Scott Ables

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Divinity (MDiv)



First Advisor

Chuck Conniry

Second Advisor

Roger Nam


There does not appear to be a coherent doctrine of Perichoresis within recent social trinitarian literature, as represented by the six theologians surveyed here. Further, although there is a discemable development of the concept in Patristic use, that trajectory never attained any sort of theological centrality. The development originated with Gregory of Nazianzus with one verbal use to support his Christology. Gregory's Christology was adopted by, and the concept of perichoresis took shape in, Maxim us the Confessor, who was the first to employ the noun perichoresis. Jolm of Damascus adopts and expands this christological trajectory, and then migrates the concept into the trinitarian sphere. Thus, with a few exceptions the christological application was largely forgotten and the trinitarian use was subordinated to the unity of substance, until picked up again in the Twentieth century and articulated with force by Ji.irgen Moltmann. Subsequently many have adopted the concept for use in their own theological programs. My analysis suggests that recent trinitarian use has failed to appropriately account for the history of the development of the concept, moving too quickly to nuanced and varied appropriations within modem theological programs while largely ignoring its historical origination in Christology.