A note on editing conventions
“How can a lay reader get the most out of Charnock?” This question governed our approach to this Boundlessly God series. How could one of the best theological works on God’s character slip into the reading diet of everyday Christians? From an editorial point of view, tackling Charnock’s Discourses was a formidable climb, strewn with Elizabethan language landmines and complex Puritan theology. A stirring work that could ring off the walls of some grand 17th-century church as a sermon needed to be converted into a book that a college student or a secretary on her commute could pick up and read.
In editing Discourses, our goal was to preserve as much of Charnock’s passion, insight, and exhaustive exposition and discussion as possible and still render him readable for an educated, twenty-first century lay audience. We took on the role of literary shoeshines: polishing up the gold that was already there. We broke up giant walls of text, shortened sentences, removed passive voice, imposed chapter and section hierarchies, and mopped up complex grammar and punctuation. A lot of rhetorical questions underwent a declarative restructuring. We worked to preserve much of Charnock’s original wording, imagery, and sequence of argument. Scripture references that were formerly in the Old King James translation were rewritten in the English Standard Version. We capitalized pronouns that referenced the Godhead, and updated words that carried now-obsolete meanings or connotations.
Even though the wording may have been modernized, the robust, deep thoughts originally produced by Charnock have been preserved. When you read this work you are essentially “reading Charnock.”
E. Peterson and D. Kennicutt, editors February 2017