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The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. 'triad', from Latin: trinus "threefold") holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as "one God in three Divine Persons". The three Persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is. Sometimes differing views are referred to as nontrinitarian.
Trinitarianism contrasts with positions such as Binitarianism (one deity in two persons, or two deities) and Monarchianism (no pluratity of persons within God), of which Modalistic Monarchianism (one deity revealed in three modes) and Unitarianism (one deity in one person) are subsets. Additionally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, two of which possess separate bodies of flesh and bones, while the Holy Ghost has only a body of spirit; and that their unity is not physical, but in purpose.
Early Christian belief in the deity of Jesus Christ existed since the first and second centuries, including in Paul's letters (Romans 9:5,), the Gospel of John (John 1:1, 20:28), as well as in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of John who was born about the beginning of the Apostolic age (c. 35). Jesus is also quoted as attesting to being one with and equal with the Father, sharing in the glory of the Father before the world began (John 8:58, 10:30, 17:5).
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Theology
- 4 Biblical background
- 5 Artistic depictions
- 6 Nontrinitarianism
- 7 Criticism
- 8 See also
- 9 Extended notes
- 10 Endnotes and references
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The word trinity is derived from Latin trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad, tri". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one).
The corresponding word in Greek is τριάς, meaning "a set of three" or "the number three". The first recorded use of this Greek word in Christian theology was by Theophilus of Antioch in about the year 170. He wrote:
In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. (Aut. II.XV)
From Christ to Constantine
The Ante-Nicene Fathers asserted Christ's deity and spoke of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit", even though their language is not that of the traditional doctrine as formalized in the fourth century. Trinitarians view these as elements of the codified doctrine. Ignatius of Antioch provides early support for the Trinity around 110, exhorting obedience to "Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit". Justin Martyr (AD 100–c. 165) also writes, "in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit". The first of the early church fathers to be recorded using the word "Trinity" was Theophilus of Antioch writing in the late 2nd century. He defines the Trinity as God, His Word (Logos) and His Wisdom (Sophia) in the context of a discussion of the first three days of creation, following the early Christian practice of identifying the Holy Spirit as the Wisdom of God. The first defense of the doctrine of the Trinity was in the early 3rd century by the early church father Tertullian. He explicitly defined the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and defended his theology against "Praxeas", though he noted that the majority of the believers in his day found issue with his doctrine. St. Justin and Clement of Alexandria used the Trinity in their doxologies and St. Basil likewise, in the evening lighting of lamps. Origen of Alexandria (AD 185-c. 253) has often been interpreted as Subordinationist, but some modern researchers have argued that Origen might have actually been anti-Subordinationist.
Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds, or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs, all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies took some centuries to be resolved.
Of these controversies, the most significant developments were articulated in the first four centuries by the Church Fathers in reaction to Adoptionism, Sabellianism, and Arianism. Adoptionism was the belief that Jesus was an ordinary man, born of Joseph and Mary, who became the Christ and Son of God at his baptism. In 269, the Synods of Antioch condemned Paul of Samosata for his Adoptionist theology, and also condemned the term homoousios (ὁμοούσιος, "of the same being") in the modalist sense in which he used it.
Among the Non-Trinitarian beliefs, the Sabellianism taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are essentially one and the same, the difference being simply verbal, describing different aspects or roles of a single being. For this view Sabellius was excommunicated for heresy in Rome c. 220.
From Constantine to the Middle Ages
Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople
In the fourth century, Arianism, as traditionally understood,[note 1] taught that the Father existed prior to the Son who was not, by nature, God but rather a changeable creature who was granted the dignity of becoming "Son of God". In 325, the Council of Nicaea adopted the Nicene Creed which described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father", and the "Holy Ghost" as the one by which was incarnate... of the Virgin Mary". ("the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us"). About the Father and the Son, the creed used the term homoousios (of one substance) to define the relationship between the Father and the Son. After more than fifty years of debate, homoousios was recognised as the hallmark of orthodoxy, and was further developed into the formula of "three persons, one being".
The Confession of the Council of Nicaea, the Nicene Creed, said little about the Holy Spirit. At the First Council of Nicea (325) all attention was focused on the relationship between the Father and the Son, without making any similar statement about the Holy Spirit:
- We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; (...) And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. (...). — Nicene Creed
Later, at the First Council of Constantinople (381), the Nicene Creed would be expanded, known as Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, by saying that the Holy Spirit is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son (συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον), suggesting that he was also consubstantial with them:
- We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; (...) And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets (...). — Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
The doctrine of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit was developed by Athanasius in the last decades of his life. He defended and refined the Nicene formula. By the end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers), the doctrine had reached substantially its current form.
In the late 6th century, some Latin-speaking churches added the words "and from the Son" (Filioque) to the description of the procession of the Holy Spirit, words that were not included in the text by either the Council of Nicaea or that of Constantinople. This was incorporated into the liturgical practice of Rome in 1014.Filioque eventually became one of the main causes for the East-West Schism in 1054, and the failures of the repeated union attempts.
Gregory of Nazianzus would say of the Trinity, "No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Three than I am carried back into the One. When I think of any of the Three, I think of Him as the Whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the rest. When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light."
Devotion to the Trinity centered in the French monasteries at Tours and Aniane where Saint Benedict dedicated the abbey church to the Trinity in 872. Feast Days were not instituted until 1091 at Cluny and 1162 at Canterbury and papal resistance continued until 1331.
Trinitarian baptismal formula
Many scholars interpret the baptism of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels as a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity: "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'"[Mt 3:16–17] Baptism is generally conferred with the Trinitarian formula, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".[Mt 28:19] Trinitarians identify this name with the Christian faith into which baptism is an initiation, as seen for example in the statement of Basil the Great (330–379): "We are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received, and to profess faith in the terms in which we have been baptized." The First Council of Constantinople (381) also says, "This is the Faith of our baptism that teaches us to believe in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this Faith there is one Godhead, Power, and Being of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19 may be taken to indicate that baptism was associated with this formula from the earliest decades of the Church's existence.
Oneness Pentecostals demur from the Trinitarian view of baptism and emphasize baptism ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ the original apostolic formula. For this reason, they often focus on the baptisms in Acts. Those who place great emphasis on the baptisms in Acts often likewise question the authenticity of Matthew 28:19 in its present form. Most scholars of New Testament textual criticism accept the authenticity of the passage, since there are no variant manuscripts regarding the formula, and the extant form of the passage is attested in the Didache and other patristic works of the 1st and 2nd centuries: Ignatius, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, and Gregory Thaumaturgus.
Commenting on Matthew 28:19, Gerhard Kittel states:
This threefold relation [of Father, Son and Spirit] soon found fixed expression in the triadic formulae in 2 Cor. 13:14 and in 1 Cor. 12:4–6. The form is first found in the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19; Did., 7. 1 and 3....[I]t is self-evident that Father, Son and Spirit are here linked in an indissoluble threefold relationship.
Christianity, having emerged from Judaism, is a monotheistic religion. God is one, and that God is a single being is declared in the Bible:
- The Shema of the Hebrew Scriptures: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."[Deut 6:4]
- The first of the Ten Commandments—"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."[5:7]
- And "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."[Isa 44:6]
- In the New Testament: "The LORD our God is one."[Mk 12:29]
In the Trinitarian view, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit share the one essence, substance or being. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, statements about a single God are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can and do disagree and have conflicts with each other.
One God in Three Persons
In Trinitarian doctrine, God exists as three persons or hypostases, but is one being, having a single divine nature. The members of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal without beginning. "The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not names for different parts of God, but one name for God because three persons exist in God as one entity. They cannot be separate from one another. Each person is understood as having the identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.
According to the Eleventh Council of Toledo (675) "For, when we say: He who is the Father is not the Son, we refer to the distinction of persons; but when we say: the Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, and the Holy Spirit that which the Father is and the Son is, this clearly refers to the nature or substance"
The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) adds: "In God there is only a Trinity since each of the three persons is that reality — that is to say substance, essence or divine nature. This reality neither begets nor is begotten nor proceeds; the Father begets, the Son is begotten and the holy Spirit proceeds. Thus there is a distinction of persons but a unity of nature. Although therefore the Father is one person, the Son another person and the holy Spirit another person, they are not different realities, but rather that which is the Father is the Son and the holy Spirit, altogether the same; thus according to the orthodox and catholic faith they are believed to be consubstantial."
Perichoresis (from Greek, "going around", "envelopment") is a term used by some scholars to describe the relationship among the members of the Trinity. The Latin equivalent for this term is circumincessio. This concept refers for its basis to John 14–17, where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. Then, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes". (Hilary of Poitiers, Concerning the Trinity 3:1).
Perichoresis effectively excludes the idea that God has parts, but rather is a simple being. It also harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in the Apostle Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (See also: Divinization (Christian)). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is the "Father's house", just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given", then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you."[John 14:18]
According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two but are joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship between a man and a woman to be an example of this sacred union. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Gen. 2:24. "Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Matt. 19: 6.[image or "icon" 17:22]
Eternal generation and procession
Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds". The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, in the sense of the Latin verb procedere (which does not have to indicate ultimate origin and is therefore compatible with proceeding through), but not in that of the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (which implies ultimate origin), the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son, and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which teaches that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father alone, has made no statement on the claim of a difference in meaning between the two words, one Greek and one Latin, both of which are translated as "proceeds". The Eastern Orthodox Churches object to the Filioque clause on ecclesiological and theological grounds, holding that "from the Father" means "from the Father alone".
This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee.'"[Ps 2:7]
Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the Filioque clause. Its controversial use is addressed in several confessions: the Westminster Confession 2:3, the London Baptist Confession 2:3, and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession 1:1–6.
Economic and immanent Trinity
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The term "immanent Trinity" focuses on who God is; the term “economic Trinity” focuses on what God does. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). "Theology" refers to the mystery of God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and "economy" to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions.
The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine persons. For as the Trinity has only one and the same natures so too does it have only one and the same operation: "The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle." However, each divine person performs the common work according to his unique personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New Testament, "one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are". It is above all the divine missions of the Son's Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine persons.
The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working in unity with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparably, for their work is always the work of the one God. The Son's will cannot be different from the Father's because it is the Father's. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. On this point St. Basil said:
When then He says, 'I have not spoken of myself', and again, 'As the Father said unto me, so I speak', and 'The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father's] which sent me', and in another place, 'As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do', it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a 'commandment' a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son.
According to Thomas Aquinas the Son prayed to the Father, became a minor to the angels, became incarnate, obeyed the Father as to his human nature, as to his divine nature the Son remained God: "Thus, then, the fact that the Father glorifies, raises up, and exalts the Son does not show that the Son is less than the Father, except in His human nature. For, in the divine nature by which He is equal to the Father, the power of the Father and the Son is the same and their operation is the same."
Athanasius of Alexandria explained that the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity. Likewise, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: "We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature."
The traditional theory of "appropriation" consists in attributing certain names, qualities, or operations to one of the Persons of the Trinity, not, however, to the exclusion of the others, but in preference to the others. This theory was established by the Latin Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries, especially by Hilary of Poitiers, Augustine, and Leo the Great. In the Middle Ages, the theory was systematically taught by the Schoolmen such as Bonaventure.
Trinity and love
Augustine "coupled the doctrine of the Trinity with anthropology. Proceeding from the idea that humans are created by God according to the divine image, he attempted to explain the mystery of the Trinity by uncovering traces of the Trinity in the human personality". The first key of his exegesis is an interpersonal analogy of mutual love. In De trinitate (399 — 419) he wrote,
"We are now eager to see whether that most excellent love is proper to the Holy Spirit, and if it is not so, whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Trinity itself is love, since we cannot contradict the most certain faith and the most weighty authority of Scripture which says: 'God is love'".
The Bible reveals it although only in the two neighboring verses 1 John 4:8;16, therefore one must ask if love itself is triune. Augustine found that it is, and consists of "three: the lover, the beloved, and the love."
Reaffirming the theopaschite formula unus de trinitate passus est carne (meaning "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh"), Thomas Aquinas wrote that Jesus suffered and died as to his human nature, as to his divine nature he could not suffer or die. "But the commandment to suffer clearly pertains to the Son only in His human nature. (...) "And the way in which Christ was raised up is like the way He suffered and died, that is, in the flesh. For it says in 1 Peter (4:1): "Christ having suffered in the flesh" (...) then, the fact that the Father glorifies, raises up, and exalts the Son does not show that the Son is less than the Father, except in His human nature. For, in the divine nature by which He is equal to the Father."
In the 1900s the recovery of a substantially different formula of theopaschism took place: at least unus de Trinitate passus est (meaning "...not only in the flesh"). In the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar: "At this point, where the subject undergoing the 'hour' is the Son speaking with the Father, the controversial 'Theopaschist formula' has its proper place: 'One of the Trinity has suffered.' The formula can already be found in Gregory Nazianzen: 'We needed a...crucified God'."
The underlying question is if the three Persons of the Trinity can live a self-love (amor sui), as well as if for them, with the conciliar dogmatic formulation in terms that today we would call ontotheological, it is possible that the aseity (causa sui) is valid. If the Father is not the Son or the Spirit since the generator/begetter is not the generated/begotten nor the generation/generative process and vice versa, and since the lover is neither the beloved nor the love dynamic between them and vice versa, Christianity has provided as a response a concept of divine ontology and love different from common sense (omnipotence, omnibenevolence, impassibility, etc.): a sacrificial, martyring, crucifying, precisely kenotic concept.
Trinity and will
Theology professor Roger E. Olson postulates that a number of evangelical theologians hold the view that there is a hierarchy of authority in the Trinity with the Son being subordinate to the Father. "The Gospel of John makes this clear as Jesus repeatedly mentions that he came to do the Father's will." Olsen cautions, however, that the hierarchy in the "economic Trinity" should be distinguished from the "immanent Trinity". He cites the Cappadocian Fathers, "the Father is the source or "fount" of divinity within the Godhead; the Son and the Spirit derive their deity from the Father eternally (so there is no question of inequality of being). Their favorite analogy was the sun and its light and heat. There is no imagining the sun without its light and heat and yet it is the source of them."
Benjamin B. Warfield saw a principle of subordination in the "modes of operation" of the Trinity, but was also hesitant to ascribe the same to the "modes of subsistence" in relation of one to another. While noting that it is natural to see a subordination in function as reflecting a similar subordination in substance, he suggests that this might be the result of "...an agreement by Persons of the Trinity – a "Covenant" as it is technically called – by virtue of which a distinct function in the work of redemption is assumed by each".
According to Eusebius, Constantine suggested the term homoousios at the Council of Nicaea, though most scholars have doubted that Constantine had such knowledge and have thought that most likely Hosius had suggested the term to him. Constantine later changed his view about the Arians, who opposed the Nicene formula, and supported the bishops who rejected the formula, as did several of his successors, the first emperor to be baptized in the Nicene faith being Theodosius the Great, emperor from 379 to 395.
From the Old Testament, the early church retained the conviction that God is one. The New Testament does not use the word Τριάς (Trinity) nor explicitly teach the Nicene Trinitarian doctrine, but it contains several passages that use twofold and threefold patterns to speak of God. Binitarian passages include Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Galatians 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim. 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13. Passages which refer to the Godhead with a threefold pattern include Matt. 28:19, 1 Cor. 6:11 and 12:4ff., Gal. 3:11–14, Heb. 10:29, 1 Pet. 1:2 and 1 John 5:7. These passages provided the material with which Christians would develop doctrines of the Trinity. Reflection by early Christians on passages such as the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"[Matt 28:19] and Paul the Apostle's blessing: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all",[2 Cor. 13:14] while at the same time the Jewish Shema Yisrael: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone."[Deuteronomy 6:4] has led some Christians to question how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "one". Eventually, the diverse references to God, Jesus, and the Spirit found in the New Testament were brought together to form the doctrine of the Trinity—one God subsisting in three persons and one substance. The doctrine of the Trinity was used to combat heretical tendencies of how the three are related and to defend the church against charges of worshiping two or three gods.
Some scholars dispute the idea that support for the Trinity can be found in the Bible, and argue that the doctrine is the result of theological interpretations rather than sound exegesis of scripture.
The Comma Johanneum, 1 John 5:7, is a disputed text which states: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." However, this passage is not considered to be part of the genuine text, and most scholars agree that the phrase was a gloss.
Jesus as God
The Gospel of John has been seen as especially aimed at emphasizing Jesus' divinity, presenting Jesus as the Logos, pre-existent and divine, from its first words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[John 1:1] The Gospel of John ends with Thomas's declaration that he believed Jesus was God, "My Lord and my God!"[John 20:28] There is no significant tendency among modern scholars to deny that John 1:1 and John 20:28 identify Jesus with God. John also portrays Jesus as the agent of creation of the universe.
There are also a few possible biblical supports for the divinity of Jesus found in the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, quotes Jesus as saying, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father."[Mt 11:27] This is similar to John, who wrote that Jesus said, "All that the Father has is mine."[John 16:15] These verses have been quoted to defend the omnipotence of Christ, having all power, as well as the omniscience of Christ, having all wisdom.
Expressions also in the Pauline epistles have been interpreted as attributing divinity to Jesus. They include: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him"[Colossians 1:16] and "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form",[Colossians 2:9] and in Paul the Apostle's claim to have been "sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father".[Galatians 1:1]
Some have suggested that John presents a hierarchy when he quotes Jesus as saying, "The Father is greater than I",[14:28] a statement which was appealed to by nontrinitarian groups such as Arianism. However, Church Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas argued this statement was to be understood as Jesus speaking in as to his human nature.
Holy Spirit as God
As the Arian controversy was dissipating, the debate moved from the deity of Jesus Christ to the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son. On one hand, the Pneumatomachi sect declared that the Holy Spirit was an inferior person to the Father and Son. On the other hand, the Cappadocian Fathers argued that the Holy Spirit was equal to the Father and Son in nature or substance.
Although the main text used in defense of the deity of the Holy Spirit was Matthew 28:19, Cappadocian Fathers such as Basil the Great argued from other verses such as "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.'"[Acts 5:3–4]
Another passage the Cappadocian Fathers quoted from was "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."[Psalm 33:6] According to their understanding, because "breath" and "spirit" in Hebrew are both "רוּחַ" ("ruach"), Psalm 33:6 is revealing the roles of the Son and Holy Spirit as co-creators. And since, according to them, because only the holy God can create holy beings such as the angels, the Son and Holy Spirit must be God.
Yet another argument from the Cappadocian Fathers to prove that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Son comes from "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."[1Cor. 2:11] They reasoned that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit has the same relationship to God as the spirit within us has to us.
The Cappadocian Fathers also quoted, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"[1Cor. 3:16] and reasoned that it would be blasphemous for an inferior being to take up residence in a temple of God, thus proving that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.
They also combined "the servant does not know what his master is doing"[John 15:15] with 1 Corinthians 2:11 in an attempt to show that the Holy Spirit is not the slave of God, and therefore his equal.
The Pneumatomachi contradicted the Cappadocian Fathers by quoting, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"[Hebrews 1:14] in effect arguing that the Holy Spirit is no different from other created angelic spirits. The Church Fathers disagreed, saying that the Holy Spirit is greater than the angels, since the Holy Spirit is the one who grants the foreknowledge for prophecy[1Cor. 12:8–10] so that the angels could announce events to come.
The usage of the word "paraclete" (Greek: parakletos) for the Holy Spirit in John 14:16, which can be translated as advocate, intercessor, counsellor or protector, and the Holy Spirit's essence and action characterized by truth, as all three persons of the Trinity are linked with truth (see v. 17), are seen as arguments that he is a divine person; especially that Jesus calls him another counsellor, in this way expressing that the Holy Spirit is similar to himself in regard to our counsel.
Old Testament parallels
In addition, the Old Testament has also been interpreted as foreshadowing the Trinity, by referring to God's word,[Ps 33:6] his spirit,[Isa 61:1] and Wisdom,[Prov 9:1] as well as narratives such as the appearance of the three men to Abraham.[Gen 18] However, it is generally agreed among Trinitarian Christian scholars that it would go beyond the intention and spirit of the Old Testament to correlate these notions directly with later Trinitarian doctrine.
Some Church Fathers believed that a knowledge of the mystery was granted to the prophets and saints of the Old Testament, and that they identified the divine messenger of Genesis 16:7,21:17, 31:11, Exodus 3:2 and Wisdom of the sapiential books with the Son, and "the spirit of the Lord" with the Holy Spirit. Other Church Fathers, such as Gregory Nazianzen, argued in his Orations that the revelation was gradual, claiming that the Father was proclaimed in the Old Testament openly, but the Son only obscurely, because "it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son".
Genesis 18–19 has been interpreted by Christians as a Trinitarian text. The narrative has the Lord appearing to Abraham, who was visited by three men.[Gen 18:1–2] Then in Genesis 19, "the two angels" visited Lot at Sodom. The interplay between Abraham on the one hand and the Lord/three men/the two angels on the other was an intriguing text for those who believed in a single God in three persons. Justin Martyr, and John Calvin similarly, interpreted it such that Abraham was visited by God, who was accompanied by two angels. Justin supposed that the God who visited Abraham was distinguishable from the God who remains in the heavens, but was nevertheless identified as the (monotheistic) God. Justin appropriated the God who visited Abraham to Jesus, the second person of the Trinity.
Augustine, in contrast, held that the three visitors to Abraham were the three persons of the Trinity. He saw no indication that the visitors were unequal, as would be the case in Justin's reading. Then in Genesis 19, two of the visitors were addressed by Lot in the singular: "Lot said to them, 'Not so, my lord.'"[Gen 19:18 KJV] Augustine saw that Lot could address them as one because they had a single substance, despite the plurality of persons.[note 2]
Some Christians interpret the theophanies or appearances of the Angel of the Lord as revelations of a person distinct from God, who is nonetheless called God. This interpretation is found in Christianity as early as Justin Martyr and Melito of Sardis, and reflects ideas that were already present in Philo. The Old Testament theophanies were thus seen as Christophanies, each a "preincarnate appearance of the Messiah".
The Trinity is most commonly seen in Christian art with the Spirit represented by a dove, as specified in the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of Christ; he is nearly always shown with wings outspread. However depictions using three human figures appear occasionally in most periods of art.
The Father and the Son are usually differentiated by age, and later by dress, but this too is not always the case. The usual depiction of the Father as an older man with a white beard may derive from the biblical Ancient of Days, which is often cited in defense of this sometimes controversial representation. However, in Eastern Orthodoxy the Ancient of Days is usually understood to be God the Son, not God the Father (see below)—early Byzantine images show Christ as the Ancient of Days, but this iconography became rare. When the Father is depicted in art, he is sometimes shown with a halo shaped like an equilateral triangle, instead of a circle. The Son is often shown at the Father's right hand.[Acts 7:56] He may be represented by a symbol—typically the Lamb (agnus dei) or a cross—or on a crucifix, so that the Father is the only human figure shown at full size. In early medieval art, the Father may be represented by a hand appearing from a cloud in a blessing gesture, for example in scenes of the Baptism of Christ. Later, in the West, the Throne of Mercy (or "Throne of Grace") became a common depiction. In this style, the Father (sometimes seated on a throne) is shown supporting either a crucifix or, later, a slumped crucified Son, similar to the Pietà (this type is distinguished in German as the Not Gottes), in his outstretched arms, while the Dove hovers above or in between them. This subject continued to be popular until the 18th century at least.
By the end of the 15th century, larger representations, other than the Throne of Mercy, became effectively standardised, showing an older figure in plain robes for the Father, Christ with his torso partly bare to display the wounds of his Passion, and the dove above or around them. In earlier representations both Father, especially, and Son often wear elaborate robes and crowns. Sometimes the Father alone wears a crown, or even a papal tiara.
In the later part of the Christian Era, in Renaissance European iconography, the Eye of Providence began to be used as an explicit image of the Christian Trinity and associated with the concept of Divine Providence. Seventeenth-century depictions of the Eye of Providence sometimes show it surrounded by clouds or sunbursts.
Depiction of Trinity from Saint Denis Basilica in Paris (12th century)
Father, The Holy Spirit, and Christ Crucified, depicted in a Welsh manuscript. c. 1390–1400
The Holy Trinity in an angelic glory over a landscape, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (d. 1553)
God the Father (top), and the Holy Spirit (represented by a dove) depicted above Jesus. Painting by Francesco Albani (d. 1660)
God the Father (top), the Holy Spirit (a dove), and child Jesus, painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (d. 1682)
13th-century depiction of the Trinity from a Roman de la Rose manuscript
A Christian version of the Eye of Providence, emphasizing the triangle representing the Trinity
Nontrinitarianism (or antitrinitarianism) refers to Christian belief systems that reject the doctrine of the Trinity as found in the Nicene Creed as not having a scriptural origin. Nontrinitarian views differ widely on the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Various nontrinitarian views, such as Adoptionism, Monarchianism, and Arianism existed prior to the formal definition of the Trinity doctrine in AD 325, 360, and 431, at the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus, respectively. Following the final victory of orthodoxy at Constantinople in 381, Arianism was driven from the Empire, retaining a foothold amongst the Teutonic tribes. When the Franks converted to Catholicism in 496, however, it gradually faded out. Nontrinitarianism was later renewed in the Gnosticism of the Cathars in the 11th through 13th centuries, in the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, and in some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century. Also binitarianism.
Arianism was condemned as heretical by the First Council of Nicaea and, lastly, with Sabellianism by the Second Ecumenical Council (Costantinople, 381 BCE). Adoptionism was declared as heretical by the Ecumenical Council of Frakfurt, convened by the Emperor Charlesmagne in 794 for the Latin West Church.
Modern nontrinitarian groups or denominations include Christadelphians, Christian Scientists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dawn Bible Students, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, Living Church of God, Oneness Pentecostals, the Seventh Day Church of God, Unitarian Universalist Christians, United Church of God, The Shepherd's Chapel, and Spiritism.
Islam considers Jesus to be a prophet, but not divine, and Allah to be absolutely indivisible (a concept known as tawhid). Several verses of the Quran state that the doctrine of the Trinity is blasphemous.
They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! God is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto God, for him God hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! God is the third of three; when there is no Lord save the One Lord. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto God and seek forgiveness of Him ? For God is Forgiving, Merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away! (Quran 5:72-75)
Interpretation of these verses by modern scholars has been varied. Verse 5:73 has been interpreted as a potential criticism of Syriac literature that references Jesus as "the third of three" and thus an attack on the view that Christ was divine. Some scholar suggest that verse 5:73 is a reference to the Collyridians, a small heretical group of Christians composed of women that venerated Mary above usual standards by other sects of Christianity. The existence of this group and their presence in Arabia in the Islamic period is not clear. Another interpretation is that this passage should be studied from a rhetorical perspective; so as not to be an error, but an intentional misrepresentation of the doctrine of the Trinity in order to demonstrate its absurdity from an Islamic perspective.
Judaism traditionally maintains a tradition of monotheism to the exclusion of the possibility of a Trinity. In Judaism, God is understood to be the absolute one, indivisible, and incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. The idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical — it is even considered by some polytheistic.
- Very little of Arius' own writings have survived. We depend largely on quotations made by opponents which reflect what they thought he was saying. Furthermore, there was no single Arian party or agenda but rather various critics of the Nicene formula working from distinct perspectives.(see Williams, Rowan. Arius SPCK (2nd edn, 2001) p.95ff & pp.247ff)
- Augustine had poor knowledge of the Greek language, and no knowledge of Hebrew. So he trusted the LXX Septuagint, which differentiates between κύριοι[Gen 19:2] ('lords', vocative plural) andκύριε[Gen 19:18] ('lord', vocative singular), even if the Hebrew verbal form,נא-אדני (na-adoni), is exactly the same in both cases.
Endnotes and references
- "Definition of trinity in English". Oxford Dictionaries - English.
- The Family Bible Encyclopedia (1972). p. 3790.
- See Geddes, Leonard (1911). "Person". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
- Definition of the Fourth Lateran Council quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church §253. Latin: substantia, essentia seu natura divina (DS 804).
- "Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity". Ignatiusinsight.com. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- "Godhead". www.mormon.org. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
- Letter to the Ephesians 1, 7, 18, 19; Letter to Polycarp 3, 8; Letter to the Smyrnaeans 10; Letter to the Romans 6; Letter to the Magnesians 8
- "Lewis and Short: trinus". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. entry for Τριάς, retrieved 19 December 2006
- W.Fulton in the "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics"
- The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities on the site of the National Gallery in London.
- Ignatius's Letter to the Magnesians, Ch. XIII
- "First Apology, LXI". Ccel.org. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- Theophilus, Apologia ad Autolycum, Book II, Chapter 15
- Theophilus, To Autolycus, 1.7 Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.1, 3; Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 5
- Tertullian Against Praxeas
- "Against Praxeas, chapter 3". Ccel.org. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
- Mulhern, Philip. "Trinity, Holy, Devotion To," in (eds. Bealmear et al.) New Catholic Encyclopedia. McGraw Hill, 1967, 205.
- Ramelli, Llaria (2011). "Origen's Anti-Subordinationism and Its Heritage in the Nicene and Cappadocian Line". Vigiliae Christianae. 65 (1): 21–49. doi:10.1163/157007210X508103. JSTOR 41062535.
- Barnard, L.W. (1970). "The Antecedents of Arius". Vigiliae Christianae. 24 (3): 172–188. doi:10.1163/157007270X00029. JSTOR 1583070.
- The Encyclopedia Americana (1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: article:Paul of Samosata". Newadvent.org. 1 February 1911. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church Pelican/Penguin (1967) p.87
- "Arianism" in Cross, F.L. & Livingstone, E.A. (eds) The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1974)
- "Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes. Volume I. The History of Creeds. - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". www.ccel.org.
- Anderson, Michael. "The Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed". www.creeds.net.
- "Trinity". Britannica Encyclopaedia of World Religions. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
- See Creeds of Christendom.
- On Athanasius, Oxford Classical Dictionary, Edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. Third edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- For a different view, see e.g. Excursus on the Words πίστιν ἑτέραν
- Greek and Latin Traditions on Holy Spirit. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- Gregory of Nazianzus, Orations 40.41
- Wolfgang Vondey, Pentecostalism, A Guide for the Perplexed (London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2013), 78.
- 7:1, 3 online
- Epistle to the Philippians, 2:13 online
- On Baptism 8:6 online, Against Praxeas, 26:2 online
- Against Noetus, 1:14 online
- Seventh Council of Carthage online
- A Sectional Confession of Faith, 13:2 online
- Kittel, 3:108.
- Grudem, Wayne A. 1994. Systematic theology an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press. Page 226.
- "Athanasian Creed". Ccel.org. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Barth, Karl, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. 1975. The doctrine of the word of God prolegomena to church dogmatics, being volume I, 1. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. Pages 348–9.
- Pegis 1997, p. 307-309.
- For 'person', see Richard De Smet, A Short History of the Person, available in Brahman and Person: Essays by Richard De Smet, ed. Ivo Coelho (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2010).
- Toledo-11. THE ELEVENTH COUNCIL OF TOLEDO (675). Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL (1215) List of Constitutions: 2. On the error of abbot Joachim. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- "NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus | Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Ccel.org. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: The Greek and the Latin Traditions regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit (scanned image of the English translation on L'Osservatore Romano of 20 September 1995); also text with Greek letters transliterated and text omitting two sentences at the start of the paragraph that it presents as beginning with "The Western tradition expresses first ..."
- CCC §236.
- CCC §258.
- "Basil the Great, De Spiritu Sancto, NPNF, Vol 8". Ccel.org. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles Book Four Chapter 8. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- Athanasius, 3.29 (p. 409)
- Basil "Letters", NPNF, Vol 8, 189.7 (p. 32)
- Sauvage, George. "Appropriation." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 20 October 2016
- Stefon, Matt (December 10, 2015). "Christianity - The Holy Trinity | Attempts to define the Trinity". Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Augustine (2002). "9.1.1". In Matthews, Gareth B. On the Trinity. Books 8—15. Translated by Stephen McKenna. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-5217-9665-1.
- (in Latin) Veluti nunc cupimus videre utrum illa excellentissima caritas proprie Spiritus Sanctus sit. Quod si non est, aut Pater est caritas, aut Filius, aut ipsa Trinitas, quoniam resistere non possumus certissimae fidei, et validissimae auctoritati Scripturae dicentis: 'Deus caritas est'.
- Augustine (2002). 9.2.2.
- (in Latin) Tria ergo sunt: amans, et quod amatur, et amor.
- Pool, Jeff B. God's Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering, Volume Two: Evil and Divine Suffering. Vol. 119. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010, 398.
- Aquinas, Thomas (1975). Summa Contra Gentiles: Book 4: Salvation Chapter 4. University of Notre Dame Pess. ISBN 9780268074821.
- (in Latin) DS 401 (Pope John II, letter Olim quidem addressed to the senators of Constantinople, March 534).
- Hans 1992, p. quote.
- Carson, Donald Arthur (2010) . The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (reprint, revised ed.). London: Inter-Varsity Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-84474427-5. Quoted in Mabry, Adam (2014). Life and Doctrine. How the Truth and Grace of the Christian Story Change Everything. Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1-31224685-0.
If people believe in God at all today, the overwhelming majority hold that this God...is a loving being...this widely disseminated belief in the love of God is set with increasing frequency in some matrix other than biblical theology. The result is that when informed Christians talk about the love of God, they mean something very different from what is meant in the surrounding culture.(p. 68).
- Olsen, Roger E., "Is there hierarchy in the Trinity?", Patheos, December 8, 2011.
- Warfield, Benjamin B., "Trinity", § 20, The Question of Subordination, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. 5, (James Orr, ed.), Howard-Severance Company, 1915, pp.3020-3021.
- Harvey, Susan Ashbrook; Hunter, David G. (4 September 2008). The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780199271566 – via Google Books.
- "What Was Debated at the Council of Nicea?".
- Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church. Volume III. Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity, fifth edition revised, §27
- Rusch, William G. (1980). "Introduction". In Rusch, William G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press(subscription required). p. 2.
- "Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament ... the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity"(Encyclopædia Britannica Online: article Trinity).
- "Trinity". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- The Oxford Companion to the Bible (ed. Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan) 1993, p. 782–3.
- Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mayfield Publishing: 2000. pp. 427–428
- See, for instance, the note in 1 Jn 5:7���8.
- Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2d ed. Oxford University, 1968 p.101
- "The Presentation of Jesus in John's Gospel". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Brown, Raymond E. The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John (XIII–XXI), pp. 1026, 1032
- Hoskyns, Edwyn Clement (ed Davey F.N.) The Fourth Gospel Faber & Faber, 1947 p.142 commenting on "without him was not any thing made that was made."[John 1:3]
- Simonetti, Manlio. "Matthew 14–28." New Testament Volume 1b, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Intervarsity Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-8308-1469-5
- St. Augustine of Hippo,De Trinitate, Book I, Chapter 3.
- Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles Book Four Chapter 8. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- St. Basil the Great,On the Holy Spirit Chapter 16.
- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit Chapter 19.
- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit Chapter 21.
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: article Pneumatomachi". Newadvent.org. 1 June 1911. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Trinity—see "3 The Holy Spirit As a Person".
- The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press, 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article Trinity, doctrine of the
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: article The Blessed Trinity". Newadvent.org. 1 October 1912. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Encyclopedia of Religion", Vol. 14, p.9360, on Trinity
- Gregory Nazianzen, Orations, 31.26
- Watson, Francis. Abraham’s Visitors: Prolegomena to a Christian Theological Exegesis of Genesis 18-19
- Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 ISBN 0-8028-3167-2 pp. 573–578
- "Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Angel of the Lord". Studylight.org. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- See below and G Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. I, 1971, Vol II, 1972, (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, figs I;5–16 & passim, ISBN 0-85331-270-2 and ISBN 0-85331-324-5
- Cartlidge, David R., and Elliott, J.K.. Art and the Christian Apocrypha, pp. 69–72 (illustrating examples), Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-415-23392-5, ISBN 978-0-415-23392-7, Google books
- G Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, 1972, (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, figs I;5–16 & passim, ISBN 0-85331-270-2 and ISBN 0-85331-324-5, pp. 122–124 and figs 409–414
- G Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, 1972, (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, figs I;5–16 & passim, ISBN 0-85331-270-2 and ISBN 0-85331-324-5, pp. 219–224 and figs 768–804
- Potts, Albert M. (1982). The World's Eye. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 68–78. ISBN 978-0813131306.
- von Harnack, Adolf (1 March 1894). "History of Dogma". Retrieved 15 June 2007.
[In the 2nd century,] Jesus was either regarded as the man whom God hath chosen, in whom the Deity or the Spirit of God dwelt, and who, after being tested, was adopted by God and invested with dominion, (Adoptionist Christology); or Jesus was regarded as a heavenly spiritual being (the highest after God) who took flesh, and again returned to heaven after the completion of his work on earth (pneumatic Christology)
- Cross, F.L. (1958). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: OUP, p. 81.
- Olson 1999, p. 173.
- Meens 2016, p. 64.
- Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (2003). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman Altamira. pp. 239–241. ISBN 978-0759101906.
- Encyclopedia of the Qur'an. Thomas, David. 2006. Volume V: Trinity.
- S. Griffith: Christians and Christianity.
- Sirry 2014, p. 47.
- Zebiri 2006, p. 274.
- The concept of Trinity is incompatible with Judaism:
- Response - Reference Center - FAQ - Proof Texts - Trinity (Jews for Judaism)
- The Trinity in the Shema? by Rabbi Singer (outreachjudaism.org)
- The Doctrine of the Trinity (religionfacts.com)
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, Trinity
- Hans, Balthasar (1992). Theo-drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, Vol. 3: Dramatis Personae: Persons in Christ. Ignatius Press. ISBN 9780814622810.
- Pegis, Anton (1997). Basic writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Hackett Pub. ISBN 9780872203808.
- Meens, Rob (2016). Religious Franks: Religion and Power in the Frankish Kingdoms : Studies in Honour of Mayke de Jong. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780719097638.
- Olson, Roger (1999). The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 9780830815050.
- Sirry, Mun'im (2014). Scriptural Polemics: The Qur'an and Other Religions. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199359370.
- Yewangoe, Andreas (1987). Theologia Crucis in Asia: Asian Christian Views on Suffering in the Face of Overwhelming Poverty and Multifaceted Religiosity in Asia. Rodopi. ISBN 9789062036103.
- Zebiri, Kate (2006). "Argumentation". In Rippin, Andrew. The Blackwell Companion to the Qur'an. Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781405178440.
- Emery, Gilles, O.P.; Levering, Matthew, eds. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity. ISBN 978-0199557813.
- Holmes, Stephen R. (2012). The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity. ISBN 9780830839865.
- Dolezal, James. "Trinity, Simplicity and the Status of God's Personal Relations", International Journal of Systematic Theology 16 (1) (2014): 79–98.
- Fiddes, Paul, Participating in God : a pastoral doctrine of the Trinity (London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 2000).
- Johnson, Thomas K., "What Difference Does the Trinity Make?" (Bonn: Culture and Science Publ., 2009).
- La Due, William J., The Trinity guide to the Trinity (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003 ISBN 1-56338-395-0, ISBN 978-1-56338-395-3).
- Letham, Robert (2004). The Holy Trinity : In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship. ISBN 9780875520001.
- O'Collins, Gerald (1999). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity. ISBN 9780809138876.
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- So, Damon W. K., Jesus' Revelation of His Father: A Narrative-Conceptual Study of the Trinity with Special Reference to Karl Barth. (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006). ISBN 1-84227-323-X.
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- Feazell, J. and Morrison, M. (2013). You're Included — Complete List of Trinitarian Conversations, 108 Interviews With 25 Theologians: Ray S. Anderson, Douglas A. Campbell, Elmer Colyer, Gerrit Scott Dawson, Cathy Deddo, Gary W. Deddo, Gordon Fee, Trevor Hart, George Hunsinger, Christian Kettler, C. Baxter Kruger, John E. McKenna, Jeff McSwain, Steve McVey, Paul Louis Metzger, Paul Molnar, Roger Newell, Cherith Fee Nordling, Robin Parry, Andrew Purves, Andrew Root, Alan Torrance, David Torrance, Robert T. Walker, William Paul Young. 4th ed. ebook Grace Communion International, pp. 1–1279.
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- Trinity Entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- A Formulation and Defense of the Doctrine of the Trinity A brief historical survey of patristic Trinitarian thought
- Doctrine of the Trinity
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- Eastern Orthodox Trinitarian Theology
- Doctrine of the Trinity Reading Room: Extensive collection of on-line sources on the Trinity (Tyndale Seminary)