Jonathan Edwards
420 Pages

Jonathan Edwards



While there were earlier biographies and memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, the great eighteenth-century religious figure, than the one written by A. V. G. Allen, they were apologetic versions that had been produced by Edwards's disciples. Allen's stands out as the first to approach the life of Edwards comprehensively and critically, attempting to discern the positive and negative elements in his thought. Nearly forgotten today, Allen's book deserves a place among the landmark studies on Edwards.



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Published 01 March 2008
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EAN13 9781725221086
Language English
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The Jonathan Edwards Classic Studies Series
The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University is pleased to offer this volume, in grateful cooperation with Wipf & Stock Publishers, as part of its mission to encourage ongoing research into and readership of one of America’s most original thinkers and one of its most significant historical and cultural figures. As much as the Edwards Center is devoted to presenting Edwards’s own writings in a comprehensive and authoritative online format, we also see providing secondary resources as vital to supporting an ongoing understanding of Edwards’s extensive and varied corpus, which can be accessed at Writings about Edwards’s life, thought, and legacy continue to accumulate from authors representing a broad range of disciplines and agendas. Within the voluminous secondary literature, the Edwards Center recognizes the importance of insuring that certain key works—which sadly have gone out of print but yet remain in demand—are available for new generations coming to the study of Edwards and are recognized for their worth. These monographs represent some of the very best and most pioneering studies of Edwards, his times, and his influence, from scholars over the past half century and more. Indeed, these works not only greatly influenced the study of Edwards but American history in general. We hope these landmark studies, ranging from biography to intellectual and social history to philosophy and theology, continue to be sources of inquiry and inspiration for decades to come.
Harry S. Stout Director The Jonathan Edwards Center Yale University
Jonathan Edwards Classic Studies Series
The Young Jonathan Edwards by William Sparkes Morris With a new foreword by Kenneth Minkema
Jonathan Edwards, Pastor by Patricia Tracy With a new preface by the author
Jonathan Edwards’s Moral Thought and Its British Context by Norman Fiering With a new foreword by Oliver Crisp
Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards by Roland A. Delattre With a new foreword by Michael McClenahan
Religion and the American Mind by Alan Heimert With a new foreword by Andrew Delbanco
Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity Movement by Joseph A. Conforti With a new foreword by Douglas Sweeney
Edwards on the Will: A Century of Anglican Theological Debate by Allen C. Guelzo With a new preface/acknowledgements by the author
Jonathan Edwards: The First Critical Biography, 1889 by Alexander V. G. Allen With a new foreword by M. X. Lesser ______________________ Future volumes are forthcoming. For current updates see http://edwards.yale. edu.
Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401 Jonathan Edwards The First Critical Biography, 1889 By Allen, Alexander V. G. ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-716-9 ISBN 10: 1-55635-716-8 Publication date 11/9/2007 Previously published by Houghton Mifflin, 1889
Foreword to the 2007 Edition
At the unveiling of a memorial on the sesquicentennial of Jon-athan Edwards’s dismissal, Alexander Viets Griswold Allen (1841–1908) in “The Place of Edwards in History” spoke of “the deepest aFInity” betWeen EdWards and Dante—their ideal-ized women and their idealized worlds; their intellectual, poetic imaginatiOns; their banishments and exiles—such thatDivine and Supernatural Light,Distinguishing Marks, andReligious Affectionslikened in “spirit and purpose” to the are Divine Comedy, not theInstitutes of Calvin. Eleven years earlier, in the Irst bOOk-length study OF his thOught—part OF the Ameri-can ReligiOus Leaders series published by HOughtOn MiFin and reprinted FOur times beFOre 1900—Allen isOlates EdWards’s GOd-cOnsciOusness as the One “imperishable element” amid the “false premises” and “negative side” of his discarded theology, his dOgged belieF in the dOctrines OF divine sOvereignty and original sin. Though Allen insists that his study of the “father of modern Congregationalism” and the “greatest preacher of his age” is “not . . . devoid of sympathy,” he characterizes Edwards’s style as “thinking alOud,” much as earlier critics had, but gOes Further, dismissing the speculative thOught OF his last phase—Freedom of the Will,Original Sin,True Virtue, andEnd of Creation—as an exercise “in confusion, if not failure” and his work on the Trinity, hOWever mOdern it appears “Weakened, iF nOt neutralized” by his lack of interest in the humanity of Christ. Indeed, for Allen that is the central prOblem: “The great WrOng Which EdWards did, which haunts us as an evil dream throughout his writings, was to assert God at the expense of humanity.” That Allen was an ordained priest and, at the time, a professor of church history at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge FOr tWenty years Was enOugh apparently FOr sOme readers tO Ind him ill-suited tO deal Fairly With EdWards since, as One held, he Was “viOlently and even bitterly” OppOsed tO
ivfoREwoRD his theology. To others, Allen seemed “too apologetic” and not critical enough of a theology that was “mistaken” and “a thing of the past.” Such partisans hovered at the edges of the general response, most readers endorsing Allen’s “stimulating and Fascinating” bOOk, “a FOundatiOn study in NeW England theOlOgy,” It tO stand alOngside his earlier bOOks—The Theological Renaissance of the Nineteenth Century (1880) andThe Continuity of Christian Thoughtin (1884)—and time, perhaps, his later Ones—Religious Progress (1894),The Message of Christ to Manhood (1899),Life and Letters of Phillips Brooks (1901),The Catholic Church and the Modern Sense of Nationality(1904), andFreedom in the Church(1907). Anticipating Yale by mOre than halF a century, an editOrial in theNew York Timesfor June 11, 1900, called for a new edition of the mystical and saintly Edwards, if only as “a matter of patriotism.” As was often the case at the close of the nineteenth century, the mystical EdWards Was the valuable EdWards, and sO he remained until well into the twentieth. His theology still a “blight upOn pOsterity,” Henry BamFOrd Parks FOrgOes the mystic Edwards of Allen forJonathan Edwards: The Fiery PuritantWO years later, Arthur Cushman McGiFFert’s (1930); study restores Edwards’s “critical mysticism” though somewhat altered by his “mOdern-mindedness.” By 1949, Perry Miller, in a presentation of the “drama of his ideas,” renders an Edwards “intellectually the most modern man of his age,” a speculative philOsOpher “inInitely mOre” than a theOlOgian, a “majOr” artist rather, a psychologist and a poet in the native tradition. And now, at the turn of another century, with little poetry left in Edwards and even less mysticism, it may be useFul, iF nOt necessary, tO turn again to Alexander V. G. Allen.
—M. X. Lesser NOrtheastern University NOvember 2007