This comprehensive compilation of reader response to Jonathan Edwards, spanning 276 years, includes a reprint of two earlier works—Jonathan Edwards: A Reference Guide (1981) and Jonathan Edwards: An Annotated Bibliography (1994)—and the publication of a third, a gathering of commentary from 1994 to 2005. Nearly 140 essays have been added to the first and second works, while the third part—prominent in it the celebration of the tercentenary of Edwards’s birth—adds another 700 to the whole.
The text preserves the pattern of arranging items alphabetically within a given year and of recording cross-references. Essays in a collection are annotated serially rather than alphabetically. Each of the three sections is self-contained with an introduction and annotated bibliography of its own.
Adding to the immense value of this work to Edwards scholars are the chronology of Edwards’s works, listed by date and by short and long title, and the three comprehensive indexes—of authors and titles, of subjects, and of additions to the previous volumes.
“Some things about Edwards do not change, or change ever so slightly. A troublesome, and largely unresolved, duality haunted Edwards from the start — mystic and rationalist, philosopher and theologian, poet of the divine and scourger of the wicked — and hangs on even now, though in our less dramatic age, there appears little need to color him tragic. The habit of reading the American experience as a quarrel between Edwards on one side and Franklin on the other, first noted sometime in the nineteenth century, becomes for twentieth-century cultural critics (and popularizers) a recurrent, if not wholly rewarding, theme. There is a list of his inadvertences — his antinomianism, his liberalism, his pantheism, his republicanism — to reckon with from the eighteenth century on. And there is, for Americans, the abiding question of his importance to their history, their religion, their society, their thought.”
—from the introduction to Part I
For many years now, M. X. Lesser’s bibliographies have been the most-used books on my reference shelf. This new volume, combining the previous two with a new installment, will, I’m sure, take their place. This is an indispensable resource for any serious scholar of Edwards. When it comes to Edwards studies, Lesser is a search engine like no other.
—Kenneth P. Minkema, Editor, The Works of Jonathan Edwards
In 1856 George Bancroft wrote, ‘He that will know the workings of the mind of New England . . . and the throbbings of its heart, must give his days and nights to the study of Jonathan Edwards.’ To understand the mind of Jonathan Edwards and the throbbings of America’s religious heart since his death, we must give our days and nights to the study of M. X. Lesser’s Reading Jonathan Edwards. Besides the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, and possibly Lesser’s own Printed Writings of Jonathan Edwards, 1703–1758, there is no greater contribution to Edwards scholarship.
—Stephen D. Crocco, Editor, Princeton Seminary Bulletin
This comprehensive bibliography is a monumental work of scholarship. By recording the steady outpouring of texts on Jonathan Edwards over the last three centuries, M. X. Lesser provides not only an indispensable resource for scholars but also a window through which to view the course of American religious history. More than a bibliography, this book tells the fascinating story of Edwards’s continuing ‘usefulness’ to historians and theologians alike, as they have struggled to understand the role and meaning of religion in America.
—Ava Chamberlain, Wright State University
M. X. Lesser is the author of Jonathan Edwards in Twayne’s United States Authors Series and the editor of volume 19 in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738. He has compiled multiple bibliographies on Edwards, including Jonathan Edwards: A Reference Guide and The Printed Writings of Jonathan Edwards, 1703–1758.