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Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993) was a priest of the Church of Romania. His numerous works, including a Romanian translation of the Philokalia and his 1978 masterpiece ‘The Dogmatic Orthodox Theology’ have established him as one of the leading Orthodox theologians and academicians of the twentieth century. The Holy Trinity is one of a growing number of his works available in English. Stăniloae grounds this exposition on the loving nature of the Godhead within an intellectually consistent framework of Orthodox dogmatics and sacred Tradition. Quotes from Church Fathers and Scripture underpin his arguments throughout. The prose of this translation is fairly formal, as might befit an academic, but still accessible. The little book doesn’t require one to be a theologian to appreciate it, but it requires some work on the part of a lay reader. You can expect to be richly rewarded for your effort. The first two chapters are the weightiest, as Stăniloae takes us through a proof of the necessity of God’s existence, concluding, “There must be a being in itself, perfect from eternity, in which there is nothing that preceded it” (5). That being’s omnipotence and omniscience are “placed at the service of [its] unlimited goodness, which desires that limited created things enjoy its love, with a joy that gives them the power to love and to draw nearer to infinite goodness” (12). Chapters 3 and 4 are devoted to establishing the necessity of God’s triune nature: “If the divine being were in a single person, it would not be good or loving from eternity, which would mean that it was not divine. (17) … A solitary being cannot even be human, let alone God. Its light and joy only exist in communion with other conscious beings” (33). In Chapters 5 and 6, the prose becomes ever more uplifting as Stăniloae describes the Divine Love revealed in Christ and the Incarnation. The nature of an intimate, cosmic love challenges us: “If dominion in [God’s] kingdom belongs to the Trinity, humans cannot participate in the kingdom without uniting themselves with it, and living, through its power, in community with other men” (46). Chapters 7 through 10 deal mainly with the Holy Spirit and bring a brightness into the flow of thoughts. Stăniloae describes the loving rapport between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and how, through the Spirit, we are invited by grace to stand before God with Christ as our true brother. The final chapter includes Stăniloae’s translations of four traditional prayers, all beautiful reflections on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. Although Stăniloae doesn’t write at length on interpersonal bonds in light of the loving Trinity, pointed observations on human relationships run throughout the book. It is impossible to get through Chapter 7 without being struck by the family as a vision of the love of the Triune God. Those with children should find the resonance to be loud and clear. Stăniloae’s understated observations on the increase in mutual love growing from an ever-maturing experience of God are often profoundly affecting and are among the book’s most valuable insights.

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