Brown, Robert E. Jonathan Edwards and the Bible. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002. xxi + 320 pp. Notes, bibliography, index. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-253-34093-4.
H-Net: “This book stands to become a standard by which to judge others who write about Edwards, or about eighteenth-century interpretation…The reader will delight in Brown’s succinct deliverty…Libraries, historical centers, and scholars cannot overlook such a work on Jonathan Edwards.” Church History: “original and provocative…recipient of the Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History…One of the book’s surprises is its extensive treatment of philosophical and specifically epistemological issues. Jonathan Edwards and the Bible is less about biblical exegesis than the assumptions that precede and underlie exegesis…Brown argues persuasively for an ‘integral relationship between developments in epistemology and the critical study of sacred history.’…Yet a major accomplishment of Jonathan Edwards and the Bible is to overthrow the ‘critical/precritical’ taxonomy for classifying biblical interpreters…a fluid, complex, nuanced, and intriguing book that exceeds expectations.” Catholic Historical Review: “This is first-rate intellectual history, demonstrating not only how America’s foremost theologian engaged fully with radical Bible critics but also the sophisticated manner in which some early modern theologians used new critical methods when interpreting the Bible.” Choice: “it is exceptionally valuable for its thorough exploration of the cohesive character of biblical narrative and the history of redemption as an organizing motif of Edwards's thought. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” Theological Studies: “B.’s analysis is thorough and provides an exemplary exercise in intellectual history on a topic that has received little scholarly attention…B. pushes his point of interpretation too far, however…B. spends little time on Edwards’s engagements with precritical exegesis, and these are the more interesting aspects of Edwards’s through from the perspective of historical and constructive theology. Those unfamiliar with the history of biblical interpretation and the philosophical issues faced in colonial America will find B.’s prose dense and difficult to negotiate. But those who know this terrain well will find B.’s insights significant.” Journal of American History: “a splendid work, full of insight and erudition, that helps us see Jonathan Edwards in a new light.” Journal of Religion: “an important book…both pioneering and revisionist…Brown has made good use of earlier scholarship, even though at times he is very critical of it…This volume has many virtues that make it an instructive addition to an expanding historiography…But Brown’s proposed formulation that ‘Edwards’s approach is probably best described as “modestly critical”’ lacks precision and usefulness and begs the question. At times this volume also strikes an uncritical celebratory note…”