Jonathan Edwards Center Announces New Sermon Initiative. You Become the Editor.


CONTACT: Gustav Spohn, Director of Communications and Publications


Staff Jonathan Edwards Center


June 6, 2012


NEW HAVEN, CT—The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale is expanding its international reach by embarking on a ŅGlobal Accelerated Sermon Editing Project, inviting scholars, pastors, graduate students and others to help edit some 750 sermons of 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards.

Approximately 1,200 sermons by Edwards have survived in manuscript form, most of them housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript library at Yale. Of those, about 750 have been converted into literal transcriptions—that is, put into typewritten text, while attempting to replicate as much as possible features like original line length, spelling, capitalization, punctuation deletions, and shorthand. That means many elements peculiar to Edwards’s writing style—from uneven margins stemming from use of scrap paper for sermon writing, to archaic spellings like “alwaies” for “always” to lack of punctuation—remain in the transcriptions, preserving the integrity but making them difficult to read.

The aim of the project is to take the process one step further, to edit the 750 transcriptions so that they are more accessible to the typical modern reader. For example, spelling in the edited versions will be regularized to conform with Webster’s Third New International Dictionary; punctuation will be introduced; and annotations will be added to indicate things such as manuscript damage and conjectural readings.

Given the size of the project, the staff at the Yale Divinity School-based Center is reaching out worldwide for volunteers who would edit sermons using the CenterÕs online software. The goal is to edit at least 50 sermons per year, make them freely available to the public online, and have them published in a series of print-on-demand volumes. The process is streamlined through use of the Center’s state-of-the-art online training, revision, and editing tools that embrace TEI XML software, which allows for texts to be immediately searchable once written.

Edited texts will be reviewed by staff of the Jonathan Edwards Center, which is led by Kenneth P. Minkema, executive editor and director and Adriaan C. Neele, associate editor and director. The review process might involve multiple revisions. Once the text is approved, volunteer editors will have the opportunity to draft a head note summarizing the sermon and highlighting interesting features of the sermon. The completed text will then be published online, with acknowledgment of the volunteer editor, and possibly published in a print edition.

“If you are a scholar, pastor, graduate student, or interested lay person who would like to participate in the Edwards project, this is your opportunity to work with an original Edwards text that has not been heard since he (Edwards) first preached it,” project descriptive material says.

“Aside from making the texts available to others, volunteer editors have the privilege of acquiring new information and, in some cases, new skills.”

Minkema and Neele expect many of their volunteers to come from amongst the 5,000 registered users of the CenterÕs web site, and also from scholars and students affiliated with the Center’s overseas affiliates in Australia, Benelux, Germany, Hungary, Poland, South Africa, and Brazil.

Initial inquiries about participating in the project can be sent to the Center at

The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale was established in 2003 in anticipation of the completion of the 26-volume Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, which contains sermon transcriptions. With Yale University Press’s completion of those volumes in 2008, the Center carried the work of the Edwards project forward with creation of a comprehensive, fully searchable, critical, annotated online digital edition of 73-volumes, WJE Online, including some 100,000 pages of transcripted Edwards sermons, notebooks, letters, and treatises.

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