David Kling, “Prayer: Jonathan Edwards and the Cognitive Science of Religion”

October 18th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Hinkson Hall

This presentation examines recent studies on prayer in the fields of anthropology and the cognitive science of religion (CSR) and applies those findings to Jonathan Edwards’ views of prayer. In Edwards’ personal life, his sermons and other writings, and in requests from his congregation (“prayer bids”), what was the focus of prayer, particularly petitionary prayer? What was its purpose? Through which mode of causation was God most likely to act? How did God “answer” or respond to prayer requests? How did one learn to recognize the presence of God in prayer? CSR research opens up constructive possibilities for addressing these questions both in Edwards’ day and ours, yet also raises other questions regarding the nature of human personhood.



Kling New Photo-170x238David Kling is Professor and Chair of the Dapartment of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, where he has been since 1986. He is the author of A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792-1822The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times, and co-editor of Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons. He is currently working on a fourth book, A History of Christian Conversion, and is also an area editor for the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, 30 vols. (de Gruyter, 2009–). Kling is a specialist in American religious history and the history of Christianity, and he is also an Alumnus of Trinity College.