The Trinitarian philosophy of Jonathan Edwards
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This dissertation considers the relationship between two of the more historically peculiar features of Jonathan Edwards’ thought. Edwards advocates a non-Aristotelian ontology in which inter-relations among created things are significantly constitutive of their being. He also extends a typological interpretation of Scripture to the entire cosmos by arguing that all material things are somehow patterned after moral and spiritual principles and entities. This study suggests that the doctrine of the Trinity is the primary underlying philosophical motivation for both of these intriguing moves by Edwards. In Chapter 1, I construct Edwards’ understanding of the Trinity from his writings and place it in its historical context as a re-appropriation of patristic sources, particularly of Cappadocian and Augustinian notions of perichoresis or mutual indwelling. In Chapter 2, I examine how the status of created being as a reflection of the perichoretic (Trinitarian) union of the divine being sets the stage for Edwards’ relational insights into the ontology of creation. In Chapter 3, I explain Edwards’ fascination with types as a particular way of working out the relational ontology that the Trinity has led him to establish.