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The Tripersonal God Paperback – 16 Dec 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Geoffrey Chapman; 1st Edition edition (16 Dec. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0225668793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0225668797
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 16 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,363,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Gerald O'Collins SJ is Professor of Theology, Gregorian University, Rome.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
AS a theology student, and as a catholic, I found this an excellent tool to further aid my understanding of this impossiblly difficult subject. THe author takes a side step throguh both history and doctrines to aid the readers understanding of this topic. It is well written - and not too heavy - given the subject matter - I would recommend this book highly to anyone!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Trinity 11 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Gerald O'Collins, S.J., is a professor at the Gregorian University in Rome and a prolific writer. He has over 30 books to his credit. Although it's a scholarly book and written for the serious student, this book has much good interesting material. In the first section he discusses the Scriptural Roots including the Old Testament background, history of Jesus , the Trinity according to Paul, and the Trinity in the witness of Luke, Matthew, Hebrews and John. The second section concerns historical developments.The Trinity before Nicaea, then until Constantinople I, on to Aquinas and finally our modern setting. In the third and final section O'Collins discusses the personal existence of the Holy Spirit in contemporary circles, Trinitarian persons and actions and concludes with naming the Trinity and images of the Trinity. He concludes with a hymn about the Trinity. An excellent glossary is available to assist us with terms we don't understand. Detailed numbered notes provides places we may go for more information. I would imagine this book has been used or is being used in classrooms somewhere. It contains so much valuable information.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introductory Text for Trinitarian Theology 15 April 2007
By Matthew K. Minerd - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An eminently accessible text, "The Tripersonal God" is a most excellent introductory exposition on Trinitarian theology which is a dialogue with the history of Trinitarian theology, from precursors in the Old Testament to contemporary questions. Much of the scriptural exegesis and systematizing is done in a very positivistic sense, taking details from what is directly said in scripture to build partial roots for Trinitarian Theology. As the text progresses through the conciliar period of the Church, much of the theology is presented in reaction to heretical definitions of the nature of God and His personhood. Perhaps the heart of the text is that section which discusses the fully-developed Trinitarian theology from St. Athanasias to St. Thomas Aquinas. In this section (as well as his closing chapters), O'Collins very directly discusses the central understanding of the Trinity ad extras well as ad intra.

If I could say that there is anything lacking in the text, I would say it is a conspicuous lack of material on post-Rennaisance Trinitarian theology and its strengths/weaknesses. However, this barely mars the text, for it is not meant to be a comprehensive reader but an introduction to the reality which lies at the heart of Christianity: "God is Love," a reality which is inseparable from the Trinity, a fact which O'Collins' text most definitely proclaims throughout. His astute analysis of the ad intra and ad extra realities of the Trinity make this text both enlightening and practical, for the union of praxis with the interpersonal love of the Trinity is most definitely proclaimed with force and ample reflection.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trinitarian Theology Simplified 16 April 2012
By Nick Norelli - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm often asked to recommend books on the doctrine of the Trinity. For those who have some familiarity with the doctrine I almost always recommend Letham's The Holy Trinity; for those with no familiarity I almost always recommend Gerald O'Collins' The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity. O'Collins covers all of the ground necessary to acquaint the reader with the doctrine and move them into further study. He moves from Scripture to history to modern theological thinking and he does so effortlessly. O'Collins has two things going for him: (1) an ability to simplify complex subjects without losing their force or importance; (2) he writes well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comments on The TriPersonal God 8 Jun. 2010
By J. Anthony - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I highly recommend the book. O'Collins presents a thoughtful account on the theology of the Trinity. He provides a thorough examination on the historical development of Trinitarian thought by the church fathers. I especially enjoyed his last chapter entitled, "Images of the Trinity" as well as his epilogue. Moreover, he provides a handy glossary starting on page 204 for a quick reference for any unfamiliar terms. A must have for anyone interested in building their theological library. I found that offered the best price.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive survey of Trinitarian theology. 20 Oct. 2014
By Peter S. Bradley - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This a first rate survey of the issues of Trinitarianism from its pre-Christian roots to contemporary issues.

The first part of the book is focused on the scriptural roots of the doctrine of the Trinity. The book starts with the Old Testament background and then moves into the New Testament sources. The second part looks at the historical development of Trinitarian doctrine. It starts with the early church, with solid sections on Tertullian and Justin Martyr, and then moves through Athanasius and Aquinas and then to modernity. The third part looks at contemporary issues such the personal existence of the Holy Spirit, the ad extra actions of the Trinity, the proper names of the Trinity, and the various images of the Trinity that have been employed over time.

I've studied Aquinas' writings on the Trinity in the Summa Theologiae, and read Augustine's "On the Trinity, and I have found the subject to be very difficult, but very fruitful for contemplation. This book sticks close to the Thomistic orthodoxy, such that we learn that the "persons" of the Trinity are not persons in the sense we think of them, and that their differences is purely determined by their source of origin.

In order to provide a flavor of the book, here are a few excerpts I liked:

//Among the earliest deuterocanonical books and longest books of the Bible, Sirach contains the most extensive example of Jewish wisdom literature we have. It was originally written in Hebrew ca. 180 B.C. and two generations later translated into Greek. 10 Wisdom appears at the beginning of the book (Sir 1: 1–30), at the halfway mark (Sir 24: 1– 34), and at the end (Sir 51: 1–27). In the heavenly court, Sophia proclaims her divine origin: I came forth from the mouth of the Most High and covered the earth like a mist. I dwelt in the highest heavens, and my throne was a pillar of cloud. Alone, I compassed the vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss . Over waves of the sea, over all the earth, and over every people and nation, I have held sway. Among all these, I sought a resting place. In whose territory should I abide? (Sir 24: 3– 7)

O'Collins, Gerald (2012-07-18). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity (p. 25). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.


//Right from the Book of Job, Sophia had been radically related to God. Now her connection is expressed in a manner that even goes beyond “begetting” (Prv 8: 22) or “coming forth from God’s mouth” (Sir 24: 3). As R. E. Murphy says, in a sort of effusion, radiation, or emanation from the divinity, she emerges as a “reflection” or “mirror image” of God. 15 High language is also used of Wisdom’s work in creating and conserving the world. After calling Sophia the mother and fashioner of all things (Wis 7: 22), the author of Wisdom now celebrates her role in renewing and ordering all things (Wis 7: 27; 8: 1)— that is to say, in upholding and guiding creation. In short, Wisdom not only “lives with God” but is also associated constantly with all God’s works (Wis 8: 4).

O'Collins, Gerald (2012-07-18). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity (p. 29). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.


//That Paul’s resurrection faith entailed trinitarian, or at least binitarian, belief also emerged clearly when he split the confession of monotheism expressed in that central Jewish prayer, the Shema, or “Hear, O Israel” (Dt 6: 4– 5). The apostle glossed God with Father and Lord with Jesus Christ to put Jesus as risen and exalted Lord alongside God the Father: “For us there is one God, the Father , from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ , through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8: 6). Here the title one Lord expanded the Shema to contain Jesus.

O'Collins, Gerald (2012-07-18). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity (pp. 55-56). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.


//Before pursuing further these reflections on the way Paul gave Jesus the high title of Lord and Wisdom, it may be well to recall some lexical facts. In biblical Greek kyrios (somewhat like the Italian signore, the Spanish señor, and the German Herr) spans a wide range of meaning: from a polite form of address (Sir) right through to God as the One who has absolutely sovereign rights over human beings and their world. In the Septuagint, the (Hebrew) divine name YHWH (not pronounced out of reverence but replaced by Adonai, “Lord”) was rendered Kyrios or “Lord,” and, especially in the prophetic books, God could be called the Lord of hosts. In applying Lord, the NT at times applies to Jesus this central name for the one true God.

O'Collins, Gerald (2012-07-18). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity (p. 57). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.


//This tendency emerges when Tertullian attempts to show how God is a differentiated, triune unity; the divine substance is extended, with the Son and the Spirit sharing in it and being distinct persons , yet without being separated . He introduces three material analogies: a root producing a shoot and fruit; a spring issuing in a river and a canal; the sun producing a ray and the point of focus of a ray: The Son was “produced” from the Father, but not separated from him. For God produced the Word… as a root produces the shoot, a spring the river, the sun a ray.… The Spirit makes the third from God [the Father] and the Son, as the fruit from the shoot is the third from the tree, the canal from the river the third from the source, the point of focus of a ray third from the sun. But none of these is divorced from the origin from which it derives its own properties . Thus the Trinity derives from the Father by continuous and connected steps. (Ibid., 8)

O'Collins, Gerald (2012-07-18). The Tripersonal God: Understanding and Interpreting the Trinity (pp. 105-106). Paulist Press. Kindle Edition.

If anyone of that grabs your attention, then this may be a good book for you.
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