It is with deep gratitude to God that The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies announces that the publishing house of Walter de Gruyter, with head offices in Berlin and Boston, has committed itself to the publication of a modern critical edition of the entire corpus of Andrew Fuller’s published and unpublished works. Walter de Gruyter has been synonymous with high-quality, landmark publications in both the humanities and sciences for more than 260 years. The preparation of a critical edition of Fuller’s works, part of the work of the Andrew Fuller Center, was first envisioned in 2004. It is expected that this edition will comprise twelve to fourteen volumes and take seven or so years to publish.
The importance of the project
The controlling objective of The Works of Andrew Fuller Project is to preserve and accurately transmit the text of Fuller’s writings. The editors are committed to the finest scholarly standards for textual transcription, editing, and annotation. Transmitting these texts is a vital task since Fuller’s writings, not only for their volume, extent, and scope, but for their enduring importance, are major documents in both the Baptist story and the larger history of British Dissent.
From a merely human perspective, if Fuller’s theological works had not been written, William Carey would not have gone to India. Fuller’s theology was the mainspring behind the formation and early development of the Baptist Missionary Society, the first foreign missionary society created by the Evangelical Revival of the last half of the eighteenth century and the missionary society under whose auspices Carey went to India. Very soon, other missionary societies were established, and a new era in missions had begun as the Christian faith was increasingly spread outside of the West, to the regions of Africa and Asia. Carey was most visible at the fountainhead of this movement. Fuller, though not so visible, was utterly vital to its genesis.
A short history of Fuller’s Works
Fuller’s writings exist in three states: those published during his lifetime, those issued posthumously, and those still in manuscript (these are mostly letters, sermons and a diary). Up until now, scholars and general readers have had to rely generally on a nineteenth-century American edition that has been reprinted by Sprinkle Publications: The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (1845 ed.; repr. Harrisonburg, Virginia: 1988; 3 vols.). The inadequacies of this edition include its incompleteness, the small font size of the text, and the lack of both critical annotation and adequate indices. A much better text to have reprinted would have been The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (London: William Ball, 1837), which was published in 5 volumes and is much easier to read. However, it too suffers from not being the complete works of Fuller and likewise lacks both critical annotation and adequate indices.
Finally, there is a very rare 8-volume edition published as The Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (London: B.J. Holdsworth, 1825), in which his close friend and biographer John Ryland, Jr. played a role. After Fuller’s death, there also appeared two volumes of additional writings, neither of which is readily available today: J.W. Morris, Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Religious Subjects, being the last remains of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (London, 1826) and Joseph Belcher, ed., The Last Remains of the Re. Andrew Fuller (Philadelphia, 1856). The editor of this latter piece also brought out a selection of Fuller’s writings entitled The Atonement of Christ, and the Justification of the Sinner (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.).
What is missing from all of these collections is most of the massive correspondence of Fuller, which reveals the enormous influence that Fuller had in both Baptist circles and other realms of eighteenth-century Evangelicalism. Without the availability of these works, a proper appreciation of Fuller’s impact and achievement cannot be done.
The Works of Andrew Fuller Project will reproduce Fuller’s texts as he wrote them in manuscript or, if he published them himself, as they were printed in the final edition that he would have had access to. The annotations that accompany each text will present textual problems and variant readings. In the prefaces and headnotes, the editors will seek to sketch the historical context and intellectual influences.
University libraries as well as those of seminaries and bible colleges will be interested in placing standing orders for the volumes. A growing interest in Fuller, his theology and his times bodes well for this project. Further details of the project can be had by contacting the General Editor, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin at The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.