Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 August 2009
Christian understanding of God took the form, as we have seen, of a trinitarian belief in one God existing as three coequal ‘hypostases’ or ‘persons’. This is not clearly or self-evidently the teaching of Scripture. It is in relation to the Holy Spirit that scriptural teaching is least clear or self-evident. In the writings of the second and third centuries the Holy Spirit figures much less prominently than the Logos or the Son. The first passage, coming from that period, shows Origen reflecting on Scripture in the light of his general philosophical convictions about God in a way which was to seem to later generations to be wholly unacceptable.
The second passage comes from the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, delivered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during Lent to candidates for baptism at the coming Easter, about a.d. 350. They are concerned with man's need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and show a strong reserve about speculations concerning his person. This may be due to the fact that they are lectures for catechumens, but is none the less characteristic of almost all Christian writing about the Spirit up to that time.
But the question of the true nature and status of the Spirit did become a prominent issue in the third quarter of the fourth century.