14 Recommended Scholarly Jonathan Edwards Books

As promised, I now offer a list of several scholarly works on Jonathan Edwards that I think are must reads. Please remember that there are now over 4,000 items of secondary literature and I am offering here my opinion. That means these are books that have struck me as significant.

  1. Reading Jonathan Edwards: An Annotated Bibliography in Three Parts, 1729–2005—M. X. Lesser. Lesser is the dean of Edwards bibliographers and this is the source to turn to if you intend to study Edwards in depth. Annotations provide a synopsis of the articles or books in question.
  2. The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards—John Gerstner. Dr. Gerstner produced this three volume set shortly before his death and it is a virtual encyclopedia of Edwardsiana. I produced my PhD dissertation critiquing one point of Gerstner’s understanding of Edwards, but I want it on the record that in most things, Gerstner was right on target. Gerstner was one of the original sermon volume editors for the Yale University edition of Edwards’ Works.
  3. The Infinite Merit of Christ: The Glory of Christ’s Obedience in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards—Craig Biehl. When my friend Craig asked me to read through his dissertation on Edwards’ understanding of God’s unchanging rule of righteousness, I was more than happy to do so. In fact, as I read it I was led to wonder at and worship our great Triune God anew. Edwards has a way of capturing us up into the glory of God and Craig caught the essence of that.
  4. Jonathan Edwards and the Covenant of Grace—Carl Bogue. The doyen of Edwards scholars Perry Miller significantly misunderstand Edwards at a most basic point. He argued that Edwards was not a Reformed covenant theologian. Carl Bogue, student of John Gerstner, wrote the seminal study that overturned Miller’s thesis. I should like to note that the recent publication of Edwards’ biblical notebooks has confirmed Bogue’s argument.
  5. Jonathan Edwards’ Moral Thought and Its British Context – Norman Fiering. Fiering wrote a groundbreaking study on Edwards’ Christian ethics in the context of transatlantic theological influences. Edwards has often been portrayed as a lone prodigy in the colonial wilderness. Fiering shows that he was an active participant in the republic of letters involving theology, philosophy, history, and natural science.
  6. God of Grace and God of Glory: An Account of the Theology of Jonathan Edwards—Stephen R. Holmes. Holmes is a bright light in historical theological circles from the UK and his account of Edwards is spot on for the most part. Holmes has what strike me as Barthian leanings. But what I appreciate about Holmes is that he is up front about that. He does not try to attribute his own views to Edwards. This is refreshing. Holmes also offered one of the first serious considerations of Edwards’ contribution to Trinitarian theological formulations.
  7. The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards—Sang Hyun Lee. It cannot be said of every Edwards scholar that he sets the agenda for future studies. But this is certainly true of Lee. Lee discusses his understanding of Edwards’ dispositional ontology involving virtual and actual habits or dispositions. Lee has even established what is typically called the Korean American school of Edwards studies. I had the privilege of studying with Dr. Lee in his Edwards seminar at Princeton Theological Seminary. It was also my honor to assist him with the editing of The Princeton Companion to Jonathan Edwards.
  8. The Young Jonathan Edwards: A Reconstruction—William Sparkes Morris. This is the book to read about Edwards’ education at what later came to be called Yale University. It is a big tome, but worth the read.
  9. An Absolute Sort of Certainty: The Holy Spirit and the Apologetics of Jonathan Edwards—Stephen J. Nichols. Nichols has provided a thorough discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in the apologetic encounter, with a significant emphasis on the new sense.
  10. Tragedy in Eden: Original Sin in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards—C. Samuel Storms. Storms has produced the seminal work on Edwards’ treatment of the fall of Adam and the doctrine of original sin. It would be great if this could be brought back into print or perhaps Sam Storms could write an updated and expanded edition. Hint, hint.
  11. Jonathan Edwards and Justification by Faith—Michael McClenahan. If you wonder what the application of the Richard Muller method of church history/historical theology to Edwards would look like, this is the work. Superb scholarship.
  12. Jonathan Edwards’ Social Augustinian Trinitarianism in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives—Stephen Studebaker. Studebaker has written one of the best studies of Edwards’ Trinitarian theology and in the process challenges an inappropriate pitting of the eastern church against the western church.
  13. Jonathan Edwards’s Theology: A Reinterpretation—Kyle Strobel. Strobel offers an intriguing new assessment of Edwards. Strobel was interviewed on the East of Eden podcast last year. You can find that at Reformed Forum.
  14. God is a Communicative Being: Divine Communicativeness and Harmony in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards—William Schweitzer. Schweitzer provides a solid treatment of God as inherently communicative and he shows how the three arenas of communication in Scripture, history, and nature cohere.

This is not a complete list of the many excellent studies of Edwards. For instance, I have not included any journal articles. Also note that I do not necessarily agree with everything in each of these books. But all of them have contributed to my understanding of and appreciation for Jonathan Edwards. More importantly, they have helped me to appreciate the Triune God of Jonathan Edwards and that is much more important.

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