Symposium on Soulen’s The Divine Name(s)

The Winter 2014 issue of Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology features a 58-page symposium on Kendall Soulen‘s important 2011 book The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity: Distinguishing the Voices. That seems like a lot of pages of commentary, but they are well deserved: Soulen’s book is both a solid accomplishment in its own right and a catalyst for further conversation.

I’m enthusiastic about this book, so I was glad when editor Joseph Mangina invited me to participate. The whole symposium is good, but then again you can always count on Pro Ecclesia to be one of the best journals out there: consistently serious, rigorous, and relevant.

It’s best if you’ve already read Soulen’s excellent book, but it’s also worthwhile to eavesdrop, since the symposium addresses perennial issues in trinitarian theology. Here are some highlights.

Fred Sanders: “A Name, Names, and Half a Name.”

Soulen’s book… recommits Christian theology to take seriously the task of confessing the revealed name of God. The task, as Soulen sees it, is to reckon with that one revealed name of God (thus “The Divine Name” of the book’s title) and also with the infinite set of ways we can refer to God (thus the parenthesized “(s)” of the title). Between that one name and those many names hovers the traditional terminology of the baptismal commission: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (thus “the Holy Trinity” of the title). What we have in this book is a theological project that suspends the three between the one and the many.

Karen Kilby: “Too Many Trinities? Kendall Soulen’s Trinitarian Trinitarianism.”

If it has a weakness, it may be that at times it is a little too rich, thought out a little too thoroughly, offering us perhaps more consistency and order in these new patterns than it should…. The somewhat overpatterned quality of the work can at times also be felt on other levels. While a number of Soulen’s readings of passages in Exodus are engaging and illuminating, the insistence that a threefold pattern of God’s uniqueness, presence and blessing can be found consistently across the canon leads in some cases to rather forced exegesis. …It will take some time for it to be properly assimilated, but my guess is that within a few years those writing on the Trinity who have not grappled with Soulen’s work will seem embarrassingly out of date.

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