Harvard University Press takes pride in publishing the third edition of a work whose depth, scope, and wisdom have gained it international recognition as a classic in its field. Harry Austryn Wolfson, world-renowned scholar and most lucid of scholarly writers, here presents in ordered detail his long-awaited study of the philosophic principles and reasoning by which the Fathers of the Church sought to explain the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
Professor Wolfson first discusses the problem of the relation of faith and reason. Starting with Paul, who, differentiating between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world, averred that he was not going to adorn his teachings with persuasive arguments based on the wisdom of the world, Professor Wolfson describes the circumstances and influences which nevertheless brought about the introduction of philosophy into matters of faith and analyzes the various attitudes of the Fathers towards philosophy.
The Trinity and the Incarnation are Professor Wolfson’s next concern. He analyzes the various ways in which these topics are presented in the New Testament, and traces the attempts on the part of the Fathers to harmonize these presentations. He shows how the ultimate harmonized formulation of the two doctrines was couched in terms of philosophy; how, as a result of philosophic treatment, there arose with regard to the Trinity the problem of three and one and with regard to the Incarnation the problem of two and one; and how, in their attempts to solve these problems, the Fathers drew upon principles which in philosophy were made use of in the solution of certain aspects of the problem of the one and the many. In the final part of this volume, entitled “The Anathematized,” he deals with Gnosticism and other heresies which arose during the Patristic period with regard to the Trinity and the Incarnation.