Early in his evangelistic career and then again during his final years, D.L. Moody made contributions to Christian publishing that have received scant notice. Though his legacy in evangelism was greater, his influence on the early development of evangelical book publishing cries out for acknowledgment.

Origins of Fleming H. Revell Company

In 1869 Moody was a leading Christian layman in Chicago, known especially for his tireless efforts on behalf of the YMCA and his Illinois Street Church. He had been married to Emma Revell for seven years, and for at least a year they had had a boarder: Emma’s 20-year-old brother, Fleming. In that year Fleming established a publishing company at the urging of his brother-in-law.

The company initially published weekly Sunday school papers. Soon after a business trip to England and the destruction of his office in the Chicago Fire, Fleming turned to publishing books. His first was W. R. McKay’s Grace and Truth.

As Moody acquired an increasingly national and international reputation, his sermons appeared in newspapers and then in books—all pirated editions. Dissatisfied with the quality of these volumes, he named Revell the publisher of his sermons. In 1880 Revell issued Moody’s Twelve Select Sermons and one year later his Select Sermons. These volumes, as well as several more during the last five years of Moody’s life, helped to establish Revell by 1900 as the largest American publisher of religious books.

Moody’s role in Revell’s early history looms larger as one realizes that this company served as prototype for the large evangelical publishers of our century. Most of them are also privately owned, profit-making, nondenominational, parachurch, and lay-oriented.

Origins of Moody Press

By the early ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.