Traces of the Trinity: Signs, Sacraments and Sharing God’s Life

By Andrew Robinson

A contribution to trinitarian theology, examining the nature of the Trinity and its significance for the Christian through semiotic concepts and methods.

ISBN: 9780227174432


Traces of the Trinity is a masterful exploration of Christian theology through the lens of semiotics – the study of signs. Andrew Robinson provides helpful analogies and clear explanations throughout to lead even the non-specialist through the subject with ease.

Although the variety of signs is endless, all signs and sign-interpretations have the same basic, underlying structure: sign, object and interpretation. Further, this triad rests upon the existence of three ‘elemental grounds’: Quality, Otherness and Mediation. According to Robinson’s highly original thesis, in the structure of signs we can see vestiges of the powerful, threefold dynamic of the Trinity in creation. He proceeds to develop a highly original ‘semiotic model’ of the Trinity, illuminating and integrating key areas of Christian thought: creation, incarnation, and atonement; the roles of baptism and the Eucharist; the nature of the church and the basis of participation in the divine life. Traces of the Trinity makes belief in the Trinity relevant to ordinary, everyday experience, and challenges the church to recognize the implications for its calling to be transformative, truthful, and inclusive.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 190

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Dr Andrew Robinson is Honorary University Fellow in Theology at the University of Exeter. He is the author of God and the World of Signs: Trinity, Evolution and the Metaphysical Semiotics of C.S. Peirce and editor of Darwinism and Natural Theology: Evolving Perspectives. In 2011 he was elected to membership of the International Society for Science and Religion in recognition of his work on the application of semiotics to Christian theology. He continues to practise medicine in Newton Abbot, Devon.


Key Terms and Biblical Quotations

Part I: The Trinity and The Structure of Signs
1. “You See a Cloud Rising”
2. Quality, Otherness and Mediation
3. The Dance of Meaning
4. The Colour of Love
5. Three Kinds of Relation

Part II: Sharing God’s Life
6. Partakers of the Divine Nature
7. Holding the Baby
8. The Joy of Scapegoating
9. Holy, Catholic and Apostolic

Part III: The Mystery of Existence
10. Fingerprints of the Trinity
11. Life in the Semiotic Matrix
12. What God is Not
13. Distinct but Inseparable

Select Bibliography


Endorsements and Reviews

Once in a decade, at most, one encounters a fundamentally new and exciting way of conceiving the Trinity. Traces of the Trinity is such a work. Even rarer are trinitarian theologies that arise out of cutting-edge science (in this case, biosemiotics). Scientists, philosophers, and theologians will recognize the immensely rich interweaving of ideas that Robinson accomplishes here. But you won’t need a PhD to feel the spiritual tug of this vision … of vestigial marks written into the very structure of Creation.
Philip Clayton, author of Adventures in the Spirit

In this highly accessible book, Robinson opens up the depth and relevance of biblical texts and traditional Christian dogmas. He shows how religion is deeply embedded in the very structure of human existence in all its ordinariness: how God is involved with our reality and we are involved with God’s. Robinson writes with admirable clarity … I could not put the book down.
Jan-Olav Henriksen, Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo

a lucid and accessible account of the purpose and nature of signs as explored by the American philosopher C.S. Peirce (1839-1914). … From this starting-point, Robinson rolls out a series of impressive reflections on subjects such as the nature of the Church and its ministry.
Revd Dr Edward Dowler, in Church Times, 9 October 2015

[Andrew Robinson] combines technical sophistication with clear prose accessible to nonspecialists as well as specialists.
Hans Gustafson, in Theological Studies, Vol 76, No 3

It is a book for all, especially those with a keen interest in semiotics.
Stanley Okeke, in The Expository Times, Vol 127, No 6