For people interested in reading the best material in Wesleyan theology and Methodist history, there has been no better time to have an Internet connection.
In recent years most of the academic journals devoted to these topics have undergone two stages of evolution:
- They have moved from being solely print journals to having both print and online formats.
- Slowly but surely, they’ve also moved to being “open access” in their online formats. This means that they are accessible for free in their digital forms, even when they maintain print editions that require a subscription.
The journals I am talking about: Methodist History, the Asbury Journal, Quarterly Review, Methodist Review, the Wesleyan Theological Journal, and the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society (UK). The links I’ve provided will take you to each of the journal’s homepage. In the case of the Wesleyan Theological Journal, you’ll need to click on the “Comprehensive Volume Index” to select the year and issue you want to view—and the WTJ has a firewall that means your access does not include the most recent six years (as of the time of this post).
- Each of these periodicals emphasizes the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition from a slightly different angle or thematic focus. So spending some time reviewing articles from each of them will give you a sense of what they tend to emphasize.
- Quarterly Review ended publication in 2005, and Methodist Review is the journal that has replaced it; but QR’s archive from 1980-2005 is fully online and accessible.
- You’ll have to register with Methodist Review’s website to get full access to its volumes, but it is totally cost-free.
- Some of these journals are associated with particular academic guilds. For example, the Wesleyan Theological Journal is a publication of the Wesleyan Theological Society, and Methodist History is connected to the United Methodist Historical Society (even thought the journal is published by the UMC’s General Commission on Archives & History). In these instances, joining the guild will get you a print subscription to that guild’s journal in addition to the membership benefits of the guild itself. That’s a different topic than open access, but useful nonetheless for students and pastors interested in the academic side of Wesleyan studies.
- I wrote about some of these publications on my old website under the category “Wesleyan/Methodist periodicals”. You can find those posts at this link.
For students and scholars of the Wesleyan tradition, having these resources so readily available in an open access form is invaluable. I would suggest that they can be very important for pastors and even interested laity as well. Not only can people stay abreast of the newest research coming out in article-length essays; they can also search the archives of each journal for essays on topics of interest.
It’s worth pointing out one highly significant journal that has not made itself available in open access form thus far: Wesley & Methodist Studies (UK), which is published by the Manchester Wesley Research Centre at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, UK. It is a top-quality periodical well worth the yearly subscription. I would not be surprised if its publishers make the journal’ archives openly available in the future, although time will tell on that. Currently, it is only possible to review the volume history and titles of essays for the journal via its website.