The two Books of Homilies, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, have been basic documents of the Church of England, and are valuable in showing Anglican doctrine during the Reformation, as well as being of considerable historical importance. The first book, published in 1547, early in the reign of Edward VI, was partly though t entirely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, and the inspiration appears to have been his. This was intended to raise the standards of preaching by offering model sermons covering particular doctrinal and pastoral themes, either to be read (particularly by unlicensed clergy) or to provide preachers with additional material for their own sermons. The success of the venture led Bishop Edmund Bonner, who had contributed to Cranmer's book, to produce his own Book of Homilies in 1555, during the reign of Queen Mary. The Second Book of Homilies, published in 1563 (and in a revised form in 1571) appears in turn to have been influenced both by Cranmer's and by Bonner's books. The present edition brings together the all three books, edited and introduced by Revd Dr Gerald Bray.
The Reverend Dr Gerald Bray (PhD, Paris-Sorbonne) was the Professor of Anglican Studies at Beeson Divinity School and is now a research professor there. He is also Director of Research at the Latimer Trust. Among his other work he is the editor of Documents of the English Reformation (James Clarke & Co, 1994, second edition 2004).