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Bona Conscientia Paradisus: An Augustinian-Arminian Trope

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the historical problems surrounding Jacob Arminius' motto. There are two initial historical problems with the motto, bona conscientia paradisus. First, although it has been described by several biographers as Arminius' motto, it is difficult actually to trace the motto directly to Arminius himself. Second, even if it is granted that Arminius consciously chose this motto for himself, the immediate origin of it is unclear. The chapter discusses the origin of the motto and its historical trajectory. After surveying the evidence, one can identify a common trajectory of interpretation. From Augustine through the late medieval era and into the post-Reformation period, there is a consistent tropological hermeneutic, often couched in the genre of sermon, which compares life in the unspoiled paradise of Genesis 2 to pure conscience, while expulsion from the garden is likened to a guilty conscience. The chapter presents brief observations regarding Arminius' thoughts on conscience.

Keywords: Augustine; bona conscientia paradisus; Jacob Arminius' motto; post-Reformation period



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