This Christmas I found myself utterly blessed beyond words at the love and care of my family. We had a wonderful Boxing Day together and I wish it could have been longer only I had to come back to work. However in particular my Mum and Dad came up utterly trumps at the present they blessed me with. It's a Bowen family tradition that we make "wish lists" in the months leading up to Christmas to give my large family a range of ideas about what we would ideally like for Christmas! It's my habit to usually try and put a complete range of ideas - from the ridiculously expensive (that I never expect to get) to the dirt cheap - and one of the ridiculously expensive ideas that I asked for was Jonathan Edwards "Notes on Scripture" book - Volume 15 in the Yale edition.
My mum brought out my final present on Boxing Day and gave it to me. I discerned in the Spirit that it was a glory-filled hardback book - but NEVER dreamed it would be my hearts desire! I was thrilled therefore to open it and find it was! My parents are wonderful! As were all the other kind and generous presents my family gave me. One of the most quirky was probably my lovely sister and brother-in-law's present - a Gollum cookie jar! But back to Edwards.
Some may remember that when Pete and I visited the Evangelical Library last year - I spent the majority of my time reading the "Notes on Scripture" and seeking Edwards opinion particularly on the Song of Solomon and how it compared to C J Mahaney's rather odd views expressed in "Sex, Romance and the Glory of God". I fell in love with the book then and the Bible-saturated thoughts of Jonathan Edwards so it has been an awesome joy to begin reading. Here's some background to what the book actually is about. The Editor wrote;
"A young Jonathan Edwards penned the following private resolution in the closing months of 1722 ... "Resolved: to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently as that I may find and plainly perceive myself to grow in knowledge of the same".
Edwards was honest enough to see through any pride he had and noted at one point in his "Diary";
"... he chided himself for having "lost that relish of the Scriptures" that he had known earlier".
So these three volumes that I am now blessed enough to have - "Notes on Scripture" and the two "Blank Bibles" - are no mere academic volumes. They come from the personal pen of a man who desired to know the Scriptures for through them he would know his God better. They are books that when read - one cannot help but catch something of that passion.
Here is how the Editors describe concisely what "Notes on Scripture";
"Notes on Scripture" (is a) biblical commentary that includes more than five hundred numbered entries ... the last entry in the series - No. 507 - was written approximately two years before his death in 1758 and is a lengthy comparison between Canticles and Psalm 45 ... "Notes on Scripture" is a private working notebook in which Edwards recorded exegetical ideas, took notes on his reading and developed select theological themes ... At first glance "Notes on Scripture" appears to have little organizational coherence or thematic integration. Edwards made no attempt to survey all parts of Scripture; the entries move randomly among the books of the Bible.
"Notes on Scripture" documents his consuming interest in typology, a traditional method of biblical interpretation that links the Old and New Testament ... "Notes on Scripture" represents only a portion of Edwards extensive exegetical writings, for through the years he also wrote entries interpreting the Bible in several other manuscripts".
So there are some more general introductory statements by the editor as to the purpose of "Notes on Scripture". Let me comment on some more specific and direct statements. One of my favourite Books of the Bible (hence the reason why I defend it so vigorously against people such as C J Mahaney) is of course the Song of Solomon. The editoral comment states;
"He (Edwards) rejected the suggestion that Canticles was "an ordinary love song" by treating the affection between the biblical lovers as a "shadow of the love, union and communion" between Christ and the Church (No. 147) and by linking typologically the spouse in the Song of Solomon and the "tents of Kedar" (SoS 1:5) with the Church (No. 458)".
It should be noted of course that Edwards did not compile the "Notes on Scripture" primarily as his own writings alone. He did read widely and used such reading to aid his insights into Scripture. The editorial team at Yale write;
"Edwards' reading was a primary element in his method of study. In "Notes on Scripture" he cited forty different identifiable sources. More than a hundred entries include quoted or paraphrased materials for which Edwards lists a source ... "Notes on Scripture" situates Edwards firmly in the exegetical world of the eighteenth century. The variety of the sources in "Notes on Scripture" is instructive in other ways as well ... the sources Edwards used are impressive for the scope of their subject matter, the variety of ancient references and the sophistication of the linguistic arguments. They are filled with Latin, Greek and Hebrew citations, many of which he entered into "Notes on Scripture".
The picture shows the original manuscripts. As with the "Blank Bible" Edwards constructed them himself. There is an interesting note that he made to himself for future construction;
If I live to make another book of this sort, to observe to cut the gashes for the stitching in deeper and not so near to the joinings of the stitch, that the book may open more freely and fully. And let the sheets be divided into twice so small divisions, and starch no paper in a paper cover for that makes it crack. And if that don't do try next stitching the backs of all the divisions of sheets to a slip of leather and sew the cover over the leather".
The editors conclude that "Notes on Scripture" provides a fresh view of a critical component in the intellectual and theological world view of Edwards. It essentially explains and provides a context to the massive writings of Jonathan Edwards and I hope in the coming days and weeks to provide some quotes! Oh that present pastors and teachers, apostles and prophets would have the same vision - to commit the revelations and anointings to paper thus preserving it for generations to come.