Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Jonathan Edwards and Scotland

I recently finished reading the essays in Jonathan Edwards and Scotland, edited by Ken Minkema, Adriaan Neele, and Kelly van Andel. I wish that I could afford to purchase the book, but as it is priced over $100, it is beyond my budget.

John Erskine features prominently in this eclectic collection of essays related to Edwards's connection with Scotland. I particularly enjoyed reading Adriaan Neele's chapter on "Exchanges in Scotland, the Netherlands, and America: The Reception of the Theoretico-practica theologia  and A History of the Work of Redemption."

There is not much written on eighteenth-century Dutch evangelicalism even though there were important links between the Netherlands and Britain as well as America. In the seventeenth century, and into the early eighteenth century, Scots traveled abroad to study at Leiden and Utrecht. John Erskine's grandfather, for example, studied in the Netherlands. In my book Enlightened Evangelicalism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine, I mention that John Henry Livingston, who corresponded with Erskine and become the president of Queen's College (Rutgers), was a pupil of Gisbert Bonnet, an important orthodox Calvinist and another person who corresponded with Erskine. There was also the Scots Church at Rotterdam and Amsterdam that kept alive a connection between Dutch and Scottish Calvinists. Erskine was involved in the process of recommending minister to the Scots Church at Rotterdam as its pulpit became vacant. At one time, the Rotterdam Kirk hoped to secure John Witherspoon as its minister (see William Steven's The History of the Scottish Church, Rotterdam).

Besides Randall Balmer's A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies, I found Joris van Eijnatten's Liberty and Concord in the United Provinces: Religious Toleration and the Public in the Eighteenth-Century Netherlands very helpful for my research on the relationship between British and American evangelicals and Christians living in the Netherlands. I've sometimes toyed with the idea of learning Dutch because I am sure that there would be a mountain of manuscripts in the Netherlands that could shed light on this important, but relatively unexplored, connection between many of the Dutch Calvinists and the revivalists in America and Britain. Perhaps someone else will choose this subject for his or her dissertation topic.

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