Edwards, Jonathan (1703-1758)

American theologian, minister, and missionary

Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Edwards and grandson of the famed Solomon Stoddard. From birth he was set aside for the ministry, and at an early age he resolved to be great in the cause of Christianity. Following his education at Yale College, Edwards served briefly at pastorates in New York City and Bolton, Connecticut, and then moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he served with his grandfather and, upon Stoddard’s death in 1729, as senior pastor of the First Congregational Church. In his years at Northampton Edwards began producing the philosophical and theological works that would make him early America’s most eminent Christian philosopher. His intellectual leadership during the Great Awakening of the 1740s succeeded in rearticulating historic Calvinist theology within the categories of the “New Learning” championed by John Locke and Isaac Newton.

Following his dismissal from the Northampton congregation in 1750 over the issue of Communion and church membership, Edwards accepted a call to a Native American mission in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1758. During these years, he completed many of his famous theological treatises including Freedom of the Will (1754) and Original Sin (1758). Edwards’s prodigious scholarship, however, did not come at the expense of his missionary activity with the Mohawk Indians. As evangelist and Native American school reformer, he worked tirelessly to meet the religious and educational needs of Native Americans and, by his example as much as by his words, established the foundation for Calvinist (“Edwardsian”) missions in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

In 1758 Edwards reluctantly accepted an appointment as president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton College). He died of a smallpox inoculation, however, before serving his new appointment.

As minister, theologian, and missionary, Edwards has exercised profound influence not only on the thought, culture, and literary life of his own time but on American society to the present. He is a window into a critical period in American history and was a shaper of spiritual life in America. When historians seek a person who represents the Puritan, intellectual strain in the American character, they turn almost universally to Edwards.

Harry S. Stout, “Edwards, Jonathan,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 195.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Bibliography

Digital Texts


Allen, Alexander V. G. Jonathan Edwards. Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889.

Hopkins, Samuel (ed.). Memoirs of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, President of the College of New Jersey. London: J. Black, 1815.

Visit the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, a complete online critical edition of Edwards. Search any or all of the seventy-three volumes by word or phrase, or browse the table of contents of each volume.

Edwards, Jonathan. A History of the Work of Redemption [Unpublished sermons, 1739]. New York: The American Tract Society, 1774 [edited by John Erskine].

__________. “Christian Charity, or The Duty of Charity to the Poor, Explained and Enforced.” 1732. No pages. Online at the Bible Bulletin Board.

__________. “Speech to the Mohawks.” Transcription of manuscript (notes) that retains abbreviations and phrases struck by author. Sermons, Series II, 1751 (WJE Online Vol. 69).

Primary


Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 26 vols. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1957-2008.

_____. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 2 vols. Carlisle, PA; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974.

_____. Christian Charity, or The Duty of Charity to the Poor, Explained and Enforced. 1732.

_____. An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement. Boston: n.p., 1747.

_____. Charity and Its Fruits. 1749.

_____. A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World. 1749.

_____. A Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue. 1749.

_____. Life and Diary of the Rev. David Brainerd. 1749.

_____. A Careful and Strict Enquiry Into the Prevailing Modern Notions of That Freedom of the Will Which is Supposed to Be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame. 1754.

_____. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. 1754.

_____. Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. 1758.

_____. A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God. 1758.

_____. The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended; Evidences of its Truth Produced, and Arguments to the Contrary Answered. Boston: n.p., 1758.

_____. Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival of Religion in New England. 1758.

_____. A History of the Work of Redemption [Unpublished sermons, 1739]. New York: The American Tract Society, 1774 [edited by John Erskine].

Haykin, Michael A. G. (ed.). “A Sweet Flame”: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007.

Hopkins, Samuel (ed.). Memoirs of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, President of the College of New Jersey. London: J. Black, 1815.

Kimnach, Wilson H., Kenneth P. Minkema and Douglas A. Sweeney (eds.). The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Smith, John E., Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema (eds.). A Jonathan Edwards Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Secondary


Allen, Alexander V. G. Jonathan Edwards. Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889.

Chai, Leon. Jonathan Edwards and the Limits of Enlightenment Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Cherry, C. Conrad. The Theology of Jonathan Edwards: A Reappraisal. Garden City, NJ: Anchor Books, 1966.

Clark, Stephen M. “Jonathan Edwards: The History of the Work of Redemption.” In Westminster Theological Journal 56 (Spring 1994): 45-58.

Conforti, Joseph A. “Jonathan Edwards’s Most Popular Work: ‘The Life of David Brainerd’ and Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Culture.” In Church History 54 (Jun 1985): 188-201.

_____. “David Brainerd and the Nineteenth Century Missionary Movement.” In Journal of the Early Republic 5 (Autumn 1985): 309-32.

_____. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition & American Culture. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Davies, Ronald E. Jonathan Edwards and His Influence on the Development of the Missionary Movement from Britain. Cambridge: Currents in World Christianity Project, 1996.

_____. “Jonathan Edwards: Missionary Biographer, Theologian, Strategist, Administrator, Advocate–and Missionary.” In International Bulletin of Missionary Research 21 (1997): 60-7.

_____. A Heart for Mission: Five Pioneer Thinkers [Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Mather, Richard Baxter, Jon Amos Comenius, Count Zinzendorf]. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2002, pp. 79-96.

Delattre, Roland Andre. Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards: An Essay in Aesthetics and Theological Ethics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Fiering, Norman. Jonathan Edwards’s Moral Thought and its British Context. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.

Gilbert, Greg D. “The Nations Will Worship: Jonathan Edwards and the Salvation of the Heathen.” In Trinity Journal 23 (Spring 2002): 53-76.

Gura, Philip F. Jonathan Edwards: America’s Evangelical. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.

Hart, D. G., Sean Michael Lucas and Stephen J. Nichols (eds.). The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards: American Religion and the Evangelical Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.

Hatch, Nathan O. and Harry S. Stout (eds.). Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Haykin, Michael A. G. “Advancing the Kingdom of Christ: Jonathan Edwards, the Missionary Theologian.” In The Banner of Truth 482 (Nov 2003): 2-10.

Helm, Paul and Oliver Crisp (eds.). Jonathan Edwards: Philosophical Theologian. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003.

Howe, Daniel Walker. Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Jenson, Robert W. America’s Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Kling, David William and Douglas A. Sweeney (eds.). Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.

Lee, Sang Hyun (ed.). The Princeton Companion to Jonathan Edwards. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Lesser, M. X. Reading Jonathan Edwards: An Annotated Bibliography in Three Parts, 1729-2005. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008.

Marsden, George. Jonathan Edwards: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

McDermott, Gerald R. Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods: Christian Theology, Enlightenment Religion, and Non-Christian Faiths. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

_____. Understanding Jonathan Edwards: An Introduction to America’s Theologian. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Miller, Perry. Jonathan Edwards. [New York]: W. Sloane Associates, 1949.

Minkema, Kenneth P. “Jonathan Edwards on Slavery and the Slave Trade.” In The William and Mary Quarterly 54 no. 4 (Oct 1997): 823-34.

Moody, Josh. Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment: Knowing the Presence of God. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005.

Murray, Iain. Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography. Carlisle, PA; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987.

Nettles, Thomas J. “Edwards and His Impact on Baptists.” In Founders Journal (Spring 2003): 1-18.

Noll, Mark. The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003.

Pauw, Amy Plantinga. The Supreme Harmony of All: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002.

Payne, Ernest A. “The Evangelical Revival and the Beginnings of the Modern Missionary Movement.” In Congregational Quarterly 21 (Oct 1943): esp. 223, 225-27, 228, 229, 232-33.

Piper, John. God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards, With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.

Piper, John and Justin Taylor (eds.). A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004.

Scheik, William J. “The Grand Design: Jonathan Edwards’ History of the Work of Redemption.” In Eighteenth-Century Studies 8 (Spring 1975): 300-14.

Sproul, R. C. and Archie Parrish. The Spirit of Revival: Discovering the Wisdom of Jonathan Edwards, with the Complete, Modernized Text of The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000.

Stein, Stephen J. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Studebaker, Steven M. Jonathan Edwards’ Social Augustinian Trinitarianism in Historical and Contemporary Perspective. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2008.

Weddle, David L. “The Melancholy Saint: Jonathan Edwards’ Interpretation of David Brainerd as a Model of Evangelical Spirituality.” In The Harvard Theological Review 81 (July 1988): 297-318.

Wheeler, Rachel. “‘Friends to Your Souls’: Jonathan Edwards’s Indian Pastorate and the Doctrine of Original Sin.” In Church History 72 (Dec 2003): 736-765.

Winslow, Ola Elizabeth. Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758; A Biography. New York: Macmillan Co., 1940.

Zakai, Avihu. Jonathan Edwards’ Philosophy of History: The Re-enchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.


Wheeler, Rachel. “Jonathan Edwards: Missionary.” No date. No pages. Online at the website of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University (edwards.yale.edu).

See also Ernest A. Payne, “The Evangelical Revival and the Beginnings of the Modern Missionary Movement,” in Congregational Quarterly 21 (Oct 1943): esp. 223, 225-27, 228, 229, 232-33.

Visit the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, a complete online critical edition of Edwards. “The mission of the Jonathan Edwards Center is to support inquiry into the life, writings, and legacy of Jonathan Edwards by providing resources that encourage critical appraisal of the historical importance and contemporary relevance of America’s premier theologian. The primary way that we do this is with the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, a digital learning environment that presents all of Edwards’ writings…”

Haykin, Michael A. G. “Jonathan Edwards: the Missionary?” June 1, 2010. No pages. Accessed online at the website of the Jonathan Edwards Society (jesociety.org), an “orga­ni­za­tion devoted to devel­op­ing more deeply our under­stand­ing of Edwards and his con­tin­u­ing influ­ence on Amer­i­can polit­i­cal, intel­lec­tual and spir­i­tual life…[by] under­tak[ing], pro­mot[ing], and pub­lish[ing] research into Edwards and into Amer­i­can reli­gion through a range of activ­i­ties: edi­to­r­ial, bib­li­o­graph­i­cal, method­olog­i­cal, schol­arly devel­op­ment, web­site main­te­nance, and projects in ethics, eccle­si­ol­ogy, and art.”

Piper, John and Justin Taylor. A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004. Audio resource. Listen to the chapters as originally delivered messages at a conference on Jonathan Edwards. Speakers include J. I. Packer, Paul Helm, Mark R. Talbot, Donald S. Whitney, and Stephen J. Nichols.

Portrait


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Edwards_(theologian)