“Nobles and Barons of the Court of Heaven”: A Survey of Angelology from the Patristic Era to the Eighteenth Century with Particular Emphasis Given to Jonathan Edwards
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In the later years of the twentieth century, more than four hundred works were cataloged and published on the subject of angels. While a few of these works are scholarly attempts at understanding angels, most are not. At the turn of the century, great interest arose in the theological writings of Jonathan Edwards. However, with the exception of a few works, the writings of Edwards on the theme of angels have gone virtually unnoticed within the academic and scholarly community. A rediscovery of the contribution of the writings of Jonathan Edwards on the subject of angels propels him as one of the most important intellectuals on the subject in the Christian tradition. For Edwards, the angelic realm is to be investigated and viewed as a corollary to his Christology. Edwards great interest lay in the mission and function of the angels within redemptive history, and at most every point he references angels alongside references to Christ. Edwards’ angelology was traditional in its focus on the three standard medieval themes of the creation, fall, and confirmation of the angels. This dissertation sought to remedy this gap within Edwards studies by shaping a theology of angels directly from the Edwards corpus and placing Edwards within a long line of theologians from the Patristic, Medieval, Reformation, and Puritan eras collectively considered this celestial subject. Chapter 1 introduces the void in the literature and sets Jonathan Edwards as a substantial theological voice on the subject of angels. Chapter 2 begins with an examination of patristic angelology with particular emphasis given to Augustine, Chrysostom, and Pseduo-Dionysius. Chapter 3 investigates the angelology of the medieval age with importance given to Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Lombard, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Chapter 4 surveys the history of Reformation and Puritan scholarship on the topic of the angelic, by examining the angelology of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Ambrose, Samuel Willard, Thomas Ridley, and Increase and Cotton Mather. Chapter 5 examines the writings of Jonathan Edwards and constructs a theological framework for his angelology from within the context of his history of redemption. Chapter 6 investigates Edwards’ view on the fall of Lucifer, while seeking to link Edwards to theologians of the past in his views and methodology for considering the subject of angels. Finally, the conclusion offers an overview of angelology from the patristic era to the time of Jonathan Edwards and explores further areas of reading and research on the subject.