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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.

Sweeney’s Booknotes: Edwards’ Sermons on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

Kenneth P. Minkema, Adriaan C. Neele, and Bryan McCarthy, eds., Sermons by Jonathan Edwards on the Matthean Parables, Volume I, True and False Christians (on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins) (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012).

This previously unprinted sermon series on Jesus’ frightening parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25) is a gold mine for Edwards scholars and lay Christians alike. Preached in 1737-38, between the Connecticut Valley revival (1734-35) and New England’s Great Awakening (1740-42), it focused Northampton’s attention for a period of several weeks on the differences between true Christians and “hypocrites” (those who fooled others, and often themselves, about their standing before God)—a theme that would occupy Edwards for many years into the future, when he used this sermon series in writing his better-known spiritual treatises on the Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (1741), Some Thoughts concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England (1743), and Religious Affections (1746).

Edited by the standards of the letterpress edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (26 volumes, Yale University Press, 1957-2008), these sermons are prefaced with a rudimentary chapter by Wilson Kimnach (general editor of Edwards’ sermons at Yale’s Jonathan Edwards Center) on the homiletical Edwards, “Edwards the Preacher” (13 pgs.), and a slightly longer chapter by Bryan McCarthy (formerly an editorial assistant at the Jonathan Edwards Center, now a doctoral student at Oxford) on the sermons’ “Historical Context” (19 pgs.).

Smartly presented, helpfully indexed, and priced to sell ($25), this volume should make it into the library of every serious Edwards scholar and many fans as well.

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS

Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Launches New Online Journal

After publication of more than two dozen print volumes of writings by 18th century theologian, preacher, and philosopher Jonathan Edwards, followed by a massive digitization project that has made some 100,000 pages of Edwards’s writings accessible via the Internet, the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale has turned the page with the launch of a new online journal, Jonathan Edwards Studies.

Creation of the online journal, freely accessible to the public, continues the Center’s efforts to make the writings of eighteenth century theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards more accessible, not only in the U.S. but internationally as well.

The Center’s expansion internationally has gained significant momentum in the past several years, in large measure through partnerships and affiliated centers established in a number of overseas locations, including Australia, Benelux, Brazil, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and South Africa.

The new publication is interdisciplinary and professionally refereed by an international editorial board, and editors welcome submissions from graduate students, young scholars, clergy, seminarians and other Edwards enthusiasts. The editors are Kenneth P. Minkema, executive editor of the Works of Jonathan Edwards and director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, and Adriaan C. Neele, associate editor of the Works of Jonathan Edwards and director of the Jonathan Edwards Center.

In a message of welcome in the inaugural issue, released Sept. 6, editors of the journal said, “This is the first modern professional periodical of its kind, devoted to considerations of the background, influences, life, times, thought, and legacy of one of the most significant thinkers in Christian history, arguably America’s most important protestant theologian, and one of the most significant figures in modern religious history—Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).”

The journal, to be published in the spring and fall, will enhance the Center’s ability to fulfill its goal of supporting and encouraging “all facets of Edwards’s fascinating body of work, including historic trajectories, early modern context, his life and thought, and global legacies.”

The journal will consider submissions in four categories: articles (6,000-8,000 words), features (up to 2,000 words), historical documents (primary source materials, up to 50 pages), and book reviews (350-1,000 words).

Submissions will be sent for review to scholars and authors who are specialists in the field of Edwards Studies or generalists in their disciplines. If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the editorial staff will then edit it to conform to JES’s house style.

“I am particularly excited by this new online journal,” said Minkema, “because it is the first of its kind devoted to all things Edwards, and it is the desire of the JEC to make this journal a venue for all sorts of new and exciting work on his life, times, and legacy.”

The Journal is being published at minimal cost, by using the freely available open-source journal publishing software “Open Journal Systems,” developed through a partnership including several Canadian universities and the Stanford University School of Education.

According to Neele, the entire publishing process can be done online with OJS. Said Neele, “Open Journal Systems (OJS) is a journal management and publishing software that assists with every stage of the refereed publishing process, from online submissions of articles through to online publication, and comprehensive indexing of content.”

The inaugural issue features articles on Jonathan Edwards and the absence of free choice and on sexual politics in Eighteenth-Century Pelham, MA; an historical document entitled “A Quaker Response to Distinguishing Marks”; and a feature on Jonathan Edwards and the tithe.

The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale, based at Yale Divinity School, was established in 2003 in anticipation of the completion of the 26-volume Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards. With Yale University Press’s completion of those volumes in 2008, the Jonathan Edwards Center carried the work of the Edwards project forward with creation of a 73-volume, comprehensive, fully searchable, critical, annotated online edition, WJE Online, including some 100,000 pages of Edwards sermons, notebooks, letters, and treatises. An ongoing project is the transcription of original Edwards manuscripts at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

In addition to housing the editorial and administrative components of the letterpress and digital projects—and, now, the online journal—the Center offices also serve as a resource center for research, education, and publication.

For more information about this new journal, see here.

Sweeney’s Booknotes: Jonathan Edwards and Scotland

Kelly Van Andel, Adriaan C. Neele, and Kenneth P. Minkema, eds., Jonathan Edwards and Scotland (Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2011).

This is a fine volume of essays, written mainly by junior scholars. Although its title suggests that it focuses closely on Edwards’ Scottish connections, several of its essays tie Edwards to people in other places such as England, Wales, the Netherlands, Native America, even Königsberg. A few indulge too much in transhistorical speculation regarding “affinities” between Edwards and others who lived in different contexts (who neither knew Edwards and his works nor were known or read by him). But most provide keen insight into the ways in which Edwards was actually read and used in early modern Scottish history.

This book began at a conference convened at the University of Glasgow in March 2009, which was organized by the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School. It is the first published volume to look exclusively (or nearly so) at Edwards in modern Scotland. Its contributors work in history, theology, philosophy, and literature.

Kelly Van Andel, who was finishing her dissertation in Glasgow at the time of the conference itself, now teaches at the University of New Mexico. Neele and Minkema, of course, direct the Edwards Center at Yale.

Although its price ($120) will keep this volume out of the reach of most students, I recommend it to everyone interested in the legacy of Edwards in the place where he was more widely read than anywhere else but America.

Here is a look at its table of contents:

Editors’ Introduction

Chapter One—Wilson H. Kimnach, “‘Unfearing Minds’: A Transatlantic Brotherhood of Preachers”

Chapter Two—Adriaan C. Neele, “Exchanges in Scotland, the Netherlands, and America: The Reception of the Theoretico-practica theologia and A History of the Work of Redemption

Chapter Three—David Ceri Jones, “‘Sure the time here now is like New England’: What Happened When the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists Read Jonathan Edwards?”

Chapter Four—Chris Chun, “The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards: Eighteenth-Century Catalysts for Revivals among Presbyterians and Baptists in Scotland”

Chapter Five—Nicholas T. Batzig, “Edwards, McLaurin, and the Transatlantic Concert”

Chapter Six—Kelly Van Andel, “The Geography of Sinfulness: Mapping Subjectivity on the Mission Frontier”

Chapter Seven—Richard A. S. Hall, “Edwards and Hume on Causation”

Chapter Eight—H. G. Callaway, “Witherspoon, Edwards, and ‘Christian Magnanimity’”

Chapter Nine—Natalia Marandiuc, “Human Will, Divine Grace, and Virtue: Jonathan Edwards Tangos with Immanuel Kant”

Chapter Ten—Susan Miller, “Beauty Is Truth, Truth Beauty: Jonathan Edwards and John Keats”

Chapter Eleven—Kyle Strobel, “Jonathan Edwards’ Reformed Doctrine of the Beatific Vision”

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS