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

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  407 Ratings  ·  79 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 Eerdmans (first published 2008)
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Dec 08, 2013 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
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
Jun 27, 2016 Logan rated it it was amazing
I've read Marsden's excellent full-length work and was thinking that this was just going to be a condensed version. I was pleasantly surprised that it is, and it isn't. Marsden basically asks the question "why is Jonathan Edwards important to America and to Christians" and proceeds to answer why. He has an excellent grasp of both history and theology, Puritanism and Calvinism. One of the most interesting things in this book is his comparison and contrast of Benjamin Franklin and Edwards, two inf ...more
Sep 17, 2016 Scott rated it liked it
A nice foray into the life and thought of Edwards.
Nov 28, 2016 Starry rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this. Written by an expert who has also written the definitive (aka long!) work on Edwards. This book highlights interesting comparisons to Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield--these three men were among the most famous in Pre-Revolutionary America--and also explains how the spiritual revolution of the Great Awakening drastically impacted our nation's founding and lead to the political revolution (salvation not through church establishment but to each individual; revivals were outsid ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
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
Chungsoo Lee
Dec 28, 2012 Chungsoo Lee rated it really liked it
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
Andy Gainor
Feb 17, 2017 Andy Gainor rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
Refreshing. Short and sweet. The book is a short summary of his life that does not leave out anything you want to hear.

It has become one of my hobbies to read or listen to historical non-fictions or biographies and immerse myself in the debates and struggles that living in the 21st century, I am completely ignorant of. I enjoy particularly hearing of how Christians lived and responded to the struggles of their day. In this short biography, I was blessed to wrestle alongside Edwards with the iss
Ben Chapman
Dec 27, 2016 Ben Chapman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I thoroughly enjoyed this short look at the life of Jonathan Edwards. I now, Lord willing, will be spending many years to come learning and knowing more of this great man of God. Highly recommend.
Anthony  Spallone
Nov 28, 2016 Anthony Spallone rated it really liked it
Jonathan Edwards is hailed as the greatest theologian that America has ever produced. This short biography helps you to get to know the man. George Marsden did a service to us by producing this.
Ben Adkison
Jan 22, 2016 Ben Adkison rated it really liked it
A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden is exactly what it sounds like: a short biography on the life of Jonathan Edwards. I was initially attracted to this book because of its cover. What I mean is that the cover looked, well, "cool" for lack of a better term. It had a modern, minimalistic style, which led me to believe that it was most likely a newer book. Not that an older biography on Edwards would have been a bad thing, but I'm typically intrigued by new books. And it so happe ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Jonathan Edwards is best known, perhaps, for his somewhat frightening sermon -- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God -- but this is only part of his legacy. Considered by scholars of American religion one of America's most influential theologians and philosophers, he helped form an evolving Puritanism during the middle part of the 18th century. Though he died prior to the Revolution he was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitfield. While a fully loyal British citizen, he was one o ...more
May 10, 2016 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: seminary
A wonderful, concise biography of the life of possibly one of the most influential theologians to come from the North American continent. A the title indicates, this is a short biography and at only 176 pages, the work doesn't feel like it has cheated the reader on any details that one may want to know regarding the life of Jonathan Edwards. The author does mention in the preface that, while this is a stand alone work, he does have a longer, more definitive work simply titled "Jonathan Edwards: ...more
Feb 28, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it
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
Mar 27, 2016 David rated it liked it
Overall this was a helpful guide for getting a brief glimpse into the character and context of Jonathan Edwards. Obviously, if one wants a deeper look into Edwards and his world then one should go to Marsden's highly-acclaimed longer biography of the man. The biggest drawback to this book is that it's brevity and intended approachability limit the very things that are likely to draw readers into Edwards--his mind and theology. Marsden here can only say that Edwards' writing and broader thinking ...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
Patrick S.
Oct 14, 2012 Patrick S. rated it liked it
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
Feb 15, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 09, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2009 David rated it liked it
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
Jul 07, 2014 Hans rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Mead
Jul 26, 2014 Peter Mead rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Adam Shields
Jan 21, 2014 Adam Shields rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Swavely
Jan 24, 2013 Dave Swavely rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 06, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
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.
Simonetta Carr
Jun 07, 2013 Simonetta Carr rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edwards
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.
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George M. Marsden is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. He has written extensively on the interaction between Christianity and the American culture and has published numerous books, including Jonathan Edwards: A Life, which won the prestigious Bancroft Prize given for the best work of history. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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