Jonathan Edwards: A Life

By Sinitiere, Phillip Luke | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Jonathan Edwards: A Life


Sinitiere, Phillip Luke, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Jonathan Edwards: A Life. By George Marsden. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003, xx + 640 pp., $35.00.

Two thousand three marked not only the tercentennial of the birth of Jonathan Edwards, but also a landmark year for Edwards studies. A number of local, regional, and national conferences convened; scores of essays were published-including Journal of Religious Ethics and Reformation and Revival Journal devoting entire issues to Edwards; and a number of important books on Edwards rolled off the presses-not the least of which was George Marsden's much-anticipated biography of one of America's most celebrated Christians. The first full-length scholarly biography of Edwards in roughly half a century, Marsden's Jonathan Edwards joins the work of Ola Winslow, Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758 (1940); Perry Miller, Jonathan Edwards (1949); Patricia Tracy, Jonathan Edwards, Pastor: Religion and Society in Eighteenth-Century Northampton (1980); lain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (1987); and Kenneth Pieter Minkema, "The Edwardses: A Ministerial Family in Eighteenth-Century New England" (1988). While each of the previous biographical studies captured important facets of Edwards's life and times, Marsden had the fortune not only to draw from a deep and rich Edwardsian historiography, but he also enjoyed ready access to Edwards's vast corpus, made increasingly available by Yale University Press's The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Thus Marsden rightly dedicates his book to the "generation of scholars" (p. xviii) who preceded him. The result is a comprehensive portrait of Edwards, rich in detail and lucid in prose.

To observers of American religious history, the story of Jonathan Edwards is a familiar one. The progeny of sturdy New England ministerial stock, Edwards's father (Timothy Edwards) and grandfather (Solomon Stoddard) possessed reputations as able and accomplished preachers. After graduation from Yale, Edwards served as a tutor and then pastured congregations in New York City and in Connecticut before taking the ministerial reigns of Stoddard's Northampton church upon his grandfather's death in 1729. Here Edwards labored under the long and daunting shadow of his grandfather until 1750. It was also in Northampton that Edwards oversaw several periods of revival and eventually became an authoritative voice, not only among colonial revivalists, but also among transatlantic (and "international") Protestants. Edwards was known both from his large network of correspondents and through his voluminous writing ministry. In addition to A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Edwards's attempt to explore the tension between reason and emotion, he also published works on the extent of sin, on the importance of ethics and virtue, on the dynamics of the human will, and on the nature of exemplary mission work. Edwards also kept various notebooks, recording his theological observations and attempting to draw summaries between the Old and New Testaments, among other subjects.

On top of a rigorous writing schedule, Edwards was a busy parish minister, tending to the needs of a provincial congregation and laboring to compose sermons on a weekly basis. Unfortunately for Edwards, his exhaustive ministerial labor ended in dismissal. Following the expulsion, Edwards spent the closing years of his life as a missionary in western Massachusetts and served for six months as the president of Princeton (at the time the College of New Jersey) before succumbing to a smallpox inoculation. Edwards led an active, busy, and overall productive life, and Marsden perceptively navigates and negotiates the complexities of Edwards's pastoral and provincial milieu. While Marsden deftly examines the theology of Edwards, he also opens up to readers the unique and conflicted personal dimensions of this towering intellect.

Marsden vividly portrays the world in which Edwards was raised. Edwards grew up in a "world of women" (p. 18) and the company of his immediate family (ten sisters) seemingly set the intellectual bar quite high as all but one sister received a formal education. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Jonathan Edwards: A Life
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.