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Who Killed the Bible?

second edition, with a new concluding chapter
“The English Bible and the Idea of a Christian Society”
ISBN 978 0 907839 87 3
xii + 136 pp A5 paperback £9.60

Mr Robinson’s argument, that all recent English translations of the Bible go wrong because they put into practice both mistaken theories and a mistaken notion of theory, needs to be followed in detail. This much-revised second edition concludes with a new chapter about the relation of the English Bible to the nation. It should be read in conjunction with the downloadable essay “Is the Bible a Book?” listed in the third column on this page.


Paperback editions of Christopher Morgan's two collections

The Fire Jump
and Other Poems


Stalking the A4

From the cover of the latter:

Especially in the twenty-first century it is not faint praise to call a writer a supreme master of the iambic pentameter, and Morgan's fluency in other forms is amazing. But Christopher Morgan should not be offered as a poets' poet, to be relished only by connoisseurs of verse: these poems are moving and funny as well as immediatey appealing.

For the new edition of The Fire Jump Morgan has included one new poem, discarded the French and Spanish poems, and revised and re-ordered the whole collection.

Stalking the A4
978 0 9567048 1 8
60 pp. demy 8vo £6.00

The Fire Jump & Other Poems
978 0 9559996 6 6
85 pp. demy 8vo £6.00

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  • The St Peter’s
    Chant Book

    compiled and arranged by
    David Wulstan

    This handy-sized volume, made for the choir of St Peter’s College, Oxford, has settings for all the chants of the Matins and Evensong of the Book of Common Prayer. The Psalms are organised by days, as in that Book, and there is a range of alternatives for the Te Deum, Benedictus, Benedicite, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis and Easter Anthems / Venite. Composers come from all the centuries of Anglican chant and include no less than four Purcells.
         Professor Wulstan is perhaps the only living scholar distinguished both as a Hebraist, a musicologist and a conductor—he founded and for many years conducted the Clerkes of Oxenford, the pioneers of authentic performance of Tudor church music—but is also an experienced church organist and has a good idea of what choirs and congregations are likely to be able to sing well. His advice about phrasing and pointing is practical as well as authoritative.
         The Introduction gives a succinct account of the development of Anglican chant and its relation to the original Hebrew of the Psalms, together with some useful Notes for Musical Directors. A version of this Intro-duction appeared in Faith & Worship 69, Michaelmas 2011, and can be read on the Prayer Book Society website.
         Any musically literate person following the Prayer Book custom of reading through the Psalms once a month could for a change enjoy using this book to sing them, but its most likely users are church and college choirs or choir-led congregations. Any choirmaster or church-warden ordering ten or more copies may have a discount on the already low price: please email us to inquire or to request a specimen copy.
    pp. x + 36
    ISBN 978 0 9567048 2 5
    10.2 x 7.2 inches ringbound, £8.00 post free

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    Directors Brian Lee (chairman)
    Ian Robinson (secretary)
    Michael DiSanto      Duke Maskell

    Since 1970 we have been publishing criticism, fiction, poetry, theology, politics. Our list shows that what Matthew Arnold called criticism of life can still flourish.

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    copyright © 2014 The Brynmill Press Ltd

    What Matters in Politics

    Daniel Hannan, How we invented Freedom
    & Why it Matters

    Head of Zeus 9781781857540 £20

    I disagree with Daniel Hannan’s thesis and shall say why, so to begin with, it should be emphasised that this is a book worth disagreeing with. It is a pleasant surprise, even exhilarating, to find a contemporary British politician with some beliefs, capable of making judgements from a perspective of historical knowledge and in decent English prose. No member of the present cabinet could conceivably have done anything like it.
         It is a compliment to Hannan’s mode of argument that the first objection has to be to the lack of references. Again and again he tells me interesting and important things I didn’t know, but never tells me where to find them. I discovered the book when I noticed on some website Hannan’s claim that “government of the people by the people for the people” was a saying originated not, as I thought, by Abraham Lincoln, but half a millennium earlier by John Wycliffe. It does not sound like Wycliffe. I obtained at some expense a pdf version of the Wycliffite Bible and searched without finding the phrase, but I am not confident enough to say simply that Wycliffe never said it. I do want to see the phrase in context. Nearer the other end of Hannan’s history: is it really true that Eisenhower changed his mind and regretted his not having supported the Anglo-French Suez débacle in 1956? I would like to know, and if so in what form. Hannan does not tell me where to find out.
         This is an objection that would only be worth making to a serious book, which this is. It offers itself as a political judgement based on a return to a Whig view of history. About this Hannan is explicit, acknowledging the importance of Butterfield but nevertheless asserting that “the Whig historians glimpsed important truths.” (p.15) These “truths” are several times stated, for instance in the formulation with which Hannan ends his book: “You . . . are the heirs to a sublime tradition. A tradition that gave us liberty, property and democracy, and that raised our species to a pinnacle of wealth and happiness hitherto unimaginable. Act worthy of yourselves.” (p. 377)
         To the trinity of liberty, property and democracy and its effect of a height of happiness is attributed the global predominance of the Anglosphere; and it is traced all the way from the primeval forests of Germany through Anglo-Saxon law, Magna Carta, three wars seen by Hannan as Anglosphere civil wars, and to the present “Anglosphere twilight” when we are all losing this trinity for the sake of statism, big government, bureaucracy.
            Many of Hannan’s reports of moments of English, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian . . . history are fresh and interesting. His account is nevertheless a distortion of history and his politicial principles insufficient.
         The objection is not just that Hannan has not a good word to say for the Monarchy, for the Aristocracy, for the Church of England, but that as a historian he can only get there by consistently playing down the importance of what to him is the wrong side in the history of England, and by misrepresenting his heroes, the Whigs. The Norman Conquest for Hannan was nothing but a great national disaster that saddled the country with an alien aristocracy necessarily the enemy of liberty and democracy. “The Restoration of 1660 had been a restoration, first, of the legitimate Parliament and only second of the monarchy”! (p. 184) In what we all agree to have been a civil war Hannan not only sides simply against Charles I, he goes all the way to unambiguous identification of English values with the Levellers, with whom surely the Whigs would have had nothing to do.
         It is a gross distortion to think of the great Whig families as in any sense democratic. One hiatus in Hannan’s history is any discussion of the second reform act of 1867. Disraeli got it through Parliament because (whatever his private thoughts may have been, and despite Carlyle’s clear warnings) all parties agreed that this must not be a step towards inevitable one-person-one-vote.
         There is also a Tory tradition, or was. Were the Tories not properly part of the nation? not patriotic? Does not the evolution of the party political system itself show that serious difference is part of the national character? We [I will say, though Hannan would make it only an unpopular faction] resisted the American and the French Revolutions, the latter with some success. Is it really true to the spirit of the nation that the “values” of the American revolution are now the only ones permissible in this free society? The oaths of allegiance are still to the monarch. “No one seriously disputes the rights of their legislatures to choose any head of state they please.” (p. 193) Is this form of absolutism true to English tradition?
         Hannan does not himself use the phrase the greatest happiness of the greatest number but there is no discord between it and his ideals. Hannan accepts the case originated by Weber that capitalist prosperity follows from the Protestant work ethic, so the Protestant nations used to be wealthier than the Catholic nations. (I think he is mistaken in taking Protestantism to be much the same as religious freedom, but let that go just now.) It is not in fact true that human happiness, however we understand it, is the same as human wealth. (An Anglican priest whose congregation in the West Indies was more or less composed of millionaires once told me he had never met such a miserable bunch in his life.) Were the workers in the industrial cities of the nineteenth century happier than the farm workers they left in the villages? Were, and are, the people Arnold called Philistines happier than the cultured? Hannan ignores the opposition to Utilitarianism, an opposition some of us think one of the admirable things in recent British history, and which stretches from Carlyle and Coleridge through Arnold and Eliot all the way to Leavis.
            Hannan’s ideals do not make love of country comprehensible. We have “almost everything that we consider to be modern, comfortable and rational . . . .” (p. 313) Locke and the social contract myth (never embraced by the Tories) is important to Hannan. (He does not mean the set of social contracts known as the feudal system.) But could any sort of agreement about mutual benefit and the enjoyment of the modern, comfortable and rational explain why some young men used to be willing, if necessary (though they certainly didn’t want to) to die for their country? When the young men of Europe were ordered to slaughter one another a hundred years ago, why did they do it? In defence of Magna Carta, “the most fitting symbol imaginable of what the English-speaking nations were fighting for”? (p. 113) That is not what it says on the war memorials. A common inscription is “For God, King and Country”. The First World War was fought against the Central Powers, not against monarchy. The Second World War was fought against the Axis, not against fascism. Our objection to Hitler was not that he was a National Socialist, but that we thought he wanted unjust power over us. Love of country shows itself in defence of hearth and home: a far better principle than defence of principle.
         How come that the only thoughtful mind within the Conservative Party is that of a Leveller? What has happened to the Tory tradition?
                                                                               Ian Robinson

    Edgeways Books
    is a division of
    The Brynmill Press Ltd.



    Some pages from Ian Robinson’s book Untied Kingdom make a comment that we have not seen elsewhere. To read, click on

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    Web Texts


    The new edition of Who Killed the Bible?, re-ordered, substantially revised and with a new concluding chapter “The English Bible and the Idea of a Christian Society”, can be had now as an e-book for £4.00.

    The reset editions of Wittgenstein on Frazer and Roger Elliott's “Discourses that Persuade . . .” can both be had as e-texts.


    Is the Bible a Book?
    Ian Robinson

    Modern scholarship tends to ignore the whole by concentrating on the parts and their origins. This essay shows that the Bible can be one book only if the New Testament is allowed to read the Old Testament.


    F. R. Leavis
    the Cambridge Don

    Ian Robinson

    An extensively revised talk previously published in an abridged form in
    The Use of English


    Every Literature Helps
    Presidential Address
    to the Leicester Theological Society
    Duncan Campbell OP

    How literature does good is one of the great questions raised by all serious readers and unlikely to receive a definitive answer. Also, the world’s literature is very extensive. So to survey it in an hour’s lecture, organised around the question (asked from the point of view of a Christian priest) how literature helps, is to undertake at least two daunting tasks at once. Fr Campbell does so jauntily and as a critic with fresh responses to some wonderful works. Because this is genuine criticism it invites replies of the form “yes, but”. The memorable remark on the damnation of the leading characters in Wuthering Heights would be even better if extended to include the self-righteous Nelly Dean. The deepest insight in Bleak House is surely not about renunciation of the beloved but about forgiveness. (On which theme we see the notice about The Comedy of Forgiveness in column 1.) And so on. Here, that is, is a treatment of real questions that deserves attention and discussion—as a new demonstration that literary criticism is a non-scientific non-methodical form of thought.


    Poetry in the New Matrix
    The Poet Laureate
    and the Bane
    Brian Lee

    This thirty-two page pamphlet continues the series that includes Poetry and the System with some reflections on recent events and their bearing on the state of poetry and our common life.


    A. C. Capey

    Mr Capey’s long-promised criticism of twentieth-century Bible translations

    F. R. Leavis
    David Matthews

    Mr Matthews’s memories of more than sixty years, going back to the great days of Downing, are a fresh testimony to the greatest English critic of modern times.