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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: March 2008

18 - Discourse on the Trinity

from Part IV - Christian Beliefs and Practices

Summary

The first major instance of a debate on conceptualising the Christian experience of God as Trinity took place in the third century. The church of the fourth century inherited a tradition of Trinitarian discourse that was pervasively embedded in its worship and proclamation, even if it was lacking in conceptual definition. Origen was the greatest and most influential theologian of the third century, whose teaching cast a large shadow on the Trinitarian controversies of the fourth century. The Cappadocian synthesis is best seen as a response to the anti-Nicene developments that began in the 350s, spearheaded by Aetius and Eunomius. Augustines's influence on the subsequent Western tradition of Trinitarian reflection is difficult to overestimate. His characterisations of the Trinitarian image in humanity in terms of a procession of the intellect and a procession of love are taken over by Aquinas. Controversies of the fifth and sixth centuries are referred to as Christological controversies, instead of Trinitarian controversies.
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