Knowing and Naming the Holy Trinity


Amid a resurgent appreciation of the Godhead’s unity among Reformed and evangelical circles, this course will consider the vital question of what it means to distinguish the three persons of the Trinity. Through a close reading of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, students will come away with some understanding of who each person of the Trinity is and a confidence that this understanding is not a philosophical projection onto the Christian faith but a fact firmly rooted in Scripture.

Taught by Ryan Hurd.

Runs 4/11-6/17/22.

Note: due to the late date of Easter this year, the first week of Trinity Term falls in Holy Week. Classes that are scheduled to meet on Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays will not meet for the first time until the week of 4/18; professors will schedule a make-up class somewhere during the term to cover the missed class time.

Auditing: participate in readings and live class sessions, but no graded assignments and no course credit
Full course part-time: individual classes on a for-credit basis; you can later apply them toward a Certificate or Degree
Full course full-time: for-credit courses (at least four per term) toward our Certificate or M.Litt in Classical Protestantism


This Systematics course is taught by Davenant Teaching Fellow Ryan Hurd, and will run from April 11th through June 17th 2022. The syllabus is available here.

In recent years, Reformed and evangelical theologians have regained an appreciation for the oneness of God. Talk of “divine simplicity” and of the Godhead’s “one divine will” have returned to the fore of much systematic theology. Yet the question remains: what does it mean to distinguish the three persons of the Trinity?

This course considers this vital question. It will consider the knowledge we can have of divine persons, and the names found in Scripture proper which are to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These will be explored via the articulations given by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his classic Summa Theologiae, with a close and detailed reading of ST I qq 32–38. After briefly considering the very possibility of Triune divine persons, via what Thomas calls the divine “notions” (q 32 aa 2–4), we will consider each person of the Trinity in turn. Firstly we will consider the Father, and how “principle,” “Father,” and “ingenerate” are names for him (q 33); similarly, we will consider the person of the Son, and the names “Word” (q 34) and “Image” (q 35); finally, we will consider the person of the Holy Spirit, especially the names “Love” (q 37) and “Gift” (q 38). In addition to close readings of biblical texts, aided by the primary sources in Thomas, we will employ a number of helpful and recent secondary sources, e.g., Emery, White, Nicolas, Sanders, etc. 

Students on this course will come away with some understanding of who each person is, with a confidence that this understanding, exemplified by Thomas, is not a philosophical projection onto the Christian faith, but is in fact firmly rooted in the text of Scripture. In knowing and naming the Trinity rightly, students will hopefully find their joy increased and worship enriched.

Ryan Hurd is a doctoral student at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen, and a Teaching Fellow in systematic theology at The Davenant Institute.

Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.

This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.