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9/02/2015 12:12 pm  #1

Trinitarian Question

I was musing with a friend the other day about the following question: If Christians believe that the Son is eternally begotton by the Father, does that mean that the Father is logically prior to the Son? It seems on Augustine's analogy of God as the sun and the Son as its rays, then this kind of priority exists, which would make God the Son a dependent being. (Of course, being logically prior is unrelated to being temporally prior, so their co-eternalness could still be affirmed.)



9/03/2015 7:25 pm  #2

Re: Trinitarian Question

"A dependent being" is not an acceptable term in trinitarian theology, because "being" refers to either "what it is" (essence) or "that it is" (esse = act of being), and each of the three divine Persons is the one and only divine Essence, which is the Subsistent Act of Being.

With that point cleared, the question "is the Father logically prior to the Son?" is a very good one, whose answer is linked to the meaning of the notion of the "innascibility" of the Father, regarding which there are two theological lines within Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy. The first line, in which this notion has both a negative and a positive aspect, originates in the Greek Fathers, was developed by Richard of Saint Victor and Alexander of Hales, culminates in St. Bonaventure, and was continued by the Franciscan theological school. The second line, in which this notion has only a negative aspect, originates in St. Augustine, was developed by Peter Lombard and St. Albert the Great, culminates in St. Thomas Aquinas, and was continued by the Dominican theological school.

Suggested sources in order of increasing extension of their treatment of the subject:

Gilles Emery, O.P. 2007 "The Trinitarian Theology of St Thomas Aquinas", subch. 8.4 "Unbegottenness: the Unengendered Father", pp. 171-172.

Emmanuel Durand, O.P. "A theology of God the Father", ch. 27 in Gilles Emery, O.P. and Matthew Levering (ed.), "The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity", Oxford University Press, 2011.

Russell L. Friedman, "Medieval Trinitarian Thought from Aquinas to Ockham", Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Russell L. Friedman, "Medieval trinitarian theology from the late 13th to the 15th centuries", chapter 14 in Gilles Emery, O.P. and Matthew Levering (ed.), "The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity", Oxford University Press, 2011.

Russell L. Friedman, "Intellectual Traditions at the Medieval University: The Use of Philosophical Psychology in Trinitarian Theology among the Franciscans and Dominicans, 1250-1350", Brill, 2012.

Doctoral dissertations on St. Bonaventure's theology of the Father:

James Paul Krueger, 2014. "God the Father in the Western Tradition: Bringing Augustine and Bonaventure into Conversation with Modern Theology".

Robert J. Wozniak, 2006. "PRIMITAS ET PLENITUDO. Dios Padre en la teología trinitaria de San Buenaventura" (in Spanish).

Last edited by Johannes (10/03/2018 5:53 pm)


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