Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



This dissertation provides an historical and theoretical inquiry into “covenants” as a device within Anglo-American political theory. It includes an overview of Biblical covenants which are the source of the covenant device, together with an analysis of subsequent application by early modern and contemporary political theorists. I demonstrate that this revealed political theology, moderated by the political traditions of salus populi and natural law, provides support for contemporary political imperatives of liberty while avoiding both the terrors of gnostic political religion and the inevitable moral and political failure of natural political theology. The argument begins with an examination of contemporary covenantal theory in the scholarship of Daniel Elazar and David Novak. I then turn to the revival of the covenant device during the British Reformation and American colonial experience. As background, the dissertation surveys Calvin, Bullinger, Buchanan, Knox, Goodman, Mornay, and Rutherford (among others) and their prescriptions for the form of government and for resistance theory. I also examine important events during the British Civil Wars and the implications of the covenant device therein. Reformed theologians demonstrate both unity and diversity in their approach to political questions. In formulating political theory around the covenant device, they collectively create a provocative and valuable political theology par excellence with important implications for liberalism, republicanism, and constitutionalism. The dissertation pays close attention to the ways in which theological differences had explicit and implicit consequence for political theory. Those differences include the varying approaches of Reformed theologians to the covenants of works and grace respectively, the visible and invisible Church, and the accommodation of natural law, common law, and natural right.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

G. Ellis Sandoz