The Philosophy of Jonathan Edwards: A Study in Divine Semiotics

By Stephen H. Daniel | Go to book overview
Save to active project

II

THE DISCOURSE OF TYPOLOGY

Beginning with Perry Miller's 1948 edition of Edwards' Images or Shadows of Divine Things, much of the critical scholarship devoted to Edwards' typology refers only in passing to his concurrent references to the language of nature in which types are expressed. Commentators agree that, for Edwards, natural things exhibit a spiritual meaning in terms of what God intends them to communicate, but the fact that nature appears in Edwards' presentation as a language is often assumed to be merely a metaphorical convention. It is argued that, because Edwards speaks of the world as a divine communication throughout his writings, his invocation of the vocabulary of the Book of Nature can hardly be said to have any particular significance for the study of types. Indeed, if his talk of the linguistic or communicative nature of reality reveals more than a rhetorical maneuver, it signals the underlying conditions for the possibility of communal reasoning in general.

No doubt the pervasive presence of relations of signification in Edwards' philosophy includes much more than his typology. I suggest, however, that Edwards bases the justification for his claims of typological relations on a broader theory of communicative exchange. Accordingly, his association of typological relations with "The Language and Lessons of Nature" points to a theory of meaning in which typology unites the significatory and revelatory characters of nature as functions of God's scripted and scriptural activity.

Typology, therefore, is not as central to Edwards' philosophy as it is key to determining the underlying system of relations that legitimate the strategies of rationality employed in his other discussions. Without access to those strategies of communicative signification, we cannot understand why typology is connected to his doctrines of the Trinity, original sin, freedom, virtue, or beauty, even if we can understand how such topics are related.

This chapter begins with an examination of the syntax of signification that regulates Edwards' theory of meaningful exchange. The second part of the chapter indicates how typology, as the point of convergence of natural and revelational instruction, functions in the system of relations that makes meaning possible. The third section focuses on how Edwards develops a general system of signification in the context of typology, with special attention given to the Scriptural extension of discourse.

-41-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Philosophy of Jonathan Edwards: A Study in Divine Semiotics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 212

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?