The love paradigm and the retrieval of Western medieval love mysticism in modern Russian trinitarian thought (from Solov'ev to Bulgakov)

Michael Aksionov Meerson, Fordham University


The present dissertation studies the emergence of the love paradigm in contemporary trinitarian doctrines, giving special emphasis to tracing this paradigm's development in modern Russian philosophy and theology. This paradigm explains the triune relationship of the Divine hypostases by the ontological love within God. Two features in particular characterize this love paradigm: first, an approach to the trinitarian doctrine which is personalistic, and which begins from an analysis of personhood rather than of substance, and second, a modern relational understanding of the person as being in communion with others. The love paradigm emerged on the Russian side as the result of a rethinking of the Eastern patristic tradition in the light of both Western love mysticism (Bernard of Clairvaux, and Richard of St. Victor, etc.) and modern, post-Kantian, philosophy which is radically anthropocentric. Beginning with Vladimir Solov'ev, Russian thinkers developed a new form of exemplarism, the so-called "concrete idealism," or "concrete metaphysics." This form of exemplarism was not merely cosmological, but rather and primarily personalistic. The main vestige of the Trinity is not the world, but the human person. The conformity between the divine and human personalities is rooted in God's humanity which is revealed in the Incarnation. Russian thinkers also link the mystery of personhood with the mystery of love. Since genuine love implies the transforming of one's selfishness, ontological love in God, in which three divine Persons constitute one indivisible unity of life, can be understood as the very model of interpersonal relations. The theologians who embraced the love paradigm, both Russian and Western, emphasize that this paradigm comprises both Greek and Latin traditions. It reintroduces the Greek patristic concept of perichoresis within Augustinian love tradition. Thus it allows to overcome the polemics of the past and creates a basis for doing theology in an ecumenical perspective.

Subject Area

Theology|Philosophy|Slavic literature

Recommended Citation

Meerson, Michael Aksionov, "The love paradigm and the retrieval of Western medieval love mysticism in modern Russian trinitarian thought (from Solov'ev to Bulgakov)" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9628346.