Important Modern (English Language) Books about the Trinity

Important Modern (English Language) Books about the Trinity May 2, 2013

Important Modern (English Language) Books about the Trinity

            Here I’m following up on my recent post about the doctrine of the Trinity. I’m often asked to recommend books about Christian doctrinal themes, so here is my list of “favorite books” about the Trinity.  I’m limiting the list to English language (some are translations) and published within the last century. The focus of the list is on even more recent publications. I am dividing the list into two categories: primary works and secondary works. Primary works are ones that focus on the Trinity and secondary works are those that focus on other theologians’ ideas about the Trinity. Feel free to recommend others. (I am consciously excluding from my list works I consider heretical such as Norman Pittenger’s The Divine Triunity—which is based on process thought.) I have put an asterisk beside the one book in each list that I think you should read if you can only read one. (Of course, out of sheer humility I avoided “asterisking” my own!)


Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/1 and IV/1

Leonardo Boff, The Trinity and Society

David Brown, The Divine Trinity

Stanley J. Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self

Leonard Hodgson, The Doctrine of the Trinity

Robert Jenson, The Triune Identity

Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World

*Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us

Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom

A. Okechukwu Ogbonnaya, On Communitarian Divinity

Karl Rahner, The Trinity

Cyril Richardson, The Doctrine of the Trinity

Claude Welch, In This Name


Chung-Hyun Baik, The Holy Trinity—God for God and God for Us

Bertrand de Margerie, The Christian Trinity in History

Stanley J. Grenz, Rediscovering the Triune God

Colin E. Gunton, The Promise of Trinitarian Theology

William J. Hill, The Three-Personed God

Eberhard Jüngel, The Doctrine of the Trinity (God’s Being Is in Becoming)

Roger E. Olson and Christopher Hall, The Trinity

*Ted Peters, God as Trinity

John Thompson, Modern Trinitarian Perspectives

Peter Toon and James D. Spiceland, One God in Trinity

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  • I would add:
    Gunton, Father, Son & Holy Spirit: Toward a Fully Trinitarian Theology
    Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (strictly speaking ecclesiology, but there’s a lot of useful stuff about the Trinity in it)
    Zizioulas, Being As Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (also ecclesiological, but contains an important contemporary Orthodox perspective on the Trinity)

  • William Molenaar

    Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, The Trinity: Global Perspectives

  • Scott Youngman

    I benefited greatly from The Forgotten Trinity by James R. White; also Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware. I have not read any of your recommended list so I can’t compare them.

    • rogereolson

      Please branch out.

  • Charles

    Thank you for this list and marking one as a “first read” in each list. Would you be willing to mark a 2, 3, 4 and 5 in each list? Or even just a #2 and #3?


    • rogereolson

      I limited myself to marking one only in each list for readers’ sakes, but I consider them all good books. And there’s much overlap among them.

  • Tony Pounders

    Are you familiar with Allan Coppedge (Asbury Theological Seminary), The God Who is Triune?

    • rogereolson

      No. There are literally hundreds of books on the Trinity I’m not familiar with. If he teaches at Asbury, though, I would probably like his book. 🙂

  • LauraC

    Well, I’m ordering yours. Mostly because you did not asterisk it. Also because I respect you so much. I am a Calvinist attending a Wesleyan church. (Became a Calvinist after I became a Community member.) I feel God has told me to stay at this church, at least for now, and part of my purpose/mission there is to celebrate what Christians hold in common and help others to do so too. Your and Michael Horton’s relationship is a wonderful example to me and, I hope, to others. The tension between some of my church’s doctrines and my own has only helped me to wrestle with what I believe and I really want to share that attitude with others. All that to say, I’m gonna read your book.

    • rogereolson

      Wonderful. Thank you. But much of the credit for our book The Trinity goes to my friend Christopher Hall (now president of Palmer Seminary at Eastern University–a Baptist institution in Pennsylvania).

  • M. 85

    Dr Olson, thanks for this list. I bought Eberhard Juengel’s “God as the mystery of the world” about a year ago but i find it simply too complicated, maybe it’s just me but i think that it may be a book only for Phds or the equivalent. Moltmann’s The Trinity and the Kingdom of God was excellent and very readable.

    • rogereolson

      I remember somewhere Juengel said that he was aware his books are difficult to read and commented that he was chagrined they weren’t even more difficult (because the Sache, subject matter, is so mysterious). I read God as the Mystery of the World very carefully, word-for-word, and wrote out many pages of notes. One thing I remember (it was years ago) is that he says “God is more than necessary.” That was a major point of his book. Also that because of the cross, “death is in God” (as an alternative to the “death of God” theology).

  • Joshua Penduck

    A few others I’d recommend:
    John Zizioulas, ‘Being and Communion’
    Hans Urs Von Balthasar, ‘Theo-Drama IV’
    Dumitru Staniloae, ‘Experience of God: V.1 Revelation and Knowledge’
    Thomas Torrence, ‘Trinitarian Faith’
    Colin Gunton (again), ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’

    Another two I’d recommend are Tom Smail’s little but deep book on the Trinity, ‘Like Father, like Son’, and in secondary literature, Lewis Ayres latest book, ‘Augustine and the Trinity’, which looks like it may be a classic (it criticises the interpretation of Augustine made by figures such as LaCugna).

    • rogereolson

      Years ago I read Tom Smail’s book The Forgotten Father. It was good.

  • There is Wesley Arminian Fred Sanders’ The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Sanders is associate professor of theology at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute), which has received high praise (including from Calvinists).

    And Sanders says that Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre “is the best book to put in somebody’s hands if they’re asking for an introduction to the doctrine.”

    I have seen Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship, very highly recommended.

    I have seen Mike Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith also highly recommended, and if one looks at the Amazon reviews may be quite special. Based on some perusing recently, it’s the one I think I would most like to read.

    • rogereolson

      As I said, there are hundreds of such books–introductions, surveys, etc. I recommended the ones I have read and like. Some of the ones you mention I haven’t seen. Anything by Fred Sanders is recommended (by me). Fred is a good guy. I have Letham’s book but it’s published by P&R. ‘Nuf said. I don’t know anything about Mike Reeves.

  • Kenneth Lee Mattson

    Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, The Trinity: Global Perspectives was a great starter for me, giving me a good survey of Trinitarian writers acrossed West and even East. My favorite book so far is The Promise of Trinitarian theology. There is another book that is not really a book per se on the Trinity, but it explores the doctrine of the Trinity liturgically. I’ve read through four times so far and it’s called Liturgical Theology by Simon Chan.

    I like reading writers who can take the doctrine of the Trinity and relate it to the worshipping community of the Church. The Trinity is not just a lone doctrine in abstraction, but it is the vibrant revelation of who the Church worships, thus mans chief end.