A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

Synopsis

Jonathan Edwards is one of the most extraordinary figures in American history. Arguably the most brilliant theologian ever born on American soil, Edwards (1703-1758) 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.George M. 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.Known best for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards is often viewed as a proponent of fire, brimstone, and the wrath of God. 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.

Excerpt

My hope is that this brief biography will make Jonathan Edwards accessible to a wide variety of readers. Edwards is, by all accounts, one of the most remarkable figures in American history. More broadly, he is one of the most influential and respected Americans in the history of Christianity. Yet he is not as well known or understood as he should be. Most people who know anything about him recall only something about a school assignment of his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which has left them with a stereotyped impression at best. I hope that this book will provide the general reader with a view that is more balanced at the same time it is entertaining, informative, and short.

The origins of this book help explain its character. in 2003 I published Jonathan Edwards: a Life with Yale University Press on the occasion of the three-hundredth anniversary of Edwards’s birth. Prior to being asked to write that major biography, I had already told my friends at Eerdmans that some day I would write a life of Edwards for them. So with the cooperation of both publishers, I agreed that after I wrote the more definitive biography for Yale, I would write something shorter for Eerdmans. the happy outcome is that, having already published a much longer, closely documented work, this book could be kept brief without any scholarly apparatus. With the . . .

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