Christian Humanist Profiles 43: Paul and the Trinity

There’s a story that everyone knows about the doctrine of the Trinity: there was this teacher in first-century Judea, Jesus of Nazareth, who preached the coming kingdom of God and ended up getting executed. Then his followers began to declare that he had been raised from the dead, that he was the Messiah, the Christ of God. As decades passed, these Christ-followers, notably the apostle Paul, came to regard Jesus as ever greater, more elevated, more glorified. At last, the fourth-century Council of Nicaea declared Jesus to be fully God, and the following centuries saw the development of the mysterious, incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity—a masterpiece of arcane speculation and certainly nothing to do with Jesus, a good Jewish monotheist, or Paul, also a good Jewish monotheist. But what if that story is wrong? What if classic Trinitarian language of essence and persons, identity and relations, has more to do with Pauline God-talk than we’d imagined? Wesley Hill, author of Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters (Wm.B.Eerdmans, 2015) argues that the latter is very like the case, and that close-reading Paul with Trinitarian concepts in mind actually makes better sense of Paul. In this episode of Christian Humanist Profiles, David Grubbs talks Trinity with Dr. Wesley Hill, assistant professor of Biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry.

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2 thoughts on “Christian Humanist Profiles 43: Paul and the Trinity

  1. This is helpful.  Thanks.

    In Orthodox theology it’s taken for granted that the articulations of the Councils are simply the response of the Tradition when something unrecognizable and discordant arises and that they (and the Church’s Christology/Trinitarianism in general) are in full continuity with what has been handed down from Christ on.  We’re sometimes accused of naively (or nefariously) anachronistically reading back into the text.  So it’s nice to see an academic reading similar to our own.

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