The Religious Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers) is a very unique religious group with a long history. Originally formed in England during the 1650s Quakers immediately faced censure, accusations of blasphemy, imprisonment and, in extreme cases, execution by the intolerant religious establishments of the time. The reasons for this treatment ranged from the questioning of scripture to the refusal to swear oaths, address magistrates by titles or fight in wars.
As the title suggests the book is a collection of essays and letters written by such famous Friends as George Fox, William Penn and Margaret Fell (to name a few) over a period of almost three hundred years. Despite the introduction to this review the book is not all about persecution, far from it. Although some of the letters were written by Friends from inside prison cells the majority of the book celebrate the religious convictions of Friends and speak about their faith, beliefs and practices.
One thing that is very obvious from reading the book is that Quakerism has changed since its original creation over three hundred years ago and I’m not going to go into whether or not I think that’s a good thing. The book paints a wonderful mental picture of early Quakerism with much talk of Christ which is sometimes missing from more contemporary Quaker writings.
The book isn’t without its downsides; I had particular trouble appreciating the writing style of William Penn, however considering the age of some of the writings by and large it is easy to get on with. Also I am unsure as to why the author only included letters written up to 1920 and not any more recent offerings.
This is an excellent book for someone who is interested in Quakers and wants to learn more about their roots particularly the beliefs and practices of early Friends. Personally I found it deeply inspirational and will definitely be re-reading it.
Final verdict 5/5