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The Theology of Jonathan Edwards$
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Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199791606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199791606.001.0001

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Beauty and Aesthetics

Beauty and Aesthetics

(p.93) 6 Beauty and Aesthetics
The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond

Gerald R. McDermott

Oxford University Press

From the very beginning of Edwards's theological development, the concept of beauty was a central theme, more important than for any previous Calvinistic author. Platonic in outlook, Edwards distinguished between physical and spiritual beauties, the former functioning as types of the latter. Beauty itself, also termed “excellency,” primarily consists of God's holiness. The concept of beauty also contained a Trinitarian dimension. Edwards's concept of proportion implied a complexity or diversity because “one alone, without reference to any more, cannot be excellent.” As such, “God's infinite beauty is his infinite mutual love of himself.” For humans, the perception of such beauty is limited to those with a spiritual sensibility or “new sense of the heart.”

Keywords:   beauty, excellency, aesthetics, holiness, Trinity, Platonism

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