Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History: The Reenchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment

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Avihu Zakai analyzes Jonathan Edwards's redemptive mode of historical thought in the context of the Enlightenment. As theologian and philosopher, Edwards has long been a towering figure in American intellectual history. Nevertheless, and despite Edwards's intense engagement with the nature of time and the meaning of history, there has been no serious attempt to explore his philosophy of history. Offering the first such exploration, Zakai considers Edwards's historical thought as a reaction, in part, to the ...

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Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History: The Reenchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment

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Overview

Avihu Zakai analyzes Jonathan Edwards's redemptive mode of historical thought in the context of the Enlightenment. As theologian and philosopher, Edwards has long been a towering figure in American intellectual history. Nevertheless, and despite Edwards's intense engagement with the nature of time and the meaning of history, there has been no serious attempt to explore his philosophy of history. Offering the first such exploration, Zakai considers Edwards's historical thought as a reaction, in part, to the varieties of Enlightenment historical narratives and their growing disregard for theistic considerations.

Zakai analyzes the ideological origins of Edwards's insistence that the process of history depends solely on God's redemptive activity in time as manifested in a series of revivals throughout history, reading this doctrine as an answer to the threat posed to the Christian theological teleology of history by the early modern emergence of a secular conception of history and the modern legitimation of historical time. In response to the Enlightenment refashioning of secular, historical time and its growing emphasis on human agency, Edwards strove to re-establish God's preeminence within the order of time. Against the de-Christianization of history and removal of divine power from the historical process, he sought to re-enthrone God as the author and lord of history--and thus to re-enchant the historical world.

Placing Edwards's historical thought in its broadest context, this book will be welcomed by those who study early modern history, American history, or religious culture and experience in America.

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Editorial Reviews

The Weekly Standard
Perhaps the most remarkable contributor to [the] recent explosion of interest in Edwards is the Israeli historian Avihu Zakai.
— Gerald McDermott
The Weekly Standard - Gerald McDermott
Perhaps the most remarkable contributor to [the] recent explosion of interest in Edwards is the Israeli historian Avihu Zakai.
From the Publisher

"Perhaps the most remarkable contributor to [the] recent explosion of interest in Edwards is the Israeli historian Avihu Zakai."--Gerald McDermott, The Weekly Standard
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691096544
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/24/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Avihu Zakai is Professor of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of "Exile and Kingdom Theocracy" in Massachusetts", and "Europe and the New World".
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Preface
Introduction: The American Augustine 1
1 A Short Intellectual Biography 29
2 Young Man Edwards: Religious Conversion and Theologia Gloriae 51
3 Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning: Edwards and the Reenchantment of the World 85
4 The Ideological Origins of Edwards's Philosophy of History 131
5 God's Great Design in History: The Formation of Edwards's Redemptive Mode of Historical Thought 182
6 Edwards's Philosophy of History: The History of the Work of Redemption 221
7 "Chariots of Salvation": The Apocalypse and Eschatology of the Great Awakening 272
8 Edwards and the Enlightenment Debate on Moral Philosophy 307
Epilogue: Edwards and American Protestant Tradition 325
Index 337
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