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Bulgakov. Sacred number Category: Theosis Self-definition of Hypostases

God. Trinity. Sacred number
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

The Divine Three

The unity exists in the union of three, and three are identified in one.

Triunity is a particular absolute relation existing in the Holy Trinity, its sacred number, simultaneously 3 and 1. This number does not exist in human arithmetic, which is based on the rationalistic differentiation of things that are separate and similar in one way or another and on their placement in series or juxtaposition (i.e., on counting).

The Divine Three is not even a number, but a supernumber, obtained not through the rationalistic operation of counting but through an intuitive understanding of the absolute relation that the Holy Trinity presents, which is not subject to arithmetical definition.

A final question remains. The hypostasis of the God-Man is the Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who bears in Himself His divine nature. We know from the general doctrine of the Holy Trinity that God is a trihypostatic hypostasis. The Divine Subject has three hypostatic centers that coexist in Him, not destroying but revealing the autonomous being and uniqueness of the hypostatic Subject. These three centers in the Holy Trinity are equally real and equally subjects, so to speak. Each of them is a separate, equally divine I, but all three are one Divine I in its absoluteness — the consubstantial and indivisible Trinity. No difficulties regarding the unity of the Divine Subject and the trinitarity of the hypostatic centers arise insofar as we concern ourselves with the life of the Holy Trinity in itself (the life of the "immanent" Trinity, in the usual terminology of Western theology). Equilibrium is maintained between them, such that the unity exists in the union of three, and three are identified in one. Triunity is a particular absolute relation existing in the Holy Trinity, its sacred number, simultaneously 3 and 1. This number does not exist in human arithmetic, which is based on the rationalistic differentiation of things that are separate and similar in one way or another and on their placement in series or juxtaposition (i.e., on counting). In this sense, the Divine Three is not even a number, but a supernumber, obtained not through the rationalistic operation of counting but through an intuitive understanding of the absolute relation that the Holy Trinity presents, which is not subject to arithmetical definition.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Lamb of God
Ch. 3. The Incarnation. III. The Divine-Humanity

Inapplicability of the category of number in relation to God

Taxis, or order, in the patristic literature refers to the relationship that exists among the hypostases, in part on the basis of their "origin," and in part on the basis of their "sending" or other features. They are thus defined as First, Second, and Third. In particular, the Holy Spirit is usually referred to as the Third hypostasis. First of all, it is necessary to point out that this numerical, ordinal definition of hypostases has no basis for itself in the Bible. True, they usually indicate the order of hypostases in the baptismal formula Mat 28, 19: "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". But with this formula, many cases can be compared from different places in the New Testament writings, when this order is not observed and is replaced by another, depending on the shade of the meaning. Let us recall at least the final blessing 2 Cor 13, 13: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”, which in other cases is replaced by the name of only the Father and Jesus Christ (Gal 1, 3; Eph 1, 2; Eph 6, 23; Phil 1, 2; Col 1, 3; 1 Th 1, 1; 2 Th 1, 2; 1 Tim 1, 2; 2 Tim 1, 2), and in other cases, simply “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 4, 23) or even simply “grace be with you all” (Heb 13, 25), moreover, the word “grace” indicates, of course, the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit and thus represents His hidden name, which turns out to occupy different places, from first to last.

Sergius Bulgakov
Утешитель. О Богочеловечестве
I. 2. Таксис или порядок ипостасей в Св. Троице

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