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Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series) [Paperback]

By James P. Byrd (Author)
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Item description for Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series) by James P. Byrd...

This witty and illuminating volume introduces the life and writings of American theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). The most widely studied figure in American religious history and an iconic figure of the American colonial period, Edwards is well known and highly regarded as a stalwart defender of Calvinist theology and his Puritan heritage.

Publishers Description

This witty and illuminating volume introduces the life and writings of the great American theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). The most widely studied figure in American religious history and an iconic figure of the American colonial period, Edwards is well known and highly regarded as a stalwart defender of Calvinist theology and his Puritan heritage. As James P. Byrd deftly reveals, however, Edwards was also a brilliant thinker and passionate pastor who wrestled continuously with the most important issue of his time: the relationship between faith and reason.

Written by experts but designed for the novice, the Armchair series provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound moments and theologians in Christian history. These books are essential supplements for first-time encounters with primary texts, lucid refreshers for scholars and clergy, and enjoyable reads for the theologically curious.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series) by James P. Byrd has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Booklist - 10/01/2008 page 15

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   195
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.96" Width: 5.06" Height: 0.53"
Weight:   0.58 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 3, 2008
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
Edition  New  
Series  Armchair Theologians  
ISBN  0664231993  
ISBN13  9780664231996  

Availability  0 units.

More About James P. Byrd

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James P. Byrd is Assistant Professor of American Religious History and Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion. He is the author of Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians and The Challenges of Roger Williams.

James P. Byrd was born in 1965 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
2Books > Subjects > Reference > Quotations
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series)?

good, easy to read overview of Edward's life and thought  Feb 10, 2009
Have you heard of Jonathan Edwards?

Perhaps you've heard of his famous sermon "Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God?"

Sadly, many people have only heard of that one sermon and think of Edwards as a very depressing sort of person to think of.

Not so.

Edwards knew his heaven as well as hell.

Edwards was the foremost philosopher of his day in colonial America.

Edwards is probably the greatest theologian in American history.

He was a leader in the Great Awakening and his writings on revival and religious affections are classics.

Edwards was mightily used of God in his ministry, and his legacy continues today.

One can read Edwards and learn much of the goodness and greatness of God.

This book in the Armchair series gives us these facts and more.

The book is well written and not hard to read. It will suit the armchair theologian who wants to learn more of Edwards.

This book is worth the reader's time and money.
A fun, easy to read survey of Edwards's life and thought  Jan 9, 2009
Presenting a fresh view of Jonathan Edwards to the "average Joe" (current American political connotations of that phrase notwithstanding) is always a bit of a trick. For those who have heard of Edwards, all they really know about him is that he was a Puritan (strike 1!) and that he preached a sermon called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which most read in high school (strikes 2 and 3 combined!). Attuned to the odds he is up against, James Byrd, professor at Vanderbilt, takes on this difficult task in his book, Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians.

The Armchair Theologians series is a delightful little series that is described by the publisher as "Written by experts but designed for the novice, the Armchair series provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound moments and theologians in Christian history." Byrd's volume is no exception. Surveying the broad scope of Edwards's life and work, the author carefully interweaves both, letting Edwards's big ideas frame the overall structure of the book.

Giving them roughly a chapter a piece, topics included in this volume include, in order, Edwards's exploration of divine beauty in particular reference to the "Spider Letter," Revival and Religious Affections, the dismissal from Northampton, Edwards on the Will, Edwards on Original Sin, his two dissertations, and his ever-expanding legacy.

The great value of this book is twofold. First is the skill by which the author eschews the confusing, complex philosophical language often employed by Edwards (esp. on the Will and Original Sin) in order to explain the concepts in plain language. This is not to say that Edwards's works have been dumbed down. Far from it! The complexity of the arguments are retained and key philosophical terms are still defined and used, but the material is presented and illustrated in such a way that one can begin to grasp what Edwards was driving at and responding to without having to have previous experience in Enlightenment philosophy, particularly of the Lockean flavor.

Second, the last chapter on Edwards's legacy is especially helpful in demonstrating the "so what" of Edwards's continued importance today. The author quickly traces Edwards's influence from the abolitionist movement, to 19th century revivalism, to the crusades of 20th century evangelists, finally ending up in the resurgence of traditional Calvinism that has been observed among many modern evangelicals, especially in the younger groups. This chapter proves that the study of Edwards is vital to understanding the unfolding of American history from its pre-Revolution days to the post-9/11 situation that exists today, though there is still much work that needs to be done in this area of Edwards's legacy, both at home in America and abroad.

In short, this book is a wonderful survey of the life and work of Jonathan Edwards and is recommended to a wide variety of readers, whether you've been deeply immersed in Edwards studies for decades, have been away for a while and need a refresher, or if you need that extra nudge to begin wading through the inestimable richness of America's greatest theologian.

p.s. Did i mention that this is a THEOLOGY book with CARTOONS?? While, as George Marsden states in his endorsement, "[Edwards] would have been unhappy about some of the cartoons," the drawings do provide some levity and illustration to the deep concepts being read about. My personal favorite is found on page 162.
Edwards for Everybody  Sep 28, 2008
James Byrd has written a fun, non-technical introduction to a theologian most Americans think of as NO FUN and VERY technical. Students of American studies, literature, history, theology, and philosophy all have some kind of "brush" with Edwards, and if he comes across as better than expected, most teachers count it a victory and move on to Ben Franklin or John Wesley before the magic wears off. He deserves much better. George Marsden's wonderful biography, which earned great acclaim a few years ago, has reintroduced Edwards to a new generation, and gives the most nuanced portrait yet of this profoundly influential thinker. Sadly, "Edwards for Armchair Theologians" will probably be compared to that work, rather than appreciated for its own merits, which are considerable. It seems a little insulting to say that Byrd's book is more modest in scope -- that seems like an indirect way of calling it "fluff," which it isn't. Rather, Byrd takes on the challenge of meeting the "average readers" of Edwards where they are, and guiding them into the wide-ranging interests and fierce theological debates that animated one of the world's great minds. If you are looking to stick your toe cautiously into the deep pool that is Jonathan Edwards, this is the place to begin, whether you are a true "armchair theologian" or a student with a paper due tomorrow at 8 a.m. It's great.

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