Academic Programs 

The Triune God in Christian Life*  (TH-654)
Winter/Spring 2010

This course explores what contemporary Christians mean when they say that God is triune. After reading classical Trinitarian theologies from Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine, students will read and critically discuss modern descriptions of divine triunity (e.g. Schleiermacher, Barth, Rahner) and contemporary lines of thinking (e.g. process, liberation, feminist and womanist). Class discussions will focus on three questions: Why do Christians say that God is triune? How may teachings about God’s triunity shape Christian reflection and action in everyday life? How may everyday experiences inform Christian conversations about God the trinity?


Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. – 6:50 p.m. beginning, Jan. 28

Marcus Elder
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus


  1. To learn the doctrine(s) of the Trinity—the technical terminologies, the important theologians, the central arguments, the major positions—in its development throughout the entire span of the Christian tradition.
  2. To observe the intimate connection between the doctrine(s) of the Trinity and the contours of Christian faith and life.


Augustine, The Trinity (Nashville: New City Press, 1991). [ISBN-13: 978-0-911782-89-9]

Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991). [ISBN-10: 0-8006-2825-X]

Karl Rahner, The Trinity (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997). [ISBN-10: 0-8245-1627-3]

Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). [ISBN-10: 0-8028-4440-5]

*Additional texts to be distributed in electronic format. See course schedule.


  1. Attendance and Participation—10% of grade. All students are expected to be present at each class meeting. All students are expected to engage in class discussion. Respect the learning environment—come on time and come prepared! (And bring the texts with you to class.)
  2. Weekly Discussion Questions—25% of grade. Students will submit each week by midnight on the day before the class session two questions for group discussion on the basis of that week's readings together with a paragraph for each question explaining its significance for the topic.
  3. Dictionary of Trinitarian Theology—25% of grade. Students will compose a dictionary with entries on the important terms pertaining to the doctrine of The Trinity.
  4. Paper—40% of grade. Students will write a 10 page critical analysis of Augustine's The Trinity in light of the entire development of the doctrine as represented by the course readings.

Note: All written assignments must conform to the “General Guidelines for a Research Paper.”

COURSE SCHEDULE (Subject to change. Attend to messages announcing updates.)

Week 1 Introduction
January 28 Historical and Philosophical Background

Week 2 Eastern Patristic Theology
February 4 Cappadocians: Texts from Basil the Great, Gregory Nyssen, Gregory Nazianzen

Week 3 Western Patristic Theology 1
February 11 Augustine, The Trinity 1-8

Week 4 Western Patristic Theology 2
February 18 Augustine, The Trinity 9-15

Week 5 Medieval Scholastic Theology
February 25 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1.27-43 (rec. 1.3-11)

Week 6 Modern Theology 1
March 4 Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith 738-751

March 11 No Class!

Week 7 Modern Theology 2
March 18 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 1.1.295-383

Week 8 Modern Theology 3
March 25 Karl Rahner, The Trinity

April 1 No Class – Spring Break!

Week 9 Contemporary Theology 1
April 8 Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom

Week 10 Contemporary Theology 2
April 15 Miroslav Volf (on Ratzinger and Zizioulas), After Our Likeness 1-123

Week 11 Contemporary Theology 3
April 22 Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness 127-282

Week 12 Contemporary Theology 4
April 29 Kathryn Tanner, "The Trinity;" Sarah Coakley, select articles

Week 13 Conclusion
May 6 Cappadocians Revisited

Dictionary due May 7th; Paper due May 14th



Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500