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A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Library of Religious Biography | LRB)

, 2008
ISBN: 9780802802200

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Jonathan Edwards is one of the most extraordinary figures in American history. Arguably the most brilliant theologian ever born on American soil, Edwards (1703–1758) was also a pastor, a renowned preacher, a missionary to the Native Americans, a biographer, a college president, a philosopher, a loving husband, and the father of eleven children.

George M. Marsden—widely acclaimed for his magisterial large study of Edwards—has now written a new, shorter biography of this many-sided, remarkable man. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards is not an abridgment of Marsden’s earlier award-winning study but is instead a completely new narrative based on his extensive research. The result is a concise, fresh retelling of the Edwards story, rich in scholarship yet compelling and readable for a much wider audience, including students.

Known best for his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards is often viewed as a proponent of fire, brimstone, and the wrath of God. As Marsden shows, however, the focus of Edwards’s preaching was not God’s wrath but rather his overwhelming and all-encompassing love. Marsden also rescues Edwards from the high realms of intellectual history, revealing him more comprehensively through the lens of his everyday life and interactions. Further, Marsden shows how Edwards provides a window on the fascinating and often dangerous world of the American colonies in the decades before the American Revolution.

Marsden here gives us an Edwards who illumines both American history and Christian theology, an Edwards that will appeal to readers with little or no training in either field. This short life will contribute significantly to the widespread and growing interest in Jonathan Edwards.

In the Logos edition, is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Brief look at the life of Jonathan Edwards
  • Narrative based on George M. Marsden’s extensive research
  • Suggestions for further reading


  • Edwards, Franklin, and Their Times
  • Wrestling with God
  • Transitions and Challenges
  • Awakening
  • An American Revolution
  • Drama on the Home Front
  • A World in Conflict
  • A Missionary, a Scholar, and a President

Praise for the Print Edition

Lucid and wise, brief but broadly informative, this book introduces present-day Americans to the greatest of early American Christian thinkers and to the colonial society in which he lived.

—Daniel Walker Howe, Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus, Oxford University

A slim but solid biography of Edwards. . . . Marsden’s work provides an accessible and informed account for scholars and laypeople alike.

Publishers Weekly

A work of grace, lit by affection for the great clergyman and understanding of his place and time. . . . A lovely précis of Edwards.


A masterpiece. Distilled in this little volume is not only Marsden’s own massive knowledge of the man Jonathan Edwards but also a generation of scholarship that has sought to understand the religious roots of contemporary U.S. society. A must-read especially for pastors and preachers who want to be both faithful to classic Christianity and yet engaged with culture.

Tim Keller, founding pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York

George Marsden is our premier historian of ‘America’s theologian.’ In this wonderfully accessible introduction to Jonathan Edwards’s life and thought, Marsden not only shows why Edwards was the architect of the first American revolution (the Great Awakening) but also provides fresh insight into his God-intoxicated vision of reality.

—Gerald McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College

Product Details

  • Title: A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards
  • Author: George M. Marsden
  • Series: Library of Religious Biography (LRB)
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 172

George Marsden (b. 1939) has been the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame since 1992. He teaches American Religious and Intellectual History along with other related subject matters. His Fundamentalism and American Culture was named one of 100 “Books of the Century,” by Christianity Today. His Jonathan Edwards: A Life won the 2004 John Pollock Award for Christian Biography.

(From Theopedia.com. Freely redistributable under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.)

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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  1. Patrick



    This was an okay read. Marsden does a good job of getting the setting down for Edwards which I think can be the biggest pitfall when presenting a not in full biography as Marsden did in his full biography of Jonathan Edwards. So there I am pleased with the book. However, the biggest problem I have with this book is that I don't feel like I ever met Edwards or really saw him stand out as he should have. There's a lot of pulling in other big names to provide context to the world Edwards was a part of, but I felt that Edwards was getting lost in the world. It seemed more of an account of the period rather than the man. I know Edwards is a big name in the Puritain world (almost post-Puritain) but this book hardly made me want to pick up any sermon or book other than the scientific look of God's performance of miracles in Edward's New England area, "A Faithful Narrative Of The Surprising Work Of God". If I didn't know that Edwards was an important figure and went solely on this book, I don't think I'd be impressed to read anything about him. Again, good establishment of the setting of the era so it will help when you read Edwards work. Final Grade - C-


Digital list price: $11.99
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