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Bulgakov. Divine Motherhood Category: Theosis …between created and uncreated…

God. Trinity
Self-definition of Hypostases
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

Self-consciousness of the Absolute Subject

With reference to the trihypostatic subject, we have established precisely trinitarity, as the determining and exhaustive self-definition of I and as the actualization of the self-consciousness of the Absolute Subject.

… while being equally divine, they are differently divine; and the trihypostatic subject, the trine I, is not simply a transparent I existent in three centers that are identified, but the Holy Trinity, the Father-Son-Spirit in Their divine triunity. Therefore, the three divine subjects, although equally divine, are nor interchangeable: The Father is not the Son, nor is He the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father, and so on.

Aside from the hypostatic triunity of the three subjects, which is, so to speak, a priori the Holy Trinity with respect to one person, there also exists the Holy Trinity as the trine interrelation or mutual definition of the three persons. And just as, with reference to the trihypostatic subject, we have established precisely trinitarity, not more and not less, as the determining and exhaustive self-definition of I and as the actualization of the self-consciousness of the Absolute Subject, so we must also understand the Trinity in Its interrelation precisely as concrete trinitarity, in the inner necessity and perfection of the number three (once again, not more and not less).

Self-definition of Hypostases

The interrelation of the hypostases, as the interrelation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, should be understood not on the basis of their origination but on the basis of their concrete self-definition.

The Father is called Unengendered in relation to the Son, but this is only a negative definition. The Father is called principle, source, cause, initial hypostasis, for from Him the Son is engendered and the Holy Spirit proceeds. But this does not signify that the Father is the cause of Their origination (auto to einai), for the hypostases do not originate. They exist eternally. The interrelation of the hypostases, as the interrelation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, should be understood not on the basis of their origination but on the basis of their concrete self-definition. The Trinity of hypostases is already given in its being in the very interior of the absolute hypostatic (i.e., trihypostatic) subject by the manifestation of the absolute I as I, Thou, He, We, You. … it should be affirmed that the three hypostatic centers of the triune Subject are already given apart from their hypostatic qualification as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The entire problematic of originations, particularly with reference to the Holy Spirit, is connected with the impersonalistic presupposition of the primacy of the divine nature with respect to the hypostases, and the latter must therefore originate in the nature. On the contrary, existence as subjects, i.e., independently of the nature, is proper to the three hypostases, although, to be sure, such an opposition or distinction is possible only in abstracto, not in re.

The generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit cannot be generalized and counted as two «originations». Rather, these are two images of God in these two images of love. The Father is the Subject of this self-revelation, the Principle, the «Cause»; whereas the Son is the One Who gives Himself for this revelation of the Father. He is the One Who reveals the Father, the One Who Speaks, the Word. Generation here should by no means be understood in the anthropomorphic sense of origination or production, for this aspect of generation belongs only to temporal being, to being that has an origin. It must be understood as a spiritual image of the love of the Engendering One and the Engendered One, but by no means as the image of the originating one and the originated one.

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