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1. FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CONTROVERSY TO THE COUNCIL OF NICÆA.
At the great Oriental Council which met at Antioch about the year 268, the Logos doctrine was definitely accepted, 3while the “Homoousios” on the other hand was rejected.33See Vol. iii., pp. 40, 45. The most learned man whom the East at that time possessed, Lucian (of Samosata) took up the work of the excommunicated metropolitan, Paul of Samosata. First educated at the school of Edessa, where since the days of Bardesanes a free and original spirit had prevailed, then a follower of Paul, he got from the latter his dislike to the theology of “the ancient teachers”, and with this he united the critical study of the Bible, a subject in which he became a master. He founded in Antioch an exegetical-theological school which, during the time of the three episcopates of Domnus, Timäus and Cyril, was not in communion with the Church there, but which afterwards, shortly before the martyrdom of Lucian, made its peace with the Church.
This school is the nursery of the Arian doctrine, and Lucian, its head, is the Arius before Arius. Lucian started from the Christology of Paul, but, following the tendency of the time, and perhaps also because he was convinced on exegetical grounds, he united it with the Logos Christology, and so created a fixed form of doctrine.44It is extremely probable that Lucian’s study of Origen too had convinced him of the correctness of the Logos doctrine. We have to regard his doctrine as a combination of the doctrines of Paul and Origen. Lucian and Origen are classed together by Epiph., H. 76, 3, as teachers of the Arians. It is probable that it was only gradually he allowed the Logos doctrine to have stronger influence on the Adoptian form. This explains why it was not till towards the end of his life that he was able to bridge over his differences with the Church. He was revered by his pupils both as the teacher par excellence, and in his character as ascetic; his martyrdom, which occurred in the year 311 or 312, increased his reputation. The remembrance of having sat at the feet of Lucian was a firm bond of union amongst his pupils. After the time of persecution they received influential ecclesiastical posts.55Amongst Lucian’s pupils were Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Menophantus of Ephesus, Theognis of Nicæa, Maris of Chalcedon, Athanasius of Anazarbus (?), the sophist Asterius, and Leontius, afterwards bishop of Antioch, and others. In Syria the pupils of Dorotheus—namely, Eusebius of Cæsarea and Paulinus of Tyre were supporters of Arius, as were also many of Origen’s admirers. As regards the other partisans of Arius who are known to us by name, we do not know whether they were pupils of Lucian or not. Egypt and Libya are represented by Theonas of Marmarica, Secundus of Ptolemais and the presbyter Georgius of Alexandria, and further, according to Philostorgius, by Daches of Berenice, Secundus of Tauchira, Sentianus of Boraum, Zopyrus of Barka and Meletius of Lykopolis. In other provinces we have Petrophilus of Scythopolis, Narcissus of Neronias, Theodotus of Laodicea, Gregorius of Berytus and Aëtius of Lydda. Philostorgius further mentions others, but he also reckons as belonging to his party those old bishops who did not live to see the outbreak of the controversy and who accordingly have been claimed by the orthodox side as well; see Gwatkin l.c., p. 31. For other names of presbyters and deacons at Alexandria who held Arian views, see the letters of Alexander in Theodoret, I. 4, and Socrates, I. 6. There was no longer anything to recall 4the fact that their master had formerly been outside of the Church. These pupils as a body afterwards came into conflict more or less strongly with the Alexandrian theology. So far as we know, no single one of them was distinguished as a religious character; but they knew what they wanted; they were absolutely convinced of the truth of their school-doctrine, which had reason and Scripture on its side. This is what characterises the school. At a time when the Church doctrine was in the direst confusion, and was threatening to disappear, and when the union of tradition, Scripture, and philosophical speculation in the form of dogma had been already called for, but had not yet been accomplished, this school was conscious of possessing an established system of doctrine which at the same time permitted freedom. This was its strength.66These pupils of Lucian must have displayed all the self-consciousness, the assurance, and the arrogance of a youthful exclusive school (ἐκ τῆς αὐτῆς δηλητηρίου φρατρίας, says Epiphanius in one place, H. 69, 5), haughtily setting themselves far above the “ancients” and pitying their want of intelligence. Highly characteristic in this respect is the account of Alexander, their opponent, after making all allowance for the malevolent element in it; see very specially the following passage, Theodoret, H. E. I. 4): οἵ οὐδὲ τῶν ἀρχαίων τινὰς συγκρίνειν ἑαυτοῖς ἀξιοῦσιν, οὐδὲ οἷς ἡμεῖς ἐκ παίδων ὡμιλήσαμεν διδασκάλοις ἐξισοῦσθαι ἀνέχονται· ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ τῶν νῦν πανταχοῦ συλλειτουργῶν τινὰ εἰς μέτρον σοφίας ἡγοῦνται· μόνοι σοφοὶ καὶ ἀκτήμονες καὶ δογμάτων εὑρεταὶ λέγοντες εἶναι, καὶ αὐτοῖς ἀποκεκαλύφθαι μόνοις, ἄπερ οὐδενὶ τῶν ὑπὸ τὸν ἥλιον ἑτέρῳ πέφυκεν ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἔννοιαν. One may further compare the introduction to the Thalia.
The accounts of Lucian’s Christology which have been handed down are meagre enough, still they give us a sufficiently clear picture of his views. God is One; there is nothing equal to Him; for everything besides Him is created. He has created 5the Logos or Wisdom—who is to be distinguished from the inner divine Logos—out of the things that are not (ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων), and sent him into the world.77He is thus a created “God.” This Logos has taken a human body though not a human soul, and accordingly all the feelings and spiritual struggles of Christ are to be attributed to the Logos. Christ has made known the Father to us, and by being man and by his death has given us an example of patience. This exhausts his work, by means of which—for so we may complete the thought—he, constantly progressing, has entered into perfect glory. It is the doctrine of Paul of Samosata, but instead of man it is a created heavenly being who here becomes “Lord”. Lucian must have put all the emphasis on the “out of the things that are not” (ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων) and on the “progress” (προκοπή). The creaturehood of the Son, the denial of his co-eternity with the Father, and the unchangeableness of the Son achieved by constant progress and constancy, constitute the main articles in the doctrine of Lucian and his school. Just because of this he refuses to recognise in the Son the perfectly equal image of the ousia or substance of the Father (Philost. II. 15).88For the proofs of what is here said regarding Lucian see my article “Lucian” in Herzog’s R.-Encykl., 2nd ed. Vol. VIII. Here I give merely the following. For the close connection between Arius and Lucian we possess a series of witnesses. Alexander of Alex. says expressly in his letter to Alexander (Theodoret H.E. I. 4) that Arius started from Lucian. Arius himself in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia describes himself and his friend as Συλλουκιανιστής; Philostorgius enumerates the pupils of Lucian, whom he regards as the friends of Arius (II. 14), and lets us see (II. 3, 13-15 and III. 15) that at the beginning of the fifth century Lucian was still regarded as the patriarch and teacher of the Arians. Epiphanius (Hær. 43. 1) and Philostorgius (l.c.) inform us that Lucian was revered by the Arians as a martyr. Epiphanius and Marius Victorinus call the Arians “Lucianists” (see also Epiph. H. 76. 3). Sozomen relates that the Fathers of Arian or semi-Arian views assembled in Antioch in the year 341 accepted a confession of faith of Lucian’s (III. 5). This confession is, it is true, given by Athanasius (de synodis 23), Socrates (II. 10) and Hilary (de synod. 29) without any statement as to its having originated with Lucian; but Sozomen informs us that a semi-Arian synod which met in Caria in 367 also recognised it as Lucianist (VI. 12). According to the author of the seven dialogues on the Trinity, who was probably Maximus Confessor, the Macedonians did the same (Dial. III. in Theodoreti Opp. V. 2, p. 991 sq., ed. Schultze and Nöss). The semi-Arians also at the synod of Seleucia in 359 seem to have ascribed the Confession to Lucian (see Caspari, Alte and neue Quellen zur Gesch. d. Taufsymbols, p. 42 f., n. 18). Since Sozomen himself, however, questions the correctness of the view which attributes it to Lucian, and since, moreover, other reasons may be alleged against it, we ought with Caspari to regard the creed as a redaction of a confession of Lucian’s. This fact too shews what a high reputation the martyr had in those circles. That Lucian’s school was pre-eminently an exegetical one is evident amongst other things from Lucian’s well-known activity in textual criticism, as well as from Philostorg. (III. 15). There can be no doubt as to the 6philosophy to which Lucian adhered. He worked with the means supplied by the critical and dialectic philosophy of Aristotle, although indeed his conception of God was Platonic, and though his Logos doctrine had nothing in common with the teaching of Aristotle. His opponents have expressly informed us that his pupils turned to account the Aristotelian philosophy.99See on Arius, e.g., Epiphan. H. 69 c. 69, on Aëtius, who was indirectly a pupil of Lucian (Philostorg. III. 15), the numerous passages in the Cappadocians and Epiphanius H. 76 T. III., p. 251, ed. Oehler. Besides, in almost every sentence of what is left us of the writings of Aëtius we see the Aristotelian. Philostorgius testifies to the fact that he specially occupied himself with Logic and Grammar; see above all, the little work of Aëtius in 74 theses, which Epiphanius (H. 76) has preserved for us. In his application of Aristotelianism Aëtius, however, went further than Arius, as is peculiarly evident from the thesis of the knowableness of God. If one recollects that in the third century the Theodotian-Adoptian Christology was founded by the help of what was supplied by Aristotelianism, and that the Theodotians were also given to the critical study of the Bible,1010See Vol. III., p. 24. the connection between Arianism and Adoptianism thus becomes clear. It is incorrect to trace the entire opposition between the Orthodox and the Arians to the opposition between Platonism and Aristotelianism, incorrect if for no other reason because a strong Platonic element is contained in what they possess in common—namely, the doctrine of God and of the Logos; but it is correct to say that the opposition cannot be understood if regard is not had to the different philosophical methods employed.1111Correctly given in Baur, L. v. d. Dreieinigkeit I., p. 387 ff.—not at all clear in Dorner op. cit. I., p. 859. In Lucian’s teaching Adoptianism is combined1212It is self-evident that this combination deprived Paul’s system of doctrine of all the merit which it contained. with the doctrine of the Logos as a creature (κτίσμα), and this form of doctrine is developed by the aid of the Aristotelian philosophy and based on the 7critical exegesis of the Bible. Aristotelian Rationalism dominated the school. The thought of an actual redemption was put in the background. The Christian interest in monotheism is exhausted by the statement that the predicate “underived” attaches to one single being only. This interest in the “unbegotten begetter”, and also, what is closely connected with it, the ranging of all theological thoughts under the antithesis of first cause or God, and creation, are also Aristotelian. Theology here became a “Technology”, that is, a doctrine of the unbegotten and the begotten1313According to Theodoret (Hær. fab. IV. 3) it was Aëtius himself who called theology “technology.” Perhaps the most characteristic example of how this technology treated purely religious language is to be found in the benediction with which Aëtius concluded one of his works (Epiphan. H. 76. T. III., p. 222, ed. Oehler). Ἐρρωμένους καὶ ἐρρωμένας ὑμᾶς ὁ ὤν αὐτογένντος Θεός, ὁ καὶ μόνος ἀληθινὸς Θεὸς προσαγορευθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀποσταλέντος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὑποστάντος τε ἀληθῶς πρὸ αἰώνων καὶ ὄντος ἀληθῶς γεννητῆς ὑποστάσεως, διατηρήσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀσεβείας, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, δι᾽ οὗ πᾶσα δόξα τῷ πατρὶ καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν. This reminds us mutatis mutandis of the benediction of the modern rationalistic preacher, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the great teacher and friend of men, be with you all.” I am glad further to see that Rupp too (Gregor von Nyssa, p. 139) has connected the conception of ἀγεννησία, as being a central one in Eunomius, with the πρῶτον κινοῦν ἀκίνητον of Aristotle. which was worked out in syllogisms and based on the sacred codex.
A pupil of Lucian named Arius, perhaps a Lybian by birth, became when already well up in years, first deacon in Alexandria, and afterwards presbyter in the church of Baukalis. The presbyters there at that period still possessed a more independent position than anywhere else.1414Spite, however, of what we know of the Meletian schism in Alexandria and of the temporary connection of Arius with it, (cf. also the schism of Colluthus) it is not very clear if the outbreak of the Arian controversy, is connected with the opposition between episcopate and presbyterate (against Böhringer). The Alexandrian Presbyters were at that time actual Parochi. There are some obscure references in the letter of Alexander (Theodoret I. 4), see Gwatkin, p. 29. Owing, however, to the influence of the martyr bishop Peter (+ 311) a tendency had gained ascendency in the episcopate in Alexandria, which led to Christian doctrine being sharply marked off from the teachings of Greek philosophy (μαθήματα τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς φιλοσοφίας) the presence of which had been observed in Origen, and in general shewed itself in a distrust of 8“scientific” theology, while at the same time the thought of the distinction between the Logos and the Father was given a secondary place.1515See Vol. III., p. 99 ff. Arius nevertheless fearlessly advanced the views he had learned from Lucian. The description we get of him is that of a man of grave appearance and a strict ascetic, but at the same time affable and of a prepossessing character, though vain. He was highly respected in the city; the ascetics and the virgins were specially attached to him. His activity had been recognised also by the new bishop Alexander who began his episcopate in 313. The outbreak of the controversy is wrapped in obscurity, owing to the fact that the accounts are mutually contradictory. According to the oldest testimony it was an opinion expressed by Arius when questioned by the bishop on a certain passage of Scripture, and to which he obstinately adhered, which really began the controversy,1616See Constantine’s letter in Euseb., Vita Constant. II. 69; the notices in the Church historians and in Epiphanius (H. 69. 4) can hardly be reconciled with it. Along with Constantine’s statements the account of Socrates is specially worthy of consideration (I. 5). possibly in the year 318. Since the persecution had ceased, the Christological question was the dominant one in the Alexandrian Church. Arius was not the first to raise it. On the contrary he was able later on to remind the bishop how the latter had often both in the Church and in the Council of Presbyters (ἐν μέσῃ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ συνεδρίῳ πλειστάκις) refuted the Valentinian Christology, according to which the Son is an emanation,—the Manichæan, according to which the Son is a consubstantial part of the Father (μέρος ὁμοούσιον τοῦ πατρός),—the Sabellian, according to which the Godhead involves the identity of the Son and Father (ὑιοπάτωρ),—that of Hieracas. according to which the Son is a torch lighted at the torch of the Father, that Son and Father are a bipartite light and so on,—and how he, Arius, had agreed with him.1717Ep. Arii ad Alex. in Athanas. de synod. 16 and Epiphan. H. 69. 7. According to Philostorg. I. 3, the exertions of Arius had very specially contributed to bring about the election of Alexander as bishop, although he could then have become bishop himself. It was only after considerable hesitation and perhaps vacillation too, that 9Alexander resolved on the excommunication of Arius. It took place at a Synod held in 321 or 320 in presence of about one hundred Egyptian and Lybian bishops. Along with Arius some presbyters and deacons of Alexandria, as well as the Lybian bishops Theonas and Secundus, were deposed. This did not quieten Arius. He sought and forthwith found support amongst his old friends, and above all, got the help of Eusebius of Nicomedia. This student-friend had an old cause of quarrel with Alexander,1818Ep. Alexandri in Socr. I. 6 on Eusebius. Τὴν πάλαι γὰρ αὐτοῦ κακόνοιαν τὴν χρόνῳ σιωπηθεῖσαν νῦν διὰ τούτων (by letters) ἀνανεῶσαι βουλόμενος, σχηματίζεται μὲν ὡς ὑπὲρ τούτων γράφων· ἔργῳ δὲ δείκνυσιν, ὡς ὅτι ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ σπουδάζων τοῦτο ποιεῖ. His lust of power is characterised by Alexander in the words (l. c.) νομίσας ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ κεῖσθαι τὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας. and, contrary to ecclesiastical law, had been transferred to Nicomedia by Berytus, the most influential bishop1919He is supposed to have been related to the Emperor. According to a letter of Constantine’s of a later date (in Theodoret. H. E. I. 19) he remained faithful to Licinius and had before the catastrophe worked against Constantine. at the court of the Empress, a sister of Constantine. Arius, driven out of Alexandria “as an atheist”, had written to him from Palestine.2020Theodoret H. E. I. 5, Epiph. H. 69 6. He was able to appeal to a number of eastern bishops, and above all, to Eusebius of Cæsarea; in fact he asserted that all the eastern bishops agreed with him and had on this account been put under the ban by Alexander (?). Eusebius of Nicomedia espoused the cause of Arius in the most energetic fashion in a large number of letters.2121See the letter to Paulinus of Tyre—which is put later by some—in Theodoret, H. E. I. 6. In this letter Eusebius praises the zeal of the Church historian Eusebius in the matter and blames Paulinus for his silence. He too ought to come to the help of Arius by giving a written opinion based on the theology of the Bible. There is a fragment of a letter of Eusebius to Arius in Athanasius, de synod. 17, where there are also other letters of the friends of Arius. Alexander on his part also looked about for allies. He wrote numerous letters to the bishops, two of which have been preserved—namely, the Encyclica, i.e., the official report of what had occurred,2222See Socrat. H. E. I. 6 and Athanas., Opp. I., p. 313 sq. (ed. Paris, 1689, p. 397 sq.). and the epistle to Alexander, Bishop of Constantinople. (?)2323Theodoret, H. E. I. 4. The address is probably incorrect; the letter is written to several persons. In the 10latter letter, which is written in a very hostile tone, Alexander sought to check the powerful propaganda of Arianism. He appealed to the bishops of the whole of Egypt and the Thebaid and further to the Lybian, Pentapolitan, Syrian, Lycio-Pamphylian, Asiatic, Cappadocian, and other bishops. Arius betook himself to Nicomedia and from there addressed a conciliatory epistle to the Alexandrian bishop which we still possess.2424See note 3, p. 8. He also composed at that time his “Thalia,” of whose contents which were partly in prose and partly in verse, we cannot form any very correct idea from the few fragments handed down to us by Athanasius. His supporters thought a great deal of this. work while his opponents condemned it as profane, feeble, and affected.2525On the Thalia see Athan., Orat. c. Arian I. 2-10 de synod. 15. Philostorgius II. 2 tells us that Arius put his doctrine also into songs for sailors, millers, and travellers etc., in order thus to bring it to the notice of the lower classes. Athanasius also mentions songs. We can see from this that Arius made no distinction between faith and philosophical theology. He followed the tendency of the time. His opponents are for him “heretics.” A Bithynian Synod under the leadership of Eusebius decided for Arius,2626Sozom. I. 15. and Eusebius of Cæsarea entered into communication with Alexander of Alexandria in the character of mediator, in order to induce him to take a more favourable view of the doctrine of the excommunicated presbyter.2727The letter is in the Acts of the Second Nicene Council, Mansi XIII., p. 315. It may have been, more than anything else, the political state of things which allowed Arius to find his way back once more to Alexandria. Under the patronage of some distinguishes bishops with whom he had entered into correspondence, but who were not able to bring about any amicable arrangement with Alexander, Arius resumed his work in the city.2828Sozom. I. 15. In the autumn of 323 Constantine, after his victory over Licinius, became sole ruler in the Roman Empire. The controversy had already begun to rage in all the coast-provinces of the East. Not only did the bishops contend with each other, but the common people too began to take sides, and the dispute was carried on in such a base manner that the Jews scoffed at the 11thing in the theatres, and turned the most sacred parts of the doctrine of the Church into ridicule.2929Euseb., Vita Const. II. 61; Socrates I. 7; Theodoret I. 6; the discord extended even into families. Constantine forthwith interfered. The very full letter which he sent to Alexander and Arius,3030Vita Const. II. 64-70. in 323-24, is one of the most important monuments of his religious policy. The controversy is described as an idle wrangle over incomprehensible things, since the opponents are, he says, at one as regards the main point.3131Constantine wrote the letter not as a theologian, but as Emperor, which ought in fairness to be reckoned to his credit. The introduction is very skilfully worded: the Emperor trusted that he would he able with the help of the Eastern bishops to compose the Donatist schism, and now he sees the East torn by a far more destructive schism. He offers his services as mediator and accordingly takes up an absolutely impartial position. “Alexander should not have asked the questions and Arius should not have answered them; for such questions lie outside the “Law”; and above all, care ought to have been taken not to bring them to the notice of the people. The opponents, who at bottom presumably had the same convictions, ought to come to an agreement and compose their differences; this is what is done in the schools of philosophy; those who attend them dispute, but they afterwards formulate terms of agreement upon a common basis. It is only the common people and ignorant boys who quarrel about trifles.” The close of the letter expresses the very great anxiety felt by the Emperor lest the grand work of restoring peace and unity entrusted to him by Providence should be hindered. He accordingly most earnestly urges peace, even if they cannot actually agree. In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas and—reserve, is thus the watchword of the Emperor; in faith in Providence and in the conception of the Supreme Being they are certainly one: for the upholder of all has given to all a common light; differences of opinion on separate points are unavoidable and are perfectly legitimate when there is radical unity in dogma. “Restore to me my peaceful days and my undisturbed nights and do not allow me to spend what remains of my life in joylessness.” The close is once more very effective: he had already started, he says, for Alexandria, but had turned back when he heard of the split; the combatants may make it possible for him to come by becoming reconciled. This letter can hardly have been written under the influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia; still Nicomedia had already before this been the starting-point of a movement for bringing about union, as the conciliatory epistle of Arius and the pacific letter of his friends prove. But the letter had no effect, nor was the court-bishop, Hosius of Cordova, who brought it, and who as an Occidental appeared to be committed to neither side, able to effect a reconciliation between the parties. In all probability, however, Hosius had already come to an understanding3232If according to Socrat. III. 7, he at this time agitated in Alexandria the question about οὑσία and ὑπόστασις, it must have been in the western-orthodox sense. On the other hand, it is said (l. c.) that Hosius when in Alexandria endeavoured to refute the doctrine of Sabellius. He might thus, as a matter of fact, regard himself as a mediator, namely, between the Arian and Sabellian doctrinal propositions; see on this below. It is probable that a Synod was held in Alexandria during his stay there. in Alexandria with Alexander, and the latter shortly 12after took a journey to Nicomedia, thoroughly completed the understanding, talked over some other bishops there, and so prepared the way for the decision of the Council of Nicæa.3333This, it is true, is the account only of Philostorgius (I. 7), but there is no reason fur mistrusting him. The Emperor was won over by Hosius after he perceived the fruitlessness of his union-policy.3434In Egypt the tumults were so serious that even the image of the Emperor was attacked (Vita Const. III. 4). He now summoned a General Council to meet at Nicæa, apparently on the advice of Hosius,3535This is the account given by Sulpicius Severus, Chron. II. 40; “Nicæna synodus auctore Hosio confecta habebatur.” and the latter had the main share also in determining the choice of the formula proposed.3636Athan. hist. Arian. 42; οὗτος ἐν Νικαίᾳ πίστιν ἐξέθετο. On Hosius see the lengthy article in the Dict. of Christ. Biogr. The life of this important and influential bishop covers the century between the death of Origen and the birth of Augustine.
But before we take up the Council of Nicæa, we must get some idea of the doctrines of the contending parties.
We still know what were the Christological formulæ of Bishop Alexander which were attacked by Arius.3737From the letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia. They were the words: Ἀεὶ θέος, ἀεὶ υἱός, ἅμα πατήρ, ἅμα υἱός, συνυπάρχει ὁ υἱὸς ἀγεννήτως3838Lightfoot (S. Ignatius Vol. II., p. 90 ff.) has published a learned discussion on ἀγένητος (underived) and ἀγέννητος (unbegotten) in the Fathers up till Athanasius. Ignatius (Eph. 7) called the Son as to His Godhead “ἀγέννητος.” In the first decades of the Arian controversy no distinction was made between the words, i.e., the difference in the writing of them was not taken account of, and this produced frightful confusion. Still Athanasius saw clearly from the first that though the conception of generation might hold good of the Son, that of becoming or derivation did not; s. de synod 3: τὸν πατέρα μόνον ἄναρχον ὄντα καὶ ἀγέννητον γεγεννηκέναι ἀνεφίκτως καὶ πᾶσιν ἀκαταλήπτως οἴδαμεν· τὸν δὲ ὑιὸν γεγεννῆσθαι πρὸ αἰῶνων καὶκ μηκέτι ὁμοίως τῷ πατρὶ ἀγέννητον εἶναι καὶ αὐτὸν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀρχὴν ἔχειν τὸν γεννήσαντα πατέρα. Spite of this he could say (l. c. c. 46): τοῦτο τὸ ὄνομα—scil. ἀγέννητος, as if it were identical in form with ἀγένητος—διάφορα ἔχει τὰ σημαινόμενα. καὶ οἱ μέν, τὸ ὄν μὲν μήτε δὲ γεννηθέν, μήτε ὅλως ἔχον τὸν αἴτιον, λέγουσιν ἀγέννητον, οἱ δε τὸ ἄκτιστον; see also the tiresome distinctions in the work “de decret. synod. Nic.” 28 sq. The distinction in fact between γεννᾶν, γίγνεσθαι, κτίζειν was not yet itself a definite one. At a later period there was no hesitation in asserting that the Son both as God and as Man is γεννητός; s. Joh. Damasc. I. 8: χρῆ γὰρ εἰδέναι, ὅτι τὸ ἀγένητον, διὰ τοῦ ἑνὸς ν γραφόμενον, τὸ ἄκτιστον ἤ τὸ μὴ γενόμενον σημαίνει, τὸ δὲ ἀγέννητον, διὰ τῶν δύο ν γραφόμενον, δηλοῖ τὸ μὴ γεννηθέν. From this he infers that the Father only is ἀγέννητος, while the Son as God is γεννητός and indeed μόνος γεννητός. One can see from the wonderful word of Alexander’s, ἀγενητογενής, what difficulties were created at first for the orthodox by the ἀγέν[ν]ητος. Athanasius would have preferred to banish entirely the fatal word and not to have used it even for the Father. That it, as is the case with ὁμοούσιος also, was first used by the Gnostics and in fact by the Valentinians is evident from the striking passage in the letter of Ptolemaus to Flora c. 5, which has hitherto escaped the notice of those who have investigated the subject. Ptolemaus is there dealing with the only good primal God, the primal ground of all Being and all things, with the true demiurge and Satan. He writes amongst other things: καὶ ἔσται (ὁ δημιουργὸς) μὲν καταδεέστερος τοῦ τελείου Θεοῦ, ἅτε δὴ καὶ γεννητὸς ὢν καὶ οὐκ ἀγέννητος—εἷς γὰρ ἐστιν ἀγέννητος ὁ πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα . . . μείζων δὲ καὶ κυριώτερος τοῦ ἀντικειμένου γενήσεται καὶ ἐτέρας οὐσιας τε καὶ φύσεως πεφυκὼς παρὰ τὴν ἑκατέρων τούτων οὐσίαν . . . τοῦ δὲ πατρὸς τῶν ὅλων τοῦ ἀγεννήτου—that is thus the characteristic!—ἡ οὐσία ἐστὶν ἀφθαρσία τε καὶ φῶς αὐτοόν, ἁπλοῦν τε καὶ μονοειδὲς, ἡ δὲ τούτου (scil. τοῦ δημιουργοῦ) οὐσία διττὴν μέν τινα δύναμιν προήγαγεν, αὐτὸς δε τοῦ κρείττονός ἐστιν εἰκῶν. μηδέ σε τὰ νῦν τοῦτο θορυβείτω, θέλουσαν μαθεῖν, πῶς ἀπὸ μιᾶς ἀρχῆς τῶν ὅλων οὔσης τε καὶ ὁμολογουμένης ἡμῖν καὶ πεπιστευμένης, τῆς ἀγεννήτου καὶ ἀφθάρτου καὶ ἀγαθῆς, συνέστησαν καὶ αὗται αἱ φύσεις, ἥ τε τῆς φθορᾶς καὶ ἡ τῆς μεσότητος, ἀνομοούσιοι αὗται καθεστῶσαι, τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ φύσἰν ἔχοντος τὰ ὅμοια ἑαυτῷ καὶ ὁμοούσια γεννᾶν τε γαὶ προφέρειν· μαθήσῃ γὰρ ἑξῆς καὶ τὴν τούτου ἀρχήν τε καὶ γέννησιν. This is how Ptolemaus wrote c. 160. His words already contain the ecclesiastical terminology of the future! We also already meet with the term “σοφία ἀνυπόστατος” in a passage of his l. c. c. 1. Many passages prove, moreover, that not only the words employed later on, but also the ideas from which sprang the Church doctrine of the immanent Trinity in its subsequent form, were present in the writings of the Valentinians, as, e.g., the following from Hipp. Philos. VI. 29 (Heracleon): ἦν ὅλως γεννητὸν οὐδέν, πατὴρ δὲ ἦν μόνος ἀγέννητος . . . ἐπεὶ δὲ ἦν γόνιμος, ἔδοξεν αὐτῷ ποτὲ τὸ κάλλιστον καὶ τελεώτατον, ὃ εἷχεν ἐν αὐτῷ, γεννῆσαι καὶ προαγαγεῖν· φιλέρημος γὰρ οὐκ ἦν· Ἀγάπη γάρ, φησίν, ἦν ὅλος, ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγάπη, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ τὸ ἀγπαώμενον . . . τελειότερος δὲ ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι ἀγέννητος ὢν μόνος. In what follows the whole discussion is conditioned by the problem that the begotten Æons are in their nature indeed ὁμοούσιοι with the Father, but that they are imperfect as γεννητοί and are inferior to the μόνος ἀγέννητος. Here therefore the field for the Arian-Athanasian controversy is already marked out. But it is to be noticed further that the three terms, μονογενής, πρωτότοκος, and εἰκών contain and define the entire Valentinian Christology, which is of an extremely complicated character. (See Heinrici, die Valentin. Gnosis. p. 120). In the fourth century, however, they became the catchwords of the different Christologies. τῷ θεῷ, ἀειγενής, ἀγενητογενής, οὔτ᾽ ἐπινοία, οὔτ᾽ 13ἀτόμῳ τινὶ προάγει ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ὑιοῦ, ἀεὶ θεός, ἀὲι υἱός, εξ αὐτοῦ τοὺ θεοῦ ὁ υἱός; always God, always Son, at the same time Father, at the same time Son, the Son exists unbegotten with the Father, everlasting, uncreated, neither in conception nor in any smallest point does God excel the Son, always God, always Son, from God Himself the Son.14
Alexander thus maintains the beginningless, eternal co-existence of Father and Son: the Father is never to be thought of without the Son who springs from the Father. It is not improbable that Alexander was led thus to give prominence to the one side of the Logos doctrine of Origen, owing to the influence of the theology of Irenæus or Melito.3939It is impossible to come to any certain decision on this point, so long as it is not proved that the pieces which are ascribed to Alexander are really his, and at the same time so long as it is uncertain if the sentences from them which also bear the names of Irenæus and Melito really belong to these writers and have been made use of by Alexander. See on this question Cotterill, Modern Criticism and Clement’s Epp. to the Virgins, 1884, on this ThLZ., 1884, p. 267 f; Pitra, Analecta Sacra T. IV. pp. 196 sq., 430 sq. On this Loofs, ThLZ. 1884, Col. 572 f., and very specially Krüger, Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1888, p. 434 ff.; Melito of Sardes and Alex. of Alexandria. Socrates asserts (I. 5) that Arius believed that Alexander wished to introduce the doctrinal system of Sabellius. But the Christology of Irenæus has also been understood in a “Sabellian” sense. The important address of Alexander on soul and body, in which he also treats of the Incarnation, is to be found in Migne T. 18. The doctrine which Arius opposed to this is above all dominated by the thought that God, the Only One, is alone eternal, and that besides Him there exists only what is created, and that this originates in His will, that accordingly the Son also is not eternal, but a creation of God out of the non-existent.4040This was the original point of dispute. Διωκόμεθα, writes Arius to Eusebius, ὅτι εἴπομεν, Ἀρχὴν ἔχει ὁ υὑός, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς ἄναρχός ἐστι. Διὰ τοῦτο διωκόμεθα, καὶ ὅτι εἴπομεν, Ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐστίν. From this thesis there necessarily follows the rejection of the predicate ὁμοούσιος for the Son. Arius and his friends already before the Council of Nicæa give expression to it, incidentally indeed, but without ambiguity.4141See the fragment from the Thalia in Athan. de synod. 15, the letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus, also that of Arius to Alexander.
The doctrine of Arius is as follows:4242The fragments of the Thalia and the two letters of Arius which have been preserved are amongst the most important sources: cf. also the confession of faith of Arius in Socr. I. 26 (Sozom. II. 27). Then we have the statements of his earliest opponents, very specially the two letters of Alexander and the verbal quotations of the propositions of Arius in Athanasius; see especially ep. ad episc. “Ægypt 12 and de sentent. Dionys. 23, also the Orat. c. Arian. In the third place, we can adduce the propositions laid down by the earliest Arians, or by the patrons of Arius. Opponents made little difference between them and Arius himself, and the actual facts shew that they were justified in so doing; see the letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus and the fragments of Arian letters in Athanas. de synod. 17, also the fragments from Asterius. Finally, we have to consider what the Church historians and Epiphanius have to tell us regarding the doctrinal propositions of Arius. There was no “evolution” of Arianism, we can only distinguish different varieties of it. Even Eunomius and Aëtius did not “develop” the doctrinal system, but only gave it a logically perfect form. Lucian had already completed the entire system, as is specially evident from the letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus; see also the introduction to the Thalia in Athan., Orat. c. Arian. I. 5, which, moreover, presents the character of Arius in an unfavourable light: κατὰ πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν Θεοῦ, συνετῶν Θεοῦ, παίδων ἁγίωνμ ὀρθοτόμων, ἅγιον Θεοῦ πνεῦμα λαβόντων, τάδε ἔμαθον ἔγωγε ὑπὸ τῶν σοφίης μετε χόντων, ἀστείων, θεοδιδάκτων, κατὰ πάντα σοφῶν τε· τούτων κατ᾽ ἴχνος ἦλθον ἐγὼ βαίνων ὁμοδόξως ὁ περικλυτός, ὁ πολλὰ παθὼν διὰ τὴν Θεοῦ δόξαν, ὑπό τε Θεοῦ μαθὼν σοφίαν καὶ γνῶσιν ἐγὼ ἔγνων.15
(a) God, the Only One, besides whom there is no other, is alone unbegotten, without beginning and eternal; He is inexpressible, incomprehensible, and has absolutely no equal. These are the notes which express His peculiar nature. He has created all things out of His free will, and there exists nothing beside Him which He has not created. The expression “to beget” is simply a synonym for “to create”. If it were not, the pure simplicity and spirituality of God’s nature would be destroyed. God can put forth nothing out of His own essence; nor can He communicate His essence to what is created, for this essence is essentially uncreated. He has accordingly not been Father always; for otherwise what is created would not be created, but eternal.4343In the doctrine of God as held by Arius and his friends two main ideas appear all through as those upon which everything depends: (1) that God alone is ἀγέννητος; (2) that all else has been created out of nothing by God’s free will. In accordance with this they get rid of everything designated as προβολὴ ἀγέννητος, ἐρυγή, γέννημα, μέρος ὁμοούσιον, ἐξ ἀπορροῖας τῆς οὐσίας, μονὰς πλατυνθεῖσα, ἕν εἰς δύο διῃρημένον, etc.; even the old pictorial expressions “Light of Light”, “Torch of Torch” are rejected, and they will have nothing to do with the transformation of an originally impersonal eternal essence or substance in God into a personally subsisting essentiality; see the epp. Arii ad Euseb. et Alexand. Εἰ τό; Ἑκ γαστρός, καὶ τό· Ἐκ πατρὸς ἐξῆλθον καὶ ἥκω, ὡς μέρος τοῦ ὁμοουσίου καὶ ὡς προβολὴ ὑπὸ τινων νοεῖται, σύνθετος ἔσται ὁ πατὴρ καὶ διαιρετὸς καὶ τρεπτὸς καὶ σῶμα . . . καὶ τὰ ἀκόλουθα σώματι πάσχων ὁ ἀσώματος Θεός.; It was Eusebius Nic. specially in his letter to Paulinus, who developed the thought that “to beget” is equal to “to create” and he, for the rest, allows that if the Son were begotten out of the substance of the Father the predicate ἀγέννητος would attach to Him, and He would possess the ταυτότις τῆς φύσεως with the Father. In laying down their doctrine of God, Arius and his friends express themselves with a certain amount of fervour. One can see that they have a genuine concern to defend monotheism. At the same time they are as much interested in the negative predicates of the Godhead as the most convinced Neo-platonists. On πατήρ see the Thalia in Athan., Orat. I. c. Arian c. 5: οὐκ ἀεί ὁ Θεὸς πατὴρ ἦν, ἀλλ᾽ ἦν ὅτε ὁ Θεὸς μόνος ἦν καὶ οὔπω πατὴρ ἦν, ὕστερον δὲ ἐπιγέγονε πατήρ.16
(b) Wisdom and Logos dwell within this God as the powers (not persons) which are coincident with His substance, and are by their very nature inseparable from it; there are besides many created powers.4444Thalia l.c.: δύο σοφίας εἶναι. μίαν μὲν τὴν ἰδίαν καὶ συνυπάρχουσαν τῷ Θεῷ, τὸν δὲ υἱὸν ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ σοφίᾳ γεγενῆσθαι καὶ ταύτης μετέχοντα ὡνομάσθαι μόνον σοφίαν καὶ λόγον· ἡ σοφία γὰρ τῇ σοφίᾳ ὑπῆρξε σοφοῦ Θεοῦ θελῆσει. Οὓτω καὶ λόγον ἕτερον εἶναι λέγει παρὰ τὸν υἱὸν ἐν τῷ Θεῷ καὶ τούτον μετέχοντα τὸν υἱὸν ὡνομάσθαι πάλιν κατὰ χάριν λόγον καὶ υἱόν . . . Πολλαὶ δυνάμεις εἰσί, καὶ ἡ μὲν μία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν ἰδία φύσει καὶ αῒδιος, ὁ δε Χριστὸς πάλιν οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθονὴ δύναμις τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ μία τῶν λεγομένων δυνάμεων ἐστι καὶ αὐτός, ὧν μία καὶ ἡ ἀκρὶς καὶ ἡ κάμπη κ.τ.λ.
(c) Before the world existed, God of His free will created an independent substance or hypostasis (οὐσία, ὑπόστασις) as the instrument by means of which all other creatures were to be created, since without it the creatures would not have been able to endure the contact of the Godhead. This Being is termed in Scripture Wisdom, also Son, Image, Word; this Wisdom, which, compared with the inner divine Wisdom, is called Wisdom only in a loose sense, has like all creatures been created out of nothing. It originates in God only in so far as it has been created by God; it is in no sense of the substance or essence of God. It has had a beginning; it accordingly did not always exist, there was a time in which it was not. That the Scriptures use the word “begotten” of this Substance does not imply that this is peculiar to it any more than is the predicate “Son”; for the other creatures are likewise described here and there as “begotten,” and men are called “sons of God”.4545See the foregoing note and Thalia l.c.: οὐκ ἀεὶ ἦν ὁ υἱός, πάντων γὰρ γενομένων ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων καὶ πάντων ὄντων κτισμάτων καὶ ποιημάτων γενομένων, καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγος ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων γέγονε, καὶ ἠν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, καὶ οὐκ ἦν πρὶν γένηται, ἀλλ᾽ ἀρχὴν τοῦ κτίζεσθαι ἔσχε καὶ αὐτὸς . . . Ἦν μόνος ὁ Θεὸς καὶ οὔπω ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ἡ σοφία, εἶτα θέλησις ἡμᾶς δημιουργῆσαι, τότε δὴ πεποίηκεν ἕνα τινὰ καὶ ὡνόμασεν αὐτὸν λόγον καὶ σοφίαν καὶ υἱόν, ἵνα ἡμᾶς δι᾽ αὐτοῦ δημιουργήσῃ. Ep. Arii ad Euseb.: Πρὶν γενηθῇ ἤτοι κτισθῇ ἤτοι ὁρισθῇ ἤ θεμελιωθῇ, οὐκ ἦν, ἀγένητος γὰρ οὐκ ἦν. Since the Son is neither a part of the Father nor ἐξ ὑποκειμένου τινός, he must be ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων; θελήματι καὶ βουλῇ ὑπέστη πρὸ χρόνων καὶ πρὸ αἰώνων ὁ υἱός. Ep. Arii ad Alex: . . . γεννήσαντα υἱὸν μονογενῆ πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνών, δι᾽ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας καὶ τὰ ὅλα πεποίηκε . . . κτίσμα τοῦ Θεοῦ τέλειον . . . θελήματι τοῦ Θεοῦ πρὸ χρόνων καὶ πρὸ αἰώνων κτίσθέντα, καὶ τὸ ζῆν καὶ τὸ εἶναι παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς εἰληφότα καὶ τὰς δόξας συνυποστήσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ πατρὸς. Οὐ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ δοὺς αὐτῳ πάντων τὴν κληρονομίαν ἐστέρησεν ἑαυτὸν ὧν ἀγεννήτως ἔχει ἐν ἑαυτῷ. πηγὴ γὰρ ἐστι πάντων, ὥστε τρεῖς εἰσιν ὑποστάσεις . . . Ὁ υἱὸς ἀχρόνως γεννηθεὶς οὐκ ἦν πρὸ τοῦ γεννηθῆναι οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐστιν ἀΐδιος ἤ συναΐδιος ἤ συναγένητος τῷ πατρὶ οὐδὲ ἅμα τῷ πατρὶ τὸ εἶναι ἔχει . . . Ἀρχὴ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ὁ Θεός, ἀρχεῖ γὰρ αὐτοῦ ὡς Θεὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ πρὸ αὐτοῦ ὥν. Ep. Euseb. ad Paulin.: κτιστὸν εἶναι καὶ θεμελιωτὸν καὶ γενητὸν τῇ οὐσίᾳ, according to Proverbs 8: . . . Οὐδέν ἐστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, πάντα δὲ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ γενόμενα. Ep. Euseb. Nic. ad Arium.: τὸ πεποιγμένον οὐκ ἦν πρὶν γενέσθαι, τὸ γενόμενον δε ἀρχὴν ἔχει τοῦ εἶναι. Athan. Nazarb., ep. ad. Alex.: “Why do you blame the Arians because they say that the Son κτίσμα πεποιήται ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων καὶ ἕν τῶν πάντων ἐστίν? We are to understand by the hundred sheep of the parable all created beings, and thus the Son too is included.” Georg. Laod. ep. ad. Alex.: “Don't blame the Arians because they say ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, Isaiah too came later than his father.” Georg. Laod. ep. ad. Arianos. “Don't be afraid to allow that the Son is from the Father; for the Apostle says that all things are from God, although it is certain that all things are ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων.” Thalia (de synod. 15): ἡ μόνας ἦν, ἡ δυὰς δὲ οὐκ ἦν πρὶν ὑπάρξει. Arius for the rest seems to have considered the creation of this “Son” as simply a necessity, because God could not create directly, but required an intermediate power.17
(d) As regards his Substance, the “Son” is consequently an unrelated and independent being totally separated from, and different from, the substance or nature of the Father. He has neither one and the same substance together with the Father, nor a nature and constitution similar to that of the Father. If he had, then there would be two Gods. On the contrary, like all rational creatures he has a free will and is capable of change. He might consequently have been good or bad; but he made up his mind to follow the good, and continued in the good without vacillation. Thus he has by means of his own will come to be unchangeable.4646Ep. Euseb. ad Paulin.: Ἕν τὸ ἀγένητον, ἓν δὲ τὸ ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἀληθῶς καὶ οὐκ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας αὐτοῦ γεγονός, καθόλου τῆς φύσεως τῆς ἀγενήτου μὴ μετέχον, ἀλλὰ γεγονὸς ὁλοχερῶς ἕτερον τῇ φύσει κ. τῇ δυνάμει.. The ταυτότης τῆς φύσεως is rejected. Ep. Arii ad Alex.: υἱὸν ὑποστήσαντα ἰδίῳ θελήματι ἄτρεπτον καὶ ἀναλλοίωτον. Who says, therefore, that the Son is in everything like the Father introduces two “αγέννητοι.” Thalia: τῇ μὲν φύσει ὥσπερ πάντες οὕτω δὲ αὐτὸς ὁ λόγος ἐστὶ τρεπτός, τῷ δὲ ἰδίῳ αὐτεξουσίῳ, ἕως βούλεται, μένει καλός· ὅτε μέν τοι θέλει δύναται τρέπεσθαι καὶ αὐτὸς ὥσπερ καὶ ἥμεῖς, τρεπτῆς ὤν φύσεως . . . As all things so far as their substance is concerned are unrelated to God and unlike Him, so too is the Logos ἀλλότριος καὶ ἀνόμοιος κατὰ πάντα τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς οὐσίας καὶ ἰδιότητος. Μεμερισμέναι τῇ φύσει καὶ ἀπεξενωμέναι καὶ ἀπεσχοινισμέναι καὶ ἀλλότριοι καὶ ἀμέτοχοί εἰσιν ἀλλήλων αἱ οὐσίαι τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος; they are even ἀνόμοιοι πάμπαν ἀλλήλων ταῖς τε οὐσίαις καὶ δόξαις ἐπ᾽ ἄπειρον. τὸν γοῦν λόγον φησὶν εἰς ὁμοιότητα δόξης καὶ οὐσίας ἀλλότριον εἶναι πολυτελῶς ἑκατέρων τοῦ τε πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. ὁ υἱὸς διῃρημένος ἐστὶν καθ᾽ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀμέτοχος κατὰ πάντα τοῦ πατρὸς. Thalia (de Synod. 15): Ἄρρητος Θεὸς ἶσον οὐδὲ ὅμοιον οὐχ ὁμόδοξον ἔχει. ὁ υἱὸς ἴδιον οὐδεν ἔχει τοῦ Θεοῦ καθ᾽ ὑπόστασιν ἰδιότητος οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐστιν ἶσος ἀλλ᾽ οὐδε ὁμοούσιος αυτῷ. The Triad is not of ὁμοίαις δόξαις: ἀνεπίμικτα ἑαυταῖς εἰσιν αἱ ὑποστάσεις αὐτῶν, μία τῆς μιᾶς ἐνδοξότερα δόξαις ἐπ᾽ ἄπειρον. Ξένος τοῦ υἱοῦ κατ᾽ οὐσίαν ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι ἄναρχος ὑπάρχει. According to the letter of Eusebius to Paulinus it looks as if Eusebius held the unchangeableness of the Son to belong to his substance; he probably, however, only means that it had come to be his substance. At a later date many Arians must have attributed to the Son an original unchangeableness as a gift of the Father, for Philostorgius mentions as a peculiarity of the Arian bishop Theodosius that he taught (VIII. 3): ὁ Χριστὸς τρεπτὸς μὲν τῇ γε φύσει τῇ οἰκείᾳ.18
(e) Since the Son is, as regards his substance, unrelated to the Godhead,4747Because of this sundering of the Father and the Son the Arians at a later date are also called “Diatomites” (Joh. Damasc. in Cotellier, Eccl. Gr. monum. I., p. 298). he is not truly God, and accordingly has not by nature the divine attributes; he is only the so-called Logos and Wisdom. As he is not eternal, neither is his knowledge in any sense perfect; he has no absolute knowledge of God, but only a relative knowledge, in fact he does not even know his own substance perfectly, accordingly he cannot claim equal honour with the Father.4848Thalia (Orat. c. Arian I. 6): οὐδὲ Θεὸς ἀληθινός ἐστιν ὁ λόγος. He is only called God, but he is not truly God, καὶ τῷ υἱῷ ὁ πατὴρ ἀόρατος ὑπάρχει καὶ οὔτε ὁρᾶν οὔτε γιγνώσκειν τελείως καὶ ἀκριβῶς δύναται ὁ λόγος τὸν ἑαυτοῦ πατέρα, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὃ γιγνώσκει καὶ ὃ βλέπει ἀναλόγως τοῖς ἰδίοις μέτροις οἶδε καὶ βλέπει, ὥσπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς γιγνώσκομεν κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν. Ὁ υἱὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ οὐσίαν οὐκ οἶδε. Euseb. Cæs. ep. ad Euphrat.: Χριστὸς οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθινὸς Θεός. The conviction that the Son is not truly God, and that all lofty predicates attach to him only in a nuncupative sense, that he does not know the Father, is very strongly expressed in the fragment of the Thalia de synod. 15.
(f) Still the Son is not a creature and a product like other creatures; he is the perfect creature, κτίσμα τέλειον; by him everything has been created; he stands in a special relation to God, but this is solely conditioned by grace and adoption; the bestowal of grace on the other hand, is based on the steadfast inclination of this free being to the good which was foreseen 19by God. Through God’s bestowal of grace and by his own steady progress he has become God, so that we may now call him “only-begotten God”, “strong God” and so on.4949Arii Ep. ad Euseb.: πλήρης Θεὸς μονογενῆς, ἀναλλοίωτος (in virtue of his will). Arii ep. ad Alex.: υἱὸν μονογενῆ . . . κτίσμα τοῦ Θεοῦ τέλειον, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὡς ἕν τῶν κτισμάτων, γέννημα, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὡς ἕν τῶν γεννημάτων . . . Πατὴρ δοὺς αὐτῷ πάντων τὴν κληρονομίαν . . . Ὁ υἱὸς μόνος ὑπὸ μόνου τοῦ πατρὸς ὑπέστη. Thalia: τὸν υἱὸν ἐν ταύτῇ τῇ σοφίᾳ γεγενῆσθαι ναὶ ταύτης μετέχοντα ὡνομάσθαι μόνον σοφίαν καὶ λόγον . . . Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ προγιγνώσκων ὁ Θεὸς ἔσεσθαι καλὸν αὐτόν, προλαβὼν αὐτῷ ταύτην τὴν δόξαν δέδωκεν, ἣν ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἐκ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἔσχε μετὰ ταῦτα· ὥστε ἐξ ἔργων αὐτοῦ, ὧν προέγνω ὁ Θεός, τοιοῦτον αὐτὸν νῦν γεγονέναι πεποίνκε . . . Μετοχῇ χάριτος ὥσπερ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες οὕτω καὶ αὐτὸς λέγεται ὀνόματι μόνον Θεός . . . Θεὸς ἔνεγκεν εἰς υἱὸν ἑαυτῷ τόνδε τεκνοποιήσας· ἴδιον οὐδὲν ἔχει τοῦ Θεοῦ καθ᾽ ὑπόστασιν ἰδιότητος . . . The Son is Wisdom, Image, Reflection, Word; God cannot produce a greater than He; Θεοῦ θελήσει ὁ υἱὸς ἡλίκος καὶ ὅσος ἐστίν, ἐξ ὅτε καὶ ἀφ᾽ οὗ καὶ ἀπὸ τότε ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑπέστη, ἰσχυρός Θεὸς ὤν, but he extols the greater Father. Arius ap. Athan. Orat. I. c. Arian. 9: μετοχῇ καὶ αὐτὸς εθεοποιήθη. It is evident from Alexander’s letter to Alexander that Arius strongly emphasised the προκοπή, the moral progress of the Son.
(g) All that Scripture and tradition assert in reference to the incarnation and the humanity of this being holds good; he truly took a human body (σῶμα ἄψυχον); the feelings shewn by the historical Christ teach us that the Logos to whom they attach—for Christ had not a human soul—is a being capable of suffering, not an absolutely perfect being, but one who attains by effort absolute perfection.5050Owing to the general uncertainty regarding the extent of the “humanity” which prevailed at the beginning of the controversy, the latter assertion of the Arians was not so energetically combatted as the rest. That the limitation of the humanity of Christ to a body originated with Lucian, is asserted by Epiph. Ancorat. 33.
(h) Amongst the number of created powers (δυνάμεις) the Holy Ghost is to be placed beside the Son as a second, independent Substance or Hypostasis, (οὐσία, ὑπόστασις); for the Christian believes in three separate and different substances or persons, (οὐσίαι, ὑποστάσεις); Father, Son and Spirit. Arius apparently, like his followers, considered the Spirit as a being created by the Son and subordinate to him.5151In the writings of Arius οὐσία and ὑπόστασις are used as synonymous terms. The impersonal Spirit (Logos, Wisdom) indwelling in God the Father as Power, was naturally considered by the Arians to be higher than the Son. On this point they appeal like the old Roman Adoptianists to Matt. XII. 31 (see Vol. III., p. 20 ff.). It is indeed not even certain whether Arius and the older Arians when they speak of a Trinity, always included the Holy Spirit. According to Athanasius de synod. 15, we may conclude that their Trinity consisted of the following hypostases: (1) God as primordial without the Son; (2) God as Father; (3) the Son. Still this is not certain.20
Alexander expressly notes that the Arians appeal to Scripture in support of their doctrine, and Athanasius says that the Thalia contained passages of Scripture.5252Orat. I. c. Arian. 8. The passages so frequently cited later on by the Arians; Deut. VI. 4, XXXII. 39; Prov. VIII. 22; Ps. XLV. 8; Mt. XII. 28; Mk. XIII. 32; Mt. XXVI. 41, XXVIII. 18; Lk. II. 52, XVIII. 19; John XI. 34, XIV. 28, XVII. 3; Acts II. 36; 1 Cor. I. 24, XV. 28; Col. I. 15; Philipp. II. 6 f.; Hebr. I. 4, III. 2; John XII. 27, XIII. 21; Mt. XXVI. 39, XXVII. 46, etc., will thus already have been used by Arius himself. Arius was not a systematiser, nor were his friends systematisers either. In this respect their literary activity was limited to letters in which they stirred each other up, and which were soon put together in a collected form. The only one amongst them before Eunomius and Aëtius who undertook to give a systematic defence of the doctrinal system, was the Sophist Asterius, called by Athanasius the advocate (συνήγορος) of the sects. He was a clever, clear-headed man, but he was quite unable to wipe out what was in everybody’s eyes the blot on his character, his denial of the Faith during the time of persecution.5353On Asterius see Athan., Orat. c. Arian. I. 30-33; II. 37; III. 2, 60; de decret. syn. Nic. 8, 28-31; de synod. 18, 19, 47. Epiphan. H. 76, 3; Socrat. I. 36; Philostorg. II. 14, 15; Hieron. de vir. inl. 94. Marcellus of Ancyra wrote against the principal work of Asterius, see Zahn, p. 41 ff. Athanasius attacked a συνταγμάτιον of his. One of the main theses of this book was that there are two ἀγένητα. Asterius also discussed 1 Cor. I. 24, and indeed he took the correct view. His explanation too of the passage John XIV. 10, is worthy of note: εὔδηλον ὅτι διὰ τοῦτο εἴρηκεν ἑαυτὸν μὲν ἐν τῷ πατρὶ, ἐν ἑαυτῷ δὲ πάλιν τὸν πατέρα, ἐπεὶ μήτε τὸν λόγου, ὅν διεξήρχετο, ἑαυτοῦ φησιν εἶναι, ἀλλὰ τοῦ πατρὸς δεδωκότος τὴν δύναμιν. Upon this passage Athanasius remarks (Orat. III. 2) that only a child could be pardoned such an explanation. It is a point of great importance that Asterius, like Paul of Samosata, reckoned the will as the highest thing. Accordingly, to create of His free will is more worthy of God too than to beget (l. c. III. 60). Athanasius says that Arius himself made use of the work of Asterius, and in this connection he gives us the important statement of Asterius (de decret. 8) that created things are not able τῆς ἀκράτου χειρὸς τοῦ ἀγεννήτου ἐργασίαν βαστάξαι, and that on account of this the creation of the Son as an intermediary was necessary. (See Orat. c. Arian II. 24.) There were various shades of 21opinion amongst the followers and supporters of Arius. In Arianism in its more rigid form the tradition of Paul of Samosata and Lucian predominated, in its milder form the subordination doctrine of Origen. Both types were indeed at one as regards the form of doctrine, and the elements traceable to Origen won over all enlightened “Conservatives”. We may count Asterius too amongst. the latter, at all events the unbending Philostorgius was not at all pleased with him, and Asterius subsequently approached near to the Semiarians.
Previous to the Council of Nicæa, the letters of the bishop Alexander are, for us at all events, the sole literary manifestos of the opposite party. The Encyklica already shews that the writer is fully conscious he has got to do with a heresy of the very worst type. The earlier heresies all pale before it; no other heretic has approached so near to being Antichrist. Arius and his friends are the enemies of God, murderers of the divinity of Christ, people like Judas. Alexander did not enter into theoretical and theological explanations. After giving a brief but complete and excellent account of the Logos doctrine of Arius, he sets in contrast with the statements contained in it, numerous passages from the Gospel of John and other quotations from Scripture.5454John I. 1, 13, 18, X. 15, 30, XIV. 9, 10; Hebr. I. 3, II. 10, X1II. 8; Ps. XLV. 2; CX. 3; Mal. III. 6. The passages continued to be regarded by the orthodox as the most important. The sole remarks of a positive kind he makes are that it belongs to the substance or essence of the Logos, that he perfectly knows the Father, and that the supposition of a time in which the Logos was not, makes the Father ἄλογος καὶ ἄσοφος. The latter remark, which for that matter of it does not touch Arius, shews that Alexander included the Logos or Son in the substance of the Father as a necessary element. The second epistle goes much more into details,5555Theodoret I. 4. Exaggerations and calumnies of the worst kind are not wanting in this writing. The reproach, too, that the Arians acted like the Jews is already found here. Of more importance, however, is the assertion that the Arian christology gave countenance to the heathen ideas of Christ and that the Arians had also in view the approval of the heathen. Ebion, Artemas (see Athanas., de synod. 20) and Paul are designated their Fathers. but it shews at the same time how little Alexander, in solving the 22problem, was able definitely to oppose fixed and finished formulæ to those of the Arians. The main positions of Arius are once more pertinently characterised and refuted.
Alexander is conscious that he is contending for nothing less than the divinity of Christ, the universal Faith of the Church, when he refutes the statements that the Son is not eternal, that He was created out of the non-existent, that He is not by nature (φύσει) God, that He is capable of change, that He went through a moral development (προκοπή), that He is only Son by adoption, like the sons of God in general, and so on.5656The two last theses are rejected in a specially emphatic manner. Alexander repeatedly complains in this connection of the procedure of Arius in taking from the Holy Scriptures only such passages as have reference to the humiliation of the Logos for our sakes, and then referring them to the substance of the Logos. “They omit the passages which treat of the divinity of the Son. Thus they arrive at the impious supposition that Paul and Peter would have been like Christ if they had always persisted in the good.” He not only adduces proofs from the Bible in large numbers,5757John I. 1-3, I. 18, X. 30, XIV. 8, 9, 28; Matt. III. 17, XI. 27; 1 John V. 1; Coloss. I. 15, 16; Rom. VIII. 32; Heb. I. 2 f.; Prov. VIII. 30; Ps. II. 7, CX. 3, XXXV. 10; Is. LIII. 8. he has unmistakably in his mind what is for him a central, religious thought. Christ must belong to God and not to the world, because all other creatures require such a being in order to attain to God and become the adopted sons of God. In order to make clear the possibility of such a being, Alexander uses by preference for the Son the expression which had been already preferred by Origen—“the perfect image,” “the perfect reflection.” But even this expression does not suffice him; it gains deeper meaning by the thought that the Son as the image of the Father at the same time first clearly expresses the peculiar character of the Father. In the Wisdom, the Logos, the Power, the “Son is made known and the Father is characterised. To say that the reflection of the divine glory does not exist is to do away also with the archetypal light of which it is the reflection; if there exists no impress or pattern of the substance of God, then he too is done away with who is wholly characterised by this pattern or express image:”—γνωρίζεται ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ὁ πατὴρ χαρακτηρίζεται. Τὸ γὰρ ἀπαυγάσμα τῆς δόξης μὴ εἶναι λέγειν συναναιρεῖ καὶ τὸ πρωτότυπον φῶς, οὗ ἐστιν ἀπαύγασμα . . . τῷ μὴ εἶναι τὸν τῆς ὑποστάσεως τοῦ 23Θεοῦ χαρακτῆρα συναναιρεῖται κᾳκεῖνος, ὁ πάντως παῤ αὐτοῦ χαρακτηριζόμενος. While in laying down this thesis and others of a similar kind, e.g., that the Son is the inner reason and power of the Father Himself, he approaches “Sabellianism,” the latter doctrine is repudiated in the most decided and emphatic way. But on the other hand again, not only is the supposition of two unbegottens (αγεν[ν]ητα) rejected as a calumny, but he repeatedly emphasises in a striking fashion the fact that the begetting of the Son is not excluded by the application to Him of the predicate always (ἀεὶ), that the Father alone is unbegotten, and that He is greater than the Son.5858From this it is plainly evident that the real point in dispute was not as to subordination and coordination, but as to unity of substance and difference of substance. That the archetype is greater than the type is for Alexander a truth that is beyond doubt. He goes still farther and says: οὐκοῦν τῷ ἀγεννήτῳ πατρὶ οἰκεῖον ἀξίωμα φυλακτέον, μηδένα τοῦ εἶναι αὐτῷ τὸν αἴτιον λέγοντας, τῷ δὲ υἱῷ τὴν ἁρμόζουσαν τιμὴν ἀπονεμητέον, τὴν ἄναρχον αὐτῷ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς γέννησιν ἀνατιθέντας. Alexander thus asserts both things—namely, the inseparable unity of the substance of the Son with that of the Father5959The expression “ὁμοούσιος” does not occur in Alexander. and their difference, and yet the one is held to be unbegotten and the other to be not unbegotten. In order to be able to maintain these contradictory theses he takes up the standpoint of Irenæus, that the mystery of the existence and coming forth of the Son is an inexpressible one even for Evangelists and angels, and is no proper object of human reflection and human statement. Even John did not venture to make any pronouncement regarding the ἀνεκδιήγητος ὑπόστασις τοῦ μονογενοῦς Θεοῦ,6060On this expression, which was used by Arius, see Hort, Two Dissertations, 1876.—the ineffable substance of the only begotten God. “How could anyone waste his labour on the substance of the Logos of God, unless indeed he were afflicted with melancholy?” Πῶς ἄν περιεργάσαιτό τις τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγου ὑπόστασιν, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ μελαγχολικῇ διαθέσει ληφθεὶ τυγχάνοι.6161The respective passages in the letter have so many points of contact with expressions of Irenæus (see Vol. II., pp. 230 f., 276 f.) as to make the supposition, which also commends itself for other reasons, very probable (see above, p. 54, note 1), that Alexander had read Irenæus and had been strongly influenced by him. That Irenæus was known in Alexandria, at least at the beginning of the third century, follows from Euseb., H. E. VI. 14. (Strange to say it has undoubtedly not been proved that Athanasius ever quotes from Irenæus.) Alexander shews that he is not throughout dependent on Origen. 24Alexander’s actual standpoint is undoubtedly plainly expressed here. He does not wish to speculate; for the complete divinity of Christ is for him not a speculation at all, but a judgment of faith, and the distinction between Father and Son is for him something beyond doubt. But he sees that he is under the necessity of opposing certain formula to the doctrine of Arius. These are partly vague and partly contradictory:6262Alexander made no distinction between οὐσία, ὑπόστασις, φύσις. “The Son is the inner reason and power of God,” “Father and Son are two inseparable things” (δύο ἀχώριστα πράγματα), “Between Father and Son there is not the slightest difference” (διάστημα), “not even in any thought” (οὐδ᾽ ἄχρι τινὸς ἐννοίας), “There is only one unbegotten,” “The Son has come into being in consequence of a γένεσις καὶ ποίησις” (an act of generation and production), “The Son has, compared with the world, an ineffable substance peculiarly his own” (ἰδιότροπος ἀνεκδιήγητος ὑπόστασις), “He is μονογενὴς Θεὸς” (only begotten God), “His Sonship is by its nature in possession of the deity of the Father” (κατὰ φύσιν τυγχάνουσα τῆς πατρικὴς θεότητος),6363Ὅν τρόπον γὰρ ἡ ἄρρητος αὐτοῦ ὑπόστασις ἀσυγκρίτῳ ὑπεροχῇ ἐδείχθη ὑπερκειμένη πάντων οἷς αὐτὸς τὸ εἶναι ἐχαρίσατο, οὕτως καὶ ἡ υἱότης αὐτοῦ κατὰ φύσιν τυγχάνουσα τῆς πατρικῆς θεότητος ἀλέκτῳ ὑπεροχῇ διαφέρει τῶν δι᾽ αὐτοῦ θέσει υἱοτεθέντων. “Father and Son are two natures in the hypostasis” (τῃ ὑποστάσει δύο φύσεις6464On John X. 30: ὅπερ φησὶν ὁ κύριος οὐ πατέρα ἑαυτὸν ἀναγορεύων οὐδὲ τὰς τῇ ὑποστάσει δύο φύσεις μίαν εἶναι σαφηνιζων, ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι τὴν πατρικὴν ἐμφέρειαν ἀκριβῶς πέφυκεν σώζειν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ πατρός, τὴν κατὰ πάντα ὁμοιότητα αὐτοῦ ἐκ φύσεως ἀπομαξάμενος καὶ ἀπαράλλακτος εἰκὼν τοῦ πατρὸς τυγχάνων καὶ τοῦ πρωτοτύτου ἔκτυπος χαρακτήρ.), between the Underived and he who has come into being out of the non-existent there is a μεσιτεύουσα φύσις μονογενής (the Son) δι᾽ ἦς τὰ ὅλα ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐποίησεν ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγου, ἢ ἐξ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ὄντος πατρὸς γεγέννηται,” (a mediating only begotten nature by which the Father of the God-Logos has made all things out of the non-existent, and which has been begotten out of the existent Father), “The Son has not proceeded out of the Father κατὰ τὰς τῶν σωμάτων ὁμοιότητας, ταῖς τομαῖς ἤ ταῖς ἐκδιαιρέσεων ἀπορροίαις (in the manner in which bodies are formed, by separation or by the emanation of parts divided off);” 25still we may speak of a fatherly generation! (πατρικὴ θεογονία) which certainly is beyond the power of human reason to grasp.” “The expressions ἦν, ἀεὶ, etc., (was, always), used of the Son, are undoubtedly too weak, but on the other hand, they are not to be conceived so as to suggest that the Son is unbegotten (ἀγέννητος); the unbeginning genesis from the Father (ἄναρχος γέννησις παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς) is his,—“the Father is greater than the Son, to Him honour in the strict sense (οἰκεῖον ἀξίωμα) is due, to the Son the dignity that is fitting (τιμὴ ἁρμόζουσα).”6565In the Confession of Faith which Alexander had put at the close of his letter, the Spirit, the Church, and so on, are mentioned. According to Alexander, too, the Logos got only a body from Mary, who, for the rest, is called θεοτόκος (see Athan. Orat. III. 29, 33). Möhler and Newman (Hist. Treatises, p. 297) consider Athanasius as the real author of Alexander’s encyclical epistle. Their arguments, however, are not convincing.
These confused thoughts and formulæ contrast unfavourably with the clear and definitely expressed statements of Arius. Alexander’s opponents had a better right to complain of the chameleon-like form of this teaching than he had of that of theirs. When they maintained that it offered no security against dualism (two unbegotten, [ἀγένητα]),6666Hence the reproach so frequently brought against this doctrine, that according to it Father and Son are “brothers”; see, e.g., Orat. c. Arian I. 14. Paul of Samosata had already brought this reproach against all the adherents of the Logos doctrine. The Arians sought to make a reductio ad absurdum of the doctrine that the Son is the perfect image of the Father, by pointing out that in this case the Son too must beget as well as the Father (Or. c. Arian. I. 21). or against Gnostic emanationism (προβολή, ἀπόρροια), or against Sabellianism (ὑιοπάτωρ), or against the idea of the corporeality of God, and that it contained flagrant contradictions,6767See some of those adduced by them in Orat. c. Arian. I. 22: they are said to have pointed them out to children and women. they were not far wrong. But they cannot have been in the dark as to what their opponents meant to assert, which was nothing else than the inseparable, essential unity of Father and Son, the complete divinity of Christ who has redeemed us and whom every creature must necessarily have as redeemer. Along with this they taught a real distinction between Father and Son, though they could assert this distinction only as a mystery, and when they were driven to describe it, had recourse to formulæ which were easily refuted.26
We may at this point give an account of the doctrine of Athanasius; for although it was not till after the Nicene Council that he took part in the controversy as an author,6868That he took an active interest in the Nicene Council is undoubted; see Theodoret I. 26, Sozom, I. 17 fin., but, above all, Apol. Athan. c. Arian. 6 and the work “de decretis.” The Arians drew special attention to the influence exercised by Athanasius, when deacon, on his bishop Alexander, and Athanasius did not contradict their statements; see also Gregor Naz. Orat. 21, 14. still his point of view coincides essentially with that of Bishop Alexander. It underwent no development, and considered from the stand-point of technical theology it partly labours under the same difficulties as that of Alexander. Its significance does not lie in the nature of his scientific defence of the faith, but solely in the triumphant tenacity of the faith itself. His character and his life are accordingly the main thing. The works he composed, like all the theological formulae he uses, were wrung out of him. The entire Faith, everything in defence of which Athanasius staked his life, is described in the one sentence: God Himself has entered into humanity.6969His chief works against the Arians are the four Orationes c. Arian—his most comprehensive work, containing mainly his refutation of the Arian Bible exegesis; the fourth Oration is, however, either merely a sketch, or else it is not in its proper place along with the others; further, the treatises de decret. Nic. synodi, de sentent. Dionys. Alex., historia Arian. ad monachos, apologia c. Arian., apologia ad imp. Constantium, de synodis Arimini et Seleuciæ habitis, the Tomus ad Antioch., and in addition the festival-orations and some lengthy letters, e.g., that ad Afros episcopos.
The theology and christology of Athanasius are rooted in the thought of Redemption, and his views were not influenced by any subordinate considerations.7070To prove this it would be necessary to quote hundreds of passages. In none of his larger works has Athanasius omitted to base his anti-Arian christology on the thought of redemption, and wherever he gives this as the basis one feels that he is adducing what is his most telling argument. The manner too in which he was able, starting from this as the central point of his whole view of the subject, to justify what were purely derivative formulæ by referring them back to it, is well worthy of notice; cf. the Orat. c. Arian., espec. II. 67-70. The fact that his knowledge of scientific theology was slender is hinted at by Gregor Naz., Orat. 21. 6. Neither heathenism nor Judaism has brought men into fellowship with God, the point on which everything turns. It is through Christ that we are transported into this fellowship; He has come in order to make 27us divine, i e., to make us by adoption the sons of God and gods. But Christ would not have been able to bring us this blessing if He Himself had possessed it merely as a gift secundum participationem, for in this case He only had just as much as He needed Himself and so could not proceed to give away what was not His own.7171Specially striking is what he says de synod. 51: Christ could not make others gods if He himself had, to begin with, been made God; if He possessed His god-head merely as something bestowed upon Him, He could not bestow it, for it would not be in His own power, and He would not have more than He needed Himself. Similarly Orat. I. 39, I. 30: Οὐκ ἄρα καταβὰς ἐβελτιώθη ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον ἐβελτίωσεν αὐτὸς τὰ δεόμενα βελτιώσεως· καὶ εἰ τοῦ βελτιῶσαι χάριν καταβέβηκεν, οὐκ ἄρα μισθὸν ἔσχε τὸ λέγεσθαι, υἱὸς καὶ Θεός, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον αὐτὸς υἱοποίησεν ἡμᾶς τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ἐθεοποίησε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους γενόμενος αὐτὸς ἄνθρωπος. Οὐκ ἄρα ἄνθρωπος ὢν ὕστερον γέγονε Θεός, ἀλλὰ Θεὸς ὢν ὕστερον γέγονεν ἄνθρωπος, ἵνα μᾶλλον ἡμᾶς θεοποιήσῃ. II. 69, I. 16: αὐτοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ μετέχοντες τοῦ Θεοῦ μετέχειν λεγόμεθα, καὶ τοῦτό ἐστιν ὃ ἔλεγεν ὁ Πέτρος ἵνα γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως. Therefore Christ must be of the substance of the Godhead and be one with it. Whoever denies that is not a Christian, but is either a heathen or a Jew.7272The frequent designation of the Arians as Jews and heathen, and together with this the designation “Ariomanites,” were employed by Athanasius in a really serious sense; see de decret. 1-4, 27; Encycl. ad. ep. “Ægypt. et Lib. 13, 14; Orat. I. 38, II. 16, 17, III, 16, 27 sq. “Abomination of the impious” XI. Festbrief, p. 122 (Larsow). This is the fundamental thought which Athanasius constantly repeats. Everything else is secondary, is of the nature of necessary controversy. In the Son we have the Father; whoever knows the Son knows the Father.7373Orat. I. 12: To the demand of Philip, “Shew us the Father,” Christ did not reply: (βλέπε τὴν κτίσιν, but “He who sees me, sees the Father.” Orat. I. 16: τοῦ υἱοῦ μετέχοντες τοῦ Θεοῦ μετέχειν λεγόμεθα . . . ἡ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἔννοια καὶ κατάληψις γνῶσίς ἐστι περὶ τοῦ πατρός, διὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας αὐτοῦ ἰδίον εἶναι γέννημα. I. 21. This confession is at bottom the entire Christian confession. The adoration of Christ, which according to tradition, has been practised from the first, and which has not been objected to by their opponents, already, he says, decides the whole question. God alone is to be adored; it is heathenish to worship creatures.7474This is a point which is very frequently emphasised; see Orat. I. 10, II. 20, 24, but chiefly III. 16: Διατί οὖν οἱ Ἀρειανοὶ τοιαῦτα λογιζόμενοι καὶ νοοῦντες οὐ συναριθμοῦσιν ἑαυτοὺς μετὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων; καὶ γὰρ κᾳκεῖνοι, ὥσπερ καὶ οὖτοι, τῇ κτίσει λατρεύουσι παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα τὰ πάντα Θεόν· ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ὄνομα τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν φεύγουσι, διὰ τὴν τῶν ἀνοήτων ἀπάτην, τὴν δὲ ὁμοίαν ἐκείνοις διάνοιαν ὑποκρίνονται. καὶ γὰρ καὶ τὸ σοφὸν αὐτῶν, ὅπερ εἰώθασιν λέγειν, οὐ λέγομεν δύο ἀγέννητα, φαίνονται πρὸς ἀπάτην τῶν ἀκεραίων λέγοντες· φάσκοντες γὰρ· “οὐ λέγομεν δύο ἀγέννητα,” λέγουσι δύο Θεοὺς καὶ τούτους διαφόρους ἔχοντας τὰς φύσεις, τὸ μὲν γενητήν, τὸ δὲ ἀγένητοι. Εἰ δὲ οἱ μὲν Ἕλληνες ἑνὶ ἀγενήτῳ καὶ πολλοῖς γενητοῖς λατρεύουσιν. οὗτοι δὲ ἑνὶ ἀγενήτῳ καὶ ἑνὶ γενητῷ, οὐδ᾽ οὕτω διαφέρουσιν Ἑλλήνων. This was the view of it which was still held at a later period also. The expression in the Vita Euthymii (Cotel. Monum. II., p. 201) C. 2, is full of meaning: Τοῦ Ἑλληνισμοῦ λήξαντος ὁ τοῦ Ἀρειανισμοῦ πόλεμος ἰσχυρῶς ἐκράτει. Christ therefore shares in the divine 28substance. Athanasius did not draft any system of theology or christology. The real point at issue appeared to him to be quite simple and certain. We have to put together his doctrinal system for ourselves, and the attempts to construct such a system for him is not something to be entered upon lightly. A body of theoretical propositions resulted solely from the polemic in which he was engaged and also from his defence of the “Ὁμοούσιος.” Throughout, however, his thought in the final resort centres not in the Logos as such,7575It is very characteristic of Athanasius’ way of looking at things that with him the Logos in general retires into the background, and further that he expressly declines to recognise or to define the divine in Christ from the point of view of his relation to the world or in terms of the predicate of the eternal. Image, Reflection and Son are the designations which he regards as most appropriate. See, e.g., Orat. III. 28: οὐ τοσοῦτον ἐκ τοῦ ἀϊδίου γνωρίζεται κύριος, ὅσον ὅτι υἱός ἐστι τοῦ Θεοῦ· υἱὸς γὰρ ὤν ἀχώριστός ἐστι τοῦ πατρός . . . καὶ εἰκὼν καὶ ἀπαύγασμα ὢν τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει καὶ τὴν ἀϊδιότητα τοῦ πατρός. but in the Divine, which had appeared in Jesus Christ. He has no longer any independent Logos doctrine, on the contrary he is a Christologist. We accordingly give merely some of the main lines of his teaching.
1. To acknowledge that the substantial or essential element in Christ is “God,” is to assert that there is nothing of the creature in this, that it does not therefore belong in any sense to what has been created. Athanasius insisted as confidently as Arius on the gulf which exists between created and uncreated. This constitutes the advance made by both in clearness.7676Beyond Origen and the Origenists, who, though they too certainly make a sharp distinction between the Godhead and the creation, attribute with Philo an intermediate position to the Logos. The Eusebians held fast to this, and that is why Athanasius always treats them as Arians; for in connection with this main point the maxim in his opinion held good “Whosover is not with us is against us.” See Orat. IV. 6, 7; Encycl. ad ep. Ægypt, et Lib. 20; de decret. 6, 19, 20; ad Afros 5, 6, and the parallel section in the work “de synodis.” Arius, however, drew the dividing line in such a way that with him 29the Son belongs to the world side, while with Athanasius He, as belonging to God, stands over against the world.
2. Since the Divine, which has appeared in Christ, is not anything created, and since there can be no “middle” substance,7777Orat. I. 15: If the Son is Son then that wherein He shares is not outside of the substance of the Father: τοῦτο δὲ πάλιν ἐὰν ἕτερον ᾖ παρὰ τὴν οὐσίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ τὸ ἶσον ἄτοπον ἀπαντήσει, μέσου πάλιν εὑρισκομένου τούτου ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ υἱοῦ, ἥτις ποτέ ἐστι. In putting it thus Athanasius corrected not only an incautious expression of Bishop Alexander (see above p. 24 f.), but very specially the thesis of the Origenists of “The image and reflection which sprang from and was created out of the will” (see e.g., Euseb. Demonstr. IV. 3). But Arius himself, spite of all his efforts to avoid it, also arrived at the idea of a “middle substance” between the Godhead and the creature, because according to him God had necessarily to make use of such a being in order to be able to create at all. it follows, according to the reasoning of Athanasius, that this Divine cannot in any sense be postulated as resulting from the idea of the creation of the world. God did not require any agent for the creation of the world; He creates direct. If He had required any such intervening agent in order to effect a connection with the creature that was to come into existence, this Divine could not have supplied Him with it, for it itself really belongs to His substance. In this way the idea of the Divine, which in Christ redeemed men, is severed from the world idea;7878In contrast to this it holds good of the Arians that τὸν δημιουργὸν τῶν ὅλων τοῖς ποιήμασι συναριθμήσωσι (Orat. I. c. Arian. T. I., p. 342). the old Logos doctrine is discarded; Nature and Revelation no longer continue to be regarded as identical. The Logos-Son-Christ is at bottom no longer a world principle, but, on the contrary, a salvation principle.7979It is this which constitutes the most significant advance made by Athanasius, the real fruit of his speculation which took its start from the thought of redemption. The Logos of the philosophers was no longer the logos whom he knew and adored. The existence of the Logos who appeared in Christ is independent of the idea of the world. The creation of the world—abstractly speaking—might even have taken place without the Logos. This is the point in which he is most strongly opposed to the Apologists and Origen. No traces of this advance are to be found as yet in the works “c. Gent” and “de incarnat.” See, on the other hand, Orat. II. 24, 25: οὐ κάμνει ὁ Θεὸς προστάττων, οὐδε ἀσθενεῖ πρὸς τὴν τῶν πάντων ἐργασίαν, ἵνα τὸν μὲν υἱὸν μόνος μόνον κτίσῃ, εἰς δὲ τὴν τῶν ἄλλων δημιουργίαν ὑπουργοῦ καὶ βοηθοῦ χρείαν ἔχῃ τοῦ υἱοῦ. οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ ὑπέρθεσιν ἔχει, ὅπερ ἄν ἐθελήσῃ γενέσθαι, ἀλλὰ μόνον ἡθέλησε καὶ ὑπέστη τὰ πάντα, καὶ τῷ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ οὐδεὶς ἀνθέστηκε. Τίνος οὖν ἕνεκα οὐ γέγονε τὰ πάντα παρὰ μόνου τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ προστάγματι, ᾧ γέγονε καὶ ὁ υἱός . . . ἀλογία μέν οὖν πᾶσα παρ᾽ αὐτοἱς· φασὶ δὲ ὅμως περὶ τούτου, ὡς ἄρα θέλων ὁ Θεὸς τὴν γενητὴν κτίσαι φύσιν, ἐπειδὴ ἑώρα μὴ δυναμένην αὐτὴν μετασχεῖν τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς ἀκράρου χειρὸς καὶ τῆς παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ δημιουργίας, ποῖει καὶ κτίζει πρώτως μόνον ἕνα καὶ καλεῖ τοῦτον υἱὸν καὶ λόγον, ἵνα τούτου μέσου γενομένου οὕτως λοιπὸν καὶ τὰ πάντα δὶ αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι δυνηθῆ· ταῦτα οὐ μόνον εἰρήκασιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ γράψαι τετολμήκασιν Εὐσέβιός τε καὶ Ἀρεῖος καὶ ὁ θύσας Ἀστέριος. As against this view Athanasius shews that God is neither so powerless as not to be able to create the creatures nor so proud as not to be willing to create them (εἰ δὲ ὡς ἀπαξιῶν ὁ Θεὸς τὰ ἄλλα ἐργάσασθαι, τὸν μὲν υἱὸν μόνον εἰργάσατο, τὰ δὰ ἄλλα τῷ υἱῷ ἀνεχειρίσεν ὡς βοηθῷ· καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἀνάξιον Θεοῦ· οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ ἐν θεῷ τύφος); he shews further from Matt. X. 29, VI. 25 f. that God cares for all things in the most direct way, and therefore has also brought them into existence. The same proof is given in de decret. 8. Athanasius thus did away with the latent dualism between the godhead and the creature which had existed in Christian theology since the time of Philo. God is creator in the directest way. This, however, implies that the Logos is discarded. If spite of this Athanasius not only retained the name, but also recognised the function of a mediator of creation and type of all rational beings, the reason was that he understood Scripture as implying this, and because he was not able wholly to free himself from the influence of tradition. But the Divine in Christ is no longer for him the world-reason, on the contrary it is the substance of the Father which—accidentally, as it were—has also the attributes of creative power and of the reason that embraces and holds ideas together. For Athanasius, in fact, the Son is the substance of the Father as the principle of redemption and sanctification. The most pregnant of his formulæ is in Orat. III. 6. in support of which he appeals to 2 Cor. V. 19: τὸ ἴδιον τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς οὐσίας ἐστὶν ὁ υἱός, ἐν ᾧ ἡ κτίσις πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν κατηλλάσσετο.30
3. Scripture and tradition know of only one Godhead; they, however, at the same time pronounce Christ to be God: they call the Divine which has appeared in Christ, Logos, Wisdom and Son; they thus distinguish it from God, the Father. Faith has to hold fast to this. But in accordance with this we get the following propositions:
(a) The Godhead is a unity (μονάς). Therefore the Divine which appeared in Christ, must form part of this unity. There is only one underived or unbegotten principle; this is the Father.8080That the Godhead is a unity, is a thought which Athanasius emphasised in the strongest way over and over again (μονὰς τῆς θεότητος), (2) also that there are not two underived or unbegotten principles (ἀρχαί), and finally (3) that the Father is the ἀρχή, which because of this may be identified with the μονάς also. He retorts the charge of Polytheism brought against him by the Arians; they, he says, adore two gods (see above, note 4, p. 27). The best summary of his view is in Orat. IV. I: μονάδα τῆς θεότητος ἀδιαίρετον καὶ ἄσχιστον· λεχθείη μία ἀρχὴ θεότητος καὶ οὐ δύο ἀρχαί ὅθεν κυρίως καὶ μοναρχία ἐστιν.
(b) The very name Father implies, moreover, that a second exists in the Godhead. God has always been Father, and whoever 31calls Him Father posits at the same time the Son; for the Father is the Father of the Son, and only in a loose sense the Father of the world and of men; for these are created, but the divine Trinity is uncreated, for otherwise it might either decrease again, or further increase in the future.8181Orat. III. 6: πατέρα οὐκ ἄν τις εἴποι, μὴ ὑπάρχοντος υἱοῦ· ὁ μὲν τοι ποιητὴν λέγων τὸν Θεὸν οὐ πάντως καὶ τὰ γενόμενα δηλοϊ· ἔστι γὰρ καὶ πρὸ τῶν ποιημάτων ποιητής· ὁ δὲ πατέρα λέγων εὐθὺς μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς σημαίνει καὶ τὴν τοῦ υἱοῦ ὕπαρξιν. διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ὁ πιστεύων εἰς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν πατέρα πιστεύει· εἰς γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς οὐσίας πιστεύει, καὶ οὕτως μία ἐστιν ἡ πίστις εἰς ἕνα Θεόν. II. 41. De decret. 30 fin.: λέγοντες μὲν γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι τὸν Θεὸν ἀγένητον ἐκ τῶν γενομένων αὐτὸν ποιητὴν μόνον λέγουσιν, ἵνα καὶ τὸν λόγον ποίημα σημάνωσι κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν ἡδονήν· ὁ δὲ τὸν Θεὸν πατέρα λέγων εὑθὺς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ τὸν υἱὸν σημαίνει. The Son is a second in the Godhead, see Orat. III. 4: δύο μὲν εἰσιν, ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ παρήρ ἐστι καὶ οὐχ ὁ αὐτὸς υἱός ἐστι· καὶ ὁ υἱὸς ἐστι καὶ οὐχ ὁ αὐτὸς πατήρ ἐστι· μία δὲ ἡ φύσις. IV. I: ὥστε δύο μὲν εἶναι πατέρα καὶ υἱόν, μονάδα δὲ θεότητος ἀδιαίρετον.. The idea that the Triad must be from all eternity and be independent of the world, if it is not to be increased or diminished, is developed in Orat. I. 17. There is a strong polemic against the Sabellians in Orat. IV.
(c) This Son, the offspring of the Father (γέννημα τοῦ πατρὸς),8282In the theoretical expositions of his teaching Athanasius uses the expression γέννημα in preference to υἱὸς, in order to exclude the idea of human generation. was not, however, begotten in a human fashion as if God were corporeal. On the contrary, He has been begotten as the sun begets light and the spring the brook; He is called Son, because He is the eternal, perfect reflection of the Father, the image8383“Reflection”, “Image”, “God of God”, are the expressions which always appeared to Athanasius to be the most appropriate. He preferred the first of these in order to exclude the thought that the Son proceeded from the will of the Creator. The light cannot do otherwise than lighten, and it always shines or lightens, otherwise it would not be light. The archetype projects its type necessarily. Following Origen he puts the whole emphasis on the eternal (Orat. I. 14: ἀίδίος ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς καὶ συνυπάρχει τῷ πατρί) and necessary. If the Son were begotten by the will of the Father, He would be something contingent, a creation, and would have a beginning: though certainly He was not, on the other hand, begotten contrary to this will, as the Arians charge their opponents with believing (Orat. III. 62, 66), nor from some necessity superior to God, nor does the blessed Godhead undergo any kind of suffering (Orat. I. 16), on the contrary He proceeded from the substance of God οὐ παρὰ γνώμην. Only the expression ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας suffices, as Athanasius over and over again makes plain; any intervention of the will here degrades the Son; for “the substance is higher than the will.” See the characteristic passage Orat. III. 62: ὥσπερ ἀντίκειται τῇ βουλήσει τὸ παρὰ γνώμην, οὕτως ὑπέρκειται καὶ προηγεῖται τοῦ βουλεύεσθαι τὸ κατὰ φύσιν. οἰκίαν μὲν οὖν τις βουλευόμενος κατασκευάζει, υἱὸν δὲ γεννᾷ κατὰ φύσιν. καὶ τὸ μὲν βουλήσει κατασκευαζόμενον ᾔρξατο γίνεσθαι καὶ ἔξωθέν ἐστι τοῦ ποιοῦντος· ὁ δὲ υἱὸς ἲδιόν ἐστι τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς γέννημα καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔξωθεν αὐτοῦ· διὸ οὐδε βουλεύεται περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μὴ καὶ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ δοκῇ βουλεύεσθαι· ὅσῳ οὖν τοῦ κτίσματος ὁ υἱὸς ὑπέρκειται, τοσούτῳ καὶ τῆς βουλήσεως τὸ τὸ κατὰ φύσιν. The Father wills the Son in so far as He loves Him and wills and loves Himself (Orat. III. 66), but in so far as “willing” involves τὴν ἐπ᾽ ἄμφω ῥοπήν, i.e., includes the ability not to will, the Son is not from the will of the Father. proceeding from the substance of the Father; 32He is called Wisdom and Logos not as if the Father were imperfect without Him,8484Athanasius rarely repeats the unguarded utterances of Bishop Alexander and others belonging to the orthodox party. The Father is for him, on the contrary, in and for Himself—if one may so put it—personal; He is νοῦς and He is τῆς ἰδίας ὑποστάσεως θελητής. In one passage in his later writings (de decret. 15) he has. however, curiously enough, argued that the Father would be ἄλογος and ἄσοφος, if the Logos were not from all eternity. but as the creative power of the Father.8585In order to give meaning to the expressions “Logos”, “Wisdom”, Athanasius could not avoid describing the divine in Christ as the wisdom, prudence, strength, might, creative power in God, see Orat. I. 17, III. 65. Still he rarely has recourse to these terms. “To be begotten” simply means completely to share by nature in the entire nature of the Father, implying at the same time that the Father does not therefore suffer or undergo anything.8686After the beginning of the Arian controversy, though not before it (see c. Gent. 2), Athanasius made a thorough distinction between “to beget” and “to create.” “Begetting” held good of the Father only in reference to the Son. It means the production of a perfect image of Himself which, while originating in His substance, has by nature a share in the entire substance. That the Son shares in the entire substance of the Father is a thought which was constantly repeated by Athanasius, Orat. I. 16: τὸ ὅλως μετέχεσθαι τὸν Θεὸν ἶσόν ἐστι λέγειν ὅτι καὶ γεννᾶ. The begotten is thus ἴδιον τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Θεοῦ γέννημα (Orat. II. 24), which φύσει ἔχει τὴν πατρικὴν οὐσίαν and in fact τελείαν. That God does not in consequence of this suffer or undergo anything, and that there is here no question of an emanation, are points which he urges as against the Valentinians.
(d) Consequently the assertions of the Arians that the Son is God, Logos, and Wisdom in a nominal sense only, that there was a time in which the Son was not, that He has sprung from the will of the Father, that He was created out of the non-existent or out of some other substance, that He is subject to change, are false.8787The refutation of these propositions given by Athanasius takes a great number of forms; we may distinguish the religious-dogmatic, the dialectic-philosophic, the patristic and the biblical refutations (see Böhringer, Athanasius, pp. 210-240). For Athanasius himself the religious and biblical argument is the chief thing. Besides numerous passages from the Gospel of John, Athanasius quotes specially 1 John V. 20; Rev. I. 4; Matt. III. 17, XVII. 5; Rom. I. 20, VIII. 32, IX. 5; Hebr. I. 3, XIII. 8; Ps. II. 7; XLV. 2, CII. 28, CXLV. 13; Is. XL. 28. Matt. XXVIII. 19 had for him supreme importance. Amongst the theses laid down by the Arians he had a special objection to that of the προκοπή of the Logos. Hence the strong emphasis he lays on the ἄτρεπτος. On the contrary He is (1) co-eternal with the 33Father and (2) He is of the substance of the Father,8888“From the Father,” as Athanasius says in several passages, would be sufficient if it were not possible to say, using the words in an improper sense, that everything is from God because it has been created by God. It is because the Eusebians make capital out of this that we must avow: ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός; see de decret. 19; de synod. 33 sq.: ad Afros 5. He entirely rejects the idea of a mere unity of feeling or doctrine between the Father and the Son (e.g., Orat. III. ii) for this would mean the disappearance of the Godhead of the Son. for otherwise He would not be God at all, (3) He is by His own nature in all points similarly8989The word “ὅμοιος” means something more than our word “resembling” and something less than our word “similar”; our “similarly constituted” comes nearest it. The “ὅμοιος” alone did not satisfy Athanasius, because it implicitly involves a difference and, above all, a distinction, and he says, moreover, that even dog and wolf, tin and silver are ὅμοια. He, however, certainly applied the word in connection with substance (φύσις οὐσία) or with “κατὰ πάντα” (e.g., de decret. 20) to the relation between Father and Son (ὁμοίωσις τοῦ υἱοῦ πρὸς τὸν πατέρα κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν καὶ κατὰ τὴν φύσιν, de synod. 45). But still he found it necessary as a rule, at least at a later date, expressly to emphasise the ἑνότης—where he expresses himself in a less strict way we also find ὁμοιότης alone—and in opposition to the Homoiousians was driven to add “ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας” to “ὁμοιούσιος” in order to banish any idea of separateness. (de synod. 41). Yet he recognised at the same time (l.c. c. 53 sq.) that ὅμοιος is really an unsuitable word; for it cannot be used of substances, but only of σχήματα καὶ ποιότητες. In connection with substances we say ταυτότης. Men resemble each other in general outline and character, but in substance they are ὁμοφυεῖς; vice versa, man and dog are not unlike, but yet they are ἑτεροφυεῖς. Thus ὁμοφυές and ὁμοούσιον match each other, and in the same way ἑτεροφυές and ἑτεροούσιον. The phrase ὅμοιος κατ᾽ οὐσίαν always suggests a μετουσία; το γὰρ ὅμοιον ποιότης ἐστίν, ἥτις τῇ οὐσίᾳ προσγενοιτ᾽ ἄν. Thus it is correct to say of created spiritual beings that they resemble God, not however in substance, but only in virtue of sonship. Ὁμοιούσιος is in fact nothing, and when used of the real Son is consequently either nonsense or false. constituted as the Father, and finally He is all this, because He has one and the same substance in common with the Father and together with Him constitutes a unity,9090This is the key to the whole mode of conception: Son and Father are not a duality, but a duality in unity, i.e., the Son possesses entirely the substance which the Father is; He is a unity with the unity which the Father is. Athanasius did not defend the idea of the co-ordination of the two as opposed to a subordination view, but the unity and inseparability as opposed to the theory of difference and separateness. He, however, expresses this as follows: in substance Father and Son are one; or, the Son has one and the same substance with the Father. Thus the expression “μία φύσις” is often used for both; and so we have: οὐσίᾳ ἕν ἐστιν αὐτὸς γεννήσας αὐτὸν πατήρ (de synod. 48). The Son has the ἑνότης πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (de decret. 23); He constitutes with Him a ἀδιαίρετος ἑνότης; there subsists between both ἑνότης ὁμοιώσεως κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν καὶ κατὰ τὴν φύσιν. He expresses his meaning most plainly in those passages in which he attaches the ταυτότης to Father and Son without prejudice to the fact that the Father is the Father and not the Son. Identity of substance, as Athanasius (de synod. 53) explains, is ταυτότης. Thus he says (Orat. I. 22): ὁ υἱὸς ἔχει ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τὴν ταυτότητα. In a passage of earlier date he had already said (c. Gent. 2): δοὺς τῷ υἱῷ καὶ τῆς ἰδίας ἀϊδιότητος ἔννοιαν καὶ γνῶσιν, ἵνα τὴν ταυτότητα σώζων κ.τ.λ. Later on, (de decret. 23): ἀνάγκη καὶ ἐν τούτῳ τὴν ταυτότητα πρὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ πατέρα σώζειν, 20: μὴ μόνον ὅμοιον τὸν υἱὸν ἀλλὰ ταὐτὸν τῇ ὁμοιώσει ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι . . . οὐ μόνον ὅμοιος ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀδιαίρετος ἐστι τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς οὐσίας, καὶ ἕν μέν εἰσιν αὐτὸς καὶ ὁ πατήρ. 24: ἑνότης καὶ φυσικὴ ἰδιότης . . . τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς φύσεως καὶ τὴν ταυτότητα τοῦ φωτὸς μὴ διαιρῶμεν. Orat. IV. 5 (and elsewhere): πατὴρ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ, υἱὸς ἐν τῷ παρτί . . . ἡ τοῦ υἱοῦ θεότης τοῦ πατρός ἐστι . . . ἡ θεότης καὶ ἡ ἰδιότης τοῦ πατρὸς τὸ εἶναι τοῦ υἱοῦ ἐστί Thus ὁμοιος is unsatisfactory not only because it does not express complete likeness, but, above all, because it does not express the unity upon which everything depends. The Son cannot, like human sons, go away from the Father, (de decret. 20) for He is in a more intimate relation to Him that a human son is to his father; He is connected with the Father not as an accident of which we might make abstraction (l. c. 12), but as τὸ ἴδιον τῆς πατρικῆς ὑποστάσεως (Orat. III. 65) or as τὸ ἴδιον τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός (frequently in de decret. Orat. I. 22), or as ἴδιον τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Θεοῦ γέννημα. Athanasius uses the words “ἴδιος”, “γνήσιος” frequently; they give the conception of Son a more extended meaning than it naturally has, so that the Son may not appear as ἔξωθεν ἁπλῶς ὅμοιος and consequently as ἑτεροούσιος (de decret. 23). The substantial unity of Father and Son is the fundamental thought of Athanasius. Atzberger therefore correctly says (op. cit. p. 117) “There can be no doubt but that Athanasius conceived of the unity of the Father and the Son as a numerical unity of substance.” In Orat. III. 3 ff. where he puts himself to great trouble to state the problem that two are equal to one, he says: Εἱ καὶ ἕτερόν ἐστιν ὡς γέννημα ὁ υἱός, ἀλλὰ ταὐτόν ἐστιν ὡς Θέος· καὶ ἕν εἰσιν αὐτὸς καὶ ὁ πατὴρ τῇ ἰδιότητι καὶ οἰκειότητι τῆς φύσεως καὶ τῇ ταυτότητι τῆς μιᾶς θεότητος. We cannot therefore help being astonished (with Zahn p. 20) to find that Athanasius declines to use the word μονοούσιος of the Son (see Expos. fidei 2: οὔτὲ υἱοπάτορα φρονοῦμεν ὡς οἱ Σαβέλλιοι, λέγοντες μονοούσιον καὶ οὐχ ὁμοούσιον καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἀναιροῦντες τό εἶναι υἱὸν); still he always says: μίαν οἴδαμεν καὶ μόνην θεότητα τοῦ πατρός. If the question is raised as to whether Athanasius thought of the Godhead as a numerical unity or as a numerical duality, the answer is: as a numerical unity. The duality is only a relative one—if we may write such an absurdity—the duality of archetype and type. That the Arians called the Catholics “Sabellians” is expressly stated by Julian of Eclan. (August., op. imperf. V. 25). 34but “substance” in reference to God means nothing else than “Being.”9191Θεότης, οὐσία, ὑπόστασις, ἰδίοτης τῆς οὐσίας, οἰκειότης τῆς οὐσίας (ὑποστάσεως) are all used by Athanasius in reference to the Godhead as perfectly synonymous. He had no word by which to describe Father and Son as different subjects, and indeed he never felt it necessary to seek for any such word. We cannot call ἰδιότης τῆς οὐσίας anything special; for Athanasius by the very use of the word ἰδιότης asserted the unity of the Father and Son. Ὑπόστασις and οὐσία are repeatedly described by him as identical; see de decret. 27; de synod. 41; ad Afros 4; ἡ δὲ ὑπόστασις οὐσία ἐστί, καὶ οὐδὲν ἄλλο σημαινόμενον ἔχει ἢ αὐτὸ τὸ ὄν, ὅπερ Ἰερεμίας ὕπαρξιν ὀνομάζει λέγων . . . ἡ γαρ ὐπόστασις καὶ ἡ οὐσία ὑπαρξίς ἐστιν (so still in the year 370). Tom. ad Antioch. 6: ὑπόστασιν μὲν λέγομεν ἡγούμενοι ταὐτὸν εἶναι εἰπεῖν ὑπόστασιν καὶ οὐσίᾳν. The divine substance is, however, nothing other than τὸ ὄν (pure Being); see ad Afr. l.c. and the decret. 22; Godhead is the οὐσία ἀκατάληπτος . . . τὸ· Θεὸς, οὐδὲν ἕτερον ἢ τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ τοῦ ὄντος σημαίνει. As opposed to this φύσις is the nature which attaches to the substance as the complex of its attributes; Athanasius distinguishes it from ὸὐσία; hence the formula often used: κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν καὶ κατὰ τὴν φύσιν (e.g., de synod. 45) see also Tom. ad Antioch 6, where Athanasius after the words above quoted, continues: μίαν δὲ φρονοῦμεν διὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι τὸν υἱὸν καὶ διὰ τὴν ταυτότητα τῆς φύσεως· μίαν γὰρ θεότητα καὶ μίαν εἶναι τὴν ταύτης φύσιν πιστεύομεν. Orat. I. 39: The Son is φύσει κατ᾽ οὐσίαν ταῦτα. When, however, Athanasius asserts the numerical unity of the Ousia of Father, Son, (and Spirit) he is thinking of it both as being that which we call “substance” and also as what we call “subject”, so that here again, too, what is obscure is not the unity, but the duality (triad) as in Irenæus. In de synod. 51 the conception of the Ousia as involving three substances, i.e., a common genus and two co-ordinate “brothers” ranged under it, is expressly rejected as Ἑλλήνων ἑρμηνεῖαι. It is only the one passage: Expos. fid. 2, (see above) where Athanasius rejects μονοούσιος, that betrays any uncertainty on his part. It stands quite by itself. Otherwise by οὐσία he understands the individual or single substance which, however, as applied to God, is the fulness of all Being, a view which allows him to think of this substance as existing in wonderful conditions and taking on wonderful shapes. It is not the case that the Father is one substance 35by itself and the Son another substance by itself and that these two are similarly constituted. This would do away with the unity of the Godhead. On the contrary, the Father is the Godhead; this Godhead, however, contains in it a mystery which can only be approximately conceived of by men. It conceals within itself in the form of an independent and self-acting product something which issues from it and which also possesses this Godhead and possesses it from all eternity in virtue, not of any communication, but of nature and origin,—the true and real Son, the image which proceeds from the substance. There are not two divine ousias, not two divine hypostases or the like, but one ousia and hypostasis, which the Father and the Son possess. Thus the Son is true God, inseparable from the Father and reposing in the unity of the Godhead, not a second alongside of God, but simply reflection, express image, Son within the one Godhead which cannot 36and ought not to be thought of apart from reflection, express image, and Son. He has everything that the Father has, for He actually possesses the ousia of the Father; He is ὁμοούσιος,9292The meaning of this word will be clear from what was said in the preceding discussion. It signified oneness of substance, not likeness of substance, “unius substantiæ.” Father and Son possess in common one and the same substance, substance in the sense of the totality of all that which they are. This is how Athanasius always understood the word, as Zahn (op. cit., pp. 10-32) was the first to point out in opposition to the long current erroneous interpretations of it. It is in fact equal to ταυτούσιος, the meaning which the Semiarians also attached to it (Ephiph. H. 73. 11). Athanasius neither discovered the word, nor had he any special preference for it; but he always recognised in it the most fitting expression wherewith to repel Arians and Eusebians; see on the adoption of the word into the Nicene Creed and the history of its interpretation, the discussions which follow. of the same substance. Only He is not actually the Father, for the latter is also His source and root, the Almighty Father, the only unbegotten principle.9393This is an important point in the Athanasian doctrine and balances in some degree the thoughts comprised in the word “ὁμοούσιος.” From some passages it certainly appears as if the statement that the Son has everything in common with the Father (according to Holy Scripture) except the name of Father (see Orat. III. 4 fin; III. 6; de synod. 48, 49; frequently as in Orat. I. 61, the language is paradoxical to the verge of absurdity) expressed a merely nominal distinction between Father and Son. According to this, He is either identical with the Father, or a part of the Father’s substance, or an attribute of God, or a kind of pendicle which has emanated from the Father; but all these modes of conception were considered at the, time to be “Sabellian”: they were condemned already. In order to escape them or rather because he himself considered them to be false, Athanasius in the proper place strongly emphasised the idea that the Father is the entire monad, that He is the ἀρχή for the Son too, that it is in fact the ousia of the Father which the Son has received, that thus the conception of the Father as the sole Θεὸς παντοκράτωρ maintains the unity of the Godhead. The Father is the μία ἀρχή (Orat. IV. 1); there are not two or three Fathers (III. 15); there is ἕν εἶδος θεότητος, which is the Father, but τὸ εἶδος τοῦτό ἐστι καὶ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ (l.c.); the Father is ὁ Θεός. He alone is αὐτὸς ὁ Θεός, He alone is the unbegotten God (Expos. fid. I); the Son is a γέννημα, even though He has not come into being. Accordingly the Father is sufficient for Himself (Orat. II. 41), and ἡ οὐσία τοῦ πατρός ἐστιν ἀρχὴ καὶ ῥίζα καὶ πηγὴ τοῦ υἱοῦ. The “ὁμοούσιος” does not thus include any absolute co-ordination. According to Athanasius all men are ὁμοούσιοι relatively to each other, because they are ὁμογενεῖς and ὁμοφυεῖς (de synod. 52 sq.) and yet spite of this we find amongst them superiority and subordination. The same is the case here. Athanasius maintains the inseparable unity of substance of Father and Son, the unity of the Godhead; but this idea is for him applicable only in virtue of another, according to which the Father has everything of Himself while the Son has everything from the Father. Father and Son, according to Athanasius, are not co-ordinate equal substances, but rather one single substance, which involves the distinction of ἀρχή and γέννημα, and thus of principle and what is deduced, and in this sense involves a subordination, which, however, is not analogous to the subordination in which the creature stands to God.37
(4) The language used of Christ in Scripture to express what is human and belonging to the creature, has, always and only, reference to the human nature which He took upon Him in order to redeem men. Since He who is by nature God took upon Him a body in order to unite with Himself what is by nature man in order that the salvation and deification of man might be surely accomplished, He also along with the body took to Himself human feelings. So complete, however, is the identity of the humanity of Christ with the nature of humanity as a whole that we may, according to Athanasius, refer the statements of Scripture as to a special endowment and exaltation of Christ, to the whole humanity.9494See Orat. I. 41: Τῆς ἀνθρωπότητός ἐστιν ἡ ὕψωσις, i.e., not of the humanity of Christ, but of humanity as a whole: c. 42: When Scripture uses the word “ἐχαρίσατο·” in reference to what God does to Christ, this is not said of the Logos, but on our account: δι᾽ ἡμᾶς καὶ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τοῦτο πάλιν περὶ αὐτοῦ γέγραπται. ὥσπερ γὰρ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ Χριστὸς ἀπέθανε καὶ ὑψώθη, οὕτως ὡς ἄνθρωπος λέγται λαμβάνειν ὅπερ εἶχεν ἀεὶ ὡς Θεός, ἵνα εἰς ἡμᾶς φθάσῃ καὶ ἡ τοιαύτη δοθεῖσα χάρις. The human race is thereby enriched. c. 43: By our kinship with the body of Christ we too have become a temple of God and are henceforth made sons of God, so that already in us the Lord is adored. “Therefore hath God also exalted Him”—this signifies our exaltation. Complete too, however, was the union of the Son of God with humanity, which Athanasius, like Arius up to the time of the Apollinarian controversy, usually thought of as “Flesh,” “vesture of the Flesh.”9595So correctly Baur. I have not found Dorner’s statement that the presupposition of a human soul occupies the background of the whole view of Athanasius “of the incarnation and redemption as affecting the totality of man” (op. cit. I. p. 957) to be supported by evidence. From what is alleged by Dorner it merely follows that Athanasius did not reflect on the subject. Baur, however, meanwhile goes too far when he expresses the opinion that Athanasius designedly left the human soul of Christ out of account; on the contrary, by the term “Flesh” he understood the whole substance of man, (see Orat. III. 30) and did not feel there was any necessity for studying the question as to the position occupied by the soul. Because the body of the Logos was really His own body—although we must discard the thought of variation, of change9696Orat. IV. 31.—and because this union had become already perfect in Mary’s body,9797Orat. IV. 32-34. everything that holds good of the flesh holds 38good of the Logos also, and this is true of all sufferings even,—although He was not affected by them so far as His Godhead is concerned,9898Orat. I. 45, III. 30-33.—and Mary is the mother of God. Athanasius also refers to the incarnate Logos the locus classicus of the Arians, Prov. VIII. 22, 23,9999Almost the whole second oration against the Arians is devoted to the task of refuting the use made by them of this passage. with which Eustathius of Antioch likewise occupied himself.100100Theodoret, H. E. I. 8. Finally, Athanasius spoke also of a προκοπή or progress in reference to the incarnate Logos, of an increase in the manifestation of God in the body of Christ, by which he means that the flesh was more and more completely irradiated by the Godhead: τὸ ἀνθρώπινον ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ προέκοπτεν,101101Orat. III. 53: Λὐξάνοντος ἐν ἡλικίᾳ τοῦ σώματος, συνεπεδίδοτο ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ η τῷς θεότητος φανέρωσις . . . τὸ ἄνθρώπινον προέκοπτεν, ὑπεραναβαῖνον κατ᾽ ὀλίγον τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν καὶ θεοποιούμενον καὶ ὄργανον τῆς σοφίας πρὸς τὴν ἐνέργειαν τῆς θεότητος καὶ τὴν ἔκλαμψιν αὐτῆς γενόμενον. (the human advanced in wisdom).
How are the two mutually opposed doctrines to be judged from the standpoint of history, of reason, and of the Gospel? Each party charged the other with holding doctrines which involved contradictions, and, what is of more consequence, they mutually accused each other of apostasy from Christianity, although the Arians never advanced this charge with such energy as the opposite party. We have first of all to ascertain definitely how much they had in common. Religion and doctrine are with both thoroughly fused together,102102Both thus occupy the stage of development which was described in Vol. III., pp, 113-118. We may say meanwhile, and what follows will prove it, that the fusion of a theoretical doctrine with religion was more thorough in the case of Arianism than with Athanasius. and, indeed, formally considered, the doctrine is the same in both cases, i.e., the fundamental conceptions are the same. The doctrine of the pre-existent Christ, who as the pre-existent Son of God is Logos, Wisdom, and world-creating Power of God, seems to constitute the common basis. Together with this both have a common interest in maintaining the unity of God and in 39making a sharp distinction between Creator and creature. Finally, both endeavour to base their doctrines on Scripture and at the same time claim to have tradition on their side, as is evident in the case of Arius from the introduction to the Thalia. Both are, however, convinced that the final word lies with Scripture and not with tradition.
I. We cannot understand Arianism unless we consider that it consists of two entirely disparate parts. It has, first of all, a Christ who gradually becomes God, who therefore develops more and more in moral unity of feeling with God, progresses and attains his perfection by the divine grace. This Christ is the Saviour, in so far as he has conveyed to us the divine doctrine and has given us an example of goodness perfectly realised in the exercise of freedom. When Arius calls this Christ Logos it appears as if he did this by way of accommodation. The conception of Arius here is purely Adoptian. But, secondly, with this is united a metaphysic which has its basis solely in a cosmology and has absolutely no connection with soteriology. This metaphysic is dominated by the thought of the antithesis of the one, inexpressible God, a God remote from the world, and the creature. The working-out of this thought accordingly perfectly corresponds with the philosophical ideas of the time and with the one half of the line of thought pursued by Origen. In order that a creation may become possible at all, a spiritual being must first be created which can be the means whereby a spiritual-material world can be created. This cannot be the divine reason itself, but only the most complete image of the divine reason stamped on a created, freely acting, independent being. With this we have arrived at the Neo-platonic origination. Whether in order to find a means of transition to the world we are to speak of “God, the essential νοῦς of God, the created Logos,” or “God, the created Logos, the world-spirit,” or are to arrange the terms in some other way, is pretty much a matter of indifference, and to all appearance Arius laid little stress on this. It is the philosophical triad, or duad, such as we meet with in Philo, Numenius, Plotinus etc. These created beings which mediate between God and the creature are, however, according to Arius, 40to be adored, i.e., it is only as a cosmologist that he is a strict monotheist, while as a theologian he is a polytheist. This again perfectly corresponds to the dominant Hellenic view. Arius in fact occupies a place, so to speak, on the extreme left, for the energetic way in which he emphasises the thought that the second ousia has been created out of the free will of God, that it is foreign to the substance of God, that as a creaturely substance it is capable of change and definable, and, above all, the express assertion that this “Logos” and “Son” is “Logos” and “Son” merely nominally, that in no sense whatever is an emanation or anything of that kind to be thought of here, but simply a creation, is surprising even in the sphere of Hellenic philosophy. That this created Logos which made possible the further creation has appeared in Jesus Christ and has in human vesture developed into God and has therefore not been lowered, but on the contrary has been exalted by His being man, is accordingly what constitutes the uniting thought between the two parts of the system.
In the other case, as here, the expressions “pre-existent Son of God,” “Logos,” “Wisdom” are plainly only an accommodation. They are unavoidable, but not necessary, in fact they create difficulties. It clearly follows from this, however, that the doctrine of Origen does not constitute the basis of the system—in so far as its Christology is concerned—and that what it has in common with the orthodox system is not what is really characteristic of it, but is on the contrary what is secondary. The Arian doctrine has its root in Adoptianism, in the doctrine of Lucian of Samosata,103103See above p. 3, and in addition Athan. Orat. III. 51: The view of Lucian of Samosata is the idea of the pure creaturehood and humanity of the Redeemer ὅ τῇ μὲν δυνάμει καὶ ὐμεῖς φρονεῖτε, τῷ δε ὀνόματι μόνον ἀρνεῖσθε διὰ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. This is no mere trick of logic, although the alleged motive of the correction of the Adoptianist doctrine is assuredly incorrectly described. as is proved, above all, by the strong emphasis laid on the creaturehood of the Redeemer and by the elimination of a human soul. We know what signification this had for Origen. Where it is wanting we can no longer speak of Origenism in the full meaning of the word. But it is correct that the cosmological-causal point of view of Origen, this one side of his complicated system, was appropriated 41by Arius, that is by Lucian. Meanwhile it has to be added that it was not peculiar to Origen. He made an effort to get beyond it; he balanced the causal-cosmological point of view, according to which the Logos is a heavenly κτίσμα, by the soteriological, according to which He is the essential and recognisable image of the Father, which constitutes an essential unity with the Father. Of this there is nothing in Arius.104104We do not know whether or not Arius appealed to Origen. The later Arians undoubtedly quoted him in support of their views; they seem, however, to have appealed most readily to Dionysius of Alex. See Athan. de sentent. Dionysii.
Arianism is a new doctrine in the Church; it labours under quite as many difficulties as any other earlier Christological doctrine; it is, finally, in one important respect, really Hellenism which is simply tempered by the constant use of Holy Scripture. It is a new doctrine; for not only is the frank assertion of the creaturehood and changeableness of the Logos in this sharply defined form, new, spite of Origen, Dionysius Alex., Pierius and so on, but, above all, the emphatic rejection of any essential connection of the Logos with the Father. The images of the source and the brook, the sun and the light, the archetype and the type, which are almost of as old standing in the Church as the Logos-doctrine itself, are here discarded. This, however, simply means that the Christian Logos- and Son-of-God-doctrine has itself been discarded. Only the old names remain. But new too, further, is the combination of Adoptianism with the Logos-cosmology, and if the idea of two distinct Logoi and two Wisdoms is not exactly new, it is a distinction which had never before this been permitted.
Athanasius exposed the inner difficulties and contradictions, and in almost every case we may allow that he has right on his side. A son who is no son, a Logos who is no Logos, a monotheism which nevertheless does not exclude polytheism, two or three ousias which are to be revered, while yet only one of them is really distinct from the creatures, an indefinable being who first becomes God by becoming man and who is yet neither God nor man, and so on. In every single point we have apparent clearness while all is hollow and formal, a boyish enthusiasm for playing with husks and shells, and a 42childish self-satisfaction in the working out of empty syllogisms.105105See the tractate of Aëtius preserved in Epiphanius; but the older Arians had already acted in the same way. This had not been learned from Origen, who always had facts and definite ends in view when he speculated.
But all this might be put up with if only this doctrine were in any way designed to shew how communion with God is arrived at through Christ. This is what we must necessarily demand; for what the ancient Church understood by “redemption” was in part a physical redemption of a very questionable kind, and it would not necessarily have been anything to be regretted if anyone had emancipated himself from this “redemption.” But one has absolutely nowhere the impression that Arius and his friends are in their theology concerned with communion with God. Their doctrina de Christo has nothing whatever to do with this question. The divine which appeared on earth is not the Godhead, but one of its creations. God Himself remains unknown. Whoever expresses adherence to the above propositions and does this with unmistakable satisfaction, stands up for the unique nature of God, but does this, however, only that he may not endanger the uniformity of the basis of the world, and otherwise is prepared to worship besides this God other “Gods” too, creatures that is; whoever allows religion to disappear in a cosmological doctrine and in veneration for a heroic teacher, even though he may call him “perfect creature,” κτίσμα τέλειον, and revere in him the being through whom this world has come to be what it is, is, so far as his religious way of thinking is concerned, a Hellenist, and has every claim to be highly valued by Hellenists.106106There are some good remarks on Arianism in Kaufmann, Deutsche Geschichte I., pp. 232, 234; also in Richter, Weström. Reich, p. 537.
The admission that the Arians succeeded in getting a grasp of certain features in the historical Christ presented to us by the New Testament, cannot in any way alter this judgment. In this matter they were far superior to their opponents; but they were absolutely unable to make any religious use of what they perceived. They speak of Christ as Paul of Samosata does, but by foisting in behind the Christ who was exalted to be Lord, the half divine being, logos-creature, λόγος-κτίσμα, 43they deprived the most valuable knowledge they had of all practical value. Paul could say in a general way: τὰ κρατούμενα τῷ λόγῳ τῆς φύσεως, οὐκ ἔχει ἔπαινον· τὰ δὲ σχέσει φιλίας κρατούμενα ὑπεραινεῖται (what was accomplished by the Logos of nature deserves no praise, but what was accomplished in the state of love is to be praised exceedingly). Such a statement was made impossible for the Arians by the introduction of cosmological speculation. What dominates Paul’s whole view of the question—namely, the thought that the unity of love and feeling is the most abiding unity, scarcely ever finds an echo amongst the Arians, for it is swallowed up by that philosophy which measures worth by duration in time and thinks of a half-eternal being as being nearer God than a temporal being who is filled with the love of God. We cannot therefore finally rate very high the results of the rational exegesis of christological passages as given by the Arians; they do not use them to shew that Jesus was a man whom God chose for Himself or that God was in the man Jesus, but, on the contrary, in order to prove that this Jesus was no complete God. Nor can we put a high value on their defence of monotheism either, for they adored creatures. What is alone really valuable, is the energetic emphasis they lay on freedom, and which they adopted from Origen, but even it has no religious significance.
Had the Arian doctrine gained the victory in the Greek-speaking world, it would in all probability have completely ruined Christianity, that is, it would have made it disappear in cosmology and morality and would have annihilated religion in the religion. “The Arian Christology is inwardly the most unstable, and dogmatically the most worthless, of all the Christologies to be met with in the history of dogma.”107107Schultz, Gottheit Christi, p. 65. Still it had its mission. The Arians made the transition from heathenism to Christianity easier for the large numbers of the cultured and half-cultured whom the policy of Constantine brought into the Church. They imparted to them a view of the Holy Scriptures and of Christianity which could present no difficulty to any one at that period. The Arian monotheism was the best transition from polytheism to monotheism. It asserted the truth that there is 44one supreme God with whom nothing can be compared, and thus rooted out the crude worship of many gods. It constructed a descending divine triad in which the cultured were able to recognise again the highest wisdom of their philosophers. It permitted men to worship a demiurge together with the primal substance, πρώτη οὐσία; it taught an incarnation of this demiurge and, on the other hand again, a theopoiesis. and was able skilfully to unite this with the worship of Christ in the Church. It afforded, in the numerous formulæ which it coined, interesting material for rhetorical and dialectic exercises. It quickened the feeling of freedom and responsibility and led to discipline, and even to asceticism. And finally, it handed on the picture of a divine hero who was obedient even to death and gained the victory by suffering and patience, and who has become a pattern for us. When transmitted along with the Holy Scriptures, it even produced a living piety108108The figure of Ulfilas vouches for this; his confession of faith (Halm, § 126) is the only Arian one which is not polemical. amongst Germanic Christians, if it also awakened in them the very idea to which it had originally been specially opposed, the idea of a theogony. What was shewn above—namely, that the doctrine was new, is to be taken cum grano salis; elements which were present in the teaching of the Church from the very beginning got here vigorous outward expression and became supreme. The approval the doctrine met with shews how deeply rooted they were in the Church. We cannot but be astonished at the first glance to find that those who sought to defend the whole system of Origen partly sided with Arius and partly gave him their patronage. But this fact ceases to be striking so soon as we consider that the controversy very quickly became so acute as to necessitate a decision for or against Arius. But the Origenists, moreover, had a very strong antipathy to everything that in any way suggested “Sabellianism”; for Sabellianism had no place for the pursuit of Hellenic cosmological speculation, i.e., of scientific theology. Their position with regard to the doctrine of Athanasius was thereby determined. They would rather have kept to their rich supply of musty formulæ, but they were forced to decide for Arius.45
II. Nothing can more clearly illustrate the perverse state of the problem in the Arian-Athanasian controversy than the notorious fact that the man who saved the character of Christianity as a religion of living fellowship with God, was the man from whose Christology almost every trait which recalls the historical Jesus of Nazareth was erased. Athanasius undoubtedly retained the most important feature—namely, that Christ promised to bring men into fellowship with God. But while he subordinated everything to this thought and recognised in redemption a communication of the divine nature, he reduced the entire historical account given of Christ to the belief that the Redeemer shared in the nature and unity of the Godhead itself, and he explained everything in the Biblical documents in accordance with this idea.109109Anyone, on the other hand, who, like Arius, held to the idea of a developing and struggling Christ was not able to conceive of Him as Redeemer, but only as teacher and example. This was the situation: the Bible accounts of Christ did not favour and establish the sole idea which was held at the time regarding fellowship with God and redemption, but, on the contrary, they interfered with it. That which Christ is and is for us, is the Godhead; in the Son we have the Father, and in what the Son has brought, the divine is communicated to us. This fundamental thought is not new, and it corresponds with a very old conception of the Gospel. It is not new, for it was never wanting in the Church before the time of Athanasius. The Fourth Gospel, Ignatius, Irenæus, Methodius, the so-called Modalism and even the Apologists and Origen—not to mention the Westerns—prove this; for the Apologists, and Origen too, in what they say of the Logos, emphasised not only His distinction from the Father, but also His unity with the Father. The Samosatene had also laid the whole emphasis on the unity, although indeed he was not understood.110110Athanasius always appealed to the collective testimony of the Church in support of the doctrine which he defended. In the work, de decret, 25 sq., he shews that the words ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας and ὁμοούσιος were not discovered by the Nicene Fathers, but, on the contrary, had been handed down to them. He appeals to Theognostus, to the two Dionysii and Origen, to the latter with the reservation that in his case it is necessary to distinguish between what he wrote γυμναστικῶς and what he wrote of a positive character. It is one of the few passages in which he has thought of Origen. But not since the days in which the Fourth Gospel was written do we meet with anyone 46with whom the conviction is so definite, thought out with such an assurance of victory, expressed so strongly and so simply, and of such an absolute kind, as it is with Athanasius. All the rest by introducing qualifying thoughts in some way or other, brought an element of uncertainty into their feeling of its truth, and impaired its strength. That in the age of Constantine during the greatest revolution which the Church has experienced and which was so fraught with consequences, the faith represented by Athanasius was confessed with such vigour, is what saved the Christian Church. Its faith would probably have got entirely into the hands of the philosophers, its confession would have become degraded or would have been turned into an imperial official decree enjoining the worship of the “clear-shining Godhead”, if Athanasius had not been there and had not helped those who shared his views to make a stand and inspired them with courage.
But at the beginning of the Fourth Century the form of expression for the belief in the unity of the eternal Godhead and its appearance in Jesus Christ was already sketched out. It was as little allowable to think of a unity of living feeling, of will and aim alone, as of the perfect identification of the persons. The doctrines of the pre-existing Son of God, of the eternal Logos, but, above all, the view that everything valuable is accomplished in the nature only, of which feeling and will are an annex, were firmly established. Athanasius in making use of these presuppositions in order to express his faith in the Godhead of Christ, i.e., in the essential unity of the Godhead in itself with the Godhead manifested in Christ, fell into an abyss of contradictions.
Unquestionably the old Logos doctrine too, and also Arianism, strike us to-day as being full of contradictions, but it was Athanasius who first arrived at the contradictio in adjecto in the full sense of the phrase. That the Godhead is a numerical unity, but that nevertheless Son and Father are to be distinguished within this unity as two—this is his view. He teaches that there is only one unbegotten principle, but that nevertheless the Son has not come into being. He maintains that the Divine in Christ is the eternal “Son”, but that the Son 47is as old as the Father. This Son is not to be thought of either as created, or as an attribute of God, or as an emanation or a part of God, and is therefore something wholly indefinable. The thought of a theogony is rejected as emphatically as that of a creation, and yet the thought of an active attribute is not in any sense to be entertained. The Father is perfect for Himself and is sufficient for Himself; indeed, although Father and Son have one substance, in the sense of a single nature, in common, still the Father alone is “the God”, and is the principle and root of the Son also. Quot verba, tot scandala!
Whatever involves a complete contradiction cannot be correct, and everyone is justified in unsparingly describing the contradiction as such. This the Arians sufficiently did, and in so far as they assumed that a contradiction cannot be seriously accepted by anyone, and that therefore the view of Athanasius must at bottom be Sabellian, they were right. Two generations and more had to pass before the Church could accustom itself to recognise in the complete contradiction the sacred privilege of revelation. There was, in fact, no philosophy in existence possessed of formulæ which could present in an intelligible shape the propositions of Athanasius. What he called at one time Ousia and at another Hypostasis, was not an individual substance in the full sense of the word, but still less was it a generic conception.
If anything is clear, it is the fact that the thought of Athanasius—namely, the unity of the Godhead which rested in and appeared in Christ, could not be expressed under the traditional presuppositions of the pre-existing Son of God and the personal Logos existing from all eternity. We have here to do with the most important point in the whole question. The very same series of ideas which created the most serious difficulties for the Arians and which have been shewn to occupy a secondary place in their system, seriously hamper the doctrinal utterances of Athanasius; namely, the Logos doctrine of Origen and the cosmological-metaphysical conceptions which form the background of statements regarding an historical person. The Arians required to have a created being, created before the 48world, changeable, of the same nature as men, for their Christ, and had to banish all other determinations from their conception, and so they could not make use of the Logos of Philo and the Apologists; Athanasius required a being who was absolutely nothing else than the Godhead, and so the Logos referred to did not in any sense fit in with his doctrine. In both cases the combined Logos doctrine of Philo and Origen was the disturbing element. And at bottom,—though unfortunately not actually,111111They were not able, and did not dare, to discard it actually, because of John I. 1 f., on account of the Church tradition, and because of the scientific views of the time. As regards Athanasius, we have to keep in mind his idea of the Father as the ῥίζα of the Son, and his other idea, according to which the world was actually made by the Son.—they both discarded it; Arius when he distinguishes between the Logos nuncupativus which Christ is, and the actual Logos of God; Athanasius when he banishes the world-idea from the content of the substance which he adores in Christ. In the view of Arius, Christ belongs in every sense to the world, i.e., to the sphere of created things; in that of Athanasius he belongs in every sense to God, whose substance He shares.
Arius and Athanasius both indeed occupy the standpoint of the theology of Origen which no one could now abandon; but their religious and theological interests do not originate in it. In the gnosis of Origen everything spiritual stands to God in a two-fold relation; it is His created work and yet it is at the same time His nature. This holds good in a pre-eminent sense of the Logos, which comprises all that is spiritual in itself and connects the graduated spheres of the spiritual substances, which, like it, have an eternal duration, with the supreme God-head. To this idea corresponds the thought that the creatures are free and that they must return from their state of estrangement and their Fall to their original source. Of this we find nothing either in Arius or in Athanasius. In the case of the former, the sober Aristotelian philosophy on the one hand reacts against this fundamental thought, and on the other, the tradition of the Christ who is engaged in a conflict, who increases and progresses towards perfection. In the case of 49Athanasius what reacts against it is the ancient belief of the Church in the Father, the Almighty Creator of all things, and in the Son in whom the Father reveals Himself and has stooped to hold fellowship with man.
It is thus not the case that the gnosis of Origen was simply halved between Arius and Athanasius; on the contrary, it underwent a fundamental correction in the teaching of both. But it was no longer possible to avoid the “vis inertiæ.” of the gnosis of Origen, the contrary formulae which were held together by the idea of the Logos-cosmology as the basis for Christology.112112Dionysius of Alexandria was a genuine pupil of Origen, for he was equally prepared to maintain the other side of the system of Origen, when his namesake pointed out to him that by his one-sided emphasising of the one side, he had lost himself in highly questionable statements. Eusebius of Cæsarea took up the same position. And now the question was which of the two was to be adopted, the Logos-κτίσμα or the Logos-ὁμοούσιος formula. The former freed from the latter was indeed deprived of all soteriological content, but was capable of intelligent and philosophical treatment—namely, rational-logical treatment; the latter taken exclusively, even supposing that the distinction between the Son and the Father and the superiority of the Father were maintained in connection with it, simply led to an absurdity.
Athanasius put up with this absurdity;113113The Nicene Creed sanctioned it. One of its most serious consequences was that from this time onward Dogmatics were for ever separated from clear thinking and defensible conceptions, and got accustomed to what was anti-rational. The anti-rational—not indeed at once, but soon enough—came to be considered as the characteristic of the sacred. As there was everywhere a desire for mysteries, the doctrine seemed to be the true mystery just because it was the opposite of the clear in the sphere of the profane. Even clear-headed men like the later members of the school of Antioch were no longer able to escape from absurdity. The complete contradiction involved in the Ὁμοούσιος drew a whole host of contradictions after it, the further thought advanced. without knowing it he made a still greater sacrifice to his faith—the historical Christ. It was at such a price that he saved the religious conviction that Christianity is the religion of perfect fellowship with God, from being displaced by a doctrine which possessed many lofty qualities, but which had no understanding of the inner essence of religion, which sought in religion nothing but “instruction,” and finally found satisfaction in an empty dialectic.50
It was intended that the General Church-Council which was summoned by the Emperor to meet at Nicæa should, besides settling some other important questions, compose the controversy which already threatened to produce division amongst the Eastern bishops.114114For the sources and the literature referring to the Council of Nice see Herzog’s R-Encykl., Vol. X. 2, p. 530 ff. The accounts are meagre and frequently self-contradictory. We do not yet possess an exhaustive study of the subject. In what follows the main points only can be dealt with. I must renounce the idea of giving here the detailed reasons in support of the views I hold. See Gwatkin, p. 36 ff. It met in the year 325, in summer apparently. There were present about 300 (250, 270) bishops, hardly so many as 318 as asserted by Athanasius at a later time; the correctness of this latter number is open to suspicion. The West was very poorly represented;115115No one was present from Britain; though there were probably bishops from Illyria, Dacia, Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa and also a Persian bishop. Eusebius (Vita III. 8) compares the meeting with that described in Acts II. the Roman bishop was not there, but he had sent two presbyters. The most important of the Eastern bishops were present. It is not clear how the business was arranged and conducted. We do not know who presided, whether Eustathius, Eusebius of Cæsarea, or Hosius, It is undoubted, however, that Hosius exercised a very important influence in the Council. The Emperor at first gave the Council a free hand,116116Sozom. I. 18; we certainly cannot form any clear picture of what took place from the account given in this passage. though he at once put a stop to private wrangling, and he energetically interfered at the most decisive moment, and in the character of a theologian interpreted himself the formula to be adopted.117117This follows from the letter of Eusebius of Cæsarea to his Church (Theodoret, H. E. I. 11), which we may regard as trustworthy in connection with this matter. Eusebius there distinguishes quite plainly two parties; (1) the party to which he himself belongs and (2) the party which he introduces with “οἱ δὲ” (οἱ δὲ προφάσει τῆς τοῦ ὁμοουσίου προσθήκης τήνδε τὴν γραφὴν πεποιήκασιν, the Nicene Creed follows) and which he does not describe in more definite terms than by “αὐτοι” (καὶ δὴ ταύτης τῆς γραφ͂ς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν ὑπαγορευθείσης). We may assume that at first he reckoned on the possibility that the Council would itself find some formula of agreement. He had, however, resolved, under the influence of Hosius, that in the case of this not being successfully carried out, he would enforce the formula which Hosius had agreed upon with Alexander. As 51regards the composition of the Council, the view expressed by the Macedonian Sabinus of Heraclea (Socr. I. 8), that the majority of the bishops were uneducated, is confirmed by the astonishing results. The general acceptance of the resolution come to by the Council is intelligible only if we presuppose that the question in dispute was above most of the bishops.118118With the exception of the bishops whom their contemporaries and our earliest informants have mentioned by name, there do not seem to have been any capable men at the Council. Of the “cultured” we have to distinguish three parties—namely, Arius and the Lucianists, who had Eusebius of Nicomedia for their leader; the Origenists, the most important man amongst whom was Eusebius of Cæsarea, who was already highly celebrated;119119It is worthy of note that Eusebius in the letter just cited does not introduce the Arians as a special party, but merely hints at their existence. The middle party stood, in fact, very near to them. and Alexander of Alexandria with his following, to which the few Westerns also belonged.120120Athanasius (de decret. 19 sq. ad Afros 5, 6, de synod. 33-41) mixes up the two opposition-parties together. The Arians came to the Council confident of victory; as yet nothing was pre-judged; the Bishop of Nicæa himself was on their side and they had relations with the Court.
All were apparently at one in thinking that the Council could not break up
without establishing a standard of doctrine, (πίστις, μάθημα) Those in the
East possessed neither a uniform nor a sufficiently authoritative symbol by
which the controversy could be settled. The Lucianists accordingly—who may have
been about twenty in number, not more at any rate—produced, after deliberation,
a confession of faith which was communicated by Eusebius of Nicomedia and
embodied their doctrine in unambiguous terms. They did this without having
previously come to an understanding with the Origenists. This was a tactical
blunder. The great majority of the bishops rejected this rule of faith which was
decisively in favour of Arianism.121121See Theodoret I. 6: fin.; he relies upon the account of Eustathius. In
addition Athanas., Encycl. ad epp. Ægypt 13, de decret. 3. Even the “Conservatives” must have been
unpleasantly affected by the naked statement of the Arian doctrinal system. The supporters
52of Arius were now in the greatest perplexity owing to the unforeseen
turn which events had taken. In order to be able to keep their position at the
Council at all, they, with the exception of two who remained firm, withdrew this
sketch of their doctrine, and now made up their minds to follow the lead of the
Origenists in order to secure at least something. Eusebius of Cæsarea now came
to the front. No one was more learned than he; no one was more intimately
acquainted with the teaching of the Fathers. He had good reason to hope that he
would be able to speak the decisive word. If there was a general conviction that
in everything it was necessary to abide by the ancient doctrine of the Church,
then there seemed to be no one more fitted to define that ancient doctrine than
the great scholar who was also, moreover, in the highest favour with the
Emperor. His formulæ were, “the created image”, “the reflection originating in
the will”, “the second God” etc.122122See the characteristic passage Demon str. IV. 3:
ἡ μὴν αὐγὴ οὐ κατὰ προαίρεσιν
τοῦ φωτὸς ἐκλάμπει. κατά τι δὲ τῆς οὐσίας συμβεβηκὸς ἀχώριστον. ὁ δὲ υἱὸς κατὰ
γνώμην καὶ προαίρεσιν εἰκών ὑπέστη τοῦ πατρός. βουληθεὶς γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς γέγονεν υἱοῦ
πατὴρ καὶ φῶς δεύτερον κατὰ
πάντα ἑαυτῷ ἀφωμοιωμένον
ὑπεστήσατο. He could, if needful, have accepted the Arian
formula; those of Alexander he could not adopt, for he saw in them the dreaded
Sabellianism which meant the death of theological science. Eusebius accordingly
laid a creed before the Council.123123According to Eustathius (in Theodoret I. 7) the creed of the strict Arians was
composed by Eusebius of Nicomedia; at least I think that it must be the latter
who is referred to in what is said in that passage:
ὡς δὲ ἐζητεῖτο τῆς πίστεως ὁ
τρόπος, ἐναργὴς μὲν ἔλεγχος τὸ γράμμα τῆς Εὐσεβίου προὐβάλλετο βλασφημίας. ἐπι
πάντων δὲ ἀναγνωσθὲν αὐτίκα συμφορὰν μὲν ἀστάθμητον τῆς ἐκτροπῆς ἕνεκα τοῖς
αὐτηκόοις προὐξένει, αἰσχύνην δ᾽ἀνήκεστον τῷ γράψαντι παρεῖχεν.
It is impossible that it can be the creed of Eusebius of
Cæsarea which is referred to here, for the latter (1.c. I. 11) expressly notes
that his creed after having been communicated to the Council was substantially
accepted. Whether we have a right to call the creed which he produced simply
“Baptismal Creed of the Church of Cæsarea,” is to me questionable, judging from
the introduction to it given in the letter to his Church.
He was convinced that all could and must unite on the basis supplied by it, and
as a matter of fact no better conciliatory formula could be imagined.124124The creed is contained in the letter of Eusebius to his Church. See Theodoret I. 1:
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, τὸν τῶν ἁπάντων ὁρατῶν τε καὶ
ἀοράτων ποιητήν, καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγον, Θεὸν ἐκ
Θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, ζωὴν ἐκ ζωῆς, υἱὸν μονογενῆ, πρωτότοκον πάσης κτίσεως, πρὸ
πάντων τῶν αἰώνων ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς γεγεννημένον, δι᾽ οὗ καὶ ἐγένετο τὰ πάντα, τὸν
διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν σαρκωθέντα καὶ ἐν ἀνθρώποις πολιτευσάμενόν καὶ παθόντα
καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμερᾳ καὶ ἀνελθόντα πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἥξοντα πάλιν ἐν
δόξῃ κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, καὶ
εἰ ἔν πνεῦμα ἅγιον. Still Eusebius considered it necessary
53to tack on to it an anti-Sabellian addition.125125Τούτων ἕκαστον εἶναι καὶ ὑπάρχειν πιστεύοντες, πατέρα ἀληθινῶς πατέρα, καὶ
υἱὸν ἀληθινῶς υἱόν, πνεῦμά τε ἅγιον ἀληθινῶς πνεῦμα ἅγιον, καθὰ καὶ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν
ἀποστέλλων εἰς τὸ κήρυγμα τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ μαθητὰς εἶπε·
Matt. XXVIII. 19 follows. According to Eusebius the
Creed was unanimously pronounced orthodox,126126Ταύτης ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν ἐκτεθείσης τῆς πίστεως οὐδείς παρῆν ἀντιλογίας τόπος, ἀλλ᾽
αὐτός τε πρῶτος ὁ θεοφιλέστατος ἡμῶν βασιλεὺς ὀρθότατα περιέχειν αὐτὴν ἐμαρτύρησεν.
οὕτω τε καὶ ἑαυτὸν φρονεῖν συνωμολόγησε· καὶ ταύτῃ τοὺς πάντας συγκατατίθεσθαι,
ὑπογράφειν τε τοῖς δόγμασι καὶ συμφωνεῖν τούτοις αὐτοῖς
παρεκελεύετο (I. 11). still the imperial will already made
its influence felt here. The Arians were doubtless well pleased to get off on
these terms. But Alexander and his following demanded a perfectly plain
rejection of Arianism. They went about it in an extremely adroit fashion
inasmuch as they accepted the basis of the Creed of Cæsarea, but demanded that
its terms should be made more precise. We know from Eusebius himself that the
Emperor sided with them, and so far as he was concerned resolved to incorporate
in the Creed the word “ὁμοούσιος”,
which was suggested to him by Hosius.127127According to Eusebius, however, the Emperor himself added an interpretation of
the Ὁμοούσιος. We read in the letter of Eusebius, immediately after the words
cited in the foregoing note: ἑνὸς μόνου προσεγγραφέντος ῥήματος τοῦ Ὁμοουσίου,
ὃ καὶ αὐτὸς ἡρμήνευσε λέγων ὅτι μὴ κατὰ σωμάτων πάθε λέγοιτο Ὁμοούσιος, οὔτε
κατὰ διαίρεσιν, οὔτε κατὰ τινα ἀποτομὴν ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑποστῆναι . . . θείοις δὲ καὶ
ἀπορρήτοις λόγοις προσήκει τὰ τοιαῦτα νοεῖν.
The word is thus only intended to express the mystery! But
the matter was not settled by the mere insertion of a word. It was pointed out
that the Creed of Cæsarea contained formulæ which might favour the Arian view.
Its supporters were already put in the position of defendants. Accordingly, the
Alexandrian party presented a very carefully constructed doctrinal formula which
was represented as being a revised form of the Creed of Cæsarea128128Eusebius in an ill-concealed tone of reproach says οἱ δὲ (i.e., the
Alexandrians) προφάσει τῆς τοῦ Ὁμοουσίου προσθήκης τήνδε τὴν γραφὴν,
(i.e., the Nicene Creed) πεποιήκασι, that is, they have corrected my
proposed creed not only here but in other passages also. and
54in which some think they can recognise, in addition to the contributions of the
Alexandrians, the hand of Eustathius of Antioch and of Makarius of Jerusalem.129129See Hort., l.c., p. 59 and my article in Herzog, R.-Encyklop., Vol. VIII., p.
214 ff. (1) In place of ἀπάντων ὁρατῶν etc., (“of all seen things whatsoever”),
there was put by preference πάντων ὁρατῶν (“of all seen things”), in order
to exclude the creation of the Son and Spirit;130130See Gwatkin, p. 41. (2) in place of the Logos at
the beginning of the second article, the “Son” was put, so that all that follows
refers to the Son;131131The “Logos” is wholly absent from the Nicene Creed; after what has been
adduced above this will cause as little astonishment as the fact that neither
Athanasians nor Arians took any offence at its exclusion. (3) the words Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ (“God of God”) were extended
to γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ (“begotten of the Father
only begotten God of God”), but in the final discussion, however, between μονογενῆ and
Θεόν the words τοῦτ᾽ ἐστὶν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός (“that is of
the substance of the Father”) were further inserted, because it was observed
that otherwise the opposition party might be able to put their doctrine into the
proposition;132132See on this what is told us by Athanasius, l.c. The clumsy position of the
words which mutilate the conception μονογενῆ Θεὸν, further proves that they
are an insertion made at the very last. (4) the unsatisfactory descriptions ζωὴν ἐκ ζωῆς
(“life of life”), πρωτότοκον πάσης κτίσεως (“the first-born of every
creature”), πρὸ πάντων αἰώνων ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς γεγεννημένον (“begotten of
the Father before all ages”), before δι᾽ οὗ, etc., were deleted, and in their
place the following was put:
Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ
Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, δι᾽ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο
(“true God of true God, begotten, not made, by whom all things were”). At this point, however, a further insertion
was made, and this once more in the course of the discussion itself,133133See Athanasius, l.c. at what
too was not at all a suitable place—namely, after “ποιηθέντα” (“made”), the
words ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρί (“of the same substance with the Father”), because it
was observed that none of the other terms excluded the Arian evasions; (5) the
indefinite ἐν ἀνθρώποις πολιτευσάμενον (“having lived amongst men”) was
replaced by the definite ἐνανθρωπήσαντα (“having
55become incarnate”); and (6) finally, in order to exclude all ambiguity, the
condemnation of the Arian catchwords was added on to this.134134 The doctrinal formula in accordance with this was worded as follows. (The
differences above discussed between it and the Creed of Cæsarea are to he
explained as the result of the influence exercised by the Jerusalem and
Antiochian Creed). The textual proofs are enumerated in Walch, Bib]. symb., p.
75 sq., Hahn, § 73, 74, and Hort. l.c.;—slight variations occur—:
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν πατέρα
παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε καὶ ἀοράτων ποιητήν, καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν
Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρός μονογενῆ—τοῦτ᾽ ἐστὶν ἐκ τῆς
οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός—Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ,
γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα—ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρί—δι᾽ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, τὰ δε ἐν
τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸν δι᾽ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν
σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα, ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, παθόντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ
τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, ἀνελθόντα εἰς [τοὺς]οὐρανούς, ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, καὶ
εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.
Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας· Ἦν ποτὲ ὅτε ἦν καὶ πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν, καὶ ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο, ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι [ἢ κτιστὸν] ἢ τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ [τούτους] ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ [καὶ αποστολικὴ] ἐκκλησία.
The opposition parties did not yield without debates, in which the Emperor himself took part.135135Eusebius in Theoderet, H. E. I. 11: ἐρωτήσεις τοιγαροῦν καὶ ἀποκρίσεις ἐντεῦθεν ἀνεκινοῦντο, ἐβασανίζετο ὁ λόγος τῆς διανοίας τῶν εἰρημένων. We do not know the details of the discussions, but we gather from the accounts of Athanasius that the Eusebians made still further proposals of a conciliatory kind and attempted to produce new catchwords.136136See Athan. de decret. 19, 20; ad Afros 5, 6. The nature of their objections to the Alexandrian outline of doctrine may be gathered from the irenic explanation which Eusebius gave to his Church in Cæsarea as well as from the objections which later on were brought against the Nicene Creed. They fought against ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας (“of the substance”) and ὁμοούσιος because (1) they believed they saw in these words a materialising of the Godhead, which made it a composite substance comprising emanations or parts; because (2) they could not help seeing in the ὁμοούσιος a Sabellian definition too, and because (3) the words did not occur in Holy Scripture. This last reason was specially decisive. In many parts of the Church there was still a shrinking from the definite adoption of unbiblical terms for the expression of the Faith.137137Still Gwatkin, p. 43, goes too far when he asserts that “the use of ἄγραφα in a creed was a positive revolution in the Church.” It is quite impossible to maintain this in view, for example, of the Creed of Gregorius Thaumaturgus. In addition to 56this there was the fact that the ὁμοούσιος had before this been rejected at Antioch.138138See on μοούσιος, which the Gnostics were the first to use, and on its meaning and history Vol. III. 141 f., 221; above pp. 15 f., 32-35; I. 257; II. 259, 352, 354; iii. 45. On the older ecclesiastical use of οὐσία, ὑπόστασις, ὑποκείμενον, above all in Origen, see the scholarly discussions by Bigg (the Christian Platonists, p. 164 ff.). “Ousia is properly Platonic, while hypostasis, a comparatively modern and rare word, is properly Stoic” . . . Hypokeimenon already in Aristotle means the substantia materialis, ὕλη quæ determinatur per formam or οὐσία cui inhærent πάθη συμβεβηκότα . . . the theological distinction between the terms οὐσία and ὑπόστασις is purely arbitrary.” On the conception of hypostasis see Stentrup, Innsbrucker Zeitschr. f. Kath. Theologie. 1877, p. 59 ff. The question as to who brought forward the ὁμοούσιος again after it had been condemned at Antioch, is an important one. It does not occur in the letters of Bishop Alexander. Athanasius had never any special preference for the word. It is found only once in the Orat. c. Arian (Orat. I. 9), and in the undoubtedly conciliatory work, de synod., 41, he admits that importance does not attach so much to the word as to the thing. The conceptions “ἑνότης” and “ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας” would have served the purpose so far as he himself was concerned. Such being the state of the case one may reasonably assume that the word was not revived by any one belonging to the Eastern Church, since its rejection at Antioch must have stood in the way of this, but rather that some one in the West went back upon it, and Hosius is the only one we can think of as the likely person. This hypothesis is strengthened by the following considerations: (1) According to the testimony of Eusebius of Cæsarea there can be no doubt that the Emperor himself energetically defended the word ὁμοούσιος, but the Emperor was dependent on Hosius; (2) Athanasius (hist. Arian. 42) says of Hosius: οὗτος ἐν Νικαίᾳ πίστιν ἐξὲθετο; (3) the Western-Roman doctrine was the substantial unity of Father and Son; the Alexandrian bishop was accused before the Roman bishop Dionysius on the ground that he was unwilling to use “ὁμοούσιος᾽” and in Rome the accused excuses himself for not using it, and it is the Roman bishop who in his letter stated in energetic language the κήρυγμα τῆς μοναρχίας, the ἡνῶσθαι τῷ Θεῷ τὸν λόγον, and the οὐ καταμερίζειν τὴν μονάδα. I therefore conjecture that the word had been retained in Rome, i.e., in the West, since the time of the controversy of the Dionysii, that when the occasion offered it was once more produced in the East, and that the Alexandrians then accepted the word because they themselves had no better short catchword at their command. This explains why Athanasius always treats the expression as one which was suitable so far as the actual fact to be expressed was concerned, but which as regards its form was for him a foreign term. He could not, it is true, go quite so far as Luther (Opp. reform. V., p. 506): “Quod si odit anima mea vocem homousion et nolim ea uti, non ero hæreticus. Quis enim me coget uti, modo rem teneam, quæ in concilio per scripturas definita est? Etsi Ariani male senserunt in fide, hoc tamon optime, sive malo sive bono animo, exegerunt, ne vocem profanam et novam in regulis fidei statui liceret.” Finally, the statement of Socrates (III. 7) which indeed has been rejected by most, is decisive. According to this Hosius during his stay in Alexandria—before the Nicene Council—had discussed οὐσία and ὑπόστασις. At the first glance that undoubtedly seems unworthy of belief, because it is a ὕστερον-πρότερον but as soon as we remember the work of Tertullian, adv. Prax., which is the most important dogmatic treatise which the West produced previous to Augustine and which cannot have been unknown to Hosius, everything becomes clear. In this work in which Tertullian bears witness to the strong influence exercised upon him by Monarchianism spite of the fact that he is opposing it, no thought is so plainly expressed as this, that Father, Son, and Spirit are unius substantiæ, i.e., ὁμοούσιοι (Vol. II., p. 259 ff.). Along with this, however, we have the idea clearly developed, that Father, Son, and Spirit are different a personæ” (see e.g., c. 3: “proximæ personæ, consortes substantiæ patris”, 15; “visibilem et invisibilem deum deprehendo sub manifesta et personali distinctione condicionis utriusque”; see also the conception of “personales substantiæ” in adv. Valent. 4). These personæ are also called by Tertullian “formæ cohærentes”, “species indivisæ”, “gradus” (c. 2, 8), and in fact even simply “nomina” (c. 30), and this gives his representation as much a Monarchian appearance as the appearance of an immanent Trinity (for a more detailed examination, see the appendix to this chapter). It is from this source, and also from Novatian who in his work, de trinitate, adopted the thoughts of Tertullian, that the theology of Hosius is derived. He may very probably, along with Tertullian, have already spoken of “personæ”, side by side with the “unius substantiæ” which the entire West possessed belief in, in accordance with the baptismal formula, for this is what it was understood to be. (See Hilar., de trinit. II. I. 3: Ambros. de myster. 5 fin). That his formula was: “unius substantiæ tres personæ” where persona is certainly to be conceived of rather as species or forma—not as “substance”—is very probable. The Western Hippolytus, moreover, (c. Noët. 14) also spoke of one God and several prosopeia, and so too did the Western Sabellius, and Tert. (l.c. c. 26) says bluntly: “ad singula nomina in personas singulas tinguimur.” Only this point must remain undecided—namely, whether Hosius already actually translated “persona” by “ὑπόστασις.” It is not probable, since in the so-called Creed of Sardica he used ὑπόστασις as = οὐσία (substantia). That his main catchword was μία οὐσία follows from what he says in his letter to Narcissus of Neronias (Euseb. c. Marcell., p. 25). But the will of the Emperor decided the matter. Respect for the Emperor, his express declaration that there was a desire not to endanger the absolute spirituality of the Godhead, the wish to conclude a grand work of peace—this 57doctrinal declaration139139This is what the Nicene Creed was primarily intended to be, and not a baptismal creed, as the anathemas prove. of the entire Church was, moreover, something new and imposing—induced the Conservatives, i.e., the Origenists and those who did not think for themselves, to fall in with what was proposed. They all subscribed with the exception of two, and at the same time salved their consciences in different ways by mental reservations.140140Theouas of Marmarika and Secundus of Ptolemais refused and were deposed and banished, and the same thing happened in the case of Arius and some presbyters. Arius was specially forbidden by the Council to enter Alexandria, Sozom I. 20. The evasions to which the Lucianists and Origenists had recourse in order to justify their conduct to themselves, can be studied in the letter of Eusebius to his Church. Eusebius interprets “ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς” as equal to “He has His existence from the Father” (!), “γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηζέντα” as equivalent to “the Son is not a creature like the rest of the creatures”, ὁμοούσιος as ὁμοιούσιος, meaning μόνῳ τῷ πατρὶ τῷ γεγεννηκότι κατὰ πάντα τρόπον ὄμοιος and not out of a foreign substance. The worst shift of all is undoubtedly when Eusebius writes to his Church that he has (now) rejected the formula ἦν ποτὲ ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, because we ought not to use any unbiblical expressions whatsoever (but Ὁμοούσιος!) and because the Son did indeed exist already before His incarnation. But that was not the point at all! Πέπονθέ τι δεινόν, says Athanasius (de decret. 3), with justice, of this passage in the letter. The Lucianists 58who up till now had to all appearance been united together in an indissoluble friendship, were unprincipled enough to sacrifice their old comrade Arius.141141They afterwards asserted no doubt that they had not subscribed the anathemas, but only the positive doctrine of the Nicene Creed (Socr. I. 14). However, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicæa a were, notwithstanding this, banished soon after; they were suspected by the Emperor of being Arians and intriguers; see the strongly hostile letter of Constantine in Theodoret I. 19. He was condemned as the scapegoat, and the Emperor, anxious to protect with the strong hand the unity which had been won, gave orders that the books of Arius should be burned and that his adherents should henceforth be called “Porphyrians”, i.e., should be placed on a level with the worst enemies of Christ.142142Socr. I. 9; those with Arian books in their possession were even to be punished with death. To the Alexandrian Church he wrote: ὅ τοῖς τριακοσίοις ἤρεσεν ἐπισκόποις ὀυδὲν ἔστιν ἔτερον ἤ τοῦ Θεοῦ γνώμη, μάλιστά γε ὅπου τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα τοιούτων καὶ τηλικούτων ἀνδρῶν ταῖς διανοίαις ἐγκείμενον τὴν θείαν βούλησιν ἐξεφώτισεν143143L.c. Other writings of Constantine in the same place. The synodal-epistle in Theodoret I. 9, Gwatkin, p. 50, has proved that in the respect shewn by Athanasius for the Nicene Council there is no trace “of the mechanical theory of conciliar infallibility.” It is necessary to guard against exaggerated ideas of the extent to which the decree of the Nicene Council was accepted. It can be proved that in the East (see e.g., Aphraates’ Homilies) and still more in the West, there were numerous bishops who did not trouble themselves about the decree and for whom it had no existence. It was not till after the year 350 that men began to think over the Nicene Creed in the West, and to perceive that it contained more than a mere confirmation of the ancient Western belief in the doctrine of monarchy. (“what satisfied the three hundred bishops is nothing else than the judgment of God, but most of all where the Holy Spirit being present in the thoughts of men such as 59these and so ripe in years, made known the Divine will”). He persecuted the Arians, and the orthodox approved of what he did. They are thus responsible along with him for the persecution. The Arians at a later date only carried on what the orthodox had begun.
The correct faith had triumphed and—the Bishop of Alexandria.144144The victory of the Bishop of Alexandria may be studied above all in the Canons of Nicæa. They have not so far been treated of from this point of view. The Council of Nicæa is the first step taken by the Bishop of Alexandria in aspiring to the primacy of the East.
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