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Sweeney’s BookNotes: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Casebook

Jonathan Edwards’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: A Casebook, ed. Wilson H. Kimnach, Caleb J. D. Maskell, and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)

At long last, this masterful teaching aid is here. The editors have reproduced the definitive edition of this most famous Edwards sermon along with a host of study helps: an historical and literary introduction to “Sinners” (by Kimnach); a theological primer on the themes within the sermon (by Maskell); a dozen companion texts by Edwards himself that place it in context; five contemporary documents that testify to the power of the sermon and/or the revivals of the so-called Great Awakening; and sixteen interpretations of Edwards and his doctrine, including fascinating comments by a wide array of readers, both friends and foes alike, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Robert Lowell, Perry Miller, Billy Graham, and Marilyn Robinson. Appended to the book are a brief chronology of Edwards’ life, a glossary of names and terms, discussion questions, web resources, a handy bibliography, and even a list of audio productions of the sermon.

This is an ideal teaching tool. I recommend it strongly for high school teachers, home schoolers, Sunday school teachers, and college professors–at Christian or secular schools–anyone who wants to teach “Sinners” with excellence, helping students understand what Edwards was actually trying to do by preaching this frightening, classic, and spiritually powerful sermon.

Can anyone remember the biblical text on which it was based (without checking!)? How about the alternate text for the sermon in the Psalms?

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS