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Level 5

5AAT2018 The Trinity in Recent Theology


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Edward Epsen
Assessment: One 2,000-word coursework essay (40%) and one 2,500-word final essay (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks. 
Pre-requisites: none

Twentieth century theology has witnessed a renaissance of interest in trinitarian theology, and a study of its development will provide an introduction both to distinctive aspects of recent theology and to its recent placement as the central and most indispensable component of the Christian doctrine of God. This course covers recent (20th-21st century) approaches to the Trinity, where the focus will be on some of the most influential texts from Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions, and also importantly on contributions from feminist theology and liberation theology.

The first week of the course will be devoted to the origins of the doctrine of the Trinity, with particular reference to the diverging patterns of Eastern and Western trinitarianism, and to basic analytical questions. This will serve as an introduction to the study over the next four weeks of the re-emergence of trinitarian thought in the twentieth century, with particular reference to ecumenical convergence, including Catholic (Rahner) and Reformed traditions (Barth). The middle two weeks will cover von Balthasar and Trinity in the arts. The final four weeks will concentrate on recent trinitarian developments in feminist thought and, time permitting, in liberation theology.

Sample topics

  • Early historical and analytical introduction
  • Karl Rahner
  • Karl Barth
  • Hans Urs von Balthasar and Trinity in the arts
  • Elizabeth Johnson (feminist perspectives in trinitarian theology)
  • Sarah Coakley (feminist perspectives in trinitarian theology)
  • Leonardo Boff (Trinity in liberation theology)

Preliminary reading

  • Gunton, Colin E., The Promise of Trinitarian Theology, Edinburgh: T&T Clark 1997. (BT111.2 GUN)
  • Lash, Nicholas, Believing Three Ways in One God, (BT993.2 LAS)
  • Schwoebel, Christoph, ed., Trinitarian Theology Today: Essays in Divine Being and Act, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995. (BT111.2 TRI)
  • Rahner, K., The Trinity, London: Burns and Oates, 1970. (BT111.2 R13)
  • Barth, K., Church Dogmatics, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Vol. I.1, London: T&T Clark, 1975 (2nd edition), (BT75 B26)
  • Collins, Paul M. The Trinity: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2008.

Further information

Module aims
  • To enable an understanding of the reasons for the development of the doctrine of the Trinity
  • To engage with the theological questions consequent both upon the doctrine in general and those arising specifically during the last century
Learning outcomes
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.



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