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Agora University

Holy Transfiguration College


of History, Philosophy and Divinity

DIV201: The Doctrine of the Trinity and Diversity


Fall 2018
Emmanuel Gergis, M.A., M.Litt., Ph.D. (ABD)
Emmanuel@aui.ac
NEOLMS Access Code: DMZZ-WXBV
DESCRIPTION
We study the development of the Christian doctrine of God and related themes from Scripture to
the 20th century. We pay close attention to significant texts in the Christian tradition (including
creedal statements, and the writings of Origen, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus, John of
Damascus, Moltmann, Danielou, Zizioulas, and others), and to discussions of the doctrine of the
trinity and its relationship to diversity. The course requires careful reading of key primary texts
and secondary sources.
OBJECTIVES
1. To explore the main lines of the history of Christian thinking about the doctrine of God
through the biblical, patristic, medieval, reformation and modern periods, with a
particular eye to historical context.
2. Through reading and discussion of key primary texts, to appreciate the spectrum of
Christian thought regarding the doctrine of God.
3. To explore, the relationship between the God of philosophy and the God of the Bible in
Christian thought, especially in relation to the evolution of the doctrine of the trinity.
4. To promote critical reflection on different articulations of the Christian doctrine of God,
in relation to major themes in theology proper.
5. Understand the notion of perichoresis and τα κοινα and τα ακοινωνητα and their
relationship to diversity and particularity including topics like cultural diversity, sexual
diversity, religious diversity and biodiversity.
6. Develop a holistic understanding of personhood and its role in liturgical worship and
Christian life.
EVALUATION
 Literature Review (1000 words) 15% Due September 20
 Argument Essay 1 (2000 words) 35% Due November 30
 Research Essay 2 (3000 words) 50% Due January 15
REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED TEXTS
A. Historical:
1. G.L. Prestige: God in Patristic Thought
B. Biblical:
1. Benjamin Warfield, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity” in Biblical Theological
Studies.
C. Patristic:
1. St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit
2. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ: the five theological orations
3. St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith
D. Modern:
1. T.F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith
2. Jean Danielou, God’s life in us
3. John Meyendorff, Trinitarian Theology East and West
4. Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kiingdom
5. John Zizioulas, Being as communion

E. Religious Diversity:
1. The New Testament: Source of Modern Theological Diversity, David E. Aune.
2. Many Faiths - One Family in "A multitude of Blessings: A Christian approach to
religious diversity", Cynthia Campbell.
3. Is the Tower of Babel wobbling?, John Dart
4. The Religions of the Nations in the Bible in "Toward a Christian theology of religious
pluralism", Jacques Dupuis.
5. As long as we wonder: Possibilities in the impossibility of interreligious dialogue,
Jeannine Fletcher.
6. The Tower of Babel and the origin of the World's culture, Theodore Hiebert.
7. God's way made particular in "The wide, wide circle of divine love: a biblical case for
religious diversity. Eugene March.
8. The dignity of difference: Exorcizing Plato's ghost, Jonathan Sacks.
9. Creation in "Divinity and Diversity: A Christian affirmation of religious pluralism",
Marjorie Suchocki.
10. The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity, Walter Brueggemann.
11. Christian Identity and Religious Plurality, Rowan Williams.

F. Biodiversity:
1. The Place of Creation in Today's Missionary Discourse, Calvin DeWitt.
2. And God saw that it was good in "The greening of the Church", Sean McDonagh.
3. Ecology and Ethics, Calvin DeWitt.
4. Biodiversity and the Bible, Calvin DeWitt.
5. Contemporary Missiology and the Biosphere, Calvin DeWitt.
6. Let the Fall Down: The Environmental Implications of the Doctrine of the Fall,
Johnathan Clatworthy.
7. God's concern for all creation in "God is green", Ian Bradley.
8. The earth is the Lord's: The Biblical view of the environment, Margaret Barker.

G. Sexual Diversity:
1. The Bible, the Church and homosexuality in "Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views",
Dan Otto Via.

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2. Textual Orientation in "Biblical ethics and homosexuality: listening to Scripture", Choon-
Leong Seow.
3. The use of the Bible in recent church discussions about homosexuality in "The New
Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual background for contemporary debate", Robin
Scroggs.
4. The shape of the body and the shape of grace in "Sexuality and the Christian body: their
way into the triune God", Eugene Rogers
5. The Robe of Glory, St. Ephrem the Syrian.
6. The Bible and homosexual practice: Key issues, Robert Gagnon.
7. New TEstament Sexual Ethics and Today's World in "Diret, Greed and Sex: Sexual
Ethics in the New Testament and their implications for today", Louis William
Countryman.
8. Homosexuality and the Bible, Walter Wink.

H. Cultural Diversity:
1. The doctrine of the Trinity in a changed cultural situation in "Trinity and Society",
Leonardo Boff.
2. The Communion of the Trinity as basis for social and integral liberation in "Trinity and
Society", Leonardo Boff.
3. The Social Doctrine of the Trinity: Some Problems, Mark Chapman.
4. Problems with Perichoresis, Oliver Crisp.
5. The Return of Trinitarian Praxis? Moltmann on the Trinity and the Christian Life, Joy
Ann McDougall.
6. The mystery of the Trinity, Jurgen Moltmann.
7. The Kingdom of Freedom, Jurgen Moltmann.
8. The Jordan, the Tiber and the Ganges in "The Myth of Christian uniqueness", Raimundo
Panikkar.
9. Trinity and Pluralism in "Christian uniqueness reconsidered: the myth of a pluaralistic
theology of religions", Robin Williams.
FURTHER READINGS:
1. Origen, De Principiis, Book 1, chapters 1-3.
2. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, ch. 5.
3. The Creed of Nicea (whole of J. Stevenson (ed.), A New Eusebius (rev. ed.) (London:
SPCK, 1987), chapter 3).
4. ‘Theological Post-script’ in Williams, Arius (pp. 233-45).
5. Rowan Williams (‘Trinity and Plurality’ in On Christian Theology).
6. Augustine De Trinitate, book 15.
7. Social Trinitarianism, John Zizioulas.
8. Torrance, T. F., The Christian doctrine of God: one being three persons (Edinburgh: T&T
Clark, 1996).
9. Living in God’s Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology, Theokritoff.

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RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
Literature Review: Please choose one of the primary readings of the course and write a
literature review.
Argument Paper: Please choose ONE of the following two questions:
1. How can the bible help Christians in terms of their attitudes to and dealings with people
of other faiths?
2. Why has Christianity been so unhelpful to the cause of environmentalism?
Research Paper: Please choose ONE of the following two questions:
1. Why is the contemporary church so exercised by the issue of sexuality?
2. Discuss the notion that the doctrine of the Trinity presents us with a God of diversity.
What are the implications of this?

LESSON TIMELINE:

Lesson 1: Aspects in Trinitarian Theology (Residency)


Lesson 2: Trinity and Diversity (Residency)
Lesson 3: Christianity is Trinitarian
- Read the following:
o Matthew 28:18-20
o Mark 1:9-11
o 2 Corinthians 13:14
Lesson 4: On Knowing God
Lesson 5: The Trinity in the Old Testament
- Read the following:
o Genesis 18-19
o Exodus 3:13-14
o Deuteronomy 6:4
Lesson 6: God the Father
Lesson 7: God the Son
Lesson 8: God the Holy Spirit
Lesson 9: Trinitarian Heresies
Lesson 10: The Nicene Creed of 325 and 381 AD
Lesson 11: The Development of Dogma
Lesson 12: Nicaea and Constantinople
Lesson 13: Athanasius and the homoousios
Lesson 14: The Cappadocians
Lesson 15: Orthodox Theology and the Trinity
- For this lesson, please pay attention to the language in our Coptic liturgy that refers to
God and note the particularity of expression when addressing the different hypostases of
the Godhead.
Lesson 16: Protestantism and the Trinity