Fortress Press

Systematic Theology, Volume 2:The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: Processions and Persons

Systematic Theology, Volume 2

The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: Processions and Persons

Katherine Sonderegger (Author)


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Katherine Sonderegger follows her monumental volume on the doctrine of God with this second entry of her Systematic Theology, which explores the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Locating her analysis first in the Hebrew Scriptures, Sonderegger examines the thrice-holy God that is proclaimed to Isaiah in the sanctuary and manifested in the sacrifice of the temple. The book of Leviticus, read in conversation with Exodus, unfolds the doctrine of the Trinity under the character of holiness. In the One God, Trinity speaks of the life, movement, and self-offering of God, who is the eternal procession of goodness and light. In Israel's sacrificial covenant, the Triune God is perfect self-offering: the eternal descent of the Father of Lights is the offering who is Son, eternally received and hallowed in the one who is Spirit. Anchoring the theology of the Trinity in Israel's Scriptures in this way elevates the processions over the persons, exploring the mystery of the Divine Life as holy, rational, and good. The Divine Persons, named in the New Testament, cannot be defined but may be glimpsed in the notion of perfection, a complete and perfect infinite set. In all these ways, the Holy Trinity may be praised as the deep reality of the life of God.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781451482850
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464183
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 416
  • Publication Date November 3, 2020


"Katherine Sonderegger is one of the freshest and most distinctive voices in contemporary systematic theology, bringing together Scripture and trinitarian dogmatics in unpredictable ways. She is learned, robust, lyrical, challenging. Her writing not only stimulates the mind, it also stirs the spirit and touches the heart."

Walter Moberly, Durham University

"Katherine Sonderegger is a wonderful gift to us! She is always deep, fresh, accessible, and provocative. Reading her new meditation on the Holy Trinity is like listening to someone pray. While I enjoyed disagreeing with aspects of it, I learned from it enormously at the same time. In the wake of this monumental achievement, anyone who might hope to do better has a formidable task ahead of them. It will stand as a standard point of reference for years to come."

George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Katherine Sonderegger continues to believe in and trust the intellectual coherence of Christian doctrine in its deepest claims. Here she continues her daring work of rethinking the mystery of the Trinity and shows us how to go about a fresh articulation of that claim. While she is intimate with Thomas, Barth, and Tillich, she does her own hard work, and invites the reader to join her in that hard work. She upholds the deep claims of that doctrine and shows how they matter to the practice of the church. She refuses both the dumbed-down casualness of domesticated faith and reductionist confessionalism that is easy and safe. Her book is a welcome witness for confident faith that has no interest in accommodation to the whims of the day. Her book will have a durable life in the company of the great thinkers of the church; it will also give courage in a time when the gospel is so urgently required and so easily distorted. Much thanks to her!"

Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Deeply and often surprisingly biblical, perceptively alert to both theological tradition and the contemporary world, marinated in prayer and praise, conceptually exquisite, imaginatively soaring, and daringly original: this is a gripping, wise, and prophetic theology for our century. No other writing on God has moved and challenged me so profoundly since reading Bonaventure and Barth. And the vibrant, fiery style matches its glorious subject, the living God."

David F. Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Cambridge

"This second volume of Sonderegger's Systematic Theology is a marvel. Refusing the soteriological tethers of much recent trinitarian theology, Sonderegger continues to provide readers a profound schooling in both the piety of thought and the practice of unabashedly metaphysical theology. Her study invites us to contemplate the thrice holy God of Israel anew and aright from a place firmly rooted in the witness of Scripture. The result is a truly incomparable, creative, and contrarian contribution to contemporary trinitarian theology."

Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen

"In this study of the triune God, Sonderegger speaks a word of hope to we who have lost a sense of wonder: God can be known, and this God is beautiful, holy, and righteous. We must step to the side, Sonderegger insists, and live no longer according to our own certainties or our own confusions. In developing her understanding of the Trinity, Sonderegger draws deeply from the "Scriptures of Israel," arguing that they have a 'double identity'--one for Jews and another for Christians. Sonderegger's 'strange' and unique approach may well be a game-changer for how Christian theologians work with Old Testament texts."

Cynthia Rigby, Austin Theological Seminary

"Katherine Sonderegger's magnificent second volume of systematics on the doctrine of the Trinity marches against all current theological fashion and provides an impenitent defense both of the fundamental unity of God, as witnessed throughout the Scriptures, and of the Church's necessary speculation about God's eternal trinitarian 'processions' and 'persons.' This will offend not only the 'social trinitarians' who have dominated the theological scene for some decades, but also those who now deny, in riposte, that we can say anything at all about God's ontological make-up. This is a bold and exhilarating text--poetic, profound and richly demanding spiritually'."

Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor Emerita, University of Cambridge

"In this second volume of her systematic theology, Katherine Sonderegger continues her theological meditation on the one God whose transcendent aseity is ever mysteriously present to the creaturely world. This book boldly offers biblically-grounded speculation on the inner life of God as Trinity, and does so by refusing to follow the typically modern strategy of reducing the doctrine of the Trinity to soteriology. Instead, Sonderegger's faith-filled, canonical reading of scripture offers readers a reflective path to the God whose Trinitarian life fully manifests the divine unity that she makes central to her theology. Sonderegger's proposal for re-thinking traditional Trinitarian categories is remarkably creative and will shape theological discussion for many years to come."

John Thiel, Fairfield University

"Katherine Sonderegger continues to surprise us -- and to compel us really to think. No ordinary back-cover comment will do for such a stunning and rich re-thinking of Trinitarian dogmatic profession. The mind staggers to keep up with her as she refuses the 'standard' paths while demonstrating her mastery of them, and as she underscores that the Triune God is the most powerfully interesting reality while recognizing that few people seem interested in it. Does her Temple-shaped account of the richly processional unity of God, with its Relatio or Doubling, succeed in grounding a Trinity rather than a wondrously fertile Unity? This extraordinary book should awaken us all from our Trinitarian slumbers, especially those of us who thought we hadn't dozed off."

Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

"In the rather tired trinitarian revival, it is rare to find a contribution which is truly fresh, and which requires us to think again. Katherine Sonderegger is immersed in Scripture and tradition; she is a deeply learned, sympathetic and illuminating commentator on classical and modern theology; and at the same time, she is a profoundly independent thinker. It is an extraordinary combination."

Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Durham

"Katherine Sonderegger's hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity is an exhilarating read. It is poetic and provocative, controversial and gracious. Its forthright statements - and there are many - are surrounded by a delicate tracery of connections and acknowledgements. Sonderegger's path takes her deep into the Christian theological tradition, which she explores with unusual independence - but her journey is powered above all by a delighted, creative, and at times astonishing re-reading of the Scriptures. This is a book that invites generous and extended engagement. There isn't a page that I don't want to argue about - but there isn't a page that I don't also want to re-read, and savor. It is a feast."

Michael Higton, Durham University