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Academic Essay Break Down: Analyzing the Purpose of Edwards' Infamous Sermon

An Essay Exploring the Craft, Structure and Efficacy of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon
by

Ben Armbruster

on 28 November 2016

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Transcript of Academic Essay Break Down: Analyzing the Purpose of Edwards' Infamous Sermon

Essay Prompt:

The Impact of Edwards' Sermon:
How & Why It Worked
Describe the historical religious context of the era
Teach readers about the Puritan religion, Edwards view of these new Puritans, and the motivational effects of of guilt.
Emotional Appeals and Persuasive Techniques
Discuss the power of emotional appeals and explain the kinds of persuasive "tricks" Edwards used in his sermon to make these emotional appeals as powerful and effective as possible.
Thematic ties to Modern World
Explain the
Puritan devotion of early settlers
and the role it had on their lifestyle versus
Edwards' view of Puritans NOW
in the 1730's
Explain
how emotional appeals work
and Edwards'
expert use of rhetorical devices and persuasive techniqes

In what ways was
this sermon
successful
?
Very religiously devoted at first
Support: Proof / Evidence of Zealous Devotion to God

Explain how support given leads you to believe the original Puritans were very religiously devoted.
Became less devoted
Support: Proof / Evidence of Lessening Devotion to God

Explain how support given leads you to believe the Puritans were now less devoted than their ancestors
Power of Emotional Appeals: GUILT
Explain the effects of guilt on the human psyche and how emotions can become strong motivators
The Power of Emotional Appeals

Researched discussion of why emotional appeals are so effective on people
The Persuasive Techniques
Support: Several Examples / Evidence

Explain what these do and how they play on people's emotions
Persuade people to... ?
Would people still be moved by Edwards today? Why or not?
Where else do we still see the same approaches being used today?
How does the teaching, preaching, approach to religion today compare to religion back then?
Researched discussion of sermon's impact on Puritans and Edwards' contribution to The Great Awakening in America
Explain how the religious context of America in the 1730's and Edwards' expert use of persuasive rhetoric enabled
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
to become one of the most influential religious sermons of all time.
Essay Strategy Recommendation
CLAIM (THESIS STATEMENT):
Edwards not only capitalized on the historical religious context of his era, but made skillful use of persuasive and rhetorical writing techniques. As a result, Edwards crafted what is arguably one of the most influential and persuasive speeches in American history.
Introduction to ENTIRE essay:



DO NOT discuss Jonathan Edwards until end of introduction.

DO relate the concepts/topic of the essay to the readers’ real world with anecdotes, interesting quotes, facts, statistics, or modern real-world examples


TOPIC: Persuasion (aka rhetorical tools)
TOPIC: Cultural influence (aka contextual influence)

CONCEPTS: There are clever ways to persuade people (rhetorical tools)

CONCEPTS: Culture can make people more susceptible to persuasion (contextual influence)
Edwards not only capitalized on the historical religious context of his era, but made skillful use of persuasive and rhetorical writing techniques. As a result, Edwards crafted what is arguably one of the most influential and persuasive speeches in American history.
THESIS STATEMENT (Your Essay's 3 Major Claims):
Modern Examples of Religious Fervor on Human Psyche and Calls to Action

TRANSITIONAL SETUP FOR NEXT SECTON
TRANSITIONAL SETUP FOR NEXT SECTON: THE CONCLUSION
Explain how this approach to persuasion (structure, rhetorical tools, emotion of faith) still works on people today, so it probably worked just as well back then...
Edwards' View of Modern Puritans
Support: Proof Evidence from Sermon

Explain what samples from the sermon reveal about Edwards' views of the "modern" Puritans of his time
Full transcript