John BunyanWriter / Religious Figure
Born: November 1628
Died: 31 August 1688
Birthplace: Elstow, Bedfordshire, England
Best known as: Author of The Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan's 17th-century book The Pilgrim's Progress is classic literature's most famous Christian allegory. Bunyan grew up in a village outside Bedford, England, the son of a tinker (or brazier -- a mender of metal household utensils). Initially he followed his father's trade, but in the late 1640s a spiritual awakening caused Bunyan to give up his "ungodly" ways and become a devoted student of biblical scripture. By the end of the 1650s he was a popular preacher and prolific writer who used plain language to spell out a theology in the tradition of Martin Luther and John Calvin. He was a prominent member of a nonconformist Baptist church in Bedford until his refusal to give up preaching without a license led to his imprisonment in 1660. He spent the next twelve years in jail, preaching to inmates and writing sermons, poems, essays and books. After his release he published the first of several editions of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), an allegory in which a character named Christian encounters various perils on his way to Heaven. An entertaining read and Protestant teaching tool, the book became a standard of English literature and one of the most reprinted religious texts in the world. Bunyan's other books include The Holy City (1665), Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) and The Holy War (1682).
Extra credit: Although his exact birthdate is unknown, Bunyan was christened 30 November 1628... Another famous Christian allegory is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
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