The Excellency of Minds: Jonathan Edward's Theological Style

Sholl, Brian Keith, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Mathewes, Charles, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Jones, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Hart, Kevin, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

In contrast to interpretations that separate Jonathan Edwards's philosophical writings from his theological writings, this dissertation argues that Edwards's philosophically oriented work must be understood from within Edwards's claim that theology is a response to God's self-revelation. This interpretation argues that, for Edwards, theology is not an endeavor resting upon principles of rationality, logic or metaphysics, either pre-critical or modem, but upon the credibility of God's self-manifestation in both Scripture and the economy of salvation. Put positively, the work argues that Edwards conceives theology as an aesthetic enterprise and an aesthetic performance. For Edwards, the practice of theology is the human person's responsive engagement with God's glory and being, God's triune giving of God's own selfhood in creation. Employing Hans Urs von Balthasar's notion of theological style, this dissertation argues that Edwards's theology presents a two-fold movement, an exitus-reditus, a giving-forth and a giving-back on terms set by God's self-communication and grounded in God's own tri-unity. First, there is a movement on God's part to create and redeem, which for Edwards is the same movement; the Trinity's movement ad extra culminates in the incarnation. Second, there is a movement of return by human creatures graced in thought and visible holiness, participating in the Logos and the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. For Edwards, this exchange redounds to the "excellency of minds," God's creation of creatures meant to love and know God in harmonious consent, with proportional concord (i.e. that which is fitting to creaturehood), just as they are to know and love themselves and others.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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