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Jonathan Edwards: A Life von George M.…
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Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Original 2003; 2003. Auflage)

von George M. Marsden (Autor)

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1,171612,765 (4.42)8
"Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is a towering figure in American history. A controversial theologian and the author of the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, he ignited the momentous Great Awakening of the eighteenth century." "In this biography, Jonathan Edwards emerges as both a great American and a brilliant Christian. George M. Marsden evokes the world of colonial New England in which Edwards was reared - a frontier civilization at the center of a conflict between Native Americans, French Catholics, and English Protestants. Drawing on newly available sources, Marsden demonstrates how these cultural and religious battles shaped Edwards' life and thought. Marsden reveals Edwards as a complex thinker and human being who struggled to reconcile his Puritan heritage with the secular, modern world emerging out of the Enlightenment. In this, Edwards' life anticipated the deep contradictions of our American culture."--Jacket.… (mehr)
Mitglied:Sarah1974
Titel:Jonathan Edwards: A Life
Autoren:George M. Marsden (Autor)
Info:Yale University Press (2003), Edition: First Edition, 640 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
Bewertung:
Tags:NF, History, American History, Colonial America

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Jonathan Edwards: A Life von George M. Marsden (2003)

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I remember – from my Bradley-Beatty-Long Anthology of American Literature that we used in high school in the late 60s, before Norton came up with their own anthology of American literature – reading what I recall as the very weird sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as one of our examples of very early American literature. (This was in an era that had not yet started exalting the diversity of American literature to include Native Americans and women from its earliest inception.)

George Marsden very successfully shows that Edwards was much more than a "hell-and-damnation" sermonizer. While still adhering to Calvinistic predestination as well as to eternal damnation for some, Edwards envisaged a much broader contingent of the "saved" that would result from evangelical "awakenings" as well as missionary work to the not-yet-Christianized, Edwards himself showing definite personal interest in missionary work to the Indians of New England.

Edwards is arguably the greatest American theologian prior to the Civil War (though Edwards, living from 1704 to 1758, regarded himself as "British" and the inhabitant of a British province in North America). As an evangelical Calvinist, he emphasized an Augustinian "affection" of the emotions rather than Thomistic rationalism, but he also insisted that emotions alone did not suffice and that they needed to be kept under reasoned restraint.

And his An Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame (more simply, Freedom of the Will), is certainly one of the most significant works of American philosophy prior to the Civil War.

I have the Library of American anthology of Edwards: Writings from the Great Awakening and plan to get on to it, but unfortunately it doesn't include Freedom of the Will and I think emphasizes Edwards's evangelical "awakening" works rather than the broad scope of his Calvinistic theology.

Although the LoA edition seems to have some limitations, I'll be aware of these having had the benefit of Marsden's biography.
  CurrerBell | Sep 19, 2021 |
Great biography of a remarkable mind and life. It starts a little slow, but stick with it. You won't regret it. ( )
  HGButchWalker | Sep 21, 2016 |
After reading some biographies, the reader comes away feeling like they know more about the subject. As I turned the last page of George M. Marsden's Jonathan Edwards, A Life, I felt like I actually knew Jonathan Edwards. So in-depth and personal is Marsden's treatment that there is no doubt the author knows his subject very well. The only way it could have been more personal would be if Marsden had actually sat down with Edwards for a one-on-one interview.

Not content with a simple blow-by-blow of the events of Edwards' life, Marsden goes to great lengths to paint an accurate and vivid historical/philosophical background of the times that surrounded and precipitated said events.

In the first chapter, we learn in great detail about the influential and colorful family into which Edwards was born. Marsden details their involvement in the politics and wars which punctuated Edwards formative years. The fact that politics and religion were so tightly meshed gives us insights into the formation of Edwards' later theology. As Marsden puts it when describing the French-English conflict, "The real war was among spiritual powers, a nation God had favored with true religion versus peoples in Satan's grip, Catholics and pagans."

We also learn in the first chapter about the household in which Edwards grew up, the temperament of his father, the prominent role played by the women in Edwards' early years, and how "the household was an economy in which everybody shared."

Despite a Puritan background, we find that the legendary preacher's family had its share of skeletons. As Marsden points out,

"Edwards is sometimes criticized for having too dim a view of himan nature, but it may be helpful to be reminded that his grandmother was an incorrigible profligate, his great-aunt committed infanticide, and his great uncle was an ax-murderer."

The following chapters continue in this vein, faithfully tracing the spiritual, theological, and philosophical development of the man who, perhaps more than any other, shaped American Christianity.

The book is long (505 pages, not including the appendices), but the potential reader should not be put off by this. Marden's writing is in no way superfluous, and his style is engaging, to say the least. He includes so many things that are of tremendous interest (Did you know, for example, that Edwards worked among the Indian tribe immortalized in James Fennimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohecans"?) that I found myself devouring each page. In fact, this reading was my second, and it was as fresh to me as the first time I read it, roughly five years ago.

I also found Jonathan Edwards, A Life to be quite challenging on a ministerial level. There were many times when I came under conviction of areas in my own spiritual life and ministry that need to be developed.

Marsden has written what will perhaps become the definitive biography of one of the greatest theologians of all time. He has come as close as any one author can to doing justice to his subject.

www.comingstobrazil.com ( )
3 abstimmen brazilnut72 | Jun 24, 2009 |
Since Yale University’s masssive project of publishing Jonathan Edwards Works in the latter half of the 20th century, there has been an explosion of scholarly interest in his life and writing. (One bibliography lists more than 500 publications in the 1980’s alone). George Marsden’s biography is self-consciously built upon the work of this generation of Edwards scholars. Marsden seeks to bridge what he sees as a gap between two dominant strands in the recent scholarship, viz, Edwards in his North American cultural influence and the theological thought of Edwards.

The detailed portrait Marsden achieves is magisterial, and the book has won significant awards. Innumerable strands of American history are woven skillfully together with a deep understanding of Edwards own life and thought. The shift from the American puritan heritage of the beginning of the 18th century, to the ‘happy age of light and liberty’ of the Enlightenment is palpable through the pages of the book. We stand alongside Edwards as he contends internationally for the reputation of the revivals, and as the unity of the New England clergy slowly divides into ‘Old Light’ and ‘New Light’. Edwards’ intense spirituality is clearly portrayed, along with his deep human frailties - there is no stylising of Edwards into a supersaint.

I sensed that Marsden may have been in slightly more familiar territory in Edwards’ cultural world than in Edwards’ theological world. Nonetheless, substantial sections of the book are taken up with illuminating descriptions of Edwards’ thought - illuminating both for his own time and for the centuries that have followed. Edwards saw his writing as his chief contribution to the kingdom of God, and was frequently the leading writer for the ‘New Light’ clergy. Especially interesting from a history of philosophy perspective is his work in response to the trends of the Enlightenment — Marsden traces something of Edwards’ vindication in this regard. There were many ‘Aha’ moments as I read the book, as Marsden placed Edwards in his theological context and showed his significance for theological thought that has followed. This is a very valuable aspect of the book.

If Iain Murray’s 1987 biography of Edwards might be described as responsible hagiography, then Marsden’s is more strictly critical biography (albeit with an unmistakable warmth and admiration for the subject.) One of the delightful features of the book is that the careful critical work of Marsden is never reduced to mere deconstruction or scholarly point-scoring. What stands out is not the critical nature of the work, but its synthesis, as is Marsden’s intention: “Historical scholarship … should also be to help people see how to put things back together again. We need to use history for the guidance it offers, learning from the great figures of the past—both in their brilliance and in their shortcomings. Otherwise we are stuck with only the wisdom of the present.” (p. 502)

This biography is utterly magnificent, brilliant in its careful scholarship and beautifully written. (It’s hard to put down!) The portrait of Edwards life and thought is so clear that you gain the sense of having met him personally. It is this that makes the book, above all, deeply edifying for the preacher and Christian today. ( )
4 abstimmen fatgecko | Mar 14, 2007 |
Great book ( )
  sepher | Jan 13, 2006 |
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But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
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To a generation of Edwards scholars who made this work possible
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Edwards was extraordinary. By many estimates, he was the most acute early American philosopher and the most brilliant of all American theologians.
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Wikipedia auf Englisch (2)

"Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is a towering figure in American history. A controversial theologian and the author of the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, he ignited the momentous Great Awakening of the eighteenth century." "In this biography, Jonathan Edwards emerges as both a great American and a brilliant Christian. George M. Marsden evokes the world of colonial New England in which Edwards was reared - a frontier civilization at the center of a conflict between Native Americans, French Catholics, and English Protestants. Drawing on newly available sources, Marsden demonstrates how these cultural and religious battles shaped Edwards' life and thought. Marsden reveals Edwards as a complex thinker and human being who struggled to reconcile his Puritan heritage with the secular, modern world emerging out of the Enlightenment. In this, Edwards' life anticipated the deep contradictions of our American culture."--Jacket.

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