Jonathan Edwards’s Exegetical Continuity with Patristic, Medieval, and Puritan Theologians

This paper examines the language of fountain applied to the Trinity in the biblical exegesis of Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) and its resonance with other theologians. There is significant inquiry presently into the biblical exegesis and exegetical methods of Jonathan Edwards, yet there has been very little attention paid to how Edwards arrived at the language of fountain in his theology of the Trinity in recent scholarship. In the treatise preceding the Northampton revival and as an ongoing project in the 1730s, the “Essay on the Trinity,” Edwards appears to locate the idea of God as an overflowing fountain in the person of the Father. Edwards affirmed this idea of the Father as the fountain of deity by reasoning from the witness of Scripture. His affirmation also has resonance with other exegetes, such as Origen of Alexandria (c. 185–c. 254), Tertullian of Carthage (c. 160–225), Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 299–373), Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329–90), the late-fifth century to early-sixth century Greek writer Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (c. 1217–74), the Puritan tradition, and John Owen (1616–83). Thus, comparable examples will be explored to situate Edwards’s view with that of the exegesis of Patristic, Medieval, and Puritan theologians.

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