Trinity is the term by which is expressed the Christian belief that there are three persons in one God. Christian doctrine holds that a) there is only one God, one divine nature and being. b) This one divine being is tripersonal, that is, three persons in one God, designated as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. c) These three persons are joint partakers of the identical nature and majesty of God. While this doctrine is a preeminent mystery of revelation, the believed revealed nature of God, transcending human or finite comprehension, it is considered essential to the understanding of the scriptures.
Even though the Trinity doctrine is implicit rather than explicit in the Old Testament, it is believe that with the accompanying knowledge of the New Testament, evidence of the Trinity can be found in the Old Testament (e. g., Numbers 6:24-26; Isaiah 6:3; 63:9, 10 the sanctity of the symbolical number three-the plural form of Elohim, also places in which the deity is spoken of as conversing with himself). This is thought to be in accordance with the gradual development of revealed truths in other particulars. However, the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament is emphatically monotheistic; a principle reason for this is thought to have been that such religious rigidity was that it provided a safeguard against polytheism.
Albrecht Dürer (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
The Holy Trinity 1511
Woodcut print on paper made by Albrecht Dürer
399 millimetres x: 285 millimetres
The British Museum, London
The Holy Trinity, with the dead Christ being supported by God the Father in Heaven, crowned by the Holy Spirit, surrounded by angels holding the instruments of the passion; underneath the four winds blowing
The British Museum Catalogue entry for this piece states:
“’This … represent the pinnacle of Dürer’s achievement in the woodcut technique. In no other woodcut does he achieve such a subtle representation of shape and depth through using a system of parallel lines, cross hatching and dashes of varying degrees of density. Nor in any other woodcut does he use the white areas of the paper to heighten parts of his composition with such dramatic effect.
A massive painted copy of this print was used as the basis for the temporary decoration designed by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel for the Dürer festivities in Berlin in 1828 (see U. Kuhlemann, pp. 39-60). It was designed in the shape of an altarpiece, with the Holy Trinity in a tympanum above, and a sculptured effigy of Dürer with personifications of the arts below (see Bialostocki pp. 122ff.)’”
Dürer’s religious woodcuts established iconographic models would be widely disseminated throughout Europe and America over the centuries to come