"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rethinking Trinitarian Theology

As I have had several occasions to note before, perhaps most clearly in my interview with Gilles Emery and Matthew Levering, we have been seeing a revival of interest in Trinitarian theology (as well as the history of its development) for the last couple of decades.

In the Orthodox world, one of the most prominent voices, in Trinitarian theology and much else, has been John Zizioulas, who remains one of the biggest names in Eastern Christian theology today, and has for some time. He began to make his mark in the anglophone world with the 1985 publication of his landmark work Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church. This is a work that has been regularly and widely cited in the literature across traditions--one often notices it in Protestant and Catholic, as well as Orthodox, works. Many of the themes in this book were continued in the 2007 book Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church, ed. Paul McPartlan (T&T Clark).

A sense of the breadth of engagement of Zizioulas (who is not without his critics in Orthodoxy, including perhaps especially Lucian Turcescu) may be seen in such studies as Paul Collins, Trinitarian Theology West and East: Karl Barth, the Cappadocian Fathers, and John Zizioulas from 2001 as well as the collection edited by Douglas Knight, The Theology of John Zizioulas, and Paul McPartlan's own early work, The Eucharist Makes the Church: Henri De Lubac and John Zizioulas in Dialogue.

Zizioulas is not always easy to read both for the profundity of the matters he discusses as well as for the style of his writing, especially in Being as Communion. For that reason, I always recommend starting with his very lovely, and generally accessible, collection, Lectures in Christian Dogmatics, which I have used with great profit in several different classes.

Zizioulas authors a chapter on the Trinity in the recently published collection, Giulio Maspero and Robert Wozniak, ed., Rethinking Trinitarian Theology: Disputed Questions And Contemporary Issues in Trinitarian Theology (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2012), 512pp. There are other chapters in this book of interest to Eastern Christians, including on the Fathers as well as two chapters about the Holy Spirit and the filioque. About this book we are told: 

The book aims at showing the most important topics and paradigms in modern Trinitarian theology. It is supposed to be a comprehensive guide to the many traces of development of Trinitarian faith. As such it is thought to systematize the variety of contemporary approaches to the field of Trinitarian theology in the present philosophical-cultural context. The main goal of the publication is not only a description of what happened to Trinitarian theology in the modern age. It is rather to indicate the typically modern specificity of the Trinitarian debate and - first of all - to encourage development in the main areas and issues of this subject.


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