The Mystery of the Trinity: Trinitarian Experience and Vision in the Biblical and Patristic Tradition

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by Boris Bobrinskoy
Translated by Anthony P. Gythiel
Publication Data: Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999
Format: softcover
Number of Pages: x + 330
Dimensions (l × w × h): 22.8 cm × 15.0 cm × 2.5 cm
ISBN: 0‒88141‒182‒5

by Boris Bobrinskoy
Translated by Anthony P. Gythiel

“This essay on trinitarian theology is the fruit of more than thirty years of teaching at the St Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology, in Paris. Here I may acknowledge that, perhaps mysteriously, it is this domain of dogmatic theology which has been the closest to my heart, and which, in a general way, has inspired all of my teaching of theology, and my entire pastoral ministry. [...]The biblical part occupies a truly prominent position, and I am happy with this, because it contradicts a certain perspective of Orthodox theology as being allergic to exegesis and biblical theology. This work would like to be a testimony to the joy I have experienced constantly in discovering the continuity and unity of the trinitarian faith of the Orthodox Church, yesterday and today. On the basis of biblical texts, this unity, through ecclesial worship, emerges from the works of the Doctors of the Church, and culminates in modern Orthodox theological thought.”


   1. God is Trinity
   2. Trinitarian Theology, Trinitarian Economy
   3. Revelation and Knowledge of the Trinitarian Mystery
   4. Theological Instruction
1 Biblical Theology
A) The Trinitarian Figures and Intimations of the Old Covenant
   1. Biblical Monotheism
   2. The Angel of Yahweh in the Old Testament
   3. The Word of God and the Spirit of God in the Old Testament
      Word and Spirit in the Order of Creation
      Word and Spirit in Israel
   4. The Wisdom of God in the Old Testament
      The Origins of the Theme of Wisdom
      The Book of Proverbs
      The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon
      Wisdom in the New Testament and in the Christian Tradition
   5. The Mystery of God and the Knowledge of God in the Old Testament
   6. The Divine Energies: Modes of Revelation, of Presence, of Sanctification
      The Human Being in the Image of God’s Attributes
      Attributes and Energies
   7. Conclusion
B) The Revelation of the Trinity in the New Testament
   1. Introduction
      The Mystery of Christ
      The Scheme Father-Spirit-Christ
      Christ Giver of the Spirit
      Divine Energies and Divine Names
      Energies and Participation in the Divine Life
   2. The Revelation of the Trinity in the Gospels
      The Simultaneous and Reciprocal Revelation of the Father and the Son
      Modalities of the Revelation of the Holy Spirit
      The Holy Spirit on Jesus Christ
      Baptism and the Public Ministry of Jesus
      The Prayer of Jesus
      From Tabor to Golgotha and the Resurrection
      Theological Reflection
      The Gift of the Spirit
      General Conclusions on the Gospels: the Holy Spirit, Pentecost of the Church
   3. The Experience of the Trinitarian Life in the Church of the Apostolic Communities
      The Preaching of St Peter at Pentecost
      Experience and Certainty of the Holy Spirit
      Blessed Be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
      The Trinitarian Doctrine of the Pauline Epistles
      The Headwords and Greetings of the Epistles
      Preliminary Thanksgivings
      So That Christ May Live in Our Hearts Through Faith
      God Has Raised Him From the Dead
      He Is the Image of the Invisible God
      The Spirit of the Son Cries in Our Hearts: Abba, Father!
      The Lord Is Spirit
      The Personal Relationship of Christ to the Holy Spirit
      The Holy Spirit in the Early Community
      Life According to the Spirit
      Communion in the Spirit
      The Gifts of the Spirit
      Texts and Trinitarian Formulas in the New Testament
   Appendix. The Icon of the Trinity
      The Hospitality of Abraham
      Christological and Trinitarian Vision
      Rublev’s Trinity
      The Actuality of the Icon
2 Liturgical and Sacramental Theology
   1. Theology and Liturgy
   2. Worship and Sacraments
      The Christology of Ecclesial Worship
      Liturgical Hymnography
      The Liturgical Cycles
      The Sacraments
   3. Worship and Trinity
      The Trinitarian Context of Worship
      St Gregory of Nazianzus, Minstrel of the Trinity
      The Development of a Trinitarian Piety
      The Christological Dimension of Worship
      The Pneumatological Dimension of Worship
      The Father
   4. Baptism and Trinity
      General Observations
      Faith in the Holy Trinity and the Baptismal Rite
   5. Eucharist and Trinity
      Preliminary Observations: Eucharistic Ecclesiology
      The Eucharist and Trinitarian Worship
      The Eschatological Perspective of the Eucharist
      The Ecclesial Permanence of Pentecost
      The Kingdom of the Father
      Come, Lord Jesus
      The Celebration of the Word
      The Trinitarian Locus of the Name of Jesus
      Word and Eucharist
      The Prayer of Christ and of the Holy Spirit
      The Trinitarian Structure of the Eucharistic Prayer
      Eucharistic Communion and Trinitarian Communion
3 Trinitarian Theology in the Fathers and in the Councils
   1. Introduction
   2. The Ante-Nicene Period
      The Theology of the Logos in the Apologists
      The Trinitarian Vision of St of Lyons
      Origen’s Doctrine and Trinitarian Mysticism
      The Origenist Ambiguities
      The Knowledge of the Father Through the Word
      Monarchianism and Modalism
   3. The Trinitarian Conflicts of the Fourth Century
      The Council of Nicaea and the Homoousios
      Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
      The Arian Controversy Between the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople
      St Hilary of Poitiers
      The Trinitarian Theology of St Basil the Great
      The Holy Spirit in St Basil
      Conclusion: the Consequences of the Theological Elaboration of St Basil
      St Gregory the Theologian, Minstrel of the Trinity
      An Assessment of the Trinitarian Work of the Cappadocians
      The Council of Constantinople (381)
      St John Chrysostom
      St Cyril of Alexandria
      Christological Conflicts and Trinity
4 Doctrinal Synthesis
   1. The Hypostatic Properties of the Divine Persons
      The Father
      The Son
      The Holy Spirit
   2. The Filioque Controversy
      History of the Question
      The Procession of the Spirit in the Fathers
      The Latins and the Alexandrians
      St Maximus the Confessor
      St John of Damascus
      Patriarch Photius (820-891)
      St Gregory of Cyprus (1241-1290)
      St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359)
      St Mark of Ephesus (1392-1444)
      The Filioque and Modern Orthodox Theology
   3. Doctrinal Synthesis: the Procession of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Tradition
      From the Father Alone
      A Language Appropriate to the Spirit
      The Spirit, Eternal Radiance of the Father and the Son
      Christology and the Procession of the Holy Spirit in the West and in the East
      The Positive Aspects and the Inadequacies of Filioquism
      Omissions and Inadequacies of Filioquism
   4. The Mystery of the Trinity and Negative and Positive Theologies
      The Trinitarian Thought-Process of Theology
      A Biblical Reminder
      In the Fathers
      The Asset of the Patristic Tradition
      Some Personal Reflections by Way of Conclusion
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