Chapter 4 God of God, Light of Light, Footnotes 25-56

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The Trinitarian Faith

“It was recognised by Athanasius and the Nicene fathers that they could not but make use of human images and analogies in seeking to express their understanding of the relation of the Son to the Father, for that is how divine revelation has been mediated to us, in and through human language. Taken by themselves these images and analogies are unsatisfactory and they may not be pressed, but they are nevertheless employed by divine revelation with an admirable exactness in being made to point beyond their creaturely content to what God discloses of his own inner divine relations. This means that we must interpret images and analogies according to the sense given them by the Scriptures and within the whole scope and framework of the biblical narrative and message. It was in this way, according to Athanasius, that the fathers of Nicaea brought the biblical image or paradigm to light (φῶς) and radiance (ἀπαύγασμα) to help them elucidate the relation of Christ as Son and Word to God the Father.”

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25. Gregory Naz., Or., 30.11 & 19; cf. 29.3f; 31.14

26. E.g. Basil Ep., 52.3: ‘The mode of the divine begetting is ineffable and inconceivable to human thought.’ Also Con Eun., 2.16 & 24; Gregory Naz., Or., 29.8

27. Cf. C. Stead, Divine Substance, 1977, pp. 26  & 229.

28. Athanasius, De Decr., 12. cf. 20. Also Ad Episc., 2; ‘The Son is continuously co-eternal with the Father.’ This understanding of Fatherhood and Sonship as eternally subsisting relations in the Godhead was strongly held by Gregory Nazianzen, also in respect of the Holy Spirit, in his ‘Theological Orations’ Or., 29.16 & 20; 31.9. Cf. Basil, (or his brother) on ‘a certain communion indissoluble and continuous’ between Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Ep., 38.4; and Gregory Nyss., Con Eun., 1.33; 8.5; 9.2Or. cat., 1

29. Athanasius, In ill. om., 3; ‘One must use a poor analogy taken from tangible and familiar objects to put our thoughts into words, for it is presumptuous to intrude into the incomprehensible nature.’

30. Athanasius, In ill. om., 3-5. For Athanasius’ concept of biblical images and analogies as παραδείγματα see De decr., 12; Con Ar., 1.20; 2.30; 3.3, 10De syn., 42Ad Ser., 1.19f, etc; Refer Theol. in Reconstr., pp. 31ff.

31. See further my account of the hermeneutics of Athanasius, Reality and Evangelical Theology, 1982, pp. 100ff.

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32. Athanasius De decr., 21-24

33. Athanasius Con. Ar., 1.24De decr., 27In sent. Dion., 25

34. Athanasius De decr., 24Con Ar., 1.13, 25; 2.33Ad Episc. Aeg., 13Ad Afr., 8

35. Athanasius Con. Ar., 1.9 with reference to Heb 1.3

36. Consult the illuminating discussion of Jaroslav Pelikan, The Light of the World. A basic Image of Early Christian Thought, 1962, pp. 55ff

37. Athanasius De syn., 33ff, 46De decr., 19ffAd Afr., 5f

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38. Athanasius De syn., 41

39. See Basil’s Ep., 125.1, in which he claimed that the Nicene term ὑπόστασις and οὐσία were not just identical, for had they expressed one and the same meaning there would have been no need for both. Basil, himself, however, was to develop the distinction between them by arguing that οὐσία has the same relation to ὑπόστασις as the common to the particular’, Ep., 214. See also Ep., 236.6; Gregory/Basil Ep., 38.1ff, etc, Cf. Athanasius Con Ar., 3.65; 4.33Ad Afr., 4ff, 8.

40. Athanasius, De syn., 48-54Ad Afr., 8-9

41. Athanasius, Con Ari., 1.11f, 34, 46ff, 60; 2.12, 14, 18, 20, 53f, 56, 59, 61, 82; 3.1f, 5f, 9, 19, 22, 24f, 27, 33; 4.4De decr., 22, 30De syn., 34, 48fAd Afr., 4Ad Ser., 1.28; 2.2; In Ill. om., 4. See also Gregory Naz., Or., 30.18.

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42. Athanasius, De Decr. 20De syn., 8, 26, 29 (the Arian creeds); 37f, 41, 46, 50, 52f. Theodoret Hist Eccl. 1.3

43. Athanasius Con Ar., 1.20f, 26, 40; 2.17f, 22, 34; 3.11, 20, 26, 67Ad episc., 17Ad Afr., 7; cf. Exp. fidei., 1

44. Athanasius De syn., 41 & 53De Decr., 20; Evagrius/Basil Ep., 8.3.

45. Athanasius Con Ar., 1.21, 26, 40; 2.17, 22, 33; 3.10f, 14, 26, 67De syn., 26, 38, 41, 47-54De decr., 20, 23Ad episc., 17; Hilary de syn., 89; Evagrius/Basil, Ep, 8.3; 9.3. Cf. Epiphanius haer., 73.22; and Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat., 4.7; 11.4, 18

46. Of the stance taken by Basil of Ancyra, Athanasius De syn., 41; Epiphanius haer 73.22.

47. According to Athanasius, this relation of ‘wholeness’ between the Son and the Father was also implied by the analogy of light and radiance, Con Ar., 2.33, 35; cf. De inc., 17Con Ar., 3.6. The analogy was also found to imply the coinherence of the Son and the Father, De decr., 25.

48. Athanasius Con Ar., 3.3 Cf. Ad Ser., 1.16 and Exp. fidei. 1, where the Son is said to ‘wholly and whole’ (ὅλος ἐξ ὅλου).

49. Hilary De syn., 70, 91

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50. Hilary De Trin., 4.4-7De syn., 84

51. Cf. Archbishop Methodius, The Homoousion,” op. cit., pp. 1-15

52. Athanasius De syn., 49-54Ad Afr., 8

53. Athanasius Con Ar., 3.3, 6; 4.1ff

54. See Athanasius Con Ar., 3.4De syn., 49Ad Afr., 8, etc. Thus also the Cappadocian theologians e.g., Gregory Naz., Or., 30.11.

55. Athanasius Con Ar., 1.8, 14ff, 18ff, 24f; 2.2, 32f; 3.42, 61ff; 4.2f, 14De decr., 15, 26De sent. Dion., 16, 23Ad Ser., 2.2.

56. Athanasius Con Ar., 1.8, 15ff, 33; 2.24f, 32; 3.4ff, 35f, 44Ad episc., 17Ad Afr., 8Ad Ser., 1.30; 3.2; 4.6.

Chapter 4 God of God Light of Light Footnotes 57-75