Richard Hooker’s “Works”

Richard Hooker is arguably one of the most important of the English Reformers.  Many would argue that he was the most important, despite the fact that he wrote a generation after the death of Thomas Cranmer.  Hooker, more than anyone else, drew together the loose ends of the English Reformation and tied them into the Elizabethan Settlement to define what we recognise today as the distinctive ethos of Anglicanism.  Not only is his legacy felt throughout the field of Anglican theology, Hooker’s thinking was also hugely influential in modern political philosophy, especially that of John Locke.

What’s interesting is that today, there are no reasonably priced editions of Hooker’s Works available.  When I was looking to purchase his works more than a decade ago the only edition I could find currently in print was that of the Folger Library.  Even Amazon’s discount pricing for that multi-volume work stopped my heart beating for a few seconds.  One publisher has recently put out a paperback set of Keble’s edition of Hooker with the retail price at about $60 for each of the three volumes.  Several print-on-demand publishers have made mismatched and poor quality reprints available that are based on PDF files from Google—often missing pages here and there while being overpriced and prone to falling apart.  Even if you could find a matched set of one of the old editions of Hooker on the Web, they are price-prohibitive.  I eventually settled on used copies of the two-volume Everyman set that I found online.  Even that was relatively pricey.

Hooker’s Works was one of the first things I thought about reprinting when I started The Anglican Expositor.  I like John Keble’s edition, which was the definitive critical edition until that of the Folger Library.  I thought about retypesetting all three volumes, but I simply don’t have the time for such a massive project.  The PDF files online are generally of a quality too poor for quality reproduction.  This past year I used up my quota of interlibrary loans through the Vancouver Island Region Library trying to get my hands on copies that I could scan myself. I ended up with either mismatched volumes, volumes that had been rebound too tightly to scan, or that were simply too far gone to produce usable scans.  That’s when I decided to simply use the best quality scans I could find on the Web to produce a set for my own personal use.

I mention all this because I want to be clear: This set of three volumes was not originally intended to be made public.  I’ve decided to make it public after so many friends and colleagues expressed interest.  It would appear that between the choice of a really nice edition at a high price, many will settle for a not-quite-so-nice edition for a much lower price.  These are good quality hardbacks.  I’ve gone with a casewrap binding instead of a hardcover with dust-jacket in order to save a few more dollars.  The text is good and crisp.  The downside is that because the scans underlying this printing were greyscale, they did pick up some of the page discolouration of the originals.  Most pages display a very minor  “shadow” behind the text.  The pages toward the centre of the book generally have a pronounced edge shadow in the gutter as well as occasional minor text distortion where the scanner couldn’t completely flatten the book.  Again, none of this is “severe” and none of it interferes with readability of the text.  It’s purely cosmetic.  I just want to be sure everyone’s fully aware of what they’re getting here.

The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker, edited by John Keble, Third Edition, originally printed by Oxford, 1845.  Volume I includes Keble’s introductory material, Isaac Walton’s biography of Hooker, and Books I to IV of Ecclesiastical Polity; Volume II includes Book V of Ecclesiastical Polity; and Volume III includes Books VI to VIII of Ecclesiastical Polity as well as Hooker’s sermons and disputations.  Critical material is included throughout all three volumes.

Hooker’s Works, Volume I (Casewrap Hardcover, 608 pages, US$26.50)
Hooker’s Works, Volume II (Casewrap Hardcover, 612 pages, US$26.50)
Hooker’s Works, Volume III (Casewrap Hardcover, 757 pages, US$29.50)

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