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

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  257 ratings  ·  60 reviews
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 a ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 5th 2008 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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To echo the praise of Tim Keller, this book is a masterpiece. The author has mastered his subject: you'll learn not only about Jonathan's life, but also the cultural and historical background necessary to appreciate and critique the man. It's not a hagiography, but does what all the best biographies do -- you see the whole man, warts and all. I appreciated that this towering Reformed figure (perhaps America's greatest theologian) also had flaws -- for example, his ill-timed revolution in changin ...more
I've listened to the whole unabridged audio book of this twice now. It's a very good "read" in the sense that it goes fairly quickly, only hitting the highlights of Edwards' overall life. Marsden does an interesting thing throughout in that he keeps making comparisons between the life of Ben Franklin and Edwards, both of whom were about the same age and whose lives took drastically different trajectories. Since both Franklin and Edwards shaped America with their respective lives and work, Marsde ...more
Jay Perkins
A few years ago I worked through Marsden's definitive biography of Edwards and enjoyed every bit of it. This "Short Life" is a perfect summary of Edward's life and should not be overlooked if one has read the larger bio. Brief, concise, and incredibly easy to read, Marsden adds some additional touches that keep the reader further engaged. I especially liked when Marsden paralleled and contrasted Edwards with his contemporary Benjamin Franklin and the Revolutionary generation. His summary at the ...more
This is a great book for anyone who wants on overview of the life of Jonathan Edwards, and he interacted with and how his beliefs compared to his contemporaries, such as; George Whitfield, Benjamin Franklin, and the Wesley brothers.

It is also a revealing look at the formation of American Evangelicalism and the way that God has moved in revealing his word to us.

Get your copy here:
A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Library of Religious Biography Series) [Kindle Edition]

A Short Life of Jonathan Ed
Peter Mead
This is not an abridged version of the longer “A Life.” It is a very well written narrative that contrasts Edwards with Benjamin Franklin to make sense of how a country like the USA can be both the most religious and the most secular at the same time. Worth getting just for the final chapter, although you’ll want to read the rest too! I read this one after the longer "A Life" . . . inevitably I preferred the longer book because it is so well written. I hope people reading this won't feel satisfi ...more
This is Marsden's shorter biography on Edwards, with his main work being (arguably) THE main/best secondary source on Jonathan Edwards. I have not had the time to read through his larger book yet, and can not speak more on the differences/similarities between the two texts.

The writings style is engaging and very informative. The last few chapters seem to end abruptly, but that is how Edwards' life sadly ends. If you are interested in learning more about the man behind "Sinners in the Hand of an
This is a scholarly and thoughtful presentation of a person who is arguably America's greatest theologian. In very simple terms, Marsden shows how Edwards arrived at his conclusions and, of course, how the history of an early nation provided a backdrop for it.
I was at first anxious that this would be a condensed version of his longer more scholarly work, but it is both more readable and adds considerable thought provoking material. For those who have never read Edwards' great treatise, Freedom o
Chungsoo Lee
A shorter version of Marsden's "Jonathan Edwards: A Life" with added texts regarding Benjamin Franklin as the contemporary and the comparison. Both were sons of a pastor with strict puritan upbringing; but one became the famous (though reluctant at first) political revolutionary and the other, according to Marsden, the important and lesser known religious revolutionary. Jonathan Edwards became a religious revolutionary (in 1740's and 50's in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he pastored a congre ...more
Patrick S.
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 ...more
John Brackbill
A great listen on audio book. Frankly, I think just hearing any book read by Grover Gardner is a plus for the book before even considering the content! (Can you tell I like listening to him read audio books?)

This is a short biography compared to Marsden's other lengthy treatment (of which I have not read). By Marsden's own statement this is not an abridgment of it though.

He opens the book by comparing and contrasting Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards in a very helpful way. This comparison
I enjoyed this book. I think Marsden (like any good biographer) kept out of the way enough to give me a real look into Edwards' life. Especially interesting were his comparisons with the life of Franklin, his tracing of Edwards' involvement in the Great Awakening, and his wide angle perspective when tracing such things as Edwards' heritage.

A couple favorite quotes:

"We know from his notebooks in which he reflected on 'Images of Divine Things' that his spiritual sensibilities were often renewed by
I have a dear friend who is a big fan of Jonathan Edwards, and have often wondered why. I would like to read the longer Marsden bio, because this has whetted my appetite for more substantial grasp of who this man was and what he believed. I found this book to be an adequate "flyover" for Edwards and his context, but as an aspiring historical theologian, I definitely would prefer a deeper look into the life of this man and his work. The recommended reading list at the end seems quite good. I woul ...more
This was a book on cd that I recieved at the shepherd's conference. It had been a very long time since I had listened to a book on cd. I enjoyed the experience.

The book/cd seemed like a fair account Edwards life. Previously I had been fairly ignorant of Edwards contributions. When you read a teaching by a recent author you think he must have been the first; however, studying any church history and you learn otherwise.

The biggest thing I appreciated was the consistency of Edwards life in all asp
Adam Shields
Book Review: A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden - a good popular level biography of Jonathan Edwards. This is not an abridgement of Marsden's longer Jonathan Edwards: A Life, but rather a new, shorter and more popular level biography. If you are really interested in Edwards and/or like detailed biographies, I would suggest the longer book. But if you are just casually interested and/or want a brief introduction, this is a good option.

Click through for full review on my blog at ht
Giju Abraham
I got this free audiobook as part of a promotion online. I normally do not enjoy audiobooks so much, but this one was not too bad. The book itself as is evident from the title is short. It is also written in a simple and easy to understand way. The narration is clear and easy to follow.

The life of Jonathan Edwards is remarkable in many ways and his experiences and teachings are very relevant in this day and age. He was truly a man of integrity and very conscious of things that were against the B
While some readers found this book too brief to get to know Edwards, I loved it. I suppose books authored by Edwards maybe best to know him personally. Marsden is a historian who did a long scholarly book on the same person so he knows the man well. This book is a briefer but well written account in which he gives you that time period, a detailed life of Edwards, and contrast and comparisons of Edwards with some of his contemporaries. May God use this to inspire others as they see his strengths ...more
Michael Van gorp
Gives a great look at the personal, and outer life of Jonathan Edwards. Read for my church history class at SWBTS, but probably would have read it regardless and enjoyed.
Christopher Sumpter
This was a very good short biography of Jonathan Edwards. Almost all I knew of Edwards previously was a caricature based on "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." This book gave me a much more well-rounded view not only of Edwards himself, but of Puritan New England and of the religious seeds that helped to spark the American Revolution. I came to realize that much of what I knew of the spiritual and moral climate of that time and region was also little more than a caricature. Even someone who ...more
I listened to the audiobook.
Andy Ward
Listened to this book. It was actually and enjoyable book to hear. This book is a well down summary you can read without getting bogged down. I really enjoyed the author comparing and contrasting Edwards and Benjamin Franklin. The final chapter of this book was also excellent and worth reading by itself if you are familiar with Edwards. Fun fact: Aaron Burr is Edwards grandson.
Mar 14, 2009 Jason added it
In this biography, historian George Marsden, writing from the perspective of someone who is also a Biblically-informed believer, looks at the life of this saint who was and continues to be used so greatly by the Lord. The book provides historical and biographical context for reading Edwards' sermons/theological works. I was impressed by the degree of passion and authenticity in the life of Edwards. I also appreciate Edwards' affirmation of the Great Awakening while opposing its excesses.
shorter than the original one, but here as well the life of Edwards was clearly, factually and excitingly presented. really liked this intro into his life!
This retelling of the much larger work "Jonathan Edwards: A Life". I also have the audio version and enjoy listening to this in the car from to time. I enjoy the comparison of the lives of Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards. This book IS different from the larger work and not just a condensed version. Marsden makes that clear in the introduction and that is certainly the case.
This much shorter version was very helpful in preparing to read the much larger work.
Very good - adds to the story his larger bio of Edwards tells.
Dave Swavely
I always wanted to learn more about Edwards, and I love George Marsden's writing, so I picked this book for my Omnibus class where we were studying this time period. It worked out great, giving us a good sense of the times and Edwards role in them, but also bringing out some good lessons for today. I especially liked Marsden's inclusion of information about Ben Franklin (a contemporary of Edwards)and the contrasts between the two men.
Simonetta Carr
Good companion to Jonathan Edwards, a Life by Marsden. It can be read on its own for a short but comprehensive overview of the main events in Edwards's life. I have read it after the larger volume, to help me summarize it. It's also interesting in its comparison of the lives of Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin, who lived at the same time and came to very different interpretations.
We listened to the audiobook during recent road trips. This isn't an abridgment of Marsden's magisterial Life of Edwards (which I read for a Yale seminar some 7 years ago), but a revision of that work for a popular audience, well done in its own right. A surprisingly entertaining listen.
Listened to this book on audio. This was just enough of a primer to help me undertake Mardsden's massive Edwards biography.
Mark Nenadov
An excellent, quick view of the life and legacy of former Princeton president and New England preacher, Johnathan Edwards. If you want to dig deeper, there's always the other book that Marsden wrote on Edwards, but this will probably do for most people.
Nathaniel Simmons
Listened to this audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it. While he is remembered as perhaps the most influential pastor/thinker in American history, this book helped me realize that he probably felt largely unsuccessful throughout his ministry. Very interesting.
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