In this book-report we review both George M. Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards A Life and Iain H. Murray’s Jonathan Edwards – A New Biography. George M. Marsden (born February 25, 1939) is an historian who has written extensively on the interaction between Christianity and American culture, particularly on Christianity in American higher education and on American Evangelicalism. He attended Haverford College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Yale University, finishing with a Ph.D. in American history under Professor Sydney Ahlstrom. He taught at Calvin College (1965-1986), Duke Divinity School (1986-1992), and as Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at The University of Notre Dame (1992-2008).
Iain H. Murray, born in Lancashire, England, in 1931, educated on the Isle of Man and at the University of Durham, entered the Christian ministry in 1955. He served as assistant to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Westminster Chapel during 1956-59. Following Murray ministered in London and Sydney. In 1957 he became a full-time worker and a co-founder of the Banner of Truth Trust, of which he still is a trustee.
I must admit to compare both books of these two great authors was not an easy job. Because while reading one may fall in the pit of judgment, who is right and who is wrong? In doing so we easily could conclude to prefer one author to the other, forgetting what we red.
This review will not judge both books; rather it will compare the books as a compliment to one another. The intention of this review is to highlight some aspects of Edwards’s life, in his religious, private, and theological sphere. Thus doing we focus under the guidance of the thesis Complementary Biographies on the selected issues of Edwards’s life. To come to a Conclusion we view both books on the following selected issues Edwards’s Conversion, Marriage, and Religious Affections.
1. The Comparison of both Books on the Selected Issues
1.1 Edwards’s Conversion
According Murray we do not hold an exact date of Edwards’s conversion. Minkema’s Chronology list states this conversion in the summer 1721. Murray is more precise and holds for this event May or June 1721. Edwards’s account of what took place in 1721 is the most important statement he ever wrote about himself. Murray refers to the account in his “Personal Narrative,” stating “The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet delight of God and divine things…was on reading those words 1 Tim. 1.17…as I read the words, there came into my soul…a glory of the Divine Being…(Murray, p.35).” Murray continues showing us the beauty of the Holy Spirit’s work and the joy of Christ in Edwards’s heart. Murray ends the record of Edwards’s conversion with Edwards’s words about the beginning of his new life as a Christian “the delights which I now felt of those things in religion, were of an exceeding different kind of those before mentioned…they were of a more inward, pure, soul-animating and...