This collection features illustrations from the 114 editions of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress held in the Seminary Library's Klingberg Bunyan Collection. These editions were originally collected by John Eric Klingberg for enjoyment and spiritual development in the Children's Home in New Britain, Connecticut that he founded. Klingberg was a passionate reader, a life-long learner, and a prominent pastor in the Baptist General Conference in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. After his death in 1946 his son continued to build the collection and his grandson donated it to Bethel Seminary in 1987. These rare and beautiful editions span two centuries from 1727 to the early 1900s.
Pilgrim's Progress is a classic of English Literature and spiritual devotion and has never been out of print since its first publication in 1678. According to Bunyan scholar, W. R. Owens, next to the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress is the most widely read work of literature in English for this period of time. It is also recognized by Pietism scholar F. Stoeffler as a "major achievement of the pietistic tradition" which is also an important part of Bethel's heritage. It has been translated into 200 languages and has been recreated in multiple editions in print and multiple media formats including film, television, and video games.
Part of this rich history of interpretations is apparent through the history of its illustrations. Only the first two editions of the work had no illustrations but many artists, illustrators, engravers, and publishers have since contributed to the story through their visual interpretations.
This exhibit and collection shows this variety through selected illustrations of key scenes and characters in this classic story of pilgrimage.