When I first opened up the mail package and took this book out I was surprised how small it was (6.9 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches), just a little bigger than my hand. However, when I first opened up the pages of this book and began to look at its contents I found it was much more substantial than its appearance.
This book is part of the “Profiles in Reformed Spirituality” series, edited by Joel Beeke and Michael Haykin, which aims to, “introduce the spirituality and piety of the Reformed tradition by presenting descriptions of the lives of notable Christians with select passages from their works.”
Ryan M. McGraw (ed.) achieves his aims by beginning with a short biographical sketch (21 pages including several pages of full size pictures) of John Owen, specifically highlighting major events in his life that shaped his writing. Then the bulk of the book moves onto giving you 41 chapters (yes 41, but don’t be dismayed; the book only chimes in at 136 pages), each about two to three pages long, of “collected portions from primary sources.”
I think we’ve all heard things like, “Owen is a tough read!” or, “You have to read and re-read him to get anything out of him,… oh, but it is worth it!”
That makes this a perfect book for anyone who has always been afraid to dive into John Owen. The primary source chapters have even “updated his language and punctuation and added paragraph breaks” to make dipping into Owen even more accessible. If that isn’t enough, it is full of helpful footnotes and it even has an appendix on where to go from here in your reading of Owen.
All that to say, I really love the format of this book. It is an easy and accessible way to introduce oneself to the spiritual giants of our church history. If one is already familiar with Owen, one might consider using it as a 41-day devotional. Read one chapter a day (two to three small pages) and meditate on the great truths that Owen is writing on and I can’t see how you couldn’t be stirred up!
I think anyone who reads this book will see the benefits of reading the works of Owen and will no doubt want to take up and read more and more of his works.
[Note: You may view my highlights from the biography portion here.]