A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology (PDF)



Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is one of the most important thinkers of the Christian Tradition. Ironically, little is known about his Christology. Lesser still is that which which is known about the philosophical commitments that undergird much of thinking about the God-man. In A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology, S. Mark Hamilton shows that Edwards has much more to say about the nature of the person of Christ that is both significant and original than has been believed to this point. Hamilton’s Treatise tackles Edwards’ unique understanding of the God-world relationship and how that understanding bears upon his doctrine of the person of Christ. Equal-parts philosophical clarification and theological construction, and offering a number of truly original insights, Hamilton makes the convincing case that Edwards’ commitment to the idea that God somehow creates the universe out of nothing ever moment does not, as some have hitherto supposed, imperil his commitment to an orthodox Christology. In so doing, Hamilton puts forward a reconstruction of a controversial aspect of Edwards’ Christology that will undoubtedly provoke both a deeper appreciation and closer examination of Edwards’ philosophical theology.


“Jonathan Edwards was not only America’s greatest theologian. He also was its finest early philosopher, but more specifically a prominent philosophical theologian. Among his intriguing—and difficult—contributions to philosophical theology was his doctrine of continuous creation. Its relation to occasionalism has helped and bedeviled thinkers for the last three centuries. No one working on Edwards or philosophical theology should miss Mark Hamilton’s careful work on this connection.” — GERALD R. MCDERMOTT, Anglican Chair of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, co-author of The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

“This is the best attempt to date to systematize the nexus of comments found mainly in Edwards’ notebooks on the relationship of ontology, etiology, and Christology. It represents an advance on the account of Hamilton’s brilliant teacher, Oliver D. Crisp, one on which analytical minds will noodle for many years to come. I recommend it strongly, and find its arguments for what Hamilton calls Edwards’ “immaterial realism” compelling.” — DOUGLAS A. SWEENEY, Distinguished Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, author of Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment

“In this philosophically dense but highly instructive treatise, Mark Hamilton concludes by admitting that he has “come near the edge of the imponderable.” I agree. Jonathan Edwards is known for many things, but few are familiar with what is, in my opinion, the most challenging facet of his thinking: the doctrine of continuous creation. Hamilton has done us a tremendous favor by exploring this notion in great depth and with profound clarity, especially as it relates to Edwards’ doctrine of the person of Christ. After working your way through this volume you may conclude that Hamilton has plunged over the edge of the imponderable with little hope of recovery! Perhaps. But you won’t regret taking the plunge with him.” — SAM STORMS, Pastor, Bridgeway Church, author of Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ “Religious Affections”

“Jonathan Edwards’s idealism or immaterialism is well known. On the creaturely level, to be is to be perceived. Yet Edwards asserted that the human being is not only perceived but perceiving, and this raises a number of complex issues as to how created minds are distinct from and yet related to the divine Mind, and how created minds and bodies both depend ontologically—and moment-by-moment—on the continuing volition and agency of God as Creator. Mark Hamilton teases out these questions from Edwards’s texts with exegetical skill and analytical acumen. Everyone with an interest in Edwards’s metaphysical thought ought to take interest in Hamilton’s brief treatise on continuous creation and Christology.” — MICHAEL MCCLYMOND, Professor of Modern Christianity, Saint Louis University, co-author of The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

“In this innovative little book, Hamilton shows that Edwards’ concept of continuous creation has significant explanatory power regarding the doctrine of Christ. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Christology or Edwards studies.” — JAMES S. SPIEGEL, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Taylor University, chief editor of Idealism and Christianity, Vol. 1: Idealism and Christian Theology & Idealism and Christianity, Vol. 2: Idealism and Christian Philosophy

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A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology (PDF)

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