The Works of Jonathan Edwards Online
Created and maintained by Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Caleb J.D. Maskell
The Yale University Jonathan Edwards Centers online home, containing The Works of Jonathan Edwards Online and numerous other features, was recently released in a beta version. It is an enormous project. Focusing on one of Americas most productive authors, the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University has made its mission to produce an online edition which is "the only exhaustive Jonathan Edwards resource on the planet. By the time we are done, every last thing that Edwards has ever written will be online." A less extensive, but still ambitious, print collection of 26 volumes of Edwards' work is also in production by the Center. The directors of the Center include Yale professors Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema, as well as Caleb J.D. Maskell, a graduate of Yale Divinity School (M.Div., summa cum laude).
Certainly, the focus of the Center's online work is Edwards' writings themselves - the Works Online, some 100,000 pages. Once finished, the archive will be fully searchable by full text, chronology, themes, genre, Scripture passages, and moreand also via an "advanced" option for combining search terms. In addition, it has helpful lists of topics for browsing, providing gateways into the works for those new to Edwards. (Note that to access the full archive, a brief registration is required.)
In the documents area, two views are available: edited and manuscript. I expected the manuscript view to be an image, but it is actually a transcription made to match the placement and text style (including strike-outs, extra lines, unusual spacing, etc.) of the manuscript, as opposed to the nicer paragraph form of the "edited" view. The texts include color-coded helps to denote mouse-over areas that expand Edwards' abbreviations to the full word they represent, section markers and titles, comments added later to Edwards' works by various editors, a glossary of unfamiliar terms, and highlighting of any search results. The sidebar also features a short list of similar documents to the one being viewed, as well as major themes which appear in that document. There is also a "print friendly" view and an option to save a text in the user's personal documents folder. Recently viewed documents appear in a sidebar, as well.
Yet the Center online is more than just an archive. There are currently nine articles by scholars in the field about various aspects of Edwards life and work. Additionally, one of the more interesting areas of the site is a repository (not yet fully developed) of guides for study groups, helps for preachers, syllabi and essays for college instructors, and lesson guides for high school teachers, who address Edwards' work. As an important but often misunderstood figure in America's religious history, this portion of the site could prove to be quite useful over time as more information is added.
The "Research Tools" portion of the site looks as if it, too, will be a great resource for scholars and students. It features a chronological bibliography of key work on Edwards from 1842 to the present, indices for letters to, from, and about Edwards, indices of Edwards' "miscellanies" and sermons, selected secondary resources (these are arranged topically, but it is unclear what relationship they have with the chronological bibliography listed above), major themes found in Edwards' work (this portion of the site is fairly far from completion), and a simple timeline of Edwards' life. Finally, a companion blog keeps readers up to date on the Center's online and print work, as well as other activities.
Overall, this is an excellent resource. Its multitude of features is almost dizzying, but it is remarkably easy to use and navigate. The broadness of its target audienceeveryone from pastors to lay Edwards enthusiasts to high school teachers to scholarsis noteworthy, but the Center online truly does meet the needs of each of these groups in a tangible and accessible way. While different from some other digital history projects in the sense that it is perhaps more archival than argument-based, this site nevertheless offers many aspects of other digital projects, such as ideas for study, suggested topics important to Edwards' works, and interpretive articles by scholars. Further, its many well-designed features should provide useful ideas for those involved in creating digital history projects.
I am also pleased to report that the site offers "Jonathan Edwards is my Homeboy" t-shirts, as well as books and other Edwards accessories.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Reviewed: February 2007