not so valuable, actually

The Banner of Truth edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards is a reprint of a collection that was originally printed in 1834.  On the first page is an “advertisement” which lauds that, among other things:

dr. williams

I have nothing critical to say about Banner of Truth.  I am really grateful that they reprinted this, and I am actually very happy with the format.

For a bit of context, 1 page in this BoT edition is equal to 5 pages in a standard size book (which I calculated by counting pages in BoT and dividing into the total pages in A History of the Work of Redemption = 1:5)

I confess that I probably have something akin to an OCD disorder when it comes to books.  I like book lists, and I like to read every book on the list.  If there are footnotes in a book I read every single one.  I read a book cover to cover, including the dustcover, if there is one.  So far I’ve read “A Dissertation Concerning True Virtue” and “Justification by Faith Alone” out of the BoT “Works,” including all of the “valuable notes of Dr. Williams.”  Unfortunately, I have found these notes to be not so valuable, actually.

I find when reading Edwards it is important to get into the rhythm and flow of his thought as much as you can.  Some of the greatest insights are discovered when you plow through pages of thick reasoning, which then climax into a glorious conclusion.  You can begin see his overall thought structures and patterns of reasoning, especially if you read for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Unfortunately, Dr. Williams interrupts this flow, without even a bit of tact.

P1010699P1010698

Yeah, that’s one footnote, from “True Virtue”.  And if you’re doing the math, that’s the equivalent of 7 pages to 3 of Edwards actual content.  Seriously?  You thought that you had 7 pages worth of “explanation” necessary to accompany 3 pages of material?

“Well,” you might be thinking, “isn’t that kind of what Piper did in God’s Passion for His Glory?”  Not really.  Yes, the first half of the book is Piper introducing Edwards, and yes Piper does add a few explanatory footnotes to the actual text of The End for Which God Created the World.  But Piper’s introduction is an introduction, and his notes are almost completely unobtrusive, and always sympathetic.

Williams?  Well, here’s a sampling:

“As the doctrine of vital union to Christ is fundamentally important in Christianity, and inseparable from the doctrine of justification; and as our author passes it over with so much brevity, a few observations upon it in this place may appear the more needful.” (p. 625 followed by an equivalent of a 4 page footnote – really wasn’t that needful)

“The term here “moral congruity,” is not happily chosen.” (626 followed by a 5 more pages.  I was actually pretty happy here, until I read the footnote)

“This distinction is just and scriptural as far as it goes, but it does not reach the bottom of the difficulty…” (651 plus 3 more pages, which didn’t reach the bottom either)

In all honesty, I’m not really interested in Dr. Williams corrections of Jonathan Edwards.  If you’re like me, and you have a tendency to read every note, do yourself a favor:  for the sake of reading Edwards and understanding his flow of thought, skip Williams.

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One thought on “not so valuable, actually

  1. Pingback: Review: The Works of Jonathan Edwards | biblioskolex

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