The symbol's end : reflections on the Coleridgean symbol's eschatological telos.


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In his famous definition of the symbol, Coleridge employs three terms that draw the symbol’s ultimate, eschatological telos into relief – representation, participation, and conveyance. Through symbolic representation, created things are attached firmly to their corresponding spiritual realities. Symbolic participation allows created things (especially human beings) to grow in likeness to the spiritual realities they represent, and symbolic conveyance transports created things (especially human beings) toward spiritual wholeness and unity with their divine origin. Before Coleridge adopted these terms to explain the symbol’s nature and end, Anglican theologians such as Richard Hooker and Jeremy Taylor regularly used them to articulate the nature and end of the Eucharistic symbol. Locating Coleridge’s definition of symbolic representation, participation, and conveyance in his commentary on the Eucharistic symbol and aligning it with the Eucharistic theology of Hooker and Taylor, I first prove that Coleridge considered the Eucharist to be an archetypal symbol. Then, I show how concentrating on the Eucharistic connotations for these three terms brings into sharper focus an eschatological telos for the symbol that has previously remained obscure. Finally, I detail what Coleridge imagines the eschatological state toward which the symbol points will be.



Coleridge. Symbol. Eucharist. Anglican. Theology. Eschatology. Teleology