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Document Details :
Title: Aquinas, and the Number of Divine Persons
Author(s): MOONAN, L.
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 78 Issue: 4 Date: Dec. 2002
I begin from a naively put question of a type which can occur naturally enough to a philosopher, or to an inquiring child in a catechism class, but which a well-instructed theologian might not wish to toy with.
The question is: “If there are three divine persons, what are they then three of”? Naive as it is, that formulation was meant to avoid even grosser infelicity or worse, by avoiding the formula “what are there three of”. I avoid that for the reason that it would seem to follow from Catholic faith that what “there is” in this matter is one divine nature, which moreover is one in the sense of being not multiple and not internally divided; not “one” as in the “one” of any number series, and not one in any sense in which it even could be one of anything. To be consistent with Catholic faith, our bottom line has to imply that the divine nature is not an individual, or any determinate number of individuals, of any kind. Taking that for granted, can we nevertheless get an answer to a related question that can be answered? Or at least, can we get to know what is wrong with the original question?