Brandon D. Smith, The Biblical Trinity: Encountering the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Scripture

Smith, Brandon D.  The Biblical Trinity: Encountering the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Scripture. Lexham Press, 2023. 180 pp. Hb; $22.99. Link to Lexham Press

Serving as assistant professor of theology and New Testament at Cedarville, Brandon D. Smith is a co-founder of the Center for Baptist Renewal and host of the Church Grammar podcast. He recently published The Trinity in the Book of Revelation: Seeing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in John’s Apocalypse (IVP Academic, 2023; reviewed here). Over the years, Smith taught hundreds of students Trinity, church history, and hermeneutics. This little book is the fruit of that ministry.Biblical Trinity

Smith’s premise in this book is that the doctrine of the Trinity rises from the fullness of what the whole Bible says about God. To understand this doctrine, we need to follow “the logic and grammar of scripture” (1). He offers basic reading strategies and demonstrates those strategies using select passages. The book provides a canonical, theological reading of scripture. He argues the doctrine of the Trinity is rooted in the canonical biblical story. God does not change into a Trinity in the New Testament, nor is the Trinity absent from the Old Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is received in Christian tradition as a faithful reading of Scripture’s presentation of God.

Smith discusses fifteen New Testament passages that contribute to the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, in the synoptic Gospels, he discusses Matthew 9:1-8 (Jesus forgives sin) and the trinitarian commission in Matthew 28:18-20. There are three chapters on key passages in John (1:1-18; 5:17-28; 8:58). Among several Pauline texts are 1 Corinthians 8:6 (“a New Shema”), Ephesians 1:1-14 (“A Triune Salvation”) and Philippians 2:5-11 (Equality with God). Although he wrote a book on the Trinity in Revelation, he only includes Triune Worship in Revelation 4-5.

The final chapter offers three rules for “reading trinitarianly.” First, Christ is the center of the Canon. Developing Jesus’s claim in Luke 24: 44-45, all Scripture refers to him. Smith sees this as the Christological depth of Scripture. Second, the spirit gives understanding 2 Corinthians 3:4-17. We cannot recognize when the Old Testament speaks about Jesus without the Holy Spirit. Third, the Trinity is the biblical grammar of Scripture. Although Smith wants to read the whole canon of Scripture through the lens of the Doctrine of the Trinity, his chapters focus on New Testament texts. He does look back to the Old Testament in every chapter, but his focus is on New Testament passages that contribute to a biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

The chapters in this book are brief and intentionally written as a devotional reflecting on specific passages. Smith often cites or allusions to early church writers (since the Trinity is developed in early church theological reflection). Occasional endnotes refer to commentaries and other essential studies on early Christian doctrine.

Conclusion: This small book does not pretend to be a detailed scriptural argument for the Trinity, nor a history of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity in church history. Although it contains those elements, the book is better described as a primer on theological interpretation of Scripture.

The book is an attractive small hardback, 5×7 inches, with a dust jacket. It would be an excellent book for a small group Bible study or personal devotional text.

NB: Thanks to Lexham Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.


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