From the JEC Blog

Sweeney’s Booknotes: A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards

Nathan A. Finn and Jeremy M. Kimble, eds., A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).

A Reader's GuideAs I have noted in my blurb in the front of this book, “Christians wanting to dip into Edwards’s daunting prose but seeking expert help in doing so will find it in this book. The tour guides are clear, edifying, and reliable. They don’t discuss all of Edwards’s massive body of work, but they treat most of his greatest hits—and do so in the service of what Edwards, quoting [the biblical book of] James, called ‘true religion.’”

Nathan Finn (Union University, Jackson, TN) and Jeremy Kimble (Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH) have assembled a fine panel of evangelical intellectuals to produce a truly Edwardsean introduction to Edwards’ works. As they note in the “Introduction,” every contributor to this enterprise “is . . . a convictional evangelical who resonates personally with Edwards’s spiritual vision and wants to commend his writings to others so that they too might be encouraged, convicted, and challenged by this great pastor-theologian” (p. 19).

After a “Foreword” by Ken Minkema and the editors’ “Introduction,” the volume leads off with a winsome opening chapter by one of its publisher’s leading editors, Dane Ortlund, an Edwards scholar with a Ph.D. from Wheaton, “How to Read Jonathan Edwards.” In the evangelical spirit of the volume as a whole, Ortlund’s very first paragraph begins and ends with a striking theological assertion: “To read Jonathan Edwards is to see God” (p. 23). Thus the “fundamental prerequisite” to reading Edwards rightly “is that you must be born again” (p. 25), Ortlund adds a bit later. And for born again readers, Ortlund states from experience, Edwards “turns . . . postcard views of Christ and the beauty of authentic Christian living into an experience of the real thing. . . . Edwards gives us longings for God and for holiness that are more satisfying than even our best joys currently are” (p. 24).

The rest of the book’s chapters introduce one or more of Edwards’ most important texts, offer the most salient aspects of these writings’ historical background, provide a summary and detailed analysis of their contents, and apply them to the lives of contemporary readers.

The book concludes, fittingly, with pastor John Piper’s essay on his admiration for Edwards, “A Personal Encounter with Jonathan Edwards: A Mind in Love with God,” pp. 209-29, which is adapted from material published first in The Reformed Journal in 1978 and expanded upon in one of Piper’s best-selling books, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (1998). The volume as a whole, in fact, is dedicated to Piper.

Here is a peek at the table of contents:

Introduction (Nathan A. Finn and Jeremy M. Kimble)

  1. How To Read Jonathan Edwards (Dane Ortlund)
  2. Autobiographical Spiritual Writings (Nathan A. Finn)
  3. Revival Writings (Jeremy Kimble)
  4. Justification by Faith Alone (Michael McClenahan)
  5. Religious Affections (Gerald McDermott)
  6. The Life of David Brainerd (Rhys Bezzant)
  7. Freedom of the Will (Joe Rigney)
  8. Original Sin (Robert Caldwell)
  9. A History of the Work of Redemption (Sean Michael Lucas)
  10. Edwards’s Affectional Ethics (Paul Helm)

Appendix: A Personal Encounter with Jonathan Edwards: A Mind in Love with God (John Piper)

As you have surely seen by now, this project is produced by and for evangelicals. Other Christians, not to mention non-Christians, will likely feel as though its chapters were not written mainly for them. Nonetheless, it serves its target audience admirably.

Sweeney’s Booknotes: The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia

Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Adriaan C. Neele, eds., The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017).

EncyclopediaThe long-awaited Edwards Encyclopedia is here. With nearly 400 entries by 169 scholars, as well as a “Foreword” by George Marsden, it is a culmination of many years of labor in New Haven as well as the spread of Edwards studies during the past generation through a wide array of scholarly institutions around the world.

I and several of my students have contributed to this volume. In the interest of fair play, I will keep my comments brief.

This landmark volume features well-known scholars writing on topics about which they have already published books: Robert Brown on “Biblical Languages (Hebrew and Greek),” Ronald Story on “Charity,” Rhys Bezzant on “Ecclesiology,” Ava Chamberlain on “Elizabeth Tuttle Edwards (b. 1645),” Jan Stievermann on “German Pietism,” Thomas Kidd on “Great Awakening,” Sang Hyun Lee on “Habit,” Oliver Crisp on “Idealism,” Seng-Kong Tan on “Incarnation,” Gerald McDermott on “Islam,” Donald Whitney on “Piety,” Ray Yeo on “Regeneration,” Stephen Stein on “Scripture (Exegetical Sources),” David Kling on “Second Great Awakening,” Terrence Erdt on “Sense of the Heart,” Amy Plantinga Pauw on “Trinity,” and Stephen R. C. Nichols on “Typology,” for example.

Perhaps more importantly, it also features lesser-known, up-and-coming scholars treating topics on which they have learned a great deal: Allan Hedberg on “Aging,” Ryan Hoselton on “William Ames,” Joseph Tyrpak on “David Brainerd,” Reita Yazawa on “Covenant,” David Komline on “Sereno Edwards Dwight (1786-1850),” David Barshinger on “Hermeneutics,” Roy Mellor on “An Humble Inquiry (1749),” Craig Biehl on “Merit of Christ,” Daniel Cooley on “Edwards Amasa Park (1808-1900),” Jon Hinkson on “Providence,” Ryan Griffith on “Spiritual Gifts”—this list could go on and on.

Several contributors wrote many different entries–most importantly Ken Minkema, Associate Editor of the volume and Executive Editor of the Edwards Center at Yale.

As the editors have written in the volume’s “Introduction,” the Encyclopedia “fills an essential gap” in reference works about Edwards and his world. It corrects “certain stubborn errors or myths about Edwards’s life and those of his family and acquaintance[s].” It also provides “succinct synopses of topics large and small, well known and little known in Edwards’s life, as well as easily referenced sketches of the people and events of his times, any or all of which can be followed up in more depth by consulting the suggested readings at the end of each entry” (p. x).

Stout, Minkema, and Neele hope to publish an expanded, online version of this work, which will include new entries on subjects identified by readers as important to the study of Edwards’ life, times, and legacies in the future. So our thanks should go today both to those who have made this letterpress book possible and those who will engage and improve it in days ahead.

“The Miscellanies Project”: A Call for Contributors

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The Jonathan Edwards Society is extending a call for contributors to The Miscellanies Project and Reader. Deadline for topic submission is Dec 1, 2017. Details about the project and signup are available at http://www.jesociety.org/project/.

 

 

Journal Issue #3 Fall 2017

Enjoy this year’s issue of Edwardseana Journal. The third edition of Edwardseana features two Books of the Year, written by Philip Fisk and Douglas Winiarski, a feature article about the JESociety, and more. Learn more in this third installment.