Jonathan Edwards, the Mystical Tradition, and Revivalism

Class Number: 
June 3-7
10:00 am - 12:15 pm

Class Price: 

The early eighteenth-century British-American philosophical theologian Jonathan Edwards has often been called a “mystic.” Through a selected series of primary and secondary readings, supplemented by presentations and discussions, this course seeks to evaluate Edwards’ place within the mystical tradition, the contours and nature of his mysticism, and his appraisal of how mystical experience was appropriated (and misappropriated) during the protestant evangelical revivals, known as “The Great Awakening.” Starting with definitions and an overview of trajectories in medieval mysticism, we will consider mysticism(s) in early evangelicalism and whether and in what regards Edwards himself partook of these traditions, and then examine the radical claims to mystical experiences, including revelations, visions, spirit possession, and embodiment, that emerged during the revivals, and Edwards’ developing critique of those claims.

There are no prerequisites for this course. All readings will be made available for download through the Jonathan Edwards Center website,

Dr. Kenneth P. Minkema is the Executive Editor of The Works of Jonathan Edwards and of the Jonathan Edwards Center & Online Archive at Yale University, with appointments as Research Faculty at Yale Divinity School and as Research Associate at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He offers seminars in early American and early modern religious history, as well as reading courses in all periods of American religious history. From 2004 through 2009, he served as the Executive Secretary of the American Society of Church History. Besides publishing numerous articles on Jonathan Edwards and topics in early American religious history in professional journals including The Journal of American History, The William and Mary Quarterly, The New England Quarterly, Church History and The Massachusetts Historical Review, he has edited volume 14 in the Edwards Works, Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, and co-edited A Jonathan Edwards Reader; The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader; Jonathan Edwards at 300: Essays on the Tercentennial of His Birth; and Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”: A Casebook. He has also co-edited The Sermon Notebook of Samuel Parris, 1689-1694, dealing with the Salem Witchcraft crisis, and The Colonial Church Records of Reading and Rumney Marsh, Massachusetts. Finally, Dr. Minkema is currently part of a team that is preparing Cotton Mather’s “Biblia Americana” publication.

Adriaan C. Neele holds a PhD in Historical Theology (Utrecht University) and a PhD in Homiletics (Theological University Apeldoorn). He has taught at various seminaries and universities in Canada, South Africa, and the USA, including Yale University, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, Africa Institute for Missiology, and Farel Reformed Theological Seminary. Presently, he serves as a Professor of Homiletics and Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

Dr. Neele is the author of multiple books and articles on early modern Reformed theology, Jonathan Edwards, and homiletics. His works have been published by publishers such as Brill, Wm. Eerdmans, Oxford University Press, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Dunedin Academic Press, and Summum Academic.

In addition, he serves on the boards of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, the Bavinck Institute, and the Dutch Reformed Translation Society.

Prior to being called to Gospel ministry, he was an international business executive in the biotechnology, software, and venture capital industry. He and his wife Kornelia are blessed with six children.

Yale Divinity School

Kenneth P. Minkema

Adriaan C. Neele