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About John Bunyan The young man walked about the grounds of the farmyard deep in thought. Before him lay a decision that would change the course of history. The man was John Bunyan, the date was November 12, 1660 and it is an early autumn evening. Just moments before, the master of the house had taken him aside and in an agitated voice said, "Oh Mr. Bunyan, there is a warrant out against you, and the officers are on the lookout for you. We cannot have our meeting! ... You must leave!" "What, brother," says Bunyan, "go away and not have the meeting!" "Oh yes, Mr. Bunyan, they are in search of you, and they'll have you in prison if they can find you." "What if they do? I will by no means stir, neither will I have the meeting dismissed for this." Brave words! Words spoken in haste less than an hour before. But now, as he thinks more rationally under the calming influence of reason will he not sing a different song? The farmer's wife comes to hang out the afternoons wash. She walks with that endearing waddle peculiar to women about to give birth and his thoughts turn to his own wife, Elizabeth. She is also on the verge of birth. How will his loved one fare if he is cast into prison or perhaps exiled? What about the new infant and his little blind daughter, Mary? Ah, dear blind child. She is the pride of his life and the thought forcing her to live as a fatherless child tears at his heart. More guests are arriving, singly or in small groups of 2 or 3. They all come from different directions to avoid rousing the suspicions of the authorities. Here and there his parishioners cluster to hear the news as it is carried from one to another. "A warrant for his arrest, do you say?" "Indeed? Well why does he not run then?" "Got me. There is yet time." But he does not run. He begins the meeting with prayer and a verse from the Word of God. Suddenly there are strange voices and a knock at the door. Eager, anxious faces turn to stare at the door - it opens - And there stand before them two unfamiliar forms. No one needs to tell them that it is the constable and the justice's man. John Bunyan, tinker and lay preacher is under arrest. Thus began 12 years of imprisonment at a time when religious freedom was a rare thing. Oh, certainly, one was free to serve truth according to the dictates of their conscience - as long as it was the same truth that the king served. Any other variety was against the law. And the preaching of any other variety was even more sternly forbidden. Fines, imprisonment, torture and even death were common fare for the unlicensed preacher who dared gather a crowd to hear him. And of this crime John Bunyan was clearly quite guilty. He is carried to the justice who is not home. Friends offer to be surety for him and he is allowed to go to his home to break the news to his dear ones. "Run, John. You can run!" "No, Elizabeth, I cannot run for I am a slave to my own promise." There is a farce of a trial where he is offered promises of freedom if he will but agree to be silent. He answers, "I tell you, sir, that if I were released today I would, by God's grace, be preaching again tomorrow." And so the next 12 years were spent in a loathsome dungeon surrounded by profligates and felons. Yet in that dismal den John Bunyan breathes the very atmosphere of heaven and there he writes that immortal classic that we know as “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” A book that has been translated into more languages, been published in more editions and changed more lives than any other non-Biblical book in history (now available in dramatized audio). Why did Bunyan, under the inspiration of God, refuse to flee? Why, in order to strike a magnificent bargain. The trade of 12 years of one man's life for the changed lives of hundreds of thousands. And, if you are a believer in eternity, you must consider it to have been a good trade. 20% of one man's life given in exchange for the eternal lives of thousands. As one scholar put it... "Thus . . .[was] the man who was forbidden to speak to a few assembled in a peasant's cottage, furnished with facilities for writing a book by which he speaks to millions in every land, and through all succeeding generations; while the men who sought to silence him are forgotten. So do the enemies of the Gospel frustrate their own schemes. So does the right live on, emerging into ever-increasing splendor, while the wrong sinks into merited oblivion." Robert Magguire, D.D. in his introduction to the superfine edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress." A 19th century edition. In short, John Bunyan was a hero. A man who would do what was right though the heavens might seem to come crashing down about the ears of those he loved most. One of those few great men who chose to suffer loss of freedom so that we who follow after might enjoy total freedom. John Bunyan - may we meet thee in the kingdom!
About Jim Pappas Jim Pappas (B.A. Communications, M.A. Oral Interpretation/Story telling), is most widely known as the adaptor/ producer of The Pilgrim's Progress AudioBook. Already owned by tens of thousands of families, this exciting set of six, hour-long CDs (or one MP3 CD) is presently the most complete, entertaining and thought-provoking audio enhancement of John Bunyan's masterpiece in the world! Jim is also known in the Northern California communities of Napa and Saint Helena as the writer/director of Company One, Inc. Under Jim's 15 year leadership this collegiate Christian drama/mime ministry became well known for its innovative performance technique based on the stage style known as Reader's Theatre. Jim and his co-producer wife, Linda, now live in the forested foothills of Northern California where they research, write and produce their life-changing books, plays and audio dramatizations. Jim's dream for the future is to bring several more of John Bunyan's masterpieces to press and audio in a modern language format. “Christiana: Pilgrim’s Progress Part II” is available as an 8 hour audio dramatization on CD or MP3 and the book version has also recently been released. In progress are other John Bunyan projects, such as "Grace Abounding," and "The Holy War," as audio dramas and books. Jim is also a prolific playwright and has several plays ready to record as audio dramas. Several of these scripts are available for possible inclusion in your drama ministry. Jim and Linda have just finished final construction on their home and Jim is looking forward to more gardening, wood- working, blacksmithing and photography.
Next to the Bible, The Pilgrim's Progress has probably been more widely read than any other book in the English language. It was first published in 1678 and was an immediate success. Another edition was published the same year, and there was an enormous demand for it.
The second part, Christiana, was published in 1684. Eleven editions were printed during the author's lifetime. It has been translated into more than 100 languages, and there have been literally hundreds of different editions published in English, in Great Britain, America, and wherever English is spoken.
For over 300 years it has maintained its popularity with young and old alike. It has been enjoyed equally well by people from all shades of Christian belief as well as by those who profess none. It is a religious allegory, in which people and places represent various vices and virtues.
Christian, the hero, sets out from the City of Destruction to go to the Celestial City (Heaven). While most readers have taken The Pilgrim's Progress as a religious message, it is also a good story, and Bunyan's style is described as vivid and racy. It is ranked today by practically all literary critics as the greatest allegory in any language.
Many of its phrases, such as "The Slough of Despond," "Vanity Fair," "The Muckraker," have become familiar household words.
"The acceptance which his Pilgrim's Progress has met with is altogether unparalleled. During the Author's lifetime many copies are said to have been circulated in England--and that was at a time when books and readers were comparatively scarce.
"Several editions . . . were published in North America, and translations were issued in French and Flemish, Dutch, Welsh, Gaelic and Irish. Nor does time show any abatement of its popularity.
"Among all the competitors for public favor which have since issued from the press, it retains its pre-eminence.
"There is scarcely a known language into which it has not been rendered. Wherever English is spoken it is familiar as a household word . . . and notwithstanding the millions of copies in circulation, and the new editions which are constantly appearing, publishers can still reckon on a sale of hundreds of thousands for one edition alone. . .
"Children are entranced with the interest of the story; its tranquil or gloomy scenes, its pictures of danger and conflict, of triumph and despair.
"Men too illiterate to account for the fascination are attracted to its pages. And learned men, who have little sympathy with its religious purpose, feel the spell of its genius, and are compelled to admire it for the beauty or the awfulness of its creations, its vivid embodiments, its clear insight and keen satire, its terse Saxon style.
"The young Christian, just starting on his course, reads it for guidance and encouragement in his own conflicts and perils; and the aged saint, lingering for a while on the river's brink, before the messenger summons him into the presence of the King, testifies to the accuracy with which it pictures the serene and mellowed joys of the land of Beulah . . .
"It is wonderful that any man should have written a book of such universal and enduring popularity. More wonderful still that it should have been written in prison by an uneducated tinker, the descendant of a vagrant tribe--written spontaneously and unconsciously--not as an effort, but as a relief from mental fullness - as the thoughts came crowding up in all their freshness in an untrained but singularly original and fertile mind."
- Robert Maguire, D.D. in his introduction to the superfine edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress." A 19th century edition.
Free Articles on drama by Jim Pappas (To obtain any of the articles below click on the title)