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Paul and the Triune Identity: Rereading Paul's God-, Christ-, and Spirit-Language in Conversation with Trinitarian Theologies of Persons and Relations

HILL, WESLEY,ALLEN (2012) Paul and the Triune Identity: Rereading Paul's God-, Christ-, and Spirit-Language in Conversation with Trinitarian Theologies of Persons and Relations. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Wesley Hill PhD thesis)


This thesis rereads central texts of Paul’s letters to demonstrate that Paul’s speech about God, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit is intricately intertwined so that talk about any one of the three (God, Jesus, or the Spirit) implies reference to all of them together (God, Jesus, and the Spirit). The first part of the Introduction describes how the current landscape of Pauline scholarship has largely given up this way of articulating the dynamics of Paul’s God-, Christ-, and Spirit-discourse. Eschewing explicitly trinitarian language in favor of other conceptualities, much recent Pauline scholarship has opted for discussing the relationship between God and Jesus in terms of ‘high’ or ‘low’ christology. After summarizing this trend, the second part of the Introduction describes trinitarian theologies as representing a better approach that will serve to open a fresh angle on Paul, despite its conceptual difference from Paul’s own speech.
The next four chapters defend that supposition with detailed exegesis. Chapter 1 considers how the identity of God is shaped by Paul’s christology: God’s identity is only what it is in relation to Jesus. Chapters 2 and 3 consider the converse: how the identity of Jesus is shaped by his relation to God. These latter two chapters also rebut the charge that Paul’s alleged ‘subordinationist’ christology renders a trinitarian, relational reading of the divine identity untenable. Drawing on the conclusion found in the history of trinitarian theologies that the oneness or unity between God and Jesus does not come into conflict with the distinction between God and Jesus, Chapters 2 and 3 argue that the mutuality that exists between God and Jesus is asymmetrical but not for that reason graspable with the concept of ‘subordinationism’.
Chapter 4 brings the Spirit into the mutual, reciprocal relationship between God and Jesus. The Spirit’s identity is derived from God and Jesus’; yet the Spirit is also involved in the sequence of events whereby God and Jesus are identified. The Spirit’s identity is relationally determined, but also God and Jesus are who they are only by virtue of the Spirit’s agency which is exercised by God in the resurrection of Jesus.
In this way, despite its historical distance from Paul and its different idiom, trinitarian theology is shown to illumine a way through interpretive difficulties in Paul’s letters that the more recent concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ christology have hitherto been unable to illumine.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Paul, Trinity, Persons, Relations
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Jul 2012 08:42

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