Footnote to Two Ancient Christologies Chapter 1

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1. Rep. vi. 509

2. It may seem that Justin Martyr, for instance, anxious to commend the Gospel to his Greek neighbours as the only safe and profitable philosophy (Dial. 8), thinks of God as the nameless, far-distant Being whom men cannot discover, but it is evident that basic to his teaching is the Christian truth that God is Father and Creator, the Lord and Master of all, who of His goodness has created man, in order that, in his obedience to the divine commandments, he might reign with Him (Apol. 1.8, 10; 2.7; Dial. 7), and who, beholding him now subject to the powers of evil, has intervened, and Himself sent His Logos as man among men in order to effect his deliverance (Apol. 1.28, 63; 2.6). Similarly, Athenagoras, answering the charge of “Atheism”, pleads that Christians “acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by light and beauty and spirit and power ineffable” (Suppl. 10). But as is clear, this Apologist, too, does not consider that God is removed from the world; rather, for him, is he the world’s Creator and Framer, who moulds it according to His will, just asa the potter moulds the clay (ibid. 8, 9, 15).

3. Strom. 5.10, 12; 7.1. It may be noted that Plato’s word, “It is a hard task to find the Father and Maker of this universe, and when you found Him, it is impossible to declare Him to all” (Timaeus, 28C), are quoted three times by Clement, and that with manifest approval: “Well done, Plato: thou has touched on the truth” (Protrept. 6 (ed. Dindorf, 1. p.74); Strom. 5.12, 14).

4. Paed. 1.8Protrept. 11

5. Eusebius, H. E. 11.19

6. De Princ. 1.1.5, 6; C. Celsum 7.38

7. C Celsum, 7.38

8. See, for instance, the view take by De Faye, Origène, sa Vie, son OEuvre, sa Pensée, 3. pp. 27ff.

9. De Princ., praef. 4-10

10. Ibid. 1.2.13. But, as his argument against Marcion shows, Origen holds that God is just as well as good (ibid. 2.5.3)

11. See esp. the important chapter on the Incarnation in de Princ. 2.6

12.But it should be noted that, according to Photius (Cod. cvi), Theognostus in his Hypostyposes deliberately repudiates the notion that an incarnation of the Logos is an impossibility. It may be argued, then, that at the root of his teaching is the conception that God is an ethical God.

13. De Vir. Illustr. 76

14. The text is to be found in Loofs, Paulus von Somosata, pp. 324ff. (N/A)

15. Cf. in this connection the Praeparatio and the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Caesarea, who stands in the Origenistic tradition. In these works the theme, “God in history” is uppermost.

16. De Synod 35. It is noteworthy that we find no trace in the writings of Athanasius of the question which had disturbed Origen: Is God above ousia in dignity and power, or is He Himself ousia? See c. Celsum 6.64

17. Rep. 6.509

18. “Athanasius”, in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. Proleg. p. 72.

19. C. Gentes, 2, 35, 40.

20. Cf. the celebrated statement of Augustine, Confessions, 7.9: the Greek could agree that the Logos is all that is said of Him in the opening words of the Fourth Gospel, but in no Neo-platonic writing was it said that “the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us” or that “God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all”.

21. See c. Gentes, 41, and de Incarn. 3, Athanasius here making use of Timaeus, 29E.

22. so G L Prestige, God in Patristic Thought, p. 129.

23. C. Arian. 1.9

24. τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς τοῦ Πατρὸς θεοτητός ἐστι τὸ εἴναι τοῦ Υἱοῦ, καὶ ὅλος θεός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός (ibid. 3.6).

25. ibid. 3.11

26. ibid. 3.4 (cf. de Decret. 12)

27. ibid 2.24f. Eusebius of Nicodemia, Arius, and Asterius the Sophist had declared in writing that “God, willing to create originate nature, when He saw that it could not endure the untempered hand of the Father”, creates the Logos “that, through Him as a medium, all things might thereupon be brought to be”.

28. ibid. 2.78

29. C. Gentes, 41; see also, on the “marvellous and truly divine harmony” which the Logos produces in the cosmos, ibid. 42.

30. Cf. de Incarn. 8, where Athanasius makes the point that the Logos visited the earth in which He was yet always present: “The Logos . . . came to our realm, though He was not far from us before [ὄυτι γε μακρὰν ὢν πρότερον]. For no part of creation is left void of Him: He filled all things everywhere, while remaining present with His own Father.”

31. Strom, 7.2; 4.25(typo?); 6.8

32. See below, pp. 26f

33. C. Arian 2.67

34. See especially Clement, Strom 5.14, and Origen, Comm. in John 2.2 (ed, Brook 1. p. 59).

35. Strom. 7.2

36. Paed. 2.8 (typo??)

37. Protrept. 10

38. Thus Athanasius can say: “As of the Son of God, considered as the Logos, our Logos is an image, so of the same Son as Wisdom is the wisdom which is implanted in us an image; in which we, having the power of knowledge and thought, became recipients of the All-framing Wisdom; and through It we are able to know the Father” (c. Arian. 2.78).

39. De Decret. 17

40. C. Arian. 2.78

41. De Incarn. 3; cf. also ibid 11

42. As illustrating the different outlook which now belongs to the Alexandrine Church as this is represented by its bishops, it is noteworthy that Alexander (328), the sponsor of Athanasius, had himself made use of the writings of Melito of Sardis (Robertson, op cit. p. 68 n. 1 says: To begin with, we have the interesting fact that Alexander studied the writings of Melito of Sardis, and even worked up his tract περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος εἰς τὸ πάθος into a homiletical discourse of his own, omitting such passages as seemed to savour of ‘modalism,’ (see Krüger in Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1888, p. 434, sqq.: his grounds are convincing). Secondly, the expressions attributed to him by Arius (in his letter to Euseb. Nic.), and his letter to his namesake of Byzantium, bear out the above statement.)

43. C. Arian. 1.37; 3.33. Surely, it is this, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and not, as Harnack, History of Dogma, 3, page 272, argues the rational element in man, which the Alexandrines regard as donum superadditum—Cyril has exactly the same thought (see below p. 82).

44. C. Gentes, 8, 33, 34

45. ibid. 4

46 See esp. c Arian 2.65ff. What Athanasius says here should, of course, be compared with the thought of Methodius, Conviv. Dec. Virg. 3.3ff.,and that of Irenaeus, adv Haeres. 3.18, 19.

47. Ad Epict. 11

48. C. Arian. 1.46, 47; 3.24

49. Cf. ibid. 3.33de Incarn. 27ff., 44.

50. Cf. c. Arian. 3.33ff

51. Ibid. 1.37; 3.25

52. It may be noted that Athanasius explicitly states that God and man, as he is redeemed, are still distinct (ibid. 3.23). His ἄλλο καὶ ἄλλο that for him the redemption does not mean that the human ousia no longer remains what it was.

53. Ibid. 2.70

54. See for instance, ad Adelph. 4 where the saying and 2Pet 1.4 appear together.

55. C. Arian. 2.70

56. Ibid. 2.3

57. Ibid. 1.48. Cf also Athanasius’ use of Malachi 3.6 (ad Epict. 5)

58. De Incarn. 17. In c. Arian. 1.42, we have: “As He was never worshipped as being the Logos, and existing in the form of God, so being what He ever was, though become man and called Jesus, He nonetheless has creation under foot.”

59. C. Arian. 3.3

60. Ibid. 2.8

61. See below, pp. 84f.

62. C. Arian. 3.43, 45

63. Ibid. 3.58; cf. also 3.35, 55

64. Ibid. 3.57

65. De Trin. 11.48: after stating that Christ remained in the form of God when he took the servant’s form, and that He remained master of Himself though He was emptied. Hilary goes on: dum se usque ad forman temperat habitus humani ne potentem immensamque naturam assumptu humilitatis non ferret infirmitas. 

66. C. Arian. 3.53-54, 56ad Epict. 6

67. De Incarn. 18c. Arian. 3.22

68. The ad Epictetum is one of those documents which came to be regarded as standards of orthodoxy. Thus it was appealed to by Cyril when he set out to explain the Anathematisms (see Apol. adv. Orient. 1, ed. Pusey, Works, 6 pp. 274fff., and when he sought to justify his action in receiving the Orientals into communion in 433 (see his Ep. Ad Acac., and his Ep. ad Succen., P.G. 77, 200c, 237B). It was also appealed by the Antiochenes who, after the Council of Ephesus (431), suggested that, together with the Nicene Creed, this letter might form the basis of an agreement between Cyril and his party and themselves (see below, p. 234 n. 2). But it would seem that the ad Epictetum is important for another reason. Raven (op cit. pp. 104ff., 242ff.) has shown—and that most conclusively—that this, and Athanasius’ letters to Adelphius and Maximus have not, as used to be thought, any connection with the “heresy” of Apollinarius: rather have we here a group of letters connected with the dispute at Corinth, and account of which Epictetus had previously given to the Alexandrine in the form of a memorandum (ad Epict. 2). Now from this memorandum it is clear that the dispute was of a Christological nature, and that it was between two parties. Can we arrive at the doctrinal position of these parties? As it seems to us, it is hardly fair to say that one stood for a crude Docetism and the other for a crude Ebionism (cf. Raven, op cit. p. 104). Surely, it was far too late in the day for anyone to assert that “the Lord wore a body putatively”, or that “the Logos descended upon a holy man as upon one of the prophets”. But if we take the statements set down in the memorandum as the charges which the one party was levelling against the other, a more reasonable solution is arrived at. On this basis, then, we find that one party is accused of teaching that the Logos has been changed into flesh, bones, and hair, that the Godhead is the seat of Christ’s sufferings, so that His body is from heaven, and that the Lord wore a body putatively—and that the other party is condemned because these do not hold that God proceeded from Mary, or that God had suffered in the flesh, but teach that in Jesus Christ, “God has descended on a holy man”, and “one [ἕτερος] is Christ and another [ἕτερος] the divine Logos”, and so introduced a Tetrad in place of the Trinity. How far, then, does all this take us? It is most significant that exactly the same charges were brought by the Antiochenes but a few decades later. Hence it would seem that the dispute at Corinth lay between two parties which stood, the one for the Christological thought of the school of Antioch, the other for that of the Alexandrine School. That this is a justifiable conclusion is borne out of the evidence which is to be found in the documents themselves. An examination of the memorandum of Epictetus, and of Athanasius’ criticisms in these three letters, reveals that one party was determined to “separate” the body from the Logos, and that the other was affirming that the body of Christ is “homoousios” with the Logos. There can be little doubt, then, that the former in their attitude to the Alexandrine teaching stand in the same line as Paul of Samosata and Eustathius before them, and Diodore of Tarsus and his school after them; for, one and all, the Antiochenes are determined to “separate the natures” of Christ in order to safeguard the reality of his manhood. But what are we to say concerning the position of the latter party? We cannot be definite on this point, but it seems highly probable that they should be set down as the predecessors or Polemianists, who, very soon to come on the scene—it may be noted that Timothy of Berytus, one of the leaders of this section of the followers of Apollinarius of Laodicea, was condemned at Rome in the year 378—took “ousia” in the sense of “prosopon”, and used the word “homoousios” to express the doctrine that the manhood of Christ (i.e. “manhood”, as they understood it) was not that of some other ousia (=”person”), but that its ousia was “the same” as that of the Logos (see below, p. 53, n. 2)—though how far the party at Corinth had developed their doctrine it is impossible to say. In any case one thing is clear: these are certainly Alexandrines who, like Apollinarius and Cyril, oppose the doctrines of the Antiochenes because in their view it amounts  to the dividing of the one Christ, the Logos incarnate, into a duality of Sons. So we conclude that the Ad Epictetum is an important document in the history of the Christological controversies, not only because it came to be recognised as a standard of orthodox belief, but also it throws light on the earlier stages of the conflict between the two schools of thought which was soon to begin in grim earnest.

69. Ad Epict. 2

70. Ibid. 12

71. Ibid. 11

72. Ad Adelph 3; cf. c. Arian. 2.16

73 Ad Max. 2

74. C. Arian. 3.55

75. Ibid. 3.54

76. Ibid. 3.43

77. Ibid 3.35 where an explicit statement to this effect.

78. Ibid. 3.14, 29, 33

79. Ibid.  3.32ff

80. See the fragment in PG., 26.1257

81. On what seems to have been the doctrinal position of the two parties at Corinth c. 361, see above, p. 36 n. 68 and on the Synousiasts, below p.53 n. 2

82. Ad Adelph. 2Ad Epict 4, 8.

83. Ad Adelph. 1

84. Ad Max. 3

85. C. Arian. 3.35—which should be compared with the kindred statements of Origen (above, pp. 24f) and Apollinarius (below p. 59).

86. See the passages quoted by Raven, op. cit. 83ff., 91ff. But Athanasius uses such terms as “man”, and “one man”, “the man of the Lord”, and “manhood” (cf. ibid. p. 92). Raven, however, who regards the Christology of this Alexandrine as essentially Apollinarian, takes the view that these terms are used interchangeably with, and the same sense as, “body” and “flesh”. The alteration, this scholar says, is “one of words not of thought”, Athanasius being moved by consideration that the Arians, who could accept “was made flesh”, could not accept “was made man” (ibid. pp. 91f). But is it not legitimate to take his terms the other way around, and to see in his “man” etc. what he means by “flesh” and “body”? Surely, as his appeal to Joel 2.28 (of c. Arian. 3.30) shows, he thinks of “flesh” as “common humanity”, and there appears to be no reason against assuming that, when he uses this term, he is but following what is set down in St John 1.14. Moreover, in regard to his use of “body”, it may be noted that Cyril himself often employs the same word—and it is clear that this teacher stands for the position that in Christ the Logos assumed a human nature complete with human rational soul (see below, p. 102). We venture to suggest, then, that, when speaking of our Lord’s humanity, Athanasius is but adopting terms current among the Alexandrine theologians, and the very fact that he can, and does use the term “man” would seem to indicate that he would teach that the humanity was altogether like ours.

87. E.g. de Incarn. 42-44c. Arian. 3.34, 52

88. Tomus ad Antioch. 7

89. E.g. ad Epict 7

90. C. Arian. 3.55

91. Ibid. 3.56

92. Ibid. 3.57

93. Ibid. 3.56

94. Ibid. 3.57

95. C. Arian 3.51-52

96. Ibid. 3.52.

97. See below, pp. 103f.