Edwards, Jonathan
(1703-1758)
   American Congregational theologian and preacher
   Jonathan Edwards was the greatest American theologian of his day. He is remembered for his theological writings and for his participation in and observations about the period of religious excitement known as the Great Awakening.
   Edwards was born on October 5, 1703, in East Windsor, Connecticut. He entered Yale University at age 13; at 17 he moved to New York City to pastor a Presbyterian church. He came back to Yale in 1724 as a tutor, but illness forced his resignation. In 1729, Edwards became the pastor of the church in Northampton, Massachusetts, which his grandfather Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729) had led for many years.
   In his preaching at Northampton, Edwards defended traditional Calvinist affirmations against growing dissent within the Congregational fellowship. He argued that faith implied a conversion of the heart away from sin; it was a total response of the heart to God, an experience of the divine that he likened in one of his most famous sermons, "A Divine and Supernatural Light," to the tongue's tasting honey.
   Edwards's preaching was a catalyst for an outbreak of religious enthusiasm in the mid-1730s, which Edwards promoted, defended, and analyzed in his book A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God (1737). The book helped prepare the way for the Evangelical Awakening that had come to America with George White-field. Edwards continuing to write about the Great Awakening, which now spread to the whole of the American colonies, in three books: The Distinguishing Marks of the Work of the Spirit of God (1741), Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival (1743), and his classic study, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1746).
   In 1750, Edwards moved his family to Stock-bridge, Massachusetts, and for the next seven years worked to evangelize the Native Americans in the area. In 1758, he was invited to head the new Presbyterian school at Princeton, but he died of smallpox a few months later, on March 22, 1758.
   Edwards holds a unique position in American religious history. He stands at the beginning of the great tradition of Calvinist theological work that would flow from the Congregational and Presbyterian schools. He also represents the beginning of revivalism, which became so much a part of the American Methodist and Baptist traditions. He has therefore been honored by both major branches of American Protestantism, those who followed Calvinism and those who adhered to Arminianism. Edwards's studies continue to thrive among American religious scholars.
   See also postmillennialism.
   Further reading:
   ■ Leon Chai, Jonathan Edwards and the Limits of Enlightenment Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)
   ■ Robert W. Jenson, America's Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988)
   ■ The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards, President of the College at New Jersey. Together with a number of his sermons on various important subjects (Boston: S. Kneeland, 1765)
   ■ Gerald R. McDermott, Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods: Christian Theology, Enlightenment Religion, and Non-Christian Faiths (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)
   ■ Michael J. McClymond, Encounters with God: An Approach to the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Edwards, Jonathan — (1703 58)    A congregational minister in colonial New England, Edwards was a leader in the Great Awakening and was important both as a philosopher and as a theologian. While his impact on theology has been great, sustained interest in his… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Edwards, Jonathan — born Oct. 5, 1703, East Windsor, Conn. died March 22, 1758, Princeton, N.J. American theologian. The 5th of 11 children in a strict Puritan home, he entered Yale College at age 13. In 1727 he was named a pastor at his grandfather s church in… …   Universalium

  • Edwards, Jonathan — (1703–58)    Theologian.    Edwards was educated at the University of Yale where he underwent a religious conversion. He was ordained to the Congregational ministry and in 1724 he became the pastor of the Congregational Church of Northampton,… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Edwards, Jonathan — (1703–1758) American philosopher and theologian. Born in Connecticut, Edwards was educated at Yale, and showed an early passion for philosophy and theology. His uncompromising Calvinism survived exposure to the works of Locke, and in metaphysics… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Edwards,Jonathan — Ed·wards (ĕdʹwərdz), Jonathan. 1703 1758. American theologian and philosopher whose original sermons and writings stimulated the Great Awakening, a period of renewed American interest in religion. * * * …   Universalium

  • Edwards, Jonathan — (5 oct. 1703, East Windsor, Conn.–22 mar. 1758, Princeton, N.J.). Teólogo estadounidense. El quinto de 11 hijos de un hogar estrictamente puritano (ver puritanismo), ingresó a la Universidad de Yale a los 13 años de edad. En 1727 fue nombrado… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • EDWARDS, JONATHAN —    a celebrated divine, born at E. Windsor, Connecticut; graduated at Yale; minister at Northampton, Mass.; missionary to Housatonnuck Indians; was elected to the Presidency of Princeton College; wrote an acute and original work, The Freedom of… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • EDWARDS, Jonathan — (1703 1758)    a staunch CALVINIST and probably the greatest American philosopher of all time and an outstanding REVIVALIST PREACHER and theologian who played the key role in the GREAT AWAKENING, 1734 1735. His early writings covered various… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Edwards, Jonathan — (1702? 1758)    Theologian, s. of a minister, was b. at East Windsor, Connecticut, ed. at Yale Coll., and licensed as a preacher in 1722. The following year he was appointed as tutor at Yale, a position in which he showed exceptional capacity. In …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Edwards, Jonathan —    см. Эдвардс, Джонатан …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

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