Edwards Amasa Park
THE LAST EDWARDSIAN
IN THE MORNINGS on Andover Hill, before his death at the age of ninety-one, Edwards Amasa Park would take up a book “usually bearing upon the life of Jonathan Edwards,” though when he tired in the afternoons Park would have read to him “Locke, Hamilton, Reid, Dugald Stewart, Dorner, McCosh … and Clarke on the Attributes.”1 If he felt well enough to receive visitors, some of his almost one thousand former students might call on their now nearly sightless professor. Dominating Andover with a “massive and striking personality,”2 reigning as the consummate Congregationalist at the largest seminary in the land for more than forty-five years, the editor of the influential Bibliotheca Sacra for forty, a distinguished theologian in the prominent Abbot chair for almost thirty-five—few of these visitors at the time of his death in 1900 would have challenged Park’s description by his eulogists as one who “since Edwards … has hardly been surpassed in acumen,”3 who was “one of the greatest teachers of theology … this country has known.”4 Revivalist preacher, rhetorician, theologian, editor, author, historian, biographer, redactor, disputant: in the words of an Andover memoirist, Park’s “fame was great in Zion.”5 Edwards Park was the last nineteenth-century American theologian of significance to identify deliberately with Jonathan Edwards. From his hilltop, Park creatively recast his inherited New England theology and so extended the influence of his beloved namesake from the midnineteenth century to the beginning of the next.
Even in Zion, however, fame must be fleeting, for as the next century’s scholars erected monographs as monuments to Jonathan Edwards, Park himself merited no more than a footnote here or a brief notice there. Readers searching for an elaboration of Park’s place in the complex story told in Mark