Prof. Doug Sweeney Named Luce Fellow

Jonathan Edwards

The Association of Theological Schools and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., have named six scholars as Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology for 2014–2015. Professor Doug Sweeney is one of them, and his work will focus on Jonathan Edwards the exegete: “Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the
Enlightenment.”

Scholars have long recognized that Edwards loved the Bible. But preoccupied with his roles in Western “public” life and letters, and failing to see the public significance of his biblical exegesis, Sweeney notes that very little attention has been given to the thing Edwards himself took most seriously. According to Sweeney, the lion’s share of Edwards’ time during every week of his life was spent wrestling with the words of holy writ. To address this gap in Edwards studies, Sweeney plans to write a book on Edwards’ exegesis and its significance for Christian thought and intellectual history.

After reconstructing Edwards’ lost exegetical world and describing his place within it, Sweeney will summarize his four main approaches to the Bible (canonical, christological, redemptive-historical, and doctrinal) and analyzes his work on selected biblical themes that illustrate these four approaches. Sweeney will compare Edwards’ work to that of his most frequent interlocutors and place it in the context of the history of exegesis, challenging preconceived notions about the state of Christianity in the age of the Enlightenment (that it had been all but snuffed out). Dr. Sweeney’s study will provide a helpful guide to Edwards’ exegetical work and also clear a path for later specialists to follow.

Supported by grants of up to $75,000 each, the Luce Fellows engage in year-long theological research projects and present their findings for publication. The 2014–2015 Fellows constitute the twenty-first class of scholars to be appointed since the inception of the program in 1993, bringing the total number of Luce Fellows to 142.

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