Matthew Anslow


The Holy Trinity is viewed, within the Catholic tradition, as “the central mystery of the Christian faith and life.” Given the importance of the doctrine, this paper explores to what extent, and by what means, humans are capable of knowledge of the Trinity. It summarises Thomas Aquinas’ account of the knowledge of the Trinity, beginning with an outline of Aquinas’ understanding of the place of revelation and reason in the knowledge of God in general. From there, the paper notes Aquinas’ denial of the ability of human reason to discern the Trinity before turning to his primary reason for this position: that human reason is incapable of knowing the Trinity, though reason may comprehend and provide confirmation of what has been made known by revelation. Indeed, for Aquinas, the doctrine of the Trinity can be explained, even as the Trinity itself is a mystery, as demonstrated in his own writings. The paper turns finally to use Aquinas’ own explanation of the ‘persons’ of the Trinity to illustrate his approach to reasoning in relation to what has been known by revelation.