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Title: Divine simplicity and the triune identity : a critical dialogue with the theological metaphysics of Robert W. Jenson
Author: Platter, Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 9418
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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There has been a recent revival of interest in the doctrine of divine simplicity in systematic and philosophical theology, following decades of intense reflection on the tri-personhood of the Christian God. New studies on divine simplicity have been written from the perspective of historical theology, philosophy of religion, and systematic theology. While these discussions have produced a greater appreciation of convictions shared between Eastern and Western trinitarian theologians as well as some fundamental claims in classical theologians’ doctrines of God, they have not yet engaged in dialogue with proponents of the ‘trinitarian revival’ that emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century in anything other than polemical terms. In this context, this thesis offers a theological defence of the doctrine of divine simplicity through careful reading of both exemplary historical theologians and Robert W. Jenson, an important American contributor to the trinitarian revival. By first presenting the continuities and discontinuities on divine simplicity in Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, I am able to approach Jenson’s writing with a multivalent account of divine simplicity. This allows me to demonstrate various ways in which Jenson himself, despite several critical remarks about simplicity, actually deploys the logic or grammar of simplicity in a way that is integral to his trinitarian theology. Showing Jenson’s commitment to divine simplicity has several benefits. First, a Jensonian doctrine of divine simplicity makes an important contribution to contemporary theology because of the way it responds to the issues that have rendered divine simplicity problematic in the eyes of many theologians. Second, my reconstruction of simplicity in Jenson enables a more sympathetic rendering of his doctrine of God, neutralizing several criticisms of his work that have arisen. And third, it opens the way for me to engage in three points of development on Jenson’s doctrine of God that contribute to an ecumenical and trinitarian conception of divine simplicity.
Supervisor: McFarland, Ian A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: divine simplicity ; Robert W. Jenson ; doctrine of Trinity