Announcement: EdwardsStudies.com Joins the JESociety in Joint Publishing Venture for a Collection of Essays

EdwardsStudies.com is excited to announce a partnership with the JESociety to bring into publication, in print format, a collection of Jonathan Edwards-related essays. The essays selected for this first time collaborative venture should be of a high quality, on par with graduate-level standards of excellence, and of equal caliber to publications in other academic journals.

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What Topics?

Essays submitted for consideration may be focused around Jonathan Edwards’s biography, ministry, theology, writings, sermons, personal correspondences, philosophy, or historical significance.

Who Should Submit Essays?

Pastors, theologians, students, historians, professors, teachers, church leaders, or other qualified individuals may submit essays. Please do not submit essays that have already been submitted for consideration in other periodicals. However, graded and returned papers from institutions of higher learning may be submitted for consideration, provided that they are not submitted for publication elsewhere.

What Length?

Essays submitted may be of varying lengths. Short essays may contain as few as 2,000 words and long essays may contain as many as 10,000.

Deadline

The deadline to submit essays will be June 1, 2016.

How Do I Submit an Essay for Consideration? 

Essays may be submitted for consideration to the following address: jonathan edwards studies (all one word) at gmail dot com.

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Author Interview: Dr. Toby Easley “Jonathan Edwards: Beyond the Manuscripts”

EdwardsStudies.com is pleased to be talking today with Dr. Toby Easley. Toby has a doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has been researching Edwards for years, including time spent during his doctoral research in the Beinecke Library at Yale where he examined the manuscripts of the Northampton Puritan.

Dr. Easley, where did you get started studying Jonathan Edwards?

I was introduced to Edwards through preaching and teaching as a child and youth. I also read Edwards’s “Sinners” sermon in my high school American Literature class. My teacher actually ridiculed his Calvinistic viewpoints, and due to my theological background at church, I saw through his negative view of Edwards. Later, during my undergraduate studies, a friend gave me an eighteenth-century copy of Original Sin. My interest in Edwards was kindled again, but it was in 2005 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that I began to immerse myself in his sermons and notebooks. In 2007, I presented a paper at the ETS Regional meeting titled “Jonathan Edwards: Extemporaneous or Manuscript Preacher?”

Tell us what it is like sifting through Edwards’s works in the Beinecke Library?

The experience for me was extremely enlightening. Looking at pictures online or in books does not do justice to viewing the actual sermons in the Beinecke Library. One important element of my research of Edwards’s sermons focuses on uncovering stereotypes and on the developmental stages of his sermons throughout his life. Therefore, I needed to observe his sermons in the various manuscripts and outline forms throughout the eras of his life.

How did this research inform your writing of your new book?

Along with all of the vast secondary source materials I read throughout the writing process, the ability to view the primary source materials in their eighteenth-century handwritten form cannot be underestimated. I do not believe I could have come to solid conclusions on many of my assertions had hands-on observations not been possible. Unfortunately for Edwards’s enthusiasts today, Edwards did not have a secretary who wrote his sermons as he delivered them. However, with men such as Spurgeon in the nineteenth-century, we have his personal sermon notes along with written notes of his actual delivery. This variance makes our interpretation of Edwards’s communication practices and actual delivery much more complicated over the course of his life.

So tell us about “Jonathan Edwards: Beyond the Manuscripts.” Give us an overview of this project and what you hope readers will learn here.

My desire is to take readers through the life of an eighteenth-century scholar and explain that a journey exists in one’s own preparation and speaking style. I also endeavor to draw the reader into Edwards’s age of spiritual awakening and, at the same time, reveal important twenty-first-century applications of his communication and developmental stages.

I also address questions people often ask. Was Jonathan Edwards striving to maintain a precision, while becoming more extemporaneous? Furthermore, do the manuscripts prove that he was a monotone, stoic, lifeless preacher, with insufficient ability to adapt and transition to diverse audiences and settings? I invite the readers not only to see the development of the man that many historians regard as “America’s greatest theologian and philosopher,” but also to discover if he ever moved beyond the manuscripts in preparation and delivery?

Were there any “Aha” moments for you during the writing of this project?

Yes, when I began to realize that Edwards was not just a great composer of sermons, he was also to a great extent involved in examining others’ rhetorical methods and developing his own communication strategies. I was also astonished by the numerous communication settings that he participated in and his ability to adapt in an effective manner. We observe that late in his life, he simultaneously pastored both an English and Mohican congregation at Stockbridge, and was finally willing to take on the position as President at the College of New Jersey.

Is this going to be available in both paperback and ebook format?

The book will be available in hardback, paperback, and ebook.  

Do you have any other major projects in the works for the future?

Yes, I am presently working on my next book on the Transatlantic exchange between Jonathan Edwards and John Erskine and the American and Scottish awakenings.

Any other Edwards-related recommendations or shout-outs for our readers?

Yes, I recently read a book written by:

Yeager, Jonathan M. 2011. Enlightened Evangelicalism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine. New York, New York, Oxford University Press.

Articles:

Crawford, Michael J. Spring. 1991. “New England and the Scottish Religious Revivals of 1742.” American Presbyterians 69, no. 1: 23-32.

 

Discussion Questions for “Heaven is a World of Love”

[For the full text of “Heaven is a World of Love” see here].

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  1. Give a big, overall summary of Edwards’s view of Heaven. What is it like?
  2. Why is it important to think about Heaven regularly?
  3. Do you see Christendom (the Church) becoming perfect this side of heaven? What do the saints worshipping in Heaven have that we lack here?
  4. In heaven will we see the Father, the Son, Holy Spirit and the crucified Christ (God-man)?
  5. How does Edwards’s conception of Heaven differ (if at all) from what the average person on the street thinks about Heaven?
  6. Do we have to be “holy” to be united with our heavenly Father? A number of times JE connected us here on earth being holy to be united with the Father, “and us if we are holy, to be united with them there” (heaven).
  7. In Glory will we have any concern or attention focused on anybody but the glorious Lord?
  8. JE says, “Those that are highest in glory, are those that are highest in holiness”. Is there a merit system or hierarchy of achieving rewards for our place in heaven?
  9. Do you long to see Jesus? How do you prepare? Do you have any regrets?
  10. At times do you find yourself bursting with emotion, heart pounding, tears welling up, but no words worthy of how you’re feeling towards our great God? What do you do? Do you hold back the tears in fear of bellowing out some indescribable guttural utterances amidst sobs and uncontrollable weeping? Is there anyone else that feels the way you do?
  11. Does anything he says here surprise you about Heaven? Open up new vistas for you? Confuse you?
  12. If you have read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” how does this sermon compare?
  13. How did this sermon spur Edwards’s hearers on towards a holy life?
  14. Why does Edwards NOT think that all persons are going to experience Heaven equally?
  15. What does Edwards think about Hell as mentioned in this sermon?
  16. How does Edwards encourage us to bear difficulties in this life?
  17. Read Revelation 21 and 22. Does Edwards’s view of Heaven seem to comport with what we know about Heaven from the Bible?
  18. According to Edwards, what will we DO in Heaven?
  19. According to Edwards, will we know people in Heaven? What will we think of them?