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Jonathan Edwards: Theologian, Preacher and Slaveholder

October 24, 2013

223 Moses

Susan Stinson, Writer in Residence, Forbes Library

Jonathan Edwards is considered America’s most brilliant theologian. He was also a slave owner. Spider in a Tree is the story of the years he spent preaching in eighteenth century Northampton, Massachusetts.

In his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Mr. Edwards compared a person dangling a spider over a hearth to God holding a sinner over the fires of hell. In this historical novel, spiders and insects preach back. No voice drowns out all others: Leah, a young West African woman enslaved in the Edwards household; Edwards’s young cousins Joseph and Elisha, whose father kills himself in fear for his soul; and Sarah, Edwards’ wife, who is visited by ecstasy. Ordinary grace, human failings, and extraordinary convictions combine in unexpected ways to animate Edwards' story.

In her talk, Stinson will read from this newly released book and discuss the intersection of religion, history and fiction.