Original Research

Three I know not what:The influence of Greek philosophy on the doctrine of Trinity

Aleksandar S. Santrac
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 1 | a719 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i1.719 | © 2013 Aleksandar S. Santrac | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2013 | Published: 25 October 2013

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Aleksandar S. Santrac, School of Religion and Theology, University of the Southern Caribbean, Trinidad and Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

This article examines the origins of the traditional or orthodox Trinitarian formula. The main objective is to clarify to what extent the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Nicene formula) has been influenced by Greek philosophy. Through contemporary theological dialogue on this issue, the research focuses on the comparison between the traditional formulation of the doctrine of Trinity, influenced by Greek philosophy and the biblical revelation of the godhead. The conclusion is that the trinitarian formula might not be a dogmatic teaching, but a mystery (a dehellenisation of the concept of Trinity) and that the Church fathers and the post-Nicene church used the Greek philosophical-theological expressions for Trinity, already present in Scriptures in its doxological and liturgical form, primarily for the purpose of contextualisation.

Hierdie artikel ondersoek die oorsprong van die tradisionele of ortodokse trinitariese leerstuk. Die hoofdoel is om uit te vind tot watter mate die tradisioneel Christelike leer oor die Drie-eenheid (Niceense formule) deur die Griekse filosofie beïnvloed is. Deur die hedendaagse teologiese debat oor hierdie onderwerp na te gaan, fokus die navorsing op ’n vergelyking tussen die tradisionele formulering van die leer van die Drie-eenheid soos beïnvloed deur die ortodokse Griekse filosofie en deur die bybelse openbaring van die godheid. Die slotsom waartoe gekom word, is dat die trinitariese formule moontlik nie ’n dogmatiese leerstuk was nie, maar ’n misterie (’n dehellenisering van die Drie-eenheidsbegrip). Die kerkvaders en die post-Niceense kerk het die Griekse filosofies-teologiese uitdrukkings vir die Drie-eenheid, wat alreeds in die Skrif in sy doksologiese en liturgiese vorm voorgekom het, moontlik slegs vir die doel van kontekstualisering gebruik.


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