The Essential Edwards Collection is a five volume set of extremely, concise books that introduce readers to the basics of Edward’s thought. The volumes cover a variety of subjects including: Edwards himself (a lover of God), beauty, heaven and hell, the good life, and true Christianity. On Heaven and Hell rolls in at only 147 pages including the bibliography. As I said, it’s extremely concise.
In my opinion, this book’s greatest strength is also probably its greatest weakness. And that strength (or weakness depending on your opinion) is its brevity. Strachan and Sweeney do a superb job of making Edwards, who lived some 250 years ago and spoke in an English dialect different from our own, extremely digestible for nearly anyone. So, that’s a strength. However, while reading, I often found myself longing for more of Edwards’ words and less of Strachan and Sweeney’s words about Edwards. This is not to say that Strachan and Sweeney are not superb writers themselves, but rather that a person reads a book entitled Jonathan Edwards On Heaven and Hell to hear Edwards speak, not Strachan and Sweeney speak. And that’s a weakness. So too much brevity is my one complaint, and perhaps it’s not a legitimate complaint because I’m willing to bet that Strachan and Sweeney wrote with the very brevity that I am denigrating on purpose.
So at the end of the day, I liked this book, but I wanted more. And that was my complete opinion until I discovered this sweet endnote at the end of book:
“For the premier collection of Edwards’s own writing, see The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1-26, Yale University Press. Access these works in their entirety free of charge at http://edwards.yale.edu” (145).
Since all of Edward’s writings are available for free online, I guess I’ll loosen up on my complaint about the brevity of The Essential Edwards Collection.