popular communicators.
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on 15 April 2010
Many people have turned their hand to writing in prison or other noble causes. No one has yet surpassed John Bunyan who was serving at his majesty's pleasure for preaching the Bible at His Majesty's pleasure. For the last 330 years this book has rung so many bells with Christians on their pilgrimages to heaven. The struggles, the characters and their flaws and God's steadfast love and faithfulness come across as if they were written about the reader's own experiences. A great help and encouragement.

The barrier of Shakespearian English has put many people off but now the way is open to the modern reader in a translation that is both modern and accurate.
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on 12 September 2008
This is a delightful book from the 'parchment' cover to the list of unusual phrases at the back. The paper is thick, ivory coloured and tactile. The typeface is classic, with titles in fancy script, and story illustrated by those classic nineteenth century line drawings.
I haven't read Pilgrim's Progress before, and some of the sections are a little heavy, but the names and the locations are a hoot! They follow the Christian's story and trials he'll face on the way. As for the book, there are lots of extras - most sections have biblical references, and at the back is an explanation of the sections, timeline and places from John Bunyan's life as well as dictionery and phrases. Fascinating and good for uncertain Christians, and looks good on the coffee table.
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on 12 June 2001
This re-telling of Bunyan's classic makes this amazing story much more accessible. Gone is the old fashioned and hard to understand english and in its place is beautifully written yet readable prose. The story has lost none of its imagery or impact but gained much through being a much easier read. The scriptural references are there (as in the original) along with helpful suggestions on how to re-read the book. Christian's epic journey along the 'narrow path' is as riveting as before and all the lessons he learns along the way as clear as day. This is an excellent book for anyone setting out on the Christian journey and equally useful for more mature Christians who may need reminding about all the pitfalls that await unwary travellers ...
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on 2 July 2011
I remember this being read in weekly bites during English Literature classes and, as my latter school years were a very impressional period, now in adulthood, I wish to return to this and revisit the fundamental truths it conveys about our life's journey through the eyes of someone in the Autumn of his years. Reflecting on the juxtaposition of the innocent boy I once was, with the experience accrued, the joys and pain, the hopes and loss over a significant lifetime, it has the power to re-connect both of my life's extremes. In that, I commend it to all with such life experience.
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on 24 July 2010
This is a beautiful book both inside and out. The paper quality makes a lot of difference to me because I love the feel of a book, and this outstanding classic is worthy of the best even though it is paperback. The author has lovingly updated John Bunyan's words without altering anything unnecessarily. I thought perhaps there was a little too many shortforms of words like 'isn't' 'won't' 'I've' etc, but itcertainly didn't spoil it for me, I just felt they were not needed every time. As I am English perhaps that is just an British foible. I loved this book and have bought copies for myself and as gifts for others. The book lives up to its name - and is truly a pure gold classic.
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on 23 January 2014
Pilgrims Progress is a spiritual classic, but it is also a classic of literature. The scholarrly introduction gives a very clear understanding of the book and its background, and of Bunyan himself. Even for anyone with no interest in things Christian, it would be a rattling good yarn, vividly written so that when Christian and Hopeful are imprisoned in Doubting Castle by Giant Dispair the reader himself begins to feel dispair, and the battle with Appolyion is truly terrifying. The characters, despite their obviously didactic names, (for this is an allegory) are credible as human beings. Even the landscape is lovely, and for those who are interested, the Delectable Mountains are the Chilterns.
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on 3 April 2010
I have already read one of the original old English versions of Pilgrim's Progress and had a hard time getting through it let alone understanding a lot of its archaic words and format and context.

Hazelbaker's updated version of this timeless classic has been done very well, with only a few words here and there needing me to look up. The added Bible References is really helpful with the added side notes in the footnotes adds to the reading comprehension.

I recommend anyone to read this book, and especially the person who has read the original.
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on 15 February 2014
If you like an up to date version of this classic tale, this is it! The author of this new version has really taken care that the text doesn't "sound" too modern. Lots of explanations when new words, differing from the original, are chosen, as our language as definitely changed in emphasis. One example of this, was feeble-minded, which is derogatory in our days, but in Bunyan's day, it only indicated a weak, vulnerable person.
In the chapters, biblical references are numbered and quoted at the end of each chapter. it is really lovely to be able to read this with your bible (usually when I read the quote in the bible, I would read further on too!) It is a truly uplifting presentation of Bunyan's tale of a Christian's journey.
It's also good that both part of the journey are there, 1. Christian's terrifying and comforting journey; the second part is devoted to Christian's wife and children's journey and is just not a repeat of Christian's story. Christiana's add different aspects of a Christian's characteristics from a woman's point of view. There is a little discussion about women in the bible which is quite validatory to women. Bunyan shows that there were many women who were followers and supporters of Christ. They provided food and lodging for the Lord. I like this added touch.
I read this when I woke up during the night and couldn't sleep. I found it therapeutic, and referred often to the bible to follow the texts fo the quotations. A good experience!
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on 21 August 2012
The Pilgrim's Progress is said -- or, rather, WAS said before Harry Potter appeared on the scene -- to be the most read book written in English (after the AV and Book of Common Prayer). But its readership has changed greatly over the centuries. Originally pious reading for earnest Nonconformists, it had become by the nineteenth century (in simplified versions) standard nursery fodder; so it was still when I was a child in the 1950s, but I doubt if this is any longer the case. Since then it has been taken up by students looking at the origins of the English novel in university departments of English literature. It is for this readership that this edition is primarily directed, with its stress on the historical context, both in the introduction and in the welcome restoration of the original spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Notes are added (awkwardly printed as endnotes, not footnotes), primarily to supplement Bunyan's own indications of his constant biblical sources, for the benefit of modern readers who do not know their Bible.

The introduction argues convincingly that you can enjoy the book without taking the theology on board, but it also attempts to explain the latter, and here some problems arise. How do you distinguish between Catholicism in its Augustinian and Thomist variety (which took predestination seriously), mainstream Protestantism (as in the Church of England), and Puritanism? The doctrine of 'justification by faith alone' is particularly difficult to get right; the editor tells us that in classical Protestantism 'those elected to salvation would be enabled by God's grace to lead holy lives on earth' -- which was the doctrine of the Council of Trent, but not of Protestantism, which insisted that even the elect die deserving of damnation and dependent on God's unmerited mercy. It is the paradoxical combination of this doctrine with moral rigour that gave Puritanism its particular bent, while Bunyan's own experience of long imprisonment gave force to his insistence that a Christianity that benefits us in this world is bogus. It is this insistence on the experience of contempt and persecution that gives the book its particular power and, at the same time, dates it very definitely to a particular period in English history -- though, if the 'new atheists' have their way, this part of Bunyan's message may again become relevant.
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