Volume 59, Issue 2, December 2019
Hilary of Poitiers on the inter-Trinitarian Relation of the Son and the Holy Spirit
Given the authority accorded to Hilary of Poitiers by ecumenical councils of the 1st millennium, it is of interest to determine his teaching about the disputed question of the eternal relation of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The question is complex, partly because it is one that Hilary in most cases touches upon only indirectly, when arguing for the divinity of the Son, and partly because the meaning of the relevant passages, even on the level of Latin syntax, is often hard to determine, and a matter of disagreement between different translators or editors. Y. Congar and A. E. Siecienski, in their surveys of the discussions of the inter-trinitarian relations of the Son and the Holy Spirit in the patristic age do not examine all these textual difficulties, nor do they discuss the Opus Historicum, which contains a highly relevant passage on this subject. The present article attempts to throw light on the question by examining the key texts and suggesting answers to the problems of translation and interpretation that they present. It concludes that Hilary’s position is substantially identical to that which would later be agreed by the Greek and Latin churches at the council of Florence, and enshrined in the decree Laetentur caeli.