Person, relation och Gud: Konstruktionen av ett relationellt personbegrepp i nutida trinitarisk teologi.

Translated title of the contribution: Person, Relation, and God: Constructing a Relational Concept of Personhood in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology

Bo Sandahl

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis analyses and discusses the construction of a relational concept of personhood in contemporary Trinitarian theology. The thesis discusses both a Trinitarian and an anthropological concept of personhood. The investigation is carried out on three levels. The first part is a historical and contemporary contextualisation of the construction of a relational concept of personhood. The broader context of the thesis is the philosophical and theological turn towards relationality and to 'the other'. I also describe this context as a series of considerations, of which the most important ones are: the classical issue about the ontology of substance, the criticism of modernity's subject and the criticism of cultural and social individualism. The second part is a thematic analysis of the concept of personhood defined by nine contemporary Trinitarian theologians. These theologians represent three main alternatives of how to construct a relational and Trinitarian concept of personhood. John Zizioulas, Colin Gunton and Gisbert Greshake make the person their foundational ontological concept. Catherine Mowry LaCugna, David Cunningham and Robert Jenson define the person as relation. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jürgen Moltmann and Elizabeth Johnson stress the subjective and independent character of the person by regarding him/her as subject. The third part contributes to the discussion about a relational concept of personhood by investigating Biblical, theological and other, mainly philosophical, resources. Continuing the discussion from the second part, this part is an affirmation of the relational trend in theology, but also a critical evaluation of the same. With LaCugna I argue that Trinitarian theology is not primarily an interpretation of God, but of the relations between God and human persons. Secondly, I emphasize the separate premises for a relational understanding of God and humans respectively. I argue that the relations of the Trinitarian persons should be interpreted in a narrative and dynamic sense and not substantial. I do not regard the ontological characterisation of the person as personhood, relation and subject as mutually exclusive. Rather, these aspects together support a relational understanding of personhood. I argue for a renewed use of the Greek Biblical term prosopon because of its relational and narrative character. This should not be done at the expense of the term hypostasis. I define the person as prosopon and hypostasis, as both person and individual, based on an interpersonal and communal perspective.
Translated title of the contributionPerson, Relation, and God: Constructing a Relational Concept of Personhood in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Theology and Religious Studies
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2004 Dec 6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2004-12-06
Time: 15:15
Place: Auditorium Eden, Paradisgatan 5 H, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Henriksen, Jan-Olaf
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: Oslo


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Systematic Theology (015017071)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History of Religions


  • face
  • analogy
  • ontology
  • individualism
  • individual
  • Personalism
  • self
  • subjectivity
  • subject
  • Trinitarian Theology
  • Trinity
  • God
  • Person
  • relationality
  • relation
  • and 'the other'.
  • General
  • systematic and practical Christian theology
  • Kristen teologi (allmän
  • systematisk och praktisk)


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