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Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical Hardcover – February 10, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Famous for his scathing revival sermon, "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God," Edwards secured a reputation as America's leading fire-and-brimstone evangelist of the 18th century. Yet as Gura points out in this elegant and compact little study, Edwards's central themes were the religious affections and the role of the emotions in personal religious experience. Rather than writing another detailed biography of Edwards in the manner of George Marsden's magnum opus, Gura traces the development of these themes through the key periods of the luminary's life as evangelist, Princeton president and missionary to the Indians. Gura observes that although Edwards appeared to fail at every task he tried - he lost control over the religious awakenings he had started and at his death few showed interest in reading his extensive and dense theological writings - his reputation revived in the 19th century as an advocate of the purifying flame of personal religious experience. Thus, 100 years after his death, and into the 20th century, the writings that reflect Edwards's own focus on religious experience have been The Life of David Brainerd, The Religious Affections and A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God because they demonstrate the ways that emotions issue in the practice of the Christian faith. Gura's brilliant cultural history of Edwards and his times splendidly reveals a side of the evangelist that has often been overlooked. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Gura's biography of the principal theologian of the Great Awakening of the 1740s is not as definitive as Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden (2003). Gura describes his portrait as a "consideration" of Edwards and delivers an intellectual history of the man. Two of Edwards' best-known writings--the hellfire sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and A Faithful Narrative--figure significantly in Gura's presentation of the totality of Edwards' output. With eternal damnation as a living anxiety in colonial America, Edwards' disquisitions on the nature of salvation (is it a gift of God's grace or the reward of a life piously lived?) had concrete sociopolitical ramifications; Edwards was fired in 1750 from his Northampton, Massachusetts, pulpit in a dispute over church membership. Gura covers Edwards' disputations on the finer points in Calvinist doctrine, but his appreciation of Edwards' testimonials to the personal experience of conversion make his work a crucial contribution to the study of Edwards, as well as enlightening reading about his relevance to American revivalism. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809030314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809030316
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,701,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Although Gura did some undergraduate work with Alan Heimert, who I think understood Edwards better than Perry Miller, he just doesn't get it, and he seems apparently unfamiliar with the scholarship that examines Edwards's key principles, such as the sense of the heart, etc. Hards is hard for many people to study, especially since much of the commentary is by non scholars, mainly students and faculty at schools that turn out ministers, who often evaluate him on the basis to whether or not he conforms to their sectarian principles.
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Format: Hardcover
Philip Gura provides an enjoyable, concise biography of this American original -- a brilliant man who understood the need for personal conversion. Edwards rejected a dry orthodoxy that does not produce personal repentence and faith. Gura shows Edwards' consistant stand that people must actively respond to God -- both intellectually and emotionally. Otherwise we remain in our natural state -- unforgiven -- sinners in the hands of the moral law.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Professor Gura has a real grasp of JE's life and ideas, and so he weaves a fine narrative about his life and person. He seems, however, to want to turn him into some humanist he was not, or at least to claim him for the present as someone with a humanistic legacy to bequeath. Edwards was precisely continuing the fight against humanist ideas (as, for example, Luther had done against Erasmus in De Servo Arbitrio) that began to permeate Christianity at the time and haven't stop corrupting it since. The most "real Edwards" out of all the contemporary portraits that have been attempted is the one who is presented as simply a Bible-believing theologian and pastor. As such, he was misunderstood by the majority in his own time and in this present time
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