Volume 62, Issue 2, December 2022

Mattia Antonio Agostinone
Pages 397-422

Un paradosso agostiniano nella concezione del Dio-amore? Il rifiuto della similitudine familiare in De Trinitate XII

In De Trinitate XII Augustine refuses the idea that a family could be the image of God. This is curious, because the theologian that in De Trinitate elaborates a “communitarian model” of the Trinity – the Lover, the Beloved and the Love – at the same time does not see the image of God in the first natural community, the family. The purpose of this paper is to show the deeper reasons for this refutation. After the exposition of Augustine’s argument, the paper identifies Augustine’s polemical reference to a part of the Eastern Tradition, which used the example of the first family (Adam, Eve and Abel/Seth) in order to express the mystery of the Trinity. It examines also how the example of the first family was used by Gregory of Nazianzus in his fifth theological discourse (which some scholars identify as the possible source of the idea of the family as the image of God for Augustine) in a trinitarian way. This study then considers two aspects of Augustine’s argument: that his refutation is not justified by the association of the Holy Spirit with the mother and the bride; that the real reason for it is exegetical, and dependent upon Augustine’s reading of Gn. 1:26. Finally the paper shows that the view of gender differences as merely corporeal is what prevents the Doctor of Grace from reading Gn. 1:27 in a relational-dialogical way to express the intimate communion of the Trinity.