Monday, January 12, 2009
Review of Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography by Iain Murray
Author: Iain Murray
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Who was Jonathan Edwards? That question invites a polarity of answers. Was Jonathan Edwards a cold theologian or a man passionate about the glory of God? Was he a man that preached more on the delights of heaven or the fires of hell? A great divine or a great tragedy? Who was Jonathan Edwards?
In this biography Iain Murray exposes the reader to the real Jonathan Edwards. Murray attempts to wrestle Edwards out of the hands of the demonizing biographers of recent scholarship and reintroduce the Edwards that was actually known by his contemporaries. Murray takes us into the mind of the great divine as well as into his heart. The reader not only observes Edwards in his study but also with his child on his lap. Edwards is seen not only as one passionately pleading with sinners but also earnestly praying for his children. Murray traces the life of Jonathan Edwards from boyhood to death to legacy and shows us the many different facets of this great man of God.
What I Liked:
In the introduction Murray says that we “fail to understand Edwards aright until the record of his life begins to [kindle a fire in our souls].” Murray’s goal is not only to reintroduce Edwards to the reader but to introduce the reader to Edwards’ God. Our author succeeds. Iain Murray is one of my favorite biographers. He does a wonderful job of letting the subject speak for himself. As you turn the last page of an Iain Murray biography you cannot help but respond in worship. Not, of course, worship directed neither to Murray— nor to his subject—but worship directed to the God they both serve.
What I Disliked:
Occasionally, Murray will let Edwards off the hook a little early. In his effort to rescue Edwards from his highly critical biographers, occasionally Murray will be under critical. This is, however, the exception and not the rule. Overall, it is historically reliable.
Should You Buy It?
This is perhaps the best biography written on Edwards—definitely so in the last 200 years. Even if you own numerous biographies of Edwards this particular work also uses material from recent studies that will not be found elsewhere. This book would be a great addition to any library.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars