Today we welcome Brandon Cozart to the JEC blog as a guest blogger. We look forward to his musings over the next few months, and please comment copiously.
> Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Brandon Cozart and I'm 27 years old. I'm the husband of one wife and the owner of one dog. We live in Charlotte, North Carolina, but I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I was a history major, religious studies minor, at Texas A&M University and graduated in 2003. I am currently finishing up an M.Div (graduating this May!) at Reformed Theological Seminary here in Charlotte.
> When did you start reading Edwards?
Like many people, my first exposure to Edwards was in high school literature class where the only picture presented of Edwards comes from "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," a terrible tragedy in my opinion. However, I did not have the reaction that most people have with "Sinners," which is to say that I didn't come away scorning the Puritans and early colonial Americans, but rather developed a fond appreciation of the beauty and eloquence of the language and imagery that they, particularly Edwards, used. It wasn't until some years later that I would run into Edwards again, and I don't really remember how it happened. I do remember, however, asking for, and getting, the two volume Hendriksen set of his works one Christmas, early in my undergrad years, and reading a great deal of them. The rest, as they say, is history!
> Favourite JE text?
That's a tough question to answer and I suppose the answer actually depends on what I'm reading at the time! Of the larger works, I'm fascinated by Religious Affections, The Nature of True Virtue, and History of the Work of Redemption. How I wish that Edwards had lived long enough to complete his larger History of Redemption. Of the sermons, "The Excellencies of Christ" and "Heaven, a World of Love" are among my favorites. But I would say that my absolute favorite is "A Divine and Supernatural Light." Again, I love the imagery that Edwards creates in describing the difference between a speculative knowledge and a true sense of the heart of the beauty and loveliness of God, likening the difference to merely having a rational notion that honey is sweet versus actually having a true sense of its sweetness in tasting it and experiencing it. It's beautiful writing.
> Any that really puzzle you?
Any in which Edwards attempts to explain how man, predisposed to love and holiness in the Garden of Eden, came to fall into sin. Edwards would have done well in this realm to follow Calvin's advice in only speaking where Scripture speaks and being silent where Scripture is silent. I could say more, but for brevity's sake I'll refrain!
> What did you think of the Marsden biography?
I absolutely loved Marsden's biography. I think it's a marvel of scholarship, and it was a greatly needed contribution to Edwards studies. Before Marsden's came out I had read Ola Winslow's biography of Edwards and Iain Murray's, and I didn't think either of them gave us a true picture of what Edwards was really like, Winslow's being too negative and Murray's being too appreciative. I think that what Marsden does well is give us as complete a picture of Edwards as we might possibly be able to get, warts and all, detailing every phase of his personal, academic, and theological development, and showing how much Edwards was "a man of his time" in interacting with pretty much every aspect of his contemporary culture, both at home and abroad. I don't know that Marsden's biography is for everyone (I would probably recommend Murray's as an Edwards introduction for more casual readers), but for those who really want an idea of who Edwards was and what life and society were like as America started moving more and more towards revolution, Marsden's work is the one to go to.