Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Introduction to Cambridge Companion to JE

The full text of Stephen Stein's introduction is available in PDF. Stein writes:

'This Companion seeks to open for you the reader the life and times of Edwards, his religious and professional achievements, and the full range of his reputation in diverse fields. This book includes work by three generations of distinguished scholars whose ground-breaking research has opened new insights on Edwards’s background, life, accomplishments, and legacy. The chapters that follow are organized into three parts dealing with Edwards’s life and context, his roles and achievements, and his legacy and reputation, respectively. The parts are not exclusive of one another. On the contrary, the three are mutually reinforcing of the ways in which the study of one or another particular aspect of Edwards leads inexorably into other dimensions of his experience. There is no chapter in this book that does not cast distinctive light on his life circumstances. Yet biography qua biography is the specific assignment of only one of the contributors. The other chapters are biographically complementary and expansive. That is also true with respect to the place of Edwards in American history. All of the chapters that follow provide perspective on the professional roles he played during his lifetime and on the subsequent ways that later Americans and persons outside America have viewed him and his accomplishments. However, no single viewpoint or critical perspective on Edwards controls these chapters. The range of judgments expressed by the contributors includes admiration as well as criticism, objective evaluation as well as subjective engagement, scholarly detachment as well as personal opinion. Frankly, it is impossible to read about Edwards and to engage the scholarship that he has elicited without coming to some conflicting judgments regarding him and his place in American history.'


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