"The Question of the Eucharist is one of the most important belonging to the history of religion."

The Study Series

The Mercersburg Theology Study Series is an attempt to make available for the first time, in attractive, readable, and scholarly modern editions, the key writings of the 19th-century movement known as the Mercersburg Theology.  We believe this will be an important contribution to the scholarly community and to the broader reading public, who can at last be properly introduced to this unique blend of American and European, Reformed and catholic theology.  The project is very ambitious, encompassing thirteen volumes over five years, and will require dedicated support from scholars and readers alike to see it to completion, but we believe it is worth the effort.

The project has been organized and is being overseen by W. Bradford Littlejohn, the General Editor; it is being published by Wipf and Stock Publishers of Eugene, OR, and is being supported financially by The Mercersburg Society of Lancaster, PA.

Click here to see our flyer.

 

Rationale

Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the Mercersburg Theology, as evidenced by a steady stream of dissertations and monographs. The various scholarly efforts which constitute this resurgence, however, remain rather scattered and isolated, and have only barely penetrated into the consciousness of historians of the period or theologians investigating related topics.  In part, such is due to the rather scattered and isolated nature of the primary sources; only a handful of works have been reprinted in their complete form and in readable editions, others have been reprinted in excerpts, while the vast majority remain in their original bindings, confined to a few theological libraries in the eastern United States.  This has proven to be a serious obstacle even for committed students of the Mercersburg movement, as there remains a great difficulty in finding and making sense of this large body of source material.  More seriously, it has meant that a broader audience of theologians, historians, and religious professionals has rarely been able to tap into the riches of theological reflection and historical insight the Mercersburg movement has to offer, and have perhaps never even become aware of its existence.  The growing availability of the primary sources on Google Books has gone some way toward remedying the first problem, but the second problem remains unallayed.  It is a travesty that, as we reach the 125th anniversary of the death of John Williamson Nevin, one of the most creative and perceptive American theologians of the 19th century, no critical edition of his essential writings is available, and many of them have never been reprinted.

 

Goals

The Mercersburg Theology Study Series thus aims to accomplish three major goals.  First, it aims to reprint several significant Mercersburg works for the first time, making them available at last to a wide audience, and facilitating easy access for scholars of the movement.  Second, in addition to reprinting select works for the first time, the project aims to reprint in a definitive, standardized, and readable form, select works of the Mercersburg Theology that, while available in modern editions, vary widely in quality and editorial supplementation, making it difficult for them to find as wide a readership as they deserve.  Third, given that much of the Mercersburg Theology was hammered out through dialogue and debate with other Christian leaders of the day, the series will seek to include a few key texts from Mercersburg’s opponents, to provide an idea of how Mercersburg was perceived by contemporaries, and to help contextualize its counter-polemics.

Combining these three distinct categories, the series aims to provide the definitive compendium and introduction to the contributions of the Mercersburg Theology that will serve as a resource for scholars, religious professionals, and interested laymen for years to come.  This will encourage scholars in related fields to render more attention to the Mercersburg Theology as a unique and fruitful contribution to 19th-century American religion, and will help historically-conscious Reformed Christians to discover these untapped riches of their heritage.

 

Scope

To these ends, the proposed series will be thorough and wide-ranging, but not comprehensive.  Except where there are compelling reasons to include other material, it shall focus on writings from the period 1843-1860, the most productive and creative period of the Mercersburg theology.  Special attention will necessarily be given to the writings of John W. Nevin and Philip Schaff, the chief architects of the Mercersburg theology; regrettably, space permits the inclusion of only a few writings from other significant figures.  While not exhaustive, the majority of Nevin and Schaff’s published writings during this period will be included (except for those writings of Schaff that exist in fine modern editions), prioritizing those which scholars of the movement consider to be key statements of Mercersburg’s unique theological and historical perspective.  For the benefit of casual students of the movement, the writings will generally be organized topically, rather than chronologically, although editorial introductions will take note of historical developments between the various writings.

 

Methodology

Editorial contributions for each volume fall under three headings.  First, each volume will contain a Foreword from a respected theologian or historian with expertise on the surrounding field.  These brief, wide-angle-lens introductions will be aimed at non-specialists, and will summarize the theological and/or historical significance of the works included in the volume as well as their relevance to other works in the field.  Second, each volume will contain an Introduction from a Mercersburg scholar with particular expertise on the subject of the volume (the volume editor).  These longer essays will analyze and contextualize the contents of the volume at more length, summarizing the relation of each to the Mercersburg Theology as a whole and to each other.  Third, the volume editor will make the writings more accessible to scholars and laymen alike by correcting typographical errors throughout, tracking down citations within the text and footnoting them properly, adding footnotes explaining unfamiliar terms, allusions, and historical figures, translating untranslated quotes, and indexing the whole work.

All volumes will be re-typeset for ease of reading and standardization.  The series will also include a general introduction to the whole series (in the first volume), and an exhaustive bibliography of the Mercersburg writings (in the final volume).

 

Contents

Here is a list of the tentatively planned volumes for the series, their proposed contents, their editors, and their target publication dates:

1. The Mystical Presence: and the Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper
Early 2012
Edited by: Linden DeBie

    • Nevin, The Mystical Presence (1846)
    • Nevin, “Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper” in Mercersburg Review [MR] (1850): 421-549


2. Debating the Mystical Presence: Nevin v. Hodge
Mid 2012
Edited by: Linden DeBie

    • Hodge, “Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Eucharist” in Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review [BRPR] (1848): 227-78
    • Nevin’s response in The Weekly Messenger


3. Principles of Church History: Selected Writings of Philip Schaff
Late 2012
Edited by: Ted Trost and David Bains

    • Schaff, Principle of Protestantism (1844)
    • Hodge, “Schaf’s Protstantism” in BRPR (1845): 626-36
    • Schaff, What is Church History? (1846)
    • Schaff, “German Theology and the Church Question” in  MR (1852): 124-44


4. The Incarnate Word: Selected Writings on Christology
Early 2013
Edited by: William B. Evans

    • Nevin, “Sartorius on the Person and Work of Christ” in MR (1849): 146-64
    • Nevin, “The New Creation in Christ” in MR (1850): 1-12
    • Nevin, “Wilberforce on the Incarnation” in MR (1850): 164-96
    • Nevin, “Cur Deus Homo” in MR (1851): 220-39
    • Nevin, “Liebner’s Christology” in MR (1851): 55-72
    • Nevin, “Jesus and the Resurrection”;  in MR (1861): 169-91
    • Schaff, “The Moral Character of Jesus Christ,” in MR (1861): 321-73
    • Daniel Gans, “The Person of Christ” in MR (1854): 505-31.


5. “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic”: Nevin’s Writings on Ecclesiology
Mid 2013
Edited by: Sam Hamstra

    • The Anxious Bench (1843)
    • Catholic Unity (1845)
    • The Church (1846)
    • Antichrist (1848)
    • “The Sect System” in MR (1848): 482-508, 521-39
    • “Catholicism” in MR (1851): 1-26
    • “The Christian Ministry,” in MR (1855): 68-93
    • “Hodge on the Ephesians” in MR (1857): 46-82
    • “Thoughts on the Church” in MR (1858): 169-98


6. Miscellaneous Writings on the Sacraments
Late 2013
Edited by: David Layman

    • Nevin, “Noel on Baptism” in MR (1850): 231-65
    • Nevin, “Wilberforce on the Eucharist” in MR (1854): 161-86.
    • Nevin, “The Old Doctrine of Christian Baptism” in MR (1860): 190-216
    • Nevin, “The Bread of Life: A Communion Sermon” in MR (1879): 14-48
    • Schaff, “The Apostolic Origin of Infant Baptism,” in MR (1852): 388-98
    • Gerhart, “The Efficacy of Baptism” in MR (1858): 1-45


7. Essays in Church History
Early 2014
Edited by: Nick Needham

    • Early Christianity,” in MR (1851): 461-90, 513-63 and MR (1852): 1-55
    • Nevin, Cyprian,” in MR (1852): 259-78, 335-88, 417-53, 513-64
    • Schaff, “Constantine the Great,” in MR (1860): 173-90
    • Schaff, “Gnosticism,” in MR (1858): 520-33


8. The Early Creeds
Mid 2014
Edited by: Charles Yrigoyen, Jr.

    • Nevin, “Puritanism and the Creed” in MR (1849): 585-608
    • Nevin, “The Apostles’ Creed” in MR (1849): 105-27, 201-21, 313-47
    • Proudfit, “The Apostles’ Creed” in BRPR (1852): 602-76
    • Nevin, “The Anti-Creed Heresy” in MR (1852): 606-20
    • Nevin, “The Origin and Structure of the Apostles’ Creed” in MR (1869): 148-56
    • Nevin, “The Unity of the Apostles’ Creed” in MR (1869): 313-18
    • Schaff, “The Athanasian Creed” in MR (1860): 232-71


9. The Heidelberg Catechism
Late 2014
Edited by: Lee Barrett

    • Nevin, The History and Genius of the Heidelberg Catechism (1847)
    • Nevin, “Zacharias Ursinus,” in MR (1851): 490-512
    • Proudfit, “The Heidelberg Catechism and Dr. Nevin” in BRPR (1852): 91-184
    • Nevin, “The Heidelberg Catechism” in MR (1852): 155-87
    • Harbaugh, “The Church System and the Heidelberg Catechism” in MR (1857): 83-108


10. The Mercersburg Liturgy
Early 2015
Edited by: Mike Farley

    • German Reformed Church, The New Liturgy (1857)
    • German Reformed Church, Revised Liturgy (1866)
    • Bomberger, The Revised Liturgy
    • Bomberger, Reformed, not Ritualistic (excerpts)
    • Nevin, “Theology of the New Liturgy” in MR (1867): 23-67
    • Nevin, Vindication of the Revised Liturgy (1867)
    • Schaff, “The New Liturgy” in MR (1858): 199-28


11. Schaff’s
America and Related Writings
Mid 2015
Edited by: Stephen R. Graham

    • Schaff, America (1855)
    • Schaff, “American Nationality” (1856): 501-23
    • Schaff, “Christianity in America” in MR (1857): 493-538
    • Schaff, “The State Church System in Europe,” in MR (1857): 154-65


12. Philosophy and the Contemporary World
Late 2015
Edited by: Patrick Carey and Adam S. Borneman

    • Nevin, “The Year 1848” (1849): 10-43
    • Nevin, Human Freedom, and A Plea for Philosophy (1850)
    • Nevin, “Brownson’s Quarterly Review” in MR (1850): 33-80
    • Nevin, “Brownson’s Quarterly Review Again” in MR (1850): 307-24
    • Nevin, “The Church Year” in MR (1856): 456-77
    • Nevin “The Moral Order of Sex” in MR (1850): 549-72
    • Nevin, “The Anglican Crisis,” in MR (1851): 359-98
    • Nevin, “Man’s True Destiny” in MR (1853): 492-521
    • Nevin, “Natural and Supernatural” in MR (1860): 176-211
    • Nevin, “Our Relations to Germany,” in MR (1867): 627-32
    • Nevin, “The Wonderful Nature of Man” in MR (1860): 317-37


13. Mercersburg and Its Critics
Early 2016
Edited by: Darryl G. Hart

    • J.H.A. Bomberger, “Dr. Nevin and His Antagonists” in MR (1853): 145-80
    • Nevin, “The Dutch Crusade,” in MR (1855): 67-117
    • Nevin, “Answer to Professor Dorner” in MR (1868): 532-646
    • Hodge, “Dr. Schaff’s Apostolic Church” in BRPR (1854): 148-92
    • Hodge, “What is Christianity?” in BRPR (1860): 118-61
    • Unknown, “Short Notices: Antichrist, or, The Spirit of Sect and Schism” in BRPR (1848)