The Parker Society was the London-based Anglican society which printed in fifty-four handsome volumes the works of the leading English Reformers of the sixteenth century. It was formed in 1840 and disbanded in 1855 when its work was completed. Its name is that of Matthew Parker, the first Elizabethan Archbishop of Canterbury, who was known as a great collector of books. The stimulus for the foundation of the society was provided by the Tractarian movement, led by John Henry Newman and Edward B. Pusey. Some members of this movement spoke disparagingly of the English Reformation, and so some members of the Church of England felt the need to make available in an attractive form the works of the leaders of that Reformation.
Thus the society represented a cooperation between traditional High Churchmen and evangelical churchmen, both of whom were committed to the Reformation teaching on justification by faith. The society had about seven thousand subscribers who paid one pound each year from 1841 to 1855; thus for fifteen pounds the subscribers received fifty-four volumes. The level of critical scholarship is uneven in the volumes, since twenty-four editors were used and the task of arriving at the best text was far from easy. While some of the volumes have been superseded by more recent critical editions, this collection remains today one of the most valuable sources for the study of the English Reformation.
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P. Toon, "The Parker Society," HMPEC 46(Sept., 1977).
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