Piero Coda’s Theology of History as ongoing memory of Humanity’s participation in the Trinitarian kenosis

This essay was originally delivered as a paper at a symposium on the topic of Translatio Imperii at the University of Hong Kong in February 2010. After the ideological horrors of the 20th century, participants were asked: ‘Can one still speak in any legitimate way of a divine providence in history?’ Piero Coda’s work, particularly his Evento PasqualeIl negativo e la trinità, andIl logos e il nulla, could be read as a development of a humanism expanded to the dimensions of a participation in the Trinitarian kenosis. His grappling with Hegel shows the centrality of Jesus’ forsakenness and of the Trinity to contemporary culture, while his Il Logos e il nulla indicates how the intra-Trinitarian kenosis becomes the context for dialogue with the great oriental religions. Finally, his ‘Towards a Theological Foundation for a Political Category of Fraternity’ develops a Trinity-based understanding of fraternity as an experience overcoming religious, social, and anthropological divisions in contemporary culture. Shining through Coda’s work can be discerned a profound rethinking of divine providence in a history however deeply scarred by evils such as the Holocaust.
Perhaps Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s most powerful single response to the Bolshevik coup d’état and consequent ideological revolution in Russa was his novel, In the First Circle1. His answer to the Inferno of Stalin’s anti-world of betrayal is the Paradiso of Nadya’s and Gleb’s faithfulness, all the more heroic when neither are aware of the other’s fidelity overcoming the temptation to be unfaithful. The novel focuses on those good souls – who despite being externally bound by hell’s “first circle” – have yet achieved a spiritual freedom allowing their participation in the mutual love that is the key to Dante’s Paradiso. As we know, Dante’s journey from Inferno through Purgatorio to Paradiso culminates in his vision of the mutual love of the Trinity.

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