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Jonathan Edwards and the Psalms

By David P Barshinger
July 2016 | Review by Kevin Bidwell
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 978-0-19939-675-7
  • Pages: 474
  • Price: 47.99
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Book Review

If you are interested in preaching or the theology of Jonathan Edwards, biblical exegesis or the Psalms, then this book will interest you.

It is well researched and well written. The author arranges his material around seven key topics in relation to his subject: ‘The Psalter in Edwards’ world’; ‘God and Scripture’; ‘Humanity and sin’; ‘Christ’; ‘Spirit and gospel’; ‘Christian piety’ and ‘Church and eternity’. Each chapter is full of Bible citations, which make this compendium devotional as well as theological.

The opening chapter reminds us of the importance of psalmody for public worship. How many evangelical congregations sing metrical psalms in every service? While Edwards also sang hymns in his congregation, the Psalter had a prominent place in worship.

Edwards had several key emphases in his preaching and one of them was a redemptive-historical vision of Scripture (pp. 21, 25-28). This is the sub-theme of this book, although it does not focus exclusively on a redemptive-historical approach to the Psalms.

Edwards’ materials are primarily extracts from sermons — he was a working minister first and foremost. Gleanings from his approach to Psalm portions, with a rich Christological, trinitarian and redemptive-historical flow, are enriching for preachers in sermon preparation. Chapter 2 on ‘God and Scripture’ begins by citing one of Edwards’ favourite verses from the Psalms, ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness’ (115:1).

David P. Barshinger mentions three theologians to whom Edwards was indebted, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole and John Trapp (p.80). The reading of Jonathan Edwards’ works, along with these three authors, would greatly enrich the contemporary church’s preaching, ministry and piety.

Barshinger’s contribution may not be a best-seller, but it is a worthy and valuable contribution for the Christian church.

Kevin Bidwell

Sheffield

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