This week Melvyn Bragg’s show on BBC Radio 4 In Our Time discussed The Trinity. If you’re anything like me and you enjoy a bit of history and theology, this is one not to miss. It offers a great historical introduction to the topic but advances quite far (as far as it can in 45 minutes) down the various tracks of philosophical enquiry that have taken place over the last 2,000 years.
I’m still listening, but I was impressed by Janet Soskice’s introduction, and the general inclination that all the participants have towards a true representation of how the Trinity should be viewed especially in relation to the New Testament and Judaism – something I’ve been reading a bit about in Tom Wright’s popular What St Paul Really Said. Trinitarian theology (and the divinity of Christ) has often been made out to be a later invention which is entirely absent from the New Testament; these scholars however did a good job of showing just how much the early Christians were stating that Jesus was God in the text of the NT itself (eg. Hebrews) without saying that they were departing from the traditional Jewish monotheistic picture. (Soskice also mentioned a pagan reference I had forgotten from Pliny, speaking of how these Christians sang hymns to Jesus ‘as though he were God’.)
Soskice is Professor of Philosophical Theology at Cambridge; the other scholars that join Melvyn Bragg are Martin Palmer (a regular guest on the show), Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture, and Graham Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford.
In Our Time now has a huge archive of podcasts covering all kinds of areas of history, philosophy, and occasionally other areas of Christian theology, and it’s well worth checking out the back catalogue on various topics, people and events if you want to hear a good historical analysis.