|Jimmy Chan: On Augustine’s De Trinitate|
|Written by Publisher|
|Wednesday, 14 July 2010 11:37|
On Augustine’s De Trinitate: A Critical Appreciation of his Trinitarian Analogies (Books VIII to XV)
Referee: Dr. Benedict Kwok
Among the early church fathers, Augustine (354-430 A.D.) is regarded the "most erudite", the "most prolific" and the greatest theologian. Born at Tagaste of Numidia (now in Algeria) on 13 Nov 354 to Patricius, a pagan, and Monica, a devout Christian, Augustine was not a convert to the faith until 383 A.D. when he was 29 and ordained a priest until 391 A.D. when he was 37 (after his returning to Africa from Italy, upon his mother’s death, and his son’s death). He eventually became the bishop of Hippo in 395 A.D. when he was 41. Augustine’s entire life is an odyssey and his scholarly work is, arguably, second to none in terms of the influence to the Christian Church at his time and the subsequent generations, especially the Western Church. (In fact, Augustine’s corpus of work was not known to the East until the thirteenth century until his De Trinitate was first translated into Greek!) When we think of Augustine’s works, however, very likely the first thing that comes to one’s mind is his Confessions (Latin: Confessiones) [397-400], which is a personal epic drama of the Augustine himself, or the City of God (Latin: De Civitate Dei) [412/413-425], an epic drama of the Church. But there is another great epic that Augustine wrote between these two epics that whose values are often underestimated: De Trinitate. This masterpiece, which Augustine wrote over a period of 20 years from 400 to 420 A.D. , should be regarded as a true odyssey of a seeker after God as Trinity. Much is to say about the structure of the work. This paper will focus on the critical appreciation of Augustine’s Trinitarian analogies that are from Books VIII to the last book XV from His De Trinitate and their implications on Trinitarian Pneumatology. Unless otherwise stated, this paper will rely on the following translation by Edmund Hill: “The Trinity. Edited by John E., O.S.A. Rotelle. Translated by Edmund, O.P. Hill. Vol. 5. Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991.”
To recognize the importance and allow one to enjoy the work, the reader should understanding the historical background of the work. The reader should be aware that De Trinitate is not the first work where Augustine discussed about the God of Trinity, and it is important to have at least some idea how Augustine develops the utmost important Christian theology from his other major works. Notably, in De fide et symbolo (Faith and the Creed) , he asserts that:
The Trinity is one God, not that the Father is the same as the Son and the Spirit, but that the Father is Father, the Son is Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and this Trinity is one God, as it is written: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord” (Deut 6.4).
Very soon after this statement, Augustine explains that calling the Son “image” of the Father does not imply any unlikeness. Then in the last Book XIII of his Confessions [397-8], Augustine already starts to ponder over the triad of being, knowing and willing (esse, nosse, velle) (XIII, 11). And as we see, his next writing task immediately after Confessions is to elaborate on this theme by searching into the inner soul in a faithful attempt of understanding the mystery of divine Trinity. Hence in terms of analogous triads, De Trinitate can be considered the sequel of Confessions.
In writing De Trinitate [399/400-416/421], Augustine had three main Trinitarian objectives. He wanted to polemically demonstrate to critics (the ‘Arians’ especially) of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. that the divinity and co-equality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are rooted in scripture. Second, he intended to let the pagan philosophers know the need for faith in a divine mediator in order for divine self-revelation and redemption to happen. Finally, he wanted to convince his readers that salvation and spiritual growth are connected with knowing themselves as images of the Triune God, from whom they came and toward whom they go, with a dynamic tendency to union realized by likeness to God who is Love. Augustine wants his reader to understand Trinity more deeply, and the Trinitarian analogies that he has given from Books VIII to XV serve as a means for achieving such a purpose.
An overview of the themes of the 15 books of Augustine’s De Trinitate is shown from the following table, followed by comments from the work (those comments listed are insights at this point of writing):
Table 3.1 Overview of the themes of the fifteen books of Augustine’s De Trinitate
At a high level, De Trinitate is structured in two halves: In the first seven books, Augustine builds a scriptural (from Book I to IV, where he uses both the Old Testament, New Testament and deutocanonical books of Wisdom and Sirach) and philosophical basis of Trinity (from Book V to VII, where he is careful to search for the appropriate use of languages as a means to express Trinity). The second half of De Trintate consists of last eight books is a deep-dive investigation of God of Trinity in the form of analogies of images of the inner and outer man.
Although this paper will focus on the second half of De Trinitate, it is important for the reader to appreciate the mental odyssey that Augustine as a seeker after the truth of Trinity is going through in his entire work, and how his thoughts develop in the process. The following diagram vividly summarizes his odyssey:
Figure 1: The Odyssey of Augustine in his De Trinitate
The odyssey of the quest for the divine Trinity starts with faith to the Triune God and his revelation through the Scripture, God’s Word, and illumination through the Spirit (Step 1), then the journey moves along to engage himself on dogmatic exegesis on God’s Word (Step 2, Book I-IV), then the faith seeker descends down to the cognitive function of the inner man (Step 3), where in Books V-VII Augustine resorts to abstract logic and meaning of the language of divine Trinity. Step 4 is a crucial step where Augustine moves into an integrative approach of metaphysics and contemplation but he runs into a vicious cycle: It has been said that where Books V-VII show that ‘concepts without intuition are empty’, Book VIII shows that intuition is blind to the mystery of the Trinity without some analogical foothold in human concepts. In a nutshell, this is because in we see Augustine is at one point stuck with the question that leads into this cycle: “We must love God in order to see Him, but in order to love God we must know Him. But if we do not love Him how can we know Him?” When Augustine tries to use faith to break this cycle, he realizes that he at least needs to have some knowledge of God in order to know what to have faith with. This is why in the middle of Book VIII he drills into the love of God and contemplates Trinity from this very basic knowledge of God: that God is Love. It is the realization of the Trinity understood in the light of the analogy of love (to be discussed later) that moves Augustine to make Step 5 to Book IX and then Step 6 to Book X, where he constructs two trinity images in the human mind (mens) respectively. (The human mind is a natural place for the great philosopher to explore as he just went through a struggle on the psychology of love and knowledge.) Then Augustine takes a further Step 7 into the outer man where he comes up with two brilliant trinities there in Book XI, namely, the outmost sense trinity: “Visibility of Object-Form Impressed on the Sense of Light-Act of Will that fixes the sense of Sight on the Object”, and the more inward trinity of memory-imagination: “Memory-Image Stored in the Memory-Will (to attend to the object in memory)”. The reader should note that starting from this point, the second triad of Book XI, Augustine turns inward again and the journey is ascending from the visible world (that is seen by the outer man) to the contemplative world of the inner man, and from a mode of understanding towards a mode of faith, step by step. Interesting enough, the great rhetoric philosopher mentions the song of ascension towards the end of Book XI as a pun to the ascension of the odyssey: “Happy then are they who in their deeds and behavior sing the song of steps, and woe to those who trail sins like a long rope (Is 5:18)” (XI, 10). Augustine then takes a step up (Step 8) into Book XII where he discusses the fall of man and distinguishes between wisdom (sapientia) and knowledge (scientia) and produces another memory trinity: “Intellectual memory, Thoughts formed from memory and Will”; then in Step 9, Augustine moves to Book XIII where he twists from classical neoplatonism and shows his real Christian side of belief by affirming that faith in the Word made flesh and grace through His redeeming death, not philosophical pursue, brings about true happiness, and in that Book he comes up with a mental trinity of “Faith-Produced Wisdom, Thoughts in memory, Love”. Then in Step 10, Augustine raised to Book XIV, where he asserts that the true image of God is to be found in the contemplative area of the inner man, and constructs the final and perfect image of God by the trinity of “remembering God, understanding God and loving God”, which corresponding to the “self-remembering, self-understanding and self-loving” image trinity of Book X (hence the dotted arrow). In Step 11, Augustine reaches the final state of Book XV, where, like Book I, he explores on scripture to show the inadequacy of the human images to fully represent the divine Trinity (the former is one person and the latter is three persons) but nonetheless serves as a means to have a glimpse of the mystery of the divine Trinity. He also put more words on the Holy Spirit, who he maintains possesses from both the Father and the Son, and only He is called the Gift of God. Finally, in Step 12, towards the end of De Trinitate, Augustine addresses his soul in a soliloquy and ends with a prayer. This is a confession to the God of Trinity; faith in God in loving worship is the key to seek His face (thus the ascending arrow to God in Step 12). In summary, Augustine’s odyssey of seeking God of Trinity is indeed both from faith to understanding (Steps1-7) and then from understanding to faith (Steps 8-15).
Despite the fact that the focus of this paper being on the second half of De Trinitate (Books VIII to XV), it will do justice to shed some light on the various key points of the first half, so that the reader can appreciate the context of Augustine’s trinitarian analogies and their purpose in the entire work.. Augustine started his Book 1 with a defensive tone. This could be because he is aware of people who tend to be impatient about theological subjects and rely and trust too much on their own reasoning. (And he has his philosophical ‘enemies’, the Arian followers in mind.) The reader should be aware that Augustine’s Trinitarian formulation and filioque is explicit right from Chapter 2 of the Book 1. Augustine read other commentators on “the divine books of both testaments”, who has written before him on trinity which God is, teach that according to scripture”. He has referenced other scholars as we have shown, and he himself is going to use a scriptural approach too. He quoted a lot of scriptural text, both OT and NT, to start his Book 1, to show that we have to rely on God’s help and revelation in order to “say, believe and understand” God’s substance being a trinity. In addition, Augustine also shows his Neo-Platonist tendency right in Book 1, for example, “supreme goodness” is mentioned. He also addresses the weakness of the economic theologians, who maintain that the three persons of the Godhead have separate functional tasks to accomplish. Augustine asserts that “just as Father and Son and Holy Spirit are inseparable, so do they work inseparably”. In other words, Augustine is against the idea that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are responsible for different work. For example, a popular Trinitarian expressions of today that say something like “The Trinity works like this: Father is responsible for creating the world, Son is responsible for redemptive work on the Cross, and Holy Spirit is responsible for setting up the church and sanctifying believers.” To Augustine, this doctrine of appropriation expressing an economic trinity undermines the simplicity of God as one substance and misleads people to think that there is a distribution of work in the three persons, which he contests. The fact that his subsequent trinitiarian analogies are all tri-member closed systems reflect his intent to maintain the one-ness of God in three persons. Augustine, in his De Trinitate (The Trinity), started with the single divine essence and then sought to understand how the three persons share in one nature without dividing it. The Trinity, in a nutshell, consists of the one essence (essentia) which includes three distinct subsistences of persons (personae). It begins with the divine nature – unity of Trinity is of first emphasis: no subordination of any kind is allowed. And, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons in one substance (substantia/essentia). Then, on the Holy Spirit: Augustine teaches most consistently the filioque, i.e. Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This becomes known as the idea of the double procession. This filioque is added at 381 at the Second Council at Constantinople as part of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The debate between single and double procession becomes major point of controversy between West and East.
The emphasis from Book II to IV is on divine missions. In IV, 29 he says “The Holy Spirit’ s coming needed to be demonstrated by perceptible signs, to show that the whole world and all nations with their variety of languages were going to believe in Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit…is this universal salvation by the Holy Spirit.” Here the fine point is that while Augustine does acknowledge that the Son and Spirit have different missions on the World (i.e. Incarnation and Illumination of Truth to the Church, respectively), he maintains that the Trinity is of one substance, and the word “Persons” is an arbitrary choice, and surely not a perfect one, to denote precisely this focus of missions in the divine Trinity. In other words, Augustine maintains the notion that “the persons of the Trinity always act as one” and that they “equally possess the divine attributes as the one God”. Books V – VII is a rational reflection of Augustine, where he explores on linguistical and logical arguments. This is a heavily Neoplatonic sections where the simplicity theory of God (that He is a simple ‘substance’ without any physical or metaphysical composition) is discussed thoroughly.
For Augustine, it was a search in faith, one which becomes deeper by an existential conversion to be conformed once again to the image of God by thinking of him and loving him. (The stages are: credere Deo, credere Deum, credere in Deum, credendo in Deum ire.) Augustine therefore analyzes a series of triads, moving from more external ones to more intimate ones and from simple psychological analysis to an expression of supernatural experience. The following summary has been provided by Fulbert Cayre (Bibl. August. 16, p. 587):
1) amans, amatus, amor (De Trin. VIII, 10, 14; cf. IX, 2, 2);
2) mens, notitia, amor (IX, 3, 3);
3) memoria, intelligentia, voluntas (X, 11, 7);
4) res (visa), visio (exterior), intentio (XI, 2, 2);
5) memoria (sensibilis), visio (interior), volitio (XI, 3, 6-9);
6) memoria (intellectus), scientia, voluntas (XII, 15, 25);
7) scientia (fidei), cogitatio, amor (XIII, 20,26);
8) memoria Dei, intelligentia Dei, amor Dei (XIV, 12, 15)
Augustine changes over to inward mode in this Book, where he links between God and the mind. The key point is that love is the all-embracing notion which covers the whole double movement of faith to understanding, and antecedent knowledge to faith. In the first place, Augustine introduces his communications problem as a love problem: in order eventually to see God we must love him first; but ‘how can we love what we do not know…’
The first analogy of the divine Trinity is the trinity or triad of love, namely, Lover-Loved-Love, in Latin: amans, amatus, amor (De Trin. VIII, 10, 14; cf. IX, 2, 2); The careful reader will notice that actually the Trinity triad, lover, loved and the love, shows up in XI:7 but is much more elaborated in this Book VIII. There are constructive consequences and limitations when Augustine personifies Love and impersonifies the Holy Spirit. The Lover (Father) loves the Beloved (Son), and the Beloved (Son) loves the Lover (Father), but, even if Augustine says the Lover loves the Love, and the Beloved the Love as well (thus a mutual love between the Father and the Son, which is depicted in the historical Jesus), the problem still arises when one cannot easily argue that the Love loves the Lover and loves the Beloved. Augustine does not address this, or rather, he does not think he needs to address this, because this Lover-Loved-Love triad is merely used analogized to the Father-Son-Spirit Trinitarian relationship, that famous Filioque, where the Spirit is hypostatically possessed from the Father and the Son, just like that Love is coming from the Lover and the Loved. It seems that no Scripture reveals to Augustine, and to us as well, that the Father comes from the Spirit and Son comes from the Spirit. But hold on. If Augustine Love to be personalified and be analogized to the Spirit, then this personalified Love, the Spirit, has to have the ability to love both the Father and the Son. Indeed he does. This can be deduced from scripture, where the Spirit is observed to obey the will of the Father and the Son who send Him, and hide Himself in humility so that the Father and the Son can be glorified. This way, in obedience and humility the Holy Spirit “Loves” the Father (Lover) and Son (Loved). Augustine’s Love triad only goes so far as to assert that the Love is the very ‘substance’ of the Lover and Loved, so the Spirit is the ‘substance’ of the Father and Son (that is said to be the ‘bond of unity that links the Father and Son together), and hence the three persons are consubstantial. This is one of the chief purposes of his Lover-Loved-Love triad (the other one is to build a foundational framework for his subsequent analogies and images from Book IX onwards.) Augustine does not, however, go one step further to emphasize the active part of the Spirit to balance his Filioque statement so that the three persons can be truly in mutual communion or fellowship, which necessitates a bidirectional (or, technically, reciprocal) relationship between each of the persons of Trinity. Nonetheless, it should be to Augustine’s credit that through the Lover-Loved-Love analogy he has fostered a brilliant model of Trinitarian fellowship (the three persons of Trinity are in fellowship with each other) that is based on love. This concept is much explored and even exploited by contemporary theologians. For example, Jürgen Moltmann, in his The Trinity and the Kingdom, contends that the Trinitarian fellowship is reflected on earth “in those political orders that are built on relationships of reciprocity and absolute equality of all members, and that the person and communal identity are inseparable and interdependent of each other. On the other hand, in the original text of De Trinitate, the analogy of the Lover-Loved-Love triad is nothing more than a tool to express the consubstantiality and reciprocity of the Persons of Trinity and build the later analogies. Had Augustine elaborate on the ‘reciprocity’ part, he would have developed a pneumatology that emphasizes the active aspect of the Spirit (that is, not merely a ‘substance’ or ‘link’), such that the Spirit “Loves” the Father in obedience of being sent (to create the world and pasturing the Church, for example) and “Love” the Son by incarnating, leading and glorifying Him (all three actions are found in the Scripture in the Gospels.) The reciprocity of the Persons of Trinity in Love could then complement the Filioque in giving a complete picture to elaborate the perichoresis or mutual indwelling of the Persons of Trinity established by Gregory of Nazianzus. (This task would later be embarked on by John Damsascus.) This view of the author on the reciprocity of the Persons of the Trinity is incidentally shared by the German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, who “affirms reciprocal relations within the Trinity as opposed to monopatrism in which the Father is the single cause of action”.
In any case, Augustine is apt in using ‘Love’ as his first and foremost analogy of the Triune God, because, as he quotes multiple times in De Trinitate from the Scripture, “God is love” (1 John 4:8b). By the love triads, Augustine gives the text in 1 John 4:8 is given a new insight, reminding the Scripture reader that the “God” here is the God of Trinity. The full verse of 1 John 4:8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” On the human side, a person who truly knows God will love God. But the divine reflection/implication that is: Only God completely knows God and hence by this language it implies there is a person being the Knower, a person to be known and the person of knowledge within the ‘God’ here, which has to mean God of Trinity (otherwise there cannot separate Persons to know, to be known and to act as the knowledge.) This is exactly how Augustine makes his turning point to examine the human function of the mind (cognition) and knowledge, and seeks the Trinity analogies in that area in the subsequent books of De Trinitate.
Starting from Book IX, Augustine begins to probe into the human psychology (the self) in order to understand the divine Trinity. The first analogy is the “mind, knowledge and love”, in Latin, mens, notitia, amor (IX, 3, 3). For Augustine, the mens is the highest cognitive area of the inner man, who is responsible for sapientia (contemplation of eternal truth) and scientia (knowledge of temporal things). Augustine already provided the reader with adequate foreshadowing when he writes in Book VIII about the loving of the mind and loving himself:
So we know anyone else’s mind from our own, and from our own we believe any mind we do not know. Indeed we are not only aware of mind but we are even able to know what mind is from a consideration of our own; for we have a mind. [The Latin word for ‘mind’ is ‘animus’ which means the human rational soul.]
In the Prologue of Book IX, the reader is faced with a refresher of the author’s intent, which is to search for the divine trinity, “the one that God is, the true and supreme and only God” (IX Prologue) and the love triad established in Book VIII: “I myself, what I love and love itself”. Here though the reader reads more about the reflexivity (the I and self) in the Augustine’s analogy system, and his substantiating the mental functions (mind, memory, knowledge), in addition to love. (In Book XV Augustine will comment on the limitation of this substantiation.) The reflexive nature of the analogy is deemed necessary in order to preserve a closed system for achieving one-ness - the ‘une’ part of the triune system, where Augustine draws on scripture “love one another as yourself” in his reflect of loving one another “as oneself” (Mat 22:20 and Gal 5:14 quoted in Book VIII, 10) as the basis of love. So out of philosophical necessity, though rather artificially, the two building block members of the trinity triads – love and knowledge – has to be substantiated and reflexive. Another diagram will help to picture this.
Figure 2: The Love Triad Figure 3: The Knowledge Triad
Figure 2 is a concise summary of the rather complex explanations of the formulation of the reflexive love triads (and by the same token, the knowledge triad):
Love, however, and what is being loved are still two things. For it is not the case that anyone who loves himself is love except when love loves itself. [Latin: Cum amatur ipse amor] It is one thing to love oneself and another love one’s love [Augustine means A ≡ A’’’ for the former and A ≡ A’’ for the latter.] For love is not loved unless it is already love something, because where nothing is being loved there is no love. So there are two things when someone loves himself, namely love and what is being loved; for in this case lover and what is being loved are one thing. [That is, A ≡ A’’’].
What Augustine is saying is that given the consubstantiality of the members of the triads and the reflexive nature of the system, the triad really reduced from a three-member to a two-member equivalence relationship.’ A criticism of Augustine here is that, while this is philosophically sound, an extension of this ‘self-X’ methodology from love to knowledge or other cognitive action lacks important scripture reference like “love your neighbor as yourself” (though of course, even for love it is a tailoring to suit Augustine’s purpose here.) So, continuing from here Augustine uses his important axiom: “Now the mind cannot love itself unless it also knows itself”. In other words, the mind has to be self-conscious in order to love itself. So here for the mind, self-knowledge precedes self-love. (Note the intricacy here: one must know something in order to love that something, but as the relationship proceeds, one must love that something in order to continue to know something. This is another reason why Augustine has to confine the argument within the ‘self-enclosed’ system.) This is how the mind comes into the picture for Augustine. With the reduction of a two-member equivalence system, it is ready to take in the mind to take the place of the Lover and Knower (that is, the A and B in Figure 2 and 3 respectively); the result is:
Figure 4: The First Mental Image: Mind-Love-Knowledge
Remark: Given reflexive system:
1) Lover and what is being loved are one thing è A ≡ A’’’
2) Knower and what is being known are one thing è B ≡ B’’’
3) The Mind is the Lover and Knower: C ≡A ≡ B
è Hence, what is left is shown above: a CA’B’ triad
After this Mind-Love-Knowledge trinity is set up, Augustine introduces the concept of a mental word, essentially making use of what he has done from Book 1 to VII, that the scripture is the Word of God. He argues that only the Word, not Love, is begotten and conceived, just like the mental word is conceived in the mind such that “the knowledge by which the knowing mind is known has a perfect and equal likeness with the mind”. That is to say, the mental word is what the mind is. But love is different, Augustine says, in that it is not begotten or conceived because a word of knowledge ‘comes to light’ and hence is conceived/begotten, but love is just ‘the appetite’ (X, 17). At this point the reader should be aware where Augustine is driving at: The Holy Spirit, unlike the Word is not begotten or conceived.
In Book X, Augustine continues to refine the reader of this mental image and comes up with another triad: Memory-Understanding-Will (memoria, intelligentia, voluntas) (X, 17). Like Book IX, Augustine dives into the subject of love again at the beginning of the Boo, but this time, he focuses on the love that desires to know the unknown, and that is what the mind wants as part of its life. Augustine then contends that the mind by nature has life, and a living mind has three things: memory and understanding and will (X, 13). And as the mind knows itself, so do memory and understand and will as well. (And the reader might notice and even be confused when Augustine replaces will with love in X, 18, showing that he regards will is nothing more than an intentional love. Augustine asserts again that one can love a thing that is quite unknown – you must know something about it first before you can love it. But it is the will that drives you to continue to seek the knowledge with love.)
Hence they are reflexive systems like love, knowledge and mind,that reside in the living mind. (All three are cognitive functions.)
For I remember that I have memory and understanding, and will; and I understand that I understand, and will, and remember; and I will that I will, and remember, and understand; and I remember together my whole memory, and understanding, and will. And, therefore, while all are mutually comprehended by each, and as wholes, each as a whole is equal to each as a whole, and each as a whole at the same time to all as wholes; and these three are one, one life, one mind, one essence.(X, 18)
Augustine is going to come back on this topic about the mind remembering, understanding and willing itself and open the hitherto reflective system and delegate the target of the mind to God instead. But first he decides to dive into the ‘lesser’ image of the outer man (which is tuned to the visible world) and the inner man (which is tuned to the contemplative world) and draws some analogies there.
Here Augustine gets into deep psychological investigation of the human soul in this section. He uses psychological triads to help him to understand God. Augustine explores on the human image (which is fallen but redeemed by the Son’s incarnation) and looks into how it can be made in God’s image. Recall that there are five trinitarian analogies/images in this section:
1) Act of Seeing, Exterior visibility of object, Intention to fix the visual sense to the object (res (visa), visio (exterior), intentio (XI, 2, 2));
2) Sensible Memory, Image Stored in Memory, Will (memoria (sensibilis), visio (interior), volitio (XI, 3, 6-9));
3) Intellectual memory, Thought, Will (memoria (intellectus), scientia, voluntas (XII, 15, 25));
4) Faith-Produced Knowledge, Thought, Love (scientia (fidei), cogitatio, amor (XIII, 20,26));
5) Remembering God, Understanding God, Loving God (memoria Dei, intelligentia Dei, amor Dei (XIV, 12, 15))
From the Memory-Understanding-Will trinity, Augustine begins to explore two outer man trinities. The key thing that is worthy to note is there is “a dynamic link, or a chain of movement, between the acts involved in the outmost trinity of sense [#1 above] and those comprised in the more inward one of memory or imagination [#2 above]”. In Book XIII, Augustine did a very thorough job to explain the human structure using scriptural text in Genesis, but it seems that he is under Neoplatonic influence when he separates soul and body of the human person and invites the reader to “climb up inward through the parts of the soul by certain steps of reflection” (XII, 17). There in the soul, Augustine argues, one can find a trinity of Intellectual Memory, Thought, Will (memoria (intellectus), scientia, voluntas (XII, 15, 25)); finally, Augustine made it clear that he is more a Christian than a Neoplatonist, but recalling the human fall and redemption stories in Book XIII and XIV. The human trinity in Book XIII: Faith-Produced Knowledge, Thought, Love (scientia (fidei), cogitatio, amor (XIII, 20,26)) is just another variation of that in Book XII, but this time the purpose is to draw a trinity of faith, which foreshadows what comes up in the final image. The perfect happy stage of human is to worship God, and Augustine draws on the same “remembering-understanding-loving” triad as Book X but this time opening the entire human trinity to God, resulting in “Remembering God, Understanding God, Loving God (memoria Dei, intelligentia Dei, amor Dei (XIV, 12, 15))”
5. Augustine’s self-reflection on his Trinitarian analogies and the entire work in De Trinitate: Book XV
Book XV is the concluding chapter where Augustine looks into more scriptural text, and explores on Holy Spirit more. The book opens up to more possibilities for Augustinian Pneumatological development, includes one of Augustine’s sermon which reinforces his assertion of the double possession of the Spirit (who is possessed from both the Father and the Son), and concludes with a humble prayer of Augustine.
In addition, Book XV shows that the entire odyssey itself can be thought of as symbolically conveying an incarnation theology: The Word of God descends into the world, and then the Trinity seekers ascend and look into Triune God for more inspiration. To Augustine, it is the Holy Spirit who brings to the world the message of Christological salvation procured by the Word and it is the Holy Spirit who would elevate him to higher spiritual ground. He sees the Holy Spirit is not so much subordinate to the Son as complementary to Him in the divine plan of salvation. More about this last Book will be mentioned in the next two sections of the paper given its climatic position of the trinitarian images and the entire De Trinitate.
By using the Trinitarian triads, Augustine is successful for consistently demonstrating the unity of the Persons, via the self-enclosed, reflexive triads, and at the same time provides a uniqueness of the Persons of Trinity via their mutual relationship and reciprocity. He shows that the Persons of Trinity is always defined through a relationship, otherwise the triads, and hence the archetype of divine Trinity, will break down. But in using the first analogy of love, where Augustine personifies Love and assigns it to the Spirit in the Love triad, he unjustly impersonifies the Spirit at the same time. This is most obvious because the Lover and Loved are both “Persons” in a human sense, but Love is not. Understandably, he has to substantiate Love to allow the analogy to work metaphysically, but this leaves an mental impression to the reader that somehow the Spirit, portrait as the bond of Love between the Father and the Son, is different than and even subordinate to the Father and the Son. (The other analogies are less prone to this mental impression because the three members of the remaining triads are all non-persons.)
Augustine is also very careful in ensuring that the trinitarian analogies are consistent with the Filioque (double possession of the Spirit), which he states and restates at the end of his work. However, the reader may notice the ambivalence of Filioque and some inconsistencies with the analogies as well:
Elsewhere in this treatise, Augustine says that “in their mutual relation to one another in the Trinity itself…the Father is a beginning [principium] in relation to the Son, because He begets Him.” He says furthermore “that the Father and the Son are a Beginning [Principium] of the Holy Spirit, not two beginnings.” (V, 14)
If both the Father and the Son are the Principium, then, for example, how can Lover and Loved be the beginning of Love? Just looking at the Love triads, it seems more like there should be Love first that empowers or entitles the Lover to be true Lover and the Loved to be true Love, rather than the other way around (Love coming from Lover and Loved). In the Mind, Knowledge and love triad from Book IX, it seems that only the mind is the principium, it is both the knower and the lover. This analogy is closer to the single possession than double possession model. Nonetheless, Augustine might have been aware of this shortcoming himself, such that in subsequent analogies he does not fall into this trap again.
On the other hand, Augustine’s trinitarian analogies certainly open up the topic of knowing God. In one sense, God is a knowable God, he seems to say, and that the Mystery of Trinity can be contemplated in the rational mind with the help of these analogies. Towards the end of De Trinitate, though, the reader is reminded that God is also ‘unknowable’, in the sense that our limited rational mind would never be able to understand Him fully. Book XV describes this paradox:
We so contemplated it, that it was not far from us, and was above us, not spatially but through its own venerable and extraordinary pre-eminence, so that it seemed to be with us by the presence of its light… [but] that ineffable light repelled our gaze, and it was made somehow obvious that our mind in its weakness could not as yet be made compliant with it. (XV, 10)
The Neoplatonic influence which contends that we need strive to leave the material behind and ascend to the purely spiritual is obvious to the reader of De Trinitate, especially when we look at how Augustine embarks on his Odyssey to search the truth of divine Trinity: his approach is one seeking the inner man for reaching out to God. (The reader is reminded here about the U-turn at Book IX in Figure 1.) As a related note, Augustine’s view of love is apparently an “eros” love, the loving of the self (which he emphasized so much is Book IX), is a stepping stone to love of God. The mystics should give credit to Augustine for giving them insight on spiritual practices through the inner soul. For instance, the contemporary Russian Orthodox theologian Paul Evodkimov is completely aligned with Augustine’s Neoplatonic approach of eros love and seeking God through the inner soul.
Regarding the memory-imagination images that are thoroughly discussed in Books XI and XII, the reader will give credit to Augustine’s contribution on exploring the processes of memory, including understanding, recollection and imagination. For instance, the ability to remember, which Augustine calls the ‘formation of the mind’s eye’ (acies animi) (XI, 6), and its direction by the will are not confined to recollection of specific mental images, but present in the mental activities; also, the memory plays a key role in imagination and recollection. (XI,12-14) And, in order to have understanding, some memory of words spoken or the forms/images of the things that the words refer to, has to happen: “For I could not understand the speaker if I did not remember in a general way the individual things of which he spoke, even if I was on that occasion hearing them combined the first time” (XI, 14). And the formation of ‘concept’ depends on the memory activation of a perception. Through this memory model, Augustine is able to see a connection between memory, understanding and will as ‘a single substance’, the mind (mens). His contribution is twofold here: on one hand, he opens up new insights of the memory and thought process which can be considered pioneer work on cognitive psychology. On the other hand, Augustine is able to provide a cohesive, connected, co-working process of the mind, which is analogized to the work of the Persons of the divine Trinity. The only thing is that had Augustine elaborated on the ‘co-working’ part of the memory process and how it affects the human experience, he could have been more balanced on the economic Trinity side of the argument. As is now, Augustine is obviously tilted towards concerns on ontological Trinity and personal contemplation of its mystery as opposed to economic Trinity and the work of Trinity to the large human community. Augustine’s lack of a communal implication of the divine Trinity, despite his contending that the Persons of God are in communion, is the precisely the point where he receives criticism from Millard J. Erickson and Colin Gunton. Erickson rightly points out that it was Augustine looks for a trinity within each human being because he observes that the human image is said to be created in God’s image and hence should reflects in some way the tri-unity of God. But this approach, Erickson points out, was done “within an essentially individualistic context, considering each human individually as the image” and a large base of communal implications should be called for. Colin Gunton, in addition, is critical on the inwardness of Augustine’s Trinitarian systems, especially on his proposal of the Spirit as the bond of love between the Father and the Son, saying that “this is in danger of leading us to think of God as kind of self-enclosed circle”, and recommends the medieval proposal of the Spirit being “the focus of a love beyond the duality of Father and Son, of a love outward to other.” In other words, God’s love for the ‘other’, not the ‘Trinity-self’ is what Colin sees as a limitation of Augustine’s system. Moreover, Gunton says that Augustine is wrong to say that “man by himself alone is the image of God, just as fully as when he and the woman are joined together in one” because this implies no intrinsic reference to other human beings in analogizing to the divine Trinity, whose Persons are ‘in community’. It is indeed Augustine does not really tie his triads with economy (in Books VIII to XIV) or human image with the human community. But to do some fair justice, we must remember also that Augustine’s concern is to construct analogies based on the divine inspiration that God is love. The Lover-Loved-Love triad should not be overstated or over-elaborated beyond Augustine’s this original intent; and, if the reader go beyond the “seven books of analogies” (VIII to XIV), he or she can find the mission of Son and Spirit (I, II, IV in particular), and in the final Book XV, where the reader is reminded once again the Spirit is the gift of God to humans. With Augustine’s confessing the limitation of the image trinity to fully describe the divine Trinity and his humble prayer at the end, the reader should not be over-critical like Gunton about what Augustine’s trinitarian models do not accomplish.
Trinity is the core doctrine of Christianity, and it was Augustine who spent most of his writer’s life to ponder over the subject and put this doctrine to its final form. De Trinitate is the masterpiece of Augustine’s exposition on the Trinitarian doctrine that is often undervalues when compared to other masterpieces such as Confessions or the City of God. It is Augustine’s clear Filioque statement that is so persistent in De Trinitate that subsequently caused the theological debate between the East and West church, which in turn caused, at least partially, their division in 1054, but the work itself does offer an ecumenical opportunity for the Western Church (who basically inherits the Augustinian tradition) to talk to the Eastern Church because of the emphasis on images and taste of Neoplatonic mysticism, both of which is welcome in the East. (In fact, as stated earlier, De Trinitate was indeed Augustine’s first book that was translated in Greek and read in the Orthodox world.)
Despite the various criticisms and shortcomings mentioned, Augustine should be given credit for drawing the reader’s attention to Love as the key attribute of the God of Trinity, to the extent that it can even be used to analogize Trinity. As Mary Clark contends, “the originality of Augustine is mainly found in his doctrine of the Holy Spirit and in the centrality he gave to love in Trinitarian life, and to love as renewing human likeness to the Trinity”. It is not Augustine’s purpose to completely understand Trinity. Instead, he is making it very clear by his analogies that while faith is necessary for Christians to worship God, and we can use our rational mind and look into our inner soul to get in touch with the mystery of divine truth. This paper will appropriately end by quoting Augustine’s prayer, where we see him reminiscing the last and most important image: “Let me remember you, let me understand you, let me love you. Increase these things in me until you reform me completely. When this image therefore has been renewed by this transformation, and thus made perfect, then we shall be like to God, since we shall see him not through a mirror, but just as he is, which the Apostle calls face to face” (I Cor 13:12).
Augustine. Augustine of Hippo: Selected Writings. London: SPCK, 1984.
—. Augustine: Earlier Writings. Edited by John H. S. Burleigh. Philadelphia: The
Westminster Press, 1953.
—. Augustine: Later Works. Edited by John Burnaby. Louisville, KY: The Westminster John
Knox Press, 1996.
—. Saint Augustine: The Trinity. Translated by Stephen McKenna. Washington, D. C.: The
Catholic University of America Press, 1963.
—. The Trinity. Edited by John E., O.S.A. Rotelle. Translated by Edmund, O.P. Hill. Vol. 5.
Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991.
Bloesch, Donald G. The Holy Spirit: Works & Gifts. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press,
Chan, Jimmy. "陳偉明神學網站." 華人神學園地. May 4, 2009.
http://www.chinesetheology.com/JChan/AugustineConfessions.htm (accessed June 16,
Congar, Yves. "Augustine, the Trinity, and the Filioque-Yves Congar: St. Augustine's
Theology of the Holy Trinity." The Crossroads Initiative. http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/137/pics/library_article.736.doc/St_Augustine_Theology_Congar.pdf (accessed June 16, 2009).
—. "St. Augustine's Theology of the Holy Trinity." 2008.
http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/736/Augustine__the_Trinity__and_the_Filioque_Yves_Congar.html (accessed May 10, 2009).
Demacopoulos, George, and Aristole Papanikolaou, . Orthodox Readings of Augustine.
Yonkers, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr, 2008.
Early Churg.org.uk. "Augustine of Hippo." Mar 21, 2009.
http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/augustine.php (accessed May 13, 2009).
Erickson, Millard J. God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995.
Feenstra, Ronald J., and Cornelius, Jr. Plantinga, . Trinity Incarnation and Atonement:
Philosophical & Theological Essays. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989.
Fitzgerald, Alan D., ed. Augustine through the Ages: an Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, MI:
William B. Eermans, 1999.
Gunton, Colin E. Father, Son & Holy Spirit: Toward a Fully Trinitarian Theology. London:
T&T Clark, 2003.
—. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991.
—. The Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study. Edinburgh: Wm. B. Eerdmans,
Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. Pneumatology. Grand Rapids: Baker House, 2002.
Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines. London: A&C Black, 1968.
Kretzmann, Norman, and Eleonore Stump, . The Cambridge Companion to Augustine.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Kretzmann, Norman, and Eleonore Stump, . The Cambridge Companion to Augustine.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
O'Daly, Gerald. Augustine's Philosophy of Mind. Berkeley: University of California Press,
O'Donnell, James J. "Augustine of Hippo." April 2001.
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/augustine.html (accessed April 13, 2009).
O'Leary, Joseph S. "Methods and Structures in Augustine's De Trinitate: Introduction."
Joseph S. O'Leary homepage: Essays on literary and theological themes. 1976. http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/05/methods-and-structures-in-augustines-de-trinitate-introduction.html (accessed June 16, 2009).
Schaff, Philip. "NPNF1-03. On the Holy Trinity; Doctrinal Treatises; Moral Treatises." 1890.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf103.pdf (accessed June 16, 2009).
Torrence, Thomas F. The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being Three Persons. Edinburgh:
T&T Clark, 2002.
Wallin, Robert D. "Augustine and Platonism." 1999.
http://www-personal.umich.edu/%7Erdwallin/syl/GreatBooks/202.W99/Augustine/AugPlaton.htm; (accessed May 2, 2009).
Webber, David Jay. "The Nicene Creed and the Filioque: A Lutheran Approach." 1999.
http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.filioque.html (accessed May 10,
Weinandy, Thomas G. Athananasius: A Theological Introduction. Aldershot, Hampshire:
Ashgate Publishing, 2007.
周偉馳. 奧古斯丁的基督教思想. 北京: 中國社會科學出版社, 2005.
袁海生. 三一神與聖徒群體. 香港: 建道, 2004.
 A short but detailed history of the life of Augustine can be found from the following article: The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, “Philosophy and the Catholic Christian – 13: St Augustine – the Most Fruitful”, available from http://www.anglicancatholic.ca/diocirc/200810circ.pdf; Internet; accessed 18 Jun 2009.
 “The Fathers of the Church – Biography: St. Augustine of Hippo”, available from http://www.catholicfaithandreason.org/FathersofChurchAugustine.html; Internet; accessed 16 June 2009. A very concise summary of Augustine’s life and works through the ages was compiled by the well-acclaimed Augustinian scholar and author Allan D. Fitzegerald O.S.A., which is available online from http://www.augnet.org/default.asp?ipageid=1095; accessed 22 April 2009, or his Augustine through the Ages: an Encyclopedia, both of which are included in the Bibliography section of this paper.)
 George Demacopoulos, Aristotle Papanikolaou. Eds., Orthodox Readings of Augustine (Yonkers: St Vladimirs Seminary, 2008), 12.
 Jimmy Chan, “Reading Report of the Last Three Books of Augustine’s Confessions: Book XI to XIII”, available from http://www.chinesetheology.com/JChan/AugustineConfessions.htm; Internet; accessed 16 June 2009.
The surviving works of Augustine comprise a little over five million words; a complete edition fills at least a dozen volumes….Principal series of editions of Latin texts are:
· PL: Patrologia Latina
· CSEL: Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
· CCSL: Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina
· BA: Bibliothèque Augustinienne
To locate Latin texts of all the church fathers see the Clavis Patrum Latinorum (Steenbruge [Belgium] 1961).
 The work is often referred to in Latin rather than English precisely because of the lesser attention and hence translation compared to Confessions and City of God.
 Augustine was believed to start writing De Trinitate soon after completion of Confession, and finish the work soon after the writing of City of God has begun.
 De fide et symb. 9.16, quoted in George Demacopoulos, Aristotle Papanikolaou. Eds., Orthodox Readings of Augustine (Yonkers: St Vladimirs Seminary, 2008), 157.
 Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A., ed., Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia (Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), 845.
 J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (London: A&C Black, 1968), 277.
 Mary T. Clark, “The Combridge Companion to Augustine: 7 De Trinitate”, available from http://cco.cambridge.org/extract?id=ccol0521650186_CCOL0521650186A009; Internet; accessed 10 May 2009.
 Edmund Hill, ed. Augustine, The Trinity (Brooklyn, New York, 1991),18ff.
 John McIntyre, The Shape of Pneumatology, (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1997), 145.
 This does not mean that Augustine does not show his philosophical incline from Book I to IV or give reference to scriptural text from Book V to VII. These two pillars of Augustine actually intertwined with each other throughout his entire work, but his emphasis on scripture first then philosophical/linguistic concerns are obvious in these two sections respectively.
 Adapted from the Introduction of Edmund Hill, tr., John E. Rotelle, Saint Augustine: The Trinity (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991), 27, 263, 265, with more emphasis on the second half of the book and inclusion of the inner and outer man.
 The boxes represent logical sections of this book, referencing Edmund Hill, ed. St. Augustine: The Trinity (Brooklyn, New York, 1991), 265. Note that the arrows form the shape of the heart which reminds the reader of this paper that love is the key of human knowing God.
 Joseph S. O’Leary, “Methods and Structures in Augustine's De Trinitate: Introduction”, available from http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/05/methods-and-structures-in-augustines-de-trinitate-introduction.html; Internet; accessed 17 Jun 2009.
 Edmund Hill, ed. St. Augustine: The Trinity (Brooklyn, New York, 1991),245.
 For example, I.2.5:
 Bruce A. Demarest and Gordon R. Lewis, Integrative Theology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996).
 See, for example, “Lecture # 20 Augustine: The Trinity; Manichaeism”, Hoeffecker, “Augustine (notes)”, 2006.
 Mark T. Clark, tr., Augustine of Hippo: Selected Writings (London: SPCK, 1984), 311-312.
 See Footnote #61 in Thomas G. Weinandy, Athanasius: A Theological Introduction (Burlington: Ashgate, 2007), 117-118.
 Ronald J. Feenstra and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Ed., Trinity Incarnation and Atonement (Notre Dame: U. of Notre Dame, 1989) 33.
 Fulbert Cayre (Bibl. August. 16, p. 587), quoted in http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/736/Augustine__the_Trinity__and_the_Filioque_Yves_Congar.html; Internet; accessed 11 May 2009.
 This point about the Holy Spirit hiding in order to glorify the Father and the Son is also emphasized in Thomas F. Torrence, Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2002), 66.
 Joy Ann McDougall, Pilgrimage of love: Moltmann on the Trinity and Christian Life (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), 139.
 Donald G. Bloesch, The Holy Spirit: Works & Gifts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 258.
 Edmund Hill, tr., John E. Rotelle, ed., The Trinity (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991), 260-261. Note on the same page (260) he also distinguishes between the two Latin words, animus = human rational soul and anima = soul in general applicable to animals as well.
 Ibid., 249 (VIII.9).
 Fulbert Cayre (Bibl. August. 16, p. 587), quoted in http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/736/Augustine__the_Trinity__and_the_Filioque_Yves_Congar.html; Internet; accessed 11 May 2009.
 Edmund Hill, ed. St. Augustine: The Trinity (Brooklyn, New York, 1991), 307.
 Fulbert Cayre (Bibl. August. 16, p. 587), quoted in http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/736/Augustine__the_Trinity__and_the_Filioque_Yves_Congar.html; Internet; accessed 11 May 2009.
 Gerald O’Daly, Augustine’s Philosophy of Mind (Berkely: U. of California Press, 1987), 213.
 The technical Neoplatonic language is “the emanation of all things from the All-One, and their remanation into the All-One.”
 Donald G. Bloesch, The Holy Spirit: Works & Gifts (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2000), 254.
 Gerald O’Daly, Augustine’s Philosophy of Mind (Berkely: U. of California Press, 1987), 135.
 Millard J. Erickson, God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1995), 332.
 Colin E. Gunton, Father, Son & Holy Spirit: Toward a Fully Trinitarian Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2003), 86.
 Colin E. Gunton, The Triune Creator: A Historical And Systematic Study (Edinburgh: Wm B. Eerdmanns, 1998), 208.
 Mary T. Clark,”De Trinitate”, in Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 99-100.