Puritan culture in many respects militated against artistic expression. Yet, like nature, art persisted, managing to gain a foothold in whatever crevices Puritan culture provided. Jonathan Edwards's artistry, evident in his deliberate experiments in the management of language, grew out of his duty as a minister to communicate his sermons effectively.
Emphasizing recurrent theological and artistic implications, The Writings of Jonathan Edwards focuses on the progressive interiorization of Edwards's primary concerns. Underlying this development was Edwards's desire to resolve the question of whether he was one of God's elect, and his search for genuine selfhood or identity resulted in autobiographical dimensions in many of his public writings. In his quest for true identity, Edwards aligned himself with Puritan orthodoxy, and his regard for tradition is a consistent theme in his work from his earliest notes to his last treatises. Within Puritan tradition Edwards perceived a collective self, a divinely ordained continuity and integrity immune to the vicissitudes of time.
Scheick's study will appeal to scholars and students of American literature, history, and culture as well as to those with a special interest in the relation between art and theology. As an explication of Edwards's writings and of the development of his thought, the study will make Edwards more easily accessible to students of American literature.