St John of Damascus on the Holy Trinity

Filed under: riflessioni — Paolo Porsia @ 8:41 AM

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Perhaps the greatest theological challenge of the early Church was the articulation of the trinitarian identity of the one God. How do we express both the unity and distinctiveness of the divine persons, or as Charles Twombly puts it, their “identity and difference”? It appears to have been easier to identify the heresies. On one side was the Scylla of modalism; on the other the Charybdis of tritheism and subordinationism. Eventually the Nicene Fathers navigated their way through these two perils by taking synonymous philosophical terms, ousia and hypostasis, and creatively reworking their meaning: ousia came to signify the divine essence, and hypostasis the divine persons. Yet something was still missing. The assertion of one essence and three hypostases states the antinomy, but it does not suggest how we might think the two terms together. St John of Damascus found the solution in perichoresis:

The abiding and resting…

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