A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Library of Religious Biography)

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Stout, Yale University "Marsden is easily the most distinguished historian of Edwards in the world today. With a clear and engaging writing style, he makes America's most brilliant colonial intellectual come alive as no other scholar has done. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School "In this fresh, crisp retelling of the story of Jonathan Edwards, George Marsden offers a masterful synthesis of biographical data. Easy to read and never dull, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards should enjoy a long life on the shelves of personal, congregational, and academic libraries.

Themelios "Theologically sensitive, historically insightful, and engagingly written. Westminster Theological Journal "An engaging and accessible little book that deserves wide readership. An excellent introduction to the man who is arguably the most important and creative theologian and Christian philosopher America has ever produced.

Religious Studies Review "Marsden's slim volume should stand as a model for other eminent historians who would like to make their scholarship available to a popular audience. Required Field Not a valid email. Don't Miss a Thing! Eerdmans is proud to publish many books that have remained in print for decades - true classics that have stood the test of time. Visit our Enduring Standards page to see some of our perennially best-selling backlist books. Eerdmans Publishing Company, All rights reserved. Literature Theology Apocrypha and Pseu Arguably the most brilliant theologian ever born on American soil, Edwards — was also a pastor, a renowned preacher, a missionary to the Native Americans, a biographer, a college president, a philosopher, a loving husband, and the father of eleven children.

Marsden -- widely acclaimed for his magisterial large study of Edwards -- has now written a new, shorter biography of this many-sided, remarkable man. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards is not an abridgment of Marsden's earlier award-winning study but is instead a completely new narrative based on his extensive research. The result is a concise, fresh retelling of the Edwards story, rich in scholarship yet compelling and readable for a much wider audience, including students. As Marsden shows, however, the focus of Edwards's preaching was not God's wrath but rather his overwhelming and all-encompassing love.

Marsden also rescues Edwards from the high realms of intellectual history, revealing him more comprehensively through the lens of his everyday life and interactions. Further, Marsden shows how Edwards provides a window on the fascinating and often dangerous world of the American colonies in the decades before the American Revolution. Marsden here gives us an Edwards who illumines both American history and Christian theology, an Edwards that will appeal to readers with little or no training in either field.

This short life will contribute significantly to the widespread and growing interest in Jonathan Edwards. See More Meet This Book: The disease claimed several of Edward's 11 children; and he himself fell ill and died shortly after being installed as President of Princeton College. In such background where one's security is at peril all the time, the question regarding death and one's life thereafter played the pivotal role in people's sentiment.

This point is never mentioned by Marsden as an explanation of the wide spread of the Great Awakenings. But Marsden does mention the role of printing as one of the important instrument which help the Awakenings to spread in America and in England and Scotland. At the heart of the printing materials that contributed to the spread is Jonathan Edwards' own account of the first Great Awakening, which was edited by the newspapers and publishers.

Marsden rightly traces the present day Evangelical Christianity in America to the Great Awakenings that Jonathan Edwards began and guided. Accordingly, the same problems which the Great Awakening created are still present in the present day Evangelicalism such as the problem of backsliding, knowing or accusing and separating as Whitefield often did to dismay of Edwards the true Christians from the false ones; the dubious role of the itinerant preacher to the existing pastors at the church; the emphasis of the spiritual solutions to social, political, and economic problems.

Noteworthy is the fact that some of Jonathan Edwards' older relatives were abducted by the Indians. When they were "redeemed' and returned back to the New England after few years, one refused to return, having been used to the Indian ways; and when she was eventually returned, she became a Catholic, much to the family's great consternation. Being a literal interpreter of the Bible and a Post-Millennialist, Jonathan Edwards speculated that the Millennium will begin in the year after which Christ will come to reign forever.

He was revered in his North Hampton congregation until he revised and rejected his grandfather, Rev. He was fired from his church for standing firmly in his principle regarding the small issue such as the communicant's membership and took a small post at the Indian mission school in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he was able to write and develop his mature theology. When he was invited to be the President of Princeton College, he was reluctant to leave the secluded setting of the Stockbridge where he could devote his time to writing.

He took the position nonetheless while prophetically citing his disease prone health and while lamenting the fact that he could not work on the ambitious project of a grand history of redemption from the Creation to Christ's Second Coming. His treatise on freedom a soft determinism along the line of Aristotle, noting the role of disposition, habits, and character and cosmology based on God's love are noteworthy intellectual works.

He authored a biography of a young missionary to the Indians, "The Life and Diary of David Brainerd," who could have married one of Edward's daughters, had he survived the illness, and who was known for spiritual purity and sacrifice and his love for the daughter who cared for him at the sickbed. The biography became a well known seller along with and in contrast to Ben Franklin's autobiography as presentation of the two very different American ideal of life.

Two notes on Edwards theology. Edwards often speaks of the "beauty" of God's love and God's creation. By beauty, I think he means the dis-interested aesthetic delight as in Kant. We are to be attracted to and by this beauty, which is present in nature. Edwards ofter took delight in contemplation of nature seen as God's work and expression of God's love.

But the divine beauty is most brilliantly exhibited in God's own sacrifice of his Son on the cross. Attracted by this beauty of love , we are to live in and practice God's love. Second note is about Edwards' cosmology, which provides an alternative and direct contrast to the contemporary deism maintained by the founding fathers such as Ben Franklin: That at the heart of the creation is the personal God who by his love created the world.

The whole creation is expression of God's love, which is exhibited most brilliantly at the Cross. One might even say, along the line of Plotinus, that the universe is emanation of God's love. Jonathan Edwards' famous or infamous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," could not be delivered in its entirety because in the midway to his sermon, before he could get to the section on God's mercy, people were already wailing and crying: He had the congregation in his hands before he finished his sermon.

Influenced by George Whitefield's fiery preaching, Edwards employed more than usual metaphors and vivid images in this particular sermon, to its poignant effect. His sermons were carefully written but mostly delivered by memory. Witherspoon was the only signer of the Declaration of Independence who followed Jonathan Edwards' theology and religious conviction. Marsden wonders what would have happened had Edwards lived through the days of American Independence. Nonetheless, the legacy of the Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards began is still alive and strong, making American both secular and extremely religious at the same time, according to Marsden.

His theology and legacy is also revered among Korean Evangelicals today. The mission was plagued with the internal squabbles between Edwards and his nephew? In addition, the trusted Indian leader he relied on was killed by other Indian attack. Even though Edwards believed in equality between the White and the Indians, he nonetheless believed that in order for the Indians to be converted, they must also be Europeanized. Hence the boarding school where Indian children were boarded and educated.

Toward the end of his tenure there in Stockbridge, there were less than 5 Indian children in the boarding school. While in Northampton, MA, when Indians were converted as few did , they were treated as spiritual equals but not as social equals. His church, as well as other Puritan churches at the time, sat the congregation according to social rank.

Edwards was annoyed when people quibbled about the seating at the church but he did not ban the social classification at all. He belonged to the older generation who still believed in the social hierarchy and respected authorities. He did not opposed slavery and did have one female slave who was well treated. The next generation of the Edwards would later actively oppose slavery.

Nov 09, John rated it it was amazing. I am giving this five stars in part because I'm so excited it exists. I knew that Marsden wrote quite a long life of Jonathan Edwards, and it is apparently really good, and I wanted to read it. But also I didn't want to read it because it is so long, and it is very hard to justify spending time with hundreds of pages that are not related to my dissertation. This I am giving this five stars in part because I'm so excited it exists.

This was really helpful for my Great Awakening lecture. Marsden makes a good argument for the importance of the 1st Great Awakening as this other, equally important revolution - one revolutionized politics, one revolutionized religion. I'm not sure I buy it entirely, but it works well in trying to explain the importance of the event.

Also, he parallels the lives of Edwards and Ben Franklin pretty well, which is also helpful in painting a clear picture of the American context that Edwards grew up in. The GA is very hard to explain to people, especially in one quick lecture I feel like I should buy a copy of this book. Jul 06, Nate Weis rated it really liked it. Listened on Christian Audio. Excellent introduction to Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards was a sinner with significant failings saved by the grace of God.


  • A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards - George M. Marsden : Eerdmans.
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And I deeply admire this man for his uncommon combination of piety, scholarship, and passion for missions. Apr 17, Jon rated it really liked it. Dec 29, Jacob Stevens rated it it was amazing Shelves: Great short biography of, probably, the greatest American theologian. Dec 02, Ivar Ima rated it it was amazing. Very interesting to hear about the difficulty of leading a revival, how to deal with radicalism and resistance. Sep 15, Joel Zartman rated it it was amazing.

Excellent both in terms of the history of course and in terms of the writing. Jan 22, Ben Adkison rated it really liked it Shelves: Marsden is exactly what it sounds like: I was initially attracted to this book because of its cover. What I mean is that the cover looked, well, "cool" for lack of a better term.

It had a modern, minimalistic style, which led me to believe that it was most likely a newer book. Not that an older biography on Edwards would have been a bad thing, but I'm typically intrigued by new books. And it so happens that this was in fact a new book, just as the cover had subtly suggested, so I bought it. I actually went into my local Christian bookstore which shall for the time being remain nameless to look for a biography on Charles Spurgeon.

And while I found biographies about Chuck Norris, Sarah Palin, and even Ladainian Tomlinson - none of whom happen to be Baptist the denomination of the aforementioned bookstore - I failed to find even one biography about the great Baptist preacher. But Edwards - whom was also not a Baptist but honestly who cares - was a worthwhile substitute for the time being.

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

In A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards he took the information from that longer treatment, shortened it, added some new research, and wrote in a style that reads more like a short novel. As far as I can tell since I am no Edwards expert , this is a wonderful introduction into the life of a man whom was at the helm of the First Great Awakening and who probably is America's greatest theologian. The last third of the book, which goes into some of the trouble that Edwards faced as a pastor in the latter parts of his life, was especially encouraging to me.

Edwards faced hardship at the end of his pastorate at Northampton, suffering at the hands of his people. Pastoring is simply not easy, and Edwards knew this firsthand. It's nice to know that one of the greatest men in the history of Christendom dealt with crazy church people too. The other facet of this book that I really appreciate is the comparison that Marsden makes between Edwards and his contemporary, Benjamin Franklin. Both men had similar Puritanical upbringings, but each responded in very different ways to the changing American climate.

Franklin embraced the ideals of the Enlightenment and lived long enough to see the American Revolution. Edwards on the other hand, held fast to his reformed upbringing, fighting to critique unbiblical Enlightenment ideas, and died before the American Revolution began. In the twenty-first century, where it's very en vogue to critique modern Enlightenment-influenced church forms, Edwards is a sure guide to lead us back to the Bible.

He can do this not because he saw beyond modernism to postmodernistic ideas, but rather because he is in many ways pre-modern and wisely ignored many of modernism's pitfalls altogether. As Marsden says in the end of his book, "Maybe the best way to sum up Edwards's character is to say that he had God-centered integrity. Having integrity suggests not only honesty, firmness of principle, and soundness of will, but also that the various elements of one's life and thought are integrated 26I can simply testify to the remarkable consistency of his life and thought" Aug 11, Scott Guillory rated it really liked it.

I love this short biography of Edwards and believe it or not, it's quite different from his full bio on the great theologian. I particularly liked the way he compared and contrasted Edwards with another well known figure of that era, Benjamin Franklin. Feb 17, Andy Gainor rated it really liked it Shelves: The book is a short summary of his life that does not leave out anything you want to hear. It has become one of my hobbies to read or listen to historical non-fictions or biographies and immerse myself in the debates and struggles that living in the 21st century, I am completely ignorant of.

I enjoy particularly hearing of how Christians lived and responded to the struggles of their day. In this short biography, I was blessed to wrestle alongside Edwards with the iss Refreshing. In this short biography, I was blessed to wrestle alongside Edwards with the issues of his day, like discerning the manifestations of the Holy Spirit vs. Most of these issues Christians still fight and wrestle with today, but they are disguised differently.


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Edwards is a fantastic model for the 21st century believer. May 13, Robert D. Cornwall rated it really liked it Shelves: Jonathan Edwards is best known, perhaps, for his somewhat frightening sermon -- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God -- but this is only part of his legacy.

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Considered by scholars of American religion one of America's most influential theologians and philosophers, he helped form an evolving Puritanism during the middle part of the 18th century. Though he died prior to the Revolution he was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitfield.

While a fully loyal British citizen, he was one o Jonathan Edwards is best known, perhaps, for his somewhat frightening sermon -- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God -- but this is only part of his legacy. While a fully loyal British citizen, he was one of the principle theological influencers of the Great Awakening that ultimately helped undermine loyalty to the crown. While extremely influential on the broader stage, he found it difficult to pastor his own congregation.

In part this was due to his desire to see a permanent awakening in his congregation, where lives exhibited the transformation he expected. In addition, he sought to role back some of his Grandfather's reforms that loosened membership expectations. Although at first on good relations with younger members, he began to lose them as he aged and became more hardened in his views. He dies relatively young -- mid 50s -- soon after taking up the post of President of Princeton, a post he took on after his son-in-law Aaron Burr, Sr.

Having written an expansive biography of Edwards for Yale University press, George Marsden offers us a much shorter account that is both readable and accessible. May 10, Nick rated it liked it Shelves: A wonderful, concise biography of the life of possibly one of the most influential theologians to come from the North American continent. A the title indicates, this is a short biography and at only pages, the work doesn't feel like it has cheated the reader on any details that one may want to know regarding the life of Jonathan Edwards.

The author does mention in the preface that, while this is a stand alone work, he does have a longer, more definitive work simply titled "Jonathan Edwards: An interesting thing that the author does for this work is that he compares the trajectory of Edwards' life with that of his contemporary, Benjamin Franklin. I think for those who are unfamiliar with Jonathan Edwards, will appreciate this simply because it helps to put Edwards into the historical context of pre-Revolutionary America.

While Edwards died long before Revolution broke out, this comparison allows the reader to see the early shaping of the contrasting American ideology of secularism Franklin and a religious life Edwards. Overall, this is a great resource for anyone looking to learn about Jonathan Edwards and his influential ministry during the First Great Awakening, his friendship with George Whitefield, and the formation of American Evangelicalism which takes a drastic shift during the Second Great Awakening and the ministry of Finney, but that's another review for another work.

Feb 28, Greg rated it really liked it. This is a great book for anyone who wants on overview of the life of Jonathan Edwards, and he interacted with and how his beliefs compared to his contemporaries, such as; George Whitfield, Benjamin Franklin, and the Wesley brothers. It is also a revealing look at the formation of American Evangelicalism and the way that God has moved in revealing his word to us. Get your copy here: Mar 27, David rated it liked it Shelves: Overall this was a helpful guide for getting a brief glimpse into the character and context of Jonathan Edwards.

Obviously, if one wants a deeper look into Edwards and his world then one should go to Marsden's highly-acclaimed longer biography of the man. The biggest drawback to this book is that it's brevity and intended approachability limit the very things that are likely to draw readers into Edwards--his mind and theology.

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Marsden here can only say that Edwards' writing and broader thinking Overall this was a helpful guide for getting a brief glimpse into the character and context of Jonathan Edwards. Marsden here can only say that Edwards' writing and broader thinking is clear, logical, and sensitive to boldness of some of Edwards' theological positions e. Plus, Marsden's Edwards was a rather staid and bookish person, not given to great adventures beyond what Edwardscrafted in the many hours in his study.

I say this this is not to complain, of course, but rather give the inquiring reader an idea of what is accomplished and what isn't. A great listen on audio book. Frankly, I think just hearing any book read by Grover Gardner is a plus for the book before even considering the content! Can you tell I like listening to him read audio books? This is a short biography compared to Marsden's other lengthy treatment of which I have not read.

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards: George M. Marsden: - eywaapps.dk

By Marsden's own statement this is not an abridgment of it though. He opens the book by comparing and contrasting Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards in a very helpful way. This comparison A great listen on audio book. This comparison and contrast continues through out the book at points. This is not a devotional biography though there is spiritual encouragement from the example and writings of Edwards in it.

The last chapter is the most explicit about the teaching and impact of Edwards. I admire Marsden's objectivity regarding Edwards. He was a man who had his warts and who was progressively being sanctified within the confines of his own times. It is a biography that is expansive in terms of the context of Edwards' life.

That I think is a major strength of it because one does not get lost in the weeds. But I must say, it does leave you wanting to read more. This is a good introductory biography that will make you thirsty to read lengthier treatments.

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