Friday, August 22, 2008

Research on Jonathan Edwards

Are you currently working on a graduate thesis that concentrates on Edwards? If you are please could you comment below telling us who you are, where you are studying, and how you are approaching JE? We've recently been able to connect people on this blog who are working on similar areas. It might be of use to you. If you have completed recently we would like to hear from you as well.

If you comment below I will consolidate into a blog post.

One possibility is a volume of essays representing the distilled wisdom (!) of recent research.

You can let me know.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Screen grab of new online edition of JE works.

If you would like to register for free access to Edwards online please go to and to register please visit

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Sacramental Union in Christ

At Stockbridge in 1751 Edwards preached to both the Indian and English congregations. The sermon was composed during the visit – he had not foreseen the need to officiate at the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
The text for the sermon is 1 Corinthians 10:17 – For we being many are one body, and one bread: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Noting the context of the verse Edwards develops four doctrinal aspects which he see in it. First, the christians’ union with Christ; second, the union of Christians with one another; third, the high nature of this union with Christ; finally, how this is ‘exhibited and manifested [in the] partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

He offers this developed doctrine: The Lord’s Supper was instituted as a solemn representation and seal of the holy and spiritual union of Christ’s people [to] Christ, and one to another.

The doctrine of union with Christ is central to Edwards’ applied soteriology, yet there are numerous divergent readings of the unio Christi in Edwards. In this sermon Edwards just outlines his thinking.

This is what Edwards says:
This union begins with a ‘mutual complacence (585)’. Christ loved his people from eternity (he cites here 1 John 4:19; Ephesians 5:25-27) and believers have their hearts drawn to Christ in response. So he says ‘This union of hearts is the first thing, the foundation.’ He then states a threefold analysis of this union, which is relative, legal, and vital.
I think it is of particular note that Edwards does not develop the thoughts concerning the union in the manuscript. The relative, legal, and vital, are stated, then given the barest exposition in the second part of the first proposition. There is a relative union because they are united to Christ as their head; there is a legal union because they are espoused to Christ as one spouse; and a vital union because they receive all spiritual life directly from Christ.
Consequently, ‘they must inevitably’ love one another: ‘being all so strictly united to Christ, they must in many other respects have a very close union with one another (586).’

The result is aesthetic:

‘Consequent on those things, there must be a sweet harmony among all the members as to temper and conversation; and a natural inclination to sweet society and mutual converse one with another. This union of Christians one with another is [represented] most beautifully in several texts of Scripture …’

The second proposition in the sermon concerns the nature of the sacrament as a seal. It is a confirmation God’s love for his people, and their ‘solemn declaration and open testimony and confirmation’ of their faith in the Christ of the covenant. This ‘solemn declaration’ takes place through ‘[t]heir eating and drinking’ because taking the ‘bread and wine’ ‘opening professes their union of heart, their faith and love.’ This eating and drinking is ‘their own free act and deed.’

Edwards makes a number of applications. First, (588) those who do not profess Christ as Lord should not come to the Lord’s Supper. So there are strong echoes of all the problems he experienced in Northampton in the 1740s. Every action of the Lord’s Supper are seals of ‘acceptance’, therefore those who do not accept Christ in their heart should not feign to accept him in their actions.

Moreover, ‘[t]he very notion of a church sitting down together at the Lord’s table is God’s family sitting down at this table as his children. Therefore, the design is not to make men children [who] ben’t admitted into the family that they may be received into the family.’

OK, the first application of this sublime aesthetic theology is negative! There are other applications – ‘Let the approaching feast be indeed to us a feast of love’ (589) – but these applications are clearly less significant than the warning. So the only reading of this lovely sacrament sermon is that Edwards is warning the English congregation that he holds fast to the theology that lost him the pulpit in Northampton.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

WJE 26: Catalogues of Books

Amazon has Volume 26 of the Yale Works at an unbelievable price. $64.12 which is 33% off the list price. i have never seen any WJE volume at a price like this. only three left (though it says more are coming), so get them while they're hot!

here's a short description of this final volume of the series:

This final volume in The Works of Jonathan Edwards publishes for the first time Edwards’ “Catalogue,” a notebook he kept of books of interest, especially titles he hoped to acquire, and entries from his “Account Book,” a ledger in which he noted books loaned to family, parishioners, and fellow clergy. These two records, along with several shorter documents presented in the volume, illuminate Edwards’ own mental universe while also providing a remarkable window into the wider intellectual and print cultures of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic. An extensive critical introduction places Edwards’ book lists in the contexts that shaped his reading agenda, and the result is the most comprehensive treatment yet of his reading and of the fascinating peculiarities of his time and place.

UPDATE: after those last three sold pretty quickly, Amazon again lists the volume as "IN STOCK."

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Only one Jonathan Edwards missing?

If we could add Ken Minkema reading a recently transcribed sermon from our JE this could be a perfect day?


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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great News

Works of Jonathan Edwards Online 2.0 Registered User Beta Testing

The Works of Jonathan Edwards Online 2.0 (WJE Online 2.0) is available for Registered User’s Beta phase. We invite you to participate in a month-long testing of our new release: a fully searchable digital interface through which anyone can explore Edwards' written thoughts:

Volume 1: Freedom of the Will
Volume 2: Religious Affections
Volume 3: Original Sin
Volume 4: The Great Awakening
Volume 5: Apocalyptic Writings
Volume 6: Scientific and Philosophical Writings
Volume 7: The Life of David Brainerd
Volume 8: Ethical Writings
Volume 9: A History of the Work of Redemption
Volume 10: Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723
Volume 11: Typological Writings
Volume 12: Ecclesiastical Writings
Volume 13: The "Miscellanies", Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500
Volume 14: Sermons and Discourses, 1723-1729
Volume 15: Notes on Scripture
Volume 16: Letters and Personal Writings
Volume 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733
Volume 18: The "Miscellanies," 501-832
Volume 19: Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738
Volume 20: The "Miscellanies," 833-1152
Volume 21: Writings on the Trinity, Grace, and Faith
Volume 22: Sermons and Discourses, 1739-1742
Volume 23: The "Miscellanies," 1153–1360
Volume 24: The Blank Bible
Volume 25: Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758

Register on Tuesday August 19, 2008 or later to participate in the Beta testing! The participant with the highest number of suggestions, bug reporting and or user-navigation comments WILL RECEIVE A PRIZE in the form of a book.

Check it out!

Explore the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online 2.0 at and to register please visit

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thomas A Schafer

Thomas A. Schafer

We were saddened to hear that distinguished Jonathan Edwards scholar Thomas A. Schafer died on August 8, 2008. Professor Schafer was professor (emeritus) of church history of McCormick Theological Seminary, and formerly had taught at Duke University. His decades-long efforts to transcribe and understand Edwards's "Miscellanies" resulted in volume 13 of the Yale Edwards Edition, with an authoritative introduction to the "Miscellanies" as a whole. As part of this study, Schafer carried on a meticulous and comprehensive study of the dates of all of Edwards's early manuscripts. In the near future, the Jonathan Edwards Center will digitally publish Tom's unabridged, and corrected, introduction, which had to be condensed for print publication.

Many have benefited over the years from conversations and correspondence with Professor Schafer, who readily shared his extensive--and probably unparalleled--knowledge of Edwards. In fact, Tom used to joke, in the words of a poet, that "from London to Ephesus, my name has been mentioned in many prefaces." Recent volumes, such as "Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad" and "The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards," were dedicated to him in recognition of his contributions to individual projects as well as to the field as a whole.

Add to this Tom's almost encyclopedic knowledge on a variety of subjects--from church history to Edison recordings to the latest discoveries in human health--and anyone who met him was sure to learn and be entertained. In the Edwards vineyard, we will greatly miss Tom's collegiality, generosity, and good cheer.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards

The Banner of Truth Trust has just released a title by John Carrick, The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards. Here's the publisher's description:

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) is widely regarded not only as America’s greatest theologian and philosopher, but also as one of her greatest preachers. It is a remarkable fact, however, that his preaching has been somewhat neglected, both in academic circles and in the Reformed churches. Published in the year that marks the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his death, this book successfully straddles the church’s and the academy’s interest in Edwards and supplies that omission.

Dr Carrick demonstrates that Edwards was preaching and writing at a unique moment in history when the Puritan spirit and the spirit of the Enlightenment intersected; he traces the remarkable fall and rise of interest in the great American preacher theologian in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; he interacts, both positively and critically, with the now complete Yale edition of Edwards’ Works and also with the ever burgeoning field of Edwards scholarship; and he cites extensively from Edwards’ sermons, treatises, and Miscellanies in order to demonstrate the power and the profundity of his preaching and thought.

The author’s main focus is, throughout, primarily homiletical; but interwoven in the homiletical focus are theological, philosophical, historical, and biographical strands. He constantly seeks to place Edwards and his sermons in their New England context – indeed, in their wider eighteenth-century transatlantic context – thus providing, wherever possible, the historical background for Edwards’ sermons. The ‘New York period’, the ‘Great Apostasy’ at Yale, the Bolton interlude, the Yale tutorship, the Boston Lecture of 1731, the Enfield sermon, the Yale Commencement of 1741, the great revivals, the landmark funerals, the Edwards-Stoddard-Williams dynamic, the Communion controversy, the Farewell Sermon, the romance of the Stockbridge years – these are all treated within the context of a systematic analysis of Edwards’ preaching under a number of different themes.

Dr Carrick does not shrink from sounding a note of critique at certain points and he warns against the danger of slavishly imitating the New England preacher. But he is also clearly convinced of Edwards’ extraordinary greatness and of the tremendous value of his sermons for Christians today. ‘Iron sharpens iron’; and the iron of Edwards’ marvelous expositions and applications is sure to sharpen the minds and souls of all those who study them carefully.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bill Schweitzer

Our warm congratulations to Bill Schweitzer, University of Edinburgh, who recently submitted his doctoral thesis. He writes

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share about ‘Interpreting the Harmony of Reality: Jonathan Edwards’ Theology of Revelation.’ I think my direction could be summed up by the questions ‘what did Edwards mean when he said that God “is a communicative Being,” and ‘what was the overarching project that unifies his work?’ It is most basically a treatment of JE’s thought on revelation, with Edwards’ characteristically radical counterpoint to the deistic critique of revelation functioning as something of an historical sub-plot. But I end up seeing all of Edwards’ theology from the perspective of revelation. My proposal is that Edwards’ unfinished ‘great works’ (all three of them) were all attempts to demonstrate the Trinitarian harmony that marks the several media of revelation. If God is ‘a communicative Being,’ if harmony is his signature attribute, and if all reality is a communication from God, then we should expect to find harmony in and between Scripture, nature, and history. I think that this is ultimately what JE was trying to show to us in all his work.
I have chapters on God’s Communicativeness, Nature and Science, the Necessity of Revelation (including a discussion of Edwards’ innovative relational/communicative argument), Scripture, History, and a concluding chapter that make my case for my theory on Edwards—something I think could be a useful tool, but I know there are other possibilities. One of my recurring themes is how Edwards has a multi-dimensional (having noetic, affectional and beatific elements) concept of revelation; something I think lots of commentators recognise implicitly. I really did not set out to pick fights with anyone, but given my topic I do interact with, for instance Bob Brown; I just think Edwards was more radically opposed to Enlightenment thought than his more nuanced interpretation might suggest. But my real foils are JE’s contemporary antagonists, not only the deists such as Toland, Tindal and Chubb, but also John Locke. One of the funnest things I got to do was to present evidence that Edwards was responding directly to Locke’s Essay in framing his arguments for the necessity of revelation.
As I think happens elsewhere, Edwards’ great fascination with heaven influences his thought on revelation in what I call the ‘redemptive-historical beatific vision’—a concept Ramsey picks up in the appendix to Vol. 8. God is communicating himself to us through the medium of redemptive history, and so even the saints in heaven study what transpires on earth. The advantage in heaven is that these things are interpreted to them by Jesus Christ (see the ‘True Saints’ funeral sermon for Brainerd in Vol. 25). It thus does not surprise me that Edwards carried on a sort of microcosmic approximation of this situation on earth, not only by the History of the Work of Redemption project but also by some little-known revival newsletters, and I think in some way by all his theology. I conclude with a challenge for the church today to take up Edwards’ unfinished project of interpreting all aspects of reality as God's communication of beautiful harmony.

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The influence of Jonathan Edwards

Dear readers!

I'm trying to track the contemporary use of Edwards - see the Keller post etc. Can anyone help me with statements from pastors and theologians alive today concerning their debt to Edwards? I guess the two biggest 'names' are Keller and Piper - but are there others?


Please comment below

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