The Triune God of Israel (a research project without researchers?)

God reveals himself in Christ to be triune. But, of course, whilst the revelation of God as triune is given with the coming of Jesus we must be clear that God does not become the Trinity with the coming of Jesus. God has always been the Trinity. And the God that is the Trinity is the God of Israel - Yhwh.

Now in Israel's scriptures the revelation of the Trinity is not clear. From a post-Jesus perspective we must say that Yhwh, in the OT, looks like a figure on a blurred photograph where it can be easy to see certain aspects of the shape but hard to make out the details.

But my question is this: now that we see some of the details more clearly in Christ, can we revisit Israel's scriptures and perceive something more of the Trinity there in ways that the original authors and audiences will not have done? Can we offer Trinitrian interpretations of the OT?

Granted Christians have done so since the beginning but some of the somewhat random attempts prompt a further question - can such 'seeing-the-Trinity-in-the-OT' be done in a theologically plausible, methodologically controlled way? What criteria will we have to discern, for instance, whether Yhwh in a particular text is the Father, Jesus, the Spirit, or the Godhead?

Clearly any attempt to discern criteria will have to pay very careful attention to NT use of the OT and historical Christian attempts to see the Trinity in the OT. Whether such attention will yield consistent interpretative principles I do not know. What interests me is the fact that, as far as I am aware, few contemporary Christian scholars have even attempted to address the question.


Anonymous said…
I know one test has been the maxim "all theophanies are Christophanies." I am not sure of the necessity of that, though it does have a nice ring to it. There is so much a monotheistic focus that evidence for the Trinity might be found in places we weren't looking.

Of course the most commonly-used OT event with respect to the Trinity is the visitation of Abraham, which has been famously used to describe the Trinity, even where interpreters do not take the three visitors to be the actual Godhead.
Anonymous said…
Paul Blackham's chapter in Trinitarian Soundings is useful on this matter, Robin.
Robin Parry said…
There is also a good chapter on it by Catholic theologian Bruce Marshall in a volume edited by Buckley and Yaego called "Knowing the Triune God" (Eerdmans)
Robin Parry said…
Actually - I'm not at all sure he is Catholic. The ref is

Marshall, Bruce D., "Do Christians Worship the God of Israel?" in Knowing the Triune God, ed. James J. Buckley & David S. Yeago (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001)

My point is that so few people even ask such questions in more than a passing way.

Popular Posts