By Elizabeth Prata
I love the book The Pilgrim’s Progress. I have a hard time with allegory and symbolism, being so literal, but I love the book and many of its scenes stick with me in my mind. If you’ve been wanting to read the book but are unsure of which edition to choose, or are intimidated like I was for so long, here are some helps and guides to spur you in reading this marvelous book. Spurgeon read it over 100 times! That’s something, right?!
At the bottom I offer a list of fiction Christian books, too.
Banner of Truth: Why We Should Read Pilgrim’s Progress by Brian C. Hedges
I have read through part one of Bunyan’s story four times now (Spurgeon read it over one hundred times!), and my love for it increases with the passing of years.
It has been said that, next to the Bible, the most read book in the English language is John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim ‘s Progress. I wonder if that is still true. Most people today (including Christians) have not read it. The books that command the attention of children and adults today are not nearly so substantial. The Prayer of Jabez, Left Behind and Harry Potter have now usurped the place which Bunyan’s wonderful allegory about Christian’s dangerous journey to the Celestial City once held. Perhaps that is one reason why Christian thinking is so shallow and Christian experience is so thin.
Mr. Hedges fleshes out his reasons why we should read this book in the above essay, but here are a few I’ll summarize. The book is rich with word pictures that stay vivid in one’s mind. It is a huge encouragement to the joyful pilgrim and to the weary pilgrim…so, everyone! The lessons within show the difference between a true Christian and a false Christian. And many more reasons.
The best, most readable translation or edition to get is the Roger Pooley edition. It currently has this cover:
Now, here are some helps regarding this remarkable book. Mike Riccardi at Grace Community Church is doing a devotional series based on the book, here.
Ken Puls has a wonderful Notes & Commentary. A chapter is posted and at the bottom are Notes and Commentary, i.e. short explanations. I found this helpful.
Ligonier has a free 19-part course on both parts of The Pilgrim’s Progress led by Derek Thomas. It’s free at this time. I went through the course and loved it. Thomas explains the allegory, symbolism, and word pictures so well! Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour, Derek Thomas (free).
Mt Zion/Chapel Library Pilgrim’s Progress Study Guide. A standard Study Guide, with fill in the blanks and questions posed for the reader, I found this one helpful, too.
I should note here that Chapel Library is a ministry of Mt. Zion Bible Church in FL. It is an incredible ministry. There is literally a treasure trove of books, tracts, pamphlets, courses, guides, and more. Everything is free. Here is their blurb-
Chapel Library publishes more than 850 Christ-centered titles, mostly by authors from prior centuries whose writings have stood the test of time. Authors include the Puritans, Spurgeon (Baptist), Bonar (Presbyterian), Ryle (Anglican), Pink, Bunyan, Edwards, and many others. Chapel Library is a faith ministry that relies entirely upon God’s faithfulness. We therefore do not solicit donations, but we gratefully receive support from those who freely desire to give.
Download in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats. Read available items online using our on-screen reader. Or use the shopping cart icon to order items in printed format (up to 15 items per month per household). Chapel Library
So, in addition to ministries such as the ones above, I’ll also recommend-
TRUSTED BOOK STORE SITES
PODCASTS about books.
NEW! The Afterword: A Conversation on Books, Reading, & the Church, by Westminster Books. First podcast will be on June 1. Click on the link to register. Event is free. Here’s the blurb, an excerpt-
The Westminster Bookstore is kicking off a new initiative called “The Afterword: Conversations on Books, Reading, and the Church”. Often, reading an excellent book inspires deep curiosity about the person who created it. In this series our good friend, the author, parent, theologian, and Westminster Professor Jonathan Gibson, will be talking with some of the Bookstore’s favorite authors.
Open Book I especially loved the discussion between Nichols and RC Sproul about Moby-Dick.
Open Book is a weekly podcast about the power of books and the people they’ve shaped. In season one, host Stephen Nichols shares never-before-heard moments with R.C. Sproul in his home library, and now in season two, special guest John MacArthur tells the stories behind the books that left their mark on him and his more than fifty years of ministry. Join us each week as we hear amazing stories and insights they gleaned from the books on their shelves.
Tim Challies: He has a video playlist on Reading, one on Reading the Classics Together, and one on New and Notable Books for each month, among other topics. He also has a wealth of book reviews on his website.
I realize mostly everything above is non-fiction, so for fiction aficionados, here is a list of someone’s 23 best fiction Christian books. I’m not too familiar with this person’s site, but I am familiar with many of the authors listed in her ‘best-of’, and The Pilgrim’s Progress is on the list so…. I’ve read some authors on her list like Kingsbury, Rivers, tenBoom, Charles Martin… I read Martin’s When Crickets Cry and LOVED it. Beth Moore’s fiction book is on the list but I would not advise you to read that one.
Summer is time for reading I hope you pick up the Pooley version of The Pilgrim’s Progress, or any book that strikes your fancy. Just read, be edified, and then talk of what struck you in the book, engaging in Godly conversations and edifying each other. And don’t forget to read your Bible!