A4. Origins of Noetic Triune

A variety of pre-science pagan religions, ancient civilized religions, and historical and contemporary Christian religions have utilized the construct of triune to explain the sacred nature of their reality. Often in them, God or gods are tripartite, triune supernatural beings. While nowhere in the Christian Bible is a trinity specifically mentioned–though it is alluded to–trinity became a fundamental tenet and doctrine of the Christian faith with its adoption by First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

Noetic Trinity

In The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers explicates the nature and meaning of the Christian Holy Trinity. Sayers was a renowned author of detective fiction, a classics academic, and a lay theologian who published that small volume in 1941. In 1957 the president of Union Theology Seminary, Henry Van Dusen, told the author that The Mind of the Maker was, perhaps, the best lay theological explanation of the Christian Trinity of its time. In the book Sayers argues that the the triune nature of Christian Holy Trinity is reflected in man’s creative, artistic imagination. Sayers explains how the Holy Trinity symbolizes the three aspects of the Creative. She enlightens our understanding with her analysis of the Holy Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–in terms of Idea, Energy, and Power. It is Sayers ideas of trinity in The Mind of the Maker that have in-formed the noetic triune proffered, here.

Other Origins

Trinity & Gnosticism

Plato’s Timaeus

In his dialog Timaeus, Plato proposes a well-order universe based on mathematical principles  in which “…the universe as a whole as well as its various parts are so arranged as to produce a vast array of good effects.” His teleological explanation attributes it creation to the Craftsman, a demigod.

The model that serves the Craftsman is regularly named the “Living Thing (Itself),” and this is either a form, or an appropriately organized constellation of forms. It is the Ideal (or better: Real) Universe; the object of what Plato had called “real astronomy” (as opposed to empirical astronomy) in the Republic (527d–531d, esp. 530a3). The Craftsman does not—indeed logically cannot—copy by replicating the Living Thing; his challenge rather lies in crafting an image of it that is subject to the constraints of becoming: unlike the model, it must be visible and tangible (28b7), hence three-dimensional (solid—stereoeidê, 32b1). This constraint in turn requires the postulation of a three-dimensional field in which the created universe may subsist, a field that Timaeus initially calls the “receptacle (hupodochê) of all becoming” (49a5–6) and subsequently calls “space”(chôra, 52a8, d3).
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, rev. 2013

Here in the invisible and intangible model may be an origin of Sayer’s Idea1 and, distantly,  the roots of the noetic triune Image.

Platonic Forms

Sayers’ Idea is very similar to Plato’s Forms and, most probably, has its origins in his Theory of Forms. Platonic Forms (or ideas) were, immaterial and transcendent of  space and time, as are Ideas in the Sayers’ Holy Trinity and in the noetic triune. However, unlike the latter Ideas, Forms are universal, archetypal, perfect, and unchanging and therefore, while abstractly in-forming, they are neither exclusive to nor in-formed by the images which represent them.

See the post, Platonic Ideas and the Laws of Physics.

Pagan Roots

…the trinitarian idea of the Chaldeans was a doctrine of the Akkadians, who, themselves, belonged to a race which was the first to conceive a metaphysical trinity.

. . . .

The Zoroastrian Oracles are full and explicit upon the subject of the Divine Triad. “A triad of Deity shines forth throughout the whole world, of which a Monad is the head,” admits the Reverend Dr. Maurice.

“For from this Triad, in the bosoms, are all things governed,” says a Chaldean oracle. The Phos, Pur, and Phlox, of Sanchoniathon, are Light, Fire, and Flame, three manifestations of the Sun who isone. Bel-Saturn, Jupiter-Bel, and Bel or Baal-Chom are the Chaldean trinity; “The Babylonian Bel was regarded in the Triune aspect of Belitan, Zeus-Belus (the mediator) and Baal-Chom who is Apollo Chomæus. This was the Triune aspect of the ‘Highest God,’ who is, according to Berosus, either El (the Hebrew), Bel, Belitan, Mithra, or Zervana, and has the name “the Father.” The Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva,(4) corresponding to Power, Wisdom, and Justice, which answer in their turn to Spirit, Matter, Time, and the Past, Present, and Future, can be found in the temple of Gharipuri; thousands of dogmatic Brahmans worship these attributes of the Vedic Deity, while the severe monks and nuns of Buddhistic Thibet recognize but the sacred trinity of the three cardinal virtues: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, professed by the Christians, practiced by the Buddhists and some Hindus alone.

The Persian triplicate Deity also consists of three persons, Ormazd, Mithra, and Ahriman. “That is that principle,” says Porphyry, “which the author of the Chaldaic Summary saith, ‘They conceive there is one principle of all things, and declare that is one and good’.” The Chinese idol Sanpao, consists of three equal in all respects; and the Peruvians “supposed their Tanga-tanga to be one in three, and three in one,” says Faber. The Egyptians have their Emepht, Eicton, and Phta; and the triple god seated on the Lotos can be seen in the St. Petersburg Museum, on a medal of the Northern Tartars.
Theosophy, Vol. 56, No. 5, March, 1968

Dzogchen Triune

A parallel can be drawn between the secular noetic triune and the Dzogchen Buddhism view of an intelligent universe. More 

1. See Catherine Kenney’s The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers in which she references John Thurmer’s monograph, A Detection of the Trinity. In it “…he suggests that [Sayers] borrowed from Augustine of Hippo the idea of a ‘psychological analogy’ between the Trinity and the human soul, which Augustine’s De Trinitate defines as being composed of embody, understanding, and will.” [p. 250]

1 thought on “A4. Origins of Noetic Triune

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