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§ 150. Antitrinitarians. First Class: The Alogi, Theodotus, Artemon, Paul of Samosata.


The works cited at § 144, p. 543.

Schleiermacher: Ueber den Gegensatz der sabellianischen u. athanasianischen Vorstellung von der Trinitaet (Werke zur Theol. Vol. II.). A rare specimen of constructive criticism (in the interest of Sabellianism).

Lobeg. Lange: Geschichte u. Lehrbegriff der Unitarier vor der nicaenischen Synode. Leipz. 1831.

Jos. Schwane (R.C.): Dogmengesch. der vornicaen. Zeit (Münster, 1862), pp. 142–156; 199–203. Comp. his art. Antitrinitarier in "Wetzer und Welte, " new ed. I. 971–976.

Friedr. Nitzsch: Dogmengeschichte, Part I. (Berlin, 1870), 194–210.

Ad. Harnack: Monarchianismus. In Herzog2, vol. X. (1882), 178–213. A very elaborate article. Abridged in Schaff’s Herzog, II. 1548 sqq.

Ad. Hilgenfeld: Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums (1884) p. 608-(628.


That this goal was at last happily reached, was in great part due again to those controversies with the opponents of the church doctrine of the Trinity, which filled the whole third century. These Antitrinitarians are commonly called Monarchians from (μοναρχία)10521052    The designation Monarchiani as a sectarian name is first used by Tertullian, Adv. Prox. c. 10 ("vanissimi isti Monarchiani"); but the Monarchians themselves used μοναρχία in the good sense (Adv. Prax. 3."Monarchiam, inquiunt, tenemus"), in which it was employed by the orthodox fathers in opposition to dualism and polytheism. Irenaeus wrote (according to Jerome) a book "De Monarchia, sive quod Deus non sit auctor malorum." In a somewhat different sense, the Greek fathers in opposition to the Latin Filioque insist on the μοναρχίαof the Father, i.e. the sovereign dignity of the first Person of the Trinity, as the root and fountain of the Deity.052 or Unitarians, on account of the stress they laid upon the numerical. personal unity of the Godhead.

But we must carefully distinguish among them two opposite classes: the rationalistic or dynamic Monarchians, who denied the divinity of Christ, or explained it as a mere "power" (δύναμις) and the patripassian or modalistic Monarchians, who identified the Son with the Father, and admitted at most only a modal trinity, that is a threefold mode of revelation, but not a tripersonality.

The first form of this heresy, involved in the abstract Jewish monotheism, deistically sundered the divine and the human, and rose little above Ebionism. After being defeated in the church this heresy arose outside of it on a grander scale, as a pretended revelation, and with marvellous success, in Mohammedanism which may be called the pseudo-Jewish and pseudo-Christian Unitarianism of the East.

The second form proceeded from the highest conception of the deity of Christ, but in part also from pantheistic notions which approached the ground of Gnostic docetism.

The one prejudiced the dignity of the Son, the other the dignity of the Father; yet the latter was by far the more profound and Christian, and accordingly met with the greater acceptance.

The Monarchians of the first class saw in Christ a mere man, filled with divine power; but conceived this divine power as operative in him, not from the baptism only, according to the Ebionite view, but from the beginning; and admitted his supernatural generation by the Holy Spirit. To this class belong:

1. The Alogians or Alogi,10531053    From privative and λόγος, which may mean both irrational, and opponents of the Logos doctrine. The designation occurs first in Epiphanius, who invented the term (Haer. 51, c. 3) to characterize sarcastically their unreasonable rejection of the Divine Reason preached by John.053 a heretical sect in Asia Minor about a.d. 170, of which very little is known. Epiphanius gave them this name because they rejected the Logos doctrine and the Logos Gospel, together with the Apocalypse. "What good," they said, "is the Apocalypse to me, with its seven angels and seven seals? What have I to do with the four angels at Euphrates, whom another angel must loose, and the host of horsemen with breastplates of fire and brimstone?" They seem to have been jejune rationalists opposed to chiliasm and all mysterious doctrines. They absurdly attributed the writings of John to the Gnostic, Cerinthus, whom the aged apostle opposed.10541054    Hence Epiphanius asks (Haer. 51, 3): πῶς ἔσται Κηρίνθου τὰ κατὰ Κηρίνθου λέγοντα?054 This is the first specimen of negative biblical criticism, next to Marcion’s mutilation of the canon.10551055    Comp. on the Alogi, Iren. Adv. Haer. III. 11. 9 (alii ... simul evangelium [Joannis] et propheticum repellunt spiritum;"but the application of this passage is doubtful); Epiphanius, Haer. 51 and 54. M. Merkel, Historish-kritische Aufklärung der Streitigkeiten der Aloger über die Apokalypsis, Frankf. and Leipz. 1782; by the same: Umständlicher Beweis dass die Apok. ein untergeschobenes Buch sei, Leipz. 1785; F. A. Heinichen, De Alogis, Theodotianis atque Artemonites, Leipzig, 1829; Neander, Kirchengesch. l. II. 906, 1003; Dorner, l. c. Bd. II. 500-503; Schaff, Alogians in " Smith and Wace," I. 87; Lipsius, Quellen der ältesten Ketzergeschichte, 93 and 214; Schwane, l. c. 145-148; Döllinger, Hippolytus and Callistus, 273-288 (in Plummer’s transl.); Zahn, in the " Zeitschrift für Hist. Theol."1875, p. 72 sq.; Harnack, in Herzog2, 183-186. Harnack infers from Irenaeus that the Alogi were churchly or catholic opponents of the Montanistic prophecy as well as the millennarian Gnosticism of Cerinth at a time before the canon was fixed; but it is doubtful whether Irenaeus; refers to them at all, and in the year 170 the fourth Gospel was undoubtedly recognized throughout the Catholic church.0552. The Theodotians; so called from their founder, the tanner Theodotus. He sprang from Byzantium; denied Christ in a persecution, with the apology that he denied only a man; but still held him to be the supernaturally begotten Messiah. He gained followers in Rome, but was excommunicated by the bishop Victor (192–202). After his death his sect chose the confessor Natalis bishop, who is said to have afterwards penitently returned into the bosom of the Catholic church. A younger Theodotus, the "money-changer," put Melchizedek as mediator between God and the angels, above Christ, the mediator between God and men; and his followers were called Melchizedekians.10561056    On the older Theodotus see Hippol. Philos., VII. 35; X. 23 (in D. and Schu. p. 406 and 526); Epiph., Haer. 54; Philastr., Haer. 50; Pseudo Tert., Haer. 28; Euseb., H. E. V. 28, On the younger Theodotus, see Hippol., VII. 36; Euseb., V. 28; Pseudo-Tert., 29; Epiph., Haer. 55 (Contra Melchisedecianos).056

3. The Artemonites, or adherents of Artemon or Artemos, who came out somewhat later at Rome with a similar opinion, declared the doctrine of the divinity of Christ an innovation and a relapse to heathen polytheism; and was excommunicated by Zephyrinus (202–217) or afterwards. The Artemonites were charged with placing Euclid and Aristotle above Christ, and esteeming mathematics and dialectics higher than the gospel. This indicates a critical intellectual turn, averse to mystery, and shows that Aristotle was employed by some against the divinity of Christ, as Plato was engaged for it.

Their assertion, that the true doctrine was obscured in the Roman church only from the time of Zephyrinus,10571057    Euseb. V. 28. Eusebius derived his information from an anonymous book which Nicephorus (IV. 21) calls μικρὸν λαβύρινθον, "the little labyrinth," and which Photius (Bibl. c. 48) ascribes to Caius, but which was probably written b v Hippolytus of Rome. See the note of Heinichen in Tom. III. 243 sq., and Döllinger, Hippolytus, p. 3 (Engl. transl.).057 is explained by the fact brought to light recently through the Philosophumena of Hippolytus, that Zephyrinus (and perhaps his predecessor Victor), against the vehement opposition of a portion of the Roman church, favored Patripassianism, and probably in behalf of this doctrine condemned the Artemonites.10581058    The sources of our fragmentary information about Artemon are Epiphanius, Haer. 65, c. 1-4; Euseb., H. E. V. 28; VII. 30; Theodoret, Haer. Fab. II. 8. Comp. Kapp, Historia Artemonis, 1737, Schleiermacher, Dorner, and Harnack.058

4. Paul Of Samosata, from 260 bishop of Antioch, and at the same time a high civil officer,10591059    "Ducenarius procurator." He was viceroy of the queen of Palmyra, to which Antioch belonged at that time.059 is the most famous of these rationalistic Unitarians, and contaminated one of the first apostolic churches with his heresy. He denied the personality of the Logos and of the Holy Spirit, and considered them merely powers of God, like reason and mind in man; but granted that the Logos dwelt in Christ in larger measure than in any former messenger of God, and taught, like the Socinians in later times, a gradual elevation of Christ, determined by his own moral development, to divine dignity.10601060    Aθεοποίησις ἐκ προκοπῆς or aγεγονέναι θεὸν ἐξ ἀνθρώπου. He anticipated the doctrine of the Socinians who were at first frequently called Samosaterians (e.g. in the Second Helvetic Confession). They teach that Christ began as a man and ended as a God, being elevated after the resurrection to a quasi-divinity, so as to become an object of adoration and worship. But the logical tendency of Socinianism is towards mere humanitarianism. The idea of divinity necessarily includes aseity and eternity. A divinity communicated in time is only a finite being.060 He admitted that Christ remained free from sin, conquered the sin of our forefathers, and then became the Saviour of the race. To introduce his Christology into the mind of the people, he undertook to alter the church hymns, but was shrewd enough to accommodate himself to the orthodox formulas, calling Christ, for example, "God from the Virgin,"10611061    θεὸς ἐκ τῆς παρθένου.061 and ascribing to him even homo-ousia with the Father, but of course in his own sense.10621062    Probably he meant the impersonal, pre-existent Logos. But the Synod of Antioch declined the term ὁμοούσιοςimpersonal (Sabellian) sense.062

The bishops under him in Syria accused him not only of heresy but also of extreme vanity, arrogance, pompousness, avarice, and undue concern with secular business; and at a third synod held in Antioch a.d. 269 or 268, they pronounced his deposition. The number of bishops present is variously reported (70, 80, 180). Dominus was appointed successor. The result was communicated to the bishops of Rome, Alexandria, and to all the churches. But as Paul was favored by the queen Zenobia of Palmyra, the deposition could not be executed till after her subjection by the emperor Aurelian in 272, and after consultation with the Italian bishops.10631063    Sources: The fragmentary acts of the Synod of Antioch in Eusebius, VII. 27-30; Jerome, De Viris ill. 71; Epiphanius, Haer 65 (or 45 κατὰ τοῦ Παύλου τοῦ Σαμοσατέως, In Oehler’s ed. II. 2, P. 380-397); five fragments of sermons of Paul of doubtful genuineness, in Ang. Mai’s Vet. Script. Nova Coll. VII. 68 sq.; scattered notices in Athanasius, Hilary, and other Nicene fathers; Theodoret Fab. Haer. II. 8. Comp. Dorner and Harnack.063

His overthrow decided the fall of the Monarchians; though they still appear at the end of the fourth century as condemned heretics, under the name of Samosatians, Paulianists, and Sabellians.



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