Rev. Dr. Duane Priset’s reimagining of the Pilgrim’s Progress available
For over 40 years, the Rev. Dr. Duane Priset, who served Lockport: Emmanuel UMC in the Upper New York Conference and several churches in the former Western New York Conference, has been teaching lessons from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress to Sunday School classes, congregations, seminar attendees, and even his seminary students.
Introduced to The Pilgrim’s Progress as a senior in high school, Dr. Priset read the book aloud to his grandmother, in her nursing home, every day after school. He reread the book many times throughout his life, learning something new each time. At certain points, he focused on the places in the book, such as Slough of Despond, City of Destruction, or House Beautiful. At other points, he focused on characters in the main character’s (Christian and Christiana) journey, such as Evangelist, Obstinate, and Mrs. Know-Nothing. And sometimes, he focused on what he refers to as little sound bites (or words of wisdom).
Dr. Priset said, “When you reread this book, you realize that at different points in your life, you can be like different characters and different soundbites appeal to you.”
So deeply connected to this classic, Dr. Priset decided to write his own rendition of Christian and Christiana’s journey. He wanted to illustrate what he believes Christian and Christiana each represent in the journey people take when seeking God. While many of the interpretations of The Pilgrim’s Progress focus on Christian’s journey, Dr. Priset’s focuses equally on Christiana’s journey.
Dr. Priset said, “To me, Christian’s journey represents developing a Christ-like character and Christiana’s journey focuses on the importance of Christian community.”
Dr. Priset submitted his book to two different publishers 10-15 years ago and neither publisher read the book. A year ago, a friend recommended he submit the book to the Emeth Press, a company that publishes academic books in theology, biblical studies, church history, philosophy, and related disciplines. They loved it. As it turned out, one of his college philosophy professors, Dr. Laurence Wood, worked there.
Dr. Wood became a mentor to Dr. Priset as he polished his manuscript over the past year. As he refined his manuscript, Dr. Priset said, “I was imagining myself as Christian taking the journey and as Christiana taking her journey.”
Twelve illustrations were added to his manuscript—three were drawn by his granddaughter, a high school junior. The illustration on the cover of the book is a replicate of a stained-glass window from John Bunyan’s church in Bedford, England. The church was very resourceful for Dr. Priset in his research.
Dr. Priset’s book, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Reimagining Parts 1 & 2, was published in August 2020. A wide range of individuals have endorsed Dr. Priset’s retelling of Bunyan’s classic.
Retired United Methodist theologian and Wesley scholar, Paul W. Chilcote, PhD, said, “Duane Priset provides an accessible rendering of the classic tale. He provides guidance to help the reader enter the journey more fully…I highly recommend this book for those who want to enter the world of this pilgrimage for the very first time. Veterans of the journey will find renewed confidence and hope.”
Denise Davis, contemporary Christian singer and songwriter said, “Pastor Duane’s book will make you smile, cry, and look at your own journey. You’ll read a chapter and stop and reflect on the new truth you’ve discovered. Or you’ll discover, we all have different ways of traveling on our journey home.”
Wendy J. Deichman, Professor of History and Theology at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, said “This beautifully reframed narrative is both thought-provoking and reassuring to all seeking to travel the road to the Celestial Country. A beautiful and edifying read, it includes useful suggestions for individual or group reflection.”
The Rev. Peter Protherone, Minister Emeritus of Bunyan Meeting, Bedford, England, said, “This book offers an imaginative re-telling of Bunyan’s most famous work. In its original form, Pilgrim’s Progress is couched in language reminiscent of the King James Bible and Dr Priset has done us a service in providing a version readily accessible to present-day Pilgrims. This, together with helpful insights drawn from his many years of personal and pastoral experience make for an engaging work deserving of a wide readership.”
Dr. Priset affords modern readers of all ages to engage in John Bunyan’s beloved allegory; you can click here to order his book.