Spider and Fly: Novel Excerpt August 1735, Northampton, Massachusetts


Jonathan Edwards is widely considered America's most brilliant theologian. Spider In a Tree fuses the historic and the imaginative in telling the story of his years as a preacher in eighteenth century Northampton, Massachusetts, a town Edwards made famous for piety before its people dismissed him as their minister. The novel covers the years from 1731 to 1750, and is told from multiple points of view. Spider and Fly, which is chapter four in the novel, takes place in August 1735, three months after Edwards wrote his account of the 1734-35 revivals which became A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton. At the end of this account, Edwards appended a postscript about the troubling suicide of Joseph Hawley, a respected townsperson married to Edwards's aunt. The elder Joseph Hawley had two sons—the younger named Elisha, and the elder also named Joseph—both of whom appear in this chapter; as does Sarah, wife of Jonathan; and Leah and Saul, who are enslaved in the household.