Exploring the inner motivations of one of America’s greatest religious thinkers, this book analyses the ways in which Jonathan Edwards' intense personal piety and deep experience of divine sovereignty drove an introverted intellectual along a course that would eventually develop into a mature and respected public intellectual. Throughout his life, the tension between his innately contemplative nature and the active demands of public office was a constant source of internal and public strife for Edwards. Approaching Jonathan Edwards offers a new theoretical approach to the study of Edwards, with an emphasis on his writing activity as the key strategy in shaping his legacy. Tracing Edwards’ strategic self-fashioning of his persona through the many conflicts in which he was engaged, the critical turning points in his life, and his strategies for managing conflicts and crises, Carol Ball concludes that Edwards found his place as a superlative contemplative apologist and theorist of experiential spirituality.
Following undergraduate theological studies majoring on the history of Christian thought, Carol Ball developed a particular interest in the phenomenon of revivalism in the American scene. Ten years of subsequent postgraduate research into Jonathan Edwards led to degrees of Master of Philosophy (for a comparative study of the epistemology of Edwards and John Locke) and Doctor of Philosophy (for a study of the development of the persona of Edwards), both from The University of Queensland.