Spring 2017: Updates from Ken Minkema

EdwardsStudies.com has a few updates for our readers in the ever-advancing world of Jonathan Edwards-related research and study. Here you go!

1. Study Edwards this Summer at Yale. 

First, the Edwards summer course at Yale has now been announced. It will be entitled, “Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment: Free Will and Conversion.” The dates will be June 12-16; from 9:00 – 11:30am. The speakers will be Paul Helm, Ken Minkema, and Adrian Neele. Paul Helm is the special guest instructor; King’s College, London, Emeritus, a renowned expert on Reformed theology and Jonathan Edwards.

To get you excited about Paul Helm as the featured speaker, here is a list of his publications.


Per Ken Minkema, what follows is the course description:

Jonathan Edwards’ relationship with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century is traditionally viewed as conflicted, condemning many of its aspects and viewing them as antithetical to Christianity. Yet, he embraced many Enlightenment figures and ideas. As part of the ongoing general reassessment of the Enlightenment that stresses the religious nature of the movement, this course, through primary readings by Edwards and contemporary writers and through interpretive literature, will look at Edwards’ thought on a key Enlightenment topic: the nature of the human self, particularly the nature of the will. We will look at how Edwards’ context, the specific challenges he faced, shaped the solutions at which he arrived. Along the way we will consider the debate over whether Edwards, in his formulation of the will, departed from or stayed within Reformed orthodox strictures.

Check out summerstudy.yale.edu for more info.
2. The JE Encyclopedia is Headed to Print! 

Secondly, per Ken Minkema, “The final draft of the Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia was submitted to Eerdmans at the end of last year and is currently in production. Preliminary estimates say our newborn will weigh in at 700 pages.” This is excellent news, as well as a very healthy birth-girth! Our opinion is that this will instantly become a classic in the field of Jonathan Edwards studies, and will likely be THE must have work about Edwards for the year 2017. As soon as it becomes available, EdwardsStudies.com will get our hands on a copy to do a full video and written review.

For more information on the Edwards encyclopedia, see our archived interview with Ken Minkema last April. In that interview, Minkema described the JE Encyclopedia as the definitive “go-to source for quick information on a given idea, writing, person, place, or event in Edwards’s life, along with a few sources with which a reader can follow up to further explore.”

3. New V&R Books.

Reminding our readers that the JEC (Jonathan Edwards Study Center at Yale University) has a special deal with Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht in Germany to bring to press a series of new directions in Edwards’ studies. Here is a quick glance at what has already come to print. According to Minkema, the following describes what’s next on the printing press with the JEC/V&R partnership…

The next installment in the “New Directions in Jonathan Edwards Studies” from Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht is Charles Phillips’ Edwards Amasa Park: The Last Edwardsean. Charlie is the National Program Officer with the Maclellan Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn. An excerpt from his description of the book reads: “Park drew creatively on the intellectual resources at hand to re-cast his inherited orthodox Calvinism in the new conditions of the nineteenth century. The New Rhetoric and common-sense epistemology from the Scottish Enlightenment, methodological principles from the German mediating theologians, the fresh affective sensibilities of his audience as dictated by the bracing stream of Romanticism from England —all were used by Park to create a broadly relevant orthodox synthesis in the innovative spirit of Jonathan Edwards and his theological successors.”

4. Northampton Church Records

Next, our readers might be interested to know that the Northampton Church Records have been scanned and are on line via the “New England’s Hidden Histories” project at the Congregational Library, Boston. Readers can go to congregationallibrary.org and follow the links. Minkema told me that this is the church’s first book, started by Eleazar Mather in 1654, and contains entries by Solomon Stoddard, Jonathan Edwards, and John Hooker.

5. Forthcoming Works

Finally, Ken Minkema along with Kyle Strobel, and Adriaan Neele are together working on an Edwards volume for the Classics of Western Spirituality series (published by Paulist Press). This series already contains other works by timeless writers such as Julian of Norwich,  Saint John of the Cross, John and Charles Wesley and many others. The series generally focuses on the great writers in the genres of prayer, piety, and mysticism. This new volume on Edwards will contain some classic texts illustrating Edwards’ piety as well as some “previously unpublished documents.” Can’t wait to see what those might be!


This is What Happens When Ten Edwards Geeks Get Together and Collaborate: Introducing “A Collection of Essays”

EdwardsStudies.com and the JESociety have recently joined forces and put together a group of ten young, fresh Jonathan Edwards Scholars with an agreement to work together on one project. Each writer was asked to contribute an original piece on the Northhampton Puritan. The result is the new book, A Collection of Essays. Contributors include pastors, theologians, students, and scholars.

Here’s the video introduction:

Hand-Sewn Edition of My Edwards Dissertation: “A Theology of Joy: Jonathan Edwards and Eternal Happiness”

At EdwardsStudies.com, we are constantly pressing the envelope for Jonathan Edwards geekiness. Not only do we review scholarly books by and about the eighteenth century puritan, but we also engage in a level of nerdy conversation rivaled only by Star Trek fans and Comic Con attendees.

In this short video, I debut my own hand-bound edition of my dissertation which I have written and intend to defend at Reformed Theological Seminary on Friday, April 15th. The dissertation is entitled “A Theology of Joy: Jonathan Edwards and Eternal Happiness in the Holy Trinity.” In this work, I have attempted to survey Edwards’s understanding of happiness, especially that holy happiness that centers on the glory of God as revealed in the Gospel.

In the dissertation, I survey some of Edwards’s most well known works (Religious Affection, The End for which God Created the World, the Resolutions) as well as some of his lesser known works (Essay on the Trinity, True and False Christians etc.)

In making this hand-bound edition of my dissertation, I attempted to create something that might have looked like a book that Edwards could have pulled off his own shelf. It is bound in cowhide leather with a suede liner, and all of the signatures (sewn groups of 32 pages) are hand-stitched by yours truly. Edwards would be proud – especially since he sewed many of the notebooks he used in his Miscellanies and other personal books.

Take a look!

Take a Virtual Tour of Edwards’s Study

If you have not already discovered one of the coolest Jonathan Edwards sites on the web yet, let me introduce you to the Omohundro Institute for Early American History Quarterly.

On this page [click here] you can actually take a “virtual tour” of Jonathan Edwards’s person study, and examine (digitally of course) the personal affects of the Northampton Puritan, snooping through his desk, his notebooks, and other personal items.

William H. Kimnach and Kenneth P. Minkema provide the written commentary on the personal items. Here are some screenshots of what you can see.

Edwards Study

Edwards Blank Bible 3

Edwards Notebooks


An Edwards-Inspired ESV Bible from Crossway

Hundreds of years ago, the Puritan Jonathan Edwards owned a one-of-a-kind Bible that has rarely, if ever, been replicated. Until today, that is.

Edwards (1703-1758) took possession of an unusual 1653 King James Bible, the pages of which were removed, and spliced back into a larger volume with entirely blank pages. The resulting amalgamation looked like a large notebook that had swallowed a small hand-sized Bible alive!

This enabled Edwards to own a Bible in which every other page was completely blank – perfectly suitable for a lifetime of note-taking. And that he did! Edwards filled the Bible with 5,506 notes and entries making it one of the great artifacts of Early Colonial history through which we can learn of his personal theology and exegetical insights. Today, this Bible has become known as the “Blank Bible” and is now in possession at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript at Yale University.

[Note: I have written a much larger history of Edwards’s unusual Bible here.  Edwards’s Blank Bible can be read for free here at the Yale site, or obtained in print as Volume XXIV of Edwards Complete Yale Works (24 Volumes). ]

Today, I am excited to announce that Crossway has intentionally replicated this unusual Bible and made it available to the public for purchase. No, you don’t get Edwards’s own notes inside, but you do get to create your own notes everywhere throughout!

The result is Crossway’s Journaling Bible: Interleaved Edition. Let me describe it in this brief review.


The first difference between Edwards’s Bible and the replica is translation. Edwards had the KJV and this Crossway edition of course comes in the English Standard Version. But for me, that is ideal. The ESV is one of the most literal and beautiful translations available today. Edwards would approve.

Now, you’ve seen journaling Bibles before, right? In fact, Crossway has several others to offer in their lineup. So what makes this one different? Well, the great design factor here is that the Edwards Bible comes with an entire blank page (both sides) between every page of Scripture making the usable writing space about ten times greater than even the most free-form journaling Bible. Far from being a mere wide margin Bible, this setup allows artists, preachers, diary scribes, and budding theologians to produce far more commentary, message notes, graphic designs, or exegetical observations in their Bibles.

In terms of size, it is surprisingly consistent with what Edwards had. His was 9.5 X 7.5, and the new Crossway edition is almost the same dimensions. That seems rather fitting to me. For those in the know, this is essentially the same size as an ESV Study Bible, the owners of which know is a rather large book indeed. This book probably won’t make a very good traveling companion for you, and it certainly won’t fit in your pocket, but it will make a faithful servant at your study, desk, or office.


At the same time, there are some features that would make the Puritan Edwards downright jealous. Edwards was known to treasure paper (yes, paper!), often writing his sermon notes on unfolded fans, parcel packaging, bills from the market, or whatever else he could get his hands on. Let me say that the paper in this edition is fantastic. A cream color, it is pleasant to the eye, smooth to the touch, and thick enough for substantial writing. That’s what this baby is designed for, right?

Speaking of layout, the two-column format is printed without center column references, similar to what Crossway does in their longtime favorite Thinline setup, although the font is a half-step down at a mere 7.5. This makes the Journaling Bible: Interleaved Edition a bit difficult to see for those with troubled up-close sight. For me, it’s no problem at all. It looks to me roughly comparable to a Cambridge Pitt Minion, although the PM has the text lines printed much closer together giving the Edwards Replica a better, easier read in my own opinion.

In one sense, it is minimalistic. There are no study notes, charts, or maps. The reference suite featured is Crossway’s lightest touch, containing only references to those places in Scripture where other portions are directly quoted. For instance, Acts 2:17 has a reference note to Joel 2:28-32. But there is very rare page clutter here, such as translation notes and manuscript variants. Thus, the text is virtually free from obstruction. The job to fill the pages with notes and references belongs to the owner. You.

Blank Page

This edition comes in cloth over board, giving it a nice timeless look. It’s both quaint and modern. Rustic and durable. The hardback style means this larger Bible has plenty of structure to prevent it from being floppy, although draping it with a nice piece of natural brown leather would make a pleasing (but significantly costly) upgrade.

Here are some other pics:

Mark 2