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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. Here, 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 this New England tale.

“As a Puritan preacher who suspends listeners above the sulfurous fires of hell, Jonathan Edwards commands center stage in this compelling historical novel. With mesmerizing narrative gifts, Stinson exposes readers to the full force of Edwards’ brimstone sermonizing. But she also lets readers hear Edwards’ voice in other registers, giving compassionate reassurance to his troubled wife, extending tender forgiveness to a despairing sinner, reflecting pensively on how God manifests his wisdom in a lowly spider. But the Edwards voice that most readers will find most irresistible is his inner voice, laden with grief at a young daughter’s death, perplexed at his spiritual status as master of a household slave. . . . An impressive chronicle conveying the intense spiritual yearnings that illuminate a colonial world of mud, disease, and fear.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
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. Here, 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 this New England tale.

“As a Puritan preacher who suspends listeners above the sulfurous fires of hell, Jonathan Edwards commands center stage in this compelling historical novel. With mesmerizing narrative gifts, Stinson exposes readers to the full force of Edwards’ brimstone sermonizing. But she also lets readers hear Edwards’ voice in other registers, giving compassionate reassurance to his troubled wife, extending tender forgiveness to a despairing sinner, reflecting pensively on how God manifests his wisdom in a lowly spider. But the Edwards voice that most readers will find most irresistible is his inner voice, laden with grief at a young daughter’s death, perplexed at his spiritual status as master of a household slave. . . . An impressive chronicle conveying the intense spiritual yearnings that illuminate a colonial world of mud, disease, and fear.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
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Literary, Literary, Books

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150 Eureka Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

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