Exalted Trinity (Artful Devotion)

Trinity (Getty MS)
Miniature from a 15th-century French manuscript (Ms. Ludwig XI 10, fol. 2, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles).

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

—Romans 5:1, 5

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SONG: “Doxology” | Text: From Canticle 12, “A Song of Creation,” in the Book of Common Prayer | Music by Uptown Worship Band, performed on Songs from Earth, Our Island Home (2014)

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
praise him and highly exalt him forever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord;
praise him and highly exalt him forever.

Uptown Worship Band leads contemporary worship at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas.

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All efforts to visualize the Trinity are obviously deficient. The doctrine resists figuration. (How do you convey three distinct divine persons who share one essence?) But that hasn’t stopped artists from trying. Over the centuries, several different types evolved to represent the Three-in-One. The example above, from a late medieval French translation of Augustine’s City of God, shows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enthroned in heaven—the Father as an old man holding a globe, at his right hand the Son still bearing the wounds of his passion, and the Holy Spirit hovering between them in the form of a dove. The two male figures share a royal robe and jointly hold open a book, their word of truth.

The first person of the Trinity is not a human, nor even male, but in Scripture God reveals himself as father and as Ancient of Days, so anthropomorphic depictions developed, though they have always been controversial. These are meant not to be taken literally but, rather, to tell us a little something about God: that he relates to us like a father relates to his children . . . and that he’s ancient! Authority and personhood are more easily shown through figuration, and our anonymous artist here (through the single robe and single seat) conveys the idea that Father, Son, and Spirit are enthroned together as one, together vested with divinity. This is only one aspect of the rich doctrine that is the Trinity.


This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Trinity Sunday, cycle C, click here.

2 thoughts on “Exalted Trinity (Artful Devotion)

  1. Beautiful work of art. Thank you. There would be a lot to say about the Trinity representation — a symbolism that is open to all kind of representation.Thank you again. Kenza.

    Like

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