Epiphanius Against Heresies 72

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Against Marcellians.

1,1 In his own turn Marcellus was born—all these people came at once—at Ancyra. Still < alive > till our day, he died about two years ago. (2) He too caused a division in the church from the start of his career, and gave a slight adumbration of this when—due to the Arians’ irritation with him over his anti-Arian pamphlet, if you please—he was compared with Sabellius and Navatus. For this reason he is also attacked by certain < orthodox > for partly believing, as I said, in Sabellius’ nonsense.

Some have said in his defense, however, that this was not so; they maintained that he had lived rightly and held orthodox opinions. There has therefore been a great deal of controversy about him. (3) His secret thoughts are known only to God. But either because they did not know his mind, or because they were giving his actual ideas, his converts and pupils would not confess the three entities, which is what the truth is— that there is one Godhead and one Glory, a co-essential Trinity with no differentiation of its own glory. It is a perfect Trinity and one Godhead, one power, one essence, and neither an identity nor a subordination.

1,4 But when he wanted in the worst way to prove his point to certain persons, he showed that <his> opinions were like those of Sabellius; hence this group too is refuted like a sect and counted as one. But again, I subjoin a copy of the exposition of his argument that Marcellus wrote, (5) supposedly in his own defense, to Julius, the blessed bishop of Rome. From his defense [itself], and the document, it will be evident that his beliefs differed from the true faith. For if he did not think otherwise, why did he decide to offer a defense—if words which were issued by him were not right and disturbed certain people, and had brought <him> to this defense? Very well, here is the copy:

A Copy of a Letter of Marcellus, Whom the Council Deposed for Heresy

2,1 Greetings in Christ from Marcellus to his most blessed fellow worker, Julius.

Some who were formerly convicted of heresy, and whom I confuted at the Council of Nicaea, have dared to write your Reverence that my opinions are neither orthodox nor in agreement with the church, thus endeavoring to have the charge against themselves transferred to me. (2) I therefore felt that I must come to Rome and suggest that you send for those who have written against me, so that I could prove, in a direct confrontation, that what they have written against me is untrue, and further, that they persist even now in their former error, and have dared dreadful ventures against the churches of God and us who head them.

2,3 But they have chosen not to appear, though you have sent presbyters to them and I have spent a year and three full months at Rome. On the eve of my departure, therefore, I feel that, with all sincerity and by my own hand, I must submit a written statement to you of the faith which I have learned and been taught from the sacred scriptures and remind you of the evils they have spoken, to acquaint you with the words with which, for their hearers’ deception, they choose to conceal the truth.

2,4 For they say that the Son of the almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is not his true and actual Word, but that God has a different word and a differ- ent wisdom and power. This person whom he has made is called Word, wisdom and power; and since they hold this opinion they say that he is another entity, separate from the Father. (5) They further declare in their writings that the Father is prior to the Son, < and > that the Son is not truly a son [begotten] of God. Even though they say he is “of God,” they mean that he is “of God” just as all things are. And moreover, they dare to say that there was a time when he did not exist, and that he is a creature and a product of creation, and so separate him from the Father. It is my conviction, then, that persons who say these things are strangers to the catholic church.

2,6 Now I, following the sacred scriptures, believe that there is one God and his only-begotten Son, the Word, who is always with the Father and has never had a beginning, but is truly of God—not created, not made, but forever existent, forever reigning with God and his Father, “of whose kingdom,” as the apostle testifies, “there shall be no end.” 

2,7 This Son, this power, this wisdom, this true and actual Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is a power inseparable from God, through whom all created things have been made as the Gospel testifies, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made.” (8) He is the Word of whom Luke the Evangelist testifies, “Inasmuch as they have delivered, unto us, which were eye witnesses and ministers of the Word.” Of him David also said, “My heart hath burst forth with a good Word.” (9) So our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us through the Gospel by saying “I came forth from the Father and am come.” At the end of days he descended for our salvation, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and assumed manhood.

3,1 Therefore I believe in one God the Almighty, and in Christ Jesus his only-begotten Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, was buried, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended into the heavens and is seated at the right hand of the Father, whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And in the Holy Spirit, the holy church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and the life everlasting.

3,2 I have learned from the sacred scriptures that the Godhead of the Father and of the Son cannot be differentiated. For if one separates the Son, that is, the Word, from Almighty God, he must either suppose that there are two Gods, which is agreed to be untrue to the sacred scripture, or else confess that the Word is not God, which likewise is plainly untrue to the right faith, since the Evangelist says, “and the Word was God.” (3) But I understand perfectly that the Father’s power, the Son, is indistinguishable and inseparable [ from him]. For the Savior himself our Lord Jesus Christ, says, “The Father 

is in me and I am in the Father,” “I and my Father are one,” and, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

3,4 This faith, which I have both learned from the sacred scriptures and been taught by godly parents, I preach in God’s church and have now written down for you, keeping a copy for myself. (5) I also request that you enclose a copy of it in your letter to the bishops, so that none of those who do not know me and my accusers well will be deceived by paying attention to what they have written. Farewell!

The End

4,1 Those who can read this document, and those who can understand exactly what it says, <must> say whether it is all right. And if it is wrong, they must decide this for themselves. I do not wish to say anything more than I know and have been told. (2) For even though the document is right on the subject, those who read it and hear it read will suspect in their turn that Marcellus was not obliged to defend himself for nothing, or for no good reason, or because of <enmity> towards him—not unless he had belched out words that disturbed some and forced him to undertake his own defense because of things he had said.

4,3 For it may be that, even after falling into error, he defended and corrected himself with this document. Or he may have dressed his words up with the document to hide what he had said, and avoid exclusion by deposition from the college and order of bishops. At any rate, this is what I have learned about Marcellus.

4,5 However, I once asked the blessed Pope Athanasius myself how he felt about this Marcellus. He neither defended him nor, on the other hand, showed hostility towards him, but merely told me with a smile that he had not been far from rascality, but that he felt he had cleared himself.

5,1 But I shall cite the statements which some have found in Marcellus’ own writings and felt reprehensible, and so have inveighed against him and written replies of their own. (2) Their replies to him <were brought to light> by others in turn, for purposes of refutation, since those who had written in reply to him but later changed their minds <preferred to conceal what they had written earlier>. <Hence>, in refutation of Acacius, these people issued Marcellus’ statements and made them known in their own writings, during the disputes between Acacius, Basil of Galatia, and George of Laodicea. (3) It was Acacius who, to refute Marcellus, had quoted passages from Marcellus’ writings. <I shall cite them> to show by omitting none of the truth that I neither despise anything that may make for the correction of persons who try to prove untruths, nor wish to agree with such persons. And here are the passages from Acacius’ argument against Marcellus:

The following citations are made because of Marcellus:

6,1 After his misinterpretation of the comments on Proverbs, Marcellus wrote the things which follow and others like them, speaking unrighteously of God and lifting up his horn on high. Past the middle of the book he again quotes the words of Asterius, which say, (2) “For the Father is another, who has begotten of himself the only-begotten Word and the firstborn of all cre- ation—Unique begetting Unique, Perfect begetting Perfect, King begetting King, Lord begetting Lord, God begetting God, the exact image of his essence, will, power and glory.”

6,3 He quotes these words but objects to the “exact image”—that is, to the distinct, clear impress of God’s essence, and the rest. Calling this notion a bad one, he appends his dissatisfaction and at this point writes: (4) “These words plainly reveal his poor opinion of Godhead. How can One who was begotten as Lord and God, as he himself has said earlier, still be an “image” of God? An image of God is one thing and God is another. If he is an image he is not Lord or God, but an image of a Lord and God. But if he is really Lord and really God, the Lord and God cannot be the image of a Lord and God.”

6,5 And next, “He does not allow that he is any of the things he has mentioned; he calls him the ‘image’ of all these things. Very well, if he is the image of an essence, he cannot be self-existence. If he is the image of a will, he cannot be absolute will. If he is the image of power, he cannot be power; if of glory, he cannot be glory. For an image is not an image of itself but an image of something else.”

7,1 You commended these words earlier, Marcellus, at the beginning of your book. But now, by denying that the God of God, the Word, is the Son and is Unique begotten of Unique, Perfect begotten of Perfect, you have plainly betrayed your poor opinion of the Godhead . (2) You ought to have cut your profane tongue out for understanding the image of the Great King < to be > lifeless and without Godhead, will, power, glory and essence, saying a word against the Lord, and dooming to death the soul that has committed such impiety.

7,3 For by limiting the image of God to lifelessness, <you are saying> that it is neither Lord, God, essence, will, power nor glory. You would have it be a motionless image of these things and make it an inert, lifeless image set outdoors, as inert <as though> it were the product of mere human skill. You will not have God’s image be a living image of a living God, will not have the image of an essence be an essence, or have the exact image of will, power and glory be will, power and glory. (4) But “exact” does not mean the same as “unoriginate;” it means that the divinity, and every action of the image is expressly and precisely like the divinity, and every action, of the Father.

7,5 And later [Acacius says], “Your lying <lips> should be put to silence that speak unrighteously against God, haughtily and with contempt.” (6) For even though you do not care for this and now prefer something else, the Father begot the Only-begotten as Unique begets Unique. The Son did not make his appearance because of Valentinus’ aeons, but was begotten of a sole Father; and “Perfect begot Perfect.” For there is no imperfection in the Father, and therefore there is none in the Son; the Son’s perfection is the legitimate offspring of the Father’s perfection and more than perfection.

And “A King begot a King.” (7) It is orthodox doctrine that God rules <before the> [rule] of the Son, who was begotten before the ages and is a King who himself has a ruler; through him the rest are ruled, and he gratefully acknowledges his subjection [to the Father]. The Father has not begotten a subject but a King “whose kingdom hath neither beginning of days nor length of life.” For his rank is not a thing external to him but belongs to his essence, as is the case with the Father who begot him. And therefore scripture says, “Of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

7,8 But we confess that “Lord begets Lord” in this way, and “God begets God.” And in a word, we say he is the image of an essence, a will, a power and a glory—not inert and dead but essential, possessed of a will, powerful and glorious. (9) For power does not beget powerlessness, but absolute power. Glory does not beget the absence of glory, but absolute glory. Will does not beget the absence of will, but absolute will. Essence does not beget the absence of essence, but self-existence.

The divine Word is therefore an image, a living wisdom, subsistent, an active Word and Son, himself invested with being. This <was> the image “in which” God “daily rejoiced, when he delighted in his completion of the world.” (10) But since you, Marcellus, have “denied these things before men, you will be denied,” by that image itself, “before the Father which is in heaven.” You will also, however, be denied before the church which is under heaven, and which has written of you in all parts of the world, “Hear the word of the Lord, write of this man, A man rejected; for no ruler, still seated upon David’s throne, shall grow any more from his seed.”

8,1 And later, after Marcellus has mentioned the words of Asterius, he goes on, You quote these words and persist in your denial of our Savior’s image and essence; of his only-begotten sonship to the Father and his status as firstborn of all creation; of the uniqueness of the Only-begotten, his perfection begotten of the Perfect, his kingship begotten of the King, his lordship begotten of the Lord, and his Godhead begotten of God. In a word, [you persist in] your denial of the exact image of the essence, will, power and glory of God. (2) You “deny this before men” in words of no little import—” and therefore will be denied before his Father”—and write next to this, “These words clearly demonstrate his poor opinion of the Godhead of the Father and the Son.” But your denial of them has plainly exposed your perverse and mean heresy with regard to the Godhead and essence of Christ.

9,1 And later he adds some words of Marcellus’: His next addition is worthless: “He will not allow him to be any of the things which he has mentioned, for he says that he is the ‘image’ of all these. Very well, if he is the image of an essence, he cannot be self-existence. If he is the image of a will, he cannot be absolute will. If he is the image of power, he cannot be power; and if of glory, he cannot be glory. For an image is not its own image, but an image of something else.” (2) But these remarks are worthless, Marcellus, and lies. When Asterius says, “A King begot a King; a Lord begot a Lord; God begot God,” he would have him be everything that he has mentioned. And he destroys your lifeless image, which in your view is a product of mere human skill. (3) He is saying that the Son is a living image of all these and the impress of the image of a living Begetter, and is calling him self-existence, the image of an essence; absolute will, the image of will; absolute power, the image of power; absolute glory, the image of glory—and not its own glory, but the glory of another image.

9,4 But by not confessing that the Son is God of God, light of light or power of power, you do not let the Son be God, light, power, essence, will or glory. In sum, the [lifeless] body [of your “image”] impiously does away with these things, together with the Son. (5) You also deny that “ ‘The Word was God,” and either call him God’s Son in name only, or else in the sense that [any] man [can be called God’s son]—making God the begetter of something different from himself, who begets the Son by adoption, as in “I have begotten sons and raised them up,” “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption,” and, “Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of God.”

9,6 Thus, in saying that the Son is the exact image of the Father’s essence, power, will and glory, Asterius as good as says that the Father’s attributes inhere in the Son, and that what is conceived of the Father is impressed in or given to the Son, and is not different from him. (7) Thus he would have the Son be everything he has said. For he does not take the “image” as a painted image, or introduce a third artist to paint the qualities of someone different from the Father in some other place, and call this a “Son.” (8) For whether intentionally or not, this is what you are saying [with your] “Very well, if he is the image of an essence, he cannot be self-existence; and if of a will, he cannot be absolute will.”

For in our view, if he is the living image of an essence, he can be, and is self-existence. And thus we call the image of an essence an essence, because of its most faithful reproduction of its life and activity. And we call the image of a will, a will, “the angel of a great counsel”; and the image of power and glory, power and glory. (9) And texts which support this are, “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself,” and, “As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, <even so the Son quickeneth whom he will>.” For the [combination of the words] “as” and “thus” implies the exact reproduction of the portraiture and likeness which are proper to an image.

10,1 And a little later, For the divine Word who provides life, beauty and form for others, is not to be conceived of as himself without life, beauty and form, or dead or non-existent. He is informed with the Father’s attributes, and not as though he were different, with attributes different from the form. His attributes inhere in his existence, and his existence in his attributes. (2) But because the image—someone else’s image as you yourself agree, and not its own—possesses the attributes of its original, it displays otherness, but otherness as though it were likeness. For as “the image of the invisible God,” which it is, this image is not an image of itself, but an image of another person.

10,3 In motion, activity, power, will and glory, then, the Son is the image of the Father, a living image of a living God—not a lifeless or inert image, which has its being in something else and is drawn on something else, but is not in motion in and through itself. And it is an exact image, though the exactitude makes it, not the Father, but a Son in the exact likeness [of the Father].

The end of the excerpt from Acacius.

10,4 However, orthodox persons, brethren of mine and confessors, say that they have received a confessional statement in defense of Marcellus’ faith from some of the disciples he left behind him. I publish its subtleties here, since I do not understand it myself. Here is the copy:

A Written Statement of the Faith of Marcellus’ Disciples

11,1 Greetings in the Lord from the presbyters of Ancyra in Galatia, Photi-nus, Eustathius, another Photinus, Sigerius, the deacon Hyginus, the sub- deacon Heraclides, the lector Elpidius, and the proctor Cyriacus, to the most reverend and holy bishops in Diocaesarea who have been banished for the orthodox faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, Eubgius, Adelphius, Alexander, Ammonius, Harpocration, Isaac, Isidore, Annubio, Pitimus, Euphratius and Aaron.

11,2 While we were staying with your Reverences our countrymen, during the visit we fittingly made you, we were asked by your Holinesses how we hold the faith that is in us. Both because we approve of your solicitous inquiry, and particularly because those who so choose are spreading certain lies about us to no purpose, (3) we feel we must assure you, not only through the letter of fellowship your Holinesses have been shown which was addressed to us all by the thrice blessed Pope Athanasius, but also through this written confession of ours, (4) that we neither believe, nor have believed, anything other than the worldwide and church-wide creed determined at Nicaea. We offer this confession because we can assure you that this is our belief, (5) and we condemn those who dare to say that < the Son or > the Holy Spirit is a creature; and the Arian heresy, and the heresies of Sabellius, Photinus and Paul the Samosatian; and those who deny that the Holy Trinity consists of three infinite, subsistent, co-essential, co-eternal and absolute Persons. (6) We also condemn those who say that the Son is an expansion, contrac- tion or activity of the Father, and those who do not confess that the divine Word, the Son of God, is before the ages and co-eternal with the Father, and is subsistent, absolute Son and God.

12,1 If anyone says that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same, let him be anathema.

If anyone attributes a beginning or end to the Son and Word of God or to his kingdom, let him be anathema.

If anyone says that the Son or the Holy Spirit is a part of the Father, and does not confess that the Son of God was begotten of the Father’s essence before anyone can conceive of it, let him be anathema.

12,2 As to the incarnation of the divine Word, the only-begotten Son of God, we confess that < the > Son of God has also become man without sin, by the assumption of all of human nature, that is, of a rational and intellectual soul and human flesh.

12,3 We believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord fesus Christ the Son of God, begotten as the Only-begotten of the Father, that is, of the Father’s essence, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, co-essential with the Father, through whom all things were made in heaven and on earth;

Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate and made man, suffered and rose the third day, ascended into the heavens, and will come to judge the quick and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit.

12,4 But those who say that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist, and that he did not exist before his begetting, and that he was made from nothing or that he is of another substance or essence, or that he is mutable or alterable, them the catholic and apostolic church condemns.

12,5 I, Photinus, presbyter of the catholic church at Ancyra, believe and hold as is written above.

<I>, Eustathius, presbyter of the catholic church at Ancyra, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Photinus, presbyter of the same, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Sigerius, presbyter of the same, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Hyginus, deacon of the same, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Heraclides, sub-deacon of the same, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Elpidius, lector of the same, believe and hold as is written above.
I, Cyriacus, proctor of the same, believe and hold as is written above.

12,6 This is what they wrote to the confessors and fathers. If the wise can take it to be a commendable statement it should be categorized as such. On the other hand, if there are accidental unorthodoxies even there, in the argument they use in their actual defense of themselves, the scholarly, once more, should put it in that category. But since I have given all the above information about Marcellus, I shall pass him by in his turn and go on to investigate the rest.