Thursday, November 30, 2006

"repeated blows on the head" etc.

In between lashes from the hard-driving whip of Herr Minkema's demanding editorial review, we have quite a bit of fun at the Jonathan Edwards Center. And this afternoon was no exception. As we toiled away on the issues and problems of the day, without warning the silence was torn by a peal of laughter from the front room. Our Fulbright Fellow, Anna Svetlikova, had come across the following passage from Religious Affections:

"It is as impossible, in the nature of things, that a holy and Christian hope be kept alive, in its clearness and strength, in such circumstances, as it is to keep the light in the room, when the candle is put out; or to maintain the bright sunshine in the air, when the sun is gone down.
Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and corruption, never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance; but that sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a hammer.
Nor is it at all to be lamented, that persons doubt of their state in such circumstances: but, on the contrary, it is desirable and every way best that they should. It is agreeable to that wise and merciful constitution of things, which God hath established, that it should be so. For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in his dispensations towards his own people, that when their love decays, and the exercises of it fail, or become weak, fear should arise; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite them to care for the good of their souls, and so to stir them up to watchfulness and diligence in religion: but God hath so ordered, that when love rises, and is in vigorous exercise, then fear should vanish, and be driven away; for then they need it not, having a higher and more excellent principle in exercise, to restrain them from sin, and stir them up to their duty."

The question here remains...does JE know that he's funny, or is it all a happy accident?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

JEC @ ETS (Acronyms Galore!)

In mid-November, I (Allen Yeh) spent three eventful days at ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) in Washington DC with my co-worker Kyle Orr, manning the Jonathan Edwards Center exhibit.

We were bound to meet some interesting people, and we did—everyone from descendants of Edwards to Roman Catholics who admired Edwards. Many were aware of our letterpress editions (the 26-volume Works of Jonathan Edwards published by Yale University Press), but few knew about our FREE fully searchable online resources which, upon completion, will contain twice the content of the letterpress editions.

We even held a raffle and gave away a free copy of "The Blank Bible" (a $200 value!) to the winner. The resurgence of interest in Jonathan Edwards is amazing; he has not been so popular since the 19th century. In the intervening times, when we weren't in the exhibit hall, we had our choice of dozens of ETS seminars at the Washington Hilton, topped off by a feast on the last night in the Grand Ballroom with a presidential address by Edwin Yamauchi (professor at Miami University of Ohio).

A good time was had by all, and the Blank Bible is right now winging its way to our lucky winner, Benjamin Shaw. Congratulations Benjamin!

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Friday, November 24, 2006

"Miscellanies" 813

CHRIST, why the JUDGE of the WORLD. Christ is a fit person to judge between God and man, being a middle person between both the divine and human nature, and having manifested infinite regard both to the honor of God's majesty and justice, and to the welfare of mankind.

Works, 18, 523.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards

We are happy to report that copies of the Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards have arrived at our offices. Right off the bat, it is clear that Stephen Stein has done an excellent job of organizing the material in order to provide what may prove to be the best general introduction to JE's life and thought to date. This will be a standard classroom reference work for quite some time. I can't wait to read it through!

You can get more information on the volume here.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Miklos Veto

In a warm review of Robert Jenson's America's Theologian Miklos Veto writes 'Yet at this point I must be allowed a moderately critical remark. Jenson sets out by stating that Edwards has not only been America's greatest theologian but also that "his theology meets precisely the problems and opportunities of specifically American Christianity and of the nation molded thereby" (p.3). Throughout the book - which often appears as a subtle and urbane revival of the "great American Jeremiad" - Jenson insists on presenting the insights and implications of Edwards's theology as capable of remedying the plight of contemporary American Christianity. I don't wish to contest the appropriateness of calling upon eighteenth-century teachings to meet the challenges of our own time, and yet I must beg to register respectful disagreement. It would seem that Jenson's Edwards addresses himself exclusively and explicitly to Americans. But surely Edwards was great enough to speak not only to his own folks but also to the great world at large. He may well have been the American divine par excellence, but he was also the greatest Christian theologian of the eighteenth-century.' in Church History, Vol. 58, No. 4. (Dec., 1989), pp. 520-522.

Veto has written on Edwards and there is an interesting article about him in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is a fascinating story - here is part of it.

After arriving in Paris, Mr. Veto completed his undergraduate degree, in philosophy, at the Sorbonne, focusing on metaphysics and the philosophy of religion.Mr. Veto, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, underwent a religious conversion as a teenager and became a devout Roman Catholic. Studying in the West, he says, presented opportunities that had not been available back in Hungary."I had never wanted to study law," he says. "Originally I wanted to study comparative religion - but the Communist regime pushed you where they wanted to."

Mr. Veto earned a master's degree at the Sorbonne, then went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Oxford, which had also committed to help Hungarian student refugees. At Oxford his thesis was on the ethics of Simone Weil; his adviser was the Weil-admirer Iris Murdoch, the novelist, whom he describes as "very delicious, very nice."The thesis became the basis of his first book, The Religious Metaphysics of Simone Weil.

Of the dozen books Mr. Veto has written since then and the many more he has edited, the ones on Weil and From Kant to Schelling, a study on German idealism, are best known and the most widely translated.Mr. Veto later received a doctorate from the Sorbonne and studied Catholic theology at the University of Strasbourg. "I have always felt deeply grateful to the French and English authorities who helped us - even though they also enjoyed having well-educated students enter their universities," he says.

While he says he enjoyed both the Sorbonne and Oxford "intellectually," the Sorbonne, and its Catholic student center, was the place he felt most at home. "I love the French," he says, "but I only respect the English."

Although Mr. Veto received French degrees, became a French citizen, and married a French woman, finding an academic job in France proved enormously difficult because he was not French by birth. So he went to the United States, where he taught philosophy at Yale University and held various visiting professorships. He also spent five years teaching in the Ivory Coast. In 1979 he returned to teach in France, at the University of Rennes, then at the University of Poitiers, where he is now professor emeritus.

In his retirement, Mr. Veto says he is writing a treatise on his "system of metaphysics."He and his wife have three children and seven grandchildren. To this day, Mr. Veto says he is ambivalent about having left Hungary. "You become free, yet you lose your roots," he says. "I never cease to be a Hungarian, yet I would not like to live there."

Still he finds his life to have been blessed. "I feel, despite the grievous things which happened to us," he says, "that God has been infinitely kind to carry me through all these 70 years and to give me the experiences of many different cultures and the religious faith with which I live my life and think about."

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Resolutions No 5

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

(Works, 16 , 753)

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sereno Dwight's Memoir

Is available here in PDF format (380 pps).

And here in more manageable chunks if that is easier.

This remains an excellent resource page.

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Happy and Blessed

"The great enquiry of the world in general in all ages of it, is after happiness. It was a great enquiry among the wise men of the world wherein men's happiness consists and a thing that they were exceedingly at a loss, though it be a matter that so universally and so highly concerns mankind. Yet there is scarce anything that the world is more deceived about. And thus therefore was no inconsiderable part of the errand of Jesus Christ, the great teacher of mankind, into the world to instruct men wherein their true happiness consisted. He began his Sermon on the Mount with telling who were blessed."

Sermon #189 on Luke 11:27-28; That Hearing and Keeping the Word of God Renders a Person More Blessed Than Any Other Privilege That Ever God Bestowed on Any of the Children of Men in The Glory and Honour of God volume 2 of the Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards ed. Michael D. McMullen (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2004), 191.

McMullen notes(190) that the sermon dates from 1751. This is the repreaching date. It is originally from 1731. See here under #189.

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