Creation and God as One, Creator, and Trinity in Early Theology through Augustine and Its Theological Fruitfulness in the 21st Century
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I have requested an 18 month embargo so that I can publish a few articles or deliver papers based on my dissertations.
My primary argument in this thesis is that creation theologies significantly influenced early developments in the doctrine of the Trinity, especially in Augustine of Hippo’s theology. Thus this is a work of historical theology, but I conclude with proposals for how Augustine’s theologies of creation and the Trinity can be read fruitfully with modern theology. I critically analyse developments in trinitarian theologies in light of ideas that were held about creation. These include the doctrine of creation ‘out of nothing’ and ideas about other creative acts (e.g., forming or fashioning things). Irenaeus and other early theologians posited roles for God (the Father), the Word / Son, the Spirit, or Wisdom in creative acts without working out formal views on economic trinitarian acts. During the fourth century trinitarian controversies, creation ‘out of nothing’ and ideas about ‘modes of origin’ influenced thinking on consubstantiality and relations within the Trinity. Basil of Caesarea and others also presented ideas about trinitarian acts of creation and the Trinity in hexaemeral works. I will argue that in Augustine’s views of trinitarian acts of creation, he attributes roles to God (the Father), the Word / Son, and the Spirit. In his mature theology, he attributes the giving of formless existence, differentiated existence, and perfected existence to the three Persons respectively, while depicting shared roles. He also attributes to the Spirit the giving of the capability of ‘dynamic abiding’ to creatures, which gives them agency in continuing their existence. Augustine’s theologies of creation and the Trinity were significantly influenced by his exegesis of Gen. 1, John 1. 1-3, Wisdom, and other scriptures, and his ideas resonate with the hexaemeral works of Basil and Philo of Alexandria. I argue that scholars should examine these sources and Augustine’s own hexaemeral commentaries to gain a deeper understanding of his trinitarian theology.
PhD in Theology
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