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IN the preparation of this volume the writer has been guided by 
the general purpose of the Series of Theological Handbooks of 
which it is a part. A continuous narrative is given in the text, 
with as much freedom from technical treatment as the subject 
allows ; details and authorities are relegated to footnotes, and 
some special questions and difficulties are dealt with in notes 
appended to the several chapters. 

The chief aim which has been kept in view throughout has 
been to offer to the student of the history of Christian Doctrine 
during the first four centuries of the life of the Church such 
information with regard to the facts and the sources as will 
enable him to prosecute his study for himself. 

It is only a limited period with which the book deals, but a 
period in which the Christian theory of life of the relations 
between God, the World, and Man was worked out in its chief 
aspects, and all the doctrines to which the Church of Christ 
as a whole is pledged were framed. The authority of these 
doctrines is only to be understood by study of their history. 
Their permanent value can only be appreciated by knowledge of 
the circumstances in which they came to be expressed, knowledge 
which must certainly precede any restatement of the doctrines, 
such as is from time to time demanded in the interests of a 
growing or a wider faith. 

That Christian thinkers have been guided at various times, 
in later ages, towards fuller apprehension of various aspects 
of human life, and fuller knowledge of the divine economy, 
must be thankfully acknowledged. But whatever reason there 
is to hope for further elucidation from the growth of human 
knowledge in general, and the translation of old doctrines into 
the terms of the new knowledge, it seems certain that the work 
of the great leaders of Christian thought in the interpretation of 




the Gospel during the earlier ages can never be superseded. 
They were called upon, in turn, to meet and to consider in 
relation to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ nearly all the theories 
of the world and God which human speculation and experience 
have framed in explanation of the mystery of human life ; and 
the conclusions which they reached must still be at least the 
starting-point for any further advance towards mere complete 
solution of the problems with which they had to deal. Chris 
tians, whether conservative or progressive, will find in the study 
of the course through which doctrines were evolved their 
strongest stay and safeguard. 

On the one hand, if defence of Christian doctrines be needed, 
it is found at its best in the bare history of the process by which 
they came into existence. On the other hand, in an age when 
other than the Catholic interpretations of the Gospel and of the 
Person of Christ are put forward and find favour in unexpected 
quarters, much heart-searching and laborious enquiry may be 
saved by the knowledge that similar or identical explanations were 
offered and ably advocated centuries ago; that they were tried, not 
only by intellectual but also by moral tests, and that the experi 
ence of life rejected them as inadequate or positively false. The 
semi-conscious Ebionism and the semi-conscious Docetism, for 
example, of much professedly Christian thought to-day may 
recognize itself in many an ancient heresy , and reconsider its 

The mass of materials available for the study of even the 
limited part of the subject of Christian Doctrine which is dealt 
with in this book is so great that it has been necessary to exer 
cise a strict economy in references to books and writers, ancient 
and modern, both English and German, from which much might 
be learned. I have only aimed at giving guidance to young 
students, leaving them to turn for fuller information to the 
larger well-known histories of Doctrine in general and the many 
special studies of particular doctrines. And as the book is 
designed to meet the needs of English students, I have seldom 
cited works that are not accessible to those who read no other 
language than their own. 

I wish that every student of Christian Doctrine could have 
had the privilege of hearing the short course of lectures which 
Professor Westcott used to give in Cambridge. For my own 
part, I thankfully trace back to them the first intelligible con- 


ception of the subject which came before me. Some of these 
lectures were afterwards incorporated in the volume entitled The 
Gospel of Life. 

Dr. Harnack s History of Doctrines occupies a position of 
eminence all its own, and will remain a monument of industry 
and learning, and an almost inexhaustible treasury of materials. 
To the English translation of this great work frequent references 
will be found in the following pages. But the student who is 
not able to examine the evidence and the conclusions, and to 
make allowances for Dr. Harnack s peculiar point of view, will 
still, in my judgement, find Hagenbach s History of Doctrines his 
best guide to his own work on the subject, although he will need 
sometimes to supplement the materials which were available 
when Hagenbach wrote. 1 He will learn a great deal also from 
Dorner s Doctrine of the Person of Christ, from Neander s History 
of Christian Dogmas and Church History, and from the works of 
the older English divines, such as Bull s Defence of the Nicene 
Creed and Pearson s Exposition of the Creed. Works such as 
these are in no way superseded by the many excellent books 
and treatises of later scholars, some of which are cited hereafter 
in regard to particular points. 2 Many of the articles in the 
Dictionary of Christian Biography (ed. Smith and Wace), the 
Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (ed. Smith and Cheetham), 
and Hastings Dictionary of the Bible are of great value, while 
for the Creeds the collection of Hahn (Bibliothek der Symbole 
und G-laubensregeln der alien Kirche) is indispensable. 

To two friends, who have special knowledge of different 
parts of the subject, I am much indebted for help in the revision 
of the proof-sheets the Rev. A. E. Burn, rector of Kynnersley, 
and the Eev. J. H. Srawley, of Selwyn College, the latter in 
particular having generously devoted much time and care to the 
work. Their criticisms and suggestions have led in many cases 
to clearer statement of a point and to the insertion of notes and 
additional references which will make the book, I hope, in spite 

1 If he reads German he will do well to turn to Loofs Leitfaden zum Studium 
der Dogmengeschichte 3 (Ritschlian), Seeberg s Lehrbuch (Protestant), and Schwane s 
Dogmengeschichte* (Roman Catholic). For introduction to the chief patristic 
writings he may consult Bardenhewer s Patrologie, or Swete s Patristic Study in the 
Series Handbooks for the Clergy . 

2 Special attention may be directed to two volumes of this series Mr. Ottley s 
Doctrine of the Incarnation and Mr. Burn s Introduction to the History of the Greeds, 
and to Dr. Swete s The Apostles Creed. 


of all the imperfections that remain, more useful for its purpose 
than it would otherwise have been. 

In the earlier part of the book I had also the advantage of 
the criticism of Dr. Robertson, the Editor of this Series, who, 
even when the pressure of preparation for his removal from 
London to Exeter left him no leisure, most kindly made time for 
the purpose. 

Finally, I have to thank the Syndics of the Cambridge 
University Press, and the Dean of Westminster, as Editor of the 
Series Texts and Studies, for permission to make use of various 
notes and in some cases whole pages from The Meaning of 
Homoousios in the Constantinopolitan Creed, which I contributed 
to that Series (vol. vii no. 1). I have not thought it necessary 
to include within inverted commas such passages as I have 
taken straight over, but when I have merely summarized con 
clusions, for which the evidence is more fully stated there, I have 
appended a reference to the volume. 

The book, as I have indicated, makes no claim to originality. 
It only aims at being a sketch of the main lines of the historical 
developement of doctrine down to the time of the Council of 
Chalcedon. 1 But I am, of course, conscious that even history 
must be written from some c point of view , and I have expressed, 
as clearly as I can, the point of view from which I have ap 
proached the subject in the introduction which follows. 

I believe that this point of view, from which Christian 
doctrines are seen as human attempts to interpret human ex 
periences the unique personality of Jesus of Nazareth supreme 
among those human experiences, is a more satisfying one than 
some standpoints from which the origin of Christian doctrines 
may appear to be invested with more commanding power of 
appeal. As such I have been accustomed to offer it to the 
attention of students at an age when the constraint is often felt 
for the first time to find some standpoint in these matters for 

But any point of view any kind of real personal conviction 
and appropriation is better than none : and one which we 

1 Though much independent work over old ground has been bestowed upon it, 
and no previous writer has been followed without an attempt to form an inde 
pendent judgement, yet the nature of the case precludes real independence, except to 
some extent in treatment. 


cannot accept may serve to make clearer and more definite, or 
even to create, the point of view which is true for us. Salvo 
jure communionis diversa sentire different opinions without 
loss of the rights of communion opposite points of view 
without disloyalty to the Catholic Creeds and the Church 
these words, which embody the conception of one of the earliest 
and keenest of Christian controversialists and staunchest of 
Catholics, 1 express a thought more widely honoured now than it 
was in Cyprian s day. 

It is in the hope that this sketch of some parts of the early 
history of Christian doctrines may be useful in some such way 
that it is published now. 


1st May 1903. 

1 They are the words in which Augustine (de Baptismo 17 Migue P.L. xliii 
p. 202) describes the principles of Cyprian. 




The scope of the book What Christian Doctrines are . . 1, 2 

The part played by heresies ...... (note) 2 

Gradual progress and developement . . . 3-5 

NOTES : Dogma ....... 5 

aipiCTLS ....... 6 

deoXoyia dfoXoyelv ..... 7 



The New Testament gives the earliest interpretations . . 9-11 

The doctrine of GOD ....... 11-15 

The doctrine of Man of Sin ...... 16-18 

The doctrine of Atonement ...... 19-21 

The doctrine of the Church and of the Sacraments . . . 22-23 

Baptism .... 23-27 

the Eucharist . 27-32 


Different theories in explanation of the developement of doctrine 

(1) Corruption and degeneration (the Deists) ... 33 

(2) Disciplina arcani (Trent) ..... 34 
- -(3) Developement (Newman) ..... 36 

In what sense developement occurred ... 36 

Influence of Greek thought on the expression of doctrine . . 38 

NOTE: OtKovopia, Accommodation , Reserve . 39 





Earliest idea of Christian inspiration .... 41 

of tradition ...... 42 

Inspiration of Scripture : different conceptions 

Jewish ....... 43 

Gentile . . . . . . . 44 

Philo ........ 44 

The Apostolic Fathers ...... 45 

Muratorian Fragment of the Canon .... 45 

The Apologists ...... 46 

Irenaeus ....... 47 

Clement and Origen ..... 48 

Interpretation of Scripture. The written word 

Homer ....... 49 

Philo . 51 

Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement . . . . . 52, 53 

Origen s theory . . . . . . . 53 

The Cappadocians Tyconius, Augustine The School of 

Antioch ..... 55 

The place of tradition in interpretation 

Irenaeus ........ 55 

Tertullian ..... . 57 

Vincent .... 59 



Characteristic Jewish conceptions ... 62 


Different degrees ...... 63-65 

Cerinthus .... 65 f 

The Clementines .... 66 f. 

NOTE : Chiliasm ... 68 ff 



Characteristics of Oriental religious thought . 72 

The problem of evil . . . 73-75 

Oriental ideas applied to the Christian revelation 75 


The Gnostics their aims and classification of the various schools . 76-79 

The earlier representatives of Gnostic conceptions . . 79-81 

Marcion and his followers ..... 81-84 

Carpocrates and his followers The Cainites and Ophites . 84-86 

The School of Basilides ...... 86-88 

The Valentinians ...... 88-91 

The influence of Gnosticism on the developement of Christian 

doctrine ....... 91-92 

NOTE : Manicheism 93-95 



The * Monarchian School of interpreters prompted, by orthodox 

intention ....... 96 

Attempts at explanation which should maintain alike the oneness 

of God and the divinity of Christ .... 97 

Two main Schools 

(a) Dynamic or Rationalistic . . . . . 97 

(b) Modalistic or { Patripassian 97 
The Alogi the point of departure for both Schools ... 98 

(a) The Theodotians ...... 98 

Artemon ....... 99 

Paul of Samosata ...... 100-102 

(b) Praxeas and Noetus ...... 102-104 

Sabellius and his followers ..... 104-106 

Sympathy with Sabellianism at Rome .... 106 

NOTES : Novatian . . . . . . 107 

Hippolytus ...... 108 

Beryllus ...... 109 

Monarchian exegesis . . . . . 110 

Lucian ....... 110 

Paul of Samosata and 6p.oov<nos . . . Ill 



Significance of this correspondence . . . . . 113 

The points at issue ....... 114-115 

Diverse uses of the equivocal terms ova-ia and {/7r6aTa<ris and con 
fusion due to Latin rendering of ova-ia by substantia . . 116-118 






The Doctrine fully expressed in outline in the prologue to the 
Gospel according to St. John, but not fully appreciated ; 
different aspects and relations of the doctrine represented by 
different early Christian writers these to be regarded as 
typical and complementary rather than as mutually ex 
clusive . . . . . . . . 119, 120 

The Epistles of Ignatius . . . . . . 121 

dytvrjTos and dyfvvrjros ..... (note) 122 

The Letter to Diognetus . 123 

Justin Martyr ... . . 124-126 

The Human Soul in Christ . ... (note) 125 

Tatian ...... . 126 

Theophilus . . . . . . . . 127 

In all three the distinction recognized is cosmic rather than hypo- 
static ........ 128 

Athenagoras his fuller recognition of the problem . . . 128, 129 

Irenaeus important contributions to the doctrine . . . 129-132 

Clement of Alexandria ...... 133-136 

The Logos Doctrine superseded by the Doctrine of the Sonship . 136-137 


Tertullian s use of terms and analogies ... 133 

Doctrine of the Sonship and the Trinity .... 140-144 

The full Nicene and Chalcedonian doctrine . . . . 144 


The great importance and influence of Origen . . . 145 

The basis of his doctrine .... 146 

The eternal generation of the Son . . . . . 147 

The Trinity ........ 148 

Apparently contradictory teaching . . . . . 148 149 



The fitness of the Incarnation . . . . . 150 

His teaching Nicene ....... 151 

NOTE : Origenistic theology and controversies . . . 152-154 


Introductory the previous course of the doctrine and the causes 

of the controversy ...... 155,156 

Arius and his teaching ...... 156-160 

The sources of knowledge of Arian theories .... 157, 158 

The developement of the doctrine of the Person of Christ 

before Arius ...... (note) 157 

The sources of knowledge of Arian theories . (note) 157-158 

Arian interpretation of Scripture ..... 161-163 

Outbreak of controversy and history up to Council of Nicaea . 163, 164 

The Council of Nicaea and its Creed .... 165-170 

The Reaction after Nicaea personal and doctrinal . . . 171 

Attempts to supersede the Nicene Creed Council of Antioch 341 . 172 

Its second Creed ....... 173-175 

Its other Creeds . . . . . . . 175 

Opposition of the West to any new Creed Council of Sardica 343 176 
Renewed attempt to secure a non-Nicene Creed the panpoorixos 

fK0<ns ........ 176 

Condemnation of Photinus and tranquillization of the * moderates : 

subsidence of fears of Sabellianism . . . . 177 

Developement of extreme form of Arianism after death of Constans 178 

The Council of Sirmium 357 . . . . . 179 

Arianism in the West ..... (note) 179 

The Sirmian manifesto ..... (note) 180 

Protests of the * moderates in the East .... 181 

The * Homoean compromise ...... 182-185 

Gradual conversion of Semi-Arians and convergence of parties 

to the Nicene definition ...... 185-187 

Final victory of the Nicene interpretation at the Council of Con 
stantinople ....... 187-189 

The Constantinopolitan Creed . . . .(note) 188 

Arianism outside the Empire, and the causes of the 

failure of Arianism ..... (note) 189 

NOTES : Marcellus ...... 190-192 

Homoiousios and the Homoeans . . . 192-193 
The meaning of Homoousios in the Constantino 
politan Creed 193 

< By the Will of the Father . 194 

Movoycvw Unigenitus Unicus . . 195 





The course through which the doctrine went . . . 197 

The Old Testament and the New Testament doctrine . . 198, 199 
The early Church ... . .199 

The full doctrine expressed by Tertullian . 200 
Origen s exposition of the doctrine the first systematic attempt 

at a scientific expression of it in view of difficulties suggested 201-204 
Teaching in the Church just before the outbreak of Arianism 

Gregory Thaumaturgus . . . 204 

Dionysius of Alexandria ...... 205 

Eusebius of Caesarea ...... 205 

The Arian theories not emphasized and for a time ignored . 206 
The teaching that was given in the Church in the middle of the 

fourth century shewn by Cyril of Jerusalem s lectures . 206-209 

Need for authoritative guidance as to the doctrine . . . 209 

The teaching of Athanasius (the Letters to Sarapion) . . 209-212 

and of Hilary (the dt Trinitate) . . . 212 

The new theories of Macedonius . . . . . 212 

The doctrine declared at Alexandria in 362 and at subsequent 

synods in the East and in the West . . . 213, 214 

The Epiphanian Creed . . . . . .214-217 

The procession of the Spirit relation to Father and Son . (note) 215 

Basil s treatise on the Holy Spirit ..... 217-219 

Gregory of Nyssa, that there are not three Gods . . . 220-222 
The prevailing uncertainty reflected in the sermons of Gregory of 

Nazianzus ....... 222-224 

The Council of Constantinople ..... 224 

Augustine s statement of the doctrine . . . 225-231 

The Tr<ptx>pr)<ris .... . (note) 226 

Niceta on the doctrine of the Spirit . . (note) 231 

NOTES: Substantia ..... . 231-233 

Persona .... . 233-235 

Qv<ria and virovrao-is 235-238 






The results of previous developement of doctrine 

The points of departure of Apollinarius and his theories . 

Objections to them and his defence 

The union of the two natures not satisfactorily expressed . 
NOTES : The Human Soul in Christ 

The Human Will in Christ . 

How can Christ be complete man and without 

sin J ? . 
The Athanasian Creed 

PA. iE 

239, 240 
246, 247 




The theological schools of Alexandria and Antioch . . 255 

The teaching of Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia . 256-260 

The outbreak of the controversy Nestorius at Constantinople . 260 

The title tfforcW . . 261,262 

Cyril of Alexandria denunciation of the Nestorian teaching . 262 

Cyril s Anathemas and the answers of Nestorius . . 263-266 

Their significance and the reception given to them . . 267 

Cyril s dogmatic letter ...... 267-269 

Earlier teaching in the Church on the subject (Tertullian, Origen, 

Athanasius) ....... 269,270 

The Council of Ephesus and the victory of Cyril . . . 270, 271 J 
The terms of agreement between Cyril and the Antiochenes the 

Union Creed 272 

Dissatisfaction on both sides with the definitions Cyril s defence 

of them ....... 273-274 

The strength and the weakness of Nestorianism . . . 274-275 

Suppression of Nestorianism within the Empire . 276 

NOTES : 6( <t>opos clv0p<*7ros . ... 276-279 

The Nestorian (East-Syrian) Church ... 279 







The teaching of Eutyches his condemnation . . . 281-282 

Appeal to the West and counter-attack on Flavian . . . 282-283 

The Council of Ephesus ...... 283 

Victory of the Eutychians through the Emperor s support . 284 

Death of Theodosius A new Council summoned . . 284, 285 

The Council of Chalcedon and its Definition of the Faith . . 285-287 

The letter of Leo to Flavian . . . . 288-292 

The later history of Eutychianism the Monophysites . . 292 

NOTES : The communicatio idiomatum .... 293 

Christ s human nature impersonal . . . 294 

The Kiz/oxm , 294-300 



Introductory : the difficulties of the doctrine not faced in the 

earliest times ....... 301 

Different theories as to the origin of the Soul . . . 302-305 

Different conceptions of the Fall and its effects . . 305-307 

The teaching of Augustine ...... 308-312 

Contrast between him and Pelagius . . ... 308 

His doctrine of human nature, sin, grace . . . 309 

freedom of will ..... 310 

Novel teaching on other points predestination, reprobation . 311-312 

The opposition of Pelagius ...... 312-313 

His antecedents and the chief principles which controlled his 

thought and teaching ...... 313-316 

The Pelagian controversy Coelestius .... 316 

The first stage at Carthage condemnation of Coelestius . 316 
The second stage in Palestine : attack 011 Pelagius by Jerome 

and Orosius acquittal by the Palestinian bishops . . 317 
The third stage appeal to Rome : condemnation of Pelagius 
and Coelestius by Innocent, followed by their acquittal by 

Zosimus ....... 318 

The fourth stage condemnation of all Pelagian theses by the 
Council of Carthage in 418, followed by imperial edicts 

against the Pelagians, and their final condemnation at Home 319-320 

The ultimate issue of the controversy .... 320 

Julian of Eclanum ...... (note) 320 



Attempts to mediate between the two extremes of Pelagianisin and 

Augustinianism Semi-Pelagianism . . . . 321 

John Cassian his teaching . . . . . 321-323 

Faustus of Lerinum and Rhegium .... 323-324 

The later history of the doctrine . . . . . 324-326 


Different points of view, but no definite theory, in early times . 327-328 
The Apostolic Fathers (Clement, Epistle of Barnabas^ Hermas, 

Ignatius) . .... 328-330 

Justin Martyr ....... 330-332 

The Writer to Diognetus ..... 332 

Tertullian . . . . . . 333 

Irenaeus doctrine of the Incarnation and theory of Satan s 

dominion ....... 333-337 

Origen Ransom to the Devil ..... 337 

Other aspects of the Atonement . . . 338-340 

Gregory of Nyssa ...... 340-342 

Rufinus . . . . . . . . 342 

Gregory of Nazianzus . . 343-345 

Athanasius .... . 345-349 

Augustine ...... 349-351 

Summary of the teaching of the period .... 351-352 

NOTES : Heretical conceptions of the Atonement . . 352-353 

The Doctrine of Merit (Tertullian and Cyprian) . 353-355 


General conceptions (no thought-out doctrine till Cyprian) 
A new spiritual society and organization 
One, holy, catholic, apostolic : these notes implied from the 
Ignatius ....... 

Catholic ... . 

Irenaeus the Church as teacher 

Tertullian s conception ..... 

The commission to Peter .... 

Clement and Origen ..... 

Cyprian s conception ..... 

The Episcopate . . . 

Cyril of Jerusalem ..... 

Augustine ...... 

NOTES : The Penitential System 

The Bishops as the centre of unity 


. 357-359 
. (note) 358 
. 359-360 
. 360-362 
. (note) 362 
. 362-363 
. 363-366 
. (note) 364 
. 366-368 
. 368-372 
. 372-373 
. 373-375 




General conception of a sacrament the use of the term 

Early conceptions of baptism : the names for it, the form, what 

effected New Testament and later . 
Justin Martyr on baptism 

The idea of the water 

Cyril of Jerusalem (the rites and their significance) 
Ambrose on baptism (his peculiar conceptions) 
NOTES ; Martyrdom as baptism 
Heretical baptism 
Baptism by laymen 
The Unction and Confirmation 


. 376-377 


. 378-380 
. 380-381 

. (note) 381 


. 383-384 
. 384-385 


. 386-388 
. 388-390 
. 390-392 


[NoTE. The different theories which have been held in later times, 

namely, Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, the sacra - 
mentarian theory, the * receptionist theory, the Anglican 

statement of the real presence.] .... 393-396 

The Eucharist at first connected with the Agape . . 397 
Early conceptions of the effect of consecration the Didache, 

the Christians of Bithynia, Ignatius, Justin . . . 397-399 

Irenaeus ..... - 399-402 

The conception of the elements as symbols (only a distinction 

in thought) ... . . 402-403 

The conception of the Eucharist as a sacrifice Clement, 

Ignatius, Justin, Cyprian . . . 404-406 

Clement of Alexandria (the Agape) and Origen . 406-409 

Cyril of Jerusalem . . . 409-411 

Eusebius and Athanasius ..... (note) 409 

Gregory of Nyssa (marked developement of conceptions) . 411-415 

Chrysostom ..... . 415-416 

Ambrose and Augustine ..... 416-418 

NOTES : Infant Communion . . . . . 418 

Death-bed Communion . . . . 419 

Daily celebration of the Eucharist . . . 419 

Reservation of the Sacrament . . . 420-422 

Oblations for the dead .... 422-424 

The Ancient Mysteries .... 424 

The Eucharist the extension of the Incarnation (Hilary) 425 

The Eucharistic doctrine in early Liturgies . . 426 

INDEX .... 429 




Christian Doctrines and Theology Heresies 

THE scope of this book is not the presentation of a system of 
dogmatic theology, but only a sketch of the history of Christian 
doctrine during the first four hundred years of its course. We 
have not to attempt to gain a general view of Christian truth so 
far as it has been realized at present in the Christian society, 
but only to trace through some of its early stages the gradual 
developement of doctrine. 

Christianity the student of Christian doctrine needs always 
! to remember is not a system, but a life ; and Christian doctrine 
iis the interpretation of a life. Jesus taught few, if any, doc 
trines : his mission was not to propound a system of metaphysics 
or of ethics. If the question be put, What is the Christian 
revelation ? the answer comes at once. The Christian revelation 
is Christ himself. And Christian doctrine is an attempt to 
describe the person and life of Jesus, in relation to Man and the 
World and God : an attempt to interpret that person and life 
and make it intelligible to the heart and mind of men. Or, 
from a slightly different point of view, it may be said that 
Christian doctrines are an attempt to express in words of formal 
statement the nature of God and Man and the World, and the 
relations between them, as revealed in the person and life of 

The history of Christian doctrine must therefore shew the 


manner in which these statements were drawn up, the circum 
stances which called them forth : how the meaning of the earthly 
life and experiences of Jesus was more and more fully disclosed 
to the consciousness of the Church in virtue of her own enlarged 

The history of Christian doctrine is not concerned with the 
evidences of Christianity, internal or external ; nor with the 
proof or the defence of the c doctrines thus formulated. That 
is the province of Apologetics. Nor does it deal with religious 
controversy, or Polemics, except so far as such controversy has 
actually contributed to the developement of doctrine and the 
elucidation of difficulties. Thus, while we have to follow up 
the history of many heresies, we have to do this only in so 
far as they constitute one of the most impressive instances 
of the great law of Progress through Conflict which is 
written over the history of human life : the law that the 
ultimate attainment of the many is rendered possible only by 
the failure of the few, that final success is conditioned by 
previous defeat. 1 

The supreme end to which Christian theology is directed is 
the full intellectual expression of the truth which was manifested 
to men, once for all, in the person and life of Jesus ; and the 
history of Christian doctrine is the record of the steps which 

1 In tliis way heresies have rendered no small service to theological science. 
The defence of the doctrines impugned and the discussion of the points at issue 
ed to a deeper and clearer view of the subject. Subtle objections when carefully 
weighed, and half-truths when exposed, became the occasion of more accurate 
statements. A clear, coherent, and fundamental presentation is one of the strongest 
arguments. Power of statement is power of argument. It precludes misrepresenta 
tion ; it corrects mis-statements " (Shedd). It is true the early Christian orthodox 
writers seldom regard the influence of c heretics as anything but pernicious 
(e.g. Eusebius reflects the popular opinion that all heretics were agents of the 
devil, and applies to them such epithets as these grievous wolves, a pestilent and 
scabby disease, incurable and dangerous poison, more abominable than all shame, 
double-mouthed and two-headed serpents. See H.E. i 1 ; ii 1, 13 ; iii 26-29 ; 
iv 7, 29, 30 ; v 13, 14, 16-20). Yet some of the greatest of the Fathers were 
able to recognize this aspect of the matter. See Origen Horn, ix in Num.-. 
" Nam si doctrina ecclesiastica simplex esset et nullis intrinsecus haereticorum 
dogmatum assertionibus cingeretur, non poterat tarn clara et tarn examinata videri 
fides nostra. Sod idcirco doctrinam catholicam contradicentium obsidet oppug- 
natio, ut fides nostra non otio torpescat, sed exercitiis elimetur." And similarly (as 
Cyprian dt unit, cedes. 10, before him), Augustine Confess, vii 19 (25), could write: 
"Truly the refutation of heretics brings into clearer relief the meaning of thy 
Church and the teaching of sound doctrine. For there needs must be heresies, in 
order that those who are approved may be made manifest among the weak." (Cf. 
Aug. de Civ. Dei xviii 51.) 


were taken in order to reach the end in view the record of the 
partial and progressive approximation to that end. 1 For several 
centuries men were but feeling after satisfactory expressions 
of this truth. To many of them St Paul s words to the 
Athenians on the Areopagus still applied. 2 Even those who 
accepted Jesus and the Christian revelation with enthusiasm 
were still groping in the dark to find a systematic expression of 
the faith that filled their hearts. They experienced the difficulty 
of putting into words their feelings about the Good-News. 
Language was inadequate to pourtray the God and the Saviour 
whom they had found. Not even the great interpreters of the 
first generation were enabled to transmit to future ages the full 
significance of the life which they had witnessed. And as soon 
as ever men went beyond the simple phrases of the apostolic 
writers and, instead of merely repeating by rote the scriptural 
words and terms, tried to express in their own language the 
great facts of their faith, they naturally often used terms which 
were inadequate which, if not positively misleading, erred by 
omission and defect. Such expressions, when the consequences 
flowing from them were more clearly seen, and when they were 
proved by experience to be inconsistent with some of the funda 
mental truths of Christianity, a later age regarded only as 
archaisms , if it was clear that those who used them intended 
no opposition to the teaching of the Church. 3 Often, it is evident, 
men were led into heresy by the attempt to combine with 
the new religion ideas derived from other systems of thought. 
From all quarters converts pressed into the Church, bringing 
with them a different view of life, a different way of looking 
1 at such questions ; and they did not easily make the new point 
of view their own. They embraced Christianity at one point 

1 Professor Westcott used to define Christian doctrine as a partial and progres 
sive approximation to the full intellectual expression of the truth manifested to 
men once for all in the Incarnation . Of. Gospel of Life. 

2 Acts 17 27 . 

3 Thus Augustine de Praedestinatione c. 14, says : " What is the good of scrutin 
izing the works of men who before the rise of that heresy had no need to busy them 
selves with this question, which is so hard to solve. Beyond doubt they would have 
done so, if they had been obliged to give an answer on the subject." So against the 
Pelagians he vindicates Cyprian, Ambrose, and Rufinus. Cf. de dono Persevcrantiae 
c. 20, and the two volumes of his own Retractations. In like manner Athanasius 
defended Dionysius of Alexandria against the Arians (see infra), and Pelagius n 
(Ep. 5. 921) declared "Holy Church weigheth the hearts of her faithful ones with 
kindliness rather than their words with rigour ". 


or another, not at all points ; and they tried to bring the 
expression of Christian doctrine into harmony with pre 
conceived ideas. And not unfrequently it would seem that 
Christian thinkers and teachers, conscious of the force of 
objections from outside, or impressed by the conviction that 
beliefs which were widely current must contain some element 
of truth, were induced to go half-way to meet the views of those 
they wished to win. In the main, however, it would appear that 
heresies arose from the wish to understand. The endowments 
of man include a mind and a reasoning faculty, and doctrine 
which is offered to him as an interpretation of the whole of his 
being the whole of his life he must needs try to grasp with 
the whole of his nature. He must try to make it his own and 
express it in his own words, or else it cannot be real to him, it 
cannot be living. In this process he is certain to make mis 
takes. And the remarkable fact about the history of Christian 
theology is that in almost every case the expression of Christian 
doctrine was drawn out was indeed forced upon the Church 
as a whole by the mistakes of early theologians. By their 
mistakes the general feeling of the faithful the great common 
sense of the Catholic Church was aroused, and set to work to 
find some phrase which would exclude the error and save the 
members of the Church in future from falling into a like mistake. 
So it was that the earliest creeds were of the scantiest dimen 
sions, and slowly grew to their present form, step by step, in 
the process of excluding on the part of the Church as a whole 
the erroneous interpretations of individual members of the 
Church. Such individuals had drawn their inferences too 
hastily : fuller knowledge, longer deliberation, and consideration 
of all the consequences which would flow from their conclusions 
shewed them to be misleading, inadequate to account for all the 
facts. Those who persisted in the partial explanation, the in 
complete and therefore misleading theory, after it had been 
shewn to be inadequate, the Church called heretics, factious 
subverters of truth. Clearly they could not be allowed to 
proclaim a mutilated gospel under the shelter of the Catholic 
Church. As members of that Church they had initiated dis 
cussion and stimulated interest, without which progress in know 
ledge, the developement of doctrine the nearer approximation 
to a full interpretation would have been impossible. But 
when they seized on a few facts as though they were all the 


facts, and from these few framed theories to explain and interpret 
all ; when they put forward a meagre and immature conception 
as a full-grown representation of the Christian idea of life, 
then the accredited teachers of Christianity were bound to 
protest against the one-sided partial developement, and to meet 
it by expansions of the creed which should exclude the error, 
and to frame formal statements of the mind of the Church to 
serve as guides to future generations landmarks to prevent 
their straying from the line of ascertained truth. So creeds 
grew, and heresies were banished from the Church. 


The word properly means that which lias seemed good, been agreed or 
decided upon : so an opinion, and particularly, as having been determined 
by authority, a decree or an edict, or a precept. In this sense it is 
used by Plato, and Demosthenes, and in the Septuagint ; and in the 
New Testament of (1) a particular edict of the emperor (Luke 2 1 ) ; 
(2) the body of such edicts (Acts 17 7 ) ; (3) the ordinances of the 
) Mosaic law (Eph. 2 16 , Col. 2 14 ) ; (4) the decisions of the apostles and 
elders at the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 16 4 , cf. 15 20 ), which dealt 
particularly with ritual questions. It is nowhere in the New Testament 
used of the contents or doctrines of Christianity. The Stoics, how 
ever, employed the word to express the theoretical principles of their 
philosophy (e.g. Marc. Aurel. Medit. 2. 3, ravra <roi dpKeirw, del Soy/xara 
<rra>), and it bears a similar sense in the first Christian writers who 
used it: Ignatius ad Magn. 13, the dogmata of the Lord and the 
Apostles (here perhaps rules of life ); the Didache 11. 3 (a similar 
sense), and Barnabas Ep. 1. 6, 9. 7, 10. 1, 9 ; and more precisely in the 
Greek Apologists, to whom Christianity was a philosophy of life, who 
apply the word to the doctrines in which that philosophy was formu 
lated. And [though much later Basil de Spiritu Sancto 27 seems to 
contrast Sdy/xara, as rites and ceremonies with mystic meaning derived 
from tradition, with Krjpvy^ara, as the contents of the Gospel teaching 
and Scripture ; yet generally the term in the plural denoted the whole 
substance of Christian doctrine (see e.g. Cyril of Jerusalem Cat. iv 2, 
where 8oy//,a as relating to faith is contrasted with 7rpais, which has 
to do with moral action : " The way of godliness is composed of these 
two things, pious doctrines and good actions," the former being the 
source of the latter ; and Socrates Hist, ii 44, where Soy//,a is similarly set 
in antithesis to rj yOiKy SiSacr/coAta). Hence the general significance a 
doctrine which in the eyes of the Church is essential in the true inter 
pretation of the Christian faith, and therefore one the acceptance of 


which may be required of all Christians (i.e. not merely a subjective 
opinion or conception of a particular theologian). It is not the interpre 
tation of any individual, or of any particular community, that can be 
trusted. Just as the oecumenicity of a council depends upon its acknow 
ledgement by the Church as a whole, and a council at which the whole 
Church was not represented might attain the honour of oecumenicity 
by subsequent recognition and acceptance (e.g. the Council of Constan 
tinople of 381); so no dogma (though individuals may contribute to 
its expression) is authoritative till it has passed the test of the general 
feeling of the Church as a whole, the communis sensus fidelium , and 
by that been accepted. 

Afpco-is HERESY 

Aipeo-is, the verbal noun from cupeco, aipeio-$ai, is commonly used both 
in the active sense of capture and in the middle sense of choice . 
It is the middle sense only with which we are concerned, and especially 
the limited sense of choice of an opinion . Hence it is used of those 
who have chosen a particular opinion of their own, and follow it a 
. school of thought , a party, the followers of a particular teacher or 

In this usage the word is originally colourless and neutral, implying 
neither that the opinion chosen is true nor that it is false. 

So it is used in the New Testament of the schools of the Sadducees 
(Acts 5 17 ) and Pharisees (Acts 15 5 ), and of the Christians the cupeo-is 
of the Nazaraeans (Acts 24 5 - 14 ). It is true that in all these cases the 
word is used by those who are unfavourably disposed to the schools of 
thought which are referred to ; but disparagement is not definitely 
associated with it. And Constantine uses it of the doctrine of the 
Catholic Church (77 aipeo-is 17 KaOoXiKrj Euseb. x 5. 21), just as Tertullian 
frequently uses secta . 

But though the Christian Society as a whole may be in this way 
designated a af/oeo-ts, inside the Society there is no room for cupeVeis. 
There must not be parties within the Church. It is Christ himself 
who is divided into parts, if there are (1 Cor. I 13 ). And so, as applied 
to diversities of opinion among Christians themselves, the word assumes a 
new colour (1 Cor. II 19 ), and is joined to terms of such evil significance 
as epifleiat factions and Sixocrracriat divisions (Gal. 5 20 ). 

The transition from the earlier to the later meaning of the word is 
well seen in the use of the adjective in Tit. 3 10 , where St Paul bids 
Titus have nothing to do with a man who is aipert/cos if he is 
unaffected by repeated admonition. This is clearly the opinionated 
man, who obstinately holds by his own individual choice of opinion 
( obstinate , factious ). So the man who in matters of doctrine 
forms his own opinion, and, though it is opposed to the communis 


sensus fidelium, will not abandon it when his error is pointed out, is a 
heretic . 

To the question What is the cause of heresies? different answers 
were given. The cause was not God, and not the Scriptures. " Do 
not tell me the Scripture is the cause." It is not the Scripture that is 
: the cause, but the foolish ignorance of men (i.e. of those who interpret 
amiss what has been well and rightly said) so Chrysostom declares 
(Horn. 128 p. 829). The cause is rather to be sought in (1) the Devil 
so 1 Tim. 4 1 was understood and Matt. 13 25 : Eusebius reflects this 
common opinion; (2) the careless reading of Holy Scripture "It is 
from this source that countless evils have sprung up from ignorance 
of the Scriptures : from this source the murrain of heresies has grown " 
(Chrys. Prcef. Ep. ad Rom.) ; and (3) contentiousness, the spirit of pride 
and arrogance. 

As to the nature of their influence and the reason why God permits 
their existence, see supra p. 2 note 1. On the latter point appeal was 
made to St Paul s words 1 Cor. II 19 , "for there must be heresies 
among you, in order that those that are approved may become manifest 
among you." Heresies serve as a touchstone of truth ; they test and 
try the genuineness of men s faith. So Chrysostom (Horn. 46 p. 867) 
says they make the truth shine out more clearly. " The same thing is 
seen in the case of the prophets. False prophets arose, and by com 
parison with them the true prophets shone out the more. So too 
disease makes health plain, and darkness light, and tempest calm." 
And again (Horn. 54 p. 363) he says: "It is one thing to take your 
, stand on the true faith, when no one tries to trip you up and deceive 
you : it is another thing to remain unshaken when thousands of waves 
are breaking against you." 

toAoyta 0oAoyeiv 

Four stages in the history of these words may be detected. 

(1) They were originally used of the old Greek poets who told their 
tales of the gods, and gave their explanations of life and the universe in 
the form of such myths. Such are the theogonies of Hesiod and 
Orpheus, and the cosmogonies of Empedocles. These men were the 
0eoAoyoi of what is called the prescientific age. It was in the actions 
of the gods their loves and their hates that they found the answer to 
the riddles of existence. So later writers (as Plutarch, Suetonius, and 
Philo) use the expression ra OfoXo-yovptva in the sense of inquiries into 
the divine nature or * discussions about the gods . 

(2) Still later the words are used to express the attribution of divine 
origin or causation to persons or things, which are thus regarded as 
divine or at least are referred to divine causes. So in the sense ascribe 


divinity to , name as God , ( call God , assert the divinity of , the verb 
OeoXoytLv is used by Justin Dial. 56 (in conjunction with KupioAoyetv), 
by the writer of the Little Labyrinth (OeoXoyfjo-ai TOV xpio-roV, ^ K oWa 
0oV call Christ God, though he is not God Eusebius H.E. v 28), 
and by later writers of all the Persons of the Trinity and in other 


(3) The verb is found in a more general sense make religious 
investigations in Justin Dial. 113; while in Athenagoras Leg. 10, 20, 
22 the noun expresses the doctrine of God and of all beings to whom 
the predicate deity belongs. (Cf. also the Latin Hheologia Ter- 
tullian ad Nat. n 2.) 

(4) Aristotle describes OcoXoyia as y Trptarr) <iAocro(ia, and to the 
Stoics the word was equivalent to philosophy a system of philo 
sophical principles or truths. For Hellenic Christians at least the tran 
sition from this usage to the sense familiar now was easy. Theology 
is the study or science that deals with God, the philosophy of life that 
finds in God the explanation of the existence of man and the world, and 
endeavours to work out theoretically this principle in all its relations ; 
while Christian theology in a specific sense starts from the existence of 
Jesus, and from him and his experiences, his person, his life, his teach 
ing, frames its theories of the Godhead, of man, and of the world. (See 
note on the words, Harnack Dogmengeschichte Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 202, 
Sophocles Lexicon, and Suicer Thesaurus.) 

1 In relation to the Son, in particular, deoXoyla is used of all that relates to the 
divine and eternal nature and being of Christ, as contrasted with ofcopo/tla, which 
has reference especially to the Incarnation and its consequences (so Lightfoot notes 
Apost. Fathers II ii p. 75). But this is only a particular usage of the term in a 
restricted sense. 



The Beginnings of Doctrines in the New Testament 

CHRISTIAN theology (using the word in the widest sense) is, as we 
have seen, the attempt to explain the mystery of the existence 
of the world and of man by the actual existence of Jesus. 
It is in him, in his experiences in what he was, what he felt, 
what he thought, what he did that Christian theology finds 
the solution of the problem. In the true interpretation of him 
and of his experiences we have, accordingly, the true interpre 
tation of human life as a whole. In tracing the history of 
Christian doctrines, we have therefore to begin with the earliest 
attempts at such interpretation. These, at least the earliest 
which are accessible to us at all, are undoubtedly to be found 
in the collection of writings which form the New Testament. 
We are not here concerned with apologetic argument or history 
of the canon, with questions of exact date of writing or of 
reception of particular books. We are only concerned with the 
fact that, be the interpretation true or untrue, apostolic or 
sub-apostolic, or later still, the interpretations of the person of 
Jesus which are contained in these books are the earliest which 
are extant. In different books he is regarded from different 
points of view : even the writers who purpose to give a simple 
.record of the facts of his life and teaching approach their task 
with different conceptions of its nature ; in their selection of 
facts the special prominence they give to some they are 
unconsciously essaying the work of interpretation as well as 
that of mere narration. " The historian cannot but interpret 
the facts which he records." The student of the history of 
Christian doctrines is content that they should be accepted as 
interpreters : to shew that they are also trustworthy historians 
is no part of his business. From the pages of the New Testa 
ment there is to be drawn, beyond all question, the record of 


the actual experiences of the Christians nearest to the time of 
Jesus of whom we have any record at all. Their record of their 
own experiences, and their interpretations of them and of him 
who was the source of all, are the starting-point from which 
the developement of Christian doctrines proceeds. In this sense 
the authors of the Gospels and Epistles are the first writers on 
Christian theology. 1 No less certainly than later writers, if 
less professedly and with more security against error, they 
tried to convey to others the impression which Jesus, himself 
or through his earliest followers, had made upon them. In 
him they saw not only the medium of a revelation, but the 
revelation itself. What had before been doubtful about the pur 
pose of the world and of human life its origin and its destiny 
all became clear and certain as they studied him, and from the 
observations which they could make of him, and of his relations 
to his environment, framed their inductions. Not only from 
his words, but from his acts and his whole life and conduct, 
they framed a new conception of God, a new conception of His 
relations to mankind, a new conception of the true relations of 
one man to another. They could measure the gulf that separates 
man as he is from man as he is meant to be, and they learnt 
how he might yet attain to the destiny which he had forfeited. 
Under the impulse of these conceptions this revelation the 
authors of the Gospels compiled their narratives, and the writers 
of the other books of the New Testament dealt with the matters 
which came in their way. Their method is not systematic : 

1 If it were necessary for our present purpose to attempt to discriminate nicely 
between the various ideas expressed in different writings of the New Testament, 
we might begin with the earliest and work from them to the later on the chance 
of finding important developements. "We might thus begin with the earlier epistles 
of St Paul, and shew what conceptions of the Godhead and of the person and work 
of Christ underlie, and are presupposed by, the teaching which he gives and the 
allusions which imply so full a background of belief on the part of those to whom 
he writes. And then we might go on to compare with these earliest conceptions 
what we could discover in the writings of later date that seemed different or of 
later developement. But this would be an elaborate task in itself, and without in 
any way doubting that further reflection and enlarged experience led to correspond 
ing expansion and fulness and elucidation of the conceptions of the early teachers 
of the Gospel, it seems clear that some of the books of the New Testament which 
are later in time of composition (as we have them now) contain the expression of the 
earliest conceptions ; and therefore, for the purpose before us, we need not try to 
discriminate as to time and origin between the various points of view which the 
various writings of the New Testament reveal. We need only note the variety, 
and observe that the conceptions are complementary one to another. 


it is in the one case narrative, and in the other occasional. 
But in no case are we left in doubt as to the interpretations 
which they had formed and accepted. It is, for example, absurd 
to suppose that the doctrine of the Person of Jesus which they 
held did not correspond to the teaching which they record that 
he gave of his own relation to God. And when an Apostle 
claims to have received his mission directly from Jesus himself, 
and not from men or through any human agency, it is obvious 
that he regards him as the source of divine authority. The 
writers of the New Testament have not formulated their 
interpretations in systematic or logical form perhaps ; but they 
have framed them nevertheless, and the history of Christian 
doctrines must begin by an account of the doctrines expressed 
or implied in the earliest writings of Christians that are extant, 
and then proceed to trace through later times variations or 
developements from the interpretations which were then accepted 
as true. 

The existence of God and of the world and of man is 
needless to say assumed throughout ; and it is certain that the 
doctrine of creation by God (through whatever means) was 
accepted by all the writers before us, inherited as it would be 
from the Scriptures of the Jews. Of other doctrines all were 
not certainly held by all the writers, and in the short statement 
of them which can rightly have a place here it will only be 
necessary to indicate the main points. We shall take in order 
God (the Trinity), Man, the relations between God and Man 
(Atonement), the means by which the true relations are to be 
maintained (the Church, the Sacraments). 

The doctrines are, as has been said, expressed in incidental 
or in narrative form, and so it is from incidental allusions and 
from the general tenour of the narrative that we infer them. 
They grow up before the reader. 

The Doctrine of God in the New Testament 

The doctrine of God, for example, is nowhere explicitly 
stated. It is easy, however, to see that there are three main 
conceptions which were before the writers of the New Testament. 
The three descriptions of God as Father, as Spirit, and as Love, 
express together a complete and comprehensive doctrine of the 
Godhead; and though the three descriptions are specially 


characteristic of different writers or groups of writings, respect 
ively, yet it is easy to see that the thought of God as Spirit and 
as Love is present and natural to the minds of the writers who 
use more readily the description of him as Father, which indeed 
is the title regularly employed by all the writers of the New 
Testament. 1 It is the conception of God as Father that is most 
original. Not that the conception was entirely new. 

The doctrine of God which is to be found in the pages 
of the New Testament has doubtless for its background the 
Jewish monotheistic belief, but the belief in the form in which 
it presented itself to the psalmists and the prophets rather 
than to the scribes and rabbis. To the latter the ancient faith 
of their fathers in one God, tenaciously maintained against the 
many gods of the nations round about them, had come to convey 
the idea of an abstract Unit far removed from all contact with 
the men and the world He had created, self-centred and self- 
absorbed, the object of a distant reverence and awe. The 
former, on the contrary, were above all else dominated by the 
sense of intimate personal relation between themselves and God ; 
and it is this conviction the certainty that such a close com 
munion and fellowship exists that the followers of Jesus 
discerned in him and learnt from his experience. But in his 
experience and in his teaching the conviction assumed a form 
so different from that in which the prophets realized it, that his 
conception of God seems to stand alone. Others had realized 
God as Father of the universe (the Creator and Sustainer of the 
physical world and of animate things), and by earlier teachers 
of the Jews He had been described as in a moral and 
spiritual sense Father of Israel and Israelites, 2 but their sense 
of fatherhood had been limited and obscured by other con 
ceptions. 3 In the experience and teaching of Jesus this one 
conception of God as Father controlled and determined every 
thing. It is first of all a conviction personal and peculiar to 

1 The writer to the Hebrews is perhaps an exception, but see Heb. I 2 - B 12 a . 

2 See the references given by Dr. Sanday, Art. God in Hastings D.B. vol. ii 
p. 208 (e.g. Deut. I 31 8 5 32 6 , Ps. 103 13 , Jer. 3 4 - 19 , Isa. 63 16 64 8 ) ; and for the whole 
subject see, besides that article, G. F. Schmid Biblical Theology of the New 

8 In particular the image according to which Israel is depicted as Jehovah s 
bride, faithless to her marriage covenant, is incompatible with the thought expressed 
by the Fatherhood of God. One broad difference cannot be missed. In the one 
image the main thought is the jealous desire of God to receive man s undivided 
devotion, in the other it is His readiness to bestow His infinite love on man. 


himself, My Father , he claimed Him. 1 But he also spoke of 
Him to his disciples as your Father , 2 and so the intimacy of 
relationship which they saw he realized they came to look upon 
as possible too for them, and not only for them the first 
disciples of Jesus but also for all mankind. The Fatherhood 
of God extended to the good and the evil alike, the just and the 
unjust ; and to all animate things even the fowls of the air. 
God was Father in the highest and fullest sense of the word. 
So the earliest followers of Jesus understood his teaching and 
explained his life. That they also thought of God as essentially 
spiritual will not be disputed. The idea of God as Spirit is 
in one sense co-ordinate with the idea of Him as Father , 
though definite expression is scarcely given to the idea except in 
the writings of St John. 3 This special description or conception 
brings into prominence certain characteristics which must not be 
passed over. The absolute elevation of God above the world 
and men is expressed when He is designated Spirit, just as the 
most intimate communion between men s life and His is expressed 
when He is styled their Father. As Spirit He is omnipresent, 
all pervading, eternal, and raised above all limitations. 4 He is 
the source of all life, so that apart from Him and knowledge of 
Him there can be no true life. 6 

When to the descriptions of God as Father and as Spirit St 
John adds the description that is in words all his own, and 
declares that the very essence of the being of God is Love ; 6 
when he thus sums up in a single word the revelation of the 
teaching and life of Jesus, he certainly makes a contribution to 

1 E.g. both as to natural and as to spiritual life, Matt. II 27 6 4 - 6 - 8 , John 2 16 5 17 . 
Cf. St Paul s frequent use of the phrase the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ , e.g. 
Col. I 3 , Eph. I 3 , 2 Cor. I 3 II 31 , Rom. 15 6 ; cf. 1 Pet. I 3 , though he commonly 
writes God the Father , or our Father . 

2 Matt. 6 8 15 10 20 , Luke 6 36 . Cf. Our Father , Matt. 6 9 ; My Father and your 
Father , John 20 17 . The common addition of the designation heavenly , or that 
is in heaven , serves to mark the spiritual and transcendent character of the 

3 E.g. John 4 s4 . He alone has preserved the definite utterance of Jesus, God is 
Spirit , as he alone proclaims that God is Love . 

4 E.g. Matt. 6 4 6 - 18 , John 4 21 . 5 John 5 21 - 26 ; cf. 5 17 17 3 . 

6 John 4 8 . Though a triune personality in the Godhead is implied if God is 
essentially Love (cf. Augustine de Trinitate vi and viii), it does not appear that 
St John s statement was charged with this meaning to himself. It seems rather, 
from the context, to be used to express the spiritual and moral relation in which 
God stands to man (cf. John 3 16 ), and not to be intended to have explicit reference 
to the distinctions within the Godhead. 


Christian doctrine which is of the highest value. It is not too 
much to say that in the sentence God is Love we have 
an interpretation of the Gospel which covers all the relations 
between God and man. And yet it is only the essential 
character of all true fatherhood that the words express. 
St John is only explaining by another term the meaning of 
Father, whatever fresh light he may throw upon the title by his 

And all the other descriptions of God which are to be found 
in the New Testament add nothing to these three main thoughts ; 
indeed, they only draw out in more detail the significance of the 
relationship expressed by the one word Father. 1 

But much more is implied as to the Godhead by St John s 
account of the sayings of Jesus in which he declared his own 
one-ness with the Father 2 teaching which obviously lies at 
the back of the thought of St Paul 3 and of the writer to the 
Hebrews. 4 And more again is seen in the references to the 
Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, in the Gospel according to St 
John, 5 and to the Holy Spirit in the other books of the New 
Testament. The Son and the Holy Spirit alike have divine 
functions to perform, and are in closest union with the Father. 
There are distinctions within the Godhead, but the distinctions 
are such as are compatible with unity of being. There is Father, 
there is Son, and there is Holy Spirit. Each is conceived as 
having a distinct existence and a distinct activity in a sphere of 
his own : but the being of each is divine, and there is only one 
Divine Being. Thus to say that the Godhead is one in essence, 
but contains within itself three relations, three modes of exist- 

1 As, for example, when God is described as holy and righteous, or as merciful 
and gracious ; as judging justly, or as patient and long-suffering. In all aspects 
God is absolutely good, the standard and type of moral perfection, and His love is 
always actively working (Matt. 19 17 , Luke 18 19 , Mark 5 48 7 n , John 3 16 ). 

2 See John I 18 14 7 11 . Of. John 10 38 13 20 14 9 - 20 15 24 16 32 , 1 John I 1 3 , Matt. 
II 27 . 

3 Cf. 2 Cor. 4 4 , Col. I 18 , Phil. 2 6 (Christ the image of God, and existent in the 
form of God). 

4 Heb. I 3 (the Son the effulgence of the glory and the exact impress of the 
very being of God). John I 1 5 , Phil. 2 6 - 8 , Col. I 16 18 , and Heb. I 1 3 should be care 
fully compared together. 

6 John 14 16 " 26 15 26 16 7 14 . 

6 The baptismal commission, Matt. 28 19 , which co-ordinates the Three would be 
the simplest and most decisive evidence, but if it be disallowed there remains in 
the New Testament ample evidence to the same effect (see the Pauline equivalent 
2 Cor. 13 14 , Rom. 8 26 , 1 Cor. 12 n , Eph. 4 30 ). 


ence, is always at the same time actively existent in three 
distinct spheres of energy : this is only to say what is clearly 
implied in the language of the Gospels and Epistles, though the 
conception is not expressed in set terms, but is embodied in the 
record of actual experience. As from Jesus himself his dis 
ciples derived, in the first place, their consciousness of God as 
-Father, so from him they first learnt of God as Holy Spirit ; 
but their realization of what was at first perhaps accepted on 
the evidence of his experience only, was soon quickened by 
experiences of their own which seemed to be obvious mani 
festations of the working of God as Holy Spirit. 1 

The doctrine of a triune God Father, Son, and Spirit 
is required and implied by the whole account of the revelation 
and the process of redemption ; but the pages of the New 
Testament do not shew anything like an attempt to enter into 
detailed explanations of the inner being of God in the threefold 

It is to this fact that we must look for the explanation of 
the subsequent course of Christian thought, and the puzzling 
emergence of theories that seem to be so utterly at variance 
with the natural interpretation of the apostolic writings that 
we find it difficult to understand how they could ever have 
claimed the authority of Scripture. There are at least three 
)points which must be noted. First, the New Testament leaves 
a clear impression of three agents, but the unity and equality of 
the three remains obscure and veiled. Secondly, the doctrine 
of the Incarnation is plainly asserted, but the exact relation and 
connexion between the human and the divine is not defined ; 
there is no attempt to indicate how the pre-existing Christ is 
one with the man Jesus how he is at the same time Son of 
God as before, and yet Son of Man too as he was not before ; and 
how as Son of Man he can still continue to be equal with the 
Father. Thirdly, that the Spirit is divine is assumed, but that 
he is pre-existent and personal is an inference that might not 
seem to be inevitable. And so it was with these points that 
subsequent controversy dealt, controversy that resulted in re 
solving ambiguities, and led to the clearer and fuller expression 
of the Christian conception of God. 

1 Such experiences are represented as beginning on the day of Pentecost, and as 
continuing all through the history recorded in the Acts of the Apostles ; and they 
are also implied, if not actually expressed, in most of the Epistles. 


The Doctrine of Man in the New Testament 

In like manner, with regard to the conception which the 
writers of the New Testament, the first Christian theologians, 
had formed of man and his place in the universe, we find no full 
and systematic expression, but only a number of isolated and 
for the most part incidental indications of a doctrine. 

The teaching of the Old Testament must be assumed as the 
background and as the starting-point, so far at least as regards, 
on the one side, the dignity of man as made in the image of 
God 1 and destined to attain to the likeness of God ; and, on the 
other side, his failure to fulfil his destiny, and his need of super 
natural aid to effect his redemption. 

At the outset it is clear that the doctrine of the Fatherhood 
of God in itself declares the dignity of human nature. Man is 
by his constitution the child of God, capable of intimate union 
and personal fellowship with God. It is on this relationship 
that the chief appeals of Jesus are based : it is to make men 
conscious of their position that most of his teaching was directed. 
It is to make them realize the sense of privilege, which it allows, 
that was the chief object of his life. It is because of this kin 
ship that men are bidden to be perfect, even as their Father 
which is in heaven is perfect. 2 For this reason they are to 
look to heaven rather than to earth as the treasury of all that 
they value most. 3 Man is so constituted that he is capable of 
knowing the divine will and of desiring to fulfil it ; 4 he has a 
faculty by virtue of which spiritual insight is possible, 5 he can 
not only receive intimations of the truth, but also examine and 
test what he receives and form right judgements in regard to it. 6 
Such, it is clear, is the sense in which the writers of the Gospels 
understood the teaching of Jesus, and the same theory of the 
high capacities of human nature is presupposed and implied by 
the general tenour of the teaching of St Paul. 

At the same time the free play of this spiritual element in 
man is hindered by the faculties which bind him to earth the 
elements represented by the flesh ; and the contrast between 

1 The phrase clearly refers to mental and moral faculties, such as the intellect, the 
will, the affections. 

2 Matt. S 48 . 3 Matt. 6 19 ff . 

4 E.g. John 5 17 . 6 E.g. Matt. 6 22 - M , Luke ll 84 36 . 

6 E.g. Matt. II 15 13 14 , Mark 4 24 , Luke 12 56 - 67 , John 7 24 . 


them and the higher constituent is strongly expressed the 
spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak . l And so at the same 
time there is declared the corruption of human nature in its 
present state, so that sin is a habitual presence in man, from 
which he can escape only by the aid of a power which is not 
his own, even though that power must work by arousing and 
quickening forces which are already latent in him. 

As to the nature of sin the pages of the New Testament 
reflect the teaching of the Old. The account of the Fall of 
Adam shews the essence of sin to be the wilful departure on the 
part of man from the course of developement for which he was 
designed (the order determined by God, and therefore the order 
natural to him) ; and the assertion of his will against the will of 
God. The result of sin is thus a disordered world a race of 
men not fulfilling the law of their nature and alienated from 
God, who is the source and the sustainer of their life. Exactly 
these conceptions are embodied in the treatment of the matter 
which is recorded, on the part of Jesus and the earliest Christian 
teachers, in the New Testament itself. The commonest words 
for sin denote definitely the missing of a mark or the breach of 
a law, the failure to attain an end in view or the neglect of 
principle. 2 And the other words which are used imply the 
same point of view : sin is a trespass or transgression , that is, 
a departure from the right path which man is meant to tread ; 
or it is debt , in the sense that there was an obligation laid 
upon man, a responsibility to live in a particular way, which he 
has not fulfilled and observed. 3 This manner of describing sin 
shews that it is by no means thought of as an act, or a series 
of acts, of wrong-doing. It is rather a state or condition, a 
particular way of living, which is described as sickness, 4 or even, 
by contrast with true life, as death. Those who are living under 
such conditions are dead . 5 Of this state the opposite is life, 
or life eternal a particular way of living now, characteristic of 

1 Matt. 26 41 , of. John 3 6 : "That which is begotten of the flesh is flesh, and that 
which is begotten of the Spirit is spirit." Similarly flesh and blood together Matt. 
16 17 . ( Flesh is the name by which mankind was commonly expressed in the 
Hebrew Scriptures, with particular reference to its weaker and more material 
constituents. ) 

2 The words afAaprla and avo^ta the essence of sin (a/naprta) being declared by 
St John to bo lawlessness or the absence of law (dvofda) 1 John 3 4 . 

3 The words irapdirTWfJia, 7ra/>cfy3a<rts, <50eX?//xa. 

4 E.g. Matt. 9 ia . B E.g. John 5 21 " 25 . 


which is knowledge of God and love of the brethren. 1 It is to 
give this knowledge and to quicken this love that is declared 
to be the special object of the life and death of Jesus. 2 The 
condition of sin is one of estrangement from God and selfish 
disregard of what is due to others. It is a state which merits 
and involves punishment, and yet at the same time is its own 
punishment. 3 

1 John 17 3 6 63 - 47 3 36 5 40 and 5 24 . 2 John 10 10 13 36 15 13 , 1 John 4 8 . 

3 The conception of sin expressed in St Paul s epistles, though not essentially 
different from the conceptions which are reflected in other writings of the New 
Testament, is characteristic enough to call for special notice. 

It was the common belief of the Jews at the time that the personal transgression 
of Adam was the origin of sin, and further that death came into the world as the 
penalty for sin. 

St Paul assumes this belief. The keynote to his meaning in the chief passage 
in which he discusses the matter (Rom. 5 12 21 ) is struck in the words through the 
one man s disobedience the many were made sinners (ver. 19). Sin, then, entered 
the world by Adam s trespass, and death which is the penalty of sin followed. 
And, furthermore, death became universal, because all men sinned. E$> $ Traces 
tjnapTov can only mean because all sinned : but the question remains whether by 
these words St Paul means to assert the personal individual sin of every one since 
Adam, or whether he means that, in some sense, when Adam sinned, the whole race 
then and there became guilty of sin. It is also a question which of the two concep 
tions was familiar to Jewish (Rabbinic) thought. (See Sanday and Headlam 011 the 
passage, and the discussion by G. B. Stevens The Pauline Theology p. 127 ff. See 
also H. St J. Thackeray The Relation of St Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought 
ch. ii Sin and Adam , and further Pelagian ism infra p. 309.) To determine 
the question we must look beyond the mere words to the argument of the context. 
Two things are clear (1) the universality of sin is emphasized, and its connexion 
with Adam s sin ; (2) the redemption from sin actually accomplished through the 
one man, Jesus Christ, is treated as parallel to the results of the sin of the one man, 

In both cases alike there is implied an organic unity between the representative 
and the race (whether of all men, in the one case, or of those who are in Christ , 
in the other case). Cf. 2 Cor. 5 15 " one died for all, therefore all died " (i.e. to sin, 
an ethical death to be followed by an ethical rising-again to life). The unity which 
exists between Christ (the head of the spiritual humanity) and Christians is parallel 
to that which exists between Adam (the head of the natural humanity) and all 
mankind. (Cf. 1 Cor. 15 2a "as in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be 
made alive".) But in regard to Adam, at all events, St Paul does not attempt to 
define the way in which the connexion comes about. On this question the phrase 
ijfie&a r^KKa (f>ij(rei 6pyrjs, Eph. 2 3 , must be considered. The doctrine of original or 
birth-sin has been found in it. But the context must determine the meaning, and 
three facts must be noted (1) the order of the words shews that there is no stress on 
<f>\j<rei ; (2) the expression children of wrath is parallel to such Old Testament 
expressions as sons of death and means worthy of God s reprobation ; (3) the 
reference is to individual personal sins actually committed ; (4) so far as there is 
any emphasis on 0tfcrei the intention is to mark the contrast between the natural 
powers of man, left to himself, and the power of the grace of God in effecting 
salvation. See the emphatic reiteration of XO.PLTL in the verses following. In this 


The restoration of the true relations between God and man, 
from which will follow the establishment of the true relations 
between man and man, is thus the purpose which Christ was 
understood to have declared to be his purpose and his followers 
believed he had achieved. 

The Doctrine of Atonement in the New Testament 

Of the nature of the atonement which he effected there is 
no formal theory in the New Testament. It is certain that 
St John, at all events, understood his Master to have constantly 
taught that the knowledge of God and, with the knowledge of 
God, the increased knowledge of man s own position, was to play 
a large part in the work. And this mental and moral illumina 
tion was effected by the whole life and teaching of Jesus, while 
by his death in all its circumstances the true meaning of his 
life was brought to the consciousness of his disciples. So that 
the conception of redemption through knowledge can certainly 
claim to be among the earliest conceptions. At the same time, 
that the redemption was wrought in some special sense by this 
death of Christ that the death in itself was one of the instru 
ments by which the whole work of Christ became effective 
is clearly implied by all the allusions to it. 1 But the 

passage too, therefore, it is the actual prevalence of sin in the world, as a fact of 
general experience, that is in the Apostle s mind, rather than any theory as to the 
propagation of sin or a tendency to sin. Cf. Gal. 2 5 , where the Gentiles are regarded 
as sinners 0wm, i.e. belonging to the class of sinners see Sanday and Headlam on 
Rom. 5 19 . 

Furthermore, it is clear that St Paul speaks of the <rd/>, in antithesis to the 
irvev/Aa, as the seat and sphere of manifestation of this sin. He uses the expression 
in different senses : (1) literal or physical, of the body actually subjugated and 
ruled by sin, conceived as the sphere in which, or the medium through which, sin 
actually works ; (2) ethical, of the element in man which is, in practical experience, 
opposed to the spiritual ; (3) symbolic, of unregenerate human nature. The three 
senses tend to pass over into one another, and the first and second, and the second 
and third, respectively, cannot always be exactly distinguished. 

But when he describes the sins of the flesh he includes many forms of sin 
which have their origin in the mind or the will see e.g. Gal. 5 19ff> ; and the 
antithesis between the spirit and the flesh is not presented in the manner of 
Greek or Oriental dualism. (On Rom. 7 7 " 25 , see Sanday and Headlam.) 

1 On the meaning of the blood of Christ, see particularly Westcott Epistles of 
St John, where it is shewn that the blood always includes the thought of the 
life, preserved and active beyond death, though at the same time it is only through 
the death that the blood can be made available. On the New Testament doctrine of 
the atonement in general, see Oxenham Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement p. 108 ff. ; 
and R. W. Dale The Atonement, with the notes in the Appendix. 


writers of the New Testament are content to treat the result 
as a fact and to emphasize some of its consequences. They 
do not attempt to explain the manner in which the result was 

The work of the atonement is described under various 
images and metaphors, which may perhaps be grouped in four 

First, there is the idea of c reconciliation (/cardkXayri), ex 
pressed in some of the parables, as when the prodigal son is 
reconciled to his father, and in passages in which those who 
were once enemies and aliens are said to be reconciled to God by 
the death of His Son, and to have won peace and union with 
God, or life in union with Him, as the result. 1 

Under another image sin is regarded as personified : man is 
held in bondage to sin, and has to be purchased or bought with 
a price out of the slavery in which he is held ; so a ransom 
has to be paid for him. 2 

Again, corresponding to the notion of sin as a debt, there is 

1 The words /caraXXc^??, KaraXXcWaj in this sense are peculiarly Pauline (Rom. 
510. u ii 2 Cor. 5 18 - 19 - *>), and &voicaTa\\Aff<rcu> (Eph. 2 16 , Col. I 20 - 21 ), and it must 
be observed that the conception is of the world and man being reconciled to 
God (not God to man), just as it is always man who is represented as hostile 
to God and alienated from Him. The change of feeling has to take place on 
the side of man. The obstacle to union which must be removed is of his 
making. (But see Sanday and Headlam on Horn. 5 11 .) For the result as peace, 
see John 14 27 , Rom. 5 1 , Eph. 2 14 - 17 , Col. 3 1& ; as union with God or life in Christ, 
see esp. St John, e.g. John 3 1B - 16 20 31 , 1 John 5 11 - 12 ; of. Col. 3 3 - 4 , 2 Tim. I 1 , 
Rom. 5 10 , Heb. 10 20 . 

2 The chief words used to express this conception are ayopdfa,! Cor. 6 20 T 23 , 
Gal. 4 5 ; tfayop&fa, Gal. 3 13 ; XuT/>6w, Mrpwis, dTroXrfrptixris, Tit. 2 14 , 1 Pet. I 18 , 
Eph. I 7 , Col. I 14 , Rom. 3 24 , Heb. 9 12 - 15 ; and \trpov, avri\vrpov, Matt. 20 28 || Mark 
10 45 , 1 Tim. 2 6 . It is only in connexion with this metaphor that Christ is said to 
have acted instead of us (o.vrL\ and even here the phrase in 1 Tim. 2 6 is 
dvriXvrpov virtp TJ^UV. He paid a ransom instead of or in exchange for us. In 
all other cases his death or sufferings are described as for our sakes or on our behalf 
(virtp Ti/twi ), and more simply still as concerning us, or in the matter of sin or 
our sins (ire pi r^wy or irepl afj-aprias, irepi a/j.apTiwv ijfjkGjv). That is to say, it is the 
idea of representation rather than of substitution that is expressed. The conception 
is clearly stated in the words, if one died on behalf of all, then all died (2 Cor. 
5 20 ) ; that is, in Christ the representative of the race all die, and because they have 
died in him, all are made alive in him (cf. such passages as Rom. 6 3 11 ). And, 
again, it must be observed that it is not said to whom the ransom is paid. It is 
indeed only when what is simply a metaphor is pressed as though it were a formal 
definition that the question could well arise. One thing, however, in this respect, 
is clearly implied the person thus ransomed and freed from bondage belongs hence 
forward to his redeemer : it is only in him, by union with him, that he gets his 
freedom. See e.g. Rom. 6 15 -7 6 . 


the metaphor of satisfaction ; as though a creditor as satis 
fied by the payment of the debt, or the debt was remitted. This 
is the thought when death is styled the wages of sin, when men 
are declared to be debtors to keep the law ; when Christ is de 
scribed as being made sin for us and bearing our sins on the 
tree, and when reference is made to the perfect obedience of 
his life. 1 Yet ^ again there is the conception, derived from the 
ceremonial system of the old dispensation, of the life and death 
of Christ, pure and free from blemish, as a sacrifice and ex 
piation which cleanses from sin, as ceremonial impurities were 
removed by the offerings of animals of old. And so propitiation 
is made. 2 

A complete theory of the atonement must, it is clear, take 
account of all these aspects of the work of Christ to which the 
various writers of the New Testament give expression. But it 
is not probable that all of them were present to the minds of 
each of the writers ; rather, it is probable that each approached 
the matter from a different point of view, and that none of them 
would have wished the account which he gives the metaphors 
which he uses to have been regarded as exclusive of the other 
accounts and metaphors which others adopted. 

The Christian theologians of later times in like manner put 
j forward now one and now another aspect of the mystery, only 
erring when they wished to represent some one particular aspect 
Jas a sufficient interpretation in itself, or when, going behind the 
earlier writers, they tried to define too closely what had been 
left uncertain. But the Church as a whole has never been com 
mitted to any theory of the atonement. The belief that the 
atonement has been effected, and the right relations between man 
and God restored and made possible for all men, in and through 
Christ, has been enough. 

1 Rom. 6 23 , Gal. 5 3 3 13 , 2 Cor. 5 21 , 1 Pet. 2 24 , Phil. 2 8 , Heb. 5 8 10 9 ; *A0e<ns, 
remission of sins, Matt. 26 28 , Luke 24 47 , Acts 2 38 ct saepc, Eph. I 7 , Col. 1" ; 
cf. Heb. 9 22 . 

2 This conception is expressed especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews and by St 
John. See Heb. 2 17 9 19 28 10 10 - 12 - 14 - 26 , and 1 John I 7 2 2 4 10 ; but cf. also Rom. 
3 25 , Eph. 5 2 . Here too it must be noticed that the idea of propitiating God (as one 
who is angry with a personal feeling against the offender) is foreign to the New 
Testament. Propitiation takes place in the matter of sin and of the sinner, altering 
the character of that which occasions alienation from God. See Westcott Epistles 
of St John, note on IXdcr/cecrflcu, iXaoytfo, iXavT-fipiov, p. 85. But see also Sunday and 
Headlam, I.e. supra. 


The Doctrine of the Church and of the Sacraments in the 
New Testament 

As to the means by which these true relations are to be 
realized and maintained by individuals throughout their life 
on earth, the teaching of Jesus and the practice of the first 
Christians, as recorded in the New Testament, is clear, though 
not detailed. 

Membership of the society which gathered round him in his 
lifetime upon earth was the first step to union with him. He 
that is not with me is against me. l All who were sincere in 
their acceptance of him and their faith in him must follow him, 2 
and thereby shew themselves his disciples. The realization of 
the kingdom was to be effected through the society which he 
founded. 3 And after his death, at any rate, admission to the 
society was to be by baptism, baptism into himself ; and the life 
of the society was to be sustained, and its sense of union with him 
kept fresh, by the spiritual food which the sacrament of his body 
and blood supplied. The Church is thus primarily the company 
or brotherhood of all who accepted Jesus as their Master and 
Lord, and shared a common life and rites of worship, recog- 

1 Matt. 12 s0 , Luke II 23 . The saying may have been intended only to give 
emphatic expression to the truth that in the contest between Christ and Satan no 
one can be neutral. The side of Christ must be resolutely taken. But the inter 
pretation which was apparently put upon the saying by those who recorded it, and 
by the Church from the first, was probably true for those days at all events. There 
might be here and there a secret adherent ; but, in the main, discipleship of Christ 
and membership of the society were bound to go together, though there might be 
some interval of time between the inward conviction and the outward act. This 
interpretation is not excluded by the other saying : He that is not against us (you), 
is for us (you) (Mark 9 40 , Luke 9 50 ), though that saying was elicited by an act which 
was based on the principle that one who did not join the society could not be really 
a follower of Jesus. The chief purpose of this saying is to teach the apostles the lesson 
of toleration. One who was ready in those early days to publicly invoke the name of 
Jesus was not far from the kingdom and should not be discouraged. The half disciple 
might bo won to full membership of the society. At least he should not be disowned. 

2 Note the frequency of this expression in the Gospels. 

3 The society was at first a society within the Jewish nation. On the process by 
which it outgrew its original limits, so far as it can be traced in the New Testament, 
see Hort The Christian Ecdesia. The kingdom was in one sense established when 
the first disciples left all and followed him ; but they had to be trained for their 
work of spreading the kingdom (see Latham Pastor Pastorum.), and it would not be 
realized till all nations of the world were made disciples (cf. the parables, Matt. 

! - 33 , and the commission, Matt. 28 19 ). That the Church and the kingdom of 
God are not convertible terms in the teaching of Jesus is certain. See further 
A. Robertson Regnum Dei p. 61 ff. 


nizing their common responsibility and obligations ; and this 
company or brotherhood was one and the same society or Church 
although existing in separate local organizations. There is no 
trace in the New Testament of any idea on the part of the first 
Christians that it was possible to be a member of the Church 
without being a member of one of these visible local societies, or 
to receive in any other way whatever benefits membership of the 
Church bestowed. 1 

This new society was to inherit the promises and succeed to 
all the privileges which had been granted to the special people 
of God the Church is the * Israel of God . The natural 
descendants of Isaac, the Israel after the flesh , having proved 
for the most part unworthy of the destiny assigned to them, 
their privileges do not pass to the faithful remnant only, but room 
is found for all who by their spiritual character are rightly to 
be regarded as the true children of promise. These are all 
grafted in to the ancient stock, and take the place of the 
branches which are pruned away. 2 

From another point of view the whole of this new Church is 
the body of Christ, he himself being its head, the centre of 
union of all the different members, which have their different 
functions to fulfil, the source of the life which animates each 
separate part and stimulates its growth and progress, the guiding 
and controlling force to which the whole body is subject. 3 From 
this point of view, what Christ, while he was on earth, did 
; through his human body, that he continues to do through the 
Church, which since his Ascension represents him in the world. 
It is his visible body : from him it draws its life and strength, 
and through it he acts. 

And, in particular, he acts through the two great rites which 
he appointed baptism and the breaking of the bread . Neither 
of these rites has any meaning apart from membership of the 
Church. Except by baptism no one could enter the Christian 
society ; 4 that no one could remain a member of it without par- 

1 If the idea finds any justification in such sayings of our Lord as He that is not 
against us is for us (Luke 9 50 , cf. Mark 9 40 ) ; Other sheep I have which are not of 
this fold (John 10 16 ), at all events there is no evidence that they were so under 
stood by his early followers. 

2 See Rom. 9 6 , 1 Cor. 10 18 , Gal. 6 16 , Rom. ll 16 24 . So 1 Pet. 2 9 - 10 . The titles of 
honour used of the people of God are applied to Christians. 

3 Eph. 4 11 - 16 5 22 - 32 (Col. I 18 - 24 2 19 ) ; cf. 1 Cor. 12 12 27 . 

4 Acts 2 41 , 1 Cor. 12 13 I 13 . 


taking in the one bread which was the outward mark of union 
and fellowship 1 seems certain. 2 

Baptism is thus primarily the rite by which admission to the 
Church, and to all the spiritual privileges which membership of 
the Church confers, is obtained. It is administered once for all. 3 
It must be preceded by repentance of sins, 4 and it effects at once 
union with Christ membership of his body and participation 
in his death and burial and resurrection. 6 It is thus the 
entrance into a new life, and so is styled a new birth, or a birth 
from above that is, a spiritual birth or regeneration . 6 As 
such it involves the washing away or remission of sins which 
had stained the former life, 7 a real purification, by which the 
obstacle to man s true relationship to God is removed and he 
occupies actually the position of sonship which had always been 
ideally his. 8 

In the New Testament itself forgiveness of sins is always 

1 1 Cor. 10 17 . It is because it is one bread of which all partake that the many 
are one body. 

2 Acts 2 42 - 4 , 1 Cor. 10 16 - 21 II 17 34 . 

3 It is clear from all that is said in the New Testament, and from the very nature 
of the rite as it is there represented, that repetition could never have been thought 
of in those days. It is perhaps to baptism that the strong assertion in Heb. 6 4 6 of 
the impossibility of renewing again unto repentance those that have been once 
enlightened refers. 

4 Acts 2 s8 8 36 . 5 Gal. S 27 ; cf. 1 Cor. 12 27 , Rom. 6 3 - 4 . 

6 John 3 s - 6 , Tit. 3 5 ; cf. 1 Pet. I 3 3 21 . 

7 1 Cor. 6", Acts 22 1C , Heb. 10 22 . So of the whole Church, Eph. 5 25 - 26 . 

8 This is implied in the phrases, born anew or from above , begotten of God , 
1 John 3 9 ; children of God , 1 John 3 1 ; sons of God , Rom. 8 14 , Gal. 3 26 - 27 . The 
term vlodfala, adoption as sons , is used (Rom. 8 14 16t ^ Gal. 4 5 ) in specially close con 
nexion with the action of the Spirit (more closely denned as the Spirit of God , or 
the Spirit of His Son ). So Tit. 3 5 , the laver of regeneration and renewing of the 
Holy Spirit . Whether the gift of the Holy Spirit was believed to be conveyed by 
baptism, or rather by the laying-on of hands as a subsequent rite, is not certain. 
The words of St Peter (Acts 2 38 ) appear to imply that the gift was a result of 
baptism. The narrative in Acts 8 14 17 clearly records two distinct rites, separated 
by some interval of time, the first, of baptism, unaccompanied by the gift of the 
Holy Spirit ; the second, of laying-on of hands , which conferred the gift : the first 
performed by Philip, the second by the Apostles. From the narrative in Acts 19 1 6 
a similar distinction is to be inferred, though the questions in verses 2 and 3 point to 
the closest connexion in time between the two rites. Cf. also 1 Cor. 12 13 . (See further 
A. J. Mason The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism, and note on Confirmation 
infra p. 390.) The gift of the Holy Spirit, though actually conferred by a subse 
quent symbolic rite, was naturally to be expected as an immediate sequence to the 
washing away of sins which the baptism proper effected. Similarly, the writer to the 
Hebrews includes among the elementary fundamental truths familiar to all Chris 
tians the doctrine of baptisms and of laying-on of hands , at once distinguishing 
and yet most closely connecting the two parts of one and the same rite (Heb. 6 2 ). 


[regarded as the accompaniment or result of baptism. It 
Iwas to obtain remission of sins that Peter on the day of 
Pentecost bade the multitude be baptized 1 every one of 
them (Acts 2 37 - ^) ; and Be baptized and wash away thy 
sins, calling upon the name of the Lord , was the counsel 
Ananias gave to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22 16 ). St Paul s own 
references in his Epistles to the effects of baptism shew the 
same conception (e.g. 1 Cor. 6 11 and Eph. 5 25 - 26 ), 2 and the 
allusion in the first Epistle of St Peter to its saving power is 
equally strong (1 Pet. 3 21 ). 

The fullest doctrine of baptism to be found in the writings 
of the apostles is given by St Paul (Kom. 6 3 ~ n ). It is above all 
else union with Christ that baptism effects in that union all 
else is included. Baptism into Christ Jesus is baptism into his 
death, and that involves real union with him. The believer in a 
true sense shares in the crucifixion and literally dies to sin, and 
in virtue of this true union he is buried with him and necessarily 
shares also in the resurrection the new life to God. It is 
through baptism, which he also elsewhere (Tit. 3 5 ) directly calls 
the bath of regeneration , that he reaches these results : and 

1 It is in the name of Jesus Christ that they are bidden to be baptized in this 
the first recorded instance of Christian baptism, and all later instances of baptisms 
in the New Testament are described as in or into the single name of Jesus (or Jesus 
Christ, or Christ) ; see Acts 8 18 19 5 10 48 , Gal. S 27 , Eom. 6 3 . It is possible that the 
baptism was actually so effected, in which case its validity (from the later stand 
point when baptism was required to be into the names of the Trinity) could be 
entirely defended on the ground that baptism into one of the persons is baptism 
into the Trinity (of. the doctrine of circumincessio). But in view of the Trinitarian 
formula given in Matt. 28 1<J (which it is difficult to believe represents merely a later 
traditional expansion of the words which were uttered by Christ) it is possible that 
the actual formula used in the baptism did recite the three names, and that the 
writer is not professing to give the formula but rather to shew that the persons in 
question were received into the society which recognized Jesus as Saviour and Lord 
and made allegiance to him the law of its life. The former view had the support of 
Ambrose, and the practice was justified by him as above (dc Spir. Sand, i 4), and 
probably by Cyprian in like manner (Ep. 73. 17, though he is cited for the latter 
view). See Lightfoot on 1 Cor. I 13 , and Plummer, Art. Baptism Hastings D.B. 

2 There is, however, no trace of any idea that baptized Christians could be 
preserved from future lapses without effort. Though St John could declare 
from the ideal standpoint that any one who was truly born again was, as such, 
unable to sin (1 John 3 9 ) ; though in aim and intention sin was impossible for any 
one who was in Christ : yet the constant moral and spiritual exhortations which 
the Apostles pressed upon the Churches, and such a confession as St Paul s, "the 
good which I would, I do not : but the evil which I would not, that I practise " 
(Rom. 7 19 ), serve to shew that the Apostles did not consider that the hope of 
forgiveness was exhausted in baptism (cf. Jas. 5 16 ). 


there is no kind of unreality about them death, burial, resur 
rection are all intensely real and practical. " As many of you 
as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ " (Gal. 3 26 - 27 ), and 
are become members of Christ (1 Cor. 6 15 ). 

The main points in this conception of St Paul were seized 
upon and utilized by subsequent writers on baptism, and became 
the text on which sermons to catechumens were preached. 1 
But it was still forgiveness of sins that was commonly regarded 
as the chief gift in baptism. 

St Paul s conception of baptism was probably as original as 
any other part of his teaching ; he applies to baptism his domi 
nant thought of being in Christ , a new creature in Christ : 
but from a slightly different point of view it is the same con 
ception which St John expounds in his account of the conversa 
tion of Jesus with Mcodemus, the main principle of which was 
also seized and expressed by St Peter. 

" Except a man be born from above (anew), he cannot see 
the kingdom of God. . . . Except a man be born of water and 
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That 
which is born of the flesh is flesh ; and that which is born of the 
Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be 
born from above." 2 Here St John reports his Master as explain 
ing the birth from above to be a birth of water and the Spirit, and 
it is clear that he understood it to mean a real change of inward 
being or life. Becoming a child of God and being begotten 
of God are other expressions which St John frequently uses of 
the same experience. 3 

It is a new relation to God into which the baptized person 
enters. Becoming one with Christ, he also becomes in his 
measure a son of God : one of those to whom he gave " the 
right to become children of God, even to them that believe on 
his name : which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the 
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God ". 4 

So too St Peter speaks of God as begetting us again (re 
generating us), 5 and of Christians as begotten again (regenerated), 
not from corruptible seed, but from incorruptible , c and seems to 

1 See e.g. Cyril of Jerusalem Cat. xx 4-7. Cyril particularly insists on the 
truth of each aspect of the rite, shewing how much more is involved in it than mere 
forgiveness of sins. 

2 John 3 3 - 5 . 3 E.g. I John 3 1 5 2 3 9 . 4 John I 12 - . 
5 1 Pet. I 3 . 6 1 Pet. I 23 . 


have St Paul s teaching to the Eomans in mind when he brings 
baptism and its effects into immediate connexion with the death 
of Christ in the flesh and the new life in the spirit. 1 

Seen then from slightly different points of view, but all 
consistent with each other, baptism is regarded by the writers 
of the New Testament as the manner of entrance into the Church, 
and so into the kingdom of God ; or as conferring a new spiritual 
life and a closer relationship to God, as of a child to a father ; or 
as effecting once for all union with Christ and all that such 
union has to give. 

In like manner, as baptism, administered once for all, admits 
to union with Christ, and thus to membership of the Church, 
which is the body of Christ, so the Eucharist maintains the 
union of the members with Christ and with one another. Union 
j with Christ necessarily involves the union with one another in 
him of all who are united with him, and it is as ensuring 
union with Christ that the Eucharist is treated in the only 
passages in the New Testament in which anything like a doctrine 
of the Eucharist is expressed. 

In the first of these, the earliest in time of composition, 
St Paul is writing to the Corinthians, and trying to lay down 
principles by which to determine the difficult position of their 
relation to pagan clubs and social customs connected (directly or 
indirectly) with the recognition of the pagan gods (Saipovia, 
deities or demons). The reference to the Lord s Supper is 
introduced incidentally to illustrate the question under dis 
cussion. It is intended to point, by contrast, the real nature 
and effect of participation in a ritual meal of which the 
pagan god is the religious centre. It is impossible, the writer 
argues, to separate the meal from the god. Christians know 
quite well, he assumes, the significance of the Christian meal. 
What is true of it and its effect is true mutatis mutandis of the 
pagan meal. 2 

MPet. 3 18ff -. 

2 It is clear that the Christian rite assumed to he understood in this way is the 
starting-point of St Paul s argument. But he might equally well, if his argument 
had so required, have reasoned from the pagan rite to the Christian ; for recent 
studies have proved that the fundamental idea of sacrifice was that of communion 
between the god and his worshippers through the medium of the victim which was 
slain. Through participation in the flesh and blood of the victim a real union was 
effected between them, and so the divine life was communicated to the worshipper 
who offered the sacrifice. See especially Robertson Smith Religion of tlic Semites, 
and Art. Sacrifice in Encyl. Brit. 


In this connexion, accordingly, he describes the nature of 

the Christian rite l to which, in recording its institution, he gives 

the name the Lord s Supper . 2 He insists that in it there is 

effected fellowship with the blood of Christ and with the body of 

Christ. 3 It is one bread which is broken, and therefore all who 

partake of it are one body. And so, in like manner, to eat of 

the things sacrificed to demons, to drink their cup and to partake 

of their table, is to become fellows (to enter into fellowship) with 

them. Such fellowship at one and the same time with demons 

and with the Lord is impossible. The two things are incom- 

ipatible union with demons and union with the Lord. This 

Ithen is the main thought : the Lord s Supper means and effects 

(the union with the Lord of those who partake in it. And it is 

in this sense that St Paul must be supposed to have under- 

stood the phrases used immediately afterwards in regard to the 

institution 4 * This is my body which is (given) for your sakes , 

and This cup is the new covenant in my blood . To eat of 

jthe bread and to drink the cup is to be incorporated with 

Christ. But though the act is thus so intimate and individual, 

jit is also at the same time general and social. There is involved 

, in it a binding together of the brotherhood of Christians one with 

^another. In virtue of their sharing together in the one bread 

!they are themselves one body. " Because it is one bread, we, who 

are many, are one body." 5 

Another aspect of the rite as it presented itself to St Paul 6 

1 1 Cor. 10 1Gff . 2 lCor. H 20ff . 

3 "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not fellowship with the blood of 
Christ ? The bread which we break, is it not fellowship with the body of Christ ? 
Because it is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one 
bread" (1 Cor. 10 16 - 17 ). 

4 1 Cor. ll 23 *. 

6 1 Cor. 10 17 . This conception, which understands by the body not only Christ 
himself (and so a personal union with him), but also the society of Christians (and 
so membership of the Church), is easily detected in later times. Cf. Didache ix 4, 
Bp. Sarapion s Prayer-Book, p. 62, S.P.C.K. ed. ; Cyprian E#. 73. 13 ; Aug. Trad, 
in Joann. xxv 13 in all of which passages the unity of the Church with its many 
members is associated with the idea of the loaf formed out of the many scattered 
grains of wheat collected into one. 

6 This conception of the Eucharist as a perpetual memorial, expressly ordained by 
Christ himself as a rite to be observed by his followers till his coming again, is 
only found in St Paul and, as an early addition to the original account of the 
institution (possibly made by the author himself in a second edition of his work), in 
the Gospel of St Luke. It is not necessary here to attempt to determine whether 
this conception was introduced by St Paul. We need only note that it certainly 
was St Paul s conception : that he claims for it the express authority of Christ s own 


is shewn by the words, " Do this as a memorial of me ", and " As 
often as ye eat this bread and drink the cup, ye proclaim the 
/death of the Lord ". It had not only union with Christ as its 
effect, but also the perpetuation of the memory of his death 
according to his own command. It was to be a memorial of 
him and of all that his death signified the broken body and 
the shed blood ; and it was to continue till his coming again. 
Such a commemoration was in its very nature also an act of 
thanksgiving, and thanksgiving was always an essential part of 
the rite. 1 And if this memorial was to be observed with fitting 
dignity and solemnity, there was needed due preparation on the 
part of those who made the commemoration. They must be 
morally and spiritually worthy. So in this "respect a subjective 
element in the rite must be observed. 2 

From yet another point of view, the incidental reference to 
the Manna and the Water from the Eock as spiritual food and 
spiritual drink (the Eock being interpreted as Christ), 3 shew that 
St Paul also thought of the bread and the wine (the body and 
the blood) as the means by which the spiritual life of those who 
^partook of them was nourished and sustained. 

It is this latter thought that is dominant in the only other 
passage in the New Testament which treats at any length of the 
doctrine of the Eucharist St John s account of the discourse of 
Christ on the Bread of Life. 4 The doctrine is worked out step 
by step. The Lord is represented as beginning with the reproof 
of the people for the worldly expectations which the feeding of 
the five thousand had aroused in them, and then (as saying after 
saying causes deeper dissatisfaction and bewilderment in the 

words delivered to him ; and that there is no trace of any opposition to the practice 
as indicated by St Paul s instructions to the Corinthian Christians, but on the con 
trary that all the evidence supports the assertion that Christ himself ordained the 
observance and that the idea of commemoration was present from the first. On the 
other hand, there is no evidence till later times that the words els TTJV t^v dvd/u,vr)<ni> 
were understood to mean a sacrificial memorial (e.g. Eusebius Demonstr. I. 13 
seems to conceive it so). 

1 All the accounts of the institution give prominence to this aspect, and the early 
prevalence of the word (^ evxapiffTla) as the name for the whole service shews how 
it was regarded. 

2 Cf. 1 Cor. H 27ff . 8 lCor. 10 1 5 . 

4 John 6 2(5ff . Whatever opinion be held as to the time when the rite was instituted, 
and as to the freedom which the author of this Gospel permitted himself in interpret 
ing the teaching which he apparently professes simply to record, it cannot well be 
doubted that when he wrote this account he had the Lord s Supper in mind, and 
that it expresses his doctrine about it. 


minds of some) giving stronger and stronger expression to the 
doctrine, till many of his disciples were even driven away by 
the hardness of the saying. 

First of all there is only the contrast between the ordinary 
bread, their daily food, and the food which he, the Son of man, 
will give. The earthly food has no permanence, it perishes ; 
the other is constant and continuous, and reaches on into life 

Then, in reply to the demand for faith in him, they ask for 
a sign, and hint that greater things than he has done were done 
for their fathers of old : he has only given them ordinary bread, 
but Moses gave manna, bread from heaven. He declares that 
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven, but that his 
Father gives the real bread from heaven, and that he himself is 
the bread of God (or the bread of life) which comes down from 
heaven and gives life to the world, hunger and thirst are 
done away with for ever for all who come to him and believe 
on him. 

I am the bread which came down from heaven this the 
Jews find hard to understand, and against their murmuring the 
doctrine proceeds a step further in expression. The bread of 
life gives life eternal. Those that ate of the manna died in the 
desert all the same, but he that eateth of the living bread 
which came down from heaven shall not die but shall live 
for ever. And the bread which shall be given is the flesh of 
the speaker. 

How can he give us his flesh to eat ? The objection which 
is urged leads on to much more emphatic assertions. Not only 
does he who eats this bread have life eternal, but it is the only 
way by which true life at all can be obtained. And now the 
reporter records the words which shew beyond all question that 
he has the Eucharist in mind. The Christian must both eat the 
flesh and drink the blood of Christ ( Unless ye eat the flesh of 
the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in your 
selves ), that is the only food (the only eating and drinking) 
on which reliance can be placed. It is the only sustenance 

And then the discourse carries the doctrine a stage further 
on, and as it were explains the inmost significance of the rite. 
It establishes union between the Christian and Christ. By its 
means the Christian becomes one with Christ and Christ one 


with him ; and because of this union he will receive life just as 
Christ himself has life because of his union with the Father. 
It is Christ himself who is eaten, so he himself is received, and 
with him the life which is his. 1 

The comments which follow serve to complete the doctrine 
by precluding any material interpretation of the realistic lan 
guage in which it is expressed. It is a real eating and drinking 
of the body and the blood of Christ, and a real union with him, 
and a real life that is obtained. But it is all spiritual. " The 
Spirit is that which maketh alive (or giveth life), the flesh doth 
not profit aught." 2 

The conception of the Eucharist as a sacrifice is not pro 
minent in these early accounts, but the sacrificial aspect of the 
rite is sufficiently suggested. As the death of Christ was a 
sacrifice, to proclaim the death of the Lord is to proclaim the 
sacrifice, or, in other words, to acknowledge it before men and 
to plead it before God. It was on behalf of others that the 
body was given to be broken and the blood was poured out, and 
through the use of these words the Eucharist is unmistakeably 

1 "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him. 
Even as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so he that 
eateth me shall himself too live because of me." It is not easy to determine what is 
;the exact significance of the phrase the flesh and blood , but it seems that the 
manhood of Christ must be meant. The words eat the flesh of Christ must 
mean something more than have faith in him. "This spiritual eating, this 
(feeding upon Christ, is the best result of faith, the highest energy of faith, but it is 

not faith itself. To eat is to take that into ourselves which we can assimilate as the 
support of life. The phrase to eat the flesh of Christ expresses therefore, as 
perhaps no other language could express, the great truth that Christians are made 
partakers of the human nature of their Lord, which is united in one person to the 
divine nature ; that he imparts to us now, and that we can receive into our man 
hood, something of his manhood, which may be the seed, so to speak, of the 
glorified bodies in which we shall hereafter behold him. Faith, if I may so express 
it, in its more general sense, leaves us outside Christ trusting in him ; but the 
crowning act of faith incorporates us in Christ." Westcott Revelation of the Father 
p. 40. Cf. Gore The Body of Christ p. 24: "He plainly means them to under 
stand that, in some sense, his manhood is to be imparted to those who believe in 
Him, and fed upon as a principle of new and eternal life. There is to be an 
influence in the original sense of the word an inflowing of his manhood into 
ours." And he goes on to note that " it is only because of the vital unity in which 
the manhood stands with the divine nature that it can be spirit and life . It is 
the humanity of nothing less than the divine person which is to be, in some sense, 
communicated to us ". 

2 On the patristic interpretation of this saying (sometimes as explaining, some 
times as explaining away, the previous discourse), see Gore Dissertations p. 303 ff. 


the memorial of a sacrifice. 1 It is, however, only in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews that this conception is clearly implied, the 
sacrament on earth being the analogue of the perpetual inter 
cession offered by the High Priest on high. 

The later statements of the doctrine during the four follow 
ing centuries are for the most part, as will be seen, merely 
amplifications and restatements of the various aspects to which 
expression is given in the New Testament itself. 

1 Besides the four accounts of the institution, cf. Heb. 13 10 . The words TOVTO 
Troieire naturally would have the meaning perform this action , though the sacri 
ficial significance of Troielv may possibly have been intended (viz. offer this ). 
But in any case, as is shewn above, the action to be performed is a commemoration 
of a sacrifice. [Voiet? is certainly used frequently in the LXX as the translation of 
asah in a sacrificial sense, but the meaning is determined by the context, and 
there is no certain instance of this use in the New Testament. Justin (Dial. 
c. Tryph. 41, 70) is apparently the only early Christian writer who recognizes this 
meaning in connexion with the institution of the Eucharist. ] 



WE have had occasion to speak of the growth or developement of 
doctrine. Exception is sometimes taken to the phrase, and the 
changes which have taken place have often been regarded as in 
need of justification. It is felt that a divine revelation must 
have been complete and have contained all doctrines that were 
true and necessary; yet it is undeniable that changes of momentous 
importance in the expression of their faith have been made by 
Christians and the Church. How are the differences between 
the earlier and the later doctrines to be explained ? 

To this question various answers have been given. Some 
have been unable to see in the later developements anything but 
what was bad corruption of primitive truth and degeneration 
from a purer type. The simplicity of scriptural teaching has 
been, it is argued, from the apostolic age onwards, ever more and 
:inore contaminated. Men were not content with the divine 
.! revelation and sought to improve upon it by all kinds of human 
additions and superstitions. Above all, the Church and the 
priests, the guardians of the revelation, perverted it in every way 
they could to serve their own selfish interests, and so was built 
up the great system of ecclesiastical doctrines and ordinances 
under which the simplicity and purity of apostolic Christianity 
was altogether obscured and lost. Such a view as this was held 
and urged by the English Deists of the eighteenth century, when 
the wave of rationalism first began to sweep over the liberated 
thought of England. It is the dominant idea of a large part of 
Matthew Tindal s Christianity as Old as the Creation, and still 
inspires some of the less-educated attacks upon the Church. 
But for the present purpose this notion of universal apostasy 
may be dismissed. 1 

1 It must, however, be said that it is practically the same pessimistic estimate 
of the course of the history of doctrine that underlies Harnack s great work on the 
subject. At all events, during the period with which we have to deal he does not 
, 33 


More consideration must be given to another explanation 
which was accepted at the Council of Trent, and is therefore still 
the authoritative answer to the question given by the Church of 
Eome. It affirms that there are two sources of divine know 
ledge : one, Holy Scripture ; and the other, traditions handed 
down from the Apostles, to whom they had been dictated, as it 
were, orally by Christ or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in 
the Catholic Church by unbroken succession since. According 
to this theory, the later doctrines were later only in the sense 
that they were published later than the others, having been 
secretly taught and handed down from the first in the inner 
circle of bishops, and made known to the Church at large when 
the need for further teaching arose. This is the theory of 
Secret Tradition or disciplines arcani, the latter term being one 
of post-Eeformation controversy, which was applied to designate 
several modes of procedure in teaching the Christian faith. 
Between these modes we must discriminate, if we are to decide 
whether we have or have not in this practice the source of the 
developement of doctrine. In the first place it is obvious that 
some reserve would be practised by teachers in dealing with 
those who were young in the faith or in years. For babes there 
is milk ; solid food is for adults. 1 Spiritual hearers and carnal 
hearers need different teaching. 2 Wisdom can only be spoken 
among the full-grown. 3 Knowledge must always be imparted 
by degrees, and methods must be adapted to the capacity of 
pupils. This is a simple educational expedient which was of 

recognize (unless perhaps in the case of St Paul) any progressive developement of 
Christian truth, but rather a progressive veiling and corruption of the original 
Gospel through the spreading of Greek and other pagan influences in the Church. 
The disease, which he styles acute Hellenization or secularizing of the faith, 
wrought (he considers) deadly mischief, and obscured or even destroyed the original 
character and contents of early Christianity. It cannot, however, be claimed that 
any clear statement of the real constituents of this pure and uncorrupted early 
Christianity is given in the History of Doctrine, and till they are certainly deter 
mined without question we are left with no criterion by which to distinguish the 
later changes and accretions from the original teaching. This being so, we may 
adopt the words of a distinguished critic, who wrote that "where a definite con 
ception, based on history, of the nature of Christianity is so wholly wanting, the 
question as to whether individual phenomena are truly Christian or a degeneration, 
corruption, and secularization of true Christianity, can only be answered according to 
personal taste" (Otto Pfleiderer Developement of Theology p. 299). Such a view 
remains subjective and defies scientific treatment. (We can now, however, refer to 
What is Christianity ?} 

1 Heb. 5 12 14 . 2 1 Cor. 3 1 . 3 1 Cor. 2 8 . 


course always employed by Christian teachers. The deeper 
truths were not explained at first ; catechumens were not taught 
the actual words of the Creed till baptism, and were not allowed 
to be present at the celebration of the Eucharist. The spiritual 
interpretation of the highest rites was not laid bare to them. 1 
And the reticence observed toward catechumens was of course 
extended to all unbelievers. That which is holy must not be 
cast to dogs ; pearls must not be thrown before swine. The 
mysteries of the faith must not be proclaimed indiscriminately 
or all at once to the uninitiated. Christian teachers had ever 
before them the parabolic method of their Lord. Eather than 
risk occasion of profanity by admitting catechumens or unbelievers 
to knowledge for which they were not prepared, they would 
incur the suspicion which was certain to fall upon a secret 
society with secret religious rites. But such a disciplina arcani 
as this could not be a source of fresh doctrines, even if it could 
be traced back to apostolic times. It was always a temporary 
educational device, not employed in relation to the initiated, 
the faithful themselves, and always designed to lead up to 
fuller knowledge to a plain statement of the whole truth as 
soon as the convert had reached the right stage. Of any 
reserve or oeconomy of the truth among Christians, one with 
another, there is no trace : still less is any distinction between 
the bishops and others in such respects to be found. 2 The 
nearest approach to anything of the kind which we have is 
to be seen in the higher knowledge to which some early 
Christian philosophers laid claim. It was said that Jesus had 
made distinctions, and had not revealed to the many the 
things which he knew were only adapted to the capacity of 
the few, who alone were able to receive them and be conformed 
to them. The mysteries (ra air op far a) of the faith could not 
be committed to writing, but must be orally preserved. So 
Clement of Alexandria 3 believed that Christ on his resurrection 
had handed down the knowledge to James the Just, and John 

1 The earliest reference to such reticence is perhaps Tertullian s omnibus 
mysteriis silentii fides adhibetur " (Apol. 7) ; and his complaint that heretic^ threw 
open everything at once (de Praescr. 41). With regard to the secrecy of the Creed, 
see Cyprian Testim. in 50, Sozomen H.E. i 20, Augustine Serm. 212. 

2 See Additional Note olKovo^lo. infra p. 39. 

3 See the passage from the Hypotyposcis bk. vii (not extant) quoted in Eusebius 
Ecd. Hist, ii 1. Cf. Strom, i 1, vi 7 ad fin. ; of. Strom, v 10 ad fin. on Rom. 
15 2 - 26 - 29 and 1 Cor. 2 6 - 7 ; and i 12 on Matt. 7 6 , 1 Cor. 2 14 . 


and Peter, and they to the other apostles, and they in turn to 
the Seventy. Of that sacred stream of secret unwritten know 
ledge or wisdom he had been permitted to drink. But this 
knowledge of Clement was clearly not a distinct inner system 
of doctrine differing in contents from that which was taught to 
the many ; it was rather a different mode of apprehending the 
same truths from a more intellectual and spiritual standpoint 
an esoteric theology concerned with a mystic exposition, a philo 
sophical view of the popular faith. 1 There is no reason to 
suppose that it was more than a local growth at Alexandria, 
the home of the philosophy of religion, or that it was the source 
of later developements of doctrine. 

A third explanation removes the chief difficulty in the way of 
the apologist, by recognizing the progressive character of revela 
tion. The theory of developement which Cardinal Newman 
worked out is not concerned to claim finality for the doctrines 
of the apostolic age. In effect it asserts that under the con 
tinuous control of a divine power, acting through a super 
natural organization the Church, the Bishops, the Pope, there 
has been a perpetual revelation of new doctrines. 2 Under divine 
guidance the Church was enabled to reject false theories and ex 
planations (heresy), and to evolve and confirm as established truth 
all the fresh teaching which the fresh needs of the ages required. 

By this explanation those to whom the theory of perpetual 
revelations of new doctrines seems to accord but ill with the 
facts of the case, may be helped to a more satisfactory answer 
to the question. It is not new doctrines to which Christians 
are bidden to look forward, but new and growing apprehension 
of doctrine : not new revelations, but new power to understand 
the revelation once and finally made. The revelation is Christ 
himself: we approximate more nearly to full understanding of 
him, and to the expression of that fuller understanding. Such 
expression must vary, must be relative to the age, to the general 
state of knowledge of the time, to individual circumstances and 
needs. It is impossible to " believe what others believed under 
different circumstances by simply taking their words ; if we are 
to hold their faith, we must interpret it in our own language ". 3 

1 See Strom, vi 15. 

2 See the essay on the Developement of Christian Doctrine, 1845. Cf., howevrr, 
C. Gore Bampton Lectures p. 253. 

3 Westcott Contemp. Review July 1868. 


It is quite possible for the same theological language to be at 
one time accepted and at another rejected by the Church, 
according to the sense in which it is understood. The develope- 
ment of doctrines, the restatement of doctrine, thus understood, 
is only an inevitable result of the progress of knowledge, of 
spiritual and moral experience. It might well be deemed a 
necessary indication of a healthy faith, adapting itself to the 
needs of each new age, so that if such a symptom were absent 
we might suspect disease, stagnation, and decay. If Christian 
doctrines are, as is maintained, formulated statements designed 
to describe the Person and Work of Christ in relation to God 
and Man and the World, they are interpretations of great facts 
of life. Nothing can alter those facts. It is only the mode in 
which they are expressed that varies. " It can never be said 
that the interpretation of the Gospel is final. For while it is 
absolute in its essence, so that nothing can be added to the 
j revelation which it includes, it is relative so far as the human 
apprehension of it at any time is concerned. The facts are 
unchangeable, but the interpretation of the facts is progres 
sive. . . . There cannot be ... any new revelation. All that 
we can need or know lies in the Incarnation. But the meaning 
of that revelation which has been made once for all can itself 
be revealed with greater completeness." l Certainly the student 
of the history of Christian doctrines cannot discourage the 
attempt to re-state the facts in the light of a larger accumu 
lation of experience of their workings. It is to such attempts 
that he owes the rich body of doctrine which is the Christian s 
heritage, and he at least will remember the condemnation 
passed on the Pharisees who resisted all reform or developement 
of the routine of faith and practice into which they had sunk. 
Their fathers had stoned the prophets the men who dared to 
give new interpretations and to point to new developements ; but 
what was then original and new had in a later age become con 
ventional and old, and the same hatred and distrust of a new 
developement, which prompted their fathers to kill the innovators, 
led their children to laud them and to build their sepulchres. 2 

As a matter of fact, we can see that such developements 
have been due to many external causes, varying circumstances 

1 Westcott Gospel of Life preface p. xxiii. The revelation is in this sense 
continuous, present, and progressive. 

2 See JEcce Homo ch. xxi. 


and conditions of personal life. Different nationalities, owing to 
their different antecedents, apprehend very differently. The con 
ception that as Christ came to save all men through himself, 
so he passed through all the stages of human growth, sancti 
fying each in turn, was familiar in early days, 1 and doctrine 
must correspond to the intellectual and moral and spiritual 
growth of man. To the expression of doctrine every race in 
turn makes its characteristic contribution, not to the contents 
of the Eevelation but to the interpretation and expression of 
its significance. The influence of Hebrew, Greek, and Eoman 
modes of thought and of expression is obvious during the early 
centuries with which we are concerned. It is indeed so obvious, 
for example, that it was from Greek thought that the Church 
borrowed much of the terminology in which in the fourth 
century she expressed her Creed, that some have been led to 
imagine she borrowed from Greek philosophy too the substance 
of her teaching. In disregard of the highly metaphysical 
teaching of St John and St Paul, and of the mystical concep 
tions underlying the records of the sayings of Christ himself, 
it is argued that the Sermon on the Mount is the sum and 
substance of genuine Christianity ; that Christianity began as a 
moral and spiritual way of life with the promulgation of a 
new law of conduct ; and that it was simply under Hellenic 
influences, and by incorporating the terms and ideas of late 
Hellenic philosophy, that it developed its theology. An ethical 
sermon stands in the forefront of the teaching of Jesus Christ : 
a metaphysical creed in the forefront of the Christianity of the 
fourth century. 2 What has been said already of doctrines and 
their developement of the finality of the revelation in Christ 
and of the gradual process by which expression is found for the 
true interpretation of it recognizes the element of truth con 
tained in these over-statements. 3 They seem to involve a con- 

1 Irenaeus ii 33. 2 (ed. Harvey vol. i p. 330). 

2 See Hatch Hibbert Lectures, and Gore Hampton Lectures iv. Cf. also 
Lightfoot Epistle to the Colossians p. 125. 

5 It has been truly said that with the Incarnation of the Redeemer and the 
introduction of Christianity into the world the materials of the history of doctrines 
are already fully given in germ. The object of all further doctrinal statements 
and definitions is, from the positive point of view, to unfold this germ ; from the 
negative, to guard it against all foreign additions and influences. This twofold 
object must be kept in view. The spirit of Christianity had to work through the 
forms which it found, attaching itself to what was already in existence and 
appropriating prevalent modes of expression. Christ did not come to destroy but 


fusion between conduct and the principles on which it is based ; 
between the practical endeavour to realise in feeling and in act 
that harmony between ourselves, creation, and God, which is the 
end in view of all religion, and the intellectual endeavour to 
explain and interpret human life so as to frame a system of 
knowledge. It is with the early attempts to frame this system 
of knowledge that the student of Christian doctrines has to 
deal. They all rested primarily on the interpretations which 
were given by the first generation of Christians of the life and 
teaching and work of Christ. 

otWo/u a RESERVE 

Such an economy or { accommodation of the truth as is described 
above is evidently legitimate and educationally necessary. 1 We must 
note, however, that among some leaders of Christian thought, through 
attempts at rationalising Christianity to meet the pagan philosophers 
and at allegorising interpretations of difficulties, the principle was some 
times extended in more questionable ways. In controversy with 
opponents the truth might be stated in terms as acceptable as possible 
to them. It would always be right to point out as fully as possible how 
much of the truth was already implied, if not expressed, in the faith 
and religious opinions which were being combated. It would be right 
to shew that the new truth included all that was true in the old, and 
to state it as much as possible in the familiar phraseology : such 
argumenta ad liominem might be the truest and surest ways of en 
lightening an opponent. But phrases of some of the Alexandrian 
Fathers are cited which sound like undue extensions of such fair 
economy . Clement declared (Strom, vii 9) that the true Gnostic 
1 bears on his tongue whatever he has in his mind , but only to those 
who are worthy to hear , and adds that ( he both thinks and speaks the 
truth, unless at any time medicinally, as a physician dealing with those 
that are ill, for the safety of the sick he will lie or tell an untruth as 
the Sophists say (OUTTOTC i/ftvSerai KO.V \J/v8o$ Xey]^. And Origen is 
quoted by Jerome (adv. Rufin. Apol. i 18 ; Migne P.L. xxiii p. 412) 
as enjoining on any one who is forced by circumstances to lie the need 

to fulfil. All are God s revelations TroXv/^pws /ecu 7roAi;rp67rws God spoke of old. 
The Son in whom He spoke to us in these latter days He made heir of all the partial 
and manifold revelations. The student of Christian doctrines has to study the 
process by which the inheritance was slowly assumed, and the riches of the Gentiles 
claimed for his service. 

1 See Newman Arians i 3, and his Apologia. See also his essay on Dcvelopcmcnt 
of Christian Doctrine. 


of care to observe the rules of the art, and only use the lie as a 
condiment and medicine. To no one else can it be permitted. So his 
pupil, Gregory of Neo-Caesarea, used language about the Trinity con 
fessedly erroneous, 1 and was defended by Basil (Ep. 210. 5 ; Migne 
P.G. xxxii p. 776) on the ground that he was not speaking 
Soy^ariKojs but dyawcmKws (controversially), that is, not teaching 
doctrine but arguing with an unbeliever; so that he was right to 
concede some things to the feelings of his opponent in order to win 
him over to the most important points. 2 And Jerome himself claimed 
to write in this manner yvjuvaori/cojs, and cited in support of the practice 
numbers of Greek and Latin Christian writers before him, and even the 
high authority of St Paul himself (Ep. 48. 13 ; Migne P.L. xxii p. 502). 
So Gregory of Nazianzus, in defence and in praise of Basil (see Ep. 58 ; 
cf. Orat. 43), insisted that true teaching wisdom required that the 
doctrine of the Spirit should be brought forward cautiously and gradu 
ally, and that he should not be described as God except in the presence 
of those who were well disposed to the doctrine. (See further Harnack 
DG. Eng. tr. vol. iv p. 116.) 

Such expressions as these might easily lead to a perversion of the 
true paedagogic reticence. Yet language is, in any case, so inadequate 
to express the deepest thought and feeling on such questions, that it 
may well seem that if the true idea is secured it matters little in what 
precise language it is clothed. It is impossible to be certain that a 
particular term will convey the same idea to different people. The 
thing that matters is the idea. You want to convey your idea to your 
opponent you may have to express it in his language. The limit would 
seem to be set only when feeling the ideas to be different you so 
express them as to make them seem the same. When reserve, economy, 
accommodation, gets beyond that limit, then and not till then does it 
become dangerous and dishonest. (See D.C.A. Art. "Disciplina 

1 When he said Father and Son were- two frivoly, but one vTroardcrei (but really 

ris was then equivalent to ovvta). 

2 Cf. also Basil de Spir. Sancto 66 on the value of the secret unwritten tradition. 
See Swete Doctrine of the Holy Spirit p. 64, and C. F. H. Johnstone The Book of 
St Basil on the Holy Spirit. On Reserve as taught by the later casuists see Scavini 
Theolog. Mor. ii 23, Pascal Letters, and Jeremy Taylor Dilator Dubit. iii 2 (Jackson 
1 Basil N. and P.-N. Fathers vol. vii). 



THE original source of all Christian doctrines is Christ himself, 
in his human life on earth. The interpretations of him which 
were given by the apostles and earliest disciples are the earliest 
Christian doctrines. They were conscious that they had this 
work of interpretation of Christ to the world committed to 
them, and they believed they might look for the help of the 
Spirit which he had promised to send the Spirit of truth to 
guide them to the fulness of the truth. 1 Under his guiding 
inspiration many things would grow clear as the human power 
of apprehension expanded, as their experience was enlarged : 
when their capacity grew greater they would understand the 
things of which their Master had told them he had many to 
say to them, but they could not bear them yet. 2 For this 
function of witnesses and spokesmen true prophets of Christ 
they would be more and more fitted by a living inspiration 
coming from him a spiritual illumination and elevation which 
would intensify their natural powers and quicken their innate 
latent capacity into life and activity. Such was the earliest 
idea of Christian inspiration. It shewed itself in the earliest 
apostolic teaching, the oral record of which became at once the 
tradition to which appeal was made. To this tradition, which 
naturally dealt both with doctrine and with practice, St Paul 
referred his converts in one of his earliest and in one of his 
latest Epistles. Hold fast the traditions which ye were taught 3 
he bids the Thessalonians, the tradition which ye received from 
us ; 4 and again he urges Timothy to guard the deposit com 
mitted to him. 5 

By degrees this oral tradition was supplemented by the 

1 John 16 7 - 13 . 3 John 16 12 . 3 2 Thess. 2 18 . 

4 2 Thess. 3 R . 5 1 Tim. 6 20 . 



written tradition, so that already in his exhortation to the 
Thessalonians St Paul was able to place side by side on a level 
the traditions which they had heard from him, whether by word 
or by letter, his teaching when with them and what he had 
written since. But between the two traditions there was no 
sense of discord, and we shall search in vain for any suggestion 
that one possesses a greater measure of inspiration than the 
other. 1 The one and only source of the teaching was Christ ; 
from him the stream flows, Scripture and tradition are blended 
in one great luminous river of truth, and do not separate into 
divergent streams till later times. They were at first two forms 
of the same thing. Both together constitute the Tradition, the 
Canon or Kule of Faith. 2 

But that which is written has a permanent character which 
oral tradition lacks. It is less capable of correction if error 
or misunderstanding creep in. And as more and more of the 
would-be interpreters wrote their comments and expansions, and 
Christian literature of very various merit grew, and it became 
important to exclude erroneous interpretations, a distinction was 
made between the writings of apostles and those of a later age. 
By the sensus fidelium by the general feeling of believers 
rather than by any definite act a selection was gradually 
formed. In this process some have recognized a definite act 
of Inspiration, the inspiration of Selection . 3 The selection, 
representative of so many types of interpretation, thus slowly 
completed, was sanctioned by Councils, and the * Canon of 
Scripture (the Canon in a new sense) was formed. And so 
in this way Holy Scripture came to be stereotyped as a 
source of doctrine, and regarded as distinct from the interpreta 
tions of the Church of post-apostolic times, whether contained 
in oral or in written tradition, which henceforth constitute a 
separate source of doctrine. So " the testimonies of primitive 
and apostolic Christianity in collected form serve as an authori 
tative standard and present a barrier against the introduction of 

1 It might perhaps be inferred that in early times the oral tradition was regarded 
as more trustworthy than the written account. Cf. the Preface to the Gospel 
according to St Luke, and the Introduction to the work of Papias quoted by 
Eusebius H.E. iii 39. Cyprian apparently styles Scripture divinae traditionis 
caput et origo (Ep. 74.10), appealing to it as the ultimate criterion, but this conception 
is unusual. 

2 The same terms KO.V&V, regula (sc. fidei), 7ra/x5o<ris, traditio, are applied to both. 

3 See Liddon s Sermon before the University of Oxford with this title. 


all that was either of a heterogeneous nature or of more recent 
date which was trying to press into the Church " (Hagenbach). 

It is no part of our work to study the process by which 
inspired Scriptures became an inspired book, invested with all 
the authority conceded to the Jewish collection, our Old Testa 
ment, which had been at first pre-eminently the Bible of the 
Christians. But in order to understand the growth of doctrine 
we must trace a little in detail the manner in which the early 
teachers of the Church viewed the authority of the Scriptures, 
their conception of Inspiration, their method of Exegesis, the place 
assigned to Tradition therein. 

Inspiration of Scripture 

Of Inspiration a formal definition was never framed. We 
can only point to personal conceptions and individual points of 
view, conditioned by various influences and differences of country 
and education as well as of temperament. Two broad lines of 
influence may be distinguished, Jewish and Gentile. 

On the one hand there was the Jewish view of the verbal 
inspiration of their sacred writings, formed and fostered in 
connexion with the work of the scribes on the Law. After 
the Eeturn from the Exile and the establishment of Judaism on 
a new basis, the religious interest of the nation was enlisted in 
the work of microscopic investigation of the letter of the Law. 
The leaders of Judaism desired to regulate every detail of the 
life of the nation. Immense reverence for the Law stimulated 
the aim of securing its sanction on the minutest points and 
working them out to their utmost consequences. And so arose 
the system of exposition of the Law to make it apply to the 
purpose in view, till every letter contained a lesson. And side 
by side with this view of the written revelation, by a process 
the reverse of that which took place in regard to the Christian 
revelation, there grew up the idea of the inspiration of the oral 
tradition as well. The network of scribe-law the traditions 
of the scribes entirely oral was regarded as of equal authority 
with the written law. There even arose the notion of a disciplina 
} arcani going back to the time of Moses, who it was said had 
handed down a mass of oral traditions, which were thus referred 
to divine authority. 
I On the other hand was the Ethnic idea of divination (?; u,avTiicr)\ 


according to which the medium of the divine revelation, who was 
usually a woman, became the mechanical mouthpiece of the God, 
losing her own consciousness, so that she gave vent in agitated 
trance to the words she was inspired to utter. 1 Inspiration is 
thus an ecstatic condition, during which the natural powers of 
the individual who is inspired are suspended : it is an absolute 
possession which for the time holds the individuality of the 
prophetess entirely in abeyance . A typical instance of this 
kind of inspiration is described in the lines of Virgil 2 

Struggling in vain, impatient of her load, 
And lab ring underneath the pond rous God, 
The more she strove to shake him from her breast, 
With more and far superior force he press d ; 
Commands his entrance, and, without control, 
Usurps her organs, and inspires her soul. 

If in later times under Platonic or Neo-Platonic influence a less 
external conception grew up, it probably did not establish itself 
or spread beyond the circle of philosophic thought. 

The conception of Inspiration which was held by Christians 
was doubtless in some cases influenced by these Greek and 
Eoman ideas, but it was probably in the main an inheritance 
from Judaism. This is a natural inference from the fact that 
the Jewish Scriptures were the first Christian Bible, and that 
the idea of verbal inspiration was at first associated much more 
definitely with them, and only indirectly and by transference 
with the selected Christian literature. The early Christian 
idea was, as we have seen, rather of inspired men than of an 
inspired book ; though the transition is an easy one, as the 
writings of inspired men would naturally also be inspired. 
When we come to definite statements on the subject we find 
now the one and now the other influence strongest. 

In Philo 3 we might expect to find a transitional theory of 
inspiration, but he seems to combine the Jewish and the Ethnic 
views in their extremer forms. He applies the Ethnic conception 
of divination to the Hebrew prophets, and repeats with em 
bellishments the fable of the miraculous translation of the 
Hebrew Scriptures by the Seventy. Even the grammatical 
errors of the Septuagint he regarded as inspired and rich in 

1 See F. W. H. Myers "Greek Oracles" in Essays Classical. 

3 Aen. vi 77-80 Dryden. 

3 See William Lee Inspiration of Holy Scripture, Appendix F. 


capacity for allegorical interpretation a view of literal inspira 
tion with which can be compared only the assertion by the Council 
of Trent of the sanctity and canonicity of the books of the Old 
Testament and the New Testament and the Apocryphal writings, 
1 entire with all their parts as they are accustomed to be read in 
the Catholic Church and in the old Latin Vulgate edition . 
Philo s conceptions are shewn with equal clearness in his system 
of interpretation, examples of which will be cited in their place. 

To the Apostolic Fathers the Scriptures are the books of 
the Old Testament, though if there is a reference to a written 
Gospel it is introduced by the same formula as is used in the 
other citations. Barnabas makes explicit allusions to the 
different parts of the Old Testament ( the Lord saith in the 
Prophet or in the Law ), but it is clear that the whole 
collection is looked upon as one divinely inspired utterance 
the voice of the Lord or of the Holy Spirit. There is of course 
no sign of a New Testament of definite books and of equal author 
ity with the Old ; but the Apostolic Fathers do separate the 
writings of Apostles from their own and disclaim apostolic 
authority. 1 Thus Clement, in writing to the Corinthians, 2 
appeals to the Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle to them 
as authority alike for him and for them. It was in the 
Spirit that he had charged them against the sin of making 
parties, and Clement refers to his warnings as commanding the 
same attention which they would obviously give to the writings 
of the older * ministers of the grace of God . 

A passage in the Muratorian Fragment throws light on the 
current conceptions of the authority of the written Gospels 
about the middle of the second century. " Though various 
principal ideas (principia) are taught in the different books of 
the Gospels, it makes no difference to the faith of believers, 
since in all of them all things are declared by one principal 
(or sovereign) Spirit (uno ac principali spiritu) concerning the 
Nativity, the Passion, the Eesurrection, the manner of life (con- 
versatione) [of our Lord] with his disciples, and his double 
Advent, first in lowliness and humiliation which has taken place, 
and afterwards in glory and royal power which is to come." 

1 Cf. Westcott The Bible in the Church, p. 86. (The citations are all anonymous. 
Clement has it is written , the Scripture saith , the Holy Spirit saith ; Ignatius, 
it is written ; Polycarp, no formula. ) 

2 Cf. 47, 8. 


About the same time and later on we have some indications 
of the prevailing view of Inspiration in the writings of the 
Apologists and Irenaeus. 

To Justin, for example, Scripture is the word of God, given 
by GOD through the Word, or through the Spirit. It is the 
Spirit of God who is the author of the whole of the Old 
Testament the single author of one great drama with its 
many actors. The prophets were indeed inspired, but the 
words which they utter are not their own. We must not 
suppose, he says, "that the language proceeds from the men 
who are inspired, but from the Divine Word which moves 
them ".* It is to prophecy, to Scripture, that he makes his 
appeal : on the fulfilment of prophecy he relies for proof of 
the truth of the claims of Christ. 

In Athenagoras Athenian philosopher though he was, and 
perhaps connected with the school of Alexandria we find a 
description of the process of inspiration derived from purely 
pagan sources. The Spirit uses men as its instruments, playing 
upon them as a flute-player blows a flute. They are entranced 
and their natural powers suspended, and they simply utter under 
the influence of the Divine Spirit that which is wrought in 
them. 2 

Theophilus, however, recognises much more fully the quality 
of the human instrument. The inspired writers were not mere 
mechanical organs, but men who were fitted for their work by 
personal and moral excellence, and on account of their fitness 
were deemed worthy to be made the vehicles of the revelation 
of God and to receive the wisdom which comes from Him. 3 

Tertullian too lays stress on the character of the medium 
chosen. "From the very beginning God sent forth into the 
world men who by their justice and innocence were worthy 
to know God and to make Him known filled full of the 
Divine Spirit to enable them to proclaim that there is one 
only God ..." and so gave us a written testament that 
we might more fully know His will. 4 In the Scriptures 
we have the very * letters and * words of God. So much 
so indeed that, under the influence of Montanism, he 
argued that nothing could be safely permitted for which 
such a letter or word of God could not be cited in 

1 Apol. i 36 (cf. 33, and ii 10). 2 Legatio 9. 

3 Ad Autol. ii 9 (cf. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. iv 20). 4 Apol 18. 


evidence. The principle that nothing is required for salvation 
which cannot be proved by Scripture l was not enough for 
him : rather, Scripture denies that which it does not give 
instances of, and prohibits that which it does not expressly 
permit. 2 

To the Montanists the annihilation of all human elements 
was of the first importance. Prophecy must be ecstatic. Un- 
i consciousness on the part of the person through whom the 
Spirit spoke was of the essence of Inspiration. 

Irenaeus leaves us in no doubt about his view. The inspiration 
of the writers of the New Testament is plenary, and apparently 
regarded as different in degree from that of the prophets of 
old, whose writings though inspired were full of riddles and 
ambiguities to men before the coming of Christ: the accom 
plishment had to take place before their prophecies became 
intelligible. Those who live in the latter days are more 
happily placed. " To us ... [the apostles] by the will of 
God have handed down in the Scriptures the Gospel, to be the 
foundation and pillar of our faith. . . . For after our Lord 
rose again from the dead the Holy Spirit came down upon 
them, and they were invested with power from on high and 
fully equipped concerning all things, and had perfect capacity for 
knowledge " 3 . . . and so they were exempt from all falsehood 
(or mistake) the inspiration saving them from blunders even 
from the use of words that might mislead ; as when the Holy 
Spirit, foreseeing the corruptions of heretics, says by Matthew, 
the generation of Christ (using the title that marked the 
divinity), whereas Matthew might have written the generation 
of Jesus (using only the human name). 4 But this inspiration 
is not of such a character as to destroy the natural qualities of 
its recipients : each preserves his own individuality intact. 

To the end of the second century or to the beginning of the 
third probably belongs the anonymous Exhortation to the 
Greeks , which used to be attributed to Justin. 5 It contains 
the following significant description of the manner in which 
inspiration worked. " Not naturally nor by human thought 

1 Cf. Article vi. 2 De Monog. 4 ; de Cor. 2. 

3 See adv. Haercses iii 1 and 5 Harvey vol. ii pp. 2, 18. 

4 Ibid, iii 17 Harvey ii p. 83. 

8 Eusebius Hist. Eccl. iv 18 mentions two writings of Justin to the Greeks, but 
neither the extant Oratio ad Gentiles nor the Cohortatio which contains the above 
passage is believed to be the work of Justin. 


can men get to know such great and divine things, but by the 
gift which came down from above at that time (sc. under the 
Jewish dispensation) upon the holy men, who had no need of 
skill or art of words, nor of any debating and contentious 
speech. They only needed to present themselves in purity to 
the influence of the divine Spirit, so that the divine power by 
itself coming down from heaven, acting on those just men, as 
the bow acts on an instrument be it harp or lyre, might reveal 
to us the knowledge of divine and heavenly things. So it was 
that, as if with one mouth and tongue, they taught us in due 
gradation and concord one with another and that too though 
they imparted their divine teaching to us in different places and 
at different times concerning God and the creation of the world 
and the formation of man and the immortality of the human 
soul and the judgement which is to be after this life." Here 
it appears that moral fitness only is recognized as a necessary 
qualification for the medium of the revelation, and there is 
again the metaphor which seems to indicate a merely mechanical 
mode of inspiration. But the metaphor should not be strained, 
and the effect of the peculiar structure of the instrument in 
determining its tone must be taken into account. 

Of the Alexandrines, whose special glory it was, in an age of 
wild anti-Christian speculation on the one side and fanatical 
literalism on the other, to lead men to the scholarly study of 
the Scriptures, Clement has little of special interest on the 
manner in which the inspiration worked. Eecognizing as he 
did the action of God in the moral teaching of Greeks and 
barbarians, who had in philosophy a covenant of their own, 
he believed that the God of the Christians was also the giver 
of Greek philosophy to the Greeks, and that He raised up 
prophets among them no less than among the people of Israel. 
But it was by the chosen teachers of His peculiar people that He 
led men to the Messiah ; the Word by the Holy Spirit reducing 
man, body and soul, to harmony, so as to use him an instru 
ment of many tones to express God s melody. 1 

\It is from Origen first that we get an express rejection of 

1 " But he that is of David and was before him, the Word of God, despising lyre 
and harp mere lifeless instruments took this cosmic order yes, and the micro 
cosm man, his body and soul, and attuned it to the Holy Spirit (or by the Holy 
Spirit), and so through this instrument of many notes he sings to God." Protrept. 
ch. i Migne P. G. viii p. 60. 


pagan conceptions in this respect. He assumes the doctrine of 
Inspiration to be acknowledged it was the same Spirit who 
/worked all along in the prophets of all ages : but it was to 
(enlighten and strengthen them that His influence went not 
jto cloud or confuse their natural powers like the Pythian 
deity. By the contact of the Holy Spirit with their souls 
the divine messengers became clearer in vision and brighter 
in intuition both in mind and in soul. The preface to the 
Gospel of St Luke is cited as shewing that this was so : what 
others attempted they the inspired writers moved by the 
Holy Spirit actually wrote. And St Paul s own words in 
his Epistles shew that he was conscious of speaking sometimes 
in his own person and sometimes with divine authority. None 
of the objections commonly alleged against the Scriptures in 
any way invalidated their claim to be received as containing 
a true revelation of God. What seemed to be unworthy of 
God, or beneath His dignity, should be understood as an 
accommodation to the intelligence of men, and things which we 
could not yet explain we should know hereafter. 1 

The method of interpretation adopted by Origen shews and 
illustrates his general conceptions. This method was partly his 
own, but largely an inheritance which he could not escape. 

The Interpretation of Scripture 

The ideas of inspiration, as applied to writings, and of 
exegesis, were formed, it has been said, 2 while the mystery 
of writing was still fresh. A kind of glamour hung over the 
written words. They were invested with an importance and 
impressiveness which did not attach to any spoken words, 
giving them an existence of their own. Their precise relation 
to the person who first uttered them and their literal meaning 
at the time of their utterance tended to be overlooked or 
obscured. Especially in regard to the writings of Homer is this 
process seen. Keverence for antiquity and belief in inspiration 
combined to lift him above the common limitations of time and 
place and circumstances. His verses were regarded as having 
a universal validity : they were the Bible of the Greek races, the 

1 See de Princip. bk. iv. Of. Greg. Nyss. dc comm. Not. p. 181 (Migne). 

2 Hatch Hibbert Lectures, 1888, from which (p. 50 ff.) the following paragraphs 
are taken. 


voice of an undying wisdom. So when the unconscious imitation 
of heroic ideals passed into conscious philosophy of life, it was 
necessary that such philosophy should be shewn to be con 
sonant with the old ideals and current standards. And when 
education began it was inevitable that the ancient poets 
should be the basis of education. So the professors of educa 
tion, the philosophers and sophists , were obliged to base their 
teaching on Homer, to preach their own sermons from his texts, 
and to draw their own meanings from them ; so that he became 
a support to them instead of being a rival. " In the childhood 
of the world, men, like children, had to be taught by tales " 
and Homer was regarded as telling tales with a moral purpose. 
The developing forms of ethics, physics, metaphysics, all accord 
ingly appeal to Homer ; all claim to be the deductions from his 
writings; and as the essential interval between them, between 
jthe new and the old conceptions, grew wider, the reconciliation 
,was found in the exegetical method by which a meaning was 
detected beneath the surface of a record or representation of 
actions. In this way a narrative of actions, no less than the 
actions themselves, might be symbolical and contain a hidden 
meaning ; and thus the break with current reverence for the old 
authority and belief in its validity would be avoided. 

It is not true that this method was never challenged ; but it 
had a very strong hold on the Greek mind. It underlay the 
whole theology of the Stoical schools ; it was largely current 
among the scholars and critics of the early empire ; and it sur 
vived as a literary habit long after its original purpose had failed. 

The same difficulty which had been felt on a large scale in 
the Greek world was equally felt by Jews who had become 
students of Greek philosophy in regard to their own sacred 
books. By adopting the method which was practised in the case 
of the Homeric writings, they could reconcile their philosophy to 
their religion and be in a position to give an account of their 
faith to the educated Greeks among whom they dwelt. Of this 
mode of interpretation far the most considerable monument is to 
be found in the works of Philo, which are based throughout on 
the supposition of a hidden meaning in the sacred scriptures, 
metaphysical and spiritual. They are always patient of sym 
bolical interpretation. Every passage has a double sense, the 
literal and the deeper. In every narrative there is a moral. 

As an instance of this method may be cited Philo s treatment 


of the narrative of Jacob s dream " He took the stones of that 
place and put them under his head ", from which he extracts the 
moral, and also support for his own peculiar philosophical ideas. 
" The words ", he says, 1 " are wonderful, not only because of their 
allegorical and physical meaning, but also because of their literal 
teaching of trouble and endurance. The writer does not think 
that a student of virtue should have a delicate and luxurious life, 
imitating those who are called fortunate . . . men, who after 
spending their days in doing injuries to others return to their 
homes and upset them (I mean not the houses they live in, but 
the body which is the home of the soul) by immoderate eating 
and drinking, and at night lie down in soft and costly beds. 
Such men are not disciples of the sacred Word. Its disciples 
are real men, lovers of temperance and sobriety and modesty, 
who make self-restraint and contentment and endurance the 
corner-stones, as it were, of their lives : who rise superior to 
money and pleasure and fame ; who are ready for the sake of 
acquiring virtue to endure hunger and thirst, heat and cold ; 
whose costly couch is a soft turf, whose bedding is grass and 
leaves, whose pillow is a heap of stones or a hillock rising a little 
above the ground. Of such men Jacob is an example : he put 
a stone for his pillow ... he is the archetype of a soul that 
disciplines itself, who is at war with every kind of effeminacy. 
. . . But the passage has a further meaning, which is conveyed 
in symbol. You must know that the divine place and the holy 
ground is full of incorporeal Intelligences, who are immortal 
souls. It is one of these that Jacob takes and puts close to his 
mind, which is, as it were, the head of the combined person, 
body and soul. He does so under the pretext of going to sleep, 
but in reality to find repose in the Intelligence which he has 
chosen, and to place all the burden of his life upon it." 

So when Christians came to the interpretation of their Scrip 
tures, under this sense of their inspiration (whether articulated 
clearly or not), they had a twofold aim before them. Filled, on the 
one hand, with the conviction of the wealth of knowledge stored 
in them, they were bound, for practical as well as for speculative 
purposes, to explore as fully as possible the depths behind the 
obvious surface-meaning ; and, on the other hand, they were bound 
to explain away all that, when taken in its literal sense, was 
offensive to human reason or seemed unworthy of the Deity. 

1 Philo dc Somniis i 20 on Gen. 28 11 -Hatch I.e. 


Modern conceptions of careful scholarly interpretation and of the 
need of investigation into the exact sense of words, in connexion 
with the circumstances in which they were first used, were in 
those days unknown. The inspired Scriptures were separated by 
a wide chasm from all other books and writings the heavenly 
from the earthly ; and so the superficial meaning was the furthest 
from the real meaning. To the uninitiated Scripture was as a 
hieroglyph which needed a key that few possessed to decipher its 
enigmas. So from the first the method of typical and allegorical 
interpretation was practised. It was the way which some at 
least of the writers of the New Testament adopted in dealing 
with the Old, and understood that Christ himself had sanctioned. 1 
And the author of the Epistle to Barnabas 2 carried on the same 
method in an elaborate application to Christ and to men of the 
imagery of the Day of Atonement. 

It was never supposed that writings, because inspired, must 
be easily understood by every one ; but it was not till the time 
of Origen that a definite theory was framed which excludes from 
consideration the obvious literal sense of many passages. 

Irenaeus was content to believe that there was nothing in 
Scripture which did not serve some purpose of instruction and 
yet to acquiesce in failure to explain all passages. There is 
nothing undesigned, nothing which does not carry with it some 
suggestion or some proof. But we are unable to understand all 
mysteries ; and " we need not wonder that this is our experience 
in spiritual and heavenly matters and things which have to be 
revealed to us, when many of the things which lie at our feet 
. . . and are handled by our hands . . . elude our knowledge, 
and even those we have to resign to God ". 3 And he cannot 
see why it should be felt as a difficulty that when the Scriptures 
in their entirety are spiritual some of the questions dealt with in 
them we are able by the grace of God to solve, but others have 
to be referred to God Himself : and so it is always God who is 
teaching and man who is learning all through from God. 4 The 
typical and allegorical method he condemns as used by the 
Gnostics, but he does not shrink from adopting it at times himself. 5 

1 E.g. as to Elias Matt. 17 10 ff , Mark 9 11 ff ; cf. Epistle to the Hebrews all through ; 
and St Paul, e.g. Gal. 4 22ff . 

3 Ep. Barn. 17. 8 Adv. Haer. ii 41 Harvey vol. i p. 350. 

4 Ibid. p. 351. See further, Harnack DQ. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 251. 

5 The allegorical method was universally accepted, and it was only the extravagant 
employment of it by the Gnostics in support of their wildest conceptions to which 


In this he is at one with most of the early Fathers, of whom it 
has been said that since they knew nothing, thought of nothing, 
felt nothing but Christ, it is not surprising that they met him 
everywhere. Their great object was to shew the connexion 
between the Old and New Covenants that the New was the 
spiritual fulfilment of the Old. 

So Tertullian l could say that the form of prophetical utter 
ance was " not always and not in all things " allegorical and 
figurative, and he refused to admit limitations of time in things 
connected with the revelation of God. 2 And Clement of Alex 
andria found rich meaning in the candlestick with its seven 
lights. 3 

It is in Clement that we first find a definite theory of a 
.threefold sense of Scripture. 4 " The Saviour taught the Apostles ", 
he says, " first of all in typical and mystic fashion, and then by 
; parable and enigma, and thirdly when they were alone with 
him clearly without disguise ", the concealment which he 
practised leading men on to further enquiries. 

Origen further developed this theory. 5 According to his 
teaching the Holy Scriptures are the only source from which 
^knowledge of the truth can be obtained, and they convey a three 
fold sense which corresponds to the tripartite division of man 
into body, soul, and spirit. First, there is the grammatical or 
historical meaning, which corresponds to the body and may be 
called the bodily sense. And, secondly, there is the moral or 
anagogical meaning, which corresponds to the soul and may be 
called the psychic sense. And, thirdly, there is the mystical or 
allegorical meaning, which corresponds to the spirit and may be 
called the spiritual sense. " The individual ought ", he writes, 6 
" to pourtray the ideas of Holy Scripture in a threefold manner 

exception could be taken. Far-fetched as the interpretations of some of the Fathers 
seem to a modern scholar, they were sane and commonplace in comparison with 
the meanings which Gnostic ingenuity discovered in plain and simple passages of 

1 De Resurrcctionc Carnis 20 ad Jin. 

2 Cf. Non habet tempus Aeternitas adv. Marc, iii 5, i 8. 
8 Clem. Al. Strom, v 6. 

4 Strom, i 28 q.v. and fragment 66. " The sense of the law is to be taken in three 
ways either as exhibiting a symbol or laying clown a precept for right conduct, or 
as uttering a prophecy." Here is the triple sense of Scripture mystic, moral, pro 
phetic. Cf. Strom, vi 15. 

8 See esp. de Princip. iv 1-27, esp. 11. 

6 DC Princip. iv 11, Tr. A.-N.C. Library. 


upon his soul : in order that the simple man may be edified by the 
flesh , as it were, of the Scripture, for so we name the obvious 
sense ; while he who has ascended a certain way [may be edified] 
by the soul , as it were. The perfect man, again, and he who 
resembles those spoken of by the apostle, when he says We 
speak wisdom among them that are perfect . . . [may receive 
edification] from the spiritual law, which has a shadow of good 
things to come. For as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, 
so in the same way does Scripture, which has been arranged to 
be given by God for the salvation of men." This method of 
interpretation, Origen points out, is recognized in Holy Scripture 
Christ distinguished between the first and second in the 
Sermon on the Mount and on other occasions ; and the allegorical 
and mystical senses were utilized in the arguments of the Epistles 
to the Galatians and to the Hebrews. 1 The literal sense, how 
ever, was not always possible. 2 Instances of things which have 
no religious bearing (such as genealogies), or are repulsive to 
morality, or unworthy of God, or opposed to the law of nature 
or of reason, must be spiritualized by allegorical interpretation. 
They do not instruct us if taken literally, and are designed to 
call men to the spiritual explanation. So with regard to contra 
dictions in the narratives of the evangelists, 3 he argues that the 
truth does not consist in the bodily characters (the literal 
sense). His treatment of such cases goes far to justify the 
description of his method as biblical alchemy . It is applied by 
him to the New Testament as well as to the Old. The Tempta 
tion, for example, is not regarded as simple history, and precepts 
such as Take no purse 4 and Turn the other cheek 5 are not to 
have their literal sense attributed to them. So too in respect 
of the miracles, he finds their most precious significance in the 
allegory which they include. He lays great stress on the need 
of study, which such a method obviously demands, and of attention 
and purity and reverence. 6 

1 Origen cites Gal. 4 24 , 1 Cor. 10 6 11 , Heb. 4 8 - 9 . 

3 Ibid. 12 ; of. Horn, ii in Gen. 6. 3 Cf. Horn, x in Joh. 

4 Luke 10*. 8 Matt. 5 39 , and so 1 Cor. 7 18 . 

6 Cf. Athanasius de Incamatione Verbi, ad fin. "For the investigation and 
true knowledge of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul and 
Christian virtue. . . . He who wishes to understand the mind of the divines must 
previously wash and cleanse his soul by his life. ..." 


The same method of exegesis was followed, to a large extent at all 
events, by the later Eastern Fathers, especially by the Cappadocians. 
See e.g. Gregory of Nyssa de comm. Not. p. 181 Migne, Or. Cat. 32, in 
Cant. Cant. p. 756 Migne, c. Eunom. vii p. 744 Migne. 

After Origen the first attempt at a formal statement of the principles 
of interpretation that calls for notice was that of Tyconius, an African 
Donatist (c. 370-420). He drew up seven rules of interpretation which 
Augustine a little later discussed and, with some reservations, recom 
mended as useful though incomplete. (See the edition of F. C. Burkitt 
Texts and Studies vol. iii no. 1, and Augustine de Doct. Christ, iii 
chs. xxx-xxxvii. On Augustine as Interpreter, see W. Cunningham 
Hulsean Lectures St Austin .) Methods very different from Origen s 
were followed by the chief leaders of the school of Antioch, but they 
were not systematized as his were. (See e.g. Theodore of Mopsuestia 
ed. Swete Introd. and Chrysostom W. R. W. Stephens, p. 421 and fF.) 
In the West also, on the whole, a more literal and meagre method of 
interpretation prevailed, at least until the time of Ambrose, who brought 
back under the influence of the writings of Origen and Basil a richer 
and more varied treatment of the Scriptures. 

The Place of Tradition in the Interpretation of Scripture 

As long as such methods were accepted it is obvious that a 
great variety of interpretations was possible, and that Scripture 
iby itself could hardly be considered a sufficient guide. It could 
jbe claimed by both sides on most questions. Hence in con- 
Jtroversy, and particularly in controversy with the Gnostics, there 
originated the definite assertion that it can only be correctly 
understood in close connexion with the tradition of the Church. 
Such a claim was quite accordant with the primitive conception 
of tradition, not as an independent source of doctrine but as 
essentially hermeneutic, forming with tbe written words one 
river of knowledge. 

Of the nature of this tradition somewhat different views were 
held, according as the security for its truth was found rather in 
the living personal voice of individuals (the continuous historical 
episcopate), passing on to one another from the earliest days the 
word of knowledge, or in the unbroken continuity of teaching 
which external descent of place guaranteed (the rule of faitb). 
The latter offered, obviously, the easier test, and the highest 
importance was attached to it. 

Irenaeus is tbe first to argue out the matter. He puts the 


question Supposing, as might have happened, that we had 
no Scriptures, to what should we have to make our appeal ? 
" Should we not have to go back to the most ancient Churches, 
in which the Apostles lived, and take from them . . . what 
is fixed and ascertained ? What else could we do ? If the 
Apostles themselves had not left us writings, should we not be 
obliged to depend on the teaching of the tradition which they 
bequeathed to those to whose care they left the Churches ? " l 
We must go back to the most ancient Churches it is here, in 
the consent of Churches, that Irenaeus sees the guarantee of truth. 
He takes for granted that the Apostles are the ultimate authority, 
and when the question of the meaning of the Christian revelation 
is disputed it is to them that all men would agree to make 
appeal. To the Apostles themselves, in person, appeal is no 
longer possible; but their representatives and successors are 
still to be found in every Church. The bishops, or the presbyters 
(for Irenaeus uses either word for the heads or governing bodies 
of Churches), were appointed at first and taught by them ; and 
they in turn, generation by generation, in unbroken succession, 
have handed on to their successors the same tradition. Irenaeus 
seems to have in mind the possibility that in a particular case 
there might be some flaw in this traditional teaching so he 
appeals to the general consensus of many such Churches. That 
in which you find the Churches of apostolic foundation agreeing, 
scattered as they are over many regions of the world that, at 
all events, you may be sure is part of the genuine apostolic 
tradition. As an instance he points to the one Church in the 
West which was supposed to be able to claim apostolic foundation 
the Church of Eome. The prestige which attached to it, from 
its central position in the world s metropolis, made it the most 
convenient and conspicuous test. 2 Christians from all lands 
were continually coming and going, and therefore any departure 
from the tradition would be most easily detected. The Church 
of Eome was, in this way, always before the eyes of the world 
and under the judgement of other Churches, so that no innovation 

1 Iren. adv. Haer. iii 4. 1 Harvey vol. ii pp. 15, 16. It will be noted that though 
priority is claimed for the tradition, yet it is appealed to not as an independent 
source of doctrine but as a means of determining the true sense of the Scriptures. 

2 Such no doubt is the meaning of the phrase propter potentiorem principali- 
tatem on account of its more influential pre-eminence , i.e. its prominence and 
influence (ibid, iii 3. 1 Harvey vol. ii pp. 8, 9). See also the note on principals 
ecclesia in Abp. Benson s Cyprian, p. 537. 


there had any chance of escaping notice and criticism. The 
tradition preserved at Eome might therefore be regarded as 
having the tacit sanction of all the other Churches, and by 
reference to it any one in doubt might easily convince himself of 
the oneness of the apostolic tradition of the whole Church. And 
so he could say that " the tradition of the Apostles, made manifest 
as it is through all the world, can be recognised in every Church 
by all who wish to know the truth " ; l and to the pretended 
secret doctrine of heretics he opposes the public preaching of the 
faith of the apostolic Churches ; against the mutability and end 
less varieties of their explanations he sets the unity of the 
teaching of the Church ; against their novelty, her antiquity ; 
against their countless subdivisions into schools and parties, the 
uniformity and universality of her traditional witness. 2 It is 
; this which he regards as the chief instrument in the conversion 
of the nations, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit in their 

A similar estimate of the authority of ecclesiastical tradition 
in the interpretation of Scripture was maintained by Tertullian, 
though he gives it different characteristic expression. In dealing 
with heretics he conceives them as arraigned before a tribunal as 
defendants in a suit which the Church as plaintiff brings against 
them. He does not take their many false interpretations one 
by one and proceed to prove them wrong, though he was ready 
to do this vigorously on occasion ; but he exercises the right, 
allowed by Eoman law to plaintiffs in an action, to limit the 
inquiry to a single point ; and the point he chooses is the 
legitimacy of the heretics appeal to Holy Scripture. He aims, 
that is, at shewing cause why the interpretations of any one 
outside the Church should be dismissed without examination, 
apart from any consideration of their intrinsic merit. If he 
establishes this point the heretics are at once ruled out of court, 
as having no locus standi ; while, if he fails, it is still open to 
him, according to the principles of Eoman law, to take fresh 
action on all the other points excluded from the suit. He 
insists, 3 accordingly, on this limitation of the question, and asks, 

1 Iren. adv. Haer. iii 3. 1. 

2 See further Lipsius, Art. " Irenaeus" in D.O.B. 

3 De Praescriptione Haereticorum " Concerning tlie Limitation of the Suit against 
the Heretics", esp. 15, 19, ed. T. H. Bindley, who rejects the common expla 
nation of praescriptio as meaning the preliminary plea or objection lodged at 
the commencement of a suit, which if maintained dispensed with the need of 


" Whose are the Scriptures ? By whom and through whose 
means and when and to whom was the discipline (the teaching 
or system) handed down which makes men Christians ? Wher 
ever you find the true Christian discipline and faith, there will 
be the truth of the Christian Scriptures and expositions and all 
traditions." It is the Church which is the keeper and guardian 
of all these possessions, and therefore it is the Church and the 
Church only which can determine the truth. Heretics have no 
right to use Scripture in argument against the orthodox, who 
alone are able to decide what is its meaning. 

Clement of Alexandria goes so far as to say that he who 
spurns the ecclesiastical tradition ceases to be a man of God. 1 

And Origen, for all his elaborate system of interpretation, 
declares, in the Prologue to the work in which it is expressed, 
the necessity of holding fast to the ecclesiastical preaching 
which has been handed down by the Apostles in orderly suc 
cession from one to another, and has continued in the Churches 
right down to the present time. " That alone ought to be 
believed to be truth which differs in no respect from the 
ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." 2 

It is still the consent of Churches that is the test of truth. 
Athanasius seems to be the first to quote the Fathers as 
witnesses to the faith, 3 but more particularly as guaranteeing its 
antiquity than as being themselves invested with personal 
authority as interpreters. So Cyril of Jerusalem, who strongly 
asserts the importance of Scripture, recognizes the authority of 
the Church at its back. It is from the Church that the cate 
chumen must learn what are the books to which he must go. 4 
And Augustine was only expressing the common sentiment 
when he declared that he would not believe the Gospel if it 
.were not for the authority of the Catholic Church. 5 

entering into any discussion of the merits of a case. Pracscriptio technically meant 
a clause prefixed to the intentio of & formula for the purpose of limiting the scope of 
an inquiry (excluding points which would otherwise have been left open for discus 
sion before the judex), and at the time when Tertullian wrote it was used only of 
the plaintiff. Demurrer is thus technically wrong, and somewhat misleading as a 
title of the treatise. 

1 Strom, vii 16. 2 De Princip. Proem 1. 

8 See his letter on the Dated Creed in Socrates H.E. ii 37, and the Ep. 
Eticycl. 1. 

4 Cat. iv 33. 

6 Ego vero evangelio non crederem, nisi me catholicae ecclesiae commoveret 
auctoritas (c. Ep. Manich. 6). 


The most elaborate, as the most famous, statement of the 
case for tradition was not drawn up till towards the middle of 
the fifth century, when Vincent of Lerinum was roused by the 
apparent novelty of Augustine s doctrines of Grace and Pre 
destination to expound the principles by which the Faith of the 
Church might be determined. 1 The two foundations which he 
lays down are still the divine law (or Holy Scripture) and the 
tradition of the Catholic Church. The first is sufficient by 
itself, if it could be rightly understood, but it cannot be under 
stood without the guidance of the tradition, which shews what 
ihas been believed everywhere, always, and by all. Quod ubique, 
[quod semper, quod ab omnibus this is the great principle on 
which Vincent takes his stand. But he recognizes that it is 
not always easy of application, and he has to support it by the 
testimony of majorities either of the Church as a whole or of 
teachers as against minorities, antiquity as against novelty, 
general Councils as against individual or local errors. If part 
of the Church separates itself from the common body, it is the 
larger society that must be followed ; if a false doctrine arises 
and threatens the Church, the best test is antiquity, which can 
no longer be misled ; if in antiquity itself particular teachers or 
localities have erred, the decision of a general Council is decisive, 
if a general Council has pronounced upon the matter ; if not, the 
Christian must examine and compare the writings of the recog 
nised teachers, and hold fast by what all alike in one and the 
same sense have clearly, frequently, and consistently upheld. 
All innovations are really wickedness and mental aberration : in 
them ignorance puts on the cloak of knowledge, weak-mindedness 
of educidation , darkness of light. Pure knowledge is given 
only in the universal, ancient, unanimous tradition. It is 
antiquity that is the really decisive criterion of truth. 

Assertions such as these might seem to be prohibitive of any 
kind of growth or progress in Religion ; but Vincent was much 

1 Adversus profanas omnium novitates haereticwum Commonitorium, written 
about 434, attention having been aroused in the West to the question of tradition 
by the Donatist and Pelagian controversies. Vincent seems to have adopted some 
of Augustine s rules, though he would use them against him. He was a member 
of the famous monastery on the island near Cannes, now known as L ile Saint 
Honorat, from Honoratus the founder. A good analysis of the Commonitorium will 
be found in Harnack DO. ii 8 , pp. 106-108 (Eng. tr. vol. iii pp. 230-232) ; handy 
editions in vol. ix of Hurter s S, Palrum Opuscula Selecta, and in the Sammlung 
Quellenschriften ed. Krilger. 


too scholarly and sound a thinker to commit himself to such a 
negation. When the argument brings him to the question, Is 
there in the Church of Christ a progress in Eeligion ? he 
answers, Yes ; there has been great progress. And he shews 
by the images of the increase of a child and of a plant the 
Inature of the progress. It is an organic growth, which consists 
in deepening rather than in change. No innovation comes in, 
for a single innovation would destroy all. Religion is strength 
ened with years and widened with time, and built up more 
elegantly with age; but all remains fundamentally the same. 
What the Church has always had in view has been the 
explanation and strengthening of doctrine already believed ; 
greater plainness, more exact precision of statement, finer dis 
crimination of sense. Aroused by the novelties of heretics, she 
has, by decrees of Councils, confirmed for posterity the tradition 
received from her ancestors ; for the sake of enlightenment and 
better understanding she has embraced in a few letters a mass 
of things, and by a new term sealed the sense of the faith which 
was not new. 

Yet in spite of this high estimate of the value of tradition, 
Vincent is obliged in some cases to fall back upon Scripture. 
Heresies which are already widely extended and deep-rooted 
cannot, he sees, be disproved by the appeal to the unanimity of 
teachers : so many of them could be cited in support of erroneous 
views. Old heresies, never quite destroyed, had had opportunity 
in the long course of time to steal away the truth, and their 
adherents to falsify the writings of the Fathers. In such cases 
we must depend on the authority of Scripture only. 

It is hardly true to say that this admission involves the 
bankruptcy of tradition. 1 It may rather be taken as shewing 
the fair balance of the author s mind. He does not profess to 
give an easy road to truth. He lays down criteria, almost all of 
which demand for their use no little research and patience. He 
believes that the great majority of teachers have rightly inter 
preted the Christian revelation from the first, but where their 
consensus is not obvious he would decide the ambiguity by 
appeal to the Book which embodies the traditional interpretation 
of the earliest ages. He is really, in this, referring back to the 
standard tradition. And there never was in those days a time 
when the leaders of Christian opinion were not prepared to 
1 As Harnack I.e. 


make a similar reference of disputed questions to that court, 
and to check by the authority of Holy Scripture too great 
freedom in reading into Christianity ideas that were foreign to 
its spirit. So staunch a champion of tradition as Cyprian could 
say that " custom without truth is the antiquity of error "} and 
that " we ought not to allow custom to determine, but reason to 
prevail " ; 2 even as Tertullian had insisted " Our Lord Christ 
called himself the truth, not the custom. . . . You may be sure 
that whatever savours not of truth is heresy, even though it be 
ancient custom ". 8 

Such then were the principles which prevailed during the 
period with which we are concerned, in which the Creeds were 
framed and most of the great doctrines formulated. By such 
principles the partial and misleading explanations and theories 
were tested and banished from the Church as heresies, and the 
fuller and more adequate interpretations were worked out. It 
is the course of this progress that we have to trace. 

It was, as we have seen, from Gentile quarters that the 
chief stimulus to the actual formulation of doctrines came, and 
it is with attempts at interpretation which spring from Gentile 
conceptions that we shall be most concerned. But first of all 
must be noted certain peculiar readings of the revelation in 
Christ, and of the relations in which the Gospel stands to the 
revelation given in Judaism, which are characteristic of Jewish 
rather than of Gentile thought. 

1 Ep. 74 9. 3 Ep. 71 3. 3 Tert. de Virg. Vd. 1. 



Characteristic Jewish Conceptions 

EOOTED in Jewish thought were two ideas, from the obvious 
significance of which the dominant conceptions of the Christian 
revelation seemed to be drifting further and further. Charac 
teristic of Judaism were its strong monotheism and its belief in 
the eternal validity of the Mosaic Law. There was one God 
and only one, a God of righteousness, far removed from the 
world ; and the divinity of Christ seemed to be a kind of 
idolatry, and to have more in common with the polytheistic 
notions of the heathen than with the truth revealed of old to 
the Israelites. And again, the Law was given by God : it was a 
divine revelation ; and therefore it must have the characteristics 
of the divine, and be eternal, unchanging, and final. And 
therefore the mission of Jesus of Nazareth, if from God, was a 
mission to purify and revive the old revelation, and the Gospel 
does not supersede but only elucidates the Law. 

For views such as these it is clear some support could be 
found in primitive Christian teaching before the full force of the 
revelation in Christ was widely felt. In the teaching of Christ 
himself, as recorded in the Gospels, there is no antagonism to 
the Law : the traditions of men which were a pernicious growth 
round it are brushed aside, but the Law is treated with reverence 
and its teaching developed rather than superseded. Disregard 
of the Law by Christians of Jewish birth, at any rate, might 
seem to lack all primitive authority ; and we need not wonder if 
such Christians lagged behind the progress to a purely spiritual 
interpretation of the Jewish ordinances, which was so largely 
stimulated by the constantly increasing preponderance of Gentile 
over Jewish influence in the Church. 1 And the fear lest the 

1 It is clear from the Epistle of Clement that by the end of the first century all 
traces of the controversy between Pauline and Judaistic Christianity had vanished 
at Rome and at Corinth. 


doctrine of the divinity of Christ might endanger the truth that 
God is one was, as a matter of fact, amply justified by the 
difficulty that was experienced in finding any satisfactory expres 
sion to account for all the facts. 


These two ideas were the source of what are called the 
Judaizing heresies, 1 the representatives of which are known as 
Ebionites. 2 We have no record of their origin as a distinct and 
separate body. 3 It is as schools of thought within the Church 
that Justin, our earliest informant, seems to regard them. 4 He 
speaks of some Christians who still keep the Law, and maintain 
that it is necessary to salvation, and would enforce it on all 
members of the Church, and of others who only observe the 
ordinances of the Law themselves without desiring to impose 
them upon all. With the former he does not agree, and he thinks 
they ought to be excluded from Christian communion ; with the 
latter he has no quarrel, they are still brothers, though some 
Christians refused communion to them. 5 He also speaks of 
some who regard Jesus as Christ, the Messiah, yet pronounce 
him a man born of men, but he does not shew whether these 
were identical with the intolerant observers of the Law or not. 
The one distinction which is clear is based on the attitude to 
the Law, milder or stricter. 6 

1 Judaizing may not be the most accurate designation for what perhaps is only 
in origin an archaic form of interpretation, but relatively to the Catholic interpreta 
tion of the Pel-son and Gospel of Christ it expresses the facts sufficiently exactly. 

2 Heb. Ebionim, "poor men " : i.e. men who taught a beggarly doctrine. Cf. the 
bad sense at first attaching to the name Christiani , Messiah -men ; and cf. Origen 
de Princip. iv 1. 22 : E/3iwj cuot, TT)S TTTWX^S dcavolas tiruvvpoi. E/3luv yap 6 Trrw^dj 
Trap E/3paots (W/xdfcrcu. 

3 Dr. Hort supposed they might have come into existence through the scattering 
of the old Jerusalem Church by Hadrian s edict. Some, like Hegesippus, who main 
tained the tradition of St James, when once detached from the Holy City would in 
a generation or two become merged in the greater Church without. Others would 
be driven into antagonism to the Gentile Church of Asia and become Judaistic in 
principle as well as in practice, being isolated and therefore less receptive of the 
influence of other Churches. (It should be noted that such Judaistic Christians are 
heard of only in the neighbourhood of Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor. ) 

4 Justin Dial. c. Trypli. 47 and 48. See Hort Judaistic Christianity p. 196, 
on whose discussion the following statement of the facts is based. 

ft See Hort the two lines, developement and supersession of the Law, in the 
teaching of Christ himself (ibid. Christ and the Law , Led. n). 

6 Before the time of Justin, Ignatius had had to denounce some Judaizing Chris- 


On their teaching as to the person of Christ more stress is 
laid by Irenaeus, 1 who is the first to name them Ebionaeans, and 
describes them as holding a view like that of Cerinthus and 
Carpocrates, referring no doubt to denial of the divinity rather 
than to any * Gnostic conceptions. All such are condemned by 
him as heretics. 

Origen 2 distinguishes two classes, and says that both rejected 
St Paul s Epistles (no doubt because of their views as to the Law). 

And Eusebius 3 after him, more precisely, makes the difference 
to consist in higher and lower conceptions of the person of Christ, 
both classes insisting on the observance of the Law. One class 
held a natural birth and the superior virtue of a plain and ordinary 
man as a sufficient explanation : the others accepted the super 
natural birth, but denied his pre-existence as the Word and 
Wisdom of God (did not, that is, accept the eternal Sonship and 
the doctrine of the Logos) ; they rejected the Pauline writings 
and used only the Gospel according to the Hebrews, while they 
still observed the Sabbath and other Jewish customs, but also 
the Lord s Day in memory of the Kesurrection. 

Later still Epiphanius 4 could assign different names to the 
two schools, regarding them as separate sects Nazaraeans and 
Ebionaeans. But Epiphanius probably erred in this precision. 
There seems to be no evidence that there were two distinct com 
munities with different designations. It is probable that Nazar- 
aeans was the title used by the Jewish Christians of Syria as a 
description of themselves in the fourth century and before, 5 while 
Ebionaeans , an equally genuine popular term, 6 had become the 
traditional name in ecclesiastical literature. 

That these schools of thought died hard is shewn by the 
judgement passed on them by Jerome, 7 who prefaces his reference 
by the words " What am I to say of the Ebionites who pretend 
to be Christians ? ", and then goes on to speak of some who in 
his own times were spread over the East, commonly known as 

tians who were lagging behind the revelation of Christ, refusing credence to anything 
which could not be proved from the Old Testament and anxious still to maintain the 
old associations intact. See Philad. viii ; Magn. viii-xi, and infra Gnosticism 
p. 80 note 2. 

1 Iren. adv. Haer. i 22 Harvey vol. i p. 212, and iv 52. 1, v 1. 3 Harvey vol. 
ii pp. 259, 316. 

2 Contra Cels. v 61, 65. 3 Euseb. Hist. Eccl. iii 27. 
4 Epiph. adv. Haer. xxix and xxx. B Cf. Acts 24 B . 

6 Of. Matt. 5 3 . TEp. 112 13. 


Nazaraeans, who believed in Christ, the Son of God, born of the 
Virgin Mary, and say that he suffered under Pontius Pilate and 
rose again, in whom , he says, we also believe ; but yet, he 
avers, they only pretend to be Christians, and while they want 
to be at one and the same time both Jews and Christians, they 
succeed in being neither Jews nor Christians. 

These words of Jerome plainly shew that the belief in the 
eternal validity of the Law and in the need for observance of its 
ordinances survived as anachronisms in some circles, claiming the 
name of Christian, in which the * orthodox explanation of the 
nature and person of Christ was accepted. 

Cerinthus and his School 

Of all the Ebionites one individual only is known to fame, 
Cerinthus and he had almost as much in common with the 
1 Gnostics as with them. Really he stands with his followers 
as a separate school, distinct from both. The most trustworthy 
evidence as to the time at which he lived is furnished by the tale 1 
of his meeting with St John in one of the public baths at 
Ephesus, when St John espying him rushed out, saying he was 
.afraid the walls of the bath might fall and crush them, since 
iCerinthus the enemy of truth was there. 

The province of Asia was probably the scene of his activity, 
though Hippolytus, without mentioning Asia, says he was trained 
in Egyptian lore. In his teaching, side by side with the 
1 Judaizing elements, such as have been noticed (Jesus, the Son 
of Mary and Joseph, born as other men ; circumcision and the 
observance of the Sabbath obligatory ; rejection of the writings 
of St Paul, the Acts, and all the Gospels, except the Gospel of 
St Matthew in Hebrew, or more probably the Gospel according 
to the Hebrews ), there stand quite different and fresh ideas, 
which are akin to the conceptions of the Gnostics . These have 
to do with the relations between the world and God, and between 
the human and the divine in the person and work of the Lord. 

1 Reported by Irenaeus iii 3, 4 Harvey vol. ii p. 13 ; and twice quoted by 
Eusebius (Hist, Eccl. iii 28, iv 14). Irenaeus also says (iii 11. 7 Harvey vol. ii 
p. 40) that the Gospel of St John was directed against Cerinthus (e.g. the doctrine 
of Creation by the Logos). Cf. Robert Browning A Death in the Desert. 
Epiphanius (I.e.) says he was the ringleader of St Paul s Judaizing antagonists at 
Jerusalem. Hegesippus does not seem to have mentioned him, nor does Justin, 
nor Clement, nor Tertullian. 



The cf eation, he taught, was not effected by God Himself, but by 
i angels powers distinct from God one of whom was the God 
of the Jews and the giver of the Law. As to the person of the 
Redeemer, he held that his Sonship to God could only be due 
to his ethical merits, which qualified him for a special gift of 
grace and spiritual power. God might not arbitrarily make a 
person holy. So the man Jesus was first tested in early life, 
and then at his baptism there descended upon him, in the form 
of a dove, the Spirit of God, the power from above, the Christ 
(regarded evidently as a pre-existent personality x ), who revealed 
to him the Father, and enabled him to do his miraculous works, 
and before the Passion parted from him and returned to the 
place from whence he came. 2 Furthermore, he taught that the 
Resurrection of Jesus was still future. There was thus only a 
conjunction between the divine and the human in him, no real 
union of the Christ and Jesus. The principal object of the 
mission was educational rather than redemptive, fulfilling the 
prophetic office of Messiah ; the sufferings were human only, and 
the revelation was of doctrine. Another object, corresponding 
to the kingly office of Messiah, was the introduction of the 
millennial reign, although its realization was still future. Of the 
millennium, the thousand years reign of Christ upon earth, 
during which his followers would be rewarded for their loyalty, 
he held most sensual and material views ; 3 but millenarianism 
was too widely accepted in the Church to be characteristic of any 
particular school of thought. 4 

The Clementines 

Besides the Cerinthians we have knowledge of another set of 
Ebionites, who certainly worked out a peculiar system of doctrine 
and usage the men of the Clementines . Their teaching is 
embodied in the writings that have come down to us under the 
name of Clement, entitled The Homilies (extant in Greek), and 
The Recognitions (in the Latin translation of Eufinus and also 
partly in Syriac) ; which are probably independent abridgements 
of a voluminous book called the Travels of Peter, which was 

1 There is no evidence that he used the Gnostic term Aeon of the Christ. 

2 Cf. the Gospel of Peter . " My power, my power, thou hast deserted me ! " 
This is the only docetic element in the teaching of Cerinthus. 

3 Eusebius, the determined opponent of Chiliasm , speaks specially of this (I.e.). 

4 See infra p. 68, Note on Chiliasm. 


current early in the third century. 1 This book was of the nature 
of a historical novel composed with a controversial purpose, pro 
fessing to narrate the circumstances in which Clement became 
the travelling companion of the Apostle Peter, and to give an 
account of Peter s teaching. It originated among the sect of 
Elchasaites (Helxaites), who held the book Elchasai (Helxai) 2 
sacred. These were probably Essenes of Eastern Palestine, who, 
\ after the destruction of the Temple and the abolition of the 
system of the Temple services and sacrifices, were brought to re- 
. cognise Jesus as a true prophet, though regarding the idea of his 
divinity as a delusion. With this and other usual notes of 
Ebionism they combined some Essene tenets as to sacrifice and 
repeated purificatory washings and abstinence from the use of 
flesh and ascetic practices, speculations about angels and a form 
of emanation theory ; but they were free from Gnostic notions 
of creation and docetism. 3 Most characteristic, perhaps, is their 
conception of the Christ (identical with the Son of God) as the 
eternal Prophet of Truth, who appears from time to time incar 
nate in perfect men. By virtue of their inward spirit men are 
akin to the divine, the highest order of existence in the created 
world ; but they have also in them earthly desire, which tends 
to lower them to earth ; and so their state becomes one of 
alienation from God, as the earth-spirit exerts its irresistible 
attraction. Therefore, to save men from utter deterioration, 
must the Christ appear in successive incarnations. Wherever 
the idea of man appears perfectly in an individual, there is a 
form of the appearance of Christ the created idea of man. His 
appearance shews God s image for the age in which it happens. 
Such incarnations were recognized in Adam, Enoch, Noah, 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus. The manifestation in 
Jesus is regarded as the last, after which the Christ has per 
manent repose. To his death and resurrection no significance 

1 Hort Judaistic Christianity p. 201. See also D.C.B. Art. Clementine 
Literature , and Dorner. 

2 See Hippol. Refut. Haer. ix 13. They professed to have obtained this book 
from the Seres, a Parthian tribe (a mythical race like the Hyperboreans of Greek 
legend), who were perfectly pure and therefore perfectly happy, the recipients of a 
revelation which had been first made in the third year of Trajan (100 A.D. ). Helxai 
(Elchasai) an Aramaic word meaning the hidden power was both the name of 
the divine messenger, who imparted the revelation, and the title of the book in 
which it was recorded. The book appears to have been a long time in secret 
circulation before it became known to the orthodox teachers of the Church. 

8 See infra p. 75. 


appears to be attached. His mission has an educational purpose 
only, to exhibit to men a kind of object-lesson. 

Other details of the system represented in the Clementine 
books (as well as the supposed attack on St Paul under the name of 
Simon Magus and the twisting of texts of Scripture to support 
the views described) call for no further treatment here. It is 
enough to notice that it exhibits " the Judaizing principle, fur 
nished with all the means of culture which the age supplied, 
gathering itself for its last stroke ", and the failure of Judaism, 
reinforced by ascetic and other speculations selected from various 
philosophies, in its attempt to capture Christianity. 

A similar endeavour from another quarter, doomed to like 
failure, comes before us next in Gnosticism. 


From the earliest times no doubt the Christian conception of 
salvation centred round two main ideas, one of which was the more 
intellectual or spiritual, and the other the more practical and material. 
The one was based on the conviction that in the person of the Christ 
there was given a full revelation of God he was the Truth and so 
salvation consisted essentially in the knowledge of God, as contrasted 
with the errors of heathendom and the defective conceptions of even the 
chosen people ; a knowledge which included the gift of eternal life and 
all the privileges and joys of the highest spiritual illumination. 1 This is 
obviously an idea which requires for its full appreciation more cultiva 
tion of the mind and the spiritual faculties than the masses of men 
possess. More widely attractive was the other idea which saw in salva 
tion membership of the glorious kingdom which Christ was about to 
establish on earth on his return, when a new order of things would be 
inaugurated, and for a thousand years his disciples would share the 
blessedness of human life under the happiest conditions. In this con 
nexion the highest importance was attached to the doctrine of the 
resurrection of the body. 2 This conception of the reign upon earth of 
the Christ differed little from the common Jewish expectation, only the 
kingdom would be composed of Christians instead of the nation of 
Israel : and the Christian hopes in regard to it were largely derived from 
the Jewish apocalyptic writings, as were their conceptions of the fate of 

1 For this idea chief support was to be got from the Gospel according to St John. 

2 Probably the earliest indication of this is to be found in the case of the 
Thessalonians, some of whom feared that their relations and friends who had already 
died since they became Christians could have no share in the Messianic kingdom 
on earth. 


the enemies of their Lord and all who rejected his claims. 1 The 
imagination pictured, and hopes were fixed on, a fairyland of ease and 
pleasure and delight. This was the great inheritance which the 
Gentile Christian communities received from Judaism, along with the 
monotheism assured by revelation and belief in providence , and though 
it was destined to be gradually dissipated partly through the anti- 
ijudaistic spirit of the Greek and Roman communities, and partly through 
;the growth of higher moral and spiritual conceptions it was for a long 
time enjoyed and tenaciously held in wide and influential circles of 
Christian life. The second coming, in glory, involving the resurrection 
of the dead, judgement of living and dead, was probably deemed immi 
nent by the great mass of early Christians, and the hope of it was their 
stay in persecution, and must have greatly aided them to bear their 
sufferings, whether associated with the further belief in the thousand 
years reign upon earth or not. (It was equally foretold as the first 
coming in dishonour and suffering; cf. Justin Apol. i 52, and Iren. 
i 10, who distinguishes it as Trapovcria from the first IXewis.) This 
belief (so far as it was Christian rather than Jewish in origin) was based 
on sayings of Christ such as those in which he speaks of drinking with 
his disciples in his Father s kingdom (Matt. 26 29 ), and promises that 
those who now hunger and thirst shall hereafter be satisfied (Matt. 5 6 ), 
and that faithful service shall be rewarded by rule over many cities 
(Luke 19 17> 19 ), sayings which received a literal material interpretation. 2 
And the definite assignment of a thousand years as the extent of the 
duration of the kingdom was made by the author of the Apocalypse 
(20 1-1 ). For a thousand years the devil would be imprisoned, and martyrs 
and all who had not worshipped the beast and were free from his mark 
, would come to life again and reign, with Christ. This was the first 
resurrection , and only these it appears would have a share in the 
millennial kingdom, of which apparently Jerusalem the beloved city 
was to be the centre. Among earlier writers 3 the belief was held by the 
authors of the Epistle of Barnabas, 4 the Shepherd, the second Epistle of 
Clement, by Papias, Justin, and by some of the Ebionites, and Cerinthus, 
according to the accounts of the Roman presbyter Caius in his treatise 
against the Montanists, quoted by Eusebius (H.E. iii 28). Of these 
Papias is one of the chief landmarks. Because of his belief in the 
millennium, Eusebius passed a disparaging criticism on his sense : 5 " I 
suppose he got those ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic 

1 E.g. the Apocalypses of Esra, Enoch, Baruch, Moses. Cf. the Apocalypse of Peter. 

2 Against this interpretation see Origen de Princip. ii 11 2. 

3 There is no reference to the millennial belief in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, 
Polycarp, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus. But we are not justified in arguing 
from their silence that they did not hold it. 

4 Ep. Barn. 4, 15. 6 See Euseb. H.E. iii 39. 


accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken 
mystically in figures. For he appears to have been of a very limited 
understanding, as one can see from his discourses." The materialistic 
character of their expectations is illustrated by the famous parable which 
he gives : "The days will come when vines shall grow, each having ten 
thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each twig 
ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand grapes, 
and every grape when pressed will give five-and-twenty measures of wine." 

Justin shows the belief in exacter form. The Lord, Jesus Christ, 
was to return to Jerusalem, which was to be rebuilt, and there to eat 
and drink with his disciples, 1 and the Christian people were to be 
gathered together there and live in happiness with him and with the 
patriarchs and prophets. 2 This belief is not regarded by Justin as an 
essential part of the Christian faith (he acknowledges that many genuine 
Christians do not hold it), but he suggests that many who reject it 
reject also the resurrection of the dead (i.e. of the body), which is 
essential. For a thousand years the kingdom at Jerusalem would last 
for all believers in Christ, and then would take place the universal and 
eternal resurrection of all together and the judgement. 3 In support of 
the belief he cites the prophet Isaiah 4 and the apostle John, 5 and 
applies the imagery of the prophet Micah 6 to describe the happiness of 
the time when heaven and earth will be renewed, 7 but it will still be 
the same earth, and all who have faith set on Christ and know the 
truth expressed in his and his prophets words will inherit in it eternal 
and imperishable blessings. 8 

These hopes were fully shared by Irenaeus (who derived them from 
Papias direct perhaps), 9 Melito, 10 Hippolytus, 11 Tertullian, 12 and 
Lactantius. 13 

1 Justin Dial. c. Tryph. 51. 

2 Ibid. 80. This would be the first resurrection. 

3 Ibid. 81. Justin thus recognizes a twofold resurrection, as Irenaeus does. 
Apoc. xx was so understood. Tertullian seems to teach an immediate resurrection 
of those who are fitted for it, and a deferred resurrection of the more guilty, who 
must make amends by a longer course of purification in the under-world. See de 
Anima 58, where the suggestive thought is expressed that, as the soul must suffer, 
when disembodied, for the evil done in and by the flesh, so it may have refreshment 

.on account of the pious and benevolent thoughts in which the flesh had no part. 
See also de Res. Cam. 42, and cf. Robert Browning Rabbi Ben Ezra. 

4 Isa. 65 17 - 28 . 6 Apoc. 20 4 6 . 6 Mic. 4 1 7 (Dial. 109, 110). 
7 Dial. 113. 8 Ibid. 139. 

9 It is Irenaeus to whom we owe the parable of Papias quoted supra (see Iren. 
v 33-35). The letter from the Churches of Lugdunum and Vienna also shews 
Chiliastic ideas (Euseb. H.E. v 1 ff.). 

10 See Poly crates in Euseb. H.E. v 24. n See e.g. in Dan. iv 23. 

12 See esp. adv. Marc, iii and de Res. Cam. 

13 Inst. Div. vii 11 ff. (esp. 24). 


The Gnostics were the first to reject such conceptions (Marcion re 
ferred them to the prompting of the God of the Jews the only resur 
rection possible was spiritual, partial here in this world, and in perfection 
hereafter). The Gnostics were followed by Caius and by Origen, who 
condemns the views as most absurd ; l but the most formidable assault 
upon Chiliastic teaching was made by Dionysius of Alexandria in his 
treatise On the Promises, rejecting the apostolic origin of the Apocalypse, 
. which was the strongest support of all Chiliastic ideas. To this work he 
was roused by one Nepos, 2 a bishop in the district of Arsinoe, who in 
the Chiliastic interest had written against the allegorical interpretation 
of the Apocalypse, insisting that it must be taken literally. 3 The opposi 
tion of Dionysius seems to have been widely influential and effective in 
banishing all such materialistic expectations from the common faith of 
the Church. 4 The Alexandrian theology made them impossible. By 
the middle of the fourth century they had come to be considered 
heretical, and a final blow was struck by Augustine, who taught that 
the millennium was the present reign of Christ, beginning with the 
Resurrection, 5 and destined to last a thousand years. 

1 See de Princip. ii 11 2. 2 See Euseb. H.E. vii 24. 

3 The Refutation of Allegorists probably aimed at Origen. (Euseb. I.e.) 

4 They died hard, however, among the monks of Egypt, as is shewn by the 
survival in Coptic and Ethiopia of materialistic Apocalypses which ceased to circu 
late elsewhere among Christians. So Harnack DGf. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 30. 

6 See e.g. de Civ. Dei xx. "Even now the Church is the kingdom of Christ 
. . . even now his saints reign with him." At an earlier time Augustine had 
conceived of a corporeal first resurrection of the saints, succeeded by a millennial 
rest upon earth, the delights of it being spiritual enjoyment of the presence of the 



Characteristics of Oriental Religious Thought 

THOUGH it was to Jews that the earliest attempts at interpre 
tation of the revelation in Christ were committed, and to Jews 
accordingly that the earliest explanations of the person and 
work of Jesus are due, it was not long before the Gentiles came 
in to take their share in the developement of Christian doctrine. 
The first great movement which they originated came rather 
from the East than from the West ; for the difference between 
the contemporary religious thought of the East and of the 
West was very marked. 1 The most fundamental feature of 
Oriental thought is probably the schism and unrest of the 
human mind, in view of the limitations of human nature, with 
uncontrolled longings after the infinite and absorption into God ; 2 
but Hellenism found in the world so much of beauty and of 
pleasure that its aspirations after the unseen were much less 
real. Both had in view, no doubt, the same end the unity of 
the divine and the human ; but Orientalism sought it by the 
annihilation of the human, while the method pursued by 
Hellenism certainly tended to annihilate the divine. The dis 
tinction between the two was not maintained. Characteristic 
of Oriental religions are frequent incarnations (or emanations) 
of God in the most perfect form available, to teach men know 
ledge of truth and conduct them to heaven ; but all are transi 
tory, there is no permanency about them and no true assumption 
of humanity : the human is to be absorbed in the divine. The 
Greeks, on the other hand, began from below ; by virtue and 
valour men must for themselves mount up to the heights of 
Olympus and attain to the life divine, becoming as gods the 
apotheosis of man. The divinity, such as it was, was dis- 

1 Kg. Indian and Persian compared with Greek. 

2 Neander Hist, of Doct. vol. i p. 6 (Bohn), cf. Church Hist. vol. ii. 



tributed through the powers of nature, in many gods with 
limitations, Fate a mysterious power at the back of all 
(polytheism) ; or else it was regarded as the soul of the universe, 
diffused through all things, and not to be separated from the 
world, having no existence outside it (pantheism). In either 
base there is no God, as Jews and Christians conceived of God. 

The Problem of Evil 

The distinction between the religious thought of the East 
and of the West is readily seen in the different answers which 
were given to the question of the origin of evil, which was the 
great religious question. For the Jews no answer was provided 
in their sacred writings : they were only taught that the source 
of evil was not matter, that it was not inherent in the invisible 
material universe (which God, who made it, saw was very 
good ) ; they were taught that its essence was the assertion of 
the individual will against the will of God, or selfishness ; and 
that God permitted its existence, being represented even in 
dramatic fashion sometimes as the cause of that which he per 
mitted. By the writers of the New Testament no solution of 
the problem was attempted. But the Greek and Oriental 
philosophies had their answers ready. 

The metaphysical schools of Greek philosophy hardly 
grappled with the problem. 1 It is the Stoics who represent the 
Greek solution, and their main object was to reconcile the fact 
of the existence of evil with the supposed perfection of the 
universe. The conclusions which they reached are expressed 
in the following theses. The imperfection of the part is neces 
sary to the perfection of the whole : some things which appear 
evil are not really evil ; 2 and again, on the other hand, evil is 
necessary to the existence of good, inasmuch as one of two 
contraries cannot exist without the other (so the existence of 

1 The Eleatics assert the dogma that the One alone exists, plurality and change 
have no real being (ef. the Parmenidcs). Plato did not elaborate any systematic 
treatment of the question, though apparently regarding matter as the source of 
evil rb pi) 6v contrasted with rb &v (which is identified with rb dyaOdv, e.g. in the 
Timaeus). This conception was adopted by the Neoplatonists, e.g. Plotinus, and 
influenced Origen and other Christian thinkers. Aristotle deals with evil simply as 
a fact of experience. See further Mansel The Gnostic Heresies p. 23. 

2 This is illustrated by a saying of Seneca (Ep. 85. 30) Grief (or pain) and 
poverty do not make a man worse ; therefore they are not evils. 


good connotes the existence of evil, the idea of the one being 
necessary to the idea of the other). These theses, it is 
rightly pointed out, 1 are not philosophical explanations of the 
origin of evil in the world, but examinations of the difficulties 
which its existence involves in relation to other facts or doctrines. 
The answer, such as it is, is negative rather than positive : evil 
is an unripe form of good, or the absence of good. It is the 
pantheistic solution, with the mark of somewhat flimsy optimism 2 
on it : the unity of nature is preserved, but the reality of evil 
and of sin is sacrificed. 3 It was in keeping with the temper of 
the Greek, who worshipped nature naked and not ashamed , 
who was least of all men disposed to look on the gloomy side of 
the visible world, whose feelings opened out to all that was 
bright and beautiful and beneficial in nature. 4 The Hellenic 
mind was never much impressed by the sense of evil ; and con 
sequently Hellenic ethics had little influence in the earlier times 
on Christian doctrine. The influence of Hebraism was too strong. 

The religious thought of the East, on the other hand, was 
much more deeply imbued with the sense of evil. Two principal 
theories characteristic of Persian and of Hindoo thought 
respectively stand out. The first is dualistic, based on the 
hypothesis of the existence of two eternal principles of good 
and of evil, between whom an original and perpetual struggle is 
maintained. The secpnd,5upposes one original existence absol 
utely pure, the primitive source of good, from which by con 
tinuous descents (emanations) proceed successive degrees of 
lower and less perfect being, a gradual deterioration steadily 
taking place, till the final result is reached in evil, the form of 
being farthest removed from the primitive source of all existence. 

Corresponding to these two theories of existence are two 

1 Mansel I.e. 

2 With it may be compared the position of Shaftesbury as represented by Pope, 
from which easily follows the complete subordination of the individual and the nega 
tion of personal religion, the natural transition to atheism 

" Whatever wrong we call 
May, must be, right as relative to all. 
Discord is harmony not understood, 
All partial evil universal good." 

3 Hebraism, with one perfect God of righteousness outside the world, could 
realize sin. Hellenism, with no idea of perfection about its gods, had no place for 
sin in its thought : to break law, not to live in accordance with nature, was folly, 
not sin. 

4 Mansel I.e. 


different views of evil. The first is embodied in the Zoroastrian 
system, according to which the material world was in the first 
place created by the power of good (Ormuzd) in the space 
between light and darkness, first the heavens, then water, then 
in succession the earth, the trees, cattle, men : and so far all 
was good. But the power of evil (Ahriman) obtained a footing 
upon earth and attempted to counteract the work that had been 
done by creating animals and plants of a contrary kind, and 
jnflicting upon men the evils of hunger, weariness that calls for 
sleep, age, disease, and death, while leading them away from 
their allegiance to the power of good. And so the struggle 
goes on, and man alone has the power of choosing on which 
side he will fight, and so of partaking of good or evil. 
According to this (the Persian or dualistic) theory of the uni 
verse, matter is the production of a beneficent being and not 
essentially evil ; the source of evil is spiritual, and evil is a 
terrible reality. 

Quite different is the view which follows from the Hindoo 
theory of existence. The highest and truest mode of being is 
pure spirit, and entirely good ; the lowest form of being is matter, 
and entirely evil it is indeed not properly to be called being 
at all : the only reality is spirit, and matter is to speak ac 
curately a mere appearance and illusion, inasmuch as it lacks 
true being. Yet for practical purposes matter is synonymous 
with evil, and the great aim of all religion is to free men from 
its contamination, even at the cost of their annihilation. 

Oriental Ideas applied to the Christian Eevelation 

Matter is essentially evil this was the dominant principle 
of Oriental religious thought to which its converts to Chris 
tianity clung most strenuously, though it was in flagrant opposi 
tion to the early Christian tradition. If matter is evil, the 
Supreme God (who is good) cannot have created the world, and 
the Kedeemer (who is divine) cannot have come in the flesh. 
The creator of the world, the Demiurge, must be distinct from 
the Supreme God either an eternal power confronting him or a 
rebellious servant. And the body of Christ was not real, but 
only seemed to be (Docetism) ; and so either the sufferings were 
only apparent, or else the Kedeemer who could not suffer was 
separate from the man in whom he appeared. 


The Gnostics their Aims and Classification 

The Gnostics were thinkers who, starting from Oriental 
principles such as these, and feeling the need of redemption by 
a special divine revelation, believed that Jesus of Nazareth was 
the Eedeemer sent to save sinners, and tried to work out this 
belief and these principles into a philosophical theory of the 
universe. It is this conviction of the need of Eedemption, and 
the recognition of the person and work of Christ (in however 
perverted a form), which distinguish Gnosticism in all its schools 
\as a real attempt at interpretation (i.e. a religious heresy) from a 
mere philosophical extravagance. 1 " The time is gone by ", wrote 
one of the soundest and soberest of modern scholars, 2 " when the 
Gnostic theories could be regarded as the mere ravings of re 
ligious lunatics. The problems which taxed the powers of a 
Basilides and a Valentinus are felt to be amongst the most pro 
found and difficult which can occupy the human mind. . . . 
It is only by the study of Gnostic aberrations that the true 
import of the teaching of Catholic Christianity, in its moral as 
well as in its theological bearings, can be fully appreciated." 
They tried to find answers to such questions as, How can the 
absolute give birth to the relative ? unity to plurality ? good to 
evil ? There is no doubt that they made the first comprehen 
sive attempt to construct a philosophy of Christianity , and they 
have even been called the first Christian theologians. 

They were schools of thought in the Church, esoteric philo 
sophers, rather than sects, still looking to find in the Gospel 
the key to the enigmas of life, with no wish to withdraw from 
communion ; asking only for freedom of speculation, and finding 
no fault with the popular modes of presenting the Christian 
faith for the people. 3 But they drew a distinction between the 
popular simple faith, which was founded on authority and 

1 So Bigg (Christian Platonists of Alexandria p. 28) insists that "the interest, 
the meaning, of Gnosticism rests entirely upon its ethical motive. It was an attempt, 
a serious attempt, to fathom the dread mystery of sorrow and pain, to answer that 
spectral doubt which is mostly crushed down by force Can the world as we know it 
have been made by God ?" He says "it is a mistake to approach the Gnostics on 
the metaphysical side ". 

2 Lightfoot Preface to Hansel s Gnostic Heresies. 

8 Yet at least, when their teaching was repudiated by the official heads of the 
Church, they became rival Churches, and were obviously regarded as competitors 
by their orthodox opponents (cf. Tert. adv. Marc, iv 5). They claimed to have 
all that the Church had, and more besides. 


tradition, and the real knowledge the Gnosis which they them 
selves possessed. The former they regarded as merely the shell of 
the Christian theory of life, while they claimed a secret tradition 
of their own as the basis of the Gnosis , and jealously guarded 
it as a mystery from all but the chosen few. 1 No canons of 
interpretation, no theory of inspiration, had as yet been framed ; 
and the open tradition and standards of the Church fell short of 
the aim they set before themselves the apprehension of the 

S spiritual contents of the Gospel in a spiritual manner in relation 
to aspects of life which seemed to be ignored. 2 In this way they 
constituted themselves an intellectual aristocracy, for whom alone 

i salvation in the full sense of the word was reserved ; and they 
were therefore labelled Gnostics (knowing ones) by those who 

( were not willing to admit the claim. The label seems to have 

ibeen affixed with little exact discrimination. At all events it 
is used to cover very various forms of teaching, to some of which 
it scarcely applies at all ; and no satisfactory classification of the 
Gnostics can be made. A classification may be attempted based 
on two opposing views of the religion of the Jews. By some 
it was regarded as an imperfect preparation for a Christian 
philosophy, which Christianity should complete and so supersede. 
By others it was regarded as a system fundamentally hostile to 
Christianity, which Christianity was to combat and overthrow. 
So Christ was differently regarded by different Gnostic schools as 
coming either to complete an imperfect revelation or to deliver 
the world from bondage to an evil creator and governour ; and 
correspondingly diverse views of the Demiurge were held. Another 
classification rests upon a broad distinction that was early 

1 From this point of view they have been called the first Freemasons rather 
than the first theologians, though a closer analogy might be found in the practice 
of the Greek mysteries. 

2 Loofs (pp. 70, 73) distinguishes the chief variations of Gnosticism from (a) the 
Christian tradition (i.e. the popular creed) and (6) the Christian ecclesiastical philo 
sophy. He notes (a) the separation between the highest God and the Creator of 
the world (sometimes regarded as the God of the Jews in the Old Testament) the 
emanations or series of aeons docetic conception of the person of Christ cosmical 
origin of evil and corresponding conception of Redemption abandonment of early 
Christian eschatology ; and (&) salvation dependent on secret knowledge, or at least 
the Gnosis has promise of higher bliss than Faith alone can attain a syncretic 
system in which the Christian elements are overpowered by foreign elements, 
Babylonian and Hellenic, which it continually took to itself in increasing volume 
supersession of the genuine apostolic tradition through unlimited allegorical exegesis 
and its secret apostolic tradition. 

For fragments of Gnostic writings see especially Stieren s edition of Irenaeus. 


noted a moral difference ; some of the Gnostics being ascetic, 
and some, it was said, licentious. The charge of immorality 
has always been brought against religious opponents in all ages 
and must never be received without examination ; but in this 
case it appears to be justified, some of the Gnostics indeed 
making it a principle. If matter was essentially evil and 
antithetical to spirit, and yet man in his human life could not 
escape from it, two courses in regard to it were open to him. 
He might pursue a policy of rigorous abstinence, aiming at 
freeing his soul as much as possible from bondage to the 
material elements by which it was surrounded, and so of course 
refusing to marry and enthral new souls in the prison of the 
body : and thus he would win by ignoring, till he became 
unconscious of, the body. Or else he might adopt a superior 
attitude to all that was material, and abandon all attempts to 
purify the hopelessly corrupt. Deeds of the body could not 
affect the soul to the pure all things are pure : it was even 
a duty to put the body to shame and set at nought the restric 
tions which had been imposed by commands of the malevolent 
being who shut up the souls of men in matter Give to the 
flesh the things of the flesh and to the spirit the things of the 
spirit - 1 So they would keep the spirit pure, and triumph over 
the body by putting it to the most licentious uses. 

But none of the classifications suggested 2 (Judaizing, anti- 
Judaistic, Hellenizing, ascetic, licentious) are more than partial 
descriptions of these chameleon forms of thought, of which 
neither the history nor the geography can be given, 3 older forms 
maintaining themselves side by side with later developements, and 
representative teachers and writers of the most diverse kinds 

1 Iren. i 1. 11, 12, TO. (TapKiKk TCHS crap/a/coTs xal ra irvev/naTiKa TOLS TT^ei /iaTt/coTs 
dwo5L8offdaL \tyovtn. Cf. Clem. Al. Strom, iii 5. 

2 Westcott (Introduction to the Study of the Gospels ch. iv) points out the 
relation of the different Gnostic schools to the different modes of apprehension of 
Christian principles to which the New Testament bears witness. Cerinthus and the 
Ebionites exhibit an exaggeration of the Jewish sympathies of Matthew and James ; 
the Docetae of the Petrine view represented by Mark (cf. Peter s refusal to face the 
possibility of the sufferings of Christ) ; Marcion of Pauline teaching if pushed to 
extreme consequences ; while Valentinus shews the terminology of John if not the 

3 Loofs, p. 71. The greatest mixture of Eastern and Western religious and philo 
sophical thought prevailed in Mesopotamia and Syria ; and it is probable that 
Jewish and Christian conceptions working on this syncretic soil produced in one 
direction the Judaizing heresies which have been already considered, and in the 
other these manifold forms of the Gnosis. Both have the same birthplace. 


finding their way to the smaller communities as well as the 
greater centres of intercourse. 

We must be content to take, as examples, particular teachers 
and schools, without examining too closely their origin and 
mutual relations, and to frame, from accounts which are often 
defective and inconsistent with one another, such a statement of 
the case as the evidence allows. 

The Earlier Representatives of Gnostic Conceptions 

The early Fathers almost unanimously trace the origin of 
Gnosticism to Simon Magus, the chief of the Powers (emanations) 
of God ; l Hippolytus gives an account of a work attributed to 
him, called The Great Announcement , 2 and Menander is named 
as his pupil and successor. So too the Nicolaitans of the 
Apocalypse were usually considered Gnostics, 3 and the Gospel 
of St John was supposed to have been written to oppose the 
Gnostic views. Irenaeus cites the saying of St Paul, knowledge 
(Gnosis) puffeth up but love edifieth , 4 as a condemnation of the 
Gnosis ; but it is extremely improbable that the word has any 
such associations here or elsewhere in the New Testament, nor 
does the term c aeon occur in the Gnostic sense of emanation . 5 
In the false teaching opposed in the Epistle to the Colossians, 
and perhaps in the Epistles to Timothy, the seeds of something 
like the Gnostic conceptions may be detected, 6 but they are 
probably of Jewish rather than c Gnostic origin. 

The docetic view of the person of Christ, however, is 
certainly under consideration in the reference in the First Epistle 
of St. John 7 to " Jesus Christ come in flesh " and the condemna 
tion of those who do not c confess Jesus . Such as do not recognize 
the humanity of the divine Eedeemer this is what the expres 
sion means are not of God ; nay, they are Antichrist. It is 

1 Acts 8 9 - 10 . 2 H A7r60ao-ts fMeyd\r} Hippol. Refut. Haer. vi 9 ff. 

3 Iren. iii 11. 7, says they were forerunners of Cerinthus. 

4 1 Cor. 8 1 . Of. 13 8 , and contrast 2 Cor. II 6 . 

8 Probably not till its use by Valentinus. Similarly 7r\i$pw/m (Eph. I 23 4 13 ) has 
no technical sense, though its use in Col. I 19 2 9 of the totality of the divine 
attributes approximates towards the Gnostic conception. 

6 E.g. the higher knowledge, Col. 2 8 - 18 , 1 Tim. 6 20 ; the idea of the Demiurge, 
Col. I 16 - 17 ; angel-worship, Col. 2 18 ; asceticism, Col. 2 20 23 3 3 5 ; incipient Docetism, 
Col. 2 9 ( bodily ) ; and the evil of matter, 2 Tim. 2 16 18 (matter being evil could not 
be eternal, so the resurrection would be spiritual only). 

7 1 John 4 2 - 3 . Cf. 2 John 7. 


not enough to acknowledge his divinity ; that he was also very 
Man is of the essence of the faith. He who tries to distinguish 
the man Jesus from the Christ is far from the truth. 1 

And it is a similar docetic view, which made the human 
nature and the sufferings of the Lord unreal, that roused the 
strenuous opposition of Ignatius. 2 " He verily suffered, as also 
he verily raised himself again : not as some unbelievers say, who 
talk of his seeming to suffer, while it is they themselves who 
are the seemers ; and as they think, so it shall happen to 
them, bodyless and spectral as they are." 3 They who would 
make of Christ s humanity nothing but a spectre are themselves 
but spectral men. And again with a personal appeal to his 
own experiences on his way to martyrdom, which were in vain 
if Christ had not by a real Passion won for men a real salvation 
he insists " He was really crucified and died. . . . Why, if it 
were as some godless ones (that is, unbelievers) assert, who say 
that he only seemed to suffer, while it is they who are the 
seemers Why am I in chains ? " 4 It was indeed as man he 
was made manifest, though he was God. 5 He must be recog 
nised as one person, though having the twofold experiences of the 
human and the divine natures. " There is one Physician in flesh 
and in spirit (i.e. human and divine), generate and ingenerate (or 
originate and unoriginate), God in man (i.e. in human form) . . . 
first capable of suffering and then incapable of suffering." 6 

To docetic thinkers the divinity of Christ presented no 

1 1 John 2 M . 

2 The Judaistic and the docetic heresies, which are combated by Ignatius, 
seem to be distinct. In the letter here cited there is no reference to any Judaistic 
form of error. There are only two cases in which there is even apparent conjunction 
of Judaistic and docetic conceptions, and in both it is only apparent, namely, the 
Epistles to the Magnesians and to the Philadelphians. In both cases he passes at 
once from argument against the Judaizers to the supreme argument which the facts 
of the Gospel history furnish, and in this connexion lays stress on the reality of 
those facts. [Philad. viii to those who said unless I find it foretold in the Old 
Testament (the archives ) I do not believe it", he replies " my archives are the 
actual facts " ; and Magn. viii-xi in warning against ytiv^e^ara ra TraXcud (we 
cannot go back, that would be to confess that we had not got grace under our 
present system, with which compare St Paul s argument that if salvation can be 
got in the Law, then the death of Christ was gratuitous) he turns them to the 
present. Look at the actual facts, from which our present grace is derived.] If 
there had been docetic teaching in these two Churches it is inconceivable that he 
would not have expressed himself plainly and strongly in regard to it. As it is, it 
is not the reality of the humanity of the Lord to which he refers, but the reality 
of the Gospel itself the very facts which speak for themselves. 

3 Smyrn. 2. 4 Trail. 9, 10. B Eph. 18. 6 Eph. 7. 


difficulties. It was the humanity (with its close relation to 
matter) that they could not acknowledge. It was only the 
channel by which he came into the world. " Jesus ", they said, 
" passed through Mary as water through a tube." l He was 
through or by means of but not of Mary ; that is to 
say, he derived from her no part of his being. " For just as 
water passes through a pipe without receiving any addition from 
the pipe, so too the Word passed through Mary but was not 
derived from Mary." 2 The humanity was only the organ of 
revelation, the momentary vehicle for the introduction into the 
world of the eternal truth, and when the end was attained it 
was allowed to perish. Such denial of the fundamental idea of 
the Incarnation naturally aroused the most vigorous opposition 
wherever it was found. 

The first of the heads of schools whose names have come 
down to us is Saturninus (or Saturnilus), a Syrian (of Antioch), 
in the reign of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.). He seems to have 
believed in the malignity of matter and in the existence of an 
active principle of evil. God the Father was unknowable, he 
held ; without origin, body, or form ; and He had never appeared 
ito men. He created the angels, and seven of the angels created 
.the world and man. The God of the Jews was only one of 
;the angels, who kept men under his control ; and Christ came 
to abolish his power and lead men back to the truth. 

Cerdo, also a Syrian, who came to Borne a little later, carried 
out further still the distinction between the God of the Old Testa 
ment and the God of the New Testament : the former was just 
and could be known, the latter was good and unknowable. 3 It 
was perhaps from Cerdo that Marcion derived his leading thought. 

Marcion and his Followers 

Marcion 4 is perhaps hardly to be classed with other Gnostics. 
He had no emanation theories and no such extravagant alle- 

1 Iren. iii 11. 8. 

2 [Origen] Dial. adv. Gnosticos iv p. 121 (Rufinus v 9). Cf. Tert. de Game 
Christi 20 (Halm 3 p. 10) ; Theodoret^jp. 145 (Migne P.G. Ixxxiii 1380s). 

3 Views similar to those of Saturninus and Cerdo seem to have been adopted late 
in life by Tatian. Bardesanes, another Syrian, at the end of the second century 
(whose hymns were in use by the Syrian Christians till the time of Ephraem two 
centuries later), had more in common with Valentinus. 

4 The son of a bishop of Sinope in Pontus (said to have been expelled from the 



gorizing as they indulged in ; and while all the rest regard the 
redemptive work of Christ as consisting in his doctrine, whether 
treated mainly from the theoretic or from the ethical point of 
view, he laid due stress on the Passion and Death, as shewing 
the highest proof of love, and on faith rather than on knowledge. 
In this respect, at least, he was immeasureably nearer the 
Catholic standpoint than they : his interest was predominantly 
soteriological. But he and his followers were commonly reckoned 
Gnostics by their opponents, and the instinct of such men as 
Irenaeus and Tertullian was probably not much in error. It is 
at any rate certain that the dualism of the Gnostics, which was 
always felt to be destructive of all true interpretation of the 
Gospel, was carried out in some respects more thoroughly by 
Marcion than by any others. Starting from the conviction of 
the antagonism between the Law and the Gospel, he could not 
believe them both to have been given by one God : the teaching 
of the God of the Jews and the teaching of Christ were too 
different for both to have come from the same source ; and he 
wrote a book to point out the contradictions between the Old 
Testament and the Gospel. So the practical antagonism to the 
Jewish law, which some of the writings of St Paul exhibited, 
became with him theological too ; and he conceived two Gods. 
One was the God of the Jews, who made this world ; the author 
of evil works, bloodthirsty, changeable far from perfect, and 
ignorant of the highest things, concerned with his own peculiar 
people only, and keeping them in subjection by means of the Law 
and the terror of breaking it. The other was the God of love 
and of Christ, the creator of the immaterial universe above our 
world. The God of the Jews might be said to be just, inasmuch 
as he carried out scrupulously all the provisions of the Law : 
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth Thou shalt 
love him that loveth thee, and hate thine enemy. This might 
be just, but it was not good. Goodness was the attribute of 
the God who bade men, if smitten on one cheek, to turn the 
other also, to love their enemies and to pray for their perse 
cutors; and this conception of God was new and peculiar to 
the Gospel of Christ. Things in which evil is found could not 
proceed from the good God, and the Christian dispensation 
could have nothing in common with the Jewish. Most charac- 

Church by his own father, but this is probably a libel Epiph. adv. Haer. xlii 1), 
who came to Rome in the first half, towards the middle, of the second century. 


teristic of Marcion was this idea of the absolute newness and 
grandeur of Christianity as separate from all that had gone 
before ; and his absolute rejection of Judaism and of all the 
historical circumstances and setting of Christianity. Of evolution 
or developement in religion, of a progress in the self-revelation 
| of God adapted to the age, he had no notion. So, naturally, his 
conception of Jesus corresponded to his other theories. Jesus 
appears suddenly on the earth with no preliminary preparation, 
sent down by the Supreme God the Father from the higher 
regions where he dwelt. 1 With a material body he could have 
nothing to do, nor with a birth ; 2 but a body in some sense 
capable of suffering he had, assumed for the special purpose of 
his mission to reveal to men the God of Love and to abrogate 
the law and the prophets 3 and all the works of the God who 
had created and ruled their world. This God the Demiurge 
he conquered and cast into hell, but his influence remained, 
and it is against him that the struggle for men still lies. For 
victory in this conflict he urged the need of an ascetic and 
celibate life, that the kingdom of the Demiurge might not be 
increased. The earthly body and its desires must be kept in 
check ; it was doomed in any case to perish ; the soul only 
could attain to blessedness, and the way to it lay through 

The practical character of the Marcionite school no doubt 
contributed largely to its growth. In this and in its opposition 
to Judaism 4 its strength undoubtedly lay. It could not have 
been on moral grounds that Polycarp professed to recognize 
in Marcion " Satan s firstborn ". 5 It is recorded of one of 

1 It is not clear in what relation he held Christ to stand to the Supreme 
God : perhaps he made no distinction between Father and Son the Supreme God 
Himself appearing without any mediator in the world. (So a kind of Modalism, 
see infra p. 97). 

2 The birth and infancy and the genealogy he excised from the only Gospel 
which he admitted (viz. our Gospel according to St Luke amended to harmonize with 
his views). Against this docetic conception of Marcion see Tertullian de Carne 
Christi, who maintains that Christ was as regards his flesh and body altogether one 
with us (concarnatio and conmsceratid). 

3 Christ was not the Messiah of whom the prophets conceived. Their Christ was 
a warrior king come to save Israel, ours was crucified to save the world. 

4 They regarded the Church as still in the chains of the Law sunk in 
Judaism . See Tert. adv. Marc, i 20 "They say that Marcion by his separation 
between the Law and the Gospel did not so much introduce a new rule of faith as 
restore the old rule when it had been falsified." 

5 The tale is told by Irenaeus (iii 3. 4). Marcion had known Polycarp in the 


Marcion s most distinguished followers 1 that he maintained that 
those who had their hope set on the Crucified would be saved, 
only if they were found doers of good works. His teaching 
proved extraordinarily attractive. Justin declared it was 
diffused through every race of men. 2 Tertullian compared the 
Marcionites, who had " churches " with bishops and presbyters 
and songs and martyrs of their own, to swarms of wasps 
building combs in imitation of the bees. 3 As well as their 
own churches and organization, they had their own Canon of 
Scripture, based on the conviction that Paul alone had under 
stood the teaching of Jesus ; 4 and some of their alterations and 
corrections exerted a disturbing influence on the text which 
was current outside the Marcionite communities. 5 The popul 
arity and permanence of the movement (there were Marcionite 
churches in existence till the seventh century) is of great 
significance in the history of the interpretation of the Christian 
revelation, although the interpretation which was championed 
at the time by Justin and Irenaeus and Tertullian prevailed. 6 

Oarpocrates and his Followers 

Another of the Gnostics who really stands in some 
respects alone is Carpocrates, 7 a Platonic philosopher at Alex- 
East ; but Polycarp passed him when they met at Rome. " Do you not know me ? " 
cried Marcion. " I know [you to be] Satan s firstborn " was Polycarp s uncompro 
mising answer. 

1 Apellcs (with his companion Philumene, a prophetess ) opposed by 
Rhodon (see Euseb. Hist. Eccl. v 13), Hippolytus, and Tertullian (dc Carne Christi 
6, 8). 

2 Ap. i 26. 

3 I.e. the Catholics (Tert. adv. Marc, iv 5). 

4 Their Bible had no Old Testament, and only a mutilated edition of the Gospel 
according to St Luke and of the ten Epistles of St Paul (Gal. 1, 2, Rom. 1, 2, Thess., 
Eph., Col., Phm., Phil.), the Pastoral Epistles being rejected. Marcion s own book, 
the AvTidtveis, was also standard. 

5 See Rendel Harris Codex Bczae, p. 232. 

6 The writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian only are extant, though Justin 
Dialogue 80 describes the Gnostic schools. Eusebius mentions also works by 
Theophilus of Antioch, Philip of Gortyna, Dionysius of Corinth, Bardesanes, 
Rhodon, and Hippolytus. 

7 Mentioned in the list of Hegesippus (Euseb. H.E. iv 22). Our chief authority is 
Irenaeus i 20 ; ii 48 #. vol. i pp. 204 ff., 369 f. ; cf. Clem. Al. Strom, iii 2. Dorner 
calls him a religious genius . Apart from the usual Gnostic notions of a special 
secret doctrine and of emanations of angels and powers, the lowest of whom had 
created the world, the theory of Carpocrates derived its special character from an 


andria, early in the second century : the sect which he founded 
being still active at Korue in the time of Irenaeus, who took 
elaborate pains in his refutation of their teaching. In common 
with Marcion he held the view that redemption was only possible 
for him who had the sense to despise Judaism, and that it was 
to be found in escape from the control of the powers who ruled 
the material world. Not through any obedience to their laws, 
but through faith and love would man be saved. Works were 
indifferent having no moral value good or bad in human 
opinion only ; that is to say, the human standard is untrustworthy. 
This antinomianism seems with Carpocrates to have remained 
theoretic, and he inculcated a life of perfect purity (the 
reproach of licentiousness is not supported by the oldest 
sources of information). But his followers carried out the 
principle into practice, and became proverbial for deliberate 
immorality, indulged in without scruple. 1 Indeed it was the 
Gnostic s duty to enlarge his experiences of every kind of life 
to the utmost. So taught his son Epiphanes, and the Cain- 
ites, who got their name from taking the murderer of Abel as 
their hero. They and the Ophites 2 absolutely inverted the 
commonly accepted notions of good and evil, and of the Old 
Testament all through. The creator of the world being regarded 

adaptation of the Platonic conception of Recollection ( Avd/AvrjcrLs) expressed in the 
great Phaedrus myth (Plato Phaedrus 246 ff.). The souls of men had been carried 
round the immaterial heavens, and in their course had been granted vision of the 
suprasensual Ideas (Truth, Beauty, Virtue, and the like, as they really, i.e. spiritu 
ally, exist). To their recollection of what they then saw, the souls, when joined to 
bodies, owe all their knowledge of higher than mundane things. Those that are 
able to reach the Ideas receive from above a spiritual Power which renders them 
superior to the powers of the world. Such a power was received by Homer and 
Pythagoras, and Plato and Aristotle, and Peter and Paul, as well as pre-eminently 
by Jesus the perfect man ; and every soul which like Jesus was able to despise 
the powers of the world would receive the same power. With this conception went 
also that of Transmigration of souls : he who has lived in perfect purity goes on 
death to God ; but all other souls must expiate their faults by passing successively 
into various bodies, till at last they are saved and reach communion with God. 

1 See p. 78 supra. 

2 Ophiani (Clem., Orig.), Ophitai (Hippol., Epiph.) i.e. worshippers of the 
serpent ; or Naassenes (the Hebrew form of the same word) (see Iren. i 28. 3 H. 
vol. i p. 232). Hippolytus says they were the first to assume the name Gnostics , 
asserting that they alone knew the deep things (v 6). No names of individuals 
are recorded. The use of the serpent as a religious emblem (a relic of Totemism) 
was common in countries which were specially receptive of Gnosticism (e.g. among 
the Phoenicians and Egyptians). The serpent represented the vital principle of 
nature ; and the figure of a circle with a snake in the middle (like the Greek letter 
0) symbolized the world. It was said that the Ophites allowed tame snakes to 


as an evil power, acting in hostility to the Supreme God, the 
Fall became the emancipation of man from the authority of a 
malevolent being : the serpent was the symbol of true wisdom 
and freedom, wishing to be man s friend against the jealous 
Jehovah ; and so the usual reading of the Old Testament was 
reversed the bad characters becoming good, oppressed by the 
servants of Jehovah. 

Of sects with these general principles there were many 
varieties and degrees. In principle probably, and in practice 
certainly, they are the furthest removed of all the Gnostic 
schools from the Catholic view of the purport of the Christian 
revelation, and exhibit the greatest admixture of foreign ele 
ments. 1 

The School of Basilides 

For the finest representatives of the Gnostic philosophy of 
life we must turn to very different men Basilides and Valen- 

Basilides was probably of Syrian origin, but taught at 
Alexandria in the second quarter of the second century. Of 
his system very different accounts are given : 2 for the present 
the following may be taken as a general description. 

The Supreme God, the unbegotten Father, could only be 
described by negations. To reach to knowledge of Him it was 
necessary to ascend through a long series of grades of spiritual 
being which had emanated from Him. Of these the highest 
the first emanations from Him were a group of eight (the 
first Ogdoad), comprising in descending order Mind (or Keason 

crawl about and sanctify the Eucharistic bread ; and their teaching and actions 
no doubt encouraged the belief of the heathen in the tales of debauchery practised 
at the Christian love-feasts. 

1 One of the chief Gnostic works that is extant seems to belong to this Ophite 
school (though there are in it no signs of its immoral practices). It is entitled 
Pistis Sophia, i.e. Sophia penitent and believing, and is extant in a Coptic version, 
though incomplete. It is thought to have been written originally in Greek 
c. 200 A.D. The work is composed in the form of a dialogue in which the 
disciples, male and female, put questions to Jesus and elicit answers giving ex 
pression to Gnostic conceptions. There is a Latin translation by Schwartze, and 
an English translation published by the Theosophical Publishing Society. 

2 The Basilides of Irenaeus is described as an emanationist and dualist ; the 
Basilides of Hippolytus as an evolutionist and pantheist (Stoic and monistic). So 
Bigg (p. 27) says the aeons have no place at all in his system, following the 
account of Hippolytus Eefut. Haer. His teaching was probably understood, or 
developed by his followers, in different ways. 


in itself), Eeason or Word or Speech (the expression of Mind), 

Understanding (or practical Wisdom), Wisdom, Power, Virtues, 

Chiefs, and Angels. 1 These made or comprised the first heaven, 

the highest region or grade in the spiritual world ; and from 

them as source proceeded, in succession, each in turn from the 

one immediately preceding it, a series of emanations and 

heavens, till there were in all no fewer than three hundred and 

sixty-five gradations of spiritual being. 2 The lowest of these 

heavens is the one which is seen by us. Its angels made and 

rule the terrestrial world we know. Their chief is the God of 

the Jews (the Kuler), who wished to make all nations subject 

to his, but the other heavenly powers arrayed themselves 

against him, as the other nations arrayed themselves against his 

nation. But for the redemption of man there was needed the 

entrance of some superior power from the higher worlds into 

the lower terrestrial world ; and the Father, seized with com 

passion, sent forth his first-born Mind (the first of the 

emanations), who is Christ, to deliver all who believe in him 

from the powers that rule the world. He appeared in human 

form, uniting himself with the man Jesus at his baptism : the 

man Jesus not being the Eedeemer, but merely the instrument 

selected by the redeeming God for the purpose of revealing 

himself to men. It was only in appearance that he was sub 

jected to death upon the Cross, and those who believe in the 

Crucified One are still under the dominion of the rulers of the 

world. The body must needs perish, the soul only is immortal ; 

and for this reason Christ suffered his bodily nature to perish 

and be resolved into formlessness, while the constituents of the 

higher nature ascended to their own region. 3 So all who are 

capable of redemption are gradually illuminated by the divine 

light of knowledge, and purified, and enabled to ascend on high : 

and when all who are capable are redeemed the rest will be 

involved in utter ignorance of all that is above them, so that 

they have no sense of deficiency or of unsatisfied desire, and 

thus the restoration of all things will be effected. The ethical 

1 Nous, A6yos, ^pdv-rio-ts, So0fa, AiW/its, Aperal. . 

2 The whole spiritual world, the totality of spiritual existence, is thus expressed 
by the mystical watchword often found on Gnostic gems, Abraxas (the Sun- 
God), which stands for 365 according to the Greek reckoning by letters of the 
alphabet (a = l, /3 = 2, p = 100, = 60, s = 200). 

3 It was also said that he did not suffer himself to be crucified, but substituted 
Simon of Gyrene in his stead. 


work of man is the extirpation of all traces of the low grade of 
life which cling to him, as appendages which must be torn away. 1 
The strength and the weakness of the system of Basilides 
has been well appraised when it is said that of all the Gnostic 
systems it " least recognizes any break or distinction between 
the Christian revelation and the other religions of the world. 
His leading thought is the continuity of the world s develop 
ment its gradual purification and enlightenment by a pro 
gressive series of movements succeeding one another by a 
fixed law of evolution. But while the system thus gains in 
philosophical unity, it loses in moral and religious significance. 
No place is left for the special providence of God, nor for the 
freewill of man : there is almost a Stoical pantheism, quite a 
Stoical fatalism. . . . The Supreme God is impersonal, capable 
of no religious relation to man, introduced ... to give the first 
impulse to the mechanical movement of the world s self- 
developement. . . .As he is elevated to the position of an 
absolute first principle, he is stripped of the attributes which 
alone can make him the object of moral obedience or religious 
worship." 2 

The Valentinians 

Similar to the teaching of Basilides, at least in many of its 
chief conceptions, was the system of Valentinus, 3 who lived at 
Alexandria and in Cyprus till towards the middle of the 
second century he came to Kome, and only late in his life, it 
is said, seceded from the Church. His system seems to have 
been the most comprehensive and the most eclectic of all, but 
three leading ideas may be detected. From Plato comes the 
conception that the higher existences of the terrestrial world 
have their superior and real counterparts in the celestial 
world, the earthly shadows only imperfectly reflecting the 
ideal substances. From the pantheistic philosophy of India 

1 So Isidorus, the son of Basilides, if not Basilides himself. 

2 Mansel Gnostic Heresies p. 165. 

8 Of the Valentinian school there are some literary remains. His disciple 
Heracleon is the earliest commentator on the gospels, fragments of his work on 
St John s Gospel are extant (see the edition of A. E. Brooke Texts and Studies vol. i 
no. 4). A letter by Ptolemaeus, another disciple, who roused the opposition of 
Irenaeus, is given by Epiphanins (adv. Haer. xxxiii 3-7) ; and also an extract from 
an anonymous work (ibid, xxxi 5, 6). Fragments from Valentinus are in Clem. 
Strom, ii 8, 20 ; iii 7, 13 ; vi 6 ; and Hippolytus vi 29-37. Irenaeus gives a 
detailed account of the system (i 1-21) and a criticism of it (ii). 


he derived the thought that the origin of material existence 
was due to an error or fall or degradation of some higher mode 
of being a transient blot on the perfection of the absolute. 
This thought he nevertheless combined with the belief derived 
from Judaism that the creation of the world was to be 
attributed to the wisdom of God, regarded nearly as a separate 
personality as in the later writings of the Jews. 

The term aeons seems to have been used first by Valentinus 
to denote the personifications of the divine attributes, 1 which all 
together formed the whole spiritual world to which the name 
Pleroma was given (the totality of spiritual functions and life 
ideal being). Of these aeons, thirty in all, there were three 
orders ; the first of eight, the second of ten, the third of twelve. 
They proceeded always in pairs, 2 male and female ; the first pair 
in each successive order from the lowest pair in the order 
above it. The first order, the Ogdoad, represent the original 
existence of the Divine Being, in his absolute nature, inscrutable 
and unspeakable, and in his relative nature, manifesting him 
self in operation. The second order, the Decad, represent the 
action of the Deity through his attributes in the formation of a 
world ideal, primary, and immaterial. The third order, the 
Dodecad, represent the divine operations in nature or grace. 
All these are of course supra-sensual, immaterial, ideal : the 
spiritual types and patterns and realities, 3 as it were, of any 
thing that afterwards came within the range of human experi 
ence. In this way all existence is conceived as having its 

1 A.IWVCS, probably from Plato s use of the singular aeon to express the ever- 
present form of the divine existence prior to time, so applied by Valentinus to 
the manifestations of this existence. 

2 Each of these pairs is the consort (oT^Vyoj) of the other. Their names are as 
follows. The Ogdoad "Appyros (or Bi>#6s or TLar^p aytvvyTos) and 21777 (or"Ey^ota 
or Xdpis) ; NoCs (or Harrip or Mopoyej ij s) and *A\iJ0eta (forming together the highest 
tetrad, from which proceeds a second tetrad) ; A6yo$ and ZwiJ ; "AvOpwiros and 
E/c/cX?;crta [the ideal man, the most perfect expression of the divine thought, is the 
Gnostic spiritual man, separated from the rest as the Church (the ideal society) 
is from the world]. The Decad Bi50ios and M/ty ; AyypaTos and/ Ei/wo-ts ; Ai/ro- 
0yi?s and Kdov-ri ; AKivrjTos and Siry/cpa<ris ; Movoyevfy and Ma/rapa. The Do 
decad IIapd/cX?7Tos and IKcms ; Harpmbs and EXTri s ; M^rpi/cds and Ayd-jnj ; 
Ai wvtos and SiWcrts ; E/c/cX77<nacm/c6s and Ma/cap^r???, GeXT/rds and Zo0ta. The term 
Bu06s (the abyss) for the first great cause, expresses the infinite fulness of life, 
the ideal, where the spirit is lost in contemplation. See Irenaeus, i 1. 1 (Epiph. 
adv. Hacr. xxxi) ; cf. Tert. adv. Valent. 

8 It is in connexion with this conception, with special reference to the idea 
that the crucifixion under Pontius Pilate was only of the animal and fleshly 
Christ a delineation of what the higher Christ had experienced in the higher, 


origin in the self -limitation of the Infinite, and it is of supreme 
importance that each form of being should remain within the 
limits of its own individuality, keeping its proper place in 
the evolution of life. This principle is personified in Horos 
(Boundary), the genius of limitation, who fixes the bounds of 
individual existence and carefully guards them against dis 
turbance. Even in the spiritual world this function had to 
be exercised, for there too there was in idea an archetype of 
the fall and redemption of the world. Of all the aeons one 
only was, by the will of the Supreme, cognisant of his nature 
Mind, the first of the pair which proceeded immediately 
from him. In the others arose a desire for the knowledge 
which Mind alone enjoyed, and in the youngest of all the 
aeons, Sophia (Wisdom), this desire became a passion. Then 
Horos came, to fulfil his function, and convinced her that the 
Father was incomprehensible by her ; and so she recognized her 
limitations and abandoned her design. And in order to prevent 
any recurrence of the kind a new pair of aeons issued from 
Mind, Christus and the Holy Spirit, who conveyed the same 
truth to all the aeons, and they then combined to produce a 
new aeon-Christ, the most perfect beauty and constellation of 
the Pleroma . This is the prototype of the process of redemp 
tion in the world. 

The design which Sophia abandoned was itself personified 
and banished to the region outside the Pleroma (or spiritual 
world), which is styled the Kenoma (the region void of spiritual 
being). As the result of this fall of the lower Sophia (or Acha- 
moth) in some way or other l life is imparted to matter, and 
the Demiurge (Jaldabaoth) who creates the lower world we 
know is formed, and the first man Adam. In man is deposited, 
through the agency of Achamoth, a spiritual seed, and it is to 
redeem this spiritual element and draw it back_to_its _proper 
spiritual _home that the last emanation from the aeons, the 
] Christ, by his own wish and with their consent, assumes a 
spiritual body 2 and descends from the Pleroma. As Saviour he 

the real, world that Tertullian styles them Christians in imagination rather than 
in reality. " Ita omnia in imagines urgent, plane et ipsi imaginarii Christian! " 
(adv. Talent. 27 ; cf. Ignatius loc. cit. supra). 

1 The accounts differ in details. All that is clear is that rj KOLTW (ro0/a, as having 
been in the Pleroma, has in her something of the spiritual or real existence, and 
therefore imparts to the matter into which she falls the seed of life. 

2 This is what was visible in Jesus. According to Irenaeus (i 1. 13 //. vol. i p. 


awakes the soul of men out of sleep and fans into flame the 
spiritual spark within them by virtue of the perfect knowledge 
he communicates ; and, as the consort of Achamoth, by the sign 
of the cross leads back the souls that he rescues out of the 
power of the Demiurge into the region of spiritual life. And 
so there is a restoration of the heavenly element in the human 
frame struggling to return to its native place, and the material 
part is dissolved. But it is not all men who are capable of 
such redemption. By Valentinus the nature of man was con 
ceived as threefold : the bodily part (itself twofold, one subtle, 
ihylic, and one gross, earthy), the soul derived from the Demiurge, 
and the spirit derived from Achamoth. And men themselves 
(fell into three classes according as one or other of these elements 
prevailed. The spiritual were only a select few from among men, 
1 and they were certain of salvation ; the bodily were incapable 
of salvation ; the others, forming an intermediate class between 
the two extremes, might either rise to the higher or sink to the 
lower lot. By the introduction of this middle class Valentinus 
intended no doubt to soften the hardness of the line of demar 
cation between the Gnostic and all other men. But the principle 
remained the same, and the general feeling in regard to it was 
fairly expressed by Irenaeus l when he declared that it was 
" better and more expedient for men to be ignorant and of little 
learning, and to draw near to God through love, than to think 
themselves very learned and experienced and be found blas 
phemers against their Lord ". 2 

The Influence of Gnosticism on the Developement of Christian 

It is not easy to compute exactly the influence of Gnosticism 
on the developement of Christian doctrine. It is certain that its 

61) the nature of Christ, as conceived by Valentinus, was fourfold : (1) a irvevfj-a 
or spiritual principle (such as was derived from Achamoth) ; (2) a \j/vx^ or animal 
soul derived from the Demiurge ; (3) a heavenly body, formed by a special 
dispensation, visible, tangible, passible, not of the substance of the Virgin who 
was only the channel by which it came into the world ; (4) the pre-existent Saviour 
who descended in the form of a dove at the Baptism and withdrew with the spiritual 
principle before the Crucifixion. (There was thus no real humanity or body ; it was 
only apparent, docetic. ) 

1 Iren. ii 39 H. vol. i p. 345. 

2 Of the school of Valentinus was Theodotus, whose writings were well 
known to Clement. See the Excerpta ex Scriptis Thcodoti (extracts made perhaps 


triumph would have meant the overthrow of Christianity as a 
historical religion and the disruption and ruin of the Church. 
It is said that its influence was almost entirely negative in 
that it discredited Dualism and the negation of the human free 
will and Old Testament criticism, and by its appeal to apostolic 
writings and tradition which were not genuine occasioned the 
formal establishment of genuine apostolic standards in the 
Church. 1 If, however, it is difficult to point to any definite 
positive influence of Gnostic thought on the developement of the 
doctrine of the Church (which had, of course, begun and went 
on independently) ; it seems probable that it played an im 
portant part in rousing or stimulating interest in Christianity, 
as not only the practical way of salvation but also the truth and 
the way of knowledge in its widest sense ; and that it did much 
to introduce studies, literature, and art into the Christian Church, 2 
and to force the great teachers to shew that in Christianity was 
contained the essence of all the truth there was in the pre- 
Christian religions. 3 

To this end, at any rate, some of the greatest devoted their 
energy, and in the working out of the doctrine of the Divine Logos, 4 
and of his Incarnation in Jesus Christ, there was found as a sub 
stitute for the wild conceptions of the Gnostics the expression 
which seemed to the more philosophical and cultured Christians 
to satisfy the unique conditions of the Gospel revelation. 5 

But there were other difficulties in the way of the accept 
ance of the Logos doctrine, and strong currents of thought and 

by Clement for his own use) ; Migne P. G. ix pp. 653-698. An account of his 
system in Bigg I.e. p. 31 ff. 

1 E.g. Loofs, p. 73. 

2 See King Gnostic Gems. So Dorner Person of Christ Eng. tr. vol. i p. 254 
writes "hardly any one could wish that the Church might have escaped the Gnostic 

3 See Harnack s account of the results DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 317. 

4 Before Gnosticism the term Logos (cf. St John s Gospel) seems to have been little 
used and taken rather in the sense of Reason. Christ was more commonly spoken of 
in this connexion as the Wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. I 24 , Col. 2 3 , Matt. 14 19 , Luke I 35 II 49 ). 

5 Dorner (i p. 252) points out the witness both of Ebionism and of Gnosticism 
to the Christological conceptions of the eai-ly Church. Ebionism asserted that the 
genuine Church truth held only the humanity of Christ. This clearly shews that 
the humanity was universally acknowledged otherwise Ebionism could not, in 
laying stress on this, have claimed a Christian character. Gnosticism, on the other 
hand, proposed to find the deeper meaning of Christianity by emphasizing the higher 
element in Christ. This presupposes that the Church recognized this element, but 
did not give it adequate expression from attaching weight also to the humanity. 


feeling to be stemmed before the haven of agreement could be 


Manicheism was a school of thought in some of its chief features 
closely akin to Gnosticism, aiming at similar ends ; but it is not easy to 
give in short compass a satisfactory account of it. A few notes on its 
connexion with the history of Christian doctrine must suffice. 

(1) The source of nearly all Christian accounts is the Ada Archelai, 
which professes to report dialogues between Manes and Archelaus (a 
Bishop of Carchar in Mesopotamia) in the reign of Probus (supposed to 
have been composed in Syriac and translated into Greek, but probably 
spurious and composed in Greek in the fourth century now extant in 
a Latin translation from the Greek, long fragments of which are quoted 
by Epiphanius adv. Haer. Ixvi 6, 25-31 ; cf. Cyril Cat. vi 27 ff.). More 
is to be learnt from Titus, Bishop of Bostra, in Arabia (c. 362-370), who 
wrote four books against the Manichaeans (the first two of which are 
extant in Greek, and all in a Syriac translation). He derived his infor 
mation from a book of a follower of Manes, but softened down the 
doctrines so as not to give offence, and thereby opened the way to mis 
understanding. But most trustworthy is the testimony of Mohammedan 
historians of later times (ninth to twelfth centuries), who had better 
opportunities of information about the literature (Babylon having been 
the birthplace and remaining the centre of the movement till the 
tenth century, the head of the sect residing there), while they had 
no polemical purpose, being led to their investigations by a genuine 
scientific curiosity. For the form which Manicheism assumed in the 
West the works of Augustine on the system are the chief authority. 

(2) Manes was born about 215 at Ctesiphon, whither his father had 
moved from Ecbatana. Originally an idolater, he had joined the sect 
of c Ablutioners (who also laid special stress on vegetarianism and 
abstinence from wine), and Manes was brought up in this sect, and its 
essentially ascetic character was the chief mark of the hybrid type of 
religion which he conceived. He first came forward as a teacher at a 
great festival in March 242, and preached for years in the East of 
Babylonia, and in India and China, obtaining favour in high quarters 
from officers of state and the king himself. But between 273 and 
276, through the hostility of the Magi, he was put to death as a 
heretic, and flayed, and his head was set up over a gate still known by 
his name in the eleventh century. 

(3)JIhe religion was essentially dualistic, based on the contrast 

between light and darkness, good and evil, conceived in poetical form 

as was usual in the East) as a struggle between personal agents, 

i and elaborated in a manner somewhat similar to that of the Gnostic 


cosmologies. No distinction was drawn between the physical and the 
, ethical, and thus "religious knowledge could be nothing but the know 
ledge of nature and its elements, and redemption consisted exclusively 
in a physical deliverance of the fractions of light from darkness. . . . 
Ethics became a doctrine of abstinence from all elements arising from 
the realm of darkness " (Harnack). The powers of darkness or evil 
sought to bind men (who always had some share of light) to themselves 
through sensuous attractions, error, and false religions (especially that of 
Moses and the prophets) ; while the spirits of light were always trying 
to recall to its source the light which was in men, by giving them the 
true gnosis as to nature through prophets and preachers of the truth, 
such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus (in some form), 
and Manes himself who was held to be the last and greatest prophet, 
the guide, the ambassador of light, the Paraclete, by whose instrument 
ality the separation of light from darkness is accomplished. Practical 
religion thus became a rigorous asceticism, abstaining from all sensuous 
enjoyment (the three seals, the signaculum oris, manus, et sinus the 
mouth, the hand, the breast symbolized the complete abstinence from 
everything containing elements of darkness), practising constant fasts (in 
all about a quarter of the year) and ablutions and prayers four times a day. 
Such an asceticism, however, was only possible for comparatively few, 
and a twofold moral standard was permitted, only the perfect 
Manichaeans the elect fulfilling these strict rules, while the lower 
class of secular Manichaeans, catechumens or hearers (auditores\ were 
only required to avoid idolatry, witchcraft, and sensual vices, and to 
kill no living creature. Worship consisted exclusively of prayers and 
hymns ; they had no temples, altars, or images. 

(4) To the difficult question why Manicheism spread so far and 
wide, Harnack gives the answer that its strength was due to the combi 
nation of ancient mythology and a vivid materialistic dualism with an 
extremely simple spiritual cultus and a strict morality supplemented 
by the personality of the founder. It retained the mythologies of 
the Semitic nature-religions, but substituted a spiritual worship and a 
strict morality. It offered revelation, redemption, moral virtue, and im 
mortality and spiritual blessings, on the ground of nature-religion; 
while the learned and the ignorant, the enthusiast and the man of the 
world, could all find a welcome. And it presented a simple apparently 
profound and yet easy solution of the pressing problem of good and 

(5) Why it should have gained recruits among Christians is a 
further question. To Western Christians there were great obstacles in 
the foreign language and the secret script in which the books were 
written, and they must have derived their knowledge from oral sources. 
Manes himself seems to have been very little influenced by Christianity ; 


as presented by the Church he must have regarded it as full of errors, 
but he probably drew from the forms it had assumed among the followers 
of Basilides and Marcion. His system had points of contact with the 
ancient Babylonian religion the original source of all the gnosis of 
Western Asia, transformed by Christian and Persian elements into a 
philosophy of the world and of life (Buddhism seems to have made no 
contributions). The doctrine of the Incarnation was rejected ; yet the 
Western Manichaeans succeeded in giving the system a kind of Christian 
colour, while retaining its rigid physical Dualism, its rationalizing 
character, and its repudiation of the Old Testament. At its first 
appearance in the Roman Empire it was probably as a sect originating in 
Persia, an inveterate enemy and object of fear to the Roman government, 
that it was denounced by an edict of Diocletian, c. 287 or 308. Eusebius 
knew little about them, but by the middle of the fourth century they 
had spread widely in the empire, particularly among the monks and 
clergy of Egypt and North Africa. Owing to their principle of mystical 
acceptance and interpretation of orthodox language, they could hold the 
position of Christian bishops or conform outwardly to Mohammedan 
rites. Besides the distinction between Electi and Auditores there was 
a carefully graduated hierarchy of travelling missionaries, deacons, 
presbyters, seventy-two bishops, and twelve apostles with a thirteenth 
(or one of the twelve) representing Manes as head of all. Severe 
laws against them were promulgated by Valentinian (372) and Theodosius 
(381), but they were very active in the time of Augustine, who was for 
nine years an auditor. They also reached Spain and Gaul, through 
Dacia, along the highroad to North Italy (they were feared and 
denounced as pseudo-ecclesia by Niceta of Remesiana + c. 414 see his 
Sermon on the Creed Migne P.L. Hi. p. 871); and at Rome 
itself their doctrines had a large following. Active measures against 
them were taken by Leo, supported by the civil power, and edicts of 
Valentinian in and Justinian made banishment, and even death, the 
penalty. Yet Manicheism lasted till far on into the Middle Ages in 
East and West. [See D.C.B. Art. < Manichaeans , and Harnack DG. 
Eng. tr. vol. iii p. 316 ff. I am also indebted to a lecture by Prof. 
Be van. 1 




IT was in conflict with Monarchianism that the doctrine of the 
Logos (and of the Trinity) was developed. Against Gnosticism, 
with its number of aeons intermediate between God and 
Creation, the champions of the primitive Christian faith in the 
second century were driven to insist on the sole and independent 
and absolute existence and being and rule of God. " On the 
Monarchy of God " was the title of a treatise written at this 
time, it is said, by Irenaeus to a presbyter of Eome, Florinus, who 
had been led to Gnostic views. One God there was, and one God 
only, who made and rules the world, and Christians could recog 
nize none other gods but Him : and it was possible to hold this 
belief without believing that this one God was the maker 
of evil. 1 

So, in origin, Monarchianism was an orthodox reaction to 
an earlier tradition. But it was soon turned against the orthodox 
themselves. 2 

The doctrine of the divinity of Christ, accepted at first with 
out precision of statement by the consciousness of Christians, 
when subjected to closer logical examination, seemed to be 
irreconcileable with the belief in the unity of God, and so to 
endanger the dominant principle that God is One. Many who 

1 The full title of the treatise is given by Ensebius H.E. v 20, Concerning 
Monarchia, or that God is not the Author of Evil Things . It is clear (though 
Eusebius misunderstood the difficulty of Florinus) that Irenaeus wrote to shew that 
the belief in a single first principle did not necessarily lead to the conclusion that 
evil was His work. 

2 So Tertullian adv. Prax. 1 says that the Devil, who vies with the truth in 
various ways, makes himself the champion of the doctrine that God is One, in order 
to manufacture heresy out of the word one . 



differed in other ways agreed in their dread of undermining this 
belief. Tertullian describes them as " simple folk (not to call 
them shortsighted and ignorant) of whom the majority of believers 
is always composed", who "since the very Creed itself brings 
them over from the many gods of the world to the one true 
God, not understanding that He is to be believed as one, but in 
connexion with His own economy , are afraid of the divine 
economy V And so they keep saying that two yea, three 
gods are preached by us, while they themselves profess to be 
worshippers of the one God. We hold fast, they say, to the 
Monarchy ". So Hippolytus described Zephyrinus, on account of 
similar fears, as " an ignorant man inexperienced in the defini 
tions of the Church " ; and Origen wrote of the matter as one 
" which disturbed many who, while they boasted of their devotion 
to God, were anxious to guard against the confession of two 
gods ". 2 Such men accordingly were called Monarchians , and 
during the third century the Church had to devote itself to the 
attempt to attain a true conception of God, consistent with the 
unity of His being, and yet with the divinity of Christ. 

To Monarchians two alternatives were open. They might 
defend the monarchy by denying the full divinity of Christ, or 
reducing it to a quality or force : or else they might maintain 
the divinity to the full, but deny it any individual existence 
apart from God the Father. So we find two classes of Monarchians, 
akin respectively to the Ebionites and to the Gnostics. The one 
class (rationalist or dynamic Monarchians 3 ) resolved the divinity 
of Christ into a mere power bestowed on him by God, while 
admitting his supernatural generation by the Holy Spirit, and 
regarded Jesus as attaining the status of Son of God rather than 
by essential nature being divine. Of such were the Alogi, 
Theodotus, Artemon, and Paul of Samosata. The other class, 
merging the divinity of Christ into the essence of the Father, 
recognized no independent personality of Christ, regarding the 
Incarnation as a mode of the existence or manifestation of the 
Father. To this class belong Praxeas, Noetus, Callistus, Beryllus, 
and Sabellius. They are known as Patripassians (see infra 

e providential ordering and government of the world, so the plan 
or system of revelation, so especially the Incarnation. Tert. adv. Prax. 3. 

2 Origen on John 2 2 . 

3 Harnack labels them Adoptionist , but the title does not seem to be specially 
appropriate to them, and it belongs peculiarly and by common consent to a mode of 
thought of later date. 



p. 103 n. 2), or Sabellians (from the chief exponent of the system 
in its most developed form), or modalistic Monarchians. 


The earliest representatives of these Monarchians seem to 
have been the Alogi , so called because they rejected not the 
Logos doctrine altogether, but the Gospel of St John, which was 
its strongest apostolic witness. They believed Cerinthus to have 
been the author of it, and based their doctrine on the Synoptic 
Gospels only, accepting the supernatural birth, and in some 
sense the divinity, but not the developed Logos doctrine, nor the 
doctrine of the Holy Spirit. They did not, probably, admit 
distinctions within the Godhead ; such deity as resided in Christ 
being the deity of the Father, pre-existent therefore, and 
brought into peculiar union with the man Jesus, but whether in 
that union remaining personal or being a mere force seems not 
to be determined. And so the Alogi were possibly the point of 
departure for both forms of Monarchian thought ; but very little 
is known about them, and it is not clear that they ever existed 
as a definite sect at all. 1 


The Theodotians 

Theodotus, the first representative of the dynamic Monarch 
ians whose name is recorded, was described by Epiphanius as an 
offshoot of the heresy of the Alogi , and by the author of the 
Little Labyrinth as the captain and father of this God-denying 
heresy . In common with the Alogi he laid most stress on the 
reality of the human nature and life of Christ and the Synoptists 
record, and while refusing the title God to him believed he was 
at baptism endowed with superhuman power. 2 He was a 

1 Alogi is a nickname coined by Epiphanius adv. Haer. li. It is uncertain 
from what source he derived his information about this school of thinkers, and it is 
possible that, with his love for rigid classification, he is mistaken in representing 
them as a definite sect. But Irenaeus adv. Haer. iii 11, H. ii p. 51 (misunderstood 
by Harvey of the Montanists) seems to justify his account in this respect. 

2 He is said by Tertullian de Praescr. 53 to have regarded Christ as a mere man, 
though born of the Virgin. But neither he nor any of the school really held Christ 
to be an ordinary man. Their creed was probably : Jesus miraculously born, 


leather-seller of Byzantium who came to Eome, and was excom 
municated by the Bishop Victor (c. 195), himself a medalist . 

The same views were held by a second Theodotus, a banker 
at Eome, a student of the Peripatetic philosophy and a critic 
and interpreter of Scripture l in the time of Zephyrinus 

The Theodotians regarded the Logos as identical with the 
Father, having no personal existence of his own, but only the 
circumscription 2 of the Father attaching to him from eternity 
in which alone we are enabled to know God. That is to say, 
the Logos is a limitation of the Father the infinitude of God 
brought, as it were, within bounds. In effect, the Logos is God 
in the aspect of revelation to man. It was the image of the 
Logos that Christ bore. In becoming incarnate in him the 
Logos took not only flesh but personality from man, and used it 
for the purpose of his mission. The person of Christ is thus 
entirely human, with the Logos as controlling Spirit. Similar 
incarnations had taken place in the prophets. 


Artemon (al. Artemas), a later member of the school at 
Eome, asserted that it was an innovation to designate Christ 
God , appealed to Scripture and the Apostles preaching, and 
tried to prove that all the Eoman bishops down to Victor had 
been of his opinion. This attempt to claim the authority of 
Scripture and tradition for such views was vigorously contested 

equipped by baptism, and prepared for exaltation by the resurrection (so that the 
title God might be given him when risen) ; stress being laid on his moral develope- 
ment (TTPOKOTTT?) and the moral proof of his sonship by growth in character he grew 
to be divine. 

1 On the biblical criticism and textual corrections and dialectic method of the 
Theodotians, see Euseb. H.E. v 28. 13, quoting the Little Labyrinth. The author 
of this refutation of their teaching charged them with falsifying and corrupting 
the Scriptures, and with preferring Euclid and Aristotle and Galen to the sacred 
writers. The charge may be true ; but it is at least possible that they were genuine 
biblical critics making bondjide attempts to secure the true text in an uncritical 
age, and to apply scientific methods of interpretation. So Harnack is disposed to 
hail them as better scholars than their opponents (DG. Eng. tr. vol. iii p. 25). 
They themselves, in turn, after the time of Zephyrinus, brought a counter-charge 
against the Roman Church, accusing it of having recoined the truth, like forgers, 
by omitting the word One with God in the primitive Creed (so Zahn Apostles 
Greed Eng. tr. p. 35). 

2 Trepiypa.(pri is the word used, see infra p. 110 n. 1. 


by the author of the Little Labyrinth, 1 who aimed at shewing 
that from the earliest times Christians had regarded Christ as 
God, and he succeeded so far at least that this form of Mon- 
archianism soon passed into obscurity in Rome. The explana 
tion that Christ was supernaturally born, superior in sinlessness 
and virtue to the prophets, and so attaining to unique dignity, 
but yet a man, not God this was felt to be no adequate 
interpretation of the power he wielded in his lifetime and ever 
since over the minds and hearts of men. Yet in the West it 
lingered ; and the hold which it had is shewn by the fact that 
Augustine, a little time before his conversion, actually thought it 
was the Catholic doctrine. "A man of excellent wisdom, to 
whom none other could be compared " he thought a true descrip 
tion of Christ, " especially because he was miraculously born of 
a virgin, to set us an example of despising worldly things for the 
attainment of immortality ". . . . And he held that he merited 
the highest authority as a teacher, "not because he was the 
Person of Truth, but by some great excellence and perfection of 
this human nature, due to the participation of wisdom ", 2 

Paul of Samosata 

Of this dynamic or rationalist Monarchianism the most 
influential teacher was a Syrian ; Paul of Samosata, a man of 
affairs as well as a theologian, for some years Bishop of Antioch 
and chancellor to Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, to whose kingdom 
Antioch at this time belonged. 3 Following Artemon, and laying 
all stress on the unity of God as a single person, he denied any 
1 hypostasis of the wisdom or Logos of God regarding the 
intelligence or reason in the human heart as analogous. The 

1 Anonymous, perhaps by Hippolytua (c. 230 or 240) ; extracts in Euseb. H.E. 

2 Augustine Confessions, vii 19 [25], ed. Bigg. 

8 See Euseb. H.E. vii 30. He was appointed bishop in 260, and deposed on 
account of his heretical views by the Council held at Antioch in 268 or 269, two 
previous synods having proved ineffective. He refused, however, to submit to the 
decree of deposition, and would not vacate the episcopal residence, and so became 
the cause of the first appeal by the Church to the civil power, technically on a 
question of property. After the fall of his protectress Zenobia in 272 Aurelian 
decided against him ; the ecclesiastical fabrics were to belong to the bishop who 
was recognized as such by the Bishops of Italy and Rome. Political motives, as well 
as ecclesiastical, probably contributed to this decision, Paul s fall was one of the 
early victories of Rome, 


Logos therefore could not ever come into personal existence ; 
even though he might be called the Son of God, such a title was 
only a description of the high nature of the power of the divine 
Logos. A real incarnation of the Logos was thus impossible ; 
He existed in Jesus not essentially or personally, but only as a 
quality. 1 The personality of Jesus was entirely human ; 2 it was 
not that the Son of God came down from heaven, but that the 
Son of man ascended up on high. The divine power within 
him grew greater and greater as the course of his human 
developement proceeded, till at last through its medium he 
reached divinity. 3 Whether this goal was attained after the 
Baptism or not till after the Eesurrection is not decided ; 
but the union, such as it is, between God the Supreme and 
Christ the Son of God is one of disposition and of will 
the only union possible, in the thought of Paul, between two 

He was thus represented as teaching that Jesus Christ was 
from below , and that the Son was non-existent before the 
Nativity ; and the synods which considered his conceptions were 
at pains to maintain the distinct individual existence of the 
Logos as Son of God before all time, who had himself taken 
active personal part in the work of Creation, and was himself 
incarnate in Jesus Christ. 4 

His condemnation by no means disposed of his views. 5 If we 
cannot say with certainty that he is the direct ancestor of 
Arianism, we know that Arius and the chief members of the 
Arian party had been pupils of Lucian (a native of the same 
city of Samosata), who, while Paul was bishop, was head of the 
theological school of Antioch, and seems to have combined the 
Monarchian adoptionism of Paul with conceptions of the person 
of Christ derived from Origen 6 ; while in the great theologians of 
Antioch, a century later still, a portion of the spirit of Paul of 

1 O&K owriwSws dXXd. Kara 7roi6r?7Ta. 

2 So Eusebius says "he was caught describing Christ as a man, deemed worthy 
in surpassing measure of divine grace ". 

3 Of. Athanasius de Synodis 26, 45, quoting the Afacrostich, K irpoKoirys retfeo- 
ToiTyo-tfcu <? avOpuirov ytyove 0e6s. See Hahn 8 159. 

4 See Hahn 3 151. See note on Paul s use of 6fj.oov<rtos infra p. 111. 

5 Harnack points to the Acta Archelai 49, 50, as shewing the prevalence of 
similar conceptions in the East at the beginning of the fourth century. The 
Council of Nicaea, by ordering the rebaptism of followers of Paul, treated them as 
not being Christians at all. 

8 See Additional Note on Lucian infra p. 110. 


Samosata lived again, and in the persons of a Theodore and a 
Nestorius 1 was again condemned. 


The rationalist or * dynamic form of Monarchian teaching 
was so obviously destructive of the real divinity of Jesus that it 
can scarcely have been a serious danger to the faith in the 
Incarnation. Much more likely to attract devout and earnest 
thinkers was the modalistic doctrine. While maintaining the 
full divinity of Christ it was safe from the reproach of ditheism, 
and free from all connexion with emanation theories and 
subordination. The doctrine of an essential or immanent 
Trinity (the conception of three eternal hypostases) had not as 
yet been realized in full consciousness. The chief concern of 
the exponents of Christian doctrine had been to establish the 
personal pre-existence of Christ and his essential unity with the 
Father (against Ebionism), and so the distinction between him 
and the Father might be somewhat blurred; and though, of 
course, opposition to Ebionism was never carried so far as to 
ignore the real humanity of Christ, still it would tend to relegate 
to the background the evidence for the distinction between the 
Father and the Son which is implied in the incarnation. And 
to all who felt the infinite value of the atonement effected by 
Christ the power of the death upon the Cross the theory 
which seemed to represent the Father Himself as suffering would 
appear to furnish a more adequate explanation of the facts than 
Ebionism had to offer. 2 So it is easy to understand the great 
impression which was made by the earliest representatives of the 
modalistic school of thought, Noetus and Praxeas, 3 both of 
whom came from Asia Minor (the home of Monarchian views) 
to Eome towards the end of the second century. 

1 Paul seems to be differentiated from Nestorius chiefly by the denial of the 
personality of the Logos. 

2 The unreflecting faith of the Church and the vagueness of its doctrine at 
this time is shewn in the phrases used by Irenaeus (e.g. mensura Patris filius ) and 
Clement of Alexandria (e.g. the Son is the countenance of the Father ) and Melito 

3 Our knowledge of Noetus comes from Hippolytus (Eef. Haer. ix ad init., x 23 
(72), and the special treatise c. Noet.}. Hippolytus does not mention Praxeas, 
against whom Tertullian wrote as the originator of the heresy, without mentioning 
Noetus. Probably Praxeas had founded no school at Rome, and Hippolytus had 
no knowledge of him. 


Praxeas and Noetus 

Praxeas, already a confessor for the faith, was welcomed 
in Kome, and with the information he was able to give of the 
excesses of the Montanists in the East proved to be a strong 
opponent of the new movement which was then threatening the 
order of the Church. The modalism which he represented was 
for some time prevalent and popular at Eome, and it appears 
that the erroneous character of his teaching was not discovered 
till after his departure to Carthage. Early in the third century 1 
Tertullian wrote against him (using his name as a label for the 
heresy), and in epigrammatic style described him as having done 
two jobs for the Devil at Kome , " He drove out prophecy and 
introduced heresy : he put to flight the Paraclete and crucified 
the Father ". In this rhetorical phrase he expressed the infer 
ence which was promptly drawn from the teaching of Praxeas 
and Noetus. If it was the case that the one God existed in 
two modes , and the Son was identical with the Father, then 
the Father Himself had been born, and had suffered and died. 
Hence the nickname Patripassians, 2 which was generally applied 
in the West to this school of Monarchians. In word, at all 
events, it was unfair. While denying the existence of any real 
distinction in the being of God Himself (which would amount, 
they thought, to duality , however disguised), they seem to have 
admitted a distinction (dating at least from the Creation) between 
the invisible God and God revealed in the universe, in the 
theophanies of the Old Testament, and finally in the human 
body in Christ ; and the name Father was restricted to the in 
visible God, who in revelation only could be called the Logos of 
the Son. 

A compromise perhaps was found 3 in the theory that the 

1 The exact date is uncertain c. 210, Harnack. 

2 Origen explains Patripassiani as those who identify the Father and the Son, 
and represent them as one person under two different names. They did not them 
selves accept the inference ; e.g. Zephyrinus avowed, " I know one God Christ Jesus, 
and besides him no other originate and passible", but also, " It was not the Father 
who died, but the Son ". In two cases only that are known to us was the Creed 
expanded (to exclude the idea that the Father suffered) by the addition of the words 
invisibile and impassibile to the first article : viz. in the Creed of the Church of 
Aquileia (Hahn 3 p. 42), and in the Creed of Auxentius, the semi-Arian predecessor 
of Ambrose as bishop of Milan, whose Creed may be the baptismal Creed of 
Cappadocia (Hahn 3 p. 148). 

3 Possibly by Callistus, whose modified Praxeanism Tertullian is thought to be 


Father, unborn, invisible (though as Spirit, as invisible God, He 
could not suffer), somehow participated in the sufferings of Christ, 
the Son who was born " The Son suffers, the Father however 
shares in the suffering"; though really in such a compromise 
the essential principle of Modalism would be lost. 1 

Noetus, however, when brought face to face with the logical 
issue, seems to have scorned all compromise. There was one 
God, the Father, invisible or manifesting Himself as He pleased, 
but whether visible or invisible, begotten or unbegotten, always 
the same. The Logos is only a designation of God when He 
reveals Himself to the world and to men. The Father, so far 
as He deigns to be born, is the Son. He is called Son for a 
certain time, and in reference to His experiences on earth ; the 
Son, or Christ, is therefore the Father veiled in flesh, and it was 
the Father Himself who became man and suffered. The dis 
tinction seems accordingly to be not merely nominal, but is 
connected with the history and process of redemption, though it 
leaves the Incarnation dependent on an act of will. The two 
great aims of these Monarchians to safeguard the unity of God 
(against what they regarded as the ditheistic tendencies of their 
opponents), and to uphold the divinity of Christ are curiously 
shewn in the two different versions which have come to us of the 
answer which Noetus made to his assailants. " Why ! what have 
I done ? I believe in one God " so Epiphanius reports him ; 
or " Why ! what harm am I doing in glorifying Christ ? " as 
Hippolytus gives his words. 2 

Sabellius and his Followers 

For these two aims so much support could naturally be 
obtained, that in spite of excommunication the teaching of 
Noetus was carried on by his pupil Epigonus and later by 
Cleomenes and Sabellius as heads of the party at Eome. What 

attacking under the name of Praxeas. "Filius patitur, pater vero compatitur." 
" Compassus est pater filio." 

1 It involves a distinction in the person of the Lord between Christ the divine 
and Jesus the human the latter suffering actually, the former indirectly ; the 
latter being the Son (the flesh) and the former the Father (the spirit). Cf. Irenaeus, 
Halm 3 p. 7. Cf. the Arian conception the Logos compatitur with the human 
which patitur in the person of Christ. See Halm 3 161 (the Synod of Sirmium 
357), and infra pp. 180, 181 notes. 

2 rl o$v KaKbv ireiroi-qKa. ; tva Qebv 5odw Epiphanius. rl ofo KUKbv TTOIW, 
TQV Kpurrbv Hippolytus. 


exactly each contributed we cannot tell : even of Sabellius the 
full accounts belong to the fourth century. 1 To him the developed 
form of the teaching embracing the whole Trinity seems to 
be due, 2 and it is by his name that the champions of the theory 
were best known throughout the East ( Patripassians or 
Monarchians being the usual designation in the West). 

God is, according to his teaching, essentially one, and the 
Trinity which he recognizes is a Trinity not of essence but of 
revelation; not in the essential relations of the Deity within 
itself, but in relation to the world outside and to mankind. The 
relations expressed by the three names are co-ordinate, forming 
together a complete description of the relations of the one self- 
evolving God to all outside Him. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit 
are simply designations of three different phases under which the 
one divine essence reveals itself three names of one and the same 
being. 3 He seems to have adopted the language of the Church 
so far as to speak of three persons , using the term Trpba-wrra, 
but in so different a sense (meaning parts or roles of manifesta 
tion rather than persons ) that the word was altogether dis 
credited in the East. These different parts or functions were 
assumed to meet the varying needs of the occasion ; one and 
the same God appearing now as Father, now as Son, and 
now as Holy Spirit. The account that Basil gives implies a 
merely temporary assumption of each part, but it is possible that 
Sabellius taught 4 that God had, rather, put forth His activity in 
separate stages : first, in the person of the Father as Creator 
and Lawgiver ; secondly, in the person of the Son as Eedeemer 
(in the work of the Incarnation up to the Ascension) ; and 
thirdly, after the redemption was effected, in the person of the 
Spirit as giver and preserver of life. In any case it is clear 

1 He was by birth a Libyan of Pentapolis in Africa, active at Rome in the early 
part of the third century (c. 198-217). Of his writings, if he wrote anything, 
phrases may be extant in Hippolytus (Ref. Haer. ix) and in Athanasius (e.g. Or. c. Ar. 
iv) the earliest accounts of him. Cf. Basil Epp. 210, 214, 235 ; Epiph. adv. Haer. 
62. It is probable that ideas of which Marcellus was the originator have been 
erroneously attributed to him, but Athanasius (I.e. esp. 13, 14, 25) certainly says 
that conceptions of expansion and contraction were taught by Sabellius, and not, 
as some have argued, that their natural consequences were Sabellian. 

2 It is possible that he went beyond Noetus only in including the Holy Spirit in 
his theory. 

3 He even coined a word vloTrdrup (Son-Father) to exclude the thought of two 

4 As Haruack understands Epiphanius and Athanasius. 


that there is no permanence about such personalities . There is 
no real incarnation ; no personal indissoluble union of the God 
head with the Manhood took place in Christ. God only mani 
fested Himself in Christ, and when the part was played and the 
curtain fell upon that act in the great drama there ceased to be 
a Christ or Son of God. This conception of a merely transitory 
personality of Christ l (which seems to involva the negation of 
an eternal personal life for any one) is essentially pantheistic. 
All the Monarchian theories really strike in this way at the 
root of the Christian interpretation of life. If God Himself, as 
final being, as a whole, so to speak, comes forth in revelation 
and nothing is left behind, then God passes over into the world 
and becomes the world, and nothing but the world is left. 
It is clearly impossible, on any Christian theory of the world 
and of the divine economy, that God should exist even for a 
moment only in a single mode, or that the Incarnation should be 
only a temporary and transient manifestation. 

And, further, Sabellianism, in recognizing only a Trinity in 
human experience, disregards the fact that such a Trinity of 
revelation is only possible if the very being of the Godhead, 
which is thus revealed, is itself a Trinity. 

Partial Sympathy with Sabellianism at Eome 

In Eome, though the fierce opposition of Hippolytus 2 got 
little support, and Callistus 3 at first was favourable to the 
modalistic conceptions, Sabellius was condemned and excommuni 
cated, and the Monarchians soon found few followers in the 
West, 4 though, as Harnack points out, the hold which they had 
had for twenty or thirty years on the Eoman Church left a per 
manent mark. It was Eome that condemned Origen, the ally 
of Hippolytus. Eome was invoked against Dionysius of Alex- 

1 Contrast with it the Catholic interpretation according to which Christ is the 
eternal centre of regenerated humanity. 

2 See esp. Ref, Haer. bk. ix, and see Additional Note on Hippolytus infra p. 108. 

3 Callistus was bitterly attacked by Hippolytus for his protection of the school 
of which Epigonus and Cleoraenes, and later on Sabellius, had been head. It is 
probable that Callistus, as Zephyrinus before him, simply wished to secure as much 
toleration and comprehension as possible, to protect the Church from the rabies 
thcologorum (as Harnack phrases it). The compromise which he attempted has 
been alluded to above. He was ultimately driven to excommunicate the leaders on 
either side, both Sabellius and Hippolytus. 

4 Cyprian could class Patripassiani with ceterae haereticoruin pestes (Ep. 73. 4). 


andria. Eome and the West were chiefly responsible for the 
ofiAoovaiov formula of Nicaea (so long opposed as Sabellian). 
Eome received Marcellus, who carried out the Sabellian prin 
ciples, and rejected rpeis woa-rda-eis and supported the Eusta- 
thians at Antioch. And finally, it was with Eome that 
Athanasius was most at one. Indeed, Sabellianism no doubt 
prepared the way for the Nicene theology the full recognition 
of the truth underlying the principles of modalism being a 
necessary step in that direction ; though it also led immediately, 
on the other hand, to the developement of the Origenistic Christ- 
ology in the direction of Arianism. One of the intermediate 
stages the prelude to the Arian struggle was the controversy 
between Dionysius of Alexandria and Dionysius of Eome. 


That the Sabellian view did not prevail at Eome is seen from the 
treatise On the Trinity by Novatian, the most learned of the presbyters 
of Eome in the middle of the third century. It is the theology of 
Africa an epitome of Tertullian s work , as Jerome styled it. It pro 
fesses to be an exposition of the Eule of Faith, and as such includes " a 
doctrine of God in the sense of the popular philosophy, a doctrine of the 
Trinity like Tertullian s (though without all his technical terms), and 
the recognition of the true manhood of Christ along with his true God 
head" (Loofs). His doctrine of the Trinity can, however, still be 
described as economic rather than essential. Though he regards the 
existence (or generation) of the Son as eternal in the past, he speaks of 
the future consummation as though the distinction of persons (Father 
and Son) would cease. The idea of communio substantiae (6/xo-ovo-ia) is 
combined with that of subordination. It is clear ^that he makes it his 
special concern to oppose Sabellianism, and to maintain the personality 
of the Son. So he keeps the personarum distinctio, speaks of Christ as 
secunda persona post patrem and of the proprietas personae suae, and 
regards the union in its moral aspect as concord. He even speaks of the 
Son as proceeding from the Father wlien the Father willed. But at the 
same time he insists on the substantiae communio. In respect of the 
person of Christ he is concerned to maintain both the true deity and the 
true humanity the filius dei and the filius hominis. The union is 
emphasized the filius hominis is made by it the filius dei but the 
nature of the union is not discussed. The doctrine of the Logos falls 
into the background. [The authority of Jerome de Vir III. c. 70, who 
names the treatise as Novatian s, while he notes that many " who did 
not know " thought it was Cyprian s (or Tertullian s) may be accepted, 


in spite of more modern doubts; cf. Harnack Gesch. der altcliristl. 
Litteratur i 652-656. The treatise is printed in Migne P.L. iii 
885-952. With it may be compared the Tractatus Origenis discovered 
by Battifol and ascribed by Weyman to Novatian, though Dom Butler 
with greater probability assigns it to an anonymous writer of the fifth 
or sixth century. See J.T.S. vol. ii pp. 113 ff. and 254 ff.] 

This work of Novatian is described by Harnack as creating for the 
West a dogmatic vade mecum. 


It is worth while over against the theories of the Noetians and 
Sabellians to set the theory of their uncompromising opponent, Hippo- 
lytus whose own theology gave almost equal offence and was charged 
with ditheism. It is to be found in his Refutatio Haeresium and in his 
sermon against Noetus (which was earlier and less definite, but expresses 
the same views, often in the same words). For his Christology, see 
especially Ref. Haer. x 33, and c. Noet. 10-15. The following is a sum 
mary of Dollinger s account in his Hippolytus and Cdllistus. 

God one and only originally was alone, nothing contemporary 
with him. All existed potentially in him and he himself was all. 

From the first he contained the Logos in himself as his still un- 
sounding voice, his not yet spoken word, and together with him the yet 
unexpressed idea of the universe which dwelt in him. 

This Logos the intelligence, the wisdom of God without which 
he never was, went out from him according to the counsels of God i.e. 
ore i^e ATycrev, Ka$o>s ^eXT/o-ev in the times determined beforehand by 
him, as his first begotten prince and lord of the creation that was to be. 
He had within him as a voice the ideas conceived in the Father s being, 
and in response to the Father s bidding thereby created the world in its 
unity dpeo-Kajv $ea>. 

The whole is thus the Father, but the Logos is a power proceeding 
from the whole the intelligence of the Father, and therefore his ovo-ta, 
whereas the world was created out of nothing. 

There was thus another God by the side of the first, not as if there 
were two Gods, but as a light from the Light, water from the Fountain, 
the beam from the Sun. He was the perfect, only-begotten Logos of 
the Father, but not yet perfect Son : that he first became when he became 
man. Nevertheless God already called him Son because he was to be 
born (c. Noet. 15). 

Hippolytus thus distinguishes three stages or periods of developement 
in the second hypostasis the Logos : 

(1) He is still impersonal in indistinguishable union with God as 
the divine intelligence: potentially as the future personal 


Logos and inherently as the holder of the divine ideas 
(patterns after which the universe was to be created). 

(2) God becomes Father, by act of will operating upon his being 

i.e. he calls his own intelligence to a separate hypostatic exist 
ence, placing him as credos over against himself : yet only in 
such wise as a part of a whole which has acquired an exist 
ence of its own the whole remaining undiminished : as the 
beam and the Sun. The Logos has thus become hypostatic 
for the purpose of the manifestation of God in creation : and 
the third moment ensues. 

(3) The Incarnation in which he first completes himself as the true 

and perfect Son; so that it is also through the Incarnation 
that the idea of the divine Fatherhood is first completely 

Objectionable or doubtful points in this view are (1) the existence of 
the Logos as a person is irpocuojnos before all time, but not from eternity 
diSiog ; (2) strict subordination : the Son is merely a force to carry out 
the Father s commands ; (3) the Trinitarian relation is not original in the 
very being of God, but comes into existence through successive acts of the 
divine will ; (4) his representation of the Logos as the KOO-/XOS I/OTTO S 
the centre of the ideas of the universe or the universe conceived ideally, 
which is foreign to primitive Christian tradition, being borrowed from 
Philo, is not really balanced by his maintenance of the substantial 
equality of Father and Son. 

Specially objectionable is (3) (an idea which was later a main prop of 
Arianism), as it leaves open the possibility for the Logos to have re 
mained in his original impersonal condition, and so for the Son never to 
have come to any real hypostatic existence, i.e. for God to have remained 
without a Son. Hence arose later the fierce contest for or against the 
proposition that the Father brought forth the Son by an act of his own 
free-will : on which see infra p. 194. 

And thus Hippolytus was viewed with suspicion, although the 
Church was wont then to be very tolerant of attempts made by 
Christians of philosophic culture to explain the mystery of the Trinity 
by the help of Platonic speculations. 


A kind of midway position seems to have been occupied by thinkers 
of whom we have a representative in Beryllus, Bishop of Bostra in 
Arabia, a learned writer and administrator of high repute. Almost all 
that we know of his teaching is expressed in a sentence of Eusebius 
(H.E. vi 33; cf vi 20) recording that "he dared to assert that our 


Saviour and Lord did not pre-exist in an individual existence of his 
own 1 before his coming to reside among men, and that he did not 
possess a divinity of his own, but only that of the Father dwelling in 
him". This seems to indicate a semi-Monarchian or conciliatory 
tendency, rejecting the doctrine of the hypostatical existence of the 
Logos, but repelled by the hypothesis of an incarnation of God the 
Father Himself, and so seeking a solution in the recognition of (1) a dis 
tinct personality after though not before the Incarnation, and (2) 
an efflux from the divine essence of the Father rather than whole 
deity in Christ. Thus a divine power was, as it were, sunk into the 
limitations of human nature and so became a person. Dorner regards 
Beryllus as a connecting link between the Patripassians, who allowed 
no Trpdo-oTTov side by side with the TrarpiKr) fooV^s, and Sabellius, with 
his recognition of a distinct Trpoo-uirov or TrepL-ypa^rj both of the Logos 
and of the Spirit. Origen is said to have convinced him of his error 
at a synod held c. 244. 


The Monarchians claimed, of course, to have the authority of 
Scripture on their side. Praxeas seems to have depended chiefly on 
the texts : " I am the Lord, and there is none else : beside me there is 
no God " (Isa. 45 5 ) ; " I and the Father are one " (John 10 30 ) ; " Shew 
us the Father . . . Have I been so long with you . . . and dost 
thou not know me ? I am in the Father, and the Father in me " 
(John 14 9 - 10 ). Against his interpretation of such passages, see Ter- 
tullian chs. xxi-xxiv. Other texts which Noetus used were Ex. 3 6 
20 2 , Isa. 44 6 45 14 , Bar. 3 36 , Rom. 9 5 (Christ God over all) see Hippo- 
lytus contra Noetum. 


Lucian appears, after the deposition of Paul, to have been in a state 
of suspended communion for some time, but to have been ultimately 
reconciled to the bishop. He was a man of deep learning and ascetic 
life, held in the highest honour by his pupils, and his death (7th 
January 312), as one of the last victims in the persecution begun by 
Diocletian, won for his memory universal esteem. For our know 
ledge of his teaching we have little first-hand evidence. On two vital 
points he seems to have been much nearer the Catholic doctrine than 
was Paul, recognizing the personality of the Logos and his incarnation 

1 /car ISiav ov<rlas TTpiypa<j)r)v irepiypa<j)rj primarily limit-line , circumscription , 
so used of personal individual existence, regarded as a limitation of absolute 


in the historical Christ (in whom he was as soul, having taken to him 
self a human body). But none the less he did not regard the Christ 
as essentially one with the eternal God, clinging to the conception of a 
perfect human developement (irpoKOTrr)) as the means by which he reached 
divinity ; and he seems to have distinguished between the Word or Son 
in Christ (the offspring of the Father s Avill) and the immanent Logos 
the reason of God. So it is said to have been counted a departure from 
Lucian s principles to acknowledge the Son as the perfect image of the 
Father s essence , though this phrase is used in the Creed of the Council 
of Antioch (341), which was believed to have been based on Lucian s 
teaching, if not his very composition. (See Sozomen H.E. iii 5 and 
vi 12 but possibly it was the fourth Creed, in which there is no such 
clause, that was Lucian s, and not the second. So Kattenbusch, see 
Hahn 3 p. 187.) 

He is probably fairly described as the Arius before Arms 
(Harnack DG. ii p. 182), and among his pupils were, besides Arius him 
self, Asterius, the first Arian writer, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis 
of Nicaea, Maris of Chalcedon, and Athanasius of Anazarba. His 
activity in textual criticism and exegesis is certain, whether there was 
actually produced in his famous academy a revision of the text of the 
New Testament (the Syrian Text) or not (see Westcott and Hort 
Introduction to the New Testament pp. 138, 182). 


The Council which condemned Paul condemned also the use of the 
word Homoousios to express the relation between Christ and God the 
Father. But whether it was that Paul had used the word himself, or 
that he was able to produce ingenious arguments against it, must remain 
uncertain. The accounts of Athanasius, Hilary, and Basil are at 

Athanasius (de Syn. 45), having said that he has not himself seen 
the bishops letter, accepts the statement of the Semi-Arians that it 
was rejected because it was taken in a material sense, and Paul used 
the sophistical reasoning that " if Christ did not become God after start 
ing as man, he is Homoousios with the Father, and there must be 
three Ousiai, one principal and the two derived from it ", so that to 
guard against such a piece of sophistry they said that Christ was not 
Homoousios the Son not being related to the Father as Paul 

Hilary (de Syn. 81, 86) implies that the word was used by Paul 
himself to express the idea that the Father and Son were of one single 
and solitary being. (But this seems to be more like the teaching of 
Sabellius than the teaching of Paul.) 


It seems possible that objection was taken to Paul s reasoning that 
the Logos was one person with God as the reason is one with man, on 
the ground that the doctrine of the Church required one God but more 
than one TT/DOO-WTTOJ , and that to meet this objection he declared that he 
recognized such TrpocrwTra God and Christ standing over against each 
other as Homoousioi meaning alike personal (ovcria being taken in the 
sense of particular, individual being) ; (roSe TI). This would be, in the 
opinion of his opponents, to introduce a human personality into the 
Godhead, and so the word would be rejected. (It is of course quite 
clear that if ovo-ia were taken in the sense of substance or essence, 
Paul could not have accepted the term.) 

Basil (Ep. 52 [30]) so far agreeing with the account that Athanasius 
gives regards Paul as bringing an argument against the word which 
was certainly familiar in later times, viz. that if Christ was not made 
God out of (after being) man, but was Homoousios, then there must 
have been some common substance (Ousia) of which they both partook, 
distinct from and prior to the divine persons themselves, and that out of 
it two beings the Father and the Son were produced as two coins 
are struck out of the same metal. 

The term may therefore have been withdrawn as being likely to 
perplex weak minds. So Bull Def. N. O. ii 1 and Newman Arians ch. i 
suggest. In any case, as Athanasius insists, caring, as always, little for 
the words and much for the sense, it was capable of being understood 
in different ways, and it was rejected in one sense by those who con 
demned the Samosatene and championed in another sense by those who 
resisted the Arian heresy. " It is unbecoming to make the one conflict 
with the others, for all are fathers ; nor is it pious to determine that 
the one spoke well and the others ill, for all of them fell asleep in 
Christ" (de Syn. 43). "Yes, surely each Council has a sufficient 
reason for its own language." 

[The tradition that the use of the term O/AOOVO-IOS was considered 
and disapproved by the Council of Antioch has recently been questioned 
by Dr. Strong in the Journal of Theological Studies vol. iii p. 292. 
There does not seem, however, to be sufficient reason to doubt what 
Athanasius, Hilary, and Basil accepted as an awkward fact which they 
had to explain as best they could, though the Acts of the Council con 
tain no reference to the matter, and the positive evidence for it comes to 
us from Arian sources.] 



THE result of the struggle with the Monarchian tendency, which 
emphasized unduly the unity of the Trinity, was to mark more 
precisely the distinctions and gradations, so that in some cases a 
pronounced system of subordination ensued. In the West, as 
we have seen, the conviction of the unity of essence was too 
strong for other elements to overpower it ; but in the East the 
fear of Sabellianism and the loss of the personal distinctions 
which it involved led to the use of phrases which were hardly 
consistent with the equality of the persons and unity of essence. 
A conspicuous example of this tendency we have in Diony- 
sius the Great , Bishop of Alexandria (247-265 A.D.), who 
was equally distinguished as a ruler and as a theologian. 1 In 
controverting Sabellianism he used expressions which later on 
became the watchwords of the Arian party. In his anxiety to 
maintain the personality of the Son and his distinction from 
the Father, he said the Son did not exist before he was begotten 
(or came into being) ; that there was a time when he did not 
exist ; and he styled him with reference to the Father a thing 
made (or work), and different (or foreign) in being (ovarla), and 
so not of the same being with the Father (homoousion). Jesus 
himself had said " I am the vine, my Father is the husband 
man ", and so it was right to describe the relation between 
him and the Father as analogous to that of the vine to the 

1 He took a leading part in all the controversies of the time, concerning the 
lapsed, re-baptisin, Easter, Paul of Samosata, Sabellianism, and the authorship of 
the Apocalypse. Many of his letters, festal (tTrurroXal eopraa-riKaL) and others, are 
mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome (the sixth and seventh books of the history of 
Eusebius are mainly based on them), but nearly all are lost. Only fragments are 
extant, e.g. of a treatise irepl 0t5crews a refutation of materialism and the theory 
of atoms, of the ire pi irayye\iui} a thorough rejection of millennial expectations 
and a vindication of the allegorical interpretation of the prophetic descriptions of 
the Messianic kingdom (and incidental denial of the Johannine authorship of the 

8 113 


husbandman, or that of the boat to the shipbuilder. He insisted 
on the fact that there were three distinct hypostases in the 
Godhead, and for these and other similar expressions he was 
charged with error by some members of the Alexandrian Church, 
and the judgement of the Bishop of Eome, his namesake (Bp. 
259-268), was invoked. A synod, accordingly, was held at 
Eome, 1 which condemned the views reported to it, proclaiming 
the verbally simple creed that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist, 
and that the three are at the same time one ; and a letter was 
written by the bishop 2 expressing the sentiments of the synod, 
exposing the erroneous nature of the arguments on which 
other views depended, and asking for an explanation of the 
charges. In reply Dionysius of Alexandria composed four books 
of Kef utation and Defence against the accusation made by his 
assailants and in justification of the doctrine he had taught. 
He carefully explained that the phrases used by him, to which 
objection had been taken, were only illustrations, to be interpreted 
in close connexion with their context. He gave them, he says, as 
examples cursorily, and then dwelt on more apposite and suit 
able comparisons. " For I gave the example of human birth, 

1 So Athanasius implies, de Syn. 43 ; but cf Art. Dionysius of Alexandria 

2 Athanasius de Deer. Nic. 26 gives an extract from it. What more there was 
can only be inferred from the reply of Dionysius of Alexandria, of which considerable 
quotations of the most important passages are preserved in Athanasius de Senten- 
tia Dionysii (cf. de Synodis 44 and de Deer. Nic. 25), who was at pains to prove the 
orthodoxy of the great bishop whose authority the Arians claimed. The teachers 
condemned by the Bishop of Rome are those who divide and cut in pieces and 
destroy the most sacred doctrine of the Church of God, the Monarchy, dividing it 
into three powers (as it were) and partitive hypostases and three godheads, . . . 
and preach in some sense three gods, dividing the holy Monad into three hypostases 
foreign to each other and utterly separated ". The faith which he maintains is "in 
God the Father all -sovereign, and in Christ Jesus His Son, and in the Holy Spirit, 
and that the Logos is united with the God of the universe ; ... for it must needs 
be that the divine Logos is united with the God of the universe, and the Holy Spirit 
must be contained (repose) and dwell in God ; and further, it is absolutely necessary 
that the divine Triad be summed up and gathered together into one, as into a 
summit, I mean the all-sovereign God of the universe" (Ath. de Deer. 26). It 
should be noted that Dionysius of Alexandria in the passage quoted uses the words 
b(j,oyevrfi (and ffvyyevrjs) and O/XO^UTJS as though they were near equivalents to o/iootfirios. 
This usage is significant. It shews, at least when regarded in connexion with the 
whole discussion of the question at issue, that he had not fully grasped the concep 
tion, which was traditional in the West, of the one substantia of Godhead existing in 
three personae. He thought more naturally of the three personae of the same genus 
and nature ; that is to say, he was more ready to acknowledge the generic than the 
essential oneness of the Godhead. See further infra p. 236, Note on 


evidently as being homogeneous, saying that the parents were 
only other than their children in that they were not them 
selves the children, . . . and I said that a plant sprung from a 
seed or root was other than that from which it sprang, and 
at the same time entirely of one nature with it; and that a 
stream flowing from a well receives another form and name 
for the well is not called a river, nor the river a well and that 
both existed, and the well was as it were a father, while the 
river was water from the well. But they pretend not to see 
these and the like written statements, . . . and try to pelt me 
with two unconnected expressions like stones from a distance, 
not knowing that in matters unknown and needing preparation 
for their apprehension, frequently not only foreign but even con 
trary proofs serve to make the subjects of investigation plain." l 
The word homoousios he could not find in the Scriptures, but 
the sense, as expounded by the Bishop of Eome, he could find 
and accepted. The word * made he insisted was applicable to 
some relations between the Father and the Son, but when he 
said the Father created all things he did not reduce the Son to 
the rank of a creature, for the word Father was to be under 
stood to be of significance in relation to the divine nature itself : 
that is to say, it includes the Son in the creative power ; and 
when he has said Father he has already implied the Son even 
before he names him the idea of Father connotes the idea of 
Son. He also shews his meaning by speaking of the genera 
tion of the Son as life from life , and uses, to express the 
relation between the Son and the Father, the image of a bright 
light kindled from an unquenchable light. The life, the light, is 
one and the same. To the charge of tritheism, and of dividing 
the divine substance into three portions, he answers that " if, 
because there are three hypostases, any say that they are parti 
tive (divided into portions), three there are though they like it 
not, or they must utterly destroy the divine Trinity ". 2 So, he 
concludes, " we extend the Monad indivisibly into the Triad, and 
conversely gather together the Triad without diminution into the 
Monad ". 

It is obvious that the difference between the two bishops 
was a difference in the use of terms rather than in doctrine. 3 

1 Ath. de Sent. Dion. 18. 2 Basil de Spiritu S. 72. 

3 Dionysius of Rome contented himself with shewing the false consequences of 
the teaching attributed to Diouysius of Alexandria. Athanasius at a later date, 


The fact that the one was accustomed to speak and think in 
Greek and the other in Latin is almost enough in itself to 
account for the misunderstanding. 

Ova- la Being, Existence, Essence was used in two senses, 
particular and general. In the first sense it meant a particular 
being or existence or essence, and so in such connexions as this 
was almost equivalent to our word individual or person . To say 
that the Son was of the same ova-La as the Father would, in this 
sense of the word, be saying that they were one person, and 
so plunging straightway into all the errors of Sabellius ; and 
these were the very errors against which the Alexandrine was con 
tending. But ova-la was also used in the more general sense of 
the being or essence which several particular things or persons 
might share in common. This was the sense in which the 
Koman understood substantia, the Latin equivalent of the term, 
and in this sense Dionysius of Alexandria (though much more 
willing to declare unity of nature, i.e. much less than sulstantia, 
meant) was induced to agree to proclaim the Son of one ova-la 
with the Father. 

Again, the word uTrocrrao-t? hypostasis could bear two 
different meanings. Primarily it was that which underlay a 
thing, which gave it reality and made it what it was. It was 
generally used by Greeks as almost equivalent to ovaia in the 
general sense of underlying principle or essence or being, and 
the two words are interchangeable as synonyms long after the 
time at which the Dionysii discussed the matter. But hypo- 
stasis (as ovaid) could also be used of the underlying character 
of a particular thing of a particular essence or being of 
individual rather than of general attributes and properties, and 
so it might bear the sense of person . In the general sense the 
Trinity was of course one hypostasis one God ; there could be 
only one existence or essence that could be called divine. But 
in the more limited and particular significance of the term the 
Christian faith required that three c hypostases should be con 
fessed, three modes of the one being, three persons making 
up the one divine existence a Trinity within the Unity. 

The matter was still further complicated as regards the 
terminology of East and West by the unfortunate translation 
of the Greek terms into Latin. Abstract terms (as abstract 

with fuller knowledge, vindicates the perfect orthodoxy of his predecessor, whether 
his language might be misunderstood or not. 


thought) found little favour with the concrete practical Eoman. 
The proper rendering of ovcria was essentia ( being , exist 
ence in the general sense), but though a philosopher here or 
there (as Cicero) might use the word, it never got acclimatized 
at Borne, 1 and the more concrete term substantia (substance) 
with some suggestion of material existence usurped its 
place. But this was the very word that was the natural equi 
valent of the Greek hypostasis . When Dionysius of Eome 
was told that his brother-bishop spoke of three hypostases , he 
could not fail to think he meant three substances , so dividing 
up the essence of the Godhead and making three separate Gods, 
whereas he only meant to express the triune personality. A 
Latin would of course have said three personae (persons), but 
the Greek irpocrwirov had (as we have seen) too bad a history, 
the Sabellian use of it suggesting merely temporary roles 
assumed and played by one and the same person, as he pleased. 

It was long before Greek-writing theologians themselves 
came to agreement to use the word hypostasis always of the 
special characteristics and individual existence of each person 
in the Trinity, and to keep ovcria to express the very being (or 
the essence of the nature) of the Godhead. Till this was done, 
and the Latins realized that by hypostasis the Greeks meant 
what they meant by persona , and by ovaia what they meant 
by substantia , there remained a constant danger of misunder 
standing and suspicion between the East and the West. 

The correspondence between the Dionysii rather exposed 
this danger than removed it. It was only a few years later, in 
spite of it, as we have seen, that a council of bishops at Antioch 
withdrew the word opoovaios from use. The great influence of 
Origen in the East supported the tendency to emphasize the 
distinction of persons even at the cost of their unity, so that at 
Alexandria itself Pierius, his successor, taught that the Father 
and the Logos were two ovaiau and two natures, and that the 
Holy Spirit was a third, subordinate to the Son ; and Theognostus, 
in the time of Diocletian, worked out still further the subordination- 
elements in his theory. Pierius was the teacher of Pamphilus, 

1 Seneca (Ep. 58. 6) apologizes for using the word and shields himself under 
Cicero s name, who also used indoloria, saying, licet enim novis rebus nova nomina 
imponere" (see Forcellini) ; and Quintilian (ii 14. 1, 2) speaks of it and entia together 
with oratorio, (to represent faTopiicfy as equally harsh translations, but defensible on 
the ground of the poverty of language resulting from the banishment of terms formed 
from the Greek. 


the presbyter of Caesarea, whose great collection of books and 
devotion to the memory of Origen were inherited by Eusebius, 
the spokesman and leader of the great majority of Eastern 
bishops in the controversy which, during the following century, 
seemed to threaten the very foundations of the Christian faith. 
That they did not more quickly appreciate the issues the 
inevitable results of Arianism and the necessity of a precise 
and definite terminology to exclude it was due to their theo 
logical lineage : men of whose orthodoxy they had no doubt, 
whose teaching they revered, whose children they were, had used 
some of the very terms in which Arius clothed his explanation 
of the person of Christ. 

Before, however, we pass on to the Arian controversy we 
must retrace our steps in order to review the course of the 
developement of the doctrine of the Logos which had been in 
progress all through the Monarchian teaching. 



IN tracing the developement of the Logos doctrine we are at once 
confronted by the statements in the preface to the Gospel 
according to St John, 1 which in untechnical and simple language 
seem to cover and if their authority be accepted to decide 
all the vexed questions which Monarchianism raised. The 
eternal pre-existence, the personality, the deity all are stated 
in the first three clauses which describe the Logos in his divine 
relations in eternity before Creation. The second stage, if we 
may say so, is then set before us the Logos in relation to 
Creation and to man, before the Incarnation : in which he is 
declared the universal life, the light of mankind in continuous 
process coming into the world, though unrecognised by men. 
And thirdly, the same personal, eternal, and divine being is pro 
claimed as having become flesh and thereby in his Incarnation re 
vealed himself and God to men. In this connexion the derivative 
character of his being and deity is first suggested: it is the highest 
form of derived being, that of an only Son of his Father whose 
being is at once derivative and yet the very same as that from 
which it is derived, equal in deity, on a level with its source. 

Wherever the Gospel according to St John was current, 
there was witness borne that should have precluded all notions 
of imperfect deity or separate nature or external being of the 
Logos in relation to the Father, while at the same time his 
individual personality was clearly marked. The language used 
to express the eternity of the personal distinction is perhaps 
less obviously decisive, and misunderstanding might more easily 
arise in this than in other respects. 

That the doctrine was not fully realized, even by well- 
instructed leaders of Christian thought, is obvious ; and its full 
application to the interpretation of the person of Jesus was not 
easily made. Now to one aspect and now to another pro- 

1 See Westcott Gospel according to St John, 


minence is given. Now one relation, now another, is emphasized 
by different writers. The limitations of human thought and 
experience are such that we are perhaps justified in saying in 
such cases that only the particular aspect, the particular relation, 
was grasped by the writer or thinker in question. But such an 
inference in view of the scanty character of the material avail 
able for our consideration is at least always precarious ; and it 
is often far too readily assumed (in the case of early Christian 
writers) that the particular aspect of the question which is 
presented was the only one with which the writer was familiar. 
It would probably be nearer the truth, as it would certainly be 
more scientific in method, to regard as typical and comple 
mentary, rather than as mutually exclusive, the following few 
representative points of view of the doctrine of the Logos. 

In every case the historical Jesus Christ is identified with the 
Logos. The chief induction is this : Jesus was the Logos, or at 
least the Logos was in Jesus. That is the primary explanation 
of his person which is implied, whatever else is said. But 
inasmuch as the title Logos readily suggested the idea of reason 
ruling in the universe, when it was treated as the chief expres 
sion for the person of Christ there was great risk of too close 
or exclusive connexion with the universe, and so of the divine 
power of life in Christ being regarded as a cosmic force. 1 This, 
and failure to distinguish precisely the individual personality of 
the Logos, were the chief difficulties in the way of the application 
of the induction. But it is surely going astray to reproach the 
writers of this period or at least the apologists with transform 
ing the genuine gospel of Christ into natural theology. They 
were anxious, of course, to find what common ground they could 
with the Greeks or Eomans whose hostility they desired to dis 
arm, and so they naturally presented the doctrine of the Logos 
to them in the form in which they would most readily receive 
it. And, broadly speaking, the doctrines which are common to 
1 natural theology and to Christianity were those which it was 
most necessary for them to set forward, pointing as they did to 
Christ as the centre of all, and to the confirmation of these 
doctrines, and the new sanctions in support of them, which the 
coming of Christ into the world supplied. 


1 To this effect Harnack DG. Eng. tr. vol. i p. 330. 

2 See further on this point J. Orr The Progress of Dogma pp. 24, 48, 49 ff., 

against Harnack s view (DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii pp. 169-230). 


The Ignatian Epistles 

In the epistles of Ignatius references to the doctrine are 
only incidental. Jesus Christ is the Logos " who came forth 
from silence " 1 the only utterance of God ; " the unlying 
mouth by which the Father spake truly " ; 2 he is " God made 
manifest in human wise ". 3 The one God " manifested Himself 
through Jesus Christ His Son ". 4 It cannot be said that these 
phrases, which Ignatius has used in the few hastily written 
letters which are all we have, give evidence of any clear con 
ception of distinct personal relations between the eternal Son and 
the Father. 5 The central idea of Ignatius is the conquest of 
sin and Satan and of death, the renovation of man, in Christ, by 
virtue of his divinity in union with his manhood the beginner 
of a new humanity : but he is content to insist on both divinity 
and humanity without attempting to distinguish the relation of 
the divine to the human. In the chief passage in which he 
makes reference to this relation he uses language which in a 
later age would have been judged heretical, as it might be 
understood to mean that the distinct personality dated from the 
Incarnation only. 

" There is ", he writes, 6 " one Physician, fleshly and spiritual, 
begotten and unbegotten, God in man, true life in death, both 
of Mary and of God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus 
Christ our Lord." And " Our God Jesus the Christ was borne 
in the womb by Mary according to the dispensation of God, of 
the seed of David, yet of the Holy Spirit : who was begotten 
and was baptized." 7 It seems that these sentences could not 
have been written by one who had clearly formed in his mind 
the conception of the eternal generation of the Son, or even 
perhaps of his pre-existence in the personal relation of sonship 
to the Father (n.b., first passible, and then impassible). Un 
begotten the Logos, the Son, never was in his relation to God 
the Father which is the relation of which the word is used. 
Yet Ignatius was obviously not really of opinion that the 
Logos first became a person at the Incarnation. He speaks 
of Jesus Christ "who was before the ages with the Father 
and in the end appeared ". 8 And the explanation is to be found 

1 Magn. 8. 2 Rom. 8. 3 Eph. 19. 4 Magn. 8. 

5 There is some justification for the description of his theology as modalistic. 

6 Eph. 7. 7 Ibid. 18. 8 Magn. 6. 


partly in a laxity in the use of terms due to some indistinct 
ness (rather than inaccuracy) of theological conception; and 
partly also in the close similarity in the Greek of the words 
ingenerate or unbegotten and unoriginate or without origin. 
The doubling of a single letter changes the latter into the 
former, which Ignatius wrote, though he really meant the latter. 
By classical writers the distinction was always observed, but in 
Christian writings the one word used by Ignatius seems to have 
sometimes done duty for both. 1 We may feel sure that Ignatius 
did not intend to deny the existence of the Son in eternity, 
although the generation of which he speaks is that in time of 
the Virgin. 

The chief effect of his mission is to bring to men knowledge 
of God, but that knowledge gives incorruptibility to those who 
become " imitators of the Lord ", and " in all chastity and 
temperance abide in Jesus Christ both in the flesh and in the 
spirit ", 2 breaking the one bread " which is a medicine that 
gives immortality a remedy against death giving life in Jesus 
Christ for ever ". 

1 Cf. Justin Dial. c. Tryph. 5 and 8. The words in question are aytvrjTos and 
dytwrjTos. Against the argument that the interchange of the words is due to clerical 
error in the manuscripts the v being wrongly repeated or omitted, see Lightfoot 
Ignatius vol. ii p. 90. Lightfoot points to the discussion by Athanasius in 359 (de 
Syn. 46, 47 on the meaning of d/ioownos) of the twofold sense of aytwyros (1) that 
which exists but was not generated and has no originating cause, and (2) that which 
is uncreate. In the latter sense the word is applicable to the Son, in the former it 
is not ; and so he says both uses are found in the Fathers, and therefore apparently 
contradictory language may be orthodox, a different sense of the word being in 
tended. [In the other passages referred to by Lightfoot, de Deer. 28 and Or. c. Ar. 
i 30 (written earlier c. 350-355 and c. 357-358), it seems certain, as he implies, that 
the word under discussion is ayevyTov. So Robertson insists that in the later passage 
(dc Syn. 46, written in 359) Athanasius wrote ayevyros, not ayevvriros. See his 
note Athanasius N. and P-N.F. p. 475.] Properly a.yevt)Tos denies origin, and so 
maintains eternal existence ; while ayewrjro^ denies generation or parentage and 
thereby the ontological relation of Father and Son in the Godhead, whether in time 
or in eternity. The Arian controversy cleared up any uncertainty there was ; and 
the Son was declared to be yevvqrbs, but not 761/77x65 ("begotten, not having come 
into being") ; and when the Arians tried to confuse the issue, saying the two words 
were the same, they were told that this was so only in the case of creatures, not in 
regard to God (Epiph. adv. Haer. Ixiv 8). In this way the Father only was AycwijTos, 
but the orthodox had no liking for the phrase and were disposed to retort upon the 
Arians that it was unscriptural (Epiph. adv. Haer. Ixxii 19). When, however, the 
fear of Arianism had passed, it became a convenient term by which to express the 
relation between the Father (aycvvijTos) and the Son (yew-r^Tte, but not 
Lightfoot I.e. 

2 Eph. 10, 20. 


The Letter to Diognetus 

The writer of the letter to Diognetus 1 declares the Logos to 
be no servant or angel or prince, but the Artificer and Creator 
Himself to whom all things are placed in subjection, sent by the 
Almighty in consideration and gentle compassion, as a king 
sends his son, himself a king so God sent him as God and as 
man to men, with a view to his saving them, yet by persuasion 
not by constraint. The purpose of his mission was to reveal 
God to men, since till he came no man had really known God. 
It was His own only Son that He sent in His great mercy and 
loving-kindness and long-suffering, the incorruptible, the im 
mortal, the Saviour able to save. That he distinguished the 
Logos as a person seems obvious from such expressions, though 
in almost the same breath he says that God (the Father) " Him 
self revealed Himself ", and " Himself in His mercy took upon 
Himself our sins " phrases which shew at least how close, in 
his thought, was the union between the Father and the Son. 
And the function of the Logos previously to the Incarnation 
seems to be conceived particularly in relation to the world 
it was the very Lord and Euler of the universe who was sent, 
" by whom He created the heavens, by whom He enclosed the 
sea in its own bounds, whose secrets all the elements faithfully 
keep, from whom the sun received the measure of the courses 
of the day to keep, whose bidding to give light by night the 
moon obeys, whom the stars obey as they follow the course of 
the moon, from whom all things received their order and limits 
and laws (to whom they are subject), the heavens and the things 
in the heavens, the earth and the things in the earth, the sea 
and the things in the sea, fire, air, the void, the things in the 
heights, the things in the depths, the things in the space be 
tween. Him it was He despatched to them." 

We probably ought, however, to recognize in such a passage 
as this, addressed to a heathen, a Stoic philosopher, an eloquent 
amplification of the majesty of the messenger and of his intimate 
connexion with the eternal universe rather than evidence that 
the writer was not familiar with the conception of the immanent 
relations of the Logos and the Father in the inner being of the 

1 Ep. ad Diognetum vii-x. 


Justin Martyr 

A much more systematic treatment of the doctrine is found 
in the writings of the Greek Apologists. Justin Martyr, in the 
Dialogue with Trypho, 1 gives deliberate expression to the chief 
conceptions in clear view of the objections to them from the 
monotheistic standpoint. 

He insists that Christians really hold monotheism inviolate 
and yet recognize true deity in Christ. Some of his phrases 
imply that the Logos existed with God before the creation 
potentially only, coming to actuality when the world was made ; 
but he also speaks of him in relation to God before creation as 
" numerically other " (or distinct), and as " being with the 
Father ", 2 i.e. as an individual person. All his highest titles, 
Glory of the Lord, Son, Wisdom, Messenger, God, Lord, Word, 
are his by virtue of his serving the Father s purpose and being 
born 3 by the Father s will. Yet he is not the absolute God, 
who is unoriginate. 3 The Logos has come into being. It might 
thus appear that there was a time when he was not, that his 
coming into being depended on the Father s will, and that the 
being of God was in some way impaired by the separate (or dis 
tinct) existence of the Son. To exclude this inference the analogy 
of human experience is cited. When we put forth Logos (reason 
or speech) we generate Logos, not, however, by a process of 
curtailment in such a way that the Logos within us is impaired 
or diminished when we put it forth. And again, in the instance 
of fire being kindled from fire, the original fire remains the 
same unimpaired, and the fire which is kindled from it is self- 
existent, without diminishing that from which it was kindled. 
No argument, accordingly, can be brought against this inter 
pretation of the person of Jesus that he is indeed the Logos 
who was with God from the beginning and was His vehicle of 
creation and of revelation through the old dispensation on the 
ground that such a conception detracts from the unity and 
fulness of being of the Godhead. 

1 See esp. ch. 61 Otto s edition. 

2 This when arguing that it was to him personally that the words Let us make 
man " were addressed. 

s It is uncertain here and frequently throughout the Dialogue whether Justin 
wrote the word meaning come into being or the word be born (i.e. yevrjrds or 
yevjsrjrbs), even if he discriminated between them at all, though in some cases the con 
text is decisive as to the particular sense intended. See supra on Ignatius p. 122 n. 1. 


But though Justin, with the other Greek Apologists, may be 
said to start from the cosmological aspect of the problem, yet 
the ethical interest the soteriological aspect of the question 
is really very strong with him. The one chief mission of the 
Logos in all ages has been to interpret the Father to men. He 
it was who appeared in all the instances recorded in the history 
of the Jews. In him every race of men has had a share ; 1 he 
was present among them from the first, disseminated as seed 
scattered among them, 2 and those who, before his birth as the 
Christ in the time of Cyrenius and his teaching in the time of 
Pontius Pilate, lived in accordance with his promptings (i.e. with 
Logos) were Christians, even though they were deemed godless ; 3 
and those who lived otherwise (without Logos) were hostile to 
Christ and to God. It is because they all partook of the Logos 
that they are all responsible. It was because through dis 
obedience to his guiding they had received corruption so deeply 
into their nature as to be unable to recover that the Logos at 
length assumed flesh. 4 The essential life was united with that 
which was liable to corruption, in order that the corruption 
might be overpowered and cast out and man elevated to im 
mortality. 5 In Christ, and in Christ only, the whole Logos 
appeared, and fully revealed the Father so that all might know 
Him. It is in this fact that the newness and the greatness of 
the revelation in Christ are seen. And so Christ, the first-born 
of all creation, has become also the beginning (the principle) of 

1 See Apol. i 46. The Logos (Reason) is the divine element in all men the 
Reason within them (almost the conscience). 

2 Cf. Apol. ii 13 : 6 cnrepfMriKbs 0eZbs \6yos. It was the seed of the implanted 
word that enabled them to see clearly realities (cf. ii 8). 

8 He names among others Socrates and Heracleitus and Abraham and Elijah. 

4 That Justin fully recognized the humanity of Christ, and asserted it strongly 
against Docetic tendencies, is patent. The Logos was made man (Dial. c. Tryph. 
102, \67os dvdpu6els). The question has, however, been raised Did he recognize a 
human soul in Christ ? There is no doubt he speaks of <rw/t, \6yos, and ^vx n (body, 
Logos, soul) as the constituents of his person, and he uses ^vxy in the sense of ^VXTJ 
&\oyos, the animal principle, so that it might be inferred from this phrase that 
he regarded the Logos as taking the place of the human (rational) soul or spirit or 
mind. But he may have used the popular division of man into body and soul 
rather than the more precise and technical threefold division into a-upa, if/vxt, 
TTj/eO/xa. There is, however, nothing to shew that the question had ever presented 
itself to Justin s thought. All that can certainly be maintained is that he regarded 
the manhood of Christ as complete and would not have consciously used expressions 
which were inconsistent therewith. 

5 Fragment Otto vol. ii p. 550 (Corp. Apol. iii p. 256). The genuineness of 
the fragment is, however, disputed. 


another race, the race which is born again by him through 
water and faith and wood (the tree), which possesses the secret 
of the cross. 1 Those who are thus prepared beforehand and 
repent for their sins will escape (be acquitted in) the judgement 
of God which is to come. 


Tatian was, both as his pupil and in thought, closely con 
nected with Justin. In his defence of Christian doctrine To 
the Greeks 2 he is at pains to try to express the relation of the 
Logos to the Divine Being (the inner nature and existence of 
the Deity) and the manner in which he has a personal distinct 
existence without impairing the unity of the divine existence. 
He states the matter as follows : " God was in the beginning 
(at the first) ; and the beginning (the first principle), 3 we have 
been instructed, is the potentiality 4 of the Logos. For the 
Lord of the universe, who is himself the essence 5 of the whole, 
in so far as the creation had not yet come to be, was alone : 
but inasmuch as he was all potentiality, 4 and himself the 
essence of things seen and things unseen, in company with 
him were all things. In company with him, through the 
potentiality of the Logos, the Logos too, who was in him, himself 
essentially was (vTrecmja-ev, subsisted). By the simple will of 
God the Logos springs forth, and the Logos, proceeding not 
without cause, becomes (or comes into being as) the first-born 
work of the Father. Him (i.e. the Logos) we know to 
be the first principle (beginning) of the world. He came 
into being by a process of importation, not of abscission : for 
that which is cut off is separated from that from which it 
is cut ; but that which has imparted being, receiving as its 
function one of administration, 6 has not made him whence he 
was taken defective. For just as from one torch there are 

1 c. Tryph. 138. 

2 Oratio ch. v (al. vii and viii). His own title was simply Tanavov irpbs 
"E\\T)i>as. The text of Otto is followed (but see ed. Schwartz). 

3 % ^PX n beginning , and also first cause or guiding governing principle. 

4 The conception is that the Logos was not actually, but only poten 
tially, existent (5vvdfj,ei not tvepydq.). 

5 T) U7r6o-ra<ns "that which makes things what they are and gives being or 
reality to them." See on the Correspondence of the Dionysii p. 116. All things 
were potentially in Him. 

6 "The part of olKovo/j-ia", administration of the world, revelation. 


kindled fires many, and the light of the first torch is not 
lessened on account of the kindling from it of the many 
torches ; so too the Logos, by coming forth from the potentiality 
of the Father, has not made Him who has begotten him destitute 
of Logos. For I myself speak and you hear, and I who con 
verse with you certainly do not become void of speech (Logos) l 
through the passage of my speech from me to you." 

The Logos is here regarded mainly in relation to the world, 
as the principle on which it was made, and the vehicle of 
revelation. Personal existence seems to attach to the Logos 
in this connexion only. The hypostatic distinction in the 
being of God before Creation and essentially is not ex 
pressed. The pre-existence is only potential (the only distinc 
tion is that of the Father from His own reason) God is all in 
all ; the Logos is in him, but so are all things, and it is only 
when God wills that the Logos proceeds to personal being for 
the work which is assigned him. 


A very similar view to that of Tatian appears to have been 
held by Theophilus a little later. 2 He was probably the first 
to use the actual term Triad (Trinity) 3 and to apply Philo s 
terms indwelling (or immanent ) and c proceeding (or pro 
jected or transient ) 4 to the Logos. Till God willed to 
create the world the Logos dwelt in Him, in His inner being, 
as counsellor His mind and intelligence this is the only 
kind of pre-existence which appears to be recognized, and it 
is not clear in what way the Logos could be distinguished 
from the Father. Before Creation He begat him vomiting 
him forth : He begat him as " proceeding, first-born of all 
creation ; not himself being made empty of the Logos, but 

1 The twofold sense of \6yos, reason and the expression of it in speech, must be 
borne in mind ; but the dominant thought in this passage is of the outward 

2 His Defence of Christianity ad Autolycum, see esp. ii 10 and 22. 

3 The Triad named is "God and his Word and his Wisdom ", of which the three 
days which passed before the lights in the firmament of heaven were created are said 
to be types. 

4 ^Sidtferos and irpo<f>opii<6s. The use of these terms is of Stoic origin, marking 
the two senses of A 670$ (reason and word), so mental and uttered or pronounced. 
As representing two aspects of the same truth the use is recognized, but neither 
term isolated from the other would be accurate. 


begetting Logos and continually consorting with his Logos ".* 
The Logos is clearly regarded as the medium for the Father s 
work in the world and among men. Always with God, he is 
the principle of all things. The Father Himself cannot be 
contained in space but the Logos can ; and so he assumed in 
the world the part 2 of the Father the Lord of all. 

The Distinction of the Logos from the Father cosmic rather 
than hypostatic 

Neither Justin nor Tatian nor Theophilus, accordingly, 
would seem to have clearly conceived a hypostatic distinction 
in the being of God Himself: the distinction is found ex 
ternally in relation to the world, and there is danger, on the 
one hand, of the Logos being identified with God. His essence 
(ova-la), as it were, rests eternally in God immanent : his 
hypostasis is conceived only in the work of revelation. And so, 
on the other hand, as a personal existence it may be argued 
that the Logos is not really God, but only a manifestation of 
Him, and the Christology of the Apologists has thus been said 
to fall short of the genuine Christian appreciation of Christ 
inasmuch as " it is not God who reveals Himself in Christ, but 
the Logos, the depotentiated God, a God who as God is sub 
ordinate to the highest God " (Loofs). The limits within which 
this criticism of the Apologists may fairly be accepted have 
been already noted at the outset. 3 

Athenagoras : his fuller recognition of the conditions to be 
accounted for 

In Athenagoras is found a clearer view of the personal 
existence of the Logos (or the Son) before Creation, and a fuller 
perception of the problem how to secure the unity and yet 
assign its due place to the distinction. 

It is the chief concern of Christians, he writes, " to know 
God and the Logos who comes from Him : to see what is the 
unity of the Son in relation to the Father, what the communion 
of the Father with the Son, what the Spirit ; what is the union 
of all these and the distinction (Siaipea-is) of the 

1 This idea of continuous generation has something in common with Origen s 
doctrine of the eternal generation. 

a The word used is irpbauirov. 3 See supra p. 120. 


united the Spirit, the Son, the Father : l " proclaiming at 
the same time their power in unity and a distinction in their 
order ". 2 This distinction is more clearly conceived of as in 
dependent of the creation of the world than by the other 
Greek Apologists. He speaks of the whole divine sphere as 
itself a perfect world (/coo-^o?), and God as being in Himself 
all to Himself, so that there was no necessity for the world we 
know to be created. The distinctions in the being of God are 
thus conceived as self-existent, and the part which the Logos 
afterwards plays in the work of creation he only plays because 
he is already in idea all that was required for the exercise of 
the special work of creation. The term generated ( a thing 
begotten ), and the epithet first in connexion with it, are 
applied to him, yet " not as having come into being (for from 
the beginning God, since He is eternal Mind, had in Himself the 
Logos (reason), since He is eternally possessed of Logos (rational)); 
but as having proceeded forth as idea and energy (i.e. in exercise 
of the idea) ". 3 " God s Son is the Logos of the Father in idea 
and in operation." He has thus a previous relation to the 
Father, as has the Holy Spirit and the three names represent 
eternally existing distinctions within the being of the Divine 
itself. It is in this clear repudiation of the conception that 
the Logos first acquired a personal existence in connexion with 
the creation of the universe (while he fully recognizes his opera 
tion therein), that Athenagoras seems to furnish a link between 
the earlier less precise and the later more exact expressions of 
the Christian consciousness. Precision of terminology is first 
to be found in Tertullian, but his contemporary Clement, and 
Irenaeus before him, make important contributions to the de- 
velopement of the doctrine. 

Irenaeus is one of the most conspicuous figures in the history 

1 Leg. 12 (for Son he writes TTCUS). The best edition of Athenagoras is that of 
E. Schwartz, Leipzig 1891 (Tcxte und Untersuchungen iv Bd. 2 Heft). 

2 Leg. 10. So "who would not be perplexed", he writes, "to hear described as 
atheists men who believe in God the Father and God the Son and the Holy Spirit, 
and declare their power in unity and their distinction in order"; and again, "the 
Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son by unity and power of the Spirit" 
(the conception expressed by the later term Trepixdpivris, see infra p. 226 n. 2). 

3 Ibid. The terms are I5ta and frtpyeia the latter being the actualization of the 


of the early Church. It is unnecessary here to enlarge on the 
importance of the various parts he played. His thought was no 
doubt mainly moulded by his Eastern origin and built up on a 
foundation of early traditions and modes of thought current in 
Asia Minor, 1 though largely developed and determined in opposi 
tion to Gnostic theories. 2 

It was Gnosticism that led him to lay such stress on the 
eternal coexistence of the Logos with the Father, to repel the 
idea that he was ever made , and to discriminate creation from 
generation, rejecting anything of the nature of an emanation as 
a true expression of the relation between the Logos and the 
Father. Nor does he ever tend to identify the divine in Christ 
with the world-idea or the creating Word or Eeason of God. 
He is familiar with the conception of a twofold generation, 3 and 
uses the terms Son and Logos alike interchangeably (the 
Logos being always Son). He conceives of the Logos as the 
one great and absolute organ of all divine revelations from all 
time (so that in them it was not God Himself but the Logos 
who appeared), and apparently of some kind of subordination 
of the Logos, but he is prevented by his religious feeling and 
his consciousness of the limitations of the human understand 
ing from carrying far his investigations into the nature of the 
relations between Father and Son. They are a mystery. The 
Father is God revealing Himself; the Son is God revealed. 
The Father is the invisible of the Son, while the Son is the 

1 E.g. he held to the early millennial expectations (adv. Haer. v5 and 25 ff., 
ed. Harvey). 

2 See Loofs Leitfaden 8 p. 91 ff. He points to Asia Minor as the scene of the 
greatest spiritual activity in the Church in the second half of the second century 
(cf. the Apologists : Melito of Sardis, Apollinarius of Hierapolis, Rhodon a pupil of 
Tatian in Rome, Miltiades, Apollonius, and other Montanist writers, whose names 
are unknown), and as the home of a special theology, of which he notes the follow 
ing characteristics : (a) The clear recognition of the distinction between the Old 
and the New Testaments, (b) The concern to make Christ the centre to which the 
whole history of the divine olKovo/ converges, (c) The appearance of modalism 
which resulted from the close connexion of its Christology with the popular con 
ception that Christ had brought perfect knowledge of God (the revelation of Christ 
the revelation of God), and (as he styles it) the paradoxical contrasting of the 
real death and real humanity of Christ with his immortality and deity, (d) The 
connexion of the knowledge of God with the assurance of immortality, based on 
the saying, This is eternal life, that they should know Thee (John 17 3 ) ; yet an 
essentially physical expression of the means of salvation. 

3 The generation from eternity, whereby the Godhead exists both as Father and 
as Son in itself ; and afterwards the generation in time, when the Son became man, 
being born into the world. 


visible of the Father. But the personal distinction is strictly 
maintained : and he insists that it is one and the same person 
Jesus Christ the Logos the Son of God who created 
the world, was born as man, and suffered and ascended into 
heaven, still man as well as God. 

The deepest interest of Irenaeus (however) does not seem 
to be centred in speculations of this kind, but in the Incarna 
tion as the fulfilment of the eternal purpose of God which 
was manifested when He created man in His image after His 
likeness. Irenaeus marks the distinction between the image, 
which connotes reason and freedom, in which man was made, 
and the likeness, which is the capacity for immortality, to which 
he was destined to attain. A course of developement was thus 
set before men by the Creator, following which they would 
become in very truth as He Himself was : but man in the 
exercise of his freedom, using the power which the image 
gave him, departed from the course assigned him, and by 
his transgression (in the Fall) became subject to death and 
could no longer reach the goal of immortality. To restore to 
him the power of which he had been deprived was the purpose 
of the Incarnation, so that what had been lost in Adam might 
be recovered in Christ Jesus. In him the final predestined 
developement was realized, it had been interrupted, but he 
resumed and completed it. It is Irenaeus who first expresses 
the thought which others after him delighted to emphasize 
" On account of his infinite love he became what we are, in 
order that he might make us what he himself is." He summed 
up in himself the whole race and the whole course of develope 
ment, completing thereby the whole revelation of God to man, 
and by passing through all stages of human life consecrated 
each and all. In this way in the person of Christ Jesus 
the Person of the Logos become man the whole race is again 
united to God, and becomes capable of attaining to incorrupti 
bility. The possessor of immortality actually united himself 
with human nature, so that by adoption he might deify it and 
guarantee it the inheritance of life. He thus brought about 
the condition which God had ordained from the beginning 
the realisation of which the entrance of sin had checked. So 
it is that Jesus Christ he who is God and man is the real 
centre of all history. He is the person who, as man, first 
attained the destination set before the race. Special means of 


reaching this consummation are offered to individuals in the 
institution of the Sacraments of Baptism (which gives for 
giveness of sins) and the Lord s Supper (partaking of the 
Eucharist our bodies no longer are corruptible but have the 
hope of the resurrection), but there is also the mystic pre 
sentation which is summed up in the pregnant saying, "the 
vision of God is the life of man". 1 The real life is the 
knowledge, the vision, of God. This knowledge, this vision, 
the Incarnation of the Word gave to men, and not only to those 
who actually saw him in his incarnate life upon earth, but also 
to all who afterwards should see him with the eye of faith 
" They who see God will partake of life. It was for this reason 
that the infinite and incomprehensible and invisible offered him 
self to be seen and comprehended and contained by the faithful, 
so that he might give life to those that contain and see him by 
faith." 2 For them too the invisible is made visible, the incom 
prehensible comprehensible, and the impassible passible. But 
faith believing in him involves the doing of his will ; 3 and it 
is, in turn, by the fulfilment of his commands, by obedience to 
him, that we learn to know him more completely. For the 
knowledge which is possible for man is essentially moral, 4 the 
affinity between man and God is based on character. " Exactly 
in proportion as God is in need of nothing, man is in need of 
communion with God ; for this is man s glory to preserve and 
continue in the service of God." 5 

It is his strong hold on the conception of the unity and 
continuity of God s purpose and revelations of Himself thus 
manifested in the Incarnation as the natural sequence and 
culmination of the design of creation, not necessarily conditioned 
by the fall of man, that is most characteristic of the thought of 
Irenaeus. He was apparently the first of the great church 
teachers to follow up the clues which St Paul had given 6 in 
this respect. 

1 Irenaeus adv. Haer. iv 34. 7 (ed. Harvey). 2 Ibid, iv 34. 6. 

3 Credere autem ei est facere ejus voluntatem (ibid, iv 11. 3). 

4 Ibid. I.e. and iv 34. 

5 Ibid, iv 25. 1 (ed. Harvey). Harnack finds in Irenaeus two main ideas 
(1) The conviction that the Creator of the world and the Supreme God are one and 
the same ; (2) the conviction that Christianity is real redemption, and that this 
redemption was only effected by the appearance of Christ. But these two ideas are 
part of the stock the very root of all Christian thought. 

6 E.g. in the Epistle to the Ephesians I 10 3 11 . 


The thought and teaching of Clement of Alexandria is in 
several ways closely akin to his, and comparison of the one with 
the other is instructive. Clement s travels before he went to 
Alexandria had taken him to ground familiar to Irenaeus in his 
earlier life before he settled down at Lyons, and there was much 
in common between the two contemporary teachers of the 
Egyptian and the Gallican Churches. 

The characteristics of the Alexandrine school are clearly 
marked in Clement, one of its chief representatives. Its love 
of learning, its sympathy with intellectual activities, its enthus 
iasm for knowledge of every kind as the only avenue that would 
lead to true interpretation of the Gospel ; its no less sincere 
recognition of the need of faith and of love in the search after 
truth, its desire to bring the whole of human life consciously 
under the rule of Christ, and to apply to every domain of 
thought and conduct the principles embodied in his life and 
teaching : these characteristics shew themselves in the work of 
all members of the school, and the result is an interpretation of 
the Gospel which is at once inclusive of the best Greek philo 
sophical thought and genuinely Christian. 

Clement of Alexandria 

It was Clement who elevated " the idea of the Logos, who is 
Christ, into the highest principle in the religious explanation of 
the world and in the exposition of Christianity ". l " Christianity 
is the doctrine of the creation, training, and redemption of man 
kind by the Logos, whose work culminates in the perfect Gnostic." 
But the perfect Gnosticism with Clement is the true knowledge 
of God, which is to be reached by disciplined reason. His 
Gnostic is no visionary, no mystic. " Though the father of 
all mystics, he is no mystic himself." * 

The doctrine of the Logos is the centre and mainspring of 
the whole system of Clement. 

He was eternally with the Father, who never was without 
him as Son. The being which he has is the same as the being 
of God the Father. 2 He is the ultimate beginning (cause or 

1 C. Bigg The Christian Platonists of Alexandria ch. iii p. 98 f. 

2 " One must assume", says Harnack, "that the word [Homoousios] was really 
familiar to Clement as a designation of the community of nature both with God 
and with men, possessed by the Logos." He certainly wrote (Strom, iv 13) with 


principle) of all things that are, himself without beginning (or 
origination). He is author of the world, the source of light and 
life, in a sense himself at the head of the series of created beings, 
but, by reason of his divine being, specifically different from 
them. He is the interpreter of the Father s attributes, the 
manifestation of the truth in person, the educator of the human 
race, 1 who at last became man to make men partakers of his 
own divine nature. 

That Clement thus held clearly a distinction between the 
Logos and the Father need not be argued. The real question 
which calls for consideration is whether he did not also so far 
distinguish between the Logos as originally existent and the 
Logos who was Son of God as to conceive two persons, 2 the 
Logos proper who remains unalterably in God (the Logos 
immanent), and the Son - Logos who is an emanation of the 
immanent reason of God (the Logos proceeding forth in 

He is said to have written, 3 " The Son-Logos is spoken of 
by the same name as the Father s Logos, but it is not he who 
became flesh, nor yet the Father s Logos, but a certain power of 
God, as it were an effluence from the Logos himself, who became 
mind and visited continually the hearts of men." This, how 
ever, is the only passage in which such a distinction is obviously 
drawn, 4 and its real meaning is so obscure that apart from the 
context (which is not extant) it is impossible to use it in support 
of a view which is really contradicted by the whole conception of 

reference to the Valentinian doctrine of a peculiar race sent to abolish death, who 
were themselves saved by nature, that if this doctrine were true then Christ had not 
abolished death unless he too was homoousios with them, and in another place 
(Strom, ii 16) that men are not part of God and homoousioi with God (implying 
that the Son was homoousios with God). 

1 Of the Greeks through philosophy, of the Jews through the Law, and after 
wards, in Christ, of all who accept his teaching through faith leading up to know 
ledge, through knowledge to love, and through love to the inheritance . See e.g. 
Strom, vii 2 and vii 10. "The Greek philosophy, as it were, purges the soul and 
prepares it beforehand for the reception of faith " (Strom, vii 3 ; cf. i 13). 

2 So Harnack (DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 352) says that in many passages he 
" expresses himself in such a way that one can scarcely fail to notice a distinction be 
tween the Logos of the Father and that of the Son ". See also Loofs Leitfaden p. 107. 

3 In the Hypotyposeis (Harnack DGf. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 352). 

4 In Strom, v 1 Clement seems to me to be certainly objecting to the term \6yos 
?r/)o0o/)t/c6s as applied to the Son, on the ground that it depreciates his dignity, and not 
(as Harnack and Zahn take it) himself sanctioning a distinction between the higher 
\67os dvdidderos and the lower \6yos ?rpo0opt/c6s. 


Clement s great trilogy the conception of the Logos, one and 
the same, from the beginning to the end of things, drawing men 
to faith, training them, and at last bringing them to the full 
knowledge of God. 

Here, as in all similar cases, the only safe canon of criticism 
is that which bids us interpret the less known in a sense in 
keeping with the more known ; and we must assume that the 
doubtful expression was less well said rather than let it subvert 
the whole purpose and aim of the mass of its author s work. 
The general conception of Clement was certainly that the Logos 
eternally equal with, but distinct from the Father, as His Son 
was manifested all through the world s history, and at last was 
incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. He cannot have in 
tended, by any phrase that the exigencies of any particular line 
of argument may have brought to him, to evacuate that main 
idea of its proper force and consequences. 1 

1 The prologue to the Exhortation to the Greeks is really quite decisive 

The Word is the harmonious, melodious, holy instrument of God (.Exhortation 

to the Greeks i). 
Inasmuch as the Word was from the first, He was and is the divine source of 

all things. 
He has now assumed the name of Christ . . . the cause of both our being at 

first and of our well-being. 
This very Word has appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and 

The Saviour, who existed before, has in recent days appeared He who is in 

Him that truly is the Word has appeared ... as our teacher . . . 
He pitied us from the beginning . . . but now he accomplished our salvation. 
Our ally and helper is one and the same the Lord, who from the beginning 

gave revelations . . . but now plainly calls to salvation. 
The teacher from whom all instruction comes (ibid. xi). 

And Clement puts these words into the mouth of Jesus, the one great High 
Priest of the one God his Father an appeal to men, "Come to Me, that you may 
be put . . . under the one God and the one Word of God ... I confer on you 
both the Word and the Knowledge of God, my complete self. . . . This am I . . . 
this is the Son, this is Christ, this the Word of God ... I will give you rest " 
(ibid, xii ad fin.). 

Our Instructor is like His Father God . . . God in the form of man . . . the 
Word who is God, who is in the Father (Paed. i 2). 

"The good Instructor . . . the Word of the Father, who made man . . . the 
Saviour . . . Rise up he said to the paralytic " (ibid.). 

"One alone, true, good, just, in the image and likeness of the Father, His Son 
Jesus, the Word of God, is our Instructor " (ibid. xi). 

The Word Himself is the manifest mystery : God in man and the man God. 
And the Mediator executes his Father s will : for the Mediator is the Word, who is 
common to both the Son of God, the Saviour of men : His Servant, our Teacher " 
(ibid, iii 1). 


There are frequent references to the Son being what he is 
and exercising the functions he exercises by the will and 
according to the will of the Father, but they are obviously 
intended rather to safeguard the authority of the Father than 
to limit the power of the Son. Such phrases do not imply 
any non-Catholic conception of the subordination or inferiority 
of the Son to the Father. They express the complete moral 
harmony between the Father and the Son ; they exclude anything 
like dualism, anything that would mar the unity of the divine 
being; they certainly do not support any notion of temporal 
origin of the Son or of his derivation from any other source 
than the very essence of the divine. 1 

The influence of Clement on the developement of doctrine 
was, however, not exercised so much directly as through his more 
famous pupil Origen, whose greater ability and untiring labours, 
continued over fifty years, made him the chief representative of 
the Alexandrian school. 

Before, however, we pass to him, we must turn our attention 
to the great representative of the Church of Africa in geo 
graphical position situated between Gaul and Egypt, but 
separated from each by sea and desert, and no less isolated 
by antecedents and character. The differences between the 
Churches of Africa on the one hand and Gaul and Egypt on 
the other is reflected in the thought and teaching of Tertullian 
on the one hand, and Irenaeus and Clement on the other. In 
passing from Clement to Tertullian we pass from sentiment and 
imagination to practical precision and legal reasoning, from 
poetry to prose. Instead of picturesque description we have 
attempts at accurate definition. We leave the mystic atmosphere 
of the Logos doctrine, with its blended beauties and obscurities, 
its lights and its shadows, and come into the region in which it 
is overpowered by the doctrine of the Sonship the doctrine 
which is much more obviously in harmony with human analogies 
and experience, and by its greater simplicity was found to be 
much more easily grasped by the practical Western mind. 

1 In the Stromateis (vii 2) he definitely calls him the paternal Word, declares 
him to be always everywhere, being detained nowhere ; the complete paternal light 
. . . before the foundation of the world the counsellor of the Father . . . the power 
of God as being the Father s most ancient Word before the production of all things 
and His wisdom. "The Son is", he says, "so to speak an energy of the Father", 
but this is said to shew that "being the Father s power, he easily prevails in what 
he wishes ". 


From this time forward the explanation of the person of 
Christ and of his relation to the Godhead as a whole, which was 
furnished by the Logos doctrine, tended more and more to recede 
into the background of theological thought. The main ideas had 
no doubt in large measure passed into the common stock, but 
the name was less and less used, and attention was concentrated 
rather on the group of ideas which the title Son suggests. The 
more philosophical conception gives way to the one which can 
best be brought to the test of conditions with which every one is 

So the conception of the Sonship occupies the chief place in 
the thought and exposition of an Origen no less than in that of 
less speculative and more prosaic theologians like Tertullian. 



IT is in Tertullian that we first find the accurate definition and 
technical terms that passed over into Catholic theology, winning 
prompt acceptance in the West and securing when the time 
came the grudging but certain approval of the East. 1 With 
his legal rhetorical training and ready application of forensic 
analogies to the expression of doctrine, and his genius for terse 
and pregnant description, he effectively moulded the Latin 
language to the service of ecclesiastical needs, and fashioned the 
formulas of the later orthodoxy. The terms seem to come to 
him so readily that one would suppose them already familiar, 
were it not that no earlier traces are found. 

It will be remembered that he was a chief opponent of the 
modalistic form of Monarchianism, which he understood to 
mean that the Father Himself suffered ; and it was under the 
provocation of this Monarchian teaching that his own concep 
tions were expressed and probably worked out. 

Tertullian was perhaps less a philosopher than a jurist, and 
we are helped to understand his theory his expression of the 
Christian doctrine of God and of the Person of Christ by the 
legal use of the terms he employs. 2 Substance (substantia) 
meant property the sense in which we use the word when 
we speak of a man of substance a man s possessions, estates, 
fortune, the owner s rights in which were carefully protected by 
Eoman law from invasion or infringement. Person (persona) 

1 See infra p. 166 n. 1, on the influence of the West (through Hosius) in framing 
the Nicene formula. It is an epitome of Tertullian that was made by Novatian, 
whose treatise On the Trinity was a dominant influence in the West. So it was Ter- 
tullian s doctrine that Dionysius of Rome pressed on his namesake of Alexandria. 

2 See Harnack DG. ii 3 p. 285 ff.(Eng. tr. vol. iv pp. 122, 123). But the passages 
cited infra shew that the conceptions and expressions of Tertullian were by no 
means entirely controlled by legal usage, and the philosophical sense of the terms 
must also be borne in mind. 



meant a being with legal rights, a party , an individual , whose 
being as such was recognized by law as one of the facts of which 
it took cognizance, a real existence (res) within its own limitations. 
Such a person s position or circumstances would be his status, or 
condition (status, condicio), perhaps even his nature (natura or 
proprietors), when looked at from a more inward point of view, 
and obviously a number of persons might occupy the same status, 
or be in the same condition, or have the same nature, So too 
there might be various kinds of substance , each marked by 
special characteristics or properties (in the sense of that which 
is proper or peculiar to each) or nature (proprietors, natura). 

Thus, if these human analogies be applied to the interpre 
tation of the Christian revelation, one substance is divinity all 
that belongs to the divine existence. This is, as it were, one 
piece of property ; but, following still the human analogy, there 
is nothing to hinder its being held in joint ownership by three 
individuals with the same rights in it on equal terms. And so 
the description of the divine existence would be one substance 
shared by three persons in one condition (una substantia, tres 
personae, in uno statu). But there is also another substance all 
that belongs to human existence, all that is owned by men 
qua men. This is another piece of property, and, still from the 
point of view of Roman law, there is nothing to hinder one 
and the same person from holding at the same time two quite 
different pieces of property. So the two substances, divinity 
and humanity, might be owned, and all the rights and privileges 
attaching to each exercised and enjoyed, at one and the same 
time, by one and the same person, Jesus Christ. 1 Thus there is 
no contradiction or confusion of thought in speaking as regards 
the being of God of one substance and three persons, 2 and as 

1 Melito (de, Incarn. Christi (Routh Rel. i p. 121)) uses ovata as Tertullian uses 
substantia in this connexion, and speaks in regard to Christ of rots 5vo avrov 
otVt as the two realities, Godhead and manhood, which were his. 

2 Tertullian seems, however, to avoid the use of the word personae in this 
connexion, using tres alone to express the three , without adding persons in 
the case of the Trinity ; just as later Augustine, while feeling compelled to speak of 
three persons , apologized for the term and threw the responsibility for it on to 
the poverty of the language (de Trinitate v 10, vii 7-10 ; see infra}. Tertullian 
has the definite expression only when it cannot well be omitted e.g. when support 
ing the doctrine of the Trinity from the baptismal commission, he writes "nam nee 
semel, sed ter, ad singula nomina in personas singulas tinguimur " (adv. Prax. 26). 

On the other hand, he has no scruple about using the term persona of Jesus 
Christ, both man and God combining in himself the two substantial, but one 


regards the constitution of the person of Christ of two sub 
stances and one person, he being at once God and man (Deus et 

In this way the unity of the Godhead is strongly marked ; 
it is one and the same divinity which all three share alike. 
This is " the mystery of the providential order which arranges 
the unity in a trinity, setting in their order three Father, 
Son, and Holy Spirit three, however, not in condition (status) 
but in relation (gradus), and not in substance but in mode of 
existence (forma), and not in power but in special characteristics 
(species); yes, rather of one substance and of one status and 
power, inasmuch as it is one God from whom these relations and 
modes and special characteristics are reckoned in the name of 
Father and of Son and of Holy Spirit ". l 

When Tertullian passes from this juristic sense of substance 
to the wider philosophical use of the term, and declares that he 
always maintains in regard to the Godhead " the substance in 
three (persons) who together form the whole ", 2 yet it is always 
with him something concrete a particular form of existence. 
It has of course a particular character or nature of its own ; 
but it is not its nature rather its nature exists in it, and, in 
part at least, in other similar substances. " Substance and 
the nature of substance ", he writes, 3 " are different things. 
Substance is peculiar to each particular thing ; nature, however, 
can be shared by others. Take an example : stone and iron are 
substances ; the hardness of stone and of iron is the nature of 
the two substances. Hardness brings them together, makes them 

person. Cf. adv. Prax. 27 " Videmus duplicem statum, non confusum, sed con- 
iunctura in una persona, deum et homiuem Jesum." 

1 Adv. Prax. 2. Tres autem non statu sed gradu, nee substantia sed forma, nee 
potestate sed specie. Apparently by gradus (relation or degree) is meant "the order 
whereby the Father exists of Himself, the Son goes forth immediately from tho 
Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son ; so that 
the Father is rightly designated the first, the Son the second, and the Holy Spirit 
the third Person of the Godhead. And by the expressions formae and species 
(forms and aspects) he seems to have meant to indicate the different modes of 
subsistence (T/XJ TTOUS V7rdpeu$), whereby the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit 
subsist in the same divine nature" (Bp. Bull Def. N.C. ii, vii). 

Between species and forma there is no perceptible difference, at least 
Cicero (Op. 7, cited by Forcellini) says the same thing is signified by species as 
by forma, which in Greek is /5<fo. 

2 Unam substantiam in tribus cohaerentibus (adv. Prax. 12). 

3 De Anima 32. Similarly (adv. Prax. 26) he distinguishes between sulstantia 
and the accidentia or proprietates uniuscuiusque substantiae. 


partners ; substance sets them apart (that is to say, hardness 
their nature is what they have in common ; substance is 
what is peculiar to each). . . . You mark the likeness of nature 
first when you observe the unlikeness of substance," that is 
to say, that you must first recognize that they are two things 
(as to substance) before you can compare them (as to nature). 
Substance can, accordingly, never have to Tertullian the 
meaning nature , 1 the thing itself cannot be its properties. 
And so, in working out the doctrine of the Person of Christ, by 
the expression two substances he does not mean simply two 
natures in any indefinite sense, but that the one person is both 
God and man, enjoying the two distinct possessions of deity and 

It is in describing the nature of the relation between the 
Son and the Father that he most loses sight of the legal sense 
of the term c substance , and employs it to express a particular 
form of existence ; which is, however, still regarded as concrete. 
" The Son I derive ", he says, " from no other source but from the 
substance of the Father ", 2 where the substance of the Father is 
only an exegetical periphrasis for the Father Himself His own 
being : so that he can use the single word, " We say that the 
Son is produced (projected) from the Father, but not separated 
from Him ". 3 He who is emitted from the substance of the 
Father must of course be of that substance, 4 and there is no 
separation between the two. The Word is " always in the 
Father ... and always with God . . . and never separated 
from the Father or different from the Father ". He speaks, it 
is true, of the Father as being the whole substance , while 
the Son is a derivation from, and portion of, the whole , and 
so made less than the Father ; 5 but his only purpose is to 
mark the distinction between them as real, and not as in 
volving diversity between them or division of the one substance. 
The relation between them may be illustrated by human 
analogies. The root produces (emits) the shrub, the spring the 
stream, and the sun the ray. The former is in each case, as 
it were, the parent, and the latter the offspring : they are two 
things, but they are inseparably connected. The being of both 
is one and the same. That which proceeds, moreover, is second 
to that from which it proceeds, and when you say second 

1 See further Journal of Theological Studies vol. iii p. 292 and vol. iv p. 440. 

2 Adv. Prax. 4. 3 Kid. ?. 4 Ibid. 7. 5 Ibid. 9. 


you say that there are two. It is in order to mark clearly 
the distinct personality of the Son that he calls him second . 
There is no suggestion or thought of subordination, in any 
other sense than in regard to origin, and even that is merged 
in the unity of substance. In the case under consideration 
there is a third. " The Spirit is third from God and the Son, 
just as the fruit which comes from the shrub is third from the 
root, and the river which flows from the stream is third from 
the spring, and the * peak of the ray third from the sun." l 
There is, moreover, a sense in which the Father is one, and 
the Son other, and the Spirit yet other ; as he who generates is 
other than he who is generated, and he who sends than he who 
is sent. Yet there is no division of the one substance, though 
there are three in it, and each of the three is a substantive 
(substantial) existence out of the substance of God Himself. 2 

Seizing the Monarchian watchword, he turns it against 
themselves, and insists that no rule or government is so much 
the rule of a single person, so much a monarchy , that it 
cannot be administered through others appointed to fulfil their 
functions by the monarch. The monarchy is not divided, and 
does not cease to be a monarchy, if the monarch s son is 
associated with him in the rule. The kingdom is still the 
king s ; its unity is not impaired. 3 

That God was never really alone (since there was always 
with Him the Logos as His reason and word) is shewn by the 
analogy of the operation of human thought and consciousness, 4 
and by His very name of Father which implies the existence 
of the Son ; He had a Son, but He was not Himself His Son 
as well as by numerous passages of the Scriptures. But 
between Him and the Son there was no division, though they 
were two (and though it would be better to have two divided 
gods than the one change-coat God the Monarchians preached). 

The treatise against Praxeas is more technical in phraseology 
and definitely theological in purpose than the Apology f which 
was intended for more general reading ; but in the Apology he 

1 Adv. Prax. 8. Yet it is a trinitas unius dimnitatis*. See de Pudicitia 21. 

2 Adv. Prax. 26, and cf. ibid. 25. " So the connexion of the Father in the Son 
and of the Son in the Paraclete produces three coherent one to the other. And 
these three are one thing (unum\ not one person (unus) ; as it was said, I and the 
Father are One (unum) , in regard to unity of substance, not in regard to singularity 
of number." 

8 Adv. Prax. 3. 4 Ibid. 5. 3 See Apol. 21. 


expresses the same thoughts in somewhat different language. 
God made the world by His word and reason and power (virtus}. 
This is what Zeno and Cleanthes also said, using the word Logos 
that is, word and reason of the artificer of the universe. 
The proper substance of the Logos is spirit. He was produced 
from God, and by being produced was generated, and is called 
Son of God, and God, because his substance is one and the same 
as God s. For God too is spirit. As in the case of a ray being 
shot forth from the sun, the ray is a portion of the whole sun ; 
but the sun is really in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun ; 
and the substance of the ray is not separated from the sun ; but 
the substance of the sun is extended into the ray : so that which 
is produced from spirit is spirit, and from God God, just as 
from light is kindled light. So the Logos is God and God s 
Son, and both are one. It was, as it were, a ray of God which 
glided down into a certain virgin, and in her womb was fashioned 
as flesh, and was born man and God blended together. 1 The 
flesh was built up by the spirit, was nourished, grew to man 
hood, spoke, taught, worked, and was Christ. 

The relation between the spirit and the flesh in the consti 
tution of the person of Jesus Christ he discusses in the treatise 
against Praxeas. 2 

It was not that the spirit was transformed (transfiguratus) 
when he became flesh, but that he put on flesh. God, as being 
eternal, is unchangeable and incapable of being transformed. 
To have been transformed would have been to have ceased to 
be God ; but the Logos never ceased to be what he was to 
begin with. If the Logos had really become flesh by any 
process of transfiguration and change of substance, then Jesus 
would have been a new substance formed out of the two 
substances flesh and spirit, a kind of mixture, a tertium quid. 
But there was no kind of mixture; each substance remained 
distinct in its own characteristics the Word was never any- 

1 Homo deo mixtus. Tertullian did not mean that the two together made 
a third thing. He expressly repudiates the conception, using the illustration of 
electrum, a compound of gold and silver, neither one nor the other (see adv. Prax. 
27) ; and he emphasizes the distinct parts played by the divinity and the humanity 
respectively as clearly as Leo himself (Ep. ad Flav.) more than two hundred years 
later. But had he lived in Leo s time he probably would not have used this phrase. 
See infra p. 243 n. 3 and p. 247. 

2 Adv. Prax. 27. Of. also de Carne Christi, esp. 18, where he insists on the 
distinct origin of the spirit and the flesh and discusses the interpretation of John 3 6 
as spoken by Christ of himself, shewing that each remains what it was. 


thing but God, the flesh was never anything but man. He who 
was Son of God as regards the spirit was man and son of 
man. " We see ", he says, " the double status, the two not con 
fused but conjoined in one person, God and man (Jesus). . . ." 
This is Christ. " And the peculiar properties of each substance 
are preserved intact, so that in him the spirit conducted its own 
affairs, that is, the deeds of power and works and signs, . . . 
and the flesh underwent its sufferings, hungering in the instance 
of the Devil (the Temptation), thirsting in the instance of the 
Samaritan woman, weeping for Lazarus, sorrowful unto death ; 
and finally it died." It is clear, he insists, that both substances 
exercised their functions each by itself. Qua flesh and man 
and son of man, he died ; qua Spirit and Word and Son of God, 
he was immortal. " It is not in respect of the divine substance, 
but in respect of the human, that we say he died." l 

It may thus be fairly said that the later developed orthodox 
doctrine of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ even 
in details is to be found in Tertullian. Certain crudities of 
thought may perhaps be detected, 2 but as having developed and 
created a series of most important doctrinal formulae which 
became part of the general doctrinal system of the Catholic 
Church, his importance cannot be overestimated. 3 

1 Adv. Prax. 29, where he argues against the conception that the Father 
suffered with the Son, on the main ground that in the divine substance (which 
was all the Father and the Son had in common) the Son himself did not suffer. 
On the parts played by the two substances see also de Game Christi ( 5), 
where the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum is expressed for the first 

2 Harnack (DQ. Eng. tr. vol. iv p. 121) notes as obvious the following : (1) Son 
and Spirit proceed from the Father solely in view of the work of creation and revela 
tion ; (2) Son and Spirit do not possess the entire substance of the Godhead, but 
are portiones ; (3) they are subordinate to the Father ; (4) they are transitory 
manifestations the Son at last gives back everything to the Father ; the Father 
alone is absolutely invisible, the Son can become visible and can do things which 
would be simply unworthy of the Father. But this criticism seems to emphasize 
unduly particular expressions in relation to others, and to be corrected by the 
excellent summary of the treatise adv. Prax. which follows it (Harnack DQ. Eng. 
tr. vol. iv p. 122). 

3 Cf. Harnack DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 235. So Bull could write (Def. N. C. bk. ii 
ch. vii, Ox. tr.), "Read only his single work against Praxeas, in which he treats 
fully and professedly of the most holy Trinity ; he there asserts the consubstanti- 
ality of the Son so frequently and so plainly, that you would suppose the author 
had written after the time of the Nicene Council." 



OKIGEN is one of the great landmarks in the history of doctrine. 1 
He was the first of the theologians whose work is really known 
to us to attempt the scientific systematic 2 exposition of the 
Christian interpretation of life. And however much the know 
ledge of previous controversies may have stimulated his own 
thought and aided to determine his exposition, he has the great 
advantage over previous theologians that his work was not im 
mediately called forth by apologetic motives and the exigencies 
of controversy. He was able to face the problems with the 
scholar s and the teacher s aim of clear and simple exposition 
only. There is no sign of haste or of heat about his work. 
He had not got to score a victory over dangerous enemies, 
within or without the Church : he had not to use argumenta ad 
hominem; he had perhaps some obiter dicta to recall, 3 but his 
opinions were quietly formed, and there is little reason to doubt 
that even those which were not accepted by his own or later 
generations represented his deliberate and reasoned convictions. 
His system was built up on Tradition as embodied in the 
Scriptures and the custom of the Church but he put his own 
mark upon it all and aimed at giving it his own expression. 

1 Harnack says we can clearly distinguish in the history of dogma three styles 
of building, and names as the masters of these styles, Origen, Augustine, and the 
Reformers (DG. i p. 10). 

2 This seems to be the fact, although it is true that "his writings represent an 
aspiration rather than a system, principles of research and hope rather than 
determined formulas" (Westcott Origenes D.C.B., an article of the highest 
value. Cf. his Essay on Origen in Religious Thought in the West). See also 
particularly C. Bigg The Christian Platonists of Alexandria (Bampton Lectures, 
1886), esp. pp. 152-192 ; but for the study of the conceptions of Origen the 
most helpful book is still perhaps that of Redepenning, with its rich quotations 
from his writings. 

8 Cf. the saying of Jerome, that in some of his earlier treatises, written in the 
immaturity of youth, Origen was like a boy playing at dice . 
10 i 


It is in his great writing irepl ap%wv (de Principiis) that this 
expression is chiefly to be found. 1 

Basing the whole of his work on " the teaching of the 
Church transmitted in orderly succession from the Apostles, and 
remaining in the Churches to the present day ", he first lays down 
a summary of the rule of faith as expressed in the Scriptures, 
and declares that every one must make use of elements and 
foundations of that kind if he desires to form a connected series 
and body of doctrine, following up each point by means of 
illustrations and arguments, whether found in holy Scripture or 
discovered by a correct method of deduction. He then proceeds, 
not without digressions and repetitions, to set out in three 
successive books the doctrine of God, of creation and providence, 
of man and redemption ; and in conclusion, in the fourth book, 
he examines the questions of the inspiration and the interpreta 
tion of the Bible. The book was obviously not written for the 
simple believer, but for scholars who were familiar with the 
speculations of the Gnostics and of other non-Christian philo 

In his interpretation of the Christian revelation, accordingly, 
Origen started from the philosophical conception, to which Plato 
and the Neo-Platonists had given currency, of the One and the 
Many. The One represents the only real existence, the Source 
of all being: the Many represents the Universe with all its 
varying forms of apparent being, none of which have any real 
existence apart from the One from which they are derived. 
They do, however, in various ways pourtray the One, and in 
them alone can He be understood : for the One, the self -existent, 
the source of all that really is, is a living Person. In His 
absolute nature and being He is unknowable by man (or any of 
the Many), but He is relatively knowable so far as He is revealed 
through the medium of the universe which derives its existence 
from Him and in some measure reflects His nature and attributes. 
Such relative knowledge as is in this way attainable shews Him 
to be not only one, without origin, the cause of all that is, but 
also spiritual and eternal, and above all else absolutely good. 
His very essence is love. From this ethical conception, which 
is at the back of all his theology, Origen argues that He must 

1 Besides the de Principiis (228-231), the most important works in which his 
theological teaching is set forth are the Commentaries on St John (228-238), the 
Contra Cclsum (249), and the de Oratione. 


impart Himself. Love cannot be thought of, except as giving. 
Goodness desires that all shall share in the highest knowledge. 
And so there must be some medium, some channel, by which 
He effects the revelation of Himself. As the required organ He 
chose the Logos. 1 It is for the very purpose of revealing God 
that the Logos exists, 2 and for this reason he has a personal 
subsistence side by side with the Father, 3 and must be (if he is 
to reveal Him truly), as regards his being, of one essence with 
God. He must be in his own being God, and not only as 
sharing in the being of God. 4 He is thus, as being the perfect 
image of God, the reason and wisdom of God, himself too 
really God. 

His generation as Son is effected as the will proceeds from 
the mind, as the brilliance from the light, eternal and everlasting. 
It cannot be said that there was any time when the Son was 
not. No beginning of this generation can be conceived it is 
a continuous eternal process. 5 It is this conception of a con- 

1 It is only in connexion with the revelation of God that Origen conceives, or 
at least expounds, the Trinity. God is goodness the avrb ayad6i> : He must there 
fore reveal Himself. Origen does not, as later on Augustine did, derive the 
essential Trinity from this conception of Love as the very being of the Godhead, 
so that a plurality of Persons was a necessary inference from this main character 
istic. It is only the Trinity of revelation (God in relation to the world) that he 
sets forth. See infra pp. 204, 228. 

2 See e.g. de Princ. i 2. 6. 

3 Ibid, i 2. 2. "Let no one imagine that we mean anything impersonal. . . . 
The only-begotten Son of God is His wisdom existing as a hypostasis." 

4 Pamphilus (Apology for Origen c. 5 tr. Rufinus) quotes him as using, in his 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, the very word o/xoo&rtos to express the 
identity of being of the Father and the Son, "And these similitudes . . . shew 
most clearly that the Son has communion of essence (substance) with the Father ; 
for an effluence (aporrhoea) is evidently homoousios, that is, of one essence (sub 
stance) with the body of which it is an effluence or vapour." Cf. also de Princ. 
i 2. 5, "the only one who is by nature a Son, and is therefore termed the Only- 
begotten"; ibid, i 2. 10, "in all respects incapable of change or alteration, and 
every good quality in him being essential and such as cannot be changed and con 
verted" ; ibid, i 2. 12, "there is no dissimilarity whatever between the Son and the 
Father". Cf. the similitude of the iron heated by the fire (ibid.ji 6. 6), and of 
the statue (ibid, i 2. 8). 

6 "Who . . . can suppose or believe that God the Father ever existed even for a 
moment without having generated this Wisdom (which is His only-begotten Son) " 
(i 2. 2). "His generation is as eternal and everlasting as the brilliance which is 
produced from the sun" (i 2. 4 ; cf. i 2. 9) ; and "No one can be a father without 
having a son" (i 2. 10 ; cf. iv 28). And in Jerem. Horn, ix 4, "The Father did 
not beget the Son and let him go from the Source of his generation (curb 7-775 
7ej eVews airroO, i.e. Himself the Father, or perhaps after, or in consequence of, 
his generation ), but He is always begetting him (del yevvq. 


tinuous timeless process that brings the idea of the generation 
of the Son, which earlier thinkers had expressed, into the sphere 
of living reality. It ceases to be an act in time, and becomes 
an action outside time living and moving and real. It is 
Origen s chief permanent contribution to the doctrine of the 
Person of Christ. 

The Son is indeed said to be begotten of or by the will of 
the Father l but within the being of the Father no contradiction 
could be thought of His will is of His very essence. And so, 
though there should be an act of will, there would be also an 
inner necessity for it, and the Son would be equally truly said 
to be begotten of the essence of the Father. 2 

The function of revelation is also exercised by the Holy 
Spirit, 3 who is the most exalted of all the beings that have 
come into existence through the Logos. 4 

These three existences together constitute the Trinity, which 

1 E.g. de Princ. i 2. 6, "who is born of Him, like an act of His will proceeding 
from the mind ". 

2 Loofs (Leitfaden A p. 125) sets in antithesis various phrases, extracted from 
different contexts, to shew the subordinate rank of the Son in relation to the Father. 
The Father alone is &ytvvt)Tos (de Princ. i 2. 6 ; in Joh. 2 6 ), the Son in relation to 
Him a /cr/oyia. [Justinian is the only authority for the assertion that Origen styled 
the Son a /cr/oym. Origen certainly never meant it in any Arian sense.] 

The Father is <uJr60eos and A\ij0tv^ 0e6j (in Joh. 2 s ), the Son is Sei/repos 
6e6s (c. Cels. 5. 39) and Aios rrjs devTepevoixrris /uercl rbv debv ruv 8\iav TL/JLTJS (ibid. 
7. 57). 

The Father is ctTrapaAXdKrws ayadbs, the Son is CLKUV ayaOdryTos TOV deou, d\X 
OVK avToayad6s (de Princ. i 13). [But this antithesis must be corrected by reference 
to de Princ. i 2. 10 and ii 6. 5, 6.] 

The Father is 6 0e6s, the Son is 6e6s (in Joh. 2 2 ), and prayer should be made to 
the Father only (de Orat. 15). [But nevertheless the Son is equally with the 
Father an object of worship, Father and Son being two actualities ry viroffrdffei, 
but one in unanimity and harmony and sameness of purpose (c. Cels. 8. 12). So 
worship is offered to Christ as he is in as he is one with the Father. And it is 
really only the highest form of petition which Origen says is to be addressed to the 
Father only in the Son s name. (See Bigg I.e. p. 185.)] 

In the case of such a writer as Origen it is peculiarly dangerous to isolate 
particular phrases : it is of course just the error into which the Arians fell. They 
must be studied always in their context and in their connexion with contemporary 
thought, if their general scope and proportion is not to be misconceived. (Cf. 
Westcott I.e. p. 133.) Any summary statement of his teaching must therefore 
be peculiarly precarious. 

8 De Princ. i 3. 4, "All knowledge of the Father is obtained by revelation of 
the Son through the Holy Spirit", but "we are not to suppose that the Spirit 
derives his knowledge through revelation from the Son ". He has the same know 
ledge and, just like the Son, reveals it to whom he will. 

4 See Comm. in Joh. i 3 and infra p. 202. 


in its real inner being transcends all thought essentially of 
one Godhead, eternal and co-equal. 1 

But in manifestation to the created universe a difference 
between the Persons may be seen, at least as to the extent of 
their action. " God the Father, holding all things together, 
reaches to each of the things that are, imparting being to each 
from His own ; for He is absolutely. Compared with the Father 
the Son is less, reaching to rational things only, for he is second 
to the Father. And the Holy Spirit again is inferior, extending 
to the saints only. So that in this respect the power of the 
Father is greater, in comparison with the Son and the Holy 
Spirit ; and the power of the Son more, in comparison with the 
Holy Spirit ; and again the power of the Holy Spirit more 
exceeding, in comparison with all other holy beings." 2 

As regards the Son, in particular, it is clear that Origen 
maintained his distinct personality, 3 his essential Godhead (/car 
ovcriav earl 0eoY), and his co-eternity with the Father (ael 
ryevvarai 6 crwrrjp VTTO TOV irarpos) : though he placed him as 
an intermediary between God and the universe, and spoke of 
the unity of the Father and the Son as moral, and insisted on 
the Father s pre-eminence (vTrepo-^tj) as the one source and 
fountain of Godhead, in such terms as to lead many, who 
believed themselves his followers and accepted his authority, to 
emphasize unduly the subordination of the Son. 4 

1 See de Princ. i 3. 7, nihil in trinitate majus minusve (though Loofs, op. c. p. 126, 
regards Rufinus as responsible for this clause, it seems certainly to express the 
conviction of Origen with regard to the mutual relations of the three Persons in 
their inner being). See further infra p. 201, on the Holy Spirit ; and on the 
impossibility for men of understanding anything but the Trinity in its manifesta 
tions (revelation), see the strong assertions de Princ. i 34 and iv 28. 

2 DC Princ. i 3. 6, Gk. fr. Of. Atlianasius ad Scrap, iv 10, and Origen de 
Princ. iv 27 f. 

3 This (namely, that the Son is not the Father) is certainly the meaning of the 
passage de Oratione 15 : re/)os /car ovcriav Kal vTTOKel[j.evoi> TOV iraTp6s over La being 
used in its primary sense of particular or individual existence. 

4 Bigg (op. c. p. 181) insists that to derive the Subordinationism which is a note 
of Origen s conceptions from metaphysical considerations is to wrong him. " It is 
purely scriptural, and rests wholly and entirely upon the words of Jesus, My 
Father is greater than I , that they may know Thee the only true God , None is 
Good save One . The dominant text in Origen s mind was the last. Hence he 
limits the relativity to the attribute to which it is limited by Christ himself. The 
Son is Very Wisdom, Very Righteousness, Very Truth, perhaps even Very King ; 
but not Very Goodness. He is Perfect Image of the Father s Goodness, but not the 
Absolute Good, though in regard to us he is the Absolute Good. . . . Where he 
pronounces his real thought, the difference between the Persons is conceived not as 


The special affinity in which the Son stands to rational 
beings establishes the fitness of the Incarnation, and through 
the human soul 1 the divine Logos was united with the man 
Christ Jesus perfect manhood, subject to the conditions of 
natural growth, and perfect divinity becoming one in him, while 
each nature still remains distinct. To describe this unity he 
was the first to use the compound word God-Man (SeavdptoTros), 
and the relation between the two natures was expressed by the 
image of the fire and the iron, when the fire heats and pene 
trates the iron so that it becomes a glowing mass, and yet its 
character is not altered the fire and the metal are one, but the 
iron is not changed into something else. 2 

So, through the union of the divine and the human nature 
effected in the Incarnation, all human nature was made capable 
of being glorified, without the violation of its proper character 
istics. The work of Christ was for all men. It was so revealed 
that it could be apprehended according to the several powers 
and wants of men he was all things to all men . His mani 
festation to men is present and continuous. He is ever being 
born, and is seen as each believer has the faculty of seeing 
and as each reflects him he becomes himself a Christ an 
anointed one. For the union of man and God accomplished 

quantitative nor as qualitative, but as modal simply. The Son qua Son is inferior 
to the Father qua Father. ... He could not, he dared not, shrink back where the 
Word of God led him on. He could not think that a truth three times at least 
pressed upon the Church by Christ himself might safely be ignored. To his 
dauntless spirit these words of the Master seemed to be not a scandal but a flash 
of light." 

1 See de Princ. ii 6. 3. It is "impossible for the nature of God to intermingle 
with a body without an intermediate instrument", and the soul is "intermediate 
between God and the flesh ". The human soul with which the Logos was united was, 
according to Origen s conception of the creation of all souls before all worlds at the 
beginning of creation, the only soul which had remained absolutely pure, by the 
exercise of free choice in its pre-existent state. Irrespective of Origen s peculiar 
theory of the origin of the soul, it is to be noted that he was one of the first 
Christian thinkers to see the importance of the recognition of the human soul in 
Christ. See de Princ. ii 6. 3, 5, where he explains how the nature of his rational 
soul was the same as that of all other souls (which can choose between good and 
evil), and yet clung to righteousness so unchangeably and inseparably that it had no 
susceptibility for alteration and change. See further on this point infra Apollin- 
arianism p. 242, and Note p. 247. 

2 See de Princ. ii 6. 6. The human soul is the iron, the Word is the fire which 
is constant. The soul placed perpetually in the Word, perpetually in God, is God 
in all that it does, feels, and understands . . . and so possesses immutability. Yet 
the two natures remain distinct (ibid, i 2. 1 ; ii 6. 3). 


absolutely in Christ is to be fulfilled in due measure in each 
Christian as Christ had made it possible. His work is effi 
cacious for the consummation of humanity and of the indi 
vidual both as a victory over every power of evil and also as 
a vicarious sacrifice for sin ; for the whole world, and for 
heavenly beings (to whom it may bring advancement in blessed 
ness), and for other orders of being in a manner corresponding 
to their nature. 1 

Origen s doctrine of the Logos and the Sonship was an 
attempt to recognize and give due weight to all the conditions 
of the problem, so far as a human mind could realize them. 
Origen himself might see at once the many sides and aspects of 
the problem and succeed in maintaining the due proportion ; 
but he was obliged to express himself in antithetical statements, 
and his followers were not always successful in combining them. 
They tended to separate more and more into two parties, a right 
wing and a left wing the former laying more stress on the 
assertion of the unity of being of the Trinity (as Gregory Thau- 
maturgus), the latter on the distinctness of personality and the 
subordination of the persons in regard at least to office. 

It appears to have been the subordination element in the 
Chris tology of Origen with its safeguard against Sabellianism 
and its zeal for personal distinctions in the Godhead that was 
most readily appropriated by his admirers in the East. And many 
of his phrases lent themselves at first sight more readily to the 
Arian conceptions of a separate essence and a secondary god, 
than to the Nicene teaching of identity of essence and eternal 
generation from the very being of the Father. Yet it cannot be 
doubted that Origen is really explicitly against the chief Arian 
theories, and at least implicitly in harmony with the Nicene 
doctrine of the Person of the Son. 2 Nevertheless the sympathies 
of his followers in the East in the great controversy which 

1 Westcott (Lc.), who refers (for the statements in this paragraph) to c. Cels. 
iv 3 f., 15 ; vi 68 ; iii 79 ; ii 64 ; iv 15 ; vi 77 ; iii 28 ; iii 17. On his theory of 
the atonement see infra p. 337. 

2 The matter cannot be better put than it was by Bp. Bull Def. N.C. ii, ix 22 
(Oxford translation): "In respect of the article of the divinity of the Son and 
even of the Holy Trinity, [Origen] was yet really catholic ; although in his mode of 
explaining this article he sometimes expressed himself otherwise than Catholics of the 
present day are wont to do ; but this is common to him with nearly all the Fathers 
who lived before the Council of Nice." Cf. also Harnack DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 374 : 
" To Origen the highest value of Christ s person lies in the fact that the Deity has 
here condescended to reveal to us the whole fulness of his essence. ..." 


broke out early in the following century were rather with the 
Arians than with their opponents. 


Among the special conceptions and theories of Origen, which led at 
a later time to his condemnation as heretical (apart from misconception 
of his doctrine of the Trinity), are these. Moral evil is negative, a state 
from which good is absent, rather than a positive active force. All 
punishment is disciplinary, designed to effect the reformation of the 
sinner. Christ made atonement for the sins of all, and all will in the 
end be saved all created beings, even Satan. There is no break in 
the moral continuity of being. All souls were created each by a 
distinct fiat at the beginning of Creation as angelic spirits : the souls 
of men sinned in their first condition and for their apostasy were trans 
ferred into material bodies, and their mundane existence is a disciplinary 
process (pre-existence and fall of the soul). There are more worlds than 
ours the heavenly bodies are inhabited. The resurrection will be 
purely spiritual. God is Spirit, and all representation of Him under 
human form or attributes is untrue to His real nature. 

Conceptions and theories such as these may have contributed to bring 
about the condemnation of Origen at Alexandria in his lifetime, though 
ecclesiastical irregularities were the pretext. 

Some of them were certainly attacked very soon by theologians 
who had no prejudice against a philosophic Christianity (as Methodius, 
Bishop of Olympus in Lycia, a martyr in the persecution under 
Maximin), and abandoned or corrected by Origenistic bishops them 
selves. (Socrates (H.E. vi 13) quite unfairly speaks of them as cheap 
critics, who were unable to attain distinction on their own merits and so 
endeavoured to attract attention by carping at their betters. He names 
Methodius first, and then Eustathius of Antioch, and Apollinarius, and 

The attack of course produced defenders. Chief among the champions, 
who included his successors Pierius and Theognostus, were Pamphilus 
and Eusebius of Caesarea, who together composed an elaborate Defence 
of Origen (of which one book only is extant, in the Latin translation 
of Rufinus), based on the distinction between speculation and doctrine. 
They shewed that on the essential points, on which the teaching of the 
Church was certain, Origen was orthodox ; and that his freedom of 
speculation was exercised only in relation to subsidiary questions. 

In the Arian controversy many Origenistic bishops, who were in 
great force in Palestine, were to be found on the side of the supporters 
of Arianism (Marcellus pointed to him as the originator of the mis 
chievous mixture of philosophical speculations with the doctrines of the 


faith see Zalin Marcellus p. 55 ff.); and after a time (though not, it 
seems, in the early stages of the struggle) the authority of his great 
name was definitely claimed by them; and Athanasius, accordingly, 
argued against their inferences, and cited passages from his writings to 
prove that he was Mcene rather than Arian, insisting that much that 
he had written was only speculative and experimental, and that only 
what he definitely declares ought to be taken as the real sentiment of 
the labour-loving man (de Deer. 27 ; cf. ad Serap. iv 9ff.), and highly 
approving his doctrine of the Trinity. What Basil and Gregory of 
Nazianzus thought of him is shewn by their selection from his works, 
the Philocalia, which included passages from the de Principiis ; while 
Gregory of Nyssa adopted many of his speculations, and at least some 
of the Commentaries were translated into Latin even by Jerome, who 
in his earlier days was full of admiration for him. 

On the other hand, Epiphanius numbered him among the heretics 
and developed and emphasized the charges which Methodius had brought 
against him. (See esp, Ancoratus 13, 54, 55, 62, 63, and adv. Haer. Ixiv.) 
But it must be remembered that Epiphanius was in sympathy with the 
Egyptian monks represented by Pachomius, who were specially repelled 
by Origen s repudiation of all anthropomorphic conceptions. 

It was Epiphanius who, going to Palestine in 394, convinced Jerome, 
in spite of his previous admiration for Origen, of the unorthodox char 
acter of his writings, and stirred up the bitter strife which followed 
between him and his former friend Rufinus, and led to the condemna 
tion of Origen by Anastasius, Bishop of Kome (though probably not at 
a formal synod), after Rufinus had translated into Latin the Apology of 
Pampliilus and the de Principiis. After much wrangling, and a change 
of sides by Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, who had supported the 
Origenists but was terrorized by the anthropomorphist monks, various 
synods condemned Origen and his writings (at Alexandria in 400, in 
Cyprus a little later, and at Chalcedon c. 403 in effect in the person of 
Chrysostom, who was attacked because of his sympathies with Origenists). 
Still more distrust and suspicion were engendered by the supposed con 
nexion between Origenism and the teaching of the Pelagians (Jerome 
regarded the two as closely allied), and his name was bandied about in 
the course of the christological controversies of the following years. 
Augustine was always opposed to anything that savoured of his teaching, 
and Leo the Great regarded him as justly condemned, at least for his 
doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. But admiration for him was not 
crushed out, and early in the sixth century a revival of enthusiasm for 
his teaching led to disturbances among the monks of Palestine, and 
about the years 541-543 he was again condemned by a synod of bishops 
held at Constantinople (the * Home Synod), in obedience to the rescript 
of the Emperor Justinian, who had drawn up an elaborate statement 


of his errors, a refutation of them, and anathemas on all his followers 
(Hahn 3 p. 227). Whether this condemnation was or was not renewed at 
the Fifth General Council which met in 553 cannot be determined. The 
belief that it was has prevailed from an early date, and he is included 
among other heretics in the eleventh of the anathemas ascribed to the 
Council (Hahn 3 p. 168), but there is some reason to think that the name 
is a later insertion, and no direct evidence that his opinions were con 
sidered on that occasion. In any case, though the ideas of Origen have 
found supporters in all ages, Origenists as a party were effectually stamped 
out. [See A. W. W. Dale Origenistic Controversies D.C.B., and C. 
Bigg op. c. pp. 273-280.] 




BY the beginning of the fourth century it seemed that, though 
fixity of theological terminology had not yet been secured, 
the lines of interpretation of the person of Jesus Christ 
had been safely and firmly laid, and so the developement of 
doctrine might quietly proceed, keeping pace with enlarged 
experience and able to meet new conditions as they arose. The 
old religions and the old philosophies of the world had contri 
buted to the process of interpretation what they could. The 
minds which had been trained in the old schools of thought had 
been brought to bear upon the Gospel and its claims. Some 
times they had, as it were, laid siege to it and tried to capture 
it, and so to lead it in their train. But assaults of this kind 
had all been repelled. The Church as a whole, while welcoming, 
from whatever sources it came, the light that could be thrown 
on the meaning of the revelation in Jesus in its fullest scope, 
had preserved tenaciously the traditional explanation and accounts 
of his life and of the Gospel history. So it was able to test all 
newer explanations by the earliest tradition, and though erron 
eous ones faulty or partial might win adherents for a time, 
the communis sensus fidelium had rejected in the end any that 
when tested by fuller experience of their significance were seen 
to be inconsistent with the principles which were involved in the 
ancient faith and institutions of the Church. 

But when, at the beginning of the fourth century, persecu 
tion ceased, and the Church won peace and protection from the 
State, the ordinary course of developement was interrupted. The 
influence of pagan conceptions was felt with fresh force within 
the Church, and victories which seemed to have been already 
achieved had to be fought for and secured again. No sooner 



had outward peace from persecution been won than the inward 
peace of the Church was shattered by the outbreak of the Arian 
controversy. It was in and round this controversy that all the 
forces of the old religions and philosophies of the world were 
massed in the effort to dictate an interpretation of the Christian 
revelation which would have nullified the work of the Church 
during previous centuries. The long continuance of the contro 
versy was also due in part to the ambiguities and uncertainties 
of much of the teaching which had been prevalent in the East, 
which made men doubtful whether the Arian conceptions were 
really such innovations on the traditional faith as they seemed 
to the few who led the opposition to them. Thanks to the clear 
and simple teaching of Tertullian, the Western Church was never 
in such doubt, and Arianism never gained such hold in the 
West as it did in the East. That the leaders of the Church of 
Alexandria, where it originated, were able to detect its real 
nature at the outset was probably due in no small measure to 
the memories of the discussion in the time of Dionysius and the 
influence of the Western tradition which was then asserted. 

The controversy was so important and the questions raised 
are of such permanent significance that we must trace its course 
at length, at least in regard to its chief features and the main 
turning-points of the history. 1 

Arms and his Teaching 

Arius, like all the great heresiarchs, whatever defects of 
character he may have had, undoubtedly wished to carry to 
greater perfection the work of interpretation of the Christian 
revelation. He aimed, with sincerity and all the ability at his 
command, at framing a theory of the Person of Christ, which 
would be free from the difficulties presented to many minds by 
current conceptions, and capable of providing a solution of some 
of the problems by which they were met. 

He tried to interpret the Christian revelation in such a way 
as to render it acceptable to men whose whole conception of God 
and of life was heathen. In doing this he shewed himself to be 
lacking in real grip of the first principles of the Christian con- 

1 On the history of Arianism the works of Professor Gwatkin are invaluable 
Studies of Arianism, 1st ed. 1882, 2nd ed. 1900, and The Arian Controversy in the 
series Epochs of Church History . 


ception, and in sound judgement and insight; but the long 
continuance of the controversy, and the wide acceptance which 
his theories won, prove clearly how great a need there was for 
further thought and teaching on the points at issue. 1 

Before tracing the history of the controversy we must note 
what were the principles on which Arius based his thought. 2 

1 An excellent sketch of the developement of the doctrine of the Person of 
Christ up to the time of Arius is given by Professor Gwatkin (Studies of Arianism 
p. 4 ff.). Inherited from Judaism and the Old Testament was the fundamental 
principle, with which Christians started, of the existence of God, His unity and 
distinction from the world. As a second fundamental doctrine of their own they 
had the revelation of this God in Jesus Christ the Incarnation and the Resurrection. 
They had an instinctive conviction that the fulness of the Lord was more than 
human, the life that flowed from him more than human life, the atonement through 
him an atonement with the Supreme Himself, the Person of the Lord the infinite 
and final revelation of the Father. So his divinity became as fixed an axiom as 
God s unity and of his humanity there was of course no doubt. The problem was 
how to reconcile this view of Christ s person with the fundamental principle of the 
unity of God. At first bare assertions were enough ; but, when the question of 
interpretation was raised, new theories had to be tested by Scripture ; and the two 
great tendencies, which are innate in human thought, emerge : the rationalist, 
which questions the divinity and so the incarnation ; and the mystic, which, recog 
nising full divinity in Christ, regards it as a mere appearance or modification of the 
One, and so endangers the distinction between him and the Father._j By the fourth 
century it was becoming clear that the only solution of the problem was to be 
found in a distinction inside the divine unity. Neither Arianism with its external 
Trinity, nor Sabellianism with its oeconomic Trinity, satisfied the conditions of the 
problem. So it was necessary to revise the idea of divine personality and to 
acknowledge not three individuals but three eternal aspects of the Divine, in its 
inward relations as well as in its outward relations to the world (that is, three 
eternal modes of the divine being, God existing always in three spheres). But this 
was just what the heathen could least do. Here was experienced the greatest 
difficulty in the pre-Christian conception of God which prevailed in the world, and 
which converts brought with them namely, the essential simplicity singleness of 
His being (cf. the Sabellian Trinity of temporal aspects (irptxruira) of the One ; and 
the Arian Trinity of One increate and two^created beings). Insistence on the Lord s 
divinity was leading back to polytheism. The fundamental idea of God at the back 
of all must be rectified before the positioiTwas secure. n 

2 The extant writings of Arius are few a letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia (Theo- 
doret H.E. i 4 or 5), a letter to his bishop, Alexander (Epiph. adv. Haer. Ixix, and 
Ath. de Syn. 16), extracts from the Thalia (Ath. Or. c. Ar. i, ii, and de Syn. 15), 
and a Creed (Socr. H.E. i 26, and Soz. H.E. ii 27). Asterius seems to be 
regarded by Athanasius (see Or. c. Ar. i 30-33, ii 37, iii 2, 60, and de Deer. Syn. 
Nic. 8, 28-31) as the chief literary representative of Arianism (for his history see 
Gwatkin, p. 72, note), but we have only quotations from his writings in the works 
of Athanasius and in Eusebius Caes. contra Marcellum (who had written against 
Asterius). PJiilostorgius, a Eunomian, of Cappadocia (c. 368-430), wrote a history 
in twelve books of the time from the appearance of Arius to the year 423, in which 
he defended Arianism as being the original form of Christianity. Of this there are 
extant many short pieces and one long passage (see Migne P.G. Ixv 459-638). The 
letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus (Theodoret H.E. i 5) is of importance. 


To be included in his theory there was God, and the Sou of God, 
and the Son had to be accounted for in such a manner as not 
to endanger the unity of God. For his strongest interest was 
the maintenance of Monotheism ; and a first principle with him 
was the simplicity the singleness of God, as being absolutely 
One and transcendent, far-off, unknown, inaccessible, and incom 
municable, hidden in eternal mystery and separated by an infinite 
chasm from men. God willed to create the world ; but in virtue 
of His nature he could not directly create the material universe, 
and so He created the Logos for the purpose as His Son. (This was 
the reason for his existence.) The Son of God is therefore before 
time and the world, independently of the Incarnation, and distinct 
from the Father a middle being between Him arid the world. 

Two lines of reasoning by which Arius came to his results 
must be remarked. In the first place, accepting as true the 
Catholic teaching that Christ was the Son of God, he argued by 
the analogy of human experience that what was true of human 
fatherhood was true of the relation between God and His Son. 
In the case of human fatherhood there is priority of existence 
of the Father ; therefore in regard to the Father and the Son 
there is such priority of existence of the Father. Therefore 
once there was no Son. Therefore he must at some time, 
however remote, have been brought into being. 

For the refutation of Arianism proper the writings of Athanasius are of peculiar 
importance (a useful summary of the teaching of Arius in the letter of Alexander on 
the Synod of 321 in the tract probably composed by Athanasius called the 
Depositio Arii ; see also the letter of Alexander in Theodoret H.E. i 3). Basil s 
Epp. 8, 9 are full of interest, and besides there are the writings of Hilary, Gregory 
of Nazianzus, and Phoebadius. For the tenets of the Anomoeans see Basil s five 
(? three) books against Eunomius, and Gregory of Nyssa s twelve, written after Basil s 
death in reply to the answer of Eunomius. Other champions of orthodoxy are repre 
sented to us only by fragments. 

For a short statement of what Arius himself said of his own conceptions, see 
his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, his fellow- Lucianist , the truly pious 
(ecre/3?7s), given by Theodoret H.E. i 4 (5). " We say and believe, and have taught 
and do teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor in any way part of the unbe- 
gotten ; and that he does not derive his subsistence from any matter ; but that by his 
own wish and counsel he has subsisted before time and before ages as perfect God, 
only begotten and unchangeable, and that before he was begotten or created or pur 
posed or established he was not. For he was not unbegotten. We are persecuted 
because we say that the Son has a beginning, but that God is without beginning, . . . 
and likewise, because we say that he is of the non-existent. And this we say because 
he is neither part of God, nor of any essential being." In this phrase there is no 
doubt reference to the notion supposed to be contained in the term 6/j.oovcrios of some 
ovala prior to Father and Son a tertium quid in which they both alike had part. 


And in the second place, as to the nature and manner of this 
divine Sonship, Arms held that the isolation and spirituality of 
the Father was a truth to be safeguarded above all else. But 
the idea of generation was inconsistent with this primary prin 
ciple ; for generation not only ascribes to the Father corporeity 
and passion (feelings) (which are human attributes) and involves 
some kind of change (whereas the divine must be thought of as 
absolutely immutable), but also it would imply unity of nature 
between the Father who generates and the Son who is generated, 
and so the singularity of God would be destroyed. Ingenerate- 
ness must accordingly be of the very essence of divinity, and the 
Son could not havs come into being from or out of the essence 
(or being) 1 of the Father, but only by a definite external process 
or act of the Father s will. But ex hypothesi there was then 
nothing in existence but the Father, and therefore the Son was 
called into being out of nothing. This exercise of the Father s 
will was equivalent to a creative act, and the Son therefore was 
created by the Father. 2 

By these lines of reasoning the Arians were convinced that 
the Son was not eternal and was a creature, 3 though corning 

1 For other objections to this expression, see infra p. 171 n. 1. 

2 To say that the Son was begotten or born of the will or by the will of 
the Father seems to have been a common way of speaking before this time, and the 
expression is in itself quite free from objection. So, for example, Justin wrote /caret 
rty TOV irarpbs TT&VTWV KO! <nr6TOV deov POV\T)V did irapdevov dvOpwiros dTreKvrjdt] 
(Apol. i 46), and used similar expressions (Dial. c. Tryph. 63, 85) ; Origen, see 
supra p. 148 ; and Novatian (less accurately) ex quo (sc. the Father), quando ipse 
voluit, sermo filius natus est . Of. the Creed in the Apostolic Constitutions vii 41 
rbv irpo aluvwv evdoxlq. TOV Tarp&s yevvyQevTa. It was only when the will was 
unnaturally placed outside of the being of the Father, and the expression of the 
will was employed in opposition to of the being of the Father, to denote a later 
and external origin, that it ceased to be used by careful writers as a true and proper 
description. See further additional note p. 194. 

8 A typical instance of Arian logic seems to be furnished by Asterius in this 
connexion. He wrote a tract (see Ath. Or. c. Ar. i 30-33) of which the main 
thesis apparently was that there could not be two dyevrjTa. He then denned 
a.yevr)Tov as TO py iroiyQev ctXX del t>v, and proceeded to argue that as the Father 
alone was dyev-rjTov it was to Him alone that the description ov Troirj6ev dXX del ov 
applied. That description was thus not true of the Son ; and therefore as it was not 
true to say of him not made but always (eternally) existent , he must have been 
made and have come into existence at some remote period. 

The formula dyevrjTov, as sounding more philosophical and having traditional 
sanction, became a plausible substitute for the original phrases of the Arians when 
they were driven from out of nothing and once he was not . See Ath. de Deer. 
28, and Or. c. Ar. i 32. And so objection was taken on the part of their opponents 
to any such use of the words dycvyrov and yev-^Tov e.g. by Athanasius de Deer. 31 : 


into existence before time l and before all other creatures, and 
not like other creatures (inasmuch as they were all created 
mediately through him, while he was created immediately by 
the Father s will). Yet since he was a creature, and in this 
sense external to the being of the Father, he must be subject to 
the vicissitudes of created beings, and so he must be limited in 
power and wisdom and knowledge. With free-will and a nature 
capable of change and morally liable to sin he must depend on 
the help of grace and be kept sinless by his own virtue and the 
constant exercise of his own will. 

Yet, nevertheless, though in all these ways inferior to the 
Father, he was really Son of God and an object of worship. 
And he it was the Logos who, taking upon him a human 
body with an animal soul, having been the medium by which the 
whole universe was originally created, was afterwards incarnate 
in the person of Jesus Christ. 2 

Such was the theory by which Arius sought to conciliate the 
pagan and the Christian conceptions of God and the universe. 3 
It seems to us quite clear that the Jesus to whom such a theory 
could apply would be neither really human nor really divine, 
and this was obvious at the time to some of the ablest and 

"Nowhere is [the Son] found calling the Father Unoriginated ; but when teaching 
us to pray, he said not, When ye pray, say, God Unoriginated , but rather when 
ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven ." And "He bade us be baptized, 
not into the name of Unoriginate and Originate, not into the name of Uncreate and 
Creature, but into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit " though at the same 
time it is of course allowed that the term Unoriginate does admit of a religious use 
(ibid. 32). 

1 For this reason they were careful to say only there was once when he was not 
(fy wore 8re OVK fjv), and not there was a time when he was not . Cf. their phrase 
dx/^vws irpb iravTwv yevv-rjdels (Ath. de Synod. 16). 

2 The Logos took the place of the human rational soul, the mind, or spirit. See 
infra on the Human Soul of Christ p. 247. 

8 Arius seems, in part at least, to have been misled by a wrong use of analogy, 
and by mistaking description for definition. All attempts to explain the nature 
and relations of the Deity must largely depend on metaphor, and no one metaphor 
can exhaust those relations. Each metaphor can only describe one aspect of the 
nature or being of the Deity, and the inferences which can be drawn from it have 
their limits when they conflict with the inferences which can be truly drawn from 
other metaphors describing other aspects. From one point of view Sonship is a true 
description of the inner relations of the Godhead : from another point of view the 
title Logos describes them best. Each metaphor must be limited by the other. 

The title Son may obviously imply later origin and a distinction amounting to 
ditheism. It is balanced by the other title Logos, which implies co-eternity and 
inseparable union. Neither title exhausts the relations. Neither may be pressed 
so far as to exclude the other. 


most far-seeing and intelligent of the leaders of Christian 
thought. But the doctrine of the Church had not yet been 
defined with exactitude : if it was not really confused, it was at 
any rate lacking in precision of Serins ; and to many it seemed 
that reason and Scripture alike gave strong support to the Arian 

All passages of Scripture which imply in any way that 
Christ was in the category of creature ; which ascribe to him, 
in his incarnate state, lack of knowledge or growth in know 
ledge, weariness, or sorrow, or other affections and states 
of mind; which teach some kind of subordination of the 
Son to the Father the Arians pressed into the service of their 
theory. 1 

Athanasius in particular is at pains to refute their exegesis, 
or to cite other passages which balance those to which alone 
they give attention. We may take three crucial cases in which 
to test the Arian arguments. 

(1) Prov. 8 22 ~ 25 (LXX, which was regarded as authoritative 
by nearly all on both sides), The Lord created me a beginning of 
his ways for his ivorks, before time (the age) he founded me in the 
beginning . . . before all hills he begets me. On this passage we 
have the comments of Eusebius of Nicomedia in his letter to 
Paulinus (Theodoret H.E. i 5 (6)). The manner of his begin 
ning, he says, is incomprehensible; but "if he had been of 
Him, that is, from Him, as a portion of Him, or by an eman 
ation of His substance (ova id), it could not be said that he 
was created or established . . . But if the fact of his being 
called the begotten gives any ground for the belief that, having 
come into being of the Father s substance (essence), he has 
also in consequence sameness of nature, we take note that it 
is not of him alone that the Scripture uses the term begotten, 
but that it also thus speaks of those who are entirely unlike 
him by nature. For of men it says, I begat and exalted 
sons, and they set me at nought (Isa. I 2 ), and Thou hast 
forsaken the God who begat thee (Deut. 32 18 ); and in other 

1 Among the chief passages to which they appealed were these : For the unity 
of God, Dent. 6 4 , Luke 18 19 , John 17 3 ; for the nature of the Sonship, Ps. 45 8 , 
Matt. 12 28 , 1 Cor. I 24 ; for the creation of the Logos, Prov. 8 22 (LXX), Acts 2 s6 , 
Col. I 15 , Heb. 3 2 ; for his moral growth and developement (irpoKoir-f)), Luke 2 82 , 
Matt. 26 39ff -, Heb. 5 8 - 9 , Phil. 2 6ff -, Heb. I 4 ; for the possibility of change (rb rpeirrbv) 
and imperfection of knowledge, Mark 13 32 , John II 34 13 31 ; for his inferiority to the, 
Father, John 14 28 , Matt, 27 40 . (Cf. Matt. II 27 26 39 28 18 , John 12 27 , 1 Cor. 15 28 .) 


places it says, Who is he that begat the drops of dew ? 
(Job 38 28 ), not implying that the nature of the dew is derived 
from the nature of God, but simply in regard to each of the 
things that have come into being, that its origination was accord 
ing to His will. There is indeed nothing which is of His sub 
stance (essence), yet everything has come into being by His will, 
and exists even as it came into being. He is God ; and all things 
were made in His likeness, and in the future likeness of His 
Word, having come into being of His free-will. All things have 
come into being by his means by God. All things are of God." 
The combination of apparent reasonableness and slippery argu 
ment in this exegesis speaks for itself. 

(2) Col. I 15 , Who is the image of the invisible (unseen) God 
TrptoToroKos 7racr?79 /cr/o-ect)?. If the last three words were isolated, 
their meaning might be doubtful, and it might be supposed 
that the Trpcororoicos (first-born) was included in the iraaa Kria-is 
(all creation). The Arians took the passage so, and explained 
it as teaching that the Son was a creature, though created 
before all other creatures and superior to them. But the con 
text shews plainly that though the intention is clearly to 
describe the relation in which Christ stands to the created 
universe, yet the TT/JCOTOTOACO? does not himself belong to the 
KTl<ns. Such an attribution would be inconsistent with the 
universal agency in creation ascribed to him in the words im 
mediately following in (or by) him were created all things , 
and with the absolute pre-existence and self-existence claimed 
for him in the same breath, he is before all things (auro? eartv 
7T/)o iravTwv}. It would also be inconsistent with many other 
passages in St Paul. 1 

1 See Lightfoot s note ad loc. He argues that the word is doubtless used with 
reference to the title Trpwrdyovos given to the \6yos by Philo, meaning the arche 
typal idea of creation, afterwards realized in the material world ; and with reference 
to its use as a title of the Messiah in the Old Testament (Ps. 89 28 ), implying that 
he was the natural ruler of God s household with all the (Hebrew) rights of primo 
geniture. Priority to all creation and sovereignty over all creation are thus the 
two ideas involved in the phrase, and patristic exegesis was on these lines until 
the Arian innovations. In opposition to them the Catholic Fathers sometimes put a 
strained sense on the phrase, and would apply it to the Incarnate Christ rather 
than to the Eternal Word, so being obliged to understand the creation of the new 
spiritual creation, against which view see Lightfoot. Cf. also Athanasius de 
Deer. 20, and Basil on the text adv. Eunom. iv ; and against the secondary 
meaning of sovereignty over creation, see Abbott International Critical Com 
mentary ad loc. All that the phrase can be said with certainty to mean is born 
before all creation (or every creature) . 


(3) John 14 28 , My Father is greater than 7. ... This 
saying of Jesus seemed to the Arians conclusive proof of his 
inferiority to the Father and of the secondary character of his 
divinity. To Athanasius and those like-minded with him it 
had exclusive reference to the state of humiliation of the Incar 
nate Logos, voluntarily undergone and accepted when he 
emptied himself ; and the fact that he could use such a 
phrase was proof of his divinity. In the mouth of a created 
demi-god (such as the Arians conceived) it would be unmeaning 
and absurd. So Basil (Ep. 8) argues that the saying proves 
the oneness in essence "For I know that comparisons may 
properly be made between things which are of the same nature. 
... If, then, comparisons are made between things of the 
same species, and the Father by comparison is said to be 
greater than the Son, then the Son is of the same essence 
as the Father." 

The Outbreak of the Controversy and its History up to the 
Council of Nicaea 

The immediate cause of the outbreak of the controversy is 
not known. 1 Arius was a presbyter of the Church of Alexandria, 
highly esteemed for his learning and gravity of life. He had 
been a pupil in the famous school of Lucian of Antioch, who 
seems to have combined in his theology the subordination 
element in Origen s doctrine of the Person of Christ with a 
leaning to the Monarchianism of Paul of Samosata. 2 About the 
year 317 his teaching excited attention, and exception was taken 

1 Professional jealousy has been assigned as the cause. Theodoret (H.E. i 2) 
says Arius was disappointed in his expectation of succeeding to the bishopric. He 
was certainly not free from intellectual vanity. He probably thought the teaching 
of Alexander unsound and Sabellian, and perhaps attacked it as such. But it may 
have been his own teaching that aroused opposition. (Controversy in the fourth 
century was not trammelled by rules of courtesy to opponents, and Athanasius 
himself describes the Arians as madmen, or fanatics, and enemies of God and 
of Christ, and frequently in allusion to scriptural similes as dogs, lions, wolves, 
chameleons, cuttlefish, leeches, gnats, hydras. See also the Historia Arianorum of 
Athanasius. ) Many of the same ideas, and the same terms and texts, are found 
current and matter of controversy in the middle of the third century. See the 
Correspondence between the Dionysii supra p. 113, and the extracts in Ath. de 
Deer. 25-27. 

2 "It is not clear that Lucian of Antioch was heretical" Gwatkin Studies of 
Arianism 2 p. 17. It will be borne in mind that the style of exegesis at Autioch 
was literal, and that the Lucianists thought that logic could settle everything. 


to its character. The bishop, Alexander, seems to have been at 
first conciliatory ; but Arius was convinced that he was right 
and would not yield. Persuasion and argument having failed, a 
synod was summoned in 321, and Arius was deposed from his 
office. He enlisted support, however, both in Egypt and farther 
afield especially from fellow-pupils in the school of Lucian, 
many of whom occupied positions of power and influence. In 
particular, he won the sympathy of Eusebius, 1 bishop of the 
capital, Nicomedia, and high in the emperor s favour, who called 
a Council at Nicomedia, and issued letters to the bishops in 
support of Arius. Many of the bishops, following the lead of 
Eusebius, thought Arius had been unjustly treated, and the 
deposition of the presbyter assumed more serious proportions. 
The rulers of the Church of Alexandria were put on their 
defence. They had to justify their actions. Accordingly, 
Athanasius, a deacon of the same Church, drew up at once a 
note of the proceedings at the synod of 321, with the signa 
tures of the bishops present appended, and Alexander sent it 
out to place the facts before the bishops of the Church at large. 2 
Meanwhile the emperor, whose one wish was for peace and the 
unity of the Church, was induced to intervene, and sent in 324 
a letter to Alexandria exhorting the bishop to restore peace to 
the Church ; that was, to readmit Arius to his office. But the 
bearer of his letter, Hosius, the Bishop of Cordova, one of his 
chief advisers, had to return to him with a report which put a 
different complexion on the matter, and Constantino sent a 
rebuke to Arius. But feeling was too much roused by that 
time for any one s intervention to be decisive, and, probably on 
the suggestion of Hosius, a Council of the whole Church was 
summoned by the emperor to meet in the following year 
(325) at Nicaea, in Bithynia. 3 In this way it was hoped that 
the mind of the Church on the points at issue might be 

1 Cf. the letter of Arius to him (Theodoret II. E, i 4), and his letter to Paulinus 
of Tyre (ibid, i 5 or 5 and 6). 

2 This is the treatise known as the Dcpositio Arii among the writings of 
Athanasius. It is described by Robertson ( Athanasius Nicene and Post-Nicene 
Fathers vol. iv) as the germ of all the anti-Arian writings of Athanasius. 

3 The bishops assembled numbered three hundred and eighteen, about one-sixth 
of the whole body of bishops. The Council lasted about three months. 


The Council of Nicaea and its Creed 

But the mind of the Church was not made up. The actual 
form of the question at issue was new and technical a question 
for experts ; and all the bishops were not experts. The Arians 
called Christ God, and Son of God, and offered him worship ; 
and they professed entire allegiance to the teaching of Scripture. 
It might well seem to the mass of the bishops assembled in 
council that the Arians were sound at heart, and that technical 
details should not be pressed against them. This was the atti 
tude of the great majority, composed of the bishops of Syria 
and Asia Minor. Largely influenced by as much of the teaching 
of Origen as they understood ; dreading above all else Mon- 
archianism and any Sabellian confusion of the Persons, and 
seeing something of the kind in the opponents of Arius, they 
simply did not realize the gravity of the crisis. They were very 
unwilling to go beyond the Scriptures, or to impose a new test, 
or to add to definitions ; and they wished to be lenient to Arius 
and his friends. They wished to maintain the status quo, and 
they did not see that Arianism was utterly inconsistent with the 
traditional interpretation. 1 With them, however, so far as 
voting power went, the decision lay ; and in the person of 
Eusebius, the great Bishop of Caesarea, they found a spokesman 
and leader, whose historical learning and research and literary 
talents could not but command universal respect. 2 

1 To this middle party the name Conservatives has been given. The label 
is a useful one, and true in the sense explained above ; but it is capable of 
misleading, and if we use it we must guard ourselves against the inference that 
the opponents of Arius were in any sense innovators. The real innovation was 
Arianism, and its uncompromising adversaries were the true Conservatives. This 
became quite clear in the course of the controversy, while many of the middle 
party at Nicaea leant more and more towards the Arian side. It is therefore only 
in this limited sense, and with this temporary application, that the description holds. 

2 Eusebius, c. 260-340, a native of Palestine, probably of Caesarea, spent his 
early life at Caesarea, where he was fortunate in the friendship of the presbyter 
Pamphilus, who left to him his great collection of books. At the time of the 
Council he was beyond question the most learned man and most famous living 
writer in the Church (Lightfoot, Art. D.C.B., q.v.). His teaching may fairly be 
taken as representing the prevailing doctrine of the Trinity and the Person of 
Christ, which made it possible for many to vacillate between Subordinationisrn and 
Sabellianism, and shewed the need for more precise definitions. Corner describes 
his doctrinal system as a chameleon -hued thing a mirror of the unsolved problems 
of the Church of that age. It was the Arian controversy which compelled men to 
enter for the first time on a deeper investigation of the questions (see Dorner Person 
of Christ Eng. tr. div. i vol. ii pp. 218-227). But on the main points he is explicit 


Prominent in support of Arius were two Egyptian bishops, 
Secundus of Ptolemais and Theonas of Marmarica, unfaltering 
in their opinions to the end ; and with them at heart three other 
bishops, pupils of Lucian Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of 
Nicaea, and Maris of Chalcedon, and a few more. 

Of the resolute opponents of Arianism, Alexander, the Bishop 
of Alexandria, was of course the centre, with Athanasius as his 
chaplain and right-hand. But the most decisive part in the 
opposition seems to have been played rather by Hosius l of 
Cordova, as representative of the Western bishops, and Eusta- 
thius of Antioch, and Marcellus of Ancyra, with a few other 
Eastern bishops. The test which was at last agreed upon eman 
ated apparently from this small group. 

Agreement was not easy. That the Arians proper were in 
a minority was evident at once. The heart of the Church re 
pudiated the terms they freely used about their Lord and Saviour. 
But, as the question had been raised and the matter had gone so 
far, it was necessary to do more than simply negative the conclu 
sions which they drew. Arian logic forced some closer definition - 
on the Church. A positive statement of what the Church 
believed was required, as well as a negation of Arian teaching. 

against Arianism, namely (1) that the Logos was not a KTiayta like other creatures, 
and (2) that there was not a time when he was not ; though he speaks of the Father 
as pre-existent before the Son, and of the Son as a second existence and second cause. 
His alliance with the Arian party so far as it went was probably largely due to 
personal friendships, and to his deep-rooted aversion to the Sabellianism of Mar 
cellus and others on the opposite side. And he followed what seemed at the time 
to be the policy of comprehension . (Cf. Socrates H.E. ii 21, where passages are 
cited to prove his orthodoxy against those who charged him with Arianizing. ) 

1 The Western bishops present were few, but thoroughly representative. Africa 
was represented by Caecilian of Carthage, Spain by Hosius of Cordova (the 
capital of the southern province, Baetica), Gaul by Nicasius of Dijon, Italy by the 
two Roman presbyters and the Bishop Mark, metropolitan of Calabria, Pannonia by 
Domnus of Stridon. 

Hosius had been for years the best known and most respected bishop in the 
West (born in 256, he had already presided at the Synod of Elvira in c. 306), and 
as such had been singled out by Constantino as his adviser in ecclesiastical affairs. 
It is probable that after the emperor had opened the Council with the speech recorded 
by Eusebius (Vit. Const, iii 12), Hosius presided, and the term o/iootfo-ios is only the 
Greek equivalent of the Latin unius substantiate, with which all Latin Christians 
were familiar from the days of Tertullian and Novatian. On Hosius, see P. B. Gams 
Kirchengcschichte von Spanien vol. ii div. i, esp. p. 148 ff. It was more by word 
and by deed than by writings that he fought for the faith of the Church, but 
Athanasius has preserved a letter which late in life he wrote to the Emperor 
Constantius, urging him to abandon his policy of protection of the Arians and 
persecution of their opponents (Hist. Arian. 44). 


It was in drawing up this that the difficulty was felt. The 
majority of the bishops assembled in council were very unwilling 
to employ new terms not sanctioned by tradition, not hallowed 
by apostolic use. But all the familiar scriptural phrases which 
were suggested in succession were accepted by the Arians. They 
could put their own interpretation on them. The historian of 
the Council draws a vivid picture of the scene their nods and 
their winks and their whispers, and all the evasions by which 
they endeavoured to maintain their cause and elude condemna 
tion. Little progress was made till the friends of Arius produced 
a creed in writing which was really Arian, and proposed that the 
Council should endorse it. It was torn in shreds amid the angry 
cries of the bishops. 1 At all events the Council was not Arian. 
At last Eusebius of Caesarea read out what was probably the 
Baptismal Creed of his Church, 2 in the hope that it might be 
sufficient and that all would accept it. The Creed was received 
with general approval, but it was not precise enough to exclude 
the possibility of Arian interpretation, and the emperor no 
doubt prompted by one of the Alexandrine group (probably 
Hosius) proposed the addition of the single word Homo- 
ousios (of one * substance ). Its insertion led to a few other 

. i 7. 

2 The Creed is given by Socrates H.E. i. 8 (Hahn 3 p. 257), in the letter which 
Eusebius wrote to his Church explaining the proceedings at Nicaea. He describes 
the Creed as in accordance with the tradition which he had received from his prede 
cessors in the see, both when under instruction and at the time of his baptism, with 
his own knowledge learnt from the sacred Scriptures, and with his belief and teach 
ing as presbyter and as bishop. The natural inference from his letter is that it was 
the very Baptismal Creed of the Church of Caesarea (and probably of all Palestine) 
that he recited, but it is possible that he gave a free adaptation of it, expanding 
some and omitting or curtailing other clauses (see Hahn 3 pp. 131, 132). The words 
as to the Son are, " And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, God from God, 
light from light, life from life, only [begotten] Son (vibv /j-ovoyevij), first born before 
all creation (TTPWT^TOKOV Trdcr^s /crtVews), begotten from the Father before all the 
ages, by means of whom too all things came into being, who on account of our 
salvation was incarnate ((rapKudevra) and lived as a man among men (v avOpuirots 
Tro\(.Tev( the metaphor of citizenship in a state had faded, and the word 
means simply lived . or at most lived as one of them ), and suffered and rose 
again on the third day, and went up to the Father, and will come again in glory to 
judge living and dead." To the Creed Eusebius added an assertion of the individual 
existence of each person in the Trinity (the Father truly Father, the Son truly Son, 
and the Holy Spirit truly Holy Spirit), with an appeal to the baptismal commission 
(Matt. 28 19 ), which was no doubt intended to be taken to heart by any who, in 
opposing Arianism, might tend to slide unawares into Sabellian error. For this 
anti-Sabellian declaration, however, in the Creed of the Council there was substituted 
an anti-Arian anathema. 


small alterations ; and at the end was added an express repudia 
tion of the chief expressions of the Arians. 1 

The Creed thus modified was in its final form as follows : 2 

" We believe in one God the Father all-sovereign, 3 maker 
of all things both visible and invisible. And in one Lord 
Jesus Christ the Son of God, begotten from the Father as 
only-begotten God 4 from God, that is from the [very] 
being of the Father 5 [or begotten from the Father as only 

1 In drawing up the Creed of Nicaea from the Creed of Eusebius the following 
phrases were struck out : (1) \6yov which represented the vague Eusebian Christology, 
instead of which the Sonship was to be brought prominently forward ; (2) TTOWTOTOKOV 
Travis /cr/crews and irpb TTO.VTUV TWV aluvwv K TOV irarpbs yeyevvij^vov, because sus 
ceptible of Arian interpretation ; (3) tv avdpuirois Tro\iTev<rdfj.evoi>, because too vague, 
not expressing explicitly the real manhood. Modifications of phrases, in effect new, 
were the following : rbv vibv rov Oeov, and yevvydtvTa. IK TOV irarp&s fj.ovoyevTJ (instead 
of \6yov and later on in the Creed vibv /u,ovoyfvrj), and tvav0pwirr}<TavTa. Three 
phrases only were quite new additions : TOVT<TTIV IK. TT/S ovvlas TOV waTpbs, yevvrjOtvTO, 
ov TToirid^vTa, and bfj.oov<nov TI^ Trarpl. 

2 The Creed agreed to by the Council must not be regarded as a full and complete 
statement in symbolic form of the faith of the Church at the time. The express 
purpose for which the Council was summoned was to examine the Arian doctrines, 
and to declare the authoritative teaching of the Church on the matters in dispute 
not to frame a new Baptismal Creed for all. The Creed may be said to have been 
limited by the terms of reference , and therefore it deals at length with the doctrine 
of the Person of Christ and with nothing else : and there is even no statement on 
the birth from the Virgin, nor on the suffering under Pontius Pilate, which were 
certainly part of the common tradition, and contained in the Baptismal Creed of 
Eusebius, though omitted by him too, as immaterial to his purpose, in his letter to 
his people. Cf. also the First Creed of Antioch, 341, at the end of which are the 
words "and if it is necessary to add it, we believe also concerning the resurrection 
of the flesh and life eternal ". 

3 ira.vTOKpd.Twp, the termination signifies the active exercise of rule all-ruler , 
all-ruling . In the New Testament it is used in the Apocalypse (o 0e6s 6 TT. , nine 
times) and in 2 Cor. 6 18 (quotation of LXX, Amos 4 13 =Lord of Hosts). All-mighty 
simply possessing all power, apart from any notion of its employment is TTO,VTO- 
dvva./uLos. Both words are represented by the Latin omnipotens. 

4 That this is the construction intended is strongly maintained by Hort Two 
Dissertations p. 61 ff., as also that the clause that is, of the essence of the Father 
explains only-begotten , being designed to exclude the Arian interpretation of it 
as expressing only a unique degree of a common relationship. See Additional Note 
p. 195. Athanasius, however, never dwells on /j.ovoyev7) and always treats the 
clause K TTJS ovaias TOV 7rarp6s as a mere exegetical expansion of K TOV TraTpbs or IK 
deov (see next note), and the order of the clauses is extremely awkward if Dr. 
Hort s interpretation be right. However familiar the collocation fiovoyevrj 0e6v 
was at the time, I am not confident that it was intended here, and the more 
generally accepted rendering, which is given in the text as an alternative, may be 
accepted with less misgiving. 

5 K T??S ov<rLas TOV iraTpos. Ov<rla here certainly means the inmost being of the 
Father, his very self. The translation substance which comes to us through the 
Latin (substantia = essentia) is not satisfactory. Essence hardly conveys to English 


(Son), that is from the being of the Father, God from God ], 
light from light, 1 very God from very God, 2 begotten, not 
made, 3 sharing one being with the Father, 4 by means of 
whom all things came into being, both the things that are 
in heaven and the things that are on earth : who on account 
of us men and on account of our salvation came down and 
was incarnate, became man, 5 suffered, and rose again on the 
third day, went up into heaven, and is coming to judge living 
and dead. And in the Holy Spirit. 

ears the real meaning, and nature too is strictly quite inadequate. The phrase 
is intended to mark the essential unity of the Son with the Father, declaring that 
he has his existence from no source external to the Father, but is of the very being of 
the Father so that the Father Himself is not, does not exist, is not conceived of as 
having being, apart from the Son. So it is that Athanasius (de Deer. 19) says 
the Council wrote from the essence of God rather than simply from God , ex 
pressly to mark the unique unoriginate relation in which the Son stands to the 
Father, in view of the sense in which it is true that all things are from God . Of 
nothing originate could it be said that it was from the essence of God . The 
essence of the Father is the sphere of being of the Son. He is inseparable from the 
essence of the Father (ibid. 20). To say of the essence of God is the same thing 
as to say of God in more explicit language (ibid. 22). 

1 In this phrase there is taken into the service of the formal Creed of the Church 
a familiar analogy the sun and the rays that stream from it to shew that, though 
in one way they are distinct, there is no kind of separation between the Father and 
the Son. The being, the life, that is in the Son is one and the same as the being 
that is in the Father ; just as there is no break between the ray of light which we 
see and the source of all our light in the sky. The ray is not the sun but the 
light is the same, continuous, from the sun to the ray. The simile illustrates 
equally both of the essence and one in essence (Ath. de Deer. 23 and 24). 

2 In these words the analogy is dropped. It is no mere reflection of the divine 
being that is in the Son. Father and Son alike are really God each and individually. 

3 It is generation, and not creation, by which the Son exists : as it is asserted 
later that he was himself the agent through whom Creation was effected. 

4 6/j.ooixriov T<$ irarpl. The oucrla. of the Son is the ovcria of the Father : as far as 
ovffia goes, no distinction can be made between them. Yet it is a distinct existence 
which the Son has in relation to the Father. So, as K rrjs oixrlas TOV Trarp6s expresses 
the one idea, 6/j.oofoi.ov T$ Trarpi safeguards the other ; and Basil was able to insist 
that the latter phrase, so far from agreeing with the Sabellian heresy, is plainly 
repugnant to it. "This expression", he says, "corrects the evil of Sabellius : for 
it does away with the sameness of the hypostasis (i.e. the oneness of person rty 
TavTbTyra TTJS uTrooTcicrews according to Basil s limited use of uTrdoreurts), and intro 
duces the conception of the persons in perfection. For a thing is not itself of one 
essence with itself, but one thing with another." Basil Ep. 52 (and see Bull op. c. 
p. 70). 

8 fravQpwTnrjo-ai Ta. The preceding phrase ffapKwOtvTa, was incarnate , became 
flesh , was not enough in view of the Arian Christology (see supra p. 160). So 
this term was added. The Son, whose otiaLa is the same as the Father s, became 
man. Whatever is necessary to human nature all that makes man man, all the 
constituents of a normal human existence he took upon himself. 


"And those that say there was once when he was not, 
and before he was begotten he was not, 1 and that he came 
into being out of nothing, or assert that the Son of God 
is of a different essence (subsistence) or being, 2 or created, 
or capable of change or alteration 3 the Catholic Church 

This Creed was signed by all the bishops present except 
Secundus and Theonas ; 4 and when shortly afterwards an imperial 
decree was issued banishing Arius and those who did not accept 
the decision of the Council, it seemed that Arianism was disposed 
of. But this result was far from being effected. 

1 It seems certain that the thesis here anathematized he was not before he was 
begotten is the Arian thesis equivalent to the denial of the eternity of the Sonship 
(i.e. which negatives the Catholic doctrine of the eternal generation the existence 
from eternity of the Son as Son and upholds the Arian conception expressed in the 
previous clause there was once when he was not ). The anathema is thus intended 
to maintain simply the eternity of the existence of the Son though he is Son yet 
he never had a beginning (contrasted with the Arian because he is Son, therefore 
he must have had a beginning ). [Some early writers, however, including 
Hippolytus (c. Noct. 10) and Theophilus (ad Autol. ii 10-22, and supra p. 127) 
seem to conceive of the existence of the Lord (as Word) before he became Son as 
though he was only generated Son at a later stage, at the beginning of all things : 
and Bull (Def. F.N. iii 5-8) argues that the generation thus spoken of was only meta 
phorical, and that in harmony with such a mode of representation the Nicene anathema 
has not reference to the Arian thesis stated above, but expressly maintains (in this 
sense) that "the Son was (though not yet, strictly speaking, generated) before his 
generation " this generation being only one of a succession of events in time by 
which the real and eternal truth was shadowed out. See Robertson Athanasius 
pp. 343-347.] 

The anathemas are of considerable value for the elucidation of the Creed, 
shewing precisely at what misinterpretation particular phrases of the Creed were 
directed. Statements and denials thus go together ; and any uncertainty as to the 
meaning of the positive definitions is removed by the negative pronouncements that 

2 ertpas vTrotTrdcreus % ov<rla$. The words are certainly used as synonyms, 
as they were by Athanasius till the Council at Alexandria in 362. In repeat 
ing the anathema (de Deer. 20) he has only ertpas owr/as, shewing that to 
him at least no new conception was added by the alternative uTrocrrdcrews. It 
was perhaps intended for the West ( = substantial . See Additional Note on 
vir6<rTa<ns infra p. 235. 

3 Tpeirrbv T) dX\oiwr6v. In these words we pass from metaphysics to ethics, and 
the chief ethical inference of the Arians from their metaphysical theory is rejected. 
See supra p. 160. In virtue of the divine being which was his, Jesus Christ 
(although man as well as God) was sinless and incapable of moral change or 
alteration of character. How he could be at one and the same time both man 
and God, the Creed does not attempt to explain. It is content to repudiate the 
Arian teaching, which was inconsistent with his being God. See infra p. 250. 

4 So Theodoret. Socrates, however, says all except five. 


The Reaction after Nicaea personal and doctrinal 

The victory over Arianism achieved at the Council was 
really a victory snatched by the superior energy and decision 
of a small minority with the aid of half-hearted allies. The 
majority did not like the business at all, and strongly dis 
approved of the introduction into the Creed of the Church of 
new and untraditional and unscriptural terms. 1 They might be 
convinced that the results to which Arianism led were wrong ; 
but probably few of them saw their way to a satisfactory logical 
defence against the Arian arguments. A test of this kind was a 
new thing, and sympathy for Arius and its other victims grew. 
A reaction followed in his favour. This was the motive of the 
first stage in the complicated movements of the time between the 
two first General Councils of the Church. Sympathy with Arius 
connoted dislike of the chief agents of the party which procured 
his condemnation, and Athanasius and Marcellus 2 were singled out 
as most obnoxious. They had to bear the brunt of the attack. 

1 The objections to the new terms K TTJS ovcrlas and 6u.oov<rios were numerous. 

(1) There was the scriptural (positive) objection which every one could appreciate. 
The words were not to be found in the inspired writings of the evangelists and 
Apostles. Every Creed hitherto had been composed of scriptural words, and men 
had not been pinned down to a particular and technical interpretation. (This 
objection Athanasius meets in dc Dccretis 18, where he turns the tables on the 
objectors, asking from what Scriptures the Arians got their phrases ^ OVK ovrwv, 
fy Trore ore OVK TJV and the like, and shewing that scriptural expressions offered no 
means of defence against such novel terms. The bishops had to collect the sense 
of the Scriptures ibid. 20. ) 

(2) There was the traditional or ecclesiastical (negative) objection. The use 
of the word ofj-ooveios had been condemned at the Council of Antioch in 269 (see 
supra p. 111). (Athanasius, however, claims tradition for it sec dc Deer. 25; 
and insists that it is used in a different sense from that in which Paul used it, and 
that it is a true interpretation of Scripture. ) 

(3) There was the doctrinal objection. To all who held to the conception of the 
singleness the simplexity of the divine existence, to all who took ovtrta, in the 
primary sense of particular or individual existence, it was difficult to see any but 
a Sabellian meaning in the Avord which implied common possession of the divine 
ova-la. Ditheism (and Tritheism) all were agreed in repudiating, but this word seemed 
to imply that the persons were only temporary manifestations of the one ov<ria f 

(4) There was the philosophical objection. The words implied either that there 
was some ov<ria prior both to Father and to Son, which they shared in common (and 
then this ovcrla would be the first principle and they would be alike derived from it); 
or else they connoted a materialistic conception, Father and Son being as it were 
parts or pieces of one ovaia. (This objection being based on the identification of 
ovffla with e?5os or iiX?;.) See Ath. Or. c. Ar. i 14, De Syn. Arim. et Sel. 51 ; 
Hilary de Fide Orient. 68. 

2 See Additional Note on Marcellus, p. 190. 


After years of intrigue and misrepresentation Arius was 
recalled and would have been reinstated but for his sudden death, 
and Athanasius and Marcellus were exiled (336 A.D.). Allowed to 
return on the death of the emperor, they were again within two 
years sent into exile, and the way was cleared for an attempt to 
get rid of the obnoxious Creed the terms of which so relent 
lessly excluded Arian conceptions. The reaction ceases to be 
so personal, and becomes more openly doctrinal a formal 
attack upon the definition o/Aooucrto? under cover of the pretexts 
to which reference has been made. 

Attempts to supersede the Niccne Creed Council of Antioch 341 

The opportunity was found at the Council of Antioch in 341, 
when some ninety bishops assembled for the dedication of 
Constantino s golden church . The personal question only came 
up for a moment, when a letter from Julius, Bishop of Eome, 
urging the restoration of Athanasius and Marcellus, was read ; 
but the Council resented his interposition and proceeded to con 
sider forms of Creed which might be substituted for the Nicene. 
Four such Creeds were produced, 1 all of them carefully avoiding 
the terms by which Arianism was excluded. The first of the 
four, though prefaced by a specious repudiation of Arian 
influence (how should bishops follow the lead of one who was 
only a presbyter 1), was Arianizing not only in its avoidance of 
any expressions which Arians could not have accepted, but also 
in its explanation of only begotten , and its marked attribution 
of the work of the Incarnate Son to the good pleasure and 
purpose of the Father. The majority of the Council, however, 
were not prepared to offer this as a substitute for the Creed of 
Mcaea, and a second Creed more acceptable to the moderates 
was adopted by the Council in its stead. Its shews exactly how 
far the average orthodox bishop of the time was prepared to go 
in condemnation of Arian theories and in positive statement of 
doctrine. It is as follows : 

" In accordance with the evangelical and apostolic tradition 2 
we believe in one God, Father all-sovereign, the framer and 

1 They are given in Ath. de Synod. 22 ff., and Socr. ILE. ii 10 (Halm 3 p. 183 ff. ). 

2 The appeal which is made throughout to Scripture and Tradition (though the 
authors are forced to admit some non-scriptural words) carries with it the tacit 
condemnation of the new Nicene terms. 


maker and providential ruler of the universe. And in one 
Lord Jesus Christ His Son, the only-begotten 1 God, by means 
of whom [were] all things, who was begotten before the ages 
(worlds) from the Father, God from God, whole from whole, 2 
sole from sole, 3 complete from complete, king from king, lord 
from lord, living Logos, living wisdom, true light, way, truth, 
resurrection, shepherd, door, unchangeable and unalterable, 
invariable image of the deity both being (essence) and purpose 
and power and glory of the Father, 4 the first-born before every 
creature 5 (or the first-born of all creation), who was in the 
beginning by the side of (with) God, God the Logos, according to 
the saying in the Gospel : And the Logos was God by means 
of whom all things came into being, and In whom all things 
consist : who in the last days came down from above and was 
begotten from a virgin, according to the Scriptures, and became 
man, a mediator between God and men, apostle of our faith and 
captain of life, as he says : I have come down from heaven, not 
to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. 6 Who 
suffered on behalf of us and rose again on the third day, and 
went up into heaven and took his seat on the right hand of 
the Father, and is coming again with glory and power to judge 
living and dead. And in the Holy Spirit, who is given for 
comfort and hallowing and perfecting to those that believe, 
even as our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples, 
saying : Go ye forth and make disciples of all the nations, 
baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and 

1 Only-begotten must in this case certainly be joined with God , which other 
wise would stand in an impossible position. See supra p. 168 n. 4. 

2 These words are directed against any notion of partition of the Godhead, as 
though a portion only of the divine were in the Son and the entirety of the Godhead 
were thereby impaired. God is entire and the Son is entire. 

3 I.e. the son alone was begotten by the Father alone, all else being created by 
the Father not alone, but through the Son whom He had first begotten alone. See 
Ath. de Deer. 7. This phrase is in accord with the Arian explanation of /j.ovoyevf)s, 
and became a favourite formula of the Anomoeans. 

4 This is the nearest equivalent to the discarded 6 / uooi5<noj>. The passage should 
perhaps be punctuated with a colon after unalterable , but the four words which are 
bracketed are clearly explanatory of the deity of the Father, of which the Son is 
said to be the unvarying image, ei /co^ means the complete representation, and 
ctVwj/ T77$ ovcrias TOV irarpoy, if fairly interpreted, might suffice to exclude Arianism ; 
but Arians could accept it as being practically true. 

D There is nothing in the Creed to exclude the Arian interpretation of this phrase. 
See supra p. 162. 

B This emphatic reference to the Father s will would be agreeable to Arians. 


of the Holy Spirit clearly meaning l of a Father who is truly 
Father, and of a Son who is truly Son, and of the Holy Spirit 
who is truly Holy Spirit, the names not being applied in a 
general sense (vaguely) or unmeaningly, but indicating accurately 
the peculiar existence 2 (? individuality) and rank and glory belong 
ing to each of the [three] named namely, that they are three 
in existence (? individuality), but one in harmony. 3 

"Inasmuch therefore as this is the faith we hold, and hold 
from the beginning and to the end, before God and Christ we 
anathematise every heretical evil opinion. And if any one, 
teaches contrary to the sound right faith of the Scriptures, 
saying 4 that there was or has been a time or season or age 
before the Son was begotten, let him be anathema. And if any 
one says that the Son is a creature as one of the creatures, or a 
thing begotten as one of the things begotten, or a thing made as 
one of the things made, and not as the divine Scriptures have 
handed down the aforesaid articles one after another or if any 
one teaches or preaches differently from the tradition we 
received, let him be anathema. For we truly and reverently 
believe and follow all the things drawn from the divine 
Scriptures which have been handed down by the prophets and 
apostles." 5 

This Creed seems a clumsy and cumbersome substitute for the 
clean-cut clauses of the Creed of Nicaea. Vague and verbose 
accumulations of scriptural phrases are no compensation for the 

1 Anti-Sabellian. The names correspond to permanent numerical distinctions 
within the Godhead. 

2 vir6<rTa<Tu>. The word here probably conies close to the meaning personal 
existence . See the history of its use p. 235. 

3 This expression, which really makes the unity of the three persons moral rather 
than essential, has been described (Robertson Athanashis p. xliv) as an artfully 
chosen point of contact between Origen, on the one side, and Asterius, Lucian, and 
Paul of Samosata, on the other side. It was protested against at Sardica 343 (see 
Hahn 3 p. 189) as implying a blasphemous and corrupt interpretation of the saying 
I and the Father are one . 

4 None of the assertions here anathematized was made by the leaders of the 
Arians. The expressions used represent just those subtle distinctions which seemed 
to Athanasius to be merely slippery evasions of direct issues. 

8 On the authority of Sozomen (H.E. iii 5, vi 12) this Creed is supposed to 
have been composed by Lucian, and to have won acceptance under cover of his 
distinguished name. If it was so, the anathemas at the end and (probably) a few 
phrases in the body of the Creed must have been added by those who produced it at 
Antioch. The Lucianic origin of the Creed has, however, been called in question in 
recent times, and the latest suggestion is that Sozomen was mistaken, and confused 
this (the Second) with the Fourth Creed assigned to this Council, which might be 


loss of its well-balanced terse expressions. The spirit of its 
framers is shewn by their constant appeal to the Scriptures, and 
by the weakening down of the anti-Arian definitions. In effect 
such a Creed as this is powerless against Arianism, and takes 
things back to the indeterminate state in which they were before 
the outbreak of the controversy. In the Creed itself there is 
probably not a single phrase which Arians could not have 
accepted. The strongly worded rejection of a merely c nominal 
Trinity reflects the fear of Sabellianism by which the framers of 
the Creed were haunted, while their explanation of the nature 
of the Unity of the Godhead is compatible with different grades 
of deity. And the anathemas of the Creed of Nicaea, while 
apparently retained in the main, are so modified that, though 
they seem to put Arian teaching under the ban, they condemn 
positions which nobody, of any party, wished to maintain. Such 
as it is, however, it was approved by the Council as its official 
statement, and is known as the Creed of the Dedication. 

A third formula, which was signed by all, is notable only for 
its condemnation of Marcellus, both by name and by the addition 
of clauses emphasizing the personal and permanent existence of 
the Son. But it was the personal profession of faith of a single 
bishop, and not intended apparently as a complete creed. 

Yet a fourth Creed was drawn up by a few bishops a little 
later, after the Council had really separated, and sent as if 
from the synod to the Emperor Constans in Gaul. It is much 
shorter than the Second, the scriptural phrases and appeals being 
curtailed or omitted. The eternity of the kingdom of the Son 
is strongly maintained against Marcellus (though he is not 
named), and the Nicene anathema against those who say out of 
nothing or out of a different essence (vTroaracris) is qualified by 
the further definition and not out of God , so that though 
intended to be more acceptable to Mcenes it became the basis 
of the subsequent Arianizing confessions of the East. 

Lucianic. [The argument is that the Creed in the Apostolic Constitutions vii 41 
(Hahn 3 p. 139) is Lucian s, and that the Fourth Creed of Antioch more closely 
resembles this Creed than the Second does. But the resemblance is not in any case 
at all close, and the attribution of the Creed in the Apostolic Constitutions to Lucian 
is quite hypothetical (though its basis may well have been the old Baptismal Creed 
of Antioch).] The assumption of a mistake seems unnecessary. The bishops state 
ment that they had found it in the writings of Lucian (see Sozomen) would not be 
inconsistent with its having been touched up here and there before the Council 
approved it. (See Hahn 3 pp. 139 and 184.) 


Opposition of the West to any New Creed Council of Sardica 343 

Constans refused to receive the deputation. The Western 
bishops were averse to any tinkering with the Creed, and, in the 
hope of putting a stop to it, Constans, with the assent of Con- 
stantius, summoned a general Council to meet at Sardica. 1 The 
Council met in 343, but the division between East and West 
revealed itself at once. The Western bishops refused to ratify 
the decisions against Athanasius, and the Eastern bishops there 
upon withdrew and held a Council of their own at Philippopolis, 
at which they reaffirmed the condemnation of Athanasius and 
approved a Creed which was substantially the same as the Fourth 
of Antioch with the addition of new anathemas. 2 

The Westerns, left to themselves, declared Athanasius and 
Marcellus innocent of offence and protested against the wicked 
ness of their accusers. An explanation of the Nicene Creed was 
proposed but not adopted (though it is included in the circular 
letter announcing the proceedings of the Council). 3 In its stead 
a denunciation of any one who proposed a new Creed was agreed 
to. The Faith had been declared once for all and no change was 
to be considered this was the attitude of the Western bishops 
throughout the whole period of the controversy from the Council 
of Nicaea onwards. 

Renewed Attempts to secure a non-Nicene Creed 

But in the following year (344-345) another synod that 
met at Antioch to deal with the case of the Bishop Stephen put 
out a fresh edition of the Fourth Creed of 341 (actually drawn 
up early in 342), with such expansions of the anathemas and 
such elaborate explanations intended to conciliate the West that 
it reached unprecedented dimensions and was known as the long- 
lined or prolix Creed (the Macrostich). 4 The positive senti- 

1 In Dacia, in the dominions of Constans, between Constantinople and Servia the 
modern Sophia in Bulgaria. According to Theodoret H.E. ii 6, two hundred and 
fifty bishops met ; according to Socrates and Sozomen, following Athanasius, about 
three hundred : but see Gwatkin s note as to the real number present (Studies of 
Arianism 2 p. 125). Hosius, Athanasius, and Marcellus were among them. 

2 Hahn 3 p. 190 (a Latin version). 

3 See Theodoret H.E. ii 6-8, and Hahn 3 p. 188. 

4 /AaKp6cmxos 2/c0e<ns so Sozomen (H.E. iii 11) says it was called. The Creed 
ia given by Socrates H.E. ii 19, and Halm 3 pp. 192-196. 


ments contained in it are for the most part unexceptionable : as 
when the eternal Sonship is maintained and the Arian phrases 
are rejected as unscriptural and dangerous and intruding on the 
incomprehensible mystery of divine processes, and the subordina 
tion of the Son is asserted but balanced by words declaring him 
to be by nature true and perfect God and like the Father in all 
things ; l or when the expression not begotten by the will of 
the Father is denounced in the sense that it imposes necessity 
on God, whereas He is independent and free and unfettered in 
His action ; or when the mutual inseparable union of Father and 
Son in a single deity is proclaimed. Yet the Nicene position 
is being covertly turned all through, and the real sympathies 
of the authors of this Creed are shewn in the incidental use 
of the phrase * like the Father in all things (which was soon 
to become the watchword of the Semi- Arian party), and in 
the peculiarly strong expressions which are used in condemna 
tion of Marcellus and Photinus 2 and all who thought as they 

In 346 Athanasius was recalled from exile and for the next 
ten years enjoyed a hard-won period of peace. This suspension 
of hostilities was mainly due to the political troubles of the 
time, which absorbed the energies of those friends without whose 
help the enemies of the Nicenes could do little against them. 
During this time, however, two events of the first importance 

Pacification of the Conservatives by Condemnation of Photinus 

In 351 a synod was held at Sirmium at which Photinus, the 
chief follower of Marcellus, was condemned and deposed. 3 This 
meant the final overthrow of the ideas attributed to Marcellus. 
In future the Conservatives had nothing to fear from that 
quarter. They could breathe freely again so far as Sabellianism 
was concerned. And so they were at liberty to reconsider their 
position in relation to their Arian allies, with whom the dread of 
* confusion of the persons had united them, and to reflect whether 

1 The use of this phrase T Trarpl /card -rrdvTa, Sfjioiov is notable, but it does not 
occur conspicuously till 359 (see infra p. 182). 

2 2/fore 6s, Son of Darkness rather than of Light his opponents perversion 
of his name, it seems is the form which Athanasius gives. 

3 For the Creed of this synod (the Fourth of Antioch with new anathemas) 
see Halm 3 p. 196. 



after all Arianism was compatible with the doctrine of the Lord s 

Developement of Extreme Form of Arianism 

By the death of Constans in 350 Constantius was left sole 
emperor, without the restraining influence of any colleague of 
Nicene convictions ; and, as soon as he had secured his position 
against revolt, he was free to indulge to the full his own fanatical 
Arian sympathies. And so, under these favourable conditions, 
there was fostered an extremer developement of Arianism (winning 
adherents in the West as well as in the East) than might other 
wise have found expression, the leaders of the new party being 
Aetius, 1 Eunomius, 2 and Eudoxius. 3 

At Councils held by Constantius in 353 at Aries, after the 
defeat and death of Magnentius, and in 355 at Milan, 4 the con 
demnation of Athanasius was voted; and in 356 took place a 

1 Aetius actively attacked the teaching of the semi- Arian bishops Basil of Aucyra 
and Eustathius of Sebaste. Gallus, who was at the time in charge of the Government 
at Antioch, ordered him to be put to death by crurifragium , but he was rescued by 
the intercession of friends. A short treatise in forty-seven theses, and a preface 
written by him defending his use of the watchword di>6[j.oios against misrepre 
sentation of his opponents, are preserved in Epiph. adv. Haer. Ixxvi, and letters 
to Constantius in Socr. H.E. ii 35. He was condemned at Ancyra in 358 and at 
Constantinople in 360 ; recalled by Julian and made a bishop ; but he had chequered 
fortunes till his death in 367 (see Socr. II. E. ii 35, and Diet. Christian Eiog. Aetius ). 

2 Eunomius, the pupil and secretary of Aetius, was the chief exponent of Ano- 
moeanism. His writings were numerous, but were regarded as so blasphemous that 
successive imperial edicts (from the time of Arcadius in 398, four years after his 
death) ordered them to be burnt, and made the possession of them a capital crime. 
Against him in particular Basil and Gregory wrote. (See Art. D.C.B.) 

3 Eudoxius, described by Gwatkin (op. cit. p. 175 n.) as perhaps the worst of the 
whole gang , a disciple of Aetius and friend of Eunomius, and after him the leader 
of the Anomoean party, was ordained and made Bishop of Germanica (on the 
confines of Syria, Cilicia, and Cappadocia) after the deposition of Eustathius (331), 
who had refused him orders as unsound in doctrine. Having improperly procured 
his election to the see of Antioch (347-348), he managed to hold his position till 
359, when the Council of Seleuceia deposed him ; but by court influence he was 
appointed patriarch of Constantinople in 360 in succession to Macedonius, and by 
the favour of Constantius and Valens was able to resist opposition till his death in 
370. He seems to have been entirely lacking in reverence, and incredibly self- 
confident (see Art. D.C.B.). 

4 See Soz. H.E. iv 9. Only some half-dozen bishops opposed and protested, and 
were exiled by imperial decree. Socrates, however (H.E. ii 36), represents the 
protest as effectual. It was on this occasion, when the orthodox bishops refused to 
sign the condemnation of Athanasius as being against the canon of the Church, that 
Constantius made his famous utterance "Let my will be deemed the Canon". 
Gwatkin (p. 149) says "the Council . . . only yielded at last to open violence". 
Three bishops, including Lucifer of Calaris, were exiled. 


savage assault on his Church at Alexandria, his narrow escape 
and retirement into exile in the desert, and the apparently com 
plete overthrow of the Nicene party in the East. This third 
exile of Athanasius lasted till 362, and during this time the fate 
of Arianism was really settled, though twenty years more elapsed 
before the victory was finally won. 

The ultimate issue was made clear by the effect of the 
[Second] Council of Sirmium in 357. Under the leadership of 
Valens, 1 Ursacius, 1 and Germinius, 2 the bishops agreed to a Creed 
which hints that the Son is not really God, declares with em 
phasis the superiority of the Father and the subjection of the 
Son along with all other things, and forbids the use of the term 
substance or essence (being) in any form, whether of one 
substance or of like substance (or being) , on account of the 
difficulties to which such terms have given rise, and because they 
are not to be found in the Scriptures and transcend human 
knowledge. 3 Such a declaration was of course a strongly Arian 
manifesto ; Anomoean even in effect, since it condemns of 
like essence no less than the Nicene of one essence . And 
as such it was at once denounced, and by the name which 
Hilary, the great champion of the Nicene Faith in the West, 4 

1 Valens and Ursacius had been personal disciples of Arius, probably during his 
exile into Illyricum after Nicaea. Later on they found it politic to profess con 
servative principles (see Socr. II. E. ii 37), and seem to have held a very confused 
doctrine. In 347, at a Council at Milan, they confessed the falsehood of the 
charges against Athanasius, but that there was no genuine recantation of Arian 
views is proved by their part in the Sirmium blasphemy . After that, they 
formed the Homoean party in the West (Acacius in the East), on what seemed to 
be the line of least resistance, and accepted the Dated Creed at the Sirmium 
conference in 359, where Valens distinguished himself by trying to omit the words 
Kara ira,vra. They were at Ariminum and Nice, and Valens by artful dissembling 
and jugglery with words succeeded in getting Arianizing phrases adopted. Valens 
was Bishop of Mursa in Pannonia and Ursacius of Singidunum (Belgrade). 

2 Germinius was Bishop of Sirmium. 

3 The Creed is in Halm 3 p. 199 (Latin), and (Greek) Ath. dc Syn. 28 ; Socr. 
E.H. ii 30. 0/j.oiovffiov occurs here for the first time. 

4 Though the West never felt the stress of the Arian controversy to the same extent 
as the East, and was fortunate in having for some time emperors who favoured the 
Nicene rather than the Arian cause, yet the work of Hilary, a religious layman elected 
Bishop of Poictiers in 353 ( the Athanasius of the West ), and Ambrose in establish 
ing the Homoousian doctrine must not be passed by in any account of its history. 

Arianism was strongly (and at times violently) championed in Gaul by such men 
as Ursacius, Valens, and Saturninus ; and after the Council of Milan in 355, at 
which the condemnation of Athanasius was pronounced, Hilary and a number of 
other bishops withdrew from communion with the three, who thereupon, by repre 
sentations (probably false) to the emperor, secured an edict banishing Hilary to 


suggested the blasphemy of Sirmium 1 it has since been 

Phrygia (356). The exile lasted three years, and during it Hilary carried on the 
war against Arianism by his writings, de Synodis (conciliatory as Athanasius was 
towards semi-Arians, who seemed really to accept the Nicene teaching but to stumble 
at the Nicene terms) and de Trinitate. And on his return, till his death in 360, by 
zeal tempered by tact and mutual explanations of uncertain terms, he effectively 
won over the waverers and reduced the Arian party to the smallest dimensions. 
(See J. G. Cazenove Hilarius Pictav. , D.C.B. ; and for his doctrinal teaching 
especially Dorner Doctrine of the Person of Christ Eug. tr. div. i vol. ii p. 399 If. ) 

Hardly less important was the work of Ambrose later like Hilary, a layman 
suddenly elevated to the episcopate to be a pillar of the Faith (Bishop of Milan 
374-397). The successor of the Arian bishop Auxentius, and unflinching in his 
resistance by word and by deed to Arianism, however supported in imperial circles, 
he steadily maintained the Catholic teaching against all heresy. As a diligent 
student and warm admirer of the Greek theologians, especially Basil, he exerted all 
his great influence to secure the complete victory of the Nicene doctrine in the West. 
(See especially De fide ad Gratianum (ed. Hurter, vol. 30) and De Spiritu S.) 

1 The blasphemy of Sirmium runs as follows : Since there was thought to be 
some dispute concerning the faith, all the questions were carefully dealt with and 
examined at Sirmium, in the presence of our brothers and fellow-bishops Valens, 
Ursacius, and Germinius. It is certain that there is one God, all-ruling and Father, 
as is believed through the whole world, and His only Son Jesus Christ, the Lord, 
our Saviour, begotten from (the Father) Himself before the ages : but that two gods 
cannot and ought not to be preached, for the Lord himself said I shall go to my 
Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God (John 20 17 ). Therefore there 
is one God of all, as the Apostle taught : Is God God of the Jews only ? is He not 
also of the Gentiles ? Yea, of the Gentiles also. Since there is one God, who justifies 
the circumcision from faith and the uncircumcision through faith (Rom. S 29 so ). 
And everything else too was concordant and could not be at all discrepant. But 
as regards the disturbance caused to some or many with regard to substance, which 
is called in Greek usia, that is to make it more clearly understood homousion, or 
the term homocusion, no mention at all of it ought to be made and no one ought to 
preach it for this cause and reason, that it is not contained in the divine Scriptures 
and that it is beyond human knowledge, and no one can declare the nativity of the 
Son, concerning whom it is written Who shall declare his generation ? (Isa. 53 8 ). 
For it is plain that only the Father knows how he begat His Son, and the Son how 
he was begotten by the Father. There is no uncertainty that the Father is greater : 
it cannot be doubtful to any one that the Father is greater than the Son in honour 
and dignity and renown and majesty, and in the very name of Father, since he 
himself testifies He who sent me is greater than I am (John 14 28 ). And no one 
is ignorant that this is Catholic that there are two persons of Father and SOD, 
that the Father is greater, the Son subject along with all the things which the 
Father subjected to Himself; that the Father has not a beginning, is invisible, is 
immortal, is impassible ; that the Son, however, has been born from the Father, God 
from God, light from light the Son whose generation, as has been said before, no 
one knows except his Father ; that the Son of God, our Lord and God, himself, as 
is read, took upon him flesh or body, that is, man (humanity), from the womb of 
the Virgin Mary, even as the angel proclaimed. And as all the Scriptures teach, 
and particularly the Apostle himself the master (teacher) of the Gentiles, (we know) 
that from the Virgin Mary he took man (humanity), by means of which he shared 
in suffering. Futhcrmore, the chief thing and the confirmation of the whole faith 
is that a Trinity should always be maintained, as we read in the Gospel, Go ye and 


known. 1 It was much too late in the day to seek to make peace 
by snatching the bone of contention away. A coalition formed 
with such an idea was bound to fail ; but it did much worse 
it played into the hands of Arianism, and, whatever the East 
was, it was not really Arian. And so the coalition fell to pieces. 
Its Arian members had gone too far, and in the moment of 
victory they lost their half-unconscious allies. At a synod held 
at Antioch early in the following year, it is true, the flagrant blas 
phemies of Aetius and Eunomius were allowed by the president, 
Eudoxius, to pass ; but the moderates ( Conservatives ) were the 
more stimulated to take immediate action. 

Protests of the Moderates in the East 

They held a counter meeting at Ancyra under Basil, the 
bishop, at which they anathematized in general every one who 
did not faithfully confess the essential likeness of the Son to 
the Father, and in particular (with reference to numerous 
passages in the Gospel according to St John) all who so mis 
interpreted the sayings of Jesus as to conceive him to be 
unlike the Father. 2 The anathemas covered all the extreme 

baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 
(Matt. 28 19 ). Entire and complete is the number of the Trinity. And the Paraclete 
the Spirit is through the Son, and he was sent and came according to the promise 
to build up, to teach, to sanctify the Apostles and all believers." 

[It will be noted that the Father is here stated to be invisible and incapable of 
suffering, and the Son in contrast to Him is regarded as passible, joining in the 
suffering of his human nature. The Son as a divine being is contrasted with the 
human nature whicli he assumed. A reference in the explanation of the Creed 
which was offered at Sardica in 343 in order to repudiate Arian conceptions (Halm 3 
p. 189), " This (sc. the Spirit) did not suffer, but the human nature (fodpuTcos) which 
he put on suffered which he assumed from Mary the Virgin, the human nature 
which is capable of suffering", shews that Arian s taught that the divine nature 
itself in the Incarnate Christ shared the suffering. That is, no doubt, the view in 
tended here. Such teaching obviously makes the divine nature of the Son (passible) 
different from the divine nature of the Father (impassible), and as such it was 
repudiated by the opponents of Arianism. The later exact teaching of Cyril of 
Alexandria and Leo on the subject (see infra pp. 268, 290) was already in some con 
nexions expressed by Athanasius (Or. c. Ar. iii 31-33), as it had been previously by 
Tertullian (see swpra p. 144).] 

1 See Hilary de Synodis 11 and adv. Constantium 23. Hosius, Bishop of Cordova 
to whose suggestion the term Homoousios at Nicaea was probably due Avas present 
at this synod, and was compelled by violence to sign the Creed (see Soz. II. E. iv 6). 
So Hilary could call it also the ravings of Hosius , a singularly uncharitable 
obiter dictum in view of all the facts and the great services of Hosius. 

3 See Halm 3 p. 201. 


Arian theses, and the emphatic declaration that the Son was 
like the Father even in essence (i.e. in his very being) was 
at this juncture just the bridge which was needed to lead 
wanderers back to the Nicene faith in its fulness. But now 
the moderates went too far for the temper of the time. The 
good effects of their action were largely undone when they 
procured a sentence of exile against Aetius, Eudoxius, and a 
large number of the Anomoean party, whom Constantius obliged 
them to recall after an Arian deputation had put their case 
before him. And so there was a deadlock, and a compromise 
had to be found. 

The Homoean Compromise 

A new party was formed the party of compromise 
intended to be the rallying-point of all moderates, with the 
watchword like in all respects , and the prohibition of 
technical terms. This compromise, promoted by Acacius, Bishop 
of Caesarea, was accepted by Basil of Ancyra (the president of 
the last Council) and the Emperor Constantius. To draw up a 
Creed embodying it, and to prepare the business for a great 
ecumenical Council to accept it, a conference was held at 
Sirmium, under the presidency of the emperor, in the month of 
May 359. 1 The Creed which was approved is moderate in 
tone, and unusually strong in its declarations as to the eternal 
generation of the Son ( before all the ages, and before all 
beginning, and before all conceivable time, and before all com 
prehensible being (or substance) ). But it only says, like the 
Father who begat him, according to the Scriptures , and like 
the Father in all things, as the holy Scriptures say and teach ; 
and it forbids all mention of the term substance (or essence 
or being) in reference to God, on the ground that though it was 
used in a simple or innocent sense by the Fathers, yet it was 
not understood by the people and caused difficulties, and was 

1 This was the third assembly at Sirmium within the decade, and the Creed is 
commonly counted the third of Sirmium (there was, however, one drawn up 
at Sirmium against Photinus in 347, which, strictly speaking, is the first of 
Sirmium see Hefele Councils ii 192). It was probably composed by Mark, Bishop 
of Arethusa, perhaps in Latin, but this cannot be proved (see Halm 3 p. 204, and 
Burn Introd. Hist. Creeds p. 92). The framers of the Creed prefixed a clause giving 
the date of its publication ( the eleventh day before the Calends of June May 
22). To their opponents (see Ath. de Syn. 8) it seemed ridiculous to date the 
Catholic faith, and as the Dated Creed it is commonly known. The Greek of it 
is given in Ath. de Syn. 8 ; Socr. H.E. ii 37 ; Hahn 3 p. 204. 


not contained in the Scriptures. Such was the Creed l by 
which it was hoped to unite all parties and bring back 
harmony to the Church. But though the Cabinet-meeting 
of Sirmium could agree, the new party of Homoeans (or 
Acacians , or serni-Arians ) did not really unite the Church. 
Honestly interpreted, the formula like in all things would 
cover like in substance (essence, being) and exclude all 
difference ; 2 yet the very word like seems to connote some 
difference, and the divine ova-ia of Father and Son was one 
and the same. But the emperor meant this formula to be 
accepted, and with a view to greater ease of manipulation the 
bishops were summoned to meet in two synods one for the 
Westerns at Ariminum and another for the Easterns at Seleuceia. 
The Western synod met, 3 Ursacius and Valens representing 
the Homoean cause. But the bishops were so far from accepting 
the Dated Creed that they reaffirmed the Creed of Nicaea, with 
a declaration in defence of ova-La, anathematized Arianism, and 
condemned the Homoean leaders (who at once went off to the 
emperor to secure his support), and sent a deputation to Con- 

1 The Creed is of further interest as being the first which contained the clause 
on the Descent into Hades "and went down into the nether world and set 
in order things there (TO. tKeiae oiKovo^aavra), and when the door-keeeprs of Hades 
saw him they were affrighted " (Job 38 17 LXX) a clause which probably shews the 
influence of Cyril of Jerusalem, who refers to the Descent several times, and in his 
list of ten dogmata includes it as explanatory of the burial (e.g. Cat. iv 11, 12). 

2 Basil of Ancyra, one of the cabinet , felt it necessary to draw up a statement 
that the formula ti/m.oioi> Kara TTOLVTO. really embraces everything, and is enough to 
exclude any difference between Father and Son. He shews at length that though 
the bare term ov<rla is not contained in either the old or the new Scriptures, yet 
its sense is everywhere. The Son is not called the Word of God as a mere force 
of expression (tvtpyeia XeKTiK-rj) of God, but he is Son (a definite hypostasis) and 
therefore oixrla, and so the Fathers called him. He then goes on to describe and 
to argue against Arian and semi-Arian tenets, and, referring to the attempt to 
proscribe ovaia, says they wished to do away with the name oixria. in order that if 
it were no longer uttered by the mouth their heresy might grow in the hearts of 
men. He suspects they will be caught writing like in will and purpose , but 
unlike in oixria . But if they bond fide accept like in all things , then they 
gain nothing by getting rid of the term. For it makes the Son like the Father 
not only in regard to purpose and energy , as they define it, but also in regard 
to his original being and his personal existence, and in regard to his very being 
as Son. In a word, he declares the formula in all things embraces absolutely 
everything and admits of no difference. See Epiphanius Haer. Ixx iii 12-22 
(esp. 15). [It is the theology of Basil of Ancyra expressed in this treatise that 
Harnack regards as ultimately adopted, with developements, by the Cappadocians 
Basil and the Gregories. See infra p. 193.] See Additional Note on 6/j.oiov<rio$ and 
the Homoeans infra p. 192. 

3 See Socr. H.E. ii 37. 


Btantius to explain affairs and urge that no change ought to be 
allowed. The emperor shewed all honour to Ursacius and 
Valens, and sent back the other deputation with a dilatory 
reply, so that at last the bishops of the Council, without being 
formally dissolved, returned to their cities. And then some 
how or other at Nice in Thrace, near Hadrianople, a few 
bishops (whether the original deputies, or the partisans of 
Ursacius 1 only, is uncertain) published as the work of the 
Council of Ariminum a revised translation of the Dated Creed, 2 
in which the expression * likeness is weakened by the omission 
of in all things . 

Meanwhile the Eastern synod met at Seleuceia. The majority 
were moderate and wished simply to reaffirm the Creed 
of the Dedication of 341. But the leading spirit was Acacius, 
and in view of the present distress caused by the difficulties 
with regard to Homo-ousion and Homoi-ousion and the new term 
Anomoion (un-like), a declaration was put forward 3 rejecting all 
three terms and anathematizing all who used them, and simply 
declaring the likeness of the Son to the Father, in the sense 
intended by the Apostle when he said (Col. I 15 ), " who is the 
image of the unseen God ". And the Creed concludes with an 
assertion that it is equivalent to the one put forward at 
Sirmium earlier in the year. The leaders of the extreme Arian 
party were thus conjoined with the upholders of the Nicene faith, 
and all alike were put under the ban. It was of the proceedings 
of this year that Jerome said, " The whole world groaned and 
wondered to find itself Arian ". 4 

A Council held immediately afterwards at Constantinople 
(Dec. 359) completed the work, and early in the year 360 the 
modified form of the Dated Creed, which had been signed at 

1 Cf. Socr. I.e. with Ath. de Syn. 30. 

2 Hahn 3 p. 205. The phrases now run, like the Father according to the 
Scriptures and even as the holy Scriptures say and teach , and the expression pla 
vTrbo-rao-is also is forbidden. 

3 Hahn 3 p. 206. This declaration was not really accepted by the synod, which 
the Quaestor Leonas dissolved, as agreement seemed impossible ; but the principle 
of it was assented to by the deputies sent to Constantius from the synod. (A 
majority of the Council even deposed Acacius, Eudoxius, and others ; but their 
sentence was disregarded.) 

4 Jerome Dial. adv. Lutif. 19 (Migne P.L. xxiii p. 172). On the Councils of 
Ariminum and Seleucia (and the whole question), see the great work of Athanasius 
de Synodis, written while he was in exile (359), before he heard of the subsequent 
proceedings, references to which were afterwards inserted. Its real aim was to 


Nice (with in all things omitted), was issued as the faith 
of the Church 1 and the victory of Arianism in the Homoean 
form was apparently complete. As representative and scape 
goat of the Anomoeans, Aetius was abandoned excommunicated 
and deposed; butEudoxius and Acacius triumphed. Comprehen 
sion was secured on these conditions. The Homoean formula 
allowed the freedom which was desired, and admitted all who 
repudiated the unlikeness of the Father and the Son. It was 
the authorized Creed for the next twenty years, though all 
the time the way back to the full acceptance of Homo- 
ousion was being prepared. 

Gradual Conversion of Semi-Arians and Convergence of Parties 
to the Nicene Definition 

The first turning-point was the death of Constantius in 
361. In the early part of the following year Athanasius re 
turned to his see and held a synod at Alexandria, at which the 
Creed of Nicaea was of course presupposed. The synod decided 
that all that should be required of Arians who wished to be re 
admitted to communion 2 was that they should accept this test, 
and anathematize Arianism and the view which spoke of the 
Holy Spirit as a creature. 3 The Arian teaching as to the con 
stituents of the person of Christ came under consideration, and 
the integrity of his human nature and its perfect union with 
the Word was asserted. 4 Furthermore, in connexion with the 

convince the genuine semi-Arians that nothing but bpooixriov would suffice, and 
that it really was what they meant ( 41-54). 

1 Halm 3 p. 208. It was at this Council that Macedonius, Bishop of Alex 
andria, ordained by Arian bishops in opposition to Paul and Athanasius, was 
deposed. See infra Doctrine of the Holy Spirit p. 212. 

2 Lucifer of Calaris, who had been exiled to Egypt, was present at the Council. 
He could not agree to the Arians obtaining veniam ex poenitcntia. Hence his 
schism. He too who had consecrated Paulinus in opposition to Meletius at Antioch. 

3 The Arian thesis with regard to the Son was being extended to the Holy 
Spirit, and apparently some, who were now willing to accept the Nicene teaching 
as to the Son, still wished to be free from any similar definition as to the Holy 
Spirit, and to distinguish between them in regard to deity. See infra pp. 206, 209. 

4 This was in opposition to the christological conceptions already noted (supra 
p. 160), which were destined to excite greater attention Jwhen championed in 
another interest by Apollinarius. "They confessed", writes Athanasius, "that 
the Saviour had not a body without a soul, nor without sense or intelligence ; for 
it was not possible, when the Lord had become man for us, that his body should 
be without intelligence ; nor was the salvation effected in the "Word himself a 
salvation of body only, but of soul also " (Tom. ad Ant. 7). 



most practical problem before the Council the position of 
affairs at Antioch, the dissensions between the Nicene party 
(Eustathians) and the Homoiousian party (Meletians) the 
meaning of the word hypostasis in relation to the Godhead 
was discussed. It was recognized that two usages were current, 
and that questions of words ought not to be allowed to divide 
those who really agreed in idea. Both one hypostasis and 
1 three hypostases could bo said in a pious sense. The 
former was in accordance with the usage of the Creed of 
Nicaea, in which the word is an equivalent for ovcla ; the 
latter was equally accurate when the phrase was used to 
signify not three divine substances (three gods), but three 
eternal modes of the existence of the one divine substance 
(three * persons ). In the East there had been some disposition 
to use the word hypostasis in this latter sense the usage 
which finally prevailed ; but since the time of the Dionysii the 
question had not arisen ; and to get behind the terms to the 
sense in which they were used, and so to reveal to the disputants 
the merely verbal nature of their apparent difference, was a 
conspicuous success achieved by Athanasius. 1 

But hardly was the Council over when Athanasius was again 
expelled by Julian from his diocese to return a little more 
than a year later by the new emperor s consent. 

In 363 a Council at Antioch too reaffirmed the Creed 
of Nicaea, 2 but with a significant explanation of the keyword of 
the Creed. Homoousion, suspected by some, has received from 
the Fathers a safe interpretation to signify that the Son 
was begotten from the ovcia of the Father and that he is 
like the Father in ova-ia ; and they add that it is not taken 
in any sense in which it is used by the Greeks, but simply to 
repudiate the impious Arian assertion in regard to Christ that 
he was from nothing . 

A short-lived revival of Arianism marked the year 364, 
and some renewal of persecution by the Augustus Valens in 

1 See the account of the Council in the Letter which he wrote to the Church of 
Antioch (the Tomus ad Antiochenos] calm and conciliatory, the crown of his 
career urging them to peace. Both sides are represented as agreeing to give up 
the use of the terms in dispute and to be content with the expression of the 
faith contained in the Creed of Nicaea. 

2 This was the work of the Acacians, to gain the support of Meletius, who was 
in high estimation with the Emperor Jovian. Their acceptance of the Nicene 
Creed may therefore have been to some extent opportunist. See Socr. H.E. iii 25. 


the following year drove Athanasius again into banishment for 
the winter, but the revolt of Procopius and the indignation of 
the people of Alexandria led to his speedy recall early in 366, 
and the remaining seven years of his life were free from any 
such disturbance. 

A Council was held at Larnpsacus in the autumn of 364, at 
which the formula like in essence was accepted, but its sup 
porters were powerless to take decisive action against opponents 
who were favoured by Valens. Imperial influence effectually 
barred the way to the complete establishment of the Mcene faith. 

In 375 Valentinian was succeeded by Gratian, who was 
entirely led by Ambrose ; but it was not till Valens was killed 
in 378, and Theodosius a strong Nicene was appointed by 
Gratian in his place, that the unanimity of the emperors made 
possible for the Church as a whole the restoration of the Creed 
for which the struggle had been so long maintained. 

Final Victory of the Nicene Interpretation at the Council 
of Constantinople 

The Council which met at last in 381 1 at the capital, Con 
stantinople, solemnly ratified the faith of the Council of Nicaea 

1 Only Eastern bishops were present, and Meletius of Antioeh, who was held 
in universal estimation (though he had been so much distrusted in the West), was 
appointed to preside. Gregory of Nazianzus had already been some time in Con 
stantinople, hard at work building up the Nicene faith in his Church of the 
Anastasia, since Gratian s edict of toleration in 379 had made it possible again to 
give the Catholics of Constantinople a diocesan administrator. But as bishop only 
of the insignificant Sasima, he had hardly ecclesiastical rank enough to preside. 
The first act of the Council was to appoint him, much against his will, Bishop of 
Constantinople; and on the death of Meletius, shortly after the beginning of the 
synod, he naturally took the place of president. When, however, the synod 
insisted on electing a successor to Meletius, and so continuing the schism at 
Antioeh (in violation of the agreement that when either of the two bishops 
Meletius and Paul died, the survivor should be acknowledged by both parties) ; 
and when the Egyptian bishops (who probably desired the recognition of Maximus, 
an Alexandrine, who had been previously secretly consecrated Bishop of Constanti 
nople) protested against Gregory s appointment as a violation of the Nicene canon 
which forbade the removal of a bishop from one see to another ; Gregory insisted 
on resigning and was succeeded by Nectarius. See Hefele Councils vol. ii p. 340 ff. 

The West had no part in the Council, and it was not till 451 that it took rank 
as ecumenical the Second General Council and then only in respect of its decrees 
on faith (the canons as to the status of the Bishop of Constantinople not being 
accepted at Rome). 

In preparing the way for the acceptance of the Nicene definitions the work of 
Gregory and Basil and Gregory of Nyssa the Cappadocian Fathers had been of 
highest value. See further in legard to them Chapter XIII. 


in its original shape, 1 and condemned all forms of Arian teach 
ing ; and edicts of Theodosius were issued in accordance with 

1 No new Creed was framed (see Socr. II. E. v 8, and Soz. H.E. vii 9). An en 
larged Creed, afterwards known as the Creed of the Council of Constantinople, was 
apparently entered in the Acts of the Council (which are not extant), as it was read 
out from them at the Council of Chalcedon. Possibly it was the Creed professed 
by Nectarius on his baptism and consecration as Bishop of Constantinople during 
the progress of the Council. See Kunze Das nicdnisch-konstantinopolitanische 
Symbol, and A. E. Burn Guardian, March 13, 1901. Possibly Cyril of Jerusalem, 
whose orthodoxy had been more than doubtful (he certainly disliked the test- 
word homoousios), and who on this occasion publicly proclaimed his adherence 
to the homoousian formula (see Socr. I.e.), recited in evidence of his opinions the 
form of Creed which was in use in his Church a form based upon the old Baptismal 
Creed of Jerusalem (which can be gathered from his catechetical lectures on it in 
348-350) revised and augmented from the Creed of Nicaea about 362, after he 
was reinstated in his bishopric. And this Creed, being approved by the Council, 
was entered in the Acts though not intended for publication and general use ; 
and then, inasmuch as it was manifestly useful in view of later developements of 
teaching as to the Holy Spirit, it passed into wider currency, and came at length 
to be regarded as a Creed drawn up on this occasion by the authority of the 
Council itself. (As early as the very year following the Council a synod of 
bishops who met at Constantinople, in a letter to Damasus, Bishop of Rome, 
referred to a more expanded confession of the faith recently set forth in Con 
stantinople.) It is certain that a Creed almost identical with that which tradition 
came to attribute to the Council was in existence seven years before the Council 
met, when it was appended to an exposition of the Faith (styled 6 AyKvpwT6s 
Ancoratus the Anchored One), composed by Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis (Con- 
stantia), in Cyprus. The connexion of Salamis with Jerusalem (its metropolis) would 
lead to the use of the same form of Creed in both places. Epiphanius seems to 
regard it as the faith of the 318 bishops who met at Nicaea; but it is scarcely 
possible that such an error could have been made at the Council itself, and there 
is no evidence that the enlarged Creed was adopted by this Council except the 
unsupported statement of the deacon Aetius at the Council of Chalcedon seventy 
years later. At this Council of Chalcedon the genuine Nicene Creed was received 
with enthusiasm as the baptismal confession of all (it had apparently been adopted 
as such in the first half of the fifth century), but the so-called Constantinopolitan 
only as the true faith. It is obviously not based on the Niceue Creed, though 
in close agreement with its teaching as to the Person of Christ. Thus it does not 
contain the clause K rijs ovffias rov irarpds, one of the most contested of Nicene 
phrases, nor God from God (though this was afterwards inserted in the Western 
versions of the Creed) ; nor things in heaven and things in earth , in the clause 
attributing creation to Christ. The first of these clauses could be dispensed with 
more easily when there was no longer danger of Sabellian ideas threatening the 
personality of the Son ; and though it is true that no words so effectually pre 
clude the possibility of the Homoean interpretation of the Creed, yet Athanasius 
always insisted that they were only an explanation of ^/c rov irarpfa (see Addi 
tional Note). To sum up (1) All the historians of the Council say that it was 
(only) the Nicene Creed that was affirmed. (2) There is no evidence during the 
seventy years after the Council that anybody thought there had been an enlarged 
Creed drawn up then. At Ephesus in 431 no mention was made of any but the 
Creed of Nicaea. (3) The enlarged Creed in question was in existence seven years 
before the Council, and. was probably drawn up still earlier (perhaps c. 362). (4) It 


the decisions of the Council forbidding Arians to occupy the 
existing churches or to build new ones for themselves. 
Attempts were made to bring Arians over and unite them to 
the Church ; but, when they proved unsuccessful, the heresy was 
rigorously suppressed by force and expelled from the greater 
part of the empire. 1 

has as its basis not the Nicene Creed, but the Baptismal Creed of Jerusalem (being 
an enlarged edition of the latter with Nicene corrections and amendments). See 
Hort Two Dissertations. It is possible that before the time of the Council of 
Chalcedon it had been taken into use as the baptismal Creed of the Church of Con 
stantinople (so Kunze argues op. cit.). The traditional view of the origin of the 
Constantinopolitan Creed has recently been again championed by a Russian 
scholar, Professor Lebedeff. of Moscow (see Journal of Theological Studies vol. iv 
p. 285), who considers that the Creed given in the Ancoratus was really the Nicene 
Creed, as Epiphanius describes it, and that the form in which it now stands in the 
texts is due to the work of a copyist who interpolated into the original Nicene 
form additions from the (genuine) Constantinopolitan Creed. His argument will 
need careful examination ; but meanwhile at all events the view stated above holds 
the field. See also infra pp. 214-217. 

1 Though Arianism was thus banished from the Church of the Roman Empire it 
became the faith of the barbarian invaders of the empire and of the Gothic soldiers 
in the armies of the empire. The whole Gothic nation (with their successive rulers, 
Alaric, Genseric, Theodoric) were Arians from the days of the great work among 
them of the Arian bishop Ulphilas. The Lombards were Arian till the time of 
Queen Theodelinda, at the end of the sixth century. So were the Visigoths in Spain 
till the time of King Reccared (the Council of Toledo in 589 was intended to 
emphasize the national renunciation of Arianism ; and the unconscious addition, 
on this occasion, of the words et a Filio to the clause on the procession of the 
Spirit well illustrates the intention). The Franks alone of Teutons were free from 

The familiar form of the Gloria in all Western liturgies in which the three 
Persons are co-ordinated instead of other variable forms also witnesses to the 
struggle. And the Creed which contains the Homoousion was first ordered to be 
used before the Eucharist to guard against Arian intruders. 

Of the causes of the failure of Arianism, Prof. Gwatkin writes (op. cit. p. 265) : "It 
was an illogical compromise. It went too far for heathenism, not far enough for 
Christianity. It conceded Christian worship to the Lord, though it made him no 
better than a heathen demi-god. As a scheme of Christianity it was overmatched 
at every point by the Nicene doctrine, as a concession to heathenism it was out 
bid by the growing worship of saints and relics. Debasing as was the error of 
turning saints into demi-gods, it seems to have shocked Christian feeling less than 
the Arian audacity which degraded the Lord of Saints to the level of his creatures." 
In breadth of view and grasp of doctrine Athanasius was beyond comparison 
superior to the Arians. Arianism was indeed "a mass of presumptuous theoris 
ing, supported by scraps of obsolete traditionalism and uncritical text-mongering 
and, besides, a lifeless system of unspiritual pride and hard uulovingness ". 

The victory of o/xooucrios was clearly a victory of reason. It was, further, the 
triumph of the conviction that in Jesus of Nazareth had actually been revealed a 
Saviour in whom the union of humanity and deity was realized. 

And there is no doubt that "Arian successes began and ended with Arian command 
of the palace". "Arianism worked through out by Court intrigue and military outrage." 



The chief authorities for the teaching of Marcellus, the chief repre 
sentative of the supposed Sabellian tendencies of the Nicene Christo- 
logy* ? are two treaties of Eusebius of Caesarea (contra Marcellum and 
de Ecclesiastica Theologid), which contain extracts from his own work 
On the Subjection of the Son ; a letter to Julius in Epiphanius Haer. 
Ixxii ; fragments of a writing of Acacius against him, and a Creed of 
the Marcellians, also in Epiphanius, I.e. (Migne P.Gr. xlii 383-388, 
395400). In Athanasius Or. c. Ar. iv (as Newman thinks, and Zahn 
insists) the system of Marcellus is probably attacked (without his 
name). See Th. Zahn Marcellus von Ancyra, Gotha, 1867. 

He was Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia (perhaps as early as 315), and 
at Nicaea was one of the minority whose persistence secured the inser 
tion of the test-word 6/xoovo-ios ; and after the Council he wrote his 
treatise Trept TT}S TOV viov vTrorayrjs against Asterius the literary repre 
sentative of the Arians. His own interpretation, however, was by no 
means to the mind of the dominant (Eusebian) party, and was called 
in question at successive synods at Tyre and Jerusalem, and at Con 
stantinople in 335, when he was deposed from his office on the charge 
of teaching false doctrine. Eusebius of Caesarea took in hand the 
refutation of his theories, and from his treatises it appears that Mar 
cellus agreed with the Arians that the conceptions of Sonship and 
of generation implied the subordination of the Son, who was thus 
generated he must have had a beginning and be inferior to the 
Father; he could be neither co-equal nor co-eternal. The notion of 
Sonship was accordingly improperly applied to the divine in Christ; 
it referred only to the person incarnate, as the use of the term in 
Scripture shewed. Of the eternal the divine element in Christ 
there was one term only used : not Son, but Logos. The Logos is the 
eternally immanent power of God, dwelling in him from eternity, 
manifested in operation in the creation of the world, and for the 
purpose of the redemption of mankind taking up a dwelling in Christ, 
and so becoming for the first time in some sense personal. The 
God-man thus coming into being is called, and is, the Son of God ; but 
it is not accurate to say the Logos was begotten, nor was there any Son 
of God till the Incarnation. The title Logos is the title which must 
dominate all others, expressing as it does the primary relation. The 
relations expressed by other titles (e.g. TT/OWTOTOKOS) are only temporary 
and transient. When the work which they indicate has been effected 
the relations will cease to exist. The relation of Sonship will disappear : 
it is limited to the Incarnation and the purposes for which the Logos 
became incarnate, and the Logos will again become what he was from 
eternity, immanent in the Father. 


For theories such as these little support could be expected; they 
had too much in common with Sabellianism the bugbear of the East. 
Marcellus was regarded as teaching that the Son had no real person 
ality, but was merely the external manifestation of the Father. 

[Harnack names four contemporary objections to his system : (1) 
That he called only the Incarnate Person the Son of God ; (2) 
that he taught no real pre-existence ; (3) that he assumed an 
end of the kingdom of Christ ; (4) that he talked of an exten 
sion of the indivisible Monad.] 

Basil describes his teaching as a " heresy diametrically opposite to 
that of Arms", and says he attacked the very existence of the only- 
begotten Godhead and erroneously understood the term Word 
(implying that he taught no permanent existence of the Only-begotten, 
but only a temporary hypostasis ). See Epp. 69, 125, 263. 

It is impossible to determine how far the picture of Marcellus, which 
Eusebius gives, is coloured by the widespread fear of Sabellian views 
in the East. Either Marcellus was an arch-intriguer and trimmer, as 
some do not hesitate to style him, or he was much misrepresented. 

It must be borne in mind that opinion had scarcely yet been 
definitely formulated as to the eternity of the Son s separate existence 
in the future. St Paul s words (1 Coi 15 28 ) then shall the Son himself 
too be subjected to him t h subjected all things to him, in order that 
God may be all in all might be understood to point to an ultimate 
absorption of the Son in the Father. Tertullian, at any rate, and 
Novatian after him, had taught that the Son, when his work was 
accomplished, would again become mingled with the Father ceasing to 
have independent existence (see Novatian de Trin. 31). And probably 
the West was more influenced by Novatian s work than by any other 
systematic work on doctrine. So that on this point too support might 
be expected, in general, from the West. 

In any case it is clear he could boast, as Jerome (de Vir. ill. 86) asserts 
that he boasted, that he was fortified by communion with Julius and 
Athanasius, the chief bishops of the cities of Rome and Alexandria ; 
and Athanasius could never be induced to condemn him by name at 
all events, and late in life when an inquisitive friend questioned him 
about Marcellus he would only meet an appeal with a quiet smile 
(Epiphanius, who tells the tale, adv. Haer. Ixxii 4). In 340 a synod at 
Rome, under Julius, pronounced him orthodox ; and it is also certain 
that the Council of Sardica in 343, when the Eastern bishops had 
withdrawn, declared him orthodox. "The writings of our fellow- 
minister, Marcellus", they wrote, "were also read, and plainly evinced 
the duplicity of the adherents of Eusebius; for what Marcellus had 
simply suggested as a point of enquiry, they accused him of professing 
as a point of faith. The statements which he had made, both before 


and after the enquiry, were read, and his faith was proved to be orthodox. 
He did not affirm, as they represented, that the beginning of the Word 
of God was dated from his conception by the holy Mary, or that his 
kingdom would have an end. On the contrary, he wrote that his 
kingdom had had no beginning and would have no end" (Theodoret 
Hist, Eccl ii 6 ^. and P-N.F.). 

Hilary indeed declares that at a later time, by some rash utterances, 
and by his evident sympathy with Photinus, he came to be suspected 
by all men of heretical leanings ; but in face of the evidence it is 
difficult to suppose him heretical at the earlier time, however strong 
the extracts in Eusebius (who was clearly biassed) may seem. 

What the followers of Marcellus said for themselves may be seen 
from a statement of belief which was presented on behalf of an 
innumerable multitude by a deputation from Ancyra, sent to Athan- 
asius, in or about the year 371 (shortly before the death of Marcellus), 
under the leadership of the deacon Eugenius (see Hahn 3 p. 262). 
They expressly anathematize Sabellius and those who say that the 
Father Himself is the Son, and when the Son comes into being then 
the Father does not exist, and when the Father comes into being then 
the Son does not exist : and they proclaim belief in the eternal personal 
existence of the Son, as of the Father and the Holy Spirit ; adding a 
further anathema on any who blasphemously taught that the Son had 
his origin in the Incarnation in his birth from Mary. They thus 
clearly maintain the eternal Sonship and the reality of the three VTTOO-- 
ra<ms of the Deity. 


To say that the Son is like the Father is not at first sight open 
to objection. The expression had been widely current without protest. 
Athanasius in his earlier treatises against the Arians was content to 
speak of the Son as being like the Father (see e.g. the Depositio Arii, 
c. 323, and the Expositio Fidei, ? 328 A.D., Halm 3 p. 264), and in 
argument with Arians he does not disallow the term even later (Or. c. 
Ar. ii 34, c. 356-360 ; cf. ad. Afros 7, c, 369). But at this later time 
he used it himself in general only with qualification (e.g. Or. c. Ar. ii 
22, Kara Travra, and i 40, iii 20 ; but alone ii 17). 

So Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lectures (c. 348-350), 
while insisting on the necessity of scriptural language, and contradict 
ing the doctrines of Arius (without mentioning his name), protests 
against terms of human contrivance (Cat. v 12) and uses like the 
Father either according to the Scriptures or ( in all things . 

But as early as de Deer. 20 (c. 351-355) Athanasius had written 
that by saying the Son was "one in ouo-ta" with the Father the 


Council meant "that the Son was from the Father, and not merely 
like, but the same in likeness ..." his likeness being different 
from such as is ascribed to us : and he proceeded to shew ( 23) that 
mere likeness implies something of difference. "Nor is he like only 
outwardly, lest he seem in some respect or wholly to be other in 
ovo-ta, as brass shines like gold or silver or tin. For these are foreign 
and of other nature, are separated off from each other in nature and 
virtues, nor does brass belong to gold . . . but though they are con 
sidered like, they differ in essence." And later, de Syn. 53 (c. 359- 
361), he argued altogether against the use of the term like in 
connexion with ovo-ux on the ground that like applies to qualities 
rather than to essence . 

So Basil after him in Ep. 8 (perhaps dependent on de Syn.\ c. 360. 
" We in accordance with the true doctrine speak of the Son as neither 
like nor unlike the Father. Each of these terms is equally impossible, 
for like and unlike are predicated in relation to quality, and the divine 
is free from quality. . . . We, on the contrary, confess identity of 
nature and accept the one-ness of essence. . . . For he who is essen 
tially God is of one essence with Him who is essentially God." So it 
was that when the partial truth of likeness was put forward as the 
whole truth, the expression had to be abandoned. No form of like 
ness will really do. It would apply to some qualities and attributes 
perhaps; but in being God (that is, in their ouo-i a) Father and Son 
were not like but the same of one ovaia: in their special attributes 
and individual characteristics they were not like they were distinct 


Dr. Harnack (following Dr. Zahn and Prof. Gwatkin to some 
extent) maintains that though Homoousios triumphed at the Council 
of Constantinople and finally won its place in the Creed of the 
universal Church, yet it was accepted in the sense of Homoiousios. 
He speaks accordingly of the old and the new orthodoxy, the 
old and the new Nicenes the old being represented by the 
champions of o/^oovcrtos at Nicaea, and by the West and Alexandria, 
the new by the Antiochenes, the Cappadocians, and the Asiatics. 

Of old, he argues, it had been the unity of the Godhead that had 
stood out plain and clear: the plurality had been a mystery. But 
after 362 it was permitted to make the unity the mystery to start 
from the plurality and to reduce the unity to a matter of likeness, 
that is, to interpret Homoousios as Homoiousios, thus changing the 
* substantial unity of being into a mere likeness of being. 


This is, in effect, to say that it was permitted to believe in three 
beings with natures like each other, ova-la receiving a sense nearer to 
nature than to being . flnstead of one Godhead, existing permanently 
in three distinct forms or spheres of existence, there are three forms 
of existence of like nature with one another, which together make 
up the Godhead. T| 

It would indeed be strange if expert theologians, after so long a 
controversy, at last agreeing to reject homoiousios in favour of the Nicene 
homoousios, strained out the term and swallowed the sense. It would 
indeed be a scathing satire on the work of councils and theologians. 
It would be proof of strange incompetence and blindness on the part 
of the historians of doctrine that such a conclusion of the Arian 
controversy should only have been discovered in the nineteenth 

But this new reading of the history is a paradox. It is not really 
supported by the evidence cited in its favour. The facts when 
patiently reviewed confirm the old historical tradition and do not 
justify the new hypothesis, according to which the Church has all 
these centuries been committed to an essentially tritheistic interpreta 
tion of the Person of her Lord. [See further "The Meaning of 
Homoousios in the * Constantinopolitan Creed" Texts and Studies 
vol. vii no. 1.] 


The teaching that God called the Logos into personal existence by a 
decree, by the free action of His will, involves ideas that are inconsistent 
with the Catholic interpretation of the Gospel. It conceives God as 
already existent as a Person by Himself alone, so destroying the Trini 
tarian idea of the personality of the Godhead ; and declares that God, 
who had been thus alone, after a time brought forth the Logos, which 
he had hitherto borne within himself as one of his attributes (his in 
telligence), and endowed it with a hypostatic existence, and the Logos 
thus became a Being distinct from God Himself. The generation of the 
Logos is thus represented not as necessary, founded in the very being of 
God ; nor as eternal, although it is prior to all time : but as accidental, 
inasmuch as the Logos might have been left, as originally, impersonal. 
So the Son might never have come to a real hypostatic existence, and 
there might not have been the relation of Father and Son in the God 
head. That is to say, the Christian conception of God would be only 
de facto true, and would not be grounded in the very essence or being 
of the Godhead. 

If it were the case, as the Arians taught, that the Son was created 
* by the will of the Father , then the counsel and will preceded the 


creation ; and thus the Son is not from all eternity, but has come into 
being. There was a time (though not time as we know it) when he 
was not. Therefore he is not God as the Father is. "It was an 
Arian dialectical artifice (see Epiphanius Ancor. 51) to place before the 
Catholics this alternative : God produced his Son either of free will or 
not of free will. If you say * not of free will , then you subject the God 
head to compulsion. If you say { of free will , then you must allow that 
the will was there before the Logos. Ambrose (de Fide iv 9) answered 
that neither expression was admissible, for the matter concerned neither 
a decision of the divine will nor a compulsion of God, but an act of the 
divine nature, which as such falls under the idea neither of compulsion 
nor of freedom. To the same effect Athanasius (Or. c. Ar. iii and de 
deer. Nic. Syn.) argued that the generation, as an act )of the divine 
nature, goes far beyond an act of the will (cf. Greg. Naz. Theol. Or. iii 
3 ff.). And Cyril of Alexandria makes a distinction between the con 
comitant and the antecedent will of the Father ; maintaining that the 
former, but not the latter, is concerned with the generation of the Son 
(o-uVSpo/uos ^e X^o-t?, not irpoyyovfjievr) see de Trin. ii p. 56)." 

So Dollinger writes, but he goes on (Hippolytus and Callistus Eng. 
tr. p. 198) to shew that, though the Catholics contended vigorously 
against the Arian teaching on this point, the Trinitarian self-determina 
tioii of God must not, of course, be represented as a merely natural and 
necessary process ; that is to say, as a process in any sense unconditioned 
by His will. " In God, in whom is found nothing passive no mere 
material substratum, who is all movement and pure energy, we can con 
ceive of no activity, not even directed towards Himself, in which the 
will also does not share. The eternal generation of the Son is at once 
necessary (grounded in the divine nature itself, and therefore without 
beginning), and also at the same time an act of volition (voluntarid). 
That is, the divine will is one of the factors in the act of begetting. 
Not without volition does the divine essence become the Father and 
beget the Son. But this volition is not a single decree of God ; not 
something which must be first thought or determined, and then carried 
into effect : but it is the first, essential, eternal movement of the divine 
will operating on itself, and the condition of all external, that is, 
creative, acts." 


The word /xovoyevrfc, according to the original and dominant use of it 
in Greek literature, and by the prevailing consent of the Greek Fathers, 
was applied properly to an only child or offspring. Sp Basil adv. 
Eunom. ii 20 explains it as meaning 6 /xoVos yevwjOck, and repudiates 
the meaning 6 /xovos irapa. povov ycvo/xevos (or ycwi^cts) which was 


arbitrarily put upon it by Eunomius. The special kind of unicity 
which belongs to an only child is latent in the word in the few usages 
in which it is not apparent, as when it is used of the Phosnix, or by 
Plato Tim. 31s with ovpavos (as made by the Father of all, ib. 28c), 
and by later writers of the /co oy/,os. In a few cases only the word is 
loosely applied to inanimate objects that are merely alone in their kind, 
as if it were connected with yevos. 

The paraphrase p.6vo<s yevvr)6is ) which Basil gives, is essentially true 
to the sense, but the passive form goes beyond //ovoyev^s. So probably 
does unigenitus ; and * only-begotten is still narrower in meaning. If 
it is connected with vtos, only Son , as in the Apostles Creed, would 
be the nearest equivalent in English. If it is connected with 0eos, 
only would not, of course, be a possible translation : sole-born might 
express the meaning more exactly. 

Unicus was the rendering of /-tovoyevr/s throughout the Bible in the 
earliest Old Latin versions, but it was supplanted by unigenitus in some 
forms of the Latin before the time of Jerome in the five passages in the 
New Testament in which it has reference to our Lord (namely John I 14 - 18 
310. is j \ John 4 9 ). Nearly all the native Latin Creeds have filium 
unicum eius, though unigenitus is used in translations of comparatively 
late Greek creeds. Even Augustine uses unicus more readily, and 
when he has unigenitus he explains it as equivalent to unicus. But 
in the course of time the more explicit word prevailed, except in 
the Apostles Creed. So we have filium unicum in the Apostles Creed 
(English only ), but filium unigenitum in the Latin translations of the 
* Constantinopolitan Creed (English only begotten ). See Sort Two 



The Course through which the Doctrine went 

IN tracing out the history of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit we 
are confronted by a course of developement similar to that which 
is seen in the history of the other great Christian doctrines. 
The experiences of Christ himself, and such teaching in regard 
to them as he gave his disciples, were sufficiently understood to 
secure recognition of the most important principles. It is clear 
that the earliest teaching and some at least of the earliest writ 
ings of the Apostles were conditioned by belief in the personality 
and divinity and manifold operations of the Holy Spirit. 1 And 
this faith has beyond all question always remained implicit in 
the life of the Church ; and whenever the Church as a body has 
been called on to give expression to the Christian theory of life 
to interpret the Christian revelation she has never been for 
a moment in doubt as to her mind upon this point. She has 
had no hesitation in declaring that in the Christian conception 
of the existence of the One God there are included three persons 
that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are alike and equally essen 
tial to the idea of the one Godhead. As to the exact relations 
existing between them, the exact mode of existence, she has not 
wished to lay down definitions, and she may perhaps have been in 
doubt. In regard to the Holy Spirit, as in regard to the Son, she 
was ultimately forced to some measure of definition. Meanwhile 
individual thinkers without exact guidance sometimes strayed a 
little aimlessly and missed the path, in spite of the indications 
afforded by earlier teaching and existing traditions and institu- 

1 Whatever opinion may be held as to the date of the Johannine writings, the 
Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St Paul seem to give decisive evidence 
in regard to belief in the Holy Spirit which was daily acted on in the practice and 
life of earliest Christian communities. 



tions. In seeking unguardedly for closer definition they some 
times reached results inconsistent with main principles, or in 
devoting attention to particular lines of reasoning they ignored 

Tracing out the history of the doctrine, therefore, means 
tracing out the teaching of some of the few individual thinkers 
or teachers whose writings happen to bear upon the subject ; 
until, quite late in the day, there arose a school of teachers that 
consciously questioned the main principles of the faith of the 
Church, and educed the unmistakeable expression of what had 
often hitherto been only half-consciously held. 

The Doctrine of the Spirit in the Bible 

As to the teaching of the Bible with regard to the essential 
nature of the Holy Spirit there can be no doubt. It is explicit 
and unanimous in its witness that he is divine. 1 " But to the 
further enquiry, whether this Divine Spirit is a person^ the reply, 
if on the whole decisive, does not come with equal clearness 
from the earlier and the later books. The Old Testament 
attributes personality to the Spirit only in so far as it identifies 
the Spirit of God with God Himself, present and operative in the 
world or in men. But the teaching of Christ and of the Apostles, 
whilst accentuating the personal attributes of the Spirit, dis 
tinguishes the Spirit from the Father and the Son." 1 

" The Spirit of God as revealed in the Old Testament is God 
exerting power. On this account it is invested with personal 
qualities, and personal acts are ascribed to it. ... The Spirit 
... is personal, inasmuch as the Spirit is God. There is, 
besides, a quasi-independence ascribed to the Spirit, which 
approaches to a recognition of distinct personality, especially in 
passages where the Spirit and the Word are contrasted. But 
the distinction applies only to the external activities of these 
two divine forces ; the concept of a distinction of Persons within 
the Being of God belongs to a later revelation." 2 

Functions of the Holy Spirit are recognized in the Old Testa 
ment in nature, in creation and conservation ; in man, in the 

1 See Swete Holy Spirit in Hastings D.B. for a full statement of the biblical 
presentation of the doctrine which is here only summarily and partially sketched 
in relation to the later expressions of the doctrine. Of. also supra pp. 11-15. 

2 Ibid. ; cf. Ps. 43 3 57 3 139 7 , Isa. 48 16 63 9 - 10 . 


bestowal of intellectual life and prophetic inspiration and moral 
and religious elevation while all his gifts are to be bestowed 
upon the Messiah. 

In the New Testament his work is recognized in the Con 
ception, Baptism, and Ministry of the Lord; and in all the 
XapLa-fjLara which he bestows on individuals and the Church. 

Some ambiguity in the expression of the doctrine may be 
observed when St Paul calls him also the Spirit of Christ 
(Rom. 8 7 ) (a phrase which he also uses of Christ s human spirit, 
Eom. 14; of his pre-existent nature, 2 Cor. 3 17 ; and of his 
risen life, 1 Cor. 15 45 ); while in some cases the Holy Spirit is 
apparently identified with Christ (Rom. 8 9> 10 ), since through the 
Spirit the ascended Lord dwells in the Church and operates in 

The Doctrine in the Early Church 

Incidental references in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers 1 
shew the same teaching ; but in The Shepherd of Hernias, which 
contains many allusions to the Holy Spirit, language is used 
which identifies the Spirit with the Son. 2 

Some of the Apologists were so much concerned to expound 
the doctrine of the Logos 3 that they not only fail to dwell on 
the Holy Spirit, but even refer to Christ himself much that 
would have been more accurately attributed to the Holy Spirit ; 
and in some cases they shew a disposition to rank the Spirit 
lower than the Son. 4 

1 E.g. Clement 1 Ep. 2. 48, 58, and frequently of his inspiration of Scripture, 
as also Barnabas constantly (e.g. 9, 10). So Ignatius recognizes his distinct per 
sonality, his procession from God, his mission by the Son, his operations in the 
Incarnation, and in members of the Church (Magn. 13 ; Philad. 7 ; E-ph. 17, 18, 9 ; 
Smyrn. 13). He is included in the doxologies in Mart. Polyc. 14, 22, and Mart. 
Ifjn. 7. See Swete Holy Ghost D.C.B., an article which so thoroughly covers the 
field that a subsequent worker over the ground can probably reach no true results 
that are not already carefully stated there. Here, for the most part, a short sum 
mary of them is all that is possible. 

2 See Swete ibid. 

3 See supra p. 124. This is true perhaps especially of the teaching of Justin 
Martyr in regard to the Xifyos <r7re/>/xcm/c6s. He also says that the Word himself 
wrought the miraculous conception (Apol. i 33). Similarly Theophilus speaks of 
the Word, being God s Spirit coming down on the prophets (ad Aulol. ii 33), and 
the writer to Diognetus used similar expressions. 

4 E.g. Justin, "We place the Spirit of prophecy in the third order", but in the 
same breath "for we honour him with the Word" (^eroi \6yov Tifj.ufji.ev Apol. i 13 ; 
cf. 60 ; see also Apol. i 6) ; and Tatian describes the Spirit as the minister of the 
Son (Oratio ad. Graec. 13). 


Conspicuous among those of these early writers who are 
known to us stand Theophilus, who is the first to use the term 
Triad (Trinity) in reference to the Godhead (though it must be 
noted that he does not actually name the Holy Spirit), 1 and 
Athenagoras, who sees in the Spirit the bond of union by which 
the Father and Son coinhere, and implies the doctrine of his 
essential procession by the image in which he describes him as 
an effluence from God, emanating from Him and returning to 
Him as a ray of the sun or as light from fire. 2 

Gnostic thought upon the subject shews points of contact 
both with Catholic doctrine and with the heretical theories which 
were rife in the fourth century. The excesses of the Montanists, 
champions as they were of the present reign of the Spirit in the 
world, led no doubt to some unwillingness to fully recognize the 
place of the Spirit in the divine economy, but the movement was 
probably still more influential in stimulating interest on the 
matter and arousing thought. 

The Montanist conception of a special age in which the Holy 
Spirit ruled implied at least a full sense of his personality and 
divinity, and it was not inconsistent with a belief in his eternal 
existence. But neither eternity nor personal existence, in any 
true sense, was assigned to the Spirit by any of the Monarchians. 
As Spirit, he was merely a temporary mode of existence of the 
one eternal God, in his relation to the world. 3 

Meanwhile Irenaeus had vigorously repudiated Gnostic 
misconceptions, and by the aid of various images had partly 
pourtrayed the relation of the Spirit to the Father 4 and to the 
Son, 6 and had described his work as Inspirer and Enlightener, in 
the Church and in the Sacraments. And Tertullian at the end of 
the second century had expressed in all its essential elements the 

1 As the Triad he names God and his Word and his Wisdom (ad AutoL ii 15). 

2 "The Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son by the unity and 
power of the Spirit " (Leg. 10 and 24). 

3 This is true, of course, particularly of the school of Sabellius. The earlier 
Monarchians, so far as we know, paid little attention to the doctrine of the Spirit. 
See further supra p. 105. 

4 The Son and the Spirit are the two hands of God. The Son is the Offspring, 
the Spirit is the Image of the Father : the Son is His Word, the Spirit His Wis 
dom. Together they minister to the Father, as the hands and intellect minister to 
man, not as though created or external to the Life of God, but eternal as God Him 
self. See adv. Haer. esp. iv praef. and chh. 14 and 34 ed. Harvey. 

5 This particularly in relation to men, since the Incarnation, of which the gift of 
the Spirit is a fruit (ibid, iii 38, v 36). See further Harvey s Irtdex Spirit . 


full Catholic doctrine of the relations between the Three Persons 
in the one Trinity, linked together in the one divine life. 1 This 
is the first attempt at a scientific treatment of the doctrine. 

The deity, personality, and distinct mission of the Holy 
Spirit were certainly recognized (if with some individualities of 
conception or expression) by Cyprian, Hippolytus, 2 Novatian, and 
Dionysius of Rome. 

Whether Clement of Alexandria formally investigated the 
doctrine or not we do not know ; but he certainly conjoins the 
Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son in worship and praise, 
and so implicitly recognizes Him as a divine person, and regards 
Him (though sometimes not clearly distinguishing him in this 
respect from the Word) as the source of inspiration and illu 
mination and as imparted in the Sacrament of Baptism. 8 

Origen s Expression of the Doctrine 

A more systematic exposition of the doctrine was undertaken 
by Origen ; and in treating of some of the problems it suggests 
he was led into language (as in regard to the Son) which the 
Arians afterwards pressed to conclusions destructive of the 
conception of the Trinity. His standpoint in the matter is 
shewn in his great work On first Principles, which he prefaces 
by a statement of the points clearly delivered in the teaching of 
the Apostles. 4 Third among these points he says : " The Apostles 
related that the Holy Spirit was associated in honour and dignity 
with the Father and the Son. But in his case it is not clearly 
distinguished whether he is to be regarded as generate or in- 
generate, 5 or also as a Son of God or not ; for these are points 

1 See supra p. 140. This doctrine is expressed particularly in his tract against 
Praxeas. See 2, 4, 8, 25, 30. 
3 See supra p. 108. 

3 See esp. Paed. iii 12, i 6 ; Strom, v 13, 24. 

4 He says they delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on points which 
they believed to be necessary to every one, leaving, however, the grounds of their 
statements to be examined into by those who should receive the special aid of the 
Holy Spirit ; while on other subjects they merely stated the fact that things were so, 
keeping silence as to the manner or origin of their existence, in order to leave to 
their successors, who should be lovers of wisdom, a subject of exercise on which to 
display the fruit of their talents. De Princ. Preface 3 Ante-Nicene Christian 

6 The Greek of this passage is not extant. Rufinus translates natus an innatus , 
which represents yevv-qTbs $) aytwijTos. Jerome, however, has factus an infectus , 


which have to be enquired into out of sacred Scripture according 
to the best of our ability, and which demand careful investi 
gation. And that this Spirit inspired each one of the saints, 
whether prophets or apostles; and that there was not one 
Spirit in the men of the old dispensation and another in those 
who were inspired at the advent of Christ, is most clearly taught 
throughout the Churches." This passage is highly instructive ; 
but it is uncertain whether Origen intended to say generate or 
ingenerate (begotten or unbegotten) , or originate or unoriginate . 
The former expression might only imply some uncertainty as to 
the exact phraseology which should be used to describe the 
relation of the Spirit, as one of the persons of the Trinity, to 
the others. But the latter expression would at least cover the 
conception that the Holy Spirit, as belonging to the class of 
things that had come into being (been made or created), was not 
truly God. For further elucidation of Origen s meaning we 
must look elsewhere. In his commentary on the Gospel accord 
ing to St John he discusses at length the passage in the prologue, 
" All things came into being (were made) through him ", and 
asks, Did then the Holy Spirit too come into being through 
him ? l To this question he says there are three possible 
answers The first : Yes, if the Holy Spirit belongs to the class 
of things that have come into being, since the Logos is older 
than the Spirit. The second : for anyone who accepts this Gospel 
as true, but is unwilling to say the Spirit came into being 
through the Son that the Holy Spirit is ingenerate. 2 The 
third : that the Holy Spirit has no being of his own (personality) 
other than that of the Father and the Son. 3 The third and the 
second answer Origen rules out, on the ground that there are 
three distinct hypostases , and that the Father alone is ingenerate. 2 
It remains therefore that the Spirit has come into being through 
the Logos, though he is higher in honour and rank than all the 
things that have come into being (by the agency of the Father) 
through the Logos. And Origen goes on to suggest that this 

which points to the Greek yevrjrbs r) ayevrjTos (originate or unoriginate). The fre 
quent confusion of the words would justify Rufinus if, as some suppose, he found the 
latter in his text and interpreted it as the former. See s^ipra p. 122 n. 1. 

1 Origen Comm. in Joh. i 3, ed. Brooke vol. i p. 70 f. 

2 dyevvrjTov, but the argument requires rather ayevrjrov, unoriginate, the opposite 
of yevr]Tt)i>, to exclude Him from the class of yevrjTd. 

3 f*r)5t ovffiav TWO. Idlav vfaffrdvai rov ayiov Trpetf/iaros erepav irapa T&V irarepa Kal 
rbv vibv. 


perhaps is why he is not also called * Son of God ; since the 
Only-begotten alone is from the beginning Son by nature, and 
his ministry is necessary for the personal existence of the Holy 
Spirit, not only for his very being but also for his special 
characteristics which he had by participation in Christ (his 
wisdom, for example, and rationality, and justice). It is also 
the Holy Spirit who provides what may be called the material 
for the charismata (the various gifts and endowments) which are 
given by God to those who, on account of the Spirit and of 
their participation in him, are called holy (saints) this 
material being actualized by God and ministered by the agency 
of Christ and having its subsistence in accordance with the Holy 
Spirit. 1 

It is thus clear that Origen regarded the Fourth Gospel as 
teaching that the Spirit owes his origin to the medium of the 
Son, and that therefore he is in the order of the divine life 
inferior to the Son ; and indeed this is the inference which he 
explicitly draws from the consideration of passages of Scripture 
which seem at first sight to give to the Spirit precedence in 
honour above the Son 2 " He is to be thought of as being one 
of the all things which are inferior to him by means of whom 
they came into being, even though some phrases seem to draw 
us to the contrary conclusion." It is, however, no less clear that 
at the same time he regarded the Spirit as a divine hypostasis, 
removed high above the category of creatures ; and he carefully 
guards (for instance) against the idea that the Holy Spirit in any 
way owes his knowledge and power of revelation to the Son, 
implying that he has it in virtue of his very being. " As the 
Son, who alone knows the Father, reveals Him to whom he will, 
so the Holy Spirit, who alone searches the deep things of God, 
reveals God to whom he will." 3 The Son alone has his being 
direct from the Father, but he is not therefore in Origen s 
thought a creature. Nor is it necessary that all things that 
have come into being through the Son should be creatures. 4 

1 To this thought Origen is led by the passage in 1 Cor. 12 4ff> : "There are 
differences of charismata, but the same Spirit : and there are differences of ministra 
tions, and the same Lord : and there are differences of workings (modes of bringing 
to actuality), and it is the same God who works all things in all." 

2 Passages examined arc Isa. 48 16 , and the Sin against the Holy Spirit 
(Matt. 12 32 ). 

3 De Princ. i 34. 

4 Of. de Princ. i 33 : "We have been able to find no statement in Holy Scrip- 


The special idea of creation does not seem to be present to 
Origen s mind in this connexion. It is rather origination 
simply that he is dealing with. This is the primary meaning 
of the word he uses the word on which he is commenting; 
and it is really the origination of the Spirit through the Logos, 
and consequently his inferiority in order to the Logos, that he is 
concerned to maintain. 

He does indeed definitely extend to the Spirit 1 the conception 
of eternity of derivation which he realized of the Son ; and it seems 
clear that, wherever he speaks of the Spirit as in any way inferior 
in rank or order, he has under consideration only human experience 
of the Trinity (God as manifested in revelation), and is not 
attempting to deal with the inner being and relations of the 
Godhead. 2 But though, as is probable, he was not in this respect 
far removed from the * orthodox Catholic faith, it is certain that 
his language lent itself to misconception and may be said to 
anticipate Arius ; and some of his pupils are said to have repre 
sented the Spirit as inferior in glory to the Father and the Son. 3 

Gregory Thaumaturgus 

One of the most famous of them, however, Gregory of 
Neo-Caesarea, 4 strongly asserted the unity and eternity of the 
Three "a complete Trinity, in glory and eternity and reign 
not divided nor estranged. There is therefore in the Trinity 
nothing created or serving, and nothing imported in the sense 
that it did not exist to start with, but at a later time made its 
way in ; for never was there wanting Son to Father nor Spirit to 
Son, but there was always the same Trinity unchangeable and 
unalterable." Here too the Spirit seems to be associated es- 

ture in which the Holy Spirit could bo said to be a thing made or a creature. . . . 
The Spirit of God which moved (was borne) upon the waters is no other than the 
Holy Spirit." 

1 See de Princ. i 34 : "The Holy Spirit would never be reckoned in the unity 
of the Trinity, i.e. along with the unchangeable Father and His Son, unless he had 
always been the Holy Spirit." 

2 See e.g. such strong assertions as de Princ. i 37 : "Nothing in the Trinity can 
be called greater or less. . . . There is no difference in the Trinity, but that which 
is called the gift of the Spirit is made known through the Son and operated 
(actualised) by God the Father." 

8 See Swete I.e. 

4 Known as Thaumaturgus, the evangelist of Pontus and Cappadocia. See his 
Creed (Halm 8 p. 253), composed probably soon after 260. 


pecially closely with the Son, as he is in the preceding clauses 
of the Creed which describe him as " having his existence from 
God and appearing through the Son, the Image of the Son, 
perfect (image) of perfect (Son) ; Life the first cause of all 
that live ; Holiness the provider of hallowing, in whom is made 
manifest God the Father who is over all and in all, and God the 
Son who is through all ". The derivation of the Spirit is thus 
referred to God through the Son as medium, but the thought 
that such derivation implies any inferiority of divine attributes 
is absolutely excluded. 

Dionysius of Alexandria 

And Dionysius of Alexandria was equally emphatic in regard 
to the co-eternity of the three hypostases. Each of the names 
is inseparable and indivisible from the next. As he had insisted 
that the names Father and Son connoted each other, so that he 
could not say Father without implying the existence of the 
Son, so he says : l " I added the Holy Spirit, but at the same 
time I further added both whence and through whom he pro 
ceeded. Neither is the Father, qua Father, estranged (a-rr^XXo- 
Tpiwrai) from the Son, nor is the Son banished (aW/ao-rat) from 
the Father ; for the title Father denotes the common bond. And 
in their hands is the Spirit, who cannot be parted either from him 
that sends or from him that conveys him. . . . Thus then we 
extend the Monad indivisibly into the Triad, and conversely 
gather together the Triad without diminution into the Monad." 

Eusebius of Caesarea 

Eusebius of Caesarea shews in his references to the Holy 
Spirit the same unconscious Arian tendency that marked his 
action in the controversy as to the person of the Son. The 
Spirit is third in dignity as well as in order the moon in the 
divine firmament, receiving all that he has from the Word ; his 
very being is through the Son. " He is neither God nor Son, 
since he did not receive his genesis from the Father in like 
manner as the Son received his ; but he is one of the things 
which came into being through the Son." Yet he transcends 
the whole class of things that have come into being. Eusebius 
1 See Ath. de Sent. Dionys. 17, and supra p. 115. 


seems not to discriminate between the procession and the 
mission of the Holy Spirit, and uses the same term both of him 
and of the Son. 1 

The Arian Theories expressed but not emphasized, and for 
a time ignored 

At the Council of Nicaea the battle raged round the doctrine 
of the Godhead of the Word the doctrine of the Holy Spirit 
was not under direct consideration. " The opinion on this 
subject in the hearts of the faithful was exposed to no attack " ; 2 
so the simplest expression of belief was enough, 3 and little more 
found place in any of the many Creeds (Arian and Semi- 
Arian) which were drawn up in the following thirty years. 
But by degrees, as individuals began to question the deity 
of the Spirit, the Arians extended to him the phrases they 
applied to the Son a creature , divided from the being 
(essence) of Christ ; as indeed in The Thalia Arius had already 
declared that the essences of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were 
of their very nature distinct, alien, and separate. " Assuredly 
there is a Trinity with glories not alike. . . . One is more glorious 
than the other with glories to infinitude." 4 

But though Arius expressed himself in this way, all attention 
was for many years concentrated on the doctrine of the Son ; 
and teaching went quietly on in the Church on the lines on 
which it had proceeded before the time of Arius. 

The Church Teaching in the Middle of the Fourth Century 
Cyril of Jerusalem 

An excellent specimen of such instruction is furnished by 
the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem shortly before the 
year 350. 5 

At the very outset he makes his appeal to Scripture. In 
view of the danger of the sin against the Holy Spirit, and of the 

1 Swete I.e. The passages referred to are Praep. Evang. vii 16 ; de Eccl. 
Theol. iii 6. 

2 Basil Ep. 125, in explanation of the absence of any detailed profession of faith. 

3 See supra p. 4, on the willingness of the Church to acquiesce in simple 
Creeds till forced to exclude erroneous interpretations by closer definition. 

4 See Ath. de Syn. 15. 

8 These lectures to catechumens (Cat. xvi and xvii) are really the first system 
atic attempt to present the doctrine of the Spirit that we have. 


fact that the Holy Spirit spoke the Scriptures, and said about 
himself all that he wished or all that we could receive, we may 
well limit ourselves to the teaching of Scripture ( 1, 2). 

He disclaims the attempt to accurately describe his being 
(hypostasis), and will only mention misleading ideas of others so 
that his pupils may not be seduced from the right path and 
all together may journey along the king s highway ( 5). 

It is really sufficient for salvation for us to know that there 
is " one God the Father, one Lord his only Son, one Holy Spirit 
the Comforter ". We need not busy ourselves about his nature 
or being ($vcrtv rj vTrocrraaiv), as it has not been written we had 
better not essay it ( 24). 

Accordingly Cyril devotes himself for the most part to 
enumerating various beneficent operations of the Spirit before 
the Incarnation, in and during the life of Christ on earth, and 
in the Apostles and the faithful ever since. 1 All through he 
appeals to present experience of the wonderful power with 
which he works, and is at pains to point the lesson that, varied 
as are the modes in which his energy is manifested, it is one and 
the same Spirit who spoke through the prophets of old of the 
coming of Christ ; who, when he had come, descended upon him 
and made him known ; who was with and in the Apostles ; who 
illuminates the souls of the just, and supplies the force which 
purifies or strengthens according to the need ; who bestows all 
the varied graces and virtues of Christian life, 2 directly and 
through the appointed channels of the ordinances and sacra 
ments of the Church, 3 the c good Sanctifier and Ally and Teacher 
of the Church , the true Enlightener. 

At the outset he warned his hearers that it was of a 
mighty power divine and mysterious that he was about to 
speak, and his whole treatment of his subject is conditioned by 
his recognition of the full divinity of the Spirit. Only in one 
connexion, however, does he at all elaborate this point, and that 

1 In Cat. xvi he cites instances chiefly from the Old Testament ; in Cat, xvii 
from the New, especially the Gospels and the Acts (time failing him for more). 

2 See particularly Cat. xvi 16, 19, 20, 30, xvii 36, and the fine passage 
xvi 12, in which, applying th_e words of Joh. 7 38 and 4 14 to the Spirit, he declares 
the Spirit the source of all that is beautiful in moral and spiritual life, as it is on 
water that the varied charm and loveliness of the life of nature depends. 

3 He is himself given to us in Baptism when he seals the soul (Cat. xvi 24), and 
in the Chrism (Cat. Myst. iii 2, 3), and effects the consecration of the elements in 
the Eucharist, so that the very body and blood of Christ is received (ibid, iii 3, iv 3, 
v 7) ; and he is the giver of various gifts and graces for ministry. 


by way of negation, when he declares that none of the things that 
have come into being is equal in honour with him. None of 
the order of the angels has equality with him. He has no peer 
among them ; they are contrasted with him as recipients of a 
mission of service : whereas he is the divinely appointed ruler 
and teacher and sanctifier of all angelic orders. 1 But he also 
insists that the gracious gifts which he gives are all the gifts of 
the one God " there are not some gifts of the Father and some 
of the Son and some of the Holy Spirit . . . the Father freely 
bestows them all through the Son together with the Holy Spirit"; 2 
the Holy Spirit is honoured along with Father and Son ; and 
comprehended in the Holy Trinity, and all three together are 
one God. " Undivided is our faith, inseparable our reverence. 
We neither separate the Holy Trinity, nor do we make confusion 
as Sabellius does." 3 

Over against Sabellian confusion he expresses repeatedly 
the distinct personality of the Spirit. He states with emphasis 
that it was by his own initiative that he descended upon Christ. 
He draws attention to the directly personal action attributed to 
him in many instances. 4 " He who speaks and sends is living 
and subsisting (personal) and operating." And once he drives 
home the teaching of such incidental comments in the words : " It 
is established that there are various appellations, but one and the 
same Spirit the Holy Spirit, living and personally subsisting 
and always present together with the Father and the Son ; not 
as being spoken or breathed forth from the mouth and lips of 
the Father and the Son, or diffused into the air; but as a 
personally existing being, himself speaking and operating and 
exercising his dispensation and hallowing, since it is certain that 
the dispensation of salvation in regard to us which proceeds 
from Father and Son and Holy Spirit is indivisible and con 
cordant and one." 6 

With regard to the procession, he quotes the report of the 
discourse of the Lord contained in the Fourth Gospel, bidding 
his pupils attend to it rather than to the words of men ; 6 and in 
another passage he brings together two sayings of Christ to shew 
that the Son himself derives from the Father that which he 

1 See esp. xvi 23 and viii 5, excluding the idea that the Spirit was among the 
SoGXa of the Son. 

2 xvi 24. 8 xvi 4 ; cf. iv 16. 4 E.g. xvii 9, 28, 33, 34. 
6 xvii 5. 6 xvii 11. 


gives in turn to the Spirit. 1 More than this he did not think 
fit to say to catechumens, even if he was prepared at all to 
define more closely the mystery of the relation between the 
Holy Spirit and the Father and the Son. 

The Need for Authoritative Guidance on the Doctrine 


The first clear indication that the question was becoming 
ripe for synodical consideration is seen in the anathemas 
appended to the Creed of the Synod of Sirmium in 3 5 1 2 against 
any one who styled the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost one 
person (Trpocrwjrov), or spoke of the Holy Spirit as the unbe- 
gotten God , or as not other than the Son, or as a c part (/te^o?) 
of the Father or of the Son, or described the Father, Son, and 
Holy Spirit as three Gods . 

The Teaching of Athanasius 

Some years later the growth of the doctrine that the Spirit 
was merely a creature, and one of the ministering spirits , 
superior to the angels only in degree, was reported by Sarapion, 
Bishop of Thmuis, in the Delta, to Athanasius, who was then in 
exile in the desert. Athanasius in reply drew up a statement of 
the doctrine of the deity of the Spirit. 8 

The particular assailants of the doctrine of whom Sarapion 
told him professed to regard the Son as divine, and this furnishes 
Athanasius with his chief argument all through. The relation 
of the Son to the Father is admitted in the sense of the Creed 
of Nicaea, and the relation of the Spirit to the Son in the 
sense of the Scriptures. These are the two premisses. Athan 
asius sets himself in various ways to shew that the Homoousia 

1 xvi 24 : "All things wore committed to me by the Father ", and "he receives 
of mine and shall declare it to you ". 

3 Hahn 3 p. 198. 

3 He sent four letters in all (ad Sarapionem Orationes iv) the first a long one, 
the second and third intended to be simpler (the second really deals with the 
Godhead of the Son, while the third summarizes the first), and the fourth in reply to 
objections (particularly with regard to the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). [A 
convenient edition of the letters in Bibliothcca Pair. Gfraec. dogmatica, ed. Thilo, 
vol. i.] 

The opponents of the doctrine against whom he argues ho calls Tropici (Meta- 
phoricals), because they would interpret as tropes or metaphors the passages of 
Scripture in which the doctrine was expressed. 



of the Spirit is a necessary inference from them. On this theme 
he rings the changes. It recurs with each fresh argument, in 
answer to each objection. The Spirit is the Spirit of the Son 
and has the same unity with him as the Son has with the 
Father. If therefore the Son is not a creature, it is impossible 
that his Spirit can be. And further, as it is impossible to 
separate the Spirit from the Son, their doctrine would introduce 
into the Trinity a foreign and alien nature, so that they really 
destroy the Trinity and really come to a Duality instead. Their 
error as to the Spirit involves necessarily error also as to the 
Son, and error as to the Son involves error as to the Father 
(i 2 ; cf. i 9 and 21). The Trinity as a whole is one God (i 17) 
indivisible and homogeneous. The term Spirit is used in 
various senses in the Scriptures ; but, when the Holy Spirit 
is meant, the article or some further designation (such as 
* Holy , * of the Father , * of the Son ) is always added to the 
mere term Spirit ; and it is only passages in which the word 
occurs by itself that even seem to lend themselves to their 
interpretation (i 3, 4). To prove this he cites a great number 
of instances from Old and New Testaments alike. 1 And later 
on he argues that the giver of life, and of all the endowments 
which the Spirit confers, can be no creature, but must be divine 
( 22, 23). 

Nor is there any more support in Scripture for the view that 
he is an angel 2 (i 10-14). 

But driven from Scripture, as they could find nothing to 
their purpose there, they go on, out of the overflowing of their 
own heart, to produce a new argument : if not a creature and 
not an angel, if he proceeds from the Father, he must be called 
a Son ; and so the Word would not be Only-begotten , and there 
will be two brothers in the Trinity. Or yet again, if he is said 
to be the Spirit of the Son, then the Father is grandfather of 
the Holy Spirit ( 15). It is against these inferences that 
Athanasius works out the doctrine of the procession of the 
Spirit, though he protests against being compelled to enter 
upon such questions at all. He begins by shewing that human 

1 The passage which he starts from as typical of the passages in which they 
supposed he was represented as a creature (but which, Athanasius says, do not refer 
to him) is Amos 4 13 . 

2 The chief passage on which they depended was 1 Tim. 5 21 , " I charge thee 
before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels " (arguing that, as the 
Spirit is not expressly mentioned, he must be included among the angels). 


analogies will not apply a human father is always the son 
of another (he has been son before he in turn became father) ; 
but in the Trinity this is not so, there have been always both 
Father and Son, each always remaining the same ( 16). 1 

It is on Scripture that we must depend, and Scripture 
describes the Father as the Fountain, and the Son as the Eiver, 
and we drink of the Spirit or the Father as the Light, and the 
Son as the radiance, and with the Spirit we are illumined. 

The Father alone is wise, the Son is his Wisdom, and we 
receive the Spirit of wisdom. In no case can one be separated 
from another. When we receive life in the Spirit, Christ 
himself dwells in us, and the works which he does in us are 
also the works of the Father ( 19). All things which are 
the Father s are also the Son s ; therefore the things which are 
given us by the Son in the Spirit are the Father s gifts. They 
are given from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit 
( 30). All come from one God (cf. iii 5). 

The Spirit is the Son s own image, and he is said to proceed 
from the Father, 2 because he shines forth and is sent and given 
by the Logos (napa TOV \6yov) who is from the Father ( 20). 
He is the Son s very own (tSiov TOV vlov) and not foreign to God 
(gevov rov 6eov) ( 25). 

He is said to be in God Himself and from God Himself. 
Now since, in the case of the Son, " because he is from the 
Father, he is (admittedly) proper to the essence of the Father 
(t8to? rrj? ovaias avTov) ; it follows in the case of the Spirit, that, 
since he is admitted to be from God, he is proper to the Son in 
essence (tSiov KO,T ovaiav TOV vlov). ... He is proper to the deity 
of the Father. 3 ... In him the Trinity is complete 4 ( 25). Of 
the Trinity, which is like itself and indivisible in nature, and 
of which the actions and operations are one ( 28), the holiness 
also is one, the eternity one, the immutable nature one ( 30). 

This is the ancient tradition and teaching and faith of the 
Catholic Church, received from the Lord, preached by Apostles, 

1 Cf. iv 6. The Father is always Father, and the Son always Son, and the 
Holy Spirit is and is called always Holy Spirit. 

2 The terms are Tropct (or ^c) TOV Trarpbs diet TOV vlov. 
8 He is also in Him (iv 4). 

4 The Scriptures further prove his divinity by shewing him to be immutable and 
invariable and ubiquitous ( 26 ; cf. iii 4). So too his functions prove his difference 
from men the principle of sanctification cannot be like that which it sanctifies : 
the source of life for creatures cannot itself be a creature. 


and preserved by the Fathers, it is the very foundation of the 
Church and no one who falls away from it can be, or can be 
said to be, any longer a Christian. This was the foundation 
which the Lord himself bade the Apostles lay for the Church 
when he said to them Go ye and make disciples of all nations, 
baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and 
of the Holy Spirit ( 28). 

Those who dare to separate the Trinity and reckon the Holy 
Spirit among created things are as audacious as the Pharisees 
of old who attributed to Beelzebub the works of the Holy Spirit 
let them take heed lest along with them they incur punish 
ment without hope of forgiveness here or hereafter ( 33). 

Hilary of Poictiers 

At the same time as Athanasius was expounding the doctrine 
in the East, Hilary of Poictiers, a representative of the Nicene 
faith in the West, was maintaining similar teaching in more 
systematic form l in his treatise On the Trinity, written during 
his exile in Phrygia. Particularly noteworthy is what he says 
of the procession. The Father and the Son are his authors. 
He is through (per) him through whom are all things (i.e. the 
Son), and from (ex) him from whom are all things (i.e. the 
Father). . . . The Spirit receives from the Son and so from the 
Father also, so that he may be said to receive from each ; but 
Hilary does not decide whether receiving connotes proceeding, nor 
does he venture to speak of a procession of the Spirit from tLe 
Father and the Son. His own phrase is ex Patre per filium? 

The Theories of Macedonius 

The chief representative known to us of the Arian teaching 
with regard to the Holy Spirit is Macedonius, who had been 
appointed Bishop of Constantinople after the deposition and 
subsequent murder of Paul (a Nicene), but was himself in turn 

1 The importance of the great dogmatic work of Hilary (358 or 359) at a time 
when comparatively few Christians in the West could read such treatises as those 
of Athanasius in Greek can hardly be exaggerated, whatever blemishes in the 
execution of the work there may have been, and though Augustine was destined to 
overshadow and supersede Hilary. (Aug. De Trinitate was published more than 
fifty years later, c. 416.) See Cazenove Hilarius Pictaviensis D.G.B. 

8 See Swete Holy Ghost D. Q.B. 


deposed by the Synod of Constantinople in 3 GO. 1 In his 
retirement he is said to have elaborated the theories connected 
with his name ; teaching that whereas the Son was God, in all 
things and in essence like the Father, yet the Holy Spirit was 
without part in the same dignities, and rightly designated a 
servant and a minister similar to the angels. 2 If not true God 
he must be a creature. The favourite argument seems to have 
been a reductio ad absurdum : the Holy Spirit is either begotten 
or not begotten ; if not begotten, then there are two unoriginated 
beings Father and Spirit; if begotten, he must be begotten 
either of the Father or of the Son if of the Father then there 
are two Sons in the Trinity (and therefore Brothers) ; if of the 
Son, then there is a Grandson of God, a 0eo? 

The Doctrine declared at the Council of Alexandria 362, and 
subsequent Synods in the East and in the West 

The question came before a synod for the first time at 
Alexandria in 362, on the return of Athanasius from his third 
exile. 4 The view that the Holy Spirit is a creature and separate 
from the essence of Christ was there declared anathema, " for 
those who, while pretending to cite the faith confessed at Nicaea, 
venture to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, do nothing more than in 
words deny the Arian heresy while they retain it in thought ". And 
all present agreed in the faith in " a Holy Trinity, not a Trinity in 
name only, but really existing and subsisting, both a Father really 
existing and subsisting, and a Son really and essentially existing 
and subsisting, and a Holy Spirit subsisting and himself existing : 
a Holy Trinity, but one Godhead, and one Beginning (or prin 
ciple) ; and that the Son is co-essential with the Father, as the 

1 The synod dominated by Acacius at which, in the Arian interest, the strict 
Homoean formula ( like only) was agreed to, and Semi-Arians and Anomoeans 
alike were suppressed. Macedonius and others (e.g. Basil of Ancyra and Cyril of 
Jerusalem) were deposed really because they were Semi-Arians, to whom the strict 
Homooan formula seemed Arian , but nominally on various charges of irregularity. 
See Hefele Councils vol. ii p. 273, and supra p. 185. 

8 So Soz. H.E. iv 27. His followers were known as Macedonians or Pneuma- 
tomachi (contenders against the Spirit) or Marathonians, from Marathonius, Bishop 
of Nicomedia, a chief supporter of the teaching. 

1 See e.g. Greg. Naz. Or. Theol. v 7, and Athanasius supra p. 210. 

4 See supra p. 185, and Ath. ad Antiochenos, esp. 5, 6. Note the claim to 
hold the Nicene faith along with the Macedonian doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Cf. 
Theodoret H.E. iv 3. 


fathers said ; while the Holy Spirit is not a creature, nor foreign, 
but proper to, and inseparable from, the essence of the Father and 
the Son. . . . For we believe that there is one Godhead, and that 
its nature is one, and not that there is one nature of the Father, 
to which that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are foreign." 

From this statement it seems clear that a more ample pro 
fession of faith in the Holy Spirit than the Creed of Nicaea 
supplied was at this time required as a condition of the restoration 
of Arians to communion. Special circumstances were in view and 
were provided for in this particular way. But there is no proof 
that any fresh definition was pressed upon others. There is, on 
the contrary, evidence to shew that Athanasius approved of the 
policy of non-intervention which Basil followed in the matter. 1 

About this time the same faith was embodied in a letter to 
the Emperor Jovian, 2 declaring that the Holy Spirit must not be 
separated from the Father and the Son, but rather glorified together 
with the Father and the Son in the one faith of the Holy Trinity, 
because there is only one Godhead in the Holy Trinity. 

A few years later (366 ff.), synods at Eome under Damasus 
condemned the Arian or Macedonian conceptions, and maintained 
the Trinity of one Godhead, power, majesty, and essence ; and the 
profession of faith addressed to the Eastern bishops, which was 
published by one of these synods in 369, 3 was in 378 (or 379) 
subscribed by a hundred and forty-six Eastern bishops at 

The Epiphanian Creed 

The heresy, however, gained ground, and the need for an 
expansion of the Creed to cover this fresh subject grew urgent. 
A short expression of the general traditional belief was already 
in existence in the Creed contained in the Ancoratus* of Epi- 

1 Basil was suspected and attacked by the monks because of his reserve in speak 
ing of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Athanasius wrote in his support and 
defence, urging his children to obey him as their father, and to consider his inten 
tion and purpose (his okoro/ifa) " to the weak ho becomes weak to gain the weak ". 
He is utterly astonished at the boldness of those who venture to speak against 
him (Ath. Ejtp. 62 and 63 ; Basil Ep. 204). 

2 Theodoret H.E. iv 3. Dr. Robertson Athanasius Ixxxiv n has shewn that 
Theodoret is mistaken as to a synod being held in 363 ; but the letter remains. 

8 This is known as the Tome of Damasus . The anathemas repudiate in detail 
all false ideas about the Spirit and maintain the divine attributes of each person of 
the Trinity (see Hahn 3 p. 271). They shew what teaching was current. 

4 Hahn 8 p. 134. But as to tho origin of this Creed see supra p. 188 n. 1. 


phanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, which was published in 374. 
It declares in simple untechnical phrase the divine personality of 
the Spirit, as one to be worshipped and glorified together with 
the Father and the Son ; his procession from the Father ; his 
pre-existence as the source or power of life and the Inspirer of 
the prophets; and his operation in the Incarnation of the Son. 

Simple and unsystematic as the language of this Creed is, it 
clearly recognises the personality, the eternity, and the divinity 
of the Holy Spirit ; and his chief functions. 

(a) The Personality. He is co-ordinated with the Father and 
the Son, the same form of words being used ets eva deov Trarepa 
Kal et? eva Kvpiov . . . TOV vlov xal et? TO Trvevfia TO ayiov. 
He too is Kvpiov as the Son, and he proceeds e/c TOV iraTpos (i.e. 
e/c T?}9 ovo-las TOV TrcLTpos, he was therefore in the Father). He 
is worshipped and glorified together with (cvv) ... as a person. 

(5) The Eternity. This is implied in the phrases which 
shew the personality, particularly by the present eKTropevopevov, 
which connotes neither beginning nor end ; also, to some extent, 
by the operations attributed to him, especially the title ^COOTTOIOV. 

(c) The Divinity. He is placed on a level with the Father 
and the Son, styled Lord, said to be in the Father, and to be 
worshipped as only one who is God can be along with the 
Father and the Son. 

(d) His Operations. He is the source of all real life (making 
alive Giver of Life), the source of inspiration of the prophets, 
the agent in the Incarnation of the Son ; and by collocation he 
is the source of the graces which the * holy Church administers. 

(e) His relation to the Godhead is simply described in the 
words proceeding from the Father . l 

1 The procession is stated to be from the Father, and the Eastern theologians 
generally laid stress on the derivation of the Spirit from the Father (without denying 
it from the Son also, but preferring the expression through the Son as medium 
as Tertullian in the West had said a Patre per filium}. So Epiphanius never uses 
the word procession to express the relation of the Spirit to the Son. He only 
says that he receives of him proceeding from (^K or airb) the Father and receiving 
of the Son (TOV Ttou \d/j.(3avov ; cf. John 15 26 and 16 14 ). But he does not hesitate 
to say that the Spirit is from the Father and the Son and from the same essence 
or Godhead (always using the prepositions tic or irapd ; see Ancor. 8, 9, 67, 73, 
69-70 ; adv. ffaer. Ixii 4). 

It will thus be seen that though, in common with the Greek Fathers, he does not 
express the procession from the Son, he comes nearer in his language than others to 
putting the Father and the Son together as the joint source of derivation of the Spirit. 

In the West, Ambrose, writing a little later (381) (see de Sp. S. i 11) makes 
the derivation of the Spirit dependent on the Son ; and the declaration of Cyril of 


Compared with the Creed of Nicaea (which, however, was only 
intended to deal with the doctrine of the Person of Christ, see 
supra p. 168 n. 2) all these clauses are new, except the one bare 
statement of faith in the Holy Spirit - 1 But they only amount 

Alexandria that the Spirit is the Son s very own (Anathema ix against Nestorius 
Hahn 3 p. 315) was approved by the Council of Ephesus in 431. 

The first definite denial that the Holy Spirit receives his essence from the Son 
(as well as from the Father) was expressed by Theodoret in answer to Cyril s 
anathema. If, by the Spirit being the Son s very own, Cyril only meant to describe 
him as of the same nature and proceeding from the Father, he would agree and 
accept the phrase as pious ; but if he meant that the Spirit derived his being from 
the Son or through the Son, then he must reject it as blasphemous and impious. 
Cyril in replyjustified his expression (without going into Theodoret s charge), on the 
ground that the Spirit proceeds from God the Father but is not alien from the Son, 
who has all [things along with the Father according to his own declaration, "All 
things that the Father hath are mine therefore said I to you that He shall take of 
mine and shall declare it to you ". And the Council of Ephesus, at which his 
anathemas were approved, condemned a Creed of Theodore of Mopsuestia (Hahn 3 
p. 302), which incidentally denied that the Spirit had received his being through the 
Son. But the question was not further examined or discussed for some time in the 
East. [On Theodore s peculiar conceptions of the Spirit see Swete I.e. p. 127.] 

Augustine (see infra), and Leo after him (Ep. xciii 1), taught from the Father 
and the Son , and this became the conception so thoroughly accepted in the West 
that the additional words expressing it appear to have been inserted in the Creed in 
its Latin version without the insertion attracting attention. At a Council held at 
Toledo in 589 (summoned by Reccared, king of the Visigoths), to emphasize the 
national renunciation of Arianism, the Creed was quoted with the words et Filio 
added. There is no evidence to shew that the addition was intentional ; the Creed 
was little known in the West at the time, and the Council no doubt supposed that 
the Latin version recited was a true translation of the original Greek. It was 
further ordered that the Creed should henceforward be recited before the Pater 
noster in the Eucharist. As a defence against Arianism the addition was eminently 
useful, and the doctrine it taught was emphasized by several subsequent synods. It 
was contained in a local creed put forth by a synod at Hatfield in 680. But it was 
not till after the middle of the eighth century that the doctrine of the procession 
was formally debated at a Council : first in 767 at Gentilly, near Paris, when 
some Eastern bishops were present, and the question was not regarded as urgent : 
then in 787 at Nicaea, when the doctrine of the procession from the Father 
through the Son was approved : then in 794, at a great assembly of Western 
bishops at Frankfort, when the cultus of images approved at Nicaea was disallowed 
and the doctrine of the procession from the Son was reasserted and supported by the 
influence of the Emperor Charles the Great : and again in 809, at a Council at Aix, 
at which both the doctrine and the interpolation in the Creed were vindicated. The 
Pope, Leo in., however, while agreeing in the doctrine, refused to sanction the addi 
tion of the words et Filio to the ancient Creed of the Church, authorized by a General 
Council and universally received ; and, though the use continued elsewhere in the 
West, it was not till two centuries later that it found its way into the Church of 
Rome. Meanwhile it had been one of the matters of controversy that led to the 
breach of communion between the Church of the East and the Church of the 
West. [On the form of the Creed at Toledo see Burn Introd. to Creeds p. 115.] 

1 The Creed contains all the chief Nicene clauses and anathemas. 


to a scanty summary of the teaching which, as is shewn above, 
an ordinary presbyter gave his catechumens before any con 
troversy as to the Holy Spirit arose. (The words TOV irapa- 
K\rjTov which are in Cyril s own Creed have dropped out.) 

And, indeed, Epiphanius himself declares that this was the 
faith which was handed down by all the holy bishops, together 
above three hundred and ten in number that is, by those who 
composed the Council of Nicaea : a statement which is literally 
inaccurate, but no doubt conveys the truth as regards the 
convictions of the bishops in question. 

This Creed, no doubt, was the Baptismal Creed in use in 
Salamis (and probably throughout Palestine), but Epiphanius 
also gives a longer one l (probably composed by himself), more 
a paraphrase than a creed, which was required of candidates 
for baptism who had been or were suspected of still being 
connected with any of the heresies then rife. With regard to 
the Holy Spirit its terms are these : " And we believe in (efc 
TO . . .) the Holy Spirit, who spake in the law and preached 
in the persons of the prophets and came down upon the Jordan, 
speaking in the apostles, dwelling in the saints ; thus we believe 
in him (ev ai>ra>), that he is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, 
the perfect Spirit, the Spirit Paraclete, uncreated, proceeding 
from the Father and received 2 from the Son and an object of 
faith ", and in the anathema appended to the Creed the 
catechumen is required to repudiate, in regard to the Holy 
Spirit also, all the Arian phrases which the Nicene Council 
anathematized in regard to the Son. 

There was thus, it is clear, abundant teaching being given 
in the Church to counteract the effects of the theories of the 
Macedonians, and the way was prepared for the full assertion of 
the doctrine of the Trinity by a General Council. 

Basil s Treatise on the Holy Spirit 

About the same time, in reponse to the prompting of his 
friend Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, Basil wrote his treatise 
on the Holy Spirit (374-375). 

He begins by explaining that he had been criticized because 

1 Hahn 3 p. 135. 

2 A variant reading gives the active sense receiving ; cf. John 16 14 . The phrase 
is first found here. 


he had used two forms of the doxology, " to God the Father 
through the Son in the Holy Spirit ", and " with the Son together 
with the Holy Spirit " ; l that the two forms were regarded as 
mutually inconsistent, and the latter as an innovation. Aetius 
had framed a rule by which the use of the prepositions in 
Scripture was governed, and argued that the difference of use 
corresponded to, and clearly indicated, a difference of nature ( 2); 
and according to this rule the first form of doxology only was 
legitimate God being widely differentiated from the Son, and 
both from the Spirit. 

In the first place, therefore, Basil argues that the rule is 
imaginary, and that no such distinction holds in the use of the 
sacred writers ; and, having established this point, he infers that 
the use of identical terms should shame his opponents into 
admitting that no difference of essence either exists ( 11). 

He insists that the Church knows both uses and does not 
deprecate either as destructive of the other. Sometimes with 
(fierd), sometimes through (Bid), is the more appropriate ; accord 
ing as, for example, praise or thanksgiving for blessings received 
through the Son is the more immediate purpose ( 16). 

Then, after an enquiry into the real meaning of the expres 
sion through the Son , he passes on ( 22) to his chief subject 
the doctrine of the Spirit, in the Scriptures, and in the un 
written tradition received from the Fathers. After a glowing 
description of the nature of the Spirit and the manifold forms of 
his gracious influence and varied gifts (the crown of all of which 
is said to be abiding in God, likeness to God, and the supreme 
desire of the heart becoming God ), he meets in succession 
objections urged against his being ranked with God in nature 
and glory. 2 In the course of the review of the evidence of 
Scripture and tradition he is led to conclusions such as the 
following : 

" He who does not believe in the Spirit does not believe in 
the Son, and he who does not believe in the Son does not believe 
in the Father." " In every operation the Spirit is conjoined with 
and inseparable from the Father and the Son." 3 In every dis- 

1 dia TOV vlov iv T($ ayl(f) Trpeu/xcm and /xe-ni TOV vlov ffvv T<+ irvevfia.Ti T< aytq}. 

2 Among other interesting points in the course of the discussion are the 
description of the effects of Baptism ( 26 ; cf. 35), the references to baptism into 
Christ only ( 28), the value of the secret unwritten tradition ( 66). 

3 To express with some show of worldly wisdom the idea that the Spirit was 
not co-ordinate with Father and Son but subordinate to them, the opponents of the 


tribution of gifts the Holy Spirit is present with the Father and 
the Son, of his own authority (in his own right), dispensing in 
proportion to the deserts of each. And in our own experience, 
in the reception of the gifts, it is with the Holy Spirit the dis 
tributer that we first meet ; and then we are put in mind of the 
Sender (that is, the Son) ; and then we carry up our thoughts to 
the fountain and author of the blessings ( 37). It is through 
the Spirit that all the dispensations are carried out Creation, 
the Old Covenant, the Incarnation in all its circumstances, the 
ministry of the Church, the future Advent ( 39 ; cf. 49). 

The Spirit s relation to the Father is thus essential and 
eternal. There is no doubt about the distinction of the three 
persons and the unity of essence. The one Spirit, conjoined through 
the one Son with the one Father Himself, completes the adorable 
and blessed Trinity (45). 

The Spirit is from God ... he comes forth from God : 
yet not by generation as the Son, but as the spirit of his 
mouth. But he is also called the Spirit of Christ, as being 
in respect of nature made his own (wiceiwuLevov Kara rrjv tyvaw 
avrw 46) ; he is as it were an c intimate of the Son. He is 
thus in some sense through the Son ; but Basil indicates rather 
than expresses this conception. 

After shewing at length that the prepositions in question 
have been and may be used indifferently, he points to the 
advantages of with (crvv 59). It is as effectual as and in re 
futing the mischief of Sabellius and establishing the distinction of 
persons, and it also bears conspicuous witness to the eternal com 
munion and perpetual conjunction which exists between them. 
( With exhibits the mutual conjunction of those who are associ 
ated together in some action, while in shews their relation to 
the sphere in which they are operating ( 60). 

Other reasons are then given for glorifying the Spirit, and 
the treatise concludes with a sombre picture of the state of the 
times, in which self-appointed place-hunters first get rid of the 
dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and then allot to one another 
the chief offices in all the Churches. 

doctrine adopted a curious verbal subtlety and argued that ho was not numbered 
with them, but was numbered under them, and that co-numeration suits things 
equal in honour, but sub-numeration things relatively inferior ( 13, 41, 42). 
Basil says this doctrine of sub-numeration introduces polytheism into Christian 
theology ( 47). Number has not really any place in the sphere of the Divine. 
Cf. also Greg. Naz. Or. Theol. v 17 ff. 


Gregory of Nyssa Quod non sint tres Dei 

The same teaching was being given by Gregory of Nyssa 
too about the same time. The devoted younger brother of Basil, 
of whom he constantly speaks as his master , while not intending 
to depart in any way from his brother s teaching, he certainly gave 
it somewhat more formal expression in some connexions, and con 
tributed largely to win currency for the * Cappadocian theological 

As in his treatise on Common Notions (Migne P.G. xlv pp. 
175-186), so in his letter to Ablabius, That there are not three 
Gods (ibid. pp. 115-136), 1 written about 375, he works out the 
position that * God is a term indicative of essence (being), not 
declarative of persons (not irpoacoTrwv S^CDTIKOV but ov<rla? 
o-TjIMavTiKov) ; and therefore it is, and must be, always used in 
the singular with each of the names of the persons. So we say 
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit , and 
if we insert the conjunction and between the clauses it is only 
to conjoin the terms which declare the persons, not the term 
which indicates the singularity of the essence. The three terms 
express the three modes of being, the three relations ; but the 
being remains one and the same, and the term expressing it must 
therefore always be used in the singular. 

The analogy of human nature and the common use in the 
plural of the term man , which expresses it, no doubt presents a 
difficulty. (This was the question Ablabius had put to Gregory.) 
But strictly, it is an abuse of language to speak of so many 
men ; it would be more accurate to describe each individual 
(Peter, James, John) as a hypostasis of man . Only in this 
case we tolerate the inaccuracy, because there is no danger of 
our thinking that there are many human natures, while in re 
spect to the Deity we might be thought to have some community 
of doctrine with the polytheism of the heathen. This is a solu 
tion of the difficulty sufficient for most men. Yet the difference 
of use may be justified by a deeper reason. The term Godhead 
is really significant of operation (evepyeia) rather than of nature. 
And the operations of men (even of those who are engaged in 
the same spheres of work) are separate and individual, whereas 
the operations of the Godhead are always effected by the Three 
together " without mark of time or distinction since there is no 

1 An English translation in Gregory of Nyssa JV. and P-N. F. 


delay, existent or conceived, in the motion of the divine will 
from the Father, through the Son, to the Spirit ". " In the case 
of the divine nature we do not learn that the Father does any 
thing by Himself in which the Son does not work conjointly, or 
again, that the Son has any special operation apart from the 
Holy Spirit; but every operation which extends from God to 
the creation, and is named according to our variable conceptions 
of it, has its origin from the Father, and proceeds through the 
Son, and is perfected in the Holy Spirit." 

An objection which Gregory foresees might be brought 
against this argument that by not admitting the difference of 
nature there was danger of a mixture and confusion of the 
persons leads him to his most characteristic statement of the 
distinction between the persons as based on a constant causal 
relation. "While we confess the invariable character of the 
nature, we do not deny the difference in regard to that which 
causes and that which is caused (rrjv /card, TO alriov KOI alriarov 
Siafapdv), wherein alone we conceive that the one is dis 
tinguished from the other namely, by our belief that the one 
is that which causes, and the other of or from that which causes. 
And we apprehend yet another difference in that which is of or 
from the cause : for one (part) is directly from the first, and 
another (part) is through that which is directly from the first 
... so that in the case of the Son the fact that he is Only- 
begotten remains undoubted and does not throw doubt on the 
fact that the Spirit is from the Father, inasmuch as the media 
tion (or intermediate position sc. between Father and Spirit) of the 
Son guards for him the fact that he is Only-begotten, and does 
not exclude the Spirit from his relation of nature to the Father." 
At the same time, the difference in respect to causation denotes 
no difference of nature, but only a difference in the mode of 
existence (e.g. that the Father does not exist by generation, and 
that the Son does not exist without generation). It does not 
touch the question of existence of nature. That he exists we 
believe first viz. what God is : then we consider how He is. 
" The divine nature itself is apprehended through every concep 
tion as invariable and undivided ; and therefore one Godhead 
and one God, and all the other names which relate to God, are 
rightly proclaimed in the singular." 

In this argument it is clear that the absolute co-eternity and 
co-equality of the Three Persons is recognized. The idea of 


causation serves only to distinguish the three modes of existence. 
God is one (6 @eo?) ; but within His being there is Cause 
(TO curtov), to which the name Father corresponds, and there 
is caused (TO airiarov), which includes the immediately caused 
(TO Trpocre Xtos etc TOV irpwrov) to which the name Son corre 
sponds, and the mediately caused (TO Sia TOV Trpoo-e^w? etc TOV 
TrpwTov) to which the name Holy Spirit corresponds. The 
Holy Spirit is thus in such wise from the Father , that he is 
also through the Son . And this connexion of the Spirit with 
the Son and the Father is Gregory s teaching also in his other 
writings, though not always in the same terms. 1 

A year later, in 376, a synod at Iconium, presided over by 
the bishop to whom Basil had written, decided that the Nicene 
Creed was enough, but that in doxologies the Spirit should be 
glorified together with the Father and the Son ; and the doctrine 
of the Spirit was laid down as Basil had taught it. And his 
treatise itself was at this time formally sanctioned and confirmed 
by a synod in Cappadocia. 2 

The prevailing uncertainty reflected in the Sermons of 
Gregory of Nazianzus 

The uncertainty, however, which still prevailed is clearly 
reflected in one of the sermons which Gregory of Nazianzus 

1 Cf. the Oratio Catechetica ii, an essential power existing in its own proper 
person, but incapable of being separated from God, in whom it is, or from the Word 
of God, whom it accompanies " ; On the Holy Spirit (Migne xlv p. 1304), K TOV deov 
<TTI, Kal TOV xptoroO &TTt, /caflcbs ytypaTTTdt ; " not to be confounded with the Father 
in being unoriginate, nor with the Son in being only-begotten"; the image of a 
separate flame burning on three torches the third flame caused by that of the first 
being transmitted to the middle and then kindling the end torch; "proceeding 
from the Father, receiving from the Son"; "The Father is always Father, and in 
Him the Son, and with the Son the Holy Spirit"; and On the Holy Trinity (cf. Basil 
Ep. 189 or 80), in which the main argument is that the identity of operation seen 
in regard to Father and Son and Holy Spirit proves identity of nature or essence. 

He also touches the line of argument which Augustine afterwards worked out so 
fully (see infra p. 228) the analogy of our own nature, in which certain shadows 
and resemblances may be detected that go to prove the existence of a Trinity in the 
Deity. (See e.g. Oratio Cat. i-iii.) 

It is to be noted that Gregory of Nyssa does not claim that the ovffla of the God 
head in itself can be known, but only its /dicfyiara or yvwpt<rfJMTa. See de Communibus 
Notionibus (Migne xlv p. 177), Refut. alt. lib. Eunomii (ibid. p. 945), Quod non 
sint tres dii (ibid. p. 121). So, among others, Augustine in Joh. Tract, xxxviii 8, 
" ego sum qui sum, quae mens potest caperel" 

2 Hefele Councils vol. ii p. 290. 


preached at Constantinople about the year 380, while engaged 
in his noble task of building up again a c Catholic congregation 
in the city which had so long been given over to the Arians. 
" Of the wise among us ", he says, " some have held the 
Holy Spirit to be an Energy, others a Creature, others God. 
Others again have not decided which of these he is out of 
reverence, as they say, for the Scriptures, because they lay down 
nothing precise upon the point. On this account they neither 
concede to him divine veneration, nor do they refuse him honour ; 
thus keeping in their disposition concerning him to some sort of 
middle way, which, however, is in effect a very wretched way. 
Of those, however, who have held him to be God, some keep this 
as a pious opinion to themselves (are pious so far as opinion 
goes), while others have the courage to be pious in expression of 
it also. Others I have heard in some kind of way mete out the 
Deity, more wise in that they conceive and acknowledge the 
Three as we do, but maintain a great distinction between them, 
to the effect that the One is infinite both in respect of being and 
of power, the second in respect of power, but not of being, the third 
circumscribed in both of these relations." 1 And while for him 
self he insists as strongly as possible on his essential eternity 
and equality with the other persons of the Godhead which 
cannot be complete, and therefore cannot be Godhead without 
him ( 4) he is certainly God, and if God necessarily co-essential 
with the Father ( 10); and while he sweeps away all inquisi 
tive and petty reasonings about his generation and origin by 
appeal to the Lord s own words as to procession, and refuses to 
enquire into its nature or to attempt to invade the mysteries of 
the divine existence it is enough to know that he is not be 
gotten but proceeds : yet he seems to regard the uncertainty of 
former times with no little sympathy, as in harmony with the 
appointed order of developement in the revelation of truth 
" the Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son 
more darkly ; the New Testament plainly revealed the Son, but 
only indicated the deity of the Spirit. 2 Now the Holy Spirit 
lives among us and makes the manifestation of himself more 
certain to us ; for it was not safe, so long as the divinity of the 
Father was still unrecognized, to proclaim openly that of the 

1 Greg. Naz. Or. 31 5 (Or. Theol. v 5). 

2 Language of this kind might have seemed to the Montanists of earlier times to 
support their main conceptions, 


Son ; and, so long as this was still not accepted, to impose the 
burden of the Spirit, if so bold a phrase may be allowed." 1 

From the point of view of Gregory the Macedonians would 
be lagging behind the necessary the divinely appointed course 
of developernent of revelation of the nature of the Godhead. 
And before, and at the time of, the Council of Constantinople in 
381 every effort was made to win them over to the recognition 
of the truth and the unity of the Church unfortunately in vain. 

The Council of Constantinople 

Amongst the bishops who were present there appears to 
have been no uncertainty as to the doctrine of the Church ; 2 
they reaffirmed the Nicene Creed with an explanation 8 of various 
points of doctrine, among which the Godhead of the Spirit was 
affirmed, and every heresy was declared anathema; 4 and the 
emperor gave authoritative expression to their conviction and 
decision when he issued the command at the close of the 
Council that " all the churches were at once to be surrendered 
to the bishops who believed in the Oneness of the Godhead of 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ". 6 

And so the faith in the triune personality of God was 
proclaimed against the last attempt of Arianism, and the Catholic 
interpretation established one God existing permanently and 
eternally in three spheres of consciousness and activity, three 

1 Ibid. 26 ff. See the whole of this Sermon, esp. 9, 10 and 28 for the testi 
mony of Scripture to the Holy Spirit. 

2 They included (besides those mentioned) Cyril of Jerusalem, Helladius the 
successor of Basil at Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium all 
well versed no doubt in the Catholic doctrine. 

8 This is not extant, but the synod which met at Constantinople in the following 
year states that the Council had put forth a tome, and at Chalcedon they were said 
to have communicated their decisions to the Westerns (Hefele ii p. 348). It is not 
certain to which of the Councils in 381 or in 382 some of the canons attributed to 
the Council of 381 belong. The synodical letter of the Council of 382 (to Damasus 
and other Western bishops), excusing themselves from attending a Council at Rome, 
is given in Theodoret H.E. v 9, and again declares the faith that there is "one god 
head, power, and essence of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ; the 
dignity being equal in three perfect hypostases (viro(TTd<rf<rii>) and three perfect 
persons (Trpoo-wTrou) ". 

4 The heresies specified are those of the Eunomians or Anomoeans, the Arians or 
Eudoxians, the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachians, the Sabellians, Marcellians, 
Photinians, and Apollinarians. 

6 "One and the same Godhead in the hypostasis of three Persons of equal 
honour and of equal power ; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." 
Soz. H.E. vii 9. On July 30, 381. 


modes, three forms, three persons : in the inner relations of the 
divine life as well as in the outer relations of the Godhead to the 
world and to men. 

From this time forward it was only in connexion with the 
procession of the Spirit that any fresh developement of the doc 
trine is to be noted. But it was so lucidly summed up, and in 
some of its aspects so appealingly presented by Augustine, that a 
short statement of his summary of it may be given in conclusion. 1 

Augustine s Statement of the Doctrine 

The aim of his treatise is to shew that " the one and only and 
true God is a Trinity, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 
rightly said and believed to be of one and the same substance or 
essence " (i 4). First of all the proof from Scripture is detailed, 
and passages which are alleged against the equality of the Son are 
examined (14 ff). By the way, the puzzle how the Trinity is said 
to operate in everything which God operates, and yet particular 
actions are attributed exclusively to particular Persons is noted. 
With regard to the Holy Spirit, special stress is laid on the use 
in connexion with him of the verb \arpeveiv (which is used of 
divine service) : and interesting distinctions are drawn with regard 
to the Incarnate Son between the forma Dei and the forma servi, 
in explanation of passages in Scripture in which he is spoken of as 
less than the Father some things being said according to the 
form of God , and some according to the form of a servant . 

To elucidate the relations to the Trinity of the Son and 
the Holy Spirit in their operations, he examines the appearances 
recorded in the Old Testament, whether they were of the Trinity 
or of individual Persons, and decides that though some corporeal 
or outward means were adopted we cannot rashly affirm which 
Person it was that appeared. 2 

1 The first Latin treatise devoted to the subject was by Ambrose, the spiritual 
father of Augustine, in the year of the Council of Constantinople. He answers 
objections and sets forward such arguments as have already been noticed. He 
teaches procession from the Son as well as from the Father, but not expressly an 
eternal procession from the Son. Augustine completed the presentation of the 
doctrine for the West. He had stated it shortly in the sermon he preached before a 
Council at Hippo in 393 (see de Fide et Symbolo, 16 ff.), and again a few years 
later in a Sermon to catechumens ( 13), and also in his sermons on the Gospel of 
St John (see Tract, xcix esp. 6 ff.) ; but it was not till after the year 415 that he 
published the treatise On the Trinity, at which he had been working at intervals 
for many years, and in which he gave to the doctrine the fullest expression. 

3 Bk. ii ; the means being further considered in bk. iii. 



Just as the Son, though said to be sent by the Father, is equal 
and consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father the difference 
between the sender and the sent being only that the Son is from 
the Father, not the Father from the Son so too the Holy Spirit 
is one with them, since these three are one, and he proceeds 
not only from the Father but also from the Son. 1 The Lord 
himself says of the Spirit whom I will send unto you from the 
Father to shew that the Father is the beginning of the whole 
divinity or Deity : and though this sending of the Holy Spirit 
is eternal, yet there was a special sending such as had never 
been before after the glorification of Christ a sending which 
was made plain by visible signs. In the case of such sensible 
manifestations, it is true that the working of the Trinity cannot 
be seen as indivisible ; just as it is impossible for men to name 
the Three without separation by the intervals of time which 
each name, Father Son Holy Spirit, occupies ; yet the Three 
work indi visibly ( 30). 2 It is possible to predicate of God 

1 Bk. iv 27 ff. 

2 To the thought of the inseparable operation and intercommunion of the Three 
Persons, which Augustine expressed here and again in bk. viii ad init., later 
theologians applied the term irepixupT)<r<.s. Both senses of the verb xupew, move 
and contain , are included in its meaning. The persons interpenetrate each other, 
and each contains the other. "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, while 
they are in very deed three Persons, still do not by any means exist as three men 
separately and apart from each other, but they intimately cohere together and are 
conjoined One with Another, and thus exist One in the Other, and so to speak 
mutually run into and penetrate each other" (Bull Def. N.C. bk. ii ch. ix), 
and so the numerical unity of substance is maintained. Latin equivalents of the 
term are thus either circumincessio (the three mutually pervade each other) or 
circuminscssio (the three mutually contain or rest in each other). Interpenetration 
or { coinherence are perhaps the nearest English representatives of the term. The 
whole Trinity is present in each of the Persons each is full and complete, and 
each includes the others : a notion of personality which is so different from 
ordinary human experience that Augustine shrinks from the use of the term at 
all (infra v 10). The scriptural basis of the doctrine is to be found in the 
Gospel according to St John I 18 10 30 and 14 10 - " ("the only-begotten Son which is 
in the bosom of the Father ", and " I am in the Father and the Father in me ... 
the Father that dwelleth in me ") : and Athanasius used it against the Arians 
(see Or. c. Ar. ii 33, 41, and especially iii 1-6), and quoted Dionysius of Rome 
as expressing the same thought (in language very near to the later technical term), 
"For it must needs be that with the God of the universe the divine word is 
united, and the Holy Ghost must repose and habitate in God " (^cc0iXo%w/3e?j ry 0e 
Kal ^vdiatracrdai in Deo manere ct habitare), and supporting it by the same passages 
of Scripture (de Decretis 26). Similar expression is given to the doctrine in the 
Macrostichos (Antioch, 345) ix. "For we have believed that they (the Father 
and the Son) are conjoined with one another without medium or interval and exist 
inseparably from one another, the Father entire embosoming the Son, and the Son 


according to substance that is in respect to Himself (as good, 
great), or relatively that is, in respect to something not 
Himself (as Father in respect to the Son, and Lord in respect 
to the Creature). Whatever is spoken of God according to 
substance is spoken of each person severally and together of 
the Trinity itself which is rightly described as one essence, 
three hypostases or persons ; though the term persons is only 
used for want of a better way of expressing the facts (bk. v, 
10). " For, indeed, since Father is not Son, and Son is not 
Father, and the Holy Spirit, who is also called the gift of God, 
is neither Father nor Son, they are certainly three. And so it 
is said in the plural, I and the Father are one for he did 
not say is one as the Sabellians say, but are one . Yet when 
it is asked what the three are (quid tres), human utterance is 
weighed down by deep poverty of speech. All the same, we 
say three persons , not that we wish to say it, but that we may 
not be reduced to silence." It is simply, as he says further on 
in his essay, 1 recurring to the same subject, "for the sake of 
speaking of things that are ineffable, that we may be able in 
some way to gay what we can in no way say fully " especially 
against the devices of errors of heretics that the terms one 
essence and three persons are permissible. The persons are not 
the Trinity, but the Trinity can be called also (the) Holy Spirit, 
because all three are God, and Spirit, and Holy. He is the gift 
of both the Father and the Son, the communion of them both, 
called specially what they are called in common ( 12). 2 This 
communion or unity or holiness, which links each to the other, 
is properly called love (vi 7), for it is written God is Love . 
And herein may be seen how the Persons in the Deity are 
three and not more than three : One who loves Him who is 
from Himself ; and One who loves Him from whom He is ; and 
Love itself. And in this Trinity is the supreme source of all 
things, and the most perfect beauty and the most blessed 
delight ( 12). 

After a further consideration of some of the aspects of the 
question already reviewed (bk. vii), and a short recapitulation 

entire depending upon and adhering to the Father and alone perpetually (continn - 
ally) resting in the Father s lap." Hahn 3 p. 195. 

1 De Trin. vii 7-10. 

2 They are together the only beginning (pruncipiwm,) of the Holy Spirit ( 15). 
He is a gift, given in time, but also eternally existent (as a gift may exist before 
it is given) ( 16). 


of the argument (bk. viii), in which he emphasizes the perfect 
equality of all the Persons and the completeness of each in 
respect of Deity (no one in the Trinity, nor two together, 
nor even all three together, being greater than each one 
severally); Augustine passes on to the most characteristic 
argument of his essay. On the ground that man is the image 
of God, he is led to look for indications of a Trinity in his 
constitution since Scripture also points to this method of 
attaining to knowledge of God, the " invisible things of Him 
being understood ever since the creation by the things He has 
made". 1 

At the outset he argues that it is by love that we really 
arrive at knowledge of the Trinity, and love really implies three 
things and is in itself as it were a trace of the Trinity. 
" Love is of some one that loves, and with love something is 
loved. So here are three things : he who loves, and that which 
is loved, and love. 2 What else then is love but as it were a 
life that links together or seeks to link together some two 
things him that loves, to wit, and that which is loved." This, 
then, he says, is where we must look for what we are seeking 
we have not found it, but we have found where it is to be 
sought (viii 14). 

So in the creature, step by step, he seeks through certain 
trinities each of their own appropriate kind, until he comes at 
last to the mind of man traces of that highest Trinity which 
we seek when we seek God. And first (bk. ix 3, 4-8) he finds 
a trinity in the mind of man, the knowledge with which it 
knows itself, and the love with which it loves itself and its own 
knowledge. 3 These three are one and equal and inseparable ; 
they exist substantially and are predicated relatively ; they are 
several in themselves, and mutually all in all. The knowledge 
of the mind is as it were its offspring and its word concerning 
itself, and the offspring is not less than the parent mind, since 
the mind knows itself just to the extent of its own being ; and 
the love is not less since it loves itself just to the extent of 
its knowledge and of its being. 4 

1 Rom. I 20 . Cf. Wisd. 13 1 6 (bk. xv 3). 

2 Amans, et quod amatur, et amor. 

3 Mens, notitia qua se novit, amor quo se notitiamque suam diligit. 

4 Nee minor proles, dum tantam se novit mens quanta est : nee minor amor duni 
tantum se diligit quantum novit et quanta est (ix 18). 


Other trinities may be seen in the mind in memory, under 
standing, will 1 ; in sight the object, the act of seeing or vision, 
the attention of the mind or the will which combines the two 
(though these are not equal nor of one essence, and belong to 
the sphere of the outer man which is not an image of God 2 ) ; 
and in connexion with sight, in the mind itself the image of 
the object seen which is in the memory, the impression formed 
from it when the mind s eye is turned to it, the purpose of the 
will combining both (but this trinity also though in the mind 
is really of the outer man, because introduced from bodily 
objects which are perceived from without 3 ). Later on in the 
treatise 4 this instance is applied in a somewhat different form, 
the example of the Faith or Creed when learnt orally being 
taken, and the trinity found in memory (of the sounds of the 
words), recollection (when we think thereon), and the will (when 
we remember and think) combining both. 

Yet another peculiar kind of trinity is found in knowledge 5 
of which there is the higher (wisdom), dealing with things 
eternal ; and the lower, of things temporal, in which the whole 
some knowledge of things human is contained, enabling us to so 
act in this temporal life as to attain in the end to that which 
is eternal. In considering first the lower knowledge, he describes 
how man is made in the image of God, and how he turns away 
from that image and by gradual steps sinks lower and lower, 
sinking often in thought and imagination, even when not intend 
ing to carry the sin out into act. And so, starting from the 
incidental premiss that all men desire blessedness, he goes on to 
shew how it may be attained by faith in Christ, and so is led 
to expound the reasons for the Incarnation and the Passion. 6 
Then, reverting 7 to the discussion of the trinity in memory, 
intelligence, and will, he declares that it is in the noblest part 
of the mind that the Trinity, which is the image of God, is to 
be sought that part of the mind which is the sphere of the 
higher knowledge. It is here that he finds the surest indication 
of the Holy Trinity in the inmost being of the mind which 
remembers and understands and loves itself, but above all 
God, and so is brought into most intimate relation to Him. 
So it is that the constitution of man himself, made in the 

1 Memoria, intelligentia, voluntas suimetipsius (x). 

2 xi 2-10. 3 xi 11 ff. 4 Bk. xiii. 
6 Bk. xii. e Bkj xiiii 7 Bk> xiv- 


image of God, bears witness to the truth of the doctrine of the 

The main thesis of the treatise is thus apparently concluded ; 
but it is of the Trinity itself, not only of evidence for its 
existence, that Augustine writes ; and in the last book he adds 
largely to what he has before said in regard to the Holy Spirit, 
particularly as to his relation to the Father and the Son. 

The Holy Spirit, he says, 1 according to the holy Scriptures, 
is neither of the Father alone nor of the Son alone, but of both ; 
and so he intimates to us a mutual love wherewith the Father 
and the Son reciprocally love one another. The love is, indeed, 
proper to each individually and to all collectively ; yet the Holy 
Spirit may be specially called love, as the Son only is called 
the Word, and the Holy Spirit alone the gift of God, and God 
the Father alone He from whom the Word is born and from 
whom the Holy Spirit principally proceeds. He adds princi 
pally (i.e. as beginning or principle), because we find that the 
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son also. This was the Father s 
purpose and design he gave this to the Son (namely, that the 
Spirit should proceed from him too), not subsequently to his 
generation, but by begetting him : He so begat him as that the 
common gift should proceed from him also, and the Holy Spirit 
be the Spirit of both (that is, the Spirit proceeds from the Son 
by virtue of the Father s gift to the Son in his generation 
both alike eternal). The Holy Spirit may thus be specially 
called love ; as similarly the Word of God was specially called 
also the Wisdom of God, although both Father and Holy Spirit 
also are Wisdom. No gift of God is more excellent than love. 

And it must not be supposed that the Holy Spirit is less 
than the Father and the Son, because they give and he is given. 
Even though he were given to no one, he is himself God and 
was God, co-eternal with the Father and the Son, before he was 
given to any one. And when he is given as a gift of God, it 
is in such a way that he himself, as being God, also gives 

It is certain that the procession of the Holy Spirit is from 
both Father and Son apart from time. We neither say the 
Holy Spirit is begotten nor do we say he is unbegotten (for 
the latter term, though not found in the Scriptures, is con 
veniently applied to the Father alone) ; and we abhor the idea 

1 Bk. xv 27 If. 


that he is begotten of both Father and Son. What we say is, 
that he proceeds eternally from both, without any kind of 
interval of time between the generation of the Son from the 
Father and the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the 
Son. This the Son and the Spirit each has from the Father. 1 

This is certain, but we must be on our guard against too 
much reasoning. We must not press too far the analogy between 
the image of the Trinity in us and the Trinity itself. Many 
questions can only be understood when we are in bliss, and no 
longer reason but contemplate. It is in love, he implies, rather 
than in reason, that the solution of difficulties is to be found. 

So in the prayer with which he closes the treatise he asks 
for increase of remembrance, understanding, love. 2 

Mr. Burn draws my attention to the fresh and vigorous treatment of 
the doctrine by Niceta of Remesiana in Dacia (near Palanka in Servia), 
a great admirer of Basil. His treatise was written, Mr. Burn thinks, 
soon after 381, as part of the third book of his Libelli instructionis. (It 
is printed in Migne vol. Hi p. 853, under Mai s mistaken title de Spiritus 
sancti potentia.) He begins by reference to the puzzles put forward by 
some as to whether the Spirit was born or not born , and directs his 
argument against those who style him a creature. He appeals to the 
words of Scripture to decide all such questions, and makes some inter 
esting applications and interpretations of texts (e.g. Col I 26 , Rom 8 15 , 
John 20 22 16 13 , 1 John 2 1 , 1 Cor 14 24 ). Scripture and all his operations, 
whether benignant or awe-inspiring, shew his full Godhead. He is to 
be worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son with one and 
the same worship. When we worship one, we worship all ; and by so 
doing we do not add to the glory of the divine majesty, but thereby we 
acquire glory for ourselves. To this faith we must hold fast, and be 
true to our profession in the Mysteries Holy, holy, holy is the Lord 
God of Hosts . 


Substantia, the verbal noun from substo, means that which underlies 
a thing , that by which anything subsists or exists ; , the essence or 
underlying principle by which each res is what it is . So things which 

1 Here he refers to his Sermon on St John s Gospel w Joh. Tract, xcix 6ff., 
where he insists that the saying "proceeds from the Father" does not exclude 
procession also from the Son. 

2 With Augustine s statement of the doctrine may be compared the statement of 
Hilary de Trinitate esp. ii 29-35, viii 25, ix 73, xii 55. 


have substantia are contrasted with those which only have an imaginary 
existence, being fashioned by illusory or unreal thought, like Centaurs 
or giants (Seneca Ep. 58) : a contrast which shews the meaning of 
substantia to be real existence . And again, it is said that before you 
can enquire about a man, Who he is, you must have before you his 
substantia (sc. his real existence, the fact that he is) : so that you cannot 
make the question of his being a subject of examination (Quintilian 
vii 2. 5). That is to say, substantia denotes real existence, as to the 
particular form or character of which enquiry may be made. So, too, 
substantia and qualitas are distinguished as subjects of investigation 
(ib. 3. 6) ; and in this way it comes about that the substantia of a thing 
is an easy periphrasis for the thing itself. 

A secondary sense of the term property , patrimony , * fortune 
has been sufficiently referred to in the text in connexion with Tertullian s 
usage (see supra p. 138). 

It is in its primary sense that it was adopted for doctrinal purposes 
in connexion with the attempt to describe the Godhead. It had to do 
duty, as we have seen (supra p. 117), for both ovo-ia and V7ro<rra<rt?. 
Both words alike are rendered substantia by the Latin translator of 
Irenaeus, the sense expressed being the substratum of a thing or being, 
having of course particular qualities or form, but conceived of as apart 
from its qualities or form. 

The regular philosophical sense on which the doctrinal use of the 
term is really based is seen, for example, in Tertullian de Anima 11, 
where he distinguishes between the soul as substantia and its acts or 
operations ; and in the adjectival forms which he employs, for instance, 
de Res. Cam. 45 and adv. Prax. 7, 26. [He discusses the relation 
between the old man and the new man and argues that the differ 
ence is moral not substantial ; that is to say, the substantia man is the 
same. And commenting on the Monarchian wish to avoid recognition 
of the Son as a distinct entity (substantivus), he declares that he is a 
substantiva res, whereas the power of the Most High and the like are 
not, but only accidentia substantiae. Or again faith and * love are 
not substantiva animae but conceptiva, that is not the substantia but 
the concepts of the substantia.] 

This difference which Tertullian defines between substantia and the 
nature of substantia (see also supra p. 140, and cf. p. 235) practically held 
its ground through the later developements of Latin theology. Sub 
stantia is the term regularly employed to express the being of God 
the Godhead in itself, as a distinct entity. The substantia has its own 
natura which is inseparable from it, but the substantia is not the natura. 
The retention of the distinction is plainly perceptible in the expression 
of the doctrine of the Person of Christ the union of the Godhead and 
the manhood. Latin theologians shrink from speaking of the union of 


the two natures merely. If they do not actually employ the term 
substantia (speaking of the substantia of Godhead and the substantia of 
manhood as united in the Person of the Son), they use some other 
phrase to represent it rather than natura. Thus forma Dei and forma 
servi are preferred by Hilary, as filius Dei and filius hominis by 
Novatian and Augustine ; and Leo, though he freely uses utraque 
natura, is careful to mark his full meaning by adding et sulstantia to 
natura, and by interchanging with it the expression utraque forma 
(forma conveying a more definite conception of an actual entity a 
substantial existence than natura). Vincent, too (Commonit. xii, xiii), 
owing to this clearness of Latin usage, was able to put the case in 
regard to the Christological controversies which Leo had in view 
without the ambiguities with which it was confused for Greeks. He 
describes the error of Apollinarius as the refusal to recognize in Christ 
two substances (duas substantias), the one divine and the other human ; 
whereas JSTestorius, pretending to discriminate the two substances in 
Christ, really introduces two persons : and he sets out as the Catholic 
faith in God one substance, but three persons ; in Christ two 
substances, but one person . Using substantia throughout, denned 
either as divina or as Jmmana, and retaining Tertullian s distinction, he 
can also speak with perfect lucidity of the natura of the substance. 

So too in the Chalcedonian definition of the doctrine, in terms 
entirely consonant with the teaching and discrimination of Latin 
theologians from Tertullian to Leo, first there is recognized in the 
person of Jesus Christ the two substantiae of Godhead and manhood 
(he is rmius substantiae with the Father secundum deitatem, and also 
unius substantiae with us secundum humanitatem), and then it is 
declared that the one person exists in the two natures. (See further 
Texts and Studies vol. vii no. 1 pp. 65-70.) 


The history of the word persona outside ecclesiastical use is clear. 
First, it is an actor s mask ; then, by an easy transition, the part the 
actor plays, which is represented by his mask ; then, any part or rdle 
assumed by any one without regard to its duration. Secondly, it is the 
condicio, status, munus which any one has among men in general, and in 
particular in civil life. And so it is the man himself so far as he has 
this or that persona. Thus slaves, as not possessing any rights of citizen 
ship, were regarded by Roman law as not having persona : they were 
aTTpoo-cDTrot or persona carentes. (Cf. the phrase personam amittere to 
lose rank or status and the Vulgate rendering of TrpocrooTrov Xafj.j3a.vfiv 
viz. respicere or aspicere personam.) It is this second sense of the word 
by which ecclesiastical usage is controlled ; and the most important fact 


to notice is that it never means what * person means in modern popular 
usage, even when it seems to be used very nearly in the sense of 
f person , and when it has no other representative in English. It 
always designates status, or character, or part, or function : not, of 
course, that it is conceived as separate from some living subject or 
agent, but that attention is fixed on the character or function rather 
than on the subject or agent. It is always a person looked at from 
some distinctive point of view, a person in particular circumstances ; 
that is, it conveys the notion much more of the environment than of 
the subject. It expresses in its ecclesiastical usage in a single word 
precisely what Basil s T/DOTTOS {i7rapews denoted, and what {iTroarao-is was 
ultimately narrowed down to mean. 

The history of irpocruTrov is similar, as to its primary uses, to that of 
persona. In the New Testament the regular sense of the word is face : 
either literally (of living beings or trop. of e.g. the face of the earth), or 
as equivalent to presence . It is also found in the phrase TrpoVcoTrov 
Xafjifidvew and cognate expressions, which have been referred to above ; 
while it is used in some special senses by St Paul e.g. (1) the outward 
contrasted with the inward, as in 1 Thess 2 17 where it means nearly 

1 presence , and 2 Cor 5 12 where it denotes outward show or de 
meanour as contrasted with real feeling ; (2) the phrase ev TrpocrajTrw 
Xpio-rov, 2 Cor 2 10 4 6 , where it stands for character or part ; (3) 

2 Cor I 11 where it is almost exactly like Tertullian s persona. But 
it is probably as a translation of the Latin term that it is first found in 
connexion with Christian doctrine, and there seems to be no reason in 
the nature of things why it should not have served Greek theology as 
persona ultimately served the Latins. Only, it was entirely spoiled for 
doctrinal purposes by the use which Sabellius and his followers made of 
it and its derivatives (see supra p. 105). 

When it had once been definitely employed to express the conception 
of distinctions in the Godhead which were merely temporal and external, 
different parts played in the process of self-revelation to the world and 
to men by one and the same Person, it was almost impossible that it 
should ever be adopted to denote distinctions which were eternal and 
rooted in the very being of the Godhead, entirely apart from any relation 
to the created universe and the human race. Like the Latin persona, it 
was just the word that was wanted to express the thought of the three 
relations in which the one God always exists, the three distinct spheres 
of being each representing special functions which together make up 
the divine life. There was no reason why it should not have connoted 
all the notion of permanent personality which properly attaches to the 
names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It could easily have been safe 
guarded in use from limitation to merely temporary rdles (or parts or 
characters or functions) assumed simply for particular purposes. But 


Sabellius stole the word away ; and Greek theologians were left without 
any suitable way of expressing the conception, till they could agree 
among themselves to use another term which properly meant something 
quite different, and could win general acceptance for the artificial sense 
which they put upon the term they used. (See further Texts and 
Studies vol. vii no. 1 pp. 70-74.) 


The word ova-fa expresses primarily real existence, actual being 
that which actually is. As used by Plato it was the special characteristic 
of the Ideas the realities (TO, 6Wa) as contrasted with the appearances 
on earth (TO, ^atj/o/xeva) : the Ideas by imitation of which, or participation 
in which, things as we know them are what they are. And each class 
of things has its own particular ova-La, namely, the Idea so far, that is 
to say, as anything but the Idea can be regarded as existent at all. 

But it was Aristotle, rather than Plato, who fixed for later times the 
usage of the word. To him (besides having commonly the meaning 
possessions , property , as substantia in Latin) it is equivalent to TO 
elvai but particularly he uses it to express real concrete existence TO 
ov, TO d-TrAoas ov. It is the first in the series of categories, substance : 
and to it attach, and from it are distinguished, all conceptions of quantity 
or quality, all attributes or properties (a~vfj.(3/3r]K6ra). And thus, in 
accordance with Aristotle s inductive method, it is primarily and properly 
descriptive of individual particular existence each particular entity (the 
To Se TI) : and this primary sense is distinguished as -rrp^rrj ova-La. But 
inasmuch as there may be many examples of one particular ova-La, it 
may signify that which is common to them all to whole species or 
classes : and this secondary sense of the word is distinguished as 
oevrtpa ova-La. 

These are the two main usages of the word. It always expresses 
substantial existence. It may be used of the whole entity, or of the 
matter or the form of which every perceptible substance is conceived 
by Aristotle as consisting. Or it may be used where for the immediate 
purpose it seems that the sense required might be conveyed by <ixris or 
nature the sum total of the attributes or properties (o-u/A/Se/fy/coTa). 
But it is never employed as a mere synonym for <vo-i5. It always 
means much more, including $uVis perhaps, but logically to be dis 
criminated from it. 

YTTocrrao-is, as a philosophical term, is a later and much more rarer 
word. Aristotle only uses it in its literal meaning of a standing 
beneath or that which stands beneath (i.e. either of the action of 
subsiding, or of that which remains as a result of such action, viz. 
sediment ). But the philosophical usage of the term is derived directly 


and naturally from an earlier and not uncommon use of the verb of 
which it is the noun. The ova-La was said to exist at the outset, to be 
the underlying existence (v^eo-rai/at) ; and so the noun vTrdorrao-ts was a 
possible equivalent for ova-La, expressing the essential substratum, the 
foundation of a thing, the vehicle of all qualities. The earliest 
examples of its use are found in Stoic writers, and thenceforward both 
words, ova-La and vTrocrracns, were current without any clear distinction 
being drawn between them. But ova-fa was by far the commoner term, 
vTroo-Tao-19 being comparatively rarely found. So Socrates (H.E. iii 7) 
could say the ancient philosophical writers scarcely noticed this word , 
though the more modern ones have frequently used it instead of 
ova-ia . It was, however, as has been stated supra p. 117, the equi 
valent of vTroorrao-ts (viz. substantia) which was acclimatized in the Latin 
language more readily than the equivalent of ovcrta (viz. essentia), and 
therefore substantia was all through the normal term by which Latin 
theologians expressed the conceptions for which ova-fa stood. 

The LXX translators of the Old Testament employed the word to 
express the ground or foundation of hope ; and it was introduced into 
Christian theology by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In his 
phrase ^a/aaKT^p rfjs uTrocrrao-eoos avrov (Heb. I 3 ), vrroVrao-ts is exactly the 
equivalent of ova-fa ( being , essence , substance , as in the yu/a ova-La 
or una substantia of later technical theology) ; and so it was expounded 
by the later Greek theologians, who would themselves have used ova-fa 
there instead and have kept vTroVrao-is to express the characteristics of 
the existence of the persons of the Trinity. The same metaphysical 
conception is seen in the definition of faith as eX7no/xeVo>v woo-rao-is 
(Heb. II 1 ) viz. that which gives reality to things hoped for, the faculty 
by which we are able to treat as realities things which are as yet only 
objects of hope and probably in the other passages in the New Testa 
ment in which vTroWao-is occurs (Heb. 3 14 , 2 Cor. 9 4 ll lr in which at 
least the meaning subject-matter , the matter of is possible ; cf. the 
Vulgate and Tyndale s versions). 

So ova-La and vTrooracris remain in use side by side. Origen was the 
first to attempt to discriminate between them ; but the use of vrroo-Tao-is 
as the equivalent of ova-fa was too firmly rooted to be much shaken. 
The supposition that Dionysius of Alexandria was familiar with a 
different usage, and that rpcts vTroorao-ets meant to him exactly what it 
meant to the Cappadocian fathers, is no doubt extremely attractive ; but 
the temptation to antedate in this way the developement of precision of 
terminology in this connexion must be resisted. The fragments of the 
correspondence between him and Dionysius of Eome that are extant 
shew that he had not arrived at the conception of such a clear dis 
tinction. He realized three forms of existence more vividly than one 
substantial entity of Deity (see supra p. 114 n. 2). So great was his 


reputation, that if the discrimination had been in any way due to him, 
it is impossible that it could have died out in the great theological school 
of his see; and the whole history of the subsequent century proves 
conclusively that no more at Alexandria than anywhere else in the East 
had the implied precision of terms been attained. 

So the framers of the Creed of Nicaea and its anathemas still used 
ova-fa and vTroVrao-ts as synonyms, and as synonyms still the Arianizing 
parties in the Church in subsequent years put both words alike under 
the ban. (So Athanasius de Deer. 20, repeating the Mcene anathema, 
has only e ere /ms oucn as ; and in one of his latest writings ad Afros 4, 
refuting the objections brought against the words as non-scriptural, he 
says " vTroo-racrts is ova-La and means nothing else but simply being." And, 
though most of the creeds devised as substitutes for the Creed of Mcaea 
are content to forbid the use of ovcria without mention of WOO-TOUTIS, 
the Synod of Constantinople in 360 declared against vTro crraa-is too, 
evidently regarding the words as synonymous see the Creed in Hahn 3 
p. 209.) 

It was at the Synod of Alexandria in 362 (see supra p. 186), presided 
over by Athanasius, that formal recognition was first conceded to the 
usage of the word vTroo-rao-ts which made it possible to speak of the 
Trinity as rpets vrroo-rao-a?, while still being faithful to the definitions 
of the doctrine at Nicaea ; though at the same time the older and 
original usage, according to which /xia vTrocrrao-is only could be said, 
received like recognition (see Ath. ad Antiochenos 5, 6, and Socr. H.E. 
iii 7). By this time many orthodox theologians were becoming 
accustomed to the usage of the two terms ovaia and vTroorao-is, whereby 
ova-La expresses the existence or essence or substantial entity of the 
Trinity as God, and {woo-racm expresses the existence in a particular 
mode, the manner of being of each of the Persons . The Cappadocian 
fathers, more than any others, contributed to securing currency for this 
distinction. Basil of Caesarea, in particular, clearly defines the sense of 
vTrocrrao-is as TO iStcos Aeyd/xevov a special and particular sense of ova-La. 
It denotes a limitation, a separation of certain circumscribed conceptions 
from the general idea. " Not the indefinite conception of ovo-ia, which, 
because what is signified is common to all, finds no fixity, but that 
which by means of the special characteristics (or properties) which are 
made apparent gives fixity and circumscription to that which is common 
and uncircumscribed (Ep. 38)." And again (Ep. 214): " Ovo-ia has 
the same relation to vrrooTacris as the common has to the particular. 
Every one of us both shares in existence by the common term of ova-La 
and by his own properties is such or such an one. In the same 
manner, in the matter in question, the term ovorta is common, like 
goodness or Godhead or any similar attribute (i.e. it is not goodness 
or any attribute) ; while vTrocrracns is contemplated in the special 


property of Fatherhood, Sonship, or the power to sanctify." That is 
to say, vTroo-rao-ts expresses the particular mode of existence or special 

So the two terms passed together into Catholic use to express 
respectively the one Godhead and the forms of its existence. There is 
fjiia ovcrta and rpets vTrotrracrets, or fAia ovcria ej> rptcrlv VTroo Tacreo tv one 
substance or essence or entity, in three subsistencies or forms or modes or 
spheres of existence or consciousness : one God permanently existing in 
three eternal modes. The oy<ria of Father and Son and Holy Spirit is 
one and the same. Both Father and Son together with the Holy Spirit 
are the Godhead. The one Being exists in three forms, or spheres, or 
functions. The one God is tri-personal. (See further Texts and Studies 
vol. vii no. 1 pp. 74-81.) 



The Results of the previous Developements 

As a result of all the controversies on which the Church 
pronounced at the Council of Constantinople, it may be said 
that the Christian conception of God was clearly enough de 
fined. From the observed facts of human experience the 
experiences of the people of Israel recorded in their sacred 
books, the experiences of the life on earth of Jesus of Nazareth, 
observed and interpreted by his immediate followers and their 
successors, the experiences of those same disciples and subse 
quent generations, the experiences of the continuous life of the 
Christian society through more than three hundred years the 
deduction had been drawn. As an interpretation of human life, 
and of experiences which were felt to connote the workings of 
God in the world, the experience of the whole Christian revela 
tion, the doctrine of the Trinity was framed. 

The facts of human experience, thus marshalled and ex 
amined, pointed to the existence of one Supreme Being, at once 
outside the world and in the world, eternally existing and 
manifesting Himself in three modes of existence three spheres 
of being represented by the three names, Father, Son, and 
Holy Spirit : the three names representing three eternal re 
lations existing within the Godhead, and manifested in operation 
in the universe and in the world of human experience. 

The three eternal relations or modes in which the One God 
simultaneously exists and operates are distinct, and are capable 
of being distinguished in human thought and experience, and are 
to be attributed respectively to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
These three c Persons together form the One Godhead. 

So much of definition of experience and description the 
Church had reached. But it cannot be said there was yet 



any precise and clear conception of personality. And this diffi 
culty, not even yet surmounted, was at the root of the next great 
controversy to which the Church was led. 

At the outset of the sketch of the controversies up to this 
time, it was stated that the Catholic doctrine of the Person of 
Christ, as ultimately framed, took note of four main factors 
his full and perfect divinity, his full and perfect humanity, the 
union of the two in one person, the relations existing between 
the two when united in the one person. 

By the time the Arian controversy ended, the first two 
explicitly and the third implicitly of these four factors had been 
fully recognized in the doctrine of the Trinity ; but the attempt 
to examine the relations existing between the two natures in the 
incarnate Son was attended by no less serious troubles. The 
uncertainty as to what constituted a nature was as great as 
the uncertainty in regard to a person . 

This uncertainty is the keynote to the debates of the fifth 
century, in the prelude to which Apollinarius played the leading 

The Points of Departure of Apollinarius and His Theories 

Apollinarius x had been a chief champion of the Nicene 
doctrine against the Arians, and it was in opposition to them 

1 Apollinarius, Bishop of Laodicea, in the latter half of the fourth century, was 
son of the grammatista (schoolmaster) of Berytus, and afterwards presbyter of 
Laodicea, who undertook the composition of Christian works, in imitation of the 
old classics, when Julian s educational laws precluded Christians from studying and 
teaching the ancient Greek and Latin literature. In this work the son helped his 
father, and also wrote in defence of Christianity against Julian and Porphyry, 
and against heretics, such as the Arians and Marcellus, besides commentaries on 
Scripture and other works, of which only fragments are extant in the answers of 
Gregory Naz. Epp. ci, cii (to Cledonius), Gregory of Nyssa Antirrheticus adv. Apoll. 
and Ep. ad TheopTiilum adv. Apoll., and Theodoret. Cf. also Epiphanius adv. 
Haer. Ixxvii, Athanasius Contra Apoll. (Eng. tr. Bright Later Treatises of St 
Athanasius, probably not the work of Athanasius see Draseke Zeitschrift f. wiss.- 
schaft. Theologie 1895 pp. 254 ff. but written while the controversy was at its 
height), Theodoret Fabulae Haer. iv 7, v 9, 11, and Basil Ep. 265 (very vague). 
Jerome was among his pupils in 374, and he was at first on terms of warm friend 
ship with Athanasius and Basil, on account of his learning and support of the Nicene 
party in the Arian controversy. His, or a similar, doctrine was condemned by a 
synod at Alexandria in 362, but the doctrine does not seem to have been widely 
known till about 371, and he did not secede from the Church till 375. The condemna 
tion was renewed by synods at Rome, under Damasus, in 377-378, and by the 
Second General Council in 381 ; and imperial decrees were issued prohibiting the 
public worship of Apollinarians 388-428, till they became absorbed in the Church or 
the Monophysites. He died in c. 392. See P. Schaff Art. Apollinarius D.C.B. 


that he was led to devise his peculiar theory. Two motives in 
particular determined him. 

First, the Arian teaching of the possibility of moral change 
in Christ, by which the Logos was subjected to the course of 
growth and developement of character, and the decision for good 
was in every case the free act of a will that might have chosen 
evil. From such a theory of free will and freedom of choice it 
seemed to follow that the redemption effected by Christ was 
only the work of a finite being, making himself redeemer by his 
own free act, and therefore not really effective for the human 
race, except as shewing how such redemption might be won. 
And no human soul could be entirely free from the taint of 
human weakness. Zeal for the full true deity and perfect sin- 
lessness of Christ by very nature was thus a foremost motive to 

A second motive was conditioned by the ambiguity of ter- 

It is also probable that some writings of Apollinarius were intentionally attri 
buted by his followers to various orthodox fathers, in order to gain currency for 
them. One of the earliest essays in literary criticism deals with this matter. Under 
the name of Leontius of Byzantium (485-543), a contemporary of Justinian, there 
is extant (Migne Ixxxvi 2 p. 1948) a critical study of the authorship of writings 
attributed to Gregory Thaumaturgus, Julius, Athanasius, which contain teaching 
other than that of the Chalcedonian Definition. The writer decides (chiefly on the 
ground that they contain sentences which his disciples quoted as from his works) 
that three of them were by Apollinarius (1) The Kara /xfyos irlans Hahn 3 p. 278, 
an exposition of the faith, ascribed to Gregory Thaumaturgus ; (2) some letters 
ascribed to Julius of Rome ; (3) a Creed on the Incarnation Hahn 3 p. 266 ascribed 
to Athanasius, accepted as Athanasian, and followed as such by Cyril of Alexandria 
containing the formula. /u a 0&ris TOV deov \6yov <re<rapKw^vri (one incarnate nature 
of the Divine Word), but quoted from by writers against Monophysites as a composi 
tion of Apollinarius. In the judgement of the writer of this study (who seems not to 
have been Leontius, but perhaps John of Scythopolis, c. 500, who did investigate 
genuine remains of Apollinarius) the fraud passed because the Church was ready to 
welcome teaching as to the one nature of the incarnate Son. This example of early 
literary criticism has recently been followed by a modern scholar, who argues that 
whole treatises have been so dealt with, and assigns to Apollinarius, as well as the 
Creed above named and fragments of a work on the Incarnation, the correspondence 
with Basil (Epp. 361-364 in Basil s Works), the last two books of Basil s Treatise 
against Eunomius (written c. 360, thoroughly orthodox, especially in regard to the 
Holy Spirit), Dialogues on the Holy Trinity (assigned variously to Athanasius, 
Theodoret, and others), and the irepl rpiddos under the name of Justin (which clearly 
cannot be earlier than this time, while Gregory Naz. refers to a treatise of Apollinarius 
on the Trinity). None of these writings, however, shew any of the peculiar theories 
known as Apollinarian. See further Apollinarius von Laodicaea J. Draseke, 
Texte und Untersuchungen (Gebhardt und Harnack) 1892 ; and article in Church 
Quarterly October 1893. And on the date and authorship of the work adversus 
fraudes Apollinistarum see Loofs Texte u. Unt. iii 1, 2. On the correspondence 
with Basil see Texts and Studies vii 1 p. 38 ff. 


minology already noted. To Apollinarius it seemed that a 
complete nature was the same thing as a person . A com 
plete divine nature and a complete human nature joined together 
meant two persons joined together. If, therefore, Christ had all 
the constituents of humanity, the two complete natures thus 
supposed would make two persons, for there could not be a 
composition of his person out of two. (The current teaching 
of the union of full divinity and full humanity in one person 
two wholes in one whole he regarded as an absurdity.) 

It was this fear of a double personality, and of a human 
freedom of choice in Christ, that dominated the thought of 

Now, the freedom of choice resided in the mind or spirit, or 
rational human soul , in the higher sense of the term. 1 This 
was the determining and ruling element in human nature, 
necessarily instinct with capacities for evil in virtue of which 
developement good or evil was possible. Furthermore, it 
was this that differentiated one man from another the seat 
or centre of the power of self-determination, and therefore 
of all real personal distinction and constituted independent 

If Christ possessed no human soul there would be in his 
person no sphere in which freedom of choice could be exercised, 
and there would be no human personality to be combined 
with the divine. There would be only the divine Logos 
himself, as the sole determining power, in the person of the 
incarnate Christ. 

This, therefore, was the interpretation which commended 
itself to Apollinarius as a way of escape from all the difficulties. 
Christ was actually God become man. A real union of the 
Logos with a rational human soul there could not be, because 
either the human being thus united would preserve his own will 
distinct (and so there would be no true union of the divine and 
the human), or the human soul would lose its liberty and be, 

1 He followed the threefold division of man, to which Plato gave currency, into 
body, soul (irrational or animal the principle of life), and spirit (or rational soul, 
the controlling and determining principle). Cf. 1 Thess. 5, Gal. 5 17 . But some of 
his opponents ( Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa) expressly disallowed this three 
fold division, maintaining that Scripture recognized only a dichotomy into body 
and soul. (They refer to the account of the Creation of man in Genesis and to the 
Gospel narrative of the death of the Lord while his body lay in the grave, he went 
with his soul into Hades.) See Adv. Apoll. i 14, and Antirrhet. 8, 35. 


as it were, absorbed. 1 The Logos therefore occupies the place of 
the human rational soul, taking to himself a human body and 
an animal soul, becoming himself the controlling power and 
principle thereof, and completely filling and animating the human 
elements with the higher life of God. In this way the unity 
of the person was preserved, 2 though the person was " neither 
wholly man nor wholly God, but a blending of God and man " ; 3 
and the Scriptural teaching was maintained " the Word became 
flesh " (not spirit), and God was " manifest in the flesh ". 4 

Objections to his Theories and his Defence of them 

To this theory the obvious objection was soon taken, that 
the soul was the most important element in human nature, 
and that, in denying to the person of the Christ a human soul, 
Apollinarius was emptying the Incarnation of its meaning and 

1 See Note The Human Will in Christ infra p. 249. 

3 It will be noticed that in two particulars Apollinarius was in harmony with 
the ultimate verdict of the Church (1) In rejecting the personality of the human 
nature ; (2) in finding the centre of personality in the Logos (see infra p. 294). 
It must further be observed that the formula pla <(>$<?(.$ TOV 6eov \6yov crej-ap/cw 
ntvij, "one incarnate nature of the God- Word ", attributed to Apollinarius and 
adopted by Cyril (see infra p. 274), is widely different from the formula, one nature 
of the Word incarnate" (/ <t>vats TOV Oeov \6yov crecrap/cw/x^oi;). The former 
phrase includes the flesh in the nature which is defined as one, and so it was 
used by Cyril without implying a new nature neither divine nor human (for he 
said, 4x 860 (pfoeuv). But to Apollinarius it probably did connote the idea of a 
fresh and uniquely constituted nature. Cyril believed the phrase to have been 
used by Athanasius in a treatise on the Incarnation, which was, however, probably 
written by Apollinarius, and ascribed to Athanasius by his followers (see Note 
on p. 241 supra). 

3 oijre avdpwiros $Xos, oire Oe6s, dXXo. 6eov Kal dvdpuTrov /i/is. This mode of 
expression, mixture or blending , had been used in all good faith in earlier 
times, e.g. by Tertullian Apol. 21 homo deo mixtus, Cyprian de idol, vanit. 11, and 
Deus cum homine miscetur, Lactantius Inst. iv 13 Deus est et homo, ex utroque genere 
permixtus. Origen speaks of the union of the two natures as an interweaving 
(ffvvv(f>alveffdai) and a Kpdffis or dvdKpa<ns (Contra Cels. iii 41, cf. de Princip. ii 6.3). 
So Irenaeus adv. Haer. iii 19.1, and others, down to the two Gregories, who both 
use the terms cnfy/c/mcns and dvaKpatns, and nearly approach the idea of a transmu 
tation of the human nature into the divine (as Origen I.e.), though they express 
definitely the duality of the natures (<i5<rs i^v 5vo, Oebs Kal avdpwiros). Even 
Augustine says, "Man was linked and in some small way commingled with 
(commixtus) the Word of God, to effect the unity of person " (de Trin. v 30). 
None of the opponents of Apollinarius express the manner of the union satis 
factorily ; though they do maintain the entirety both of the Godhead and of the 

4 To this Gregory of Nazianzus replied Ep. ci that flesh was here used for 
human nature, the part for the whole frTdptfucris really meant 


making it unreal. 1 If his theory were true, the highest faith 
and deepest convictions of Christians were delusions. God had 
not become man : He had only, as it were, put on a garment of 
flesh. 2 And, further, the spirit or soul, which, as he argued, was 
the seat of sin, needs redemption as well as the lower soul and 
body of man. That which transgressed was that which stood 
most in need of salvation. 3 

Yet Apollinarius undoubtedly held the person so composed 
to be human as well as divine, and maintained that since the 
Logos was himself the archetype of all human souls the objec 
tion to his theory could not be upheld. The Logos occupied no 
external or foreign position in relation to man, but was the 
very truth of human nature. All human souls were in a way 
adumbrations of the Logos, and therefore when the Logos him 
self was present in a human body, the very highest and truest 
form of human existence was realized. 

This extremely interesting and subtle argument met with 
less acceptance than might, perhaps, have been expected. The 
recognition of the natural affinity existing between the human 
soul and God might have smoothed the way to a really satis 
factory doctrine of the Person of Christ. But the particular 
expression which was given to the thought was certainly open to 
the gravest suspicions. Apollinarius denied to Christ a human 
soul. That was clear ; and the consequences of the denial were 
readily appreciated. Against such a mutilated humanity in 
Christ the faith of the Church revolted. The Incarnation was 
the assumption of the entire human nature sin only excluded, 
as being no part of a perfect human nature ; 4 and the argument 
of Apollinarius was ingenious rather than convincing. 

1 See Additional Note to this chapter on The Human Soul in Christ p. 247. 

2 Christ was only Oebs <rapKo<t>bpos God clad in flesh (just as later on, by con 
trast, Nestorianism was said to teach an AvOpwiros 6eo(f>6pos a man bearing with him 
God b u t on this latter phrase see infra p. 276). Ignatius had used the word 
cra/)/co06pos of Christ (ad Smyrn 5). 

3 See e.g. Ath. contra Apoll. i 19 ; and the retort of Gregory Naz. Up. ci If 
only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also , 
and that if Christ could not have had a human soul, because the soul is under 
condemnation (through sin), still less could he have assumed a human body : 
what he did not assume remains unredeemed. Cf. note following. "Those who do 
away with the humanity and the image within cleanse only our outside by means 
of their new spectral person " Ep. cii. 

4 The question how entire manhood could be compatible with entire sinlessness 
in Christ is dealt with at length in Ath. contra Apoll. bk. ii the answer being 
that the human nature assumed was all that God had made, and this excluded sin, 


He was indeed accused by Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory 
of Nyssa l of actually teaching that the flesh of the Lord was 
pre-existent, that his body was accordingly of a celestial sub 
stance, not formed from the Virgin, but a portion of the divine 
essence clothed in matter. The saying, " No one has ascended 
into heaven but he that came down from heaven, the Son of 
Man who is in heaven ", he was said to have interpreted as if 
lie was the Son of Man before he came down, and came down 
bringing with him his own flesh which he had had in heaven, 
being, as it were, itself eternal and made co-essential with him. 
Such teaching would be, of course, in effect the old Docetism, 
and the prospect would be nothing short of a revival of Oriental 
mysticism, which would virtually deny Jesus Christ as come in 
flesh. 2 

But in his own words to the Emperor Jovian, he 
emphatically condemns as insane the teaching that the flesh 
of Christ is consubstantial (co-essential) with God, and " came 
down from heaven ", and therefore was not really derived from 
the Virgin. 

The wild theory attributed to him, therefore, must have been 
an unauthorized inference from his real teaching, possibly made 
by his own adherents, going farther than their master, and 
applying to the whole human nature what he said of the spirit 

which was the work of the Devil. Cf. Greg. ISTyss. Ep. adv. Apoll. "Though he 
was made sin and a curse on account of us ... and took our weaknesses upon him, 
. . . yet he did not leave the sin and the curse and the weakness encircling him 
unhealed. . . . Whatever is weak in our nature, and subject to death, was mingled 
with the Godhead and became what the Godhead is." See infra pp. 246, 247. 

1 A Creed, still in use among the Armenian Christians, is remarkable for the 
clear and copious language in which it precludes Apollinarianism : "Came down 
from heaven and was incarnate, was made man, was born of the holy Virgin Mary 
through the Holy Spirit completely so as to take a body and soul and mind, 
and everything that there is in man (or all that goes to make a man) really, and not 
in seeming . . . went up into heaven in the very body, and sat on the right hand 
of the Father, will come in the very body." The Creed is given in Greek in 
Halm 3 p. 151 ff., cf. p. 137, and is regarded by Hort (Two Dissertations p. 116 ff.) 
as the Cappadocian Creed at the end of the fourth century, composed perhaps 
about 366-369, at Tarsus (where Apollinarian teaching at Laodicea might well be 
known earlier than elsewhere) by Silvanus (the teacher of Basil and of Diodorus), 
and introduced by Basil into the churches of Cappadocia, and thence into the 
Church of Armenia (whose patriarchs were consecrated at Caesarea, the Cappadocian 
capital, till the end of the fourth century, the Church owing its origin at the 
beginning of the century to Cappadocia). For other views of the origin of this 
Creed see Hahn 3 Appendix p. 154. 

2 See Greg. Naz. Ep. ci, ccii, and Bright St Leo on the Incarnation p. 518. 


only. 1 This was indeed an inference that might be easily, if 
carelessly, drawn from his own assertion, that the flesh of 
Christ while really derived from the Virgin might be called 
co-essential with the Word, because of its close union with 
him ; from the close connexion, on which he insisted, between 
all human nature and the Logos who was the means by which it 
was originally made ; and from his use of phrases such as God 
is born , God died , our God is crucified . 2 

It was the Apollinarian use of phrases such as these that 
was peculiarly abhorrent to Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore 
of Mopsuestia, the leaders of the thought of the school of 
Antioch at the end of the fourth century and the beginning 
of the fifth ; and the opposition which they roused was followed 
by the years of controversy on which the Church at last pro 
nounced at the Council of Chalcedon. 

It has been stated 3 that the manner of the union of the 
two natures in Christ was not satisfactorily expressed by the 
opponents of Apollinarian theories. Gregory of Nyssa, in par 
ticular, frequently uses expressions which imply the absorption 
of the human into the divine, so that the special characteristics 

1 It should, however, be noted that Hilary of Poitiers, in his treatise de Trinitatc 
(written c. 356-359 in Asia Minor, to expound the teaching of the Church against 
Arianism), does not hesitate to use the expression heavenly body (corpus cceleste) 
of the body of Christ, and to say that his flesh was from heaven (caro ilia de coelis 
est), c 15 ; x 73. The creation of the human soul of Christ was really a work of 
the Logos (Hilary held creationism as to the origin of souls), and it was only the 
material of the body that he derived from his mother. But the material is at first 
a formless mass, and only becomes a body by the operation of the animating form- 
giving soul : and this soul was really of his own creation, so that he was himself the 
fashioner (conditor) of his body (ipse corporis sui origo est, c 18), and therefore it had 
a heavenly origin. (He is, however, quite clear that from the Virgin was derived 
the earthly material of the body). See further Dorner D.P.C. Eng. tr. I ii p. 402 ff. 

2 It was in view of such expressions that the theological principle known as 
communicatio idiomalum (Avridoffis ISiufj-druv) was finally worked out (see infra 
p. 293), though the conception was already fully expressed by Athanasius Or. c. Ar. 
iii 31, and by Tertullian before him. The opponents of Apollinarius refused to 
associate the sufferings of the Christ with hia divine nature. The Apollinarians 
therefore argued that their opponents held that he who was crucified had nothing 
divine in his own nature, and that their refusal to associate the sufferings with the 
divine nature involved the recognition of two persons one human and one divine, 
one a Man who suffered and one a God who could not suffer. This inference was, of 
course, repudiated at once, and the doctrine was laid down, as clearly as at a later 
time, that there was one Person and that he underwent the different experiences in 
virtue of his two different natures. See especially Ath. adv. Apoll. and Greg. 
Nyss. Antirrhet. 27, 52, 54. 

8 See p. 243 n. 3, p. 244 n. 4. 


of the human nature disappear. He says l " The firstfruits of 
the human nature assumed by the almighty Godhead, as one 
might say using a simile like some drop of vinegar com 
mingled with the infinite ocean, are in the Godhead, but not in 
their own peculiar properties. For if it were so, then it would 
follow that a duality of Sons might be conceived if, that is, in 
the ineffable Godhead of the Son some nature of another kind 
existing in its own special characteristics were recognized in 
such wise that one part was weak or little or corruptible or 
temporary, and the other powerful and great and incorruptible 
and eternal." This is to say that the human nature is so over 
powered by the divine, that it no longer remains in any effective 
sense an element in the being of the Person of the Incarnate 
Son. It is a full and complete human nature that is assumed ; 
but the effect of the union is represented here in a manner 
inconsistent with any real human probation and developement. 
Where can real human experiences come in, if the manhood, 
which is the sphere of them, is so transformed ? 

Such a presentation of the matter by so distinguished a 
theologian shews how much had yet to be done before a satis 
factory doctrine of the Person of Christ could be framed. Other 
passages in Gregory no doubt go far to correct the expressions 
which he uses here, as, for example, when he ridicules Apollinarius 
for attributing all the experiences of the Incarnate Person to the 
Godhead ; 2 and 3 where he defines /uf t? (as used by Apollinarius) 
to mean the union of things which are separated in nature . 
But if this passage were taken by itself it would be Eutychianism 
before Eutyches. It as little recognizes for practical purposes a 
true human nature in Christ as did the teaching of Apollinarius. 
Such conceptions could not be allowed to pass without protest : 
there was need for a Nestorius to play his part in the develope 
ment of doctrine and secure once again even at his own cost 
the faith of the Church in the manhood as well as the 
Godhead of the Saviour of men. 


If the doctrine of the Incarnation is not to be emptied of its true 
significance, if the full humanity as well as the full divinity of Jesus is 

1 Ep. adv. Apoll. (Migne xlv p. 1276). 

2 Antirrhet. 24. 3 Antirrhet. 51. 


to be maintained, it seems to be obvious that he must have had a human 
soul as well as a human body : if the term soul be used to mean, as 
it is in this connexion, without more modern precision of definition, 
the higher element in human nature that controls and determines 
thought and action the mind, the reason, the spirit, the will. A 
human nature robbed of this constituent would be merely animal. It 
is inconceivable that any of the contemporaries of Jesus and first 
preachers of the Christian revelation should have been in any doubt 
about the matter. But the thinkers of later generations, under stress 
of their sense of the essential evil of matter and all things connected 
with the body, formed theories of the person of Christ which excluded 
the human nature altogether ; and then the defenders of the doctrine of 
the Incarnation were naturally led to lay chief emphasis on the reality 
of the human body and its visible experiences. Had the question been 
raised, it seems possible, indeed, that their opponents, the Gnostics , 
might have accepted the theory of a human soul while still denying 
the reality of the human body. But the distinction between soul and 
body seems not to have been thought of in this connexion. (Yet see 
Tert. de Game Christi 10.) "The Word became flesh" was the 
simplest expression to hand, and this antithesis offered the readiest 
distinction. The Word his essential divinity : the Flesh from which 
all human characteristics came. So it seems to have been the flesh 
which was regarded as the source of all human feelings and experiences 
by those who insisted most strongly on the human nature: and the 
antithesis fleshly and spiritual stands for human and divine. To 
Ignatius, for example, this contrast comes naturally (see the passages 
cited supra p. 121). It was the reality of the body or the flesh that 
was denied, and it is in terms of the body and the flesh that he 
maintains the human nature. And Irenaeus (adv. Haer. iii 22. 2), 
in speaking of his experiences of fatigue and grief and pain, says that 
they were signs or tokens of " the flesh, assumed from earth, which he 
recapitulated in himself, saving that which he himself had formed". 
So, too, Justin Martyr, anxious to maintain the truth of Christ s 
humanity, like that of other men, made use of phrases which ex 
pressed his possession of body or flesh, and of the animal soul (^x^) > 
and it seems certain that he intended to assert his full entire manhood. 
But he speaks of him as being constituted out of body, the Logos, and 
soul whence it might be inferred that he regarded the Logos as taking 
the place of the rational soul or spirit. [It is, perhaps, possible that he 
may have meant body and soul to express the whole human nature, 
though he commonly accepts the threefold division of man, in which 
soul is used to express the animal principle.] 

Tertullian is the first to give unmistakeable expression to the 
Catholic conception. It was easier for him to avoid mistakes, as he 


adopted the twofold division of human nature into body and thinking 
soul, as animating principle (see de Anima e.g. 27, 51). But he also 
maintained the soul to be the real essence of man, and explicitly argued 
that if Christ was to be the redeemer of men he must have united to 
himself a soul of the same kind as that which belongs peculiarly to men 
( Came Christillff.). 

Origen, as we have seen (supra p. 150), had a definite theory in 
regard to the human soul with which the Logos was united. 

The Arians were the first to frame an explanation of the person of 
Christ which, while admitting as constituents a human body and an 
animal soul (fax?) aAoyos), expressly excluded the rational soul (vovs, 
Trvfvfjia) and supposed its place to be taken by the Logos, thus and so 
far anticipating Apollinarius. It was in accordance with this theory 
that they preferred the description in the Creed made flesh in 
carnate (a-apKuOtvTa) to the term made man (cvavOpwirrjaravTa) which 
their opponents were constrained to introduce : the flesh they fully 
admitted, but they knew that the latter term would pin them down to 
the human soul as well, as they could not exclude from man the 
very constituent which raises him above all other created things. 

It was reserved for Apollinarius to take up their theory in this 
particular, and to try to turn it against their teaching in other respects, 
while professedly maintaining the full humanity of Christ by the 
ingenious argument noted above. 


Probably the most important result of the Apollinarian controversy, 
as regards the developement of doctrine, was the strengthening of the 
conviction that the manhood of the Lord was complete, including a 
human soul. This conviction, at least when consciously realized, 
involved the recognition of a human will and of the possibility of a real 
moral probation and developement, as regards his human nature, in 
Christ. Such a recognition of a human will seemed to Apollinarians to 
be an obstacle to the personal unity of the Logos (see supra p. 242) 
two whole wills could not coexist together. This was one difficulty 
which their opponents had to meet. 

They dealt with it sometimes by arguing that the denial of the 
human free will led to still greater difficulties. Thus Gregory of Nyssa 
(Antirrhet. 45) declared that if the human soul of the Lord did not 
possess free will (the power of choice and self-determination), his life 
could neither be a real example and a moral pattern for us, nor could 
it effect any gain for the human race. But sometimes a different line 
of reasoning was adopted, as by Gregory of Nazianzus (Ep. ci 9), who 
admits some incompleteness of the human mind relatively to the divine 


mind. Our mind, he says, is a complete whole (reA.tov) and possessed 
of sovereign power (^ye/xovt/cw) ; that is to say, it has sovereign power 
over the animal soul and body. Relatively to the rest of us, it is 
sovereign and complete. But absolutely it is not so ; it is God s slave 
and subject. In relation to His rule and honour, it is inferior and 
incomplete. (So a hill, while complete in itself, is incomplete in com 
parison with a mountain ; and a grain of mustard seed in comparison 
with a bean, although it may be larger than any other seed of the same 
kind.) So a relative incompleteness of the human mind (soul) is 
recognized, in relation to the Godhead of Christ, in virtue of which the 
problem of the coexistence in his person of two complete wholes (the 
human mind and the divine) is set aside. Viewed absolutely, it is not 
a case of one whole crowding out another whole. So the two wills 
may be acknowledged without fear that the one must yield place to 
the other. (But see also Or. Theol. iv 2.) 

But the question had also to be considered, not only in regard to the 
unity of person, but also in regard to the freedom of the person from 
sin. It was an ethical question as well as a metaphysical problem. 
Could the Lord have a human soul (and the human will which it 
implied) and yet be sinless 


The fullest consideration of this question is to be found in 
Athanasius adv. Apoll. ii 6ff. (cf. i 17), in reply to the Apollinarian 
objection " If He assumed human nature entire, then assuredly He had 
human thoughts. But it is impossible that in human thoughts there 
should not be sin. How then will Christ be without sin ?" The 
answer given on the orthodox side is first that God is not the maker 
of thoughts which lead to sin, and that Christ attached to himself only 
what he himself had made. Adam was created rational by nature, free 
in thought, without experience of evil, knowing only what was good. 
He was capable of falling into sin, but was endowed with power to 
withstand it, and in fact had been free from it. It was the Devil who 
sowed in the rational and intellectual nature of man thoughts leading to 
sin, and so established in man s nature both a law of sin and death as 
reigning through sinful action. Thus it became impossible for that 
nature, having sinned voluntarily and incurred condemnation to death, 
to recall itself to freedom. Therefore the Son of God assumed this 
inward nature of man, not a part of it only, but the whole of it (for sin 
was not a part of it but only a disposition infused by the Devil), and 
by his own absolute sinlessness emancipated man s nature henceforward 
from sin. 


The Apollinarians, however, were not to be silenced so easily. They 
declared that the nature which had become accustomed to sin, and had 
received the transmission of sin, could not possibly be without sin. 
That is to say, they argued that human nature had become tainted by 
sin the intellectual nature of man was incapable of escaping sin : and 
therefore there was no human nature free from sin for Christ to assume 
(such seems to be the meaning of their objection 8). Its natural bias 
was to sin, and the human nature of Christ could only have escaped sin 
through the overpowering constraint of his Godhead a constraint 
which would in effect destroy the freedom of will. The writer insists, 
on the contrary, that sin is not of the essence of manhood, and that the 
victory was won through the human nature which had once been 
defeated: Jesus went completely through every form of temptation, 
because he assumed all those things that had had experience of tempta 
tion ; and it was not with the Godhead, which he knew not, but with 
man, whom he had long ago seduced and against whom he had ever 
since directed his operations, that the Devil engaged in warfare, and, 
finding in him no token of the old seed sown in man, was defeated. It 
was the form of man as at first created, flesh without carnal desires and 
human thoughts, that the Word restored or renewed in himself. The 
will belonged to the Godhead only. (This passage was adduced at a 
later time by the Monothelites, but the context shews clearly that the 
writer fully recognized a human will in Christ, and only intended to 
maintain that all the volitions of the human nature in him were in 
harmony with the will of the divine nature.) 

Apollinarians have no right whatever to say c it is impossible that 
human nature which has once been made captive should be set free 
from captivity . In so doing they ascribe impotence to God and power 
to the Devil. 

Such in brief is the answer which was given. It may, perhaps, be 
said to fairly meet the Apollinarian objection. But this writer does not 
seem to have faced the question "If the human nature which was 
assumed was not a nature so far fallen as to be capable of sinning, 
although remaining free from sin, how can the Incarnation and the 
perfect obedience of the Incarnate Son have effected the redemption of 
fallen man ? What more did it do than exhibit an example of man as 
he was before the Fall, as he might have been if there had been no Fall ? 
How could a mere example of sinless humanity, preserved all through 
from sin through union with the Godhead, avail to save men whose 
nature was already sinful?" 

Gregory of Nyssa, however, does seem to regard the human nature 
assumed by Christ as fallen (sinful) human nature. So he writes 
(Antirrhet. 26 Migne xlv p. 1180) "For we say that God who is 
essentially free from matter and invisible and incorporeal, when the time 


of the consummation of all things was drawing near, by a special 
dispensation of love toward men; when wickedness had grown to its 
greatest ; then, with a view to the destruction of sin, was "blended with 
human nature, like a Sun as it were making his dwelling in a murky 
cave and by his presence dissipating the darkness by means of his light. 
For though he took our filth upon himself, yet he is not himself denied 
by the pollution : but in his own self he purifies the filth. For, it 
says, the light shone in the darkness, but the darkness did not over 
power it. 1 It is just what happens in the case of medicine. When 
curative medicine is brought to bear upon the disease, the ailment yields 
and vanishes, but it is not changed into the art of medicine." 

And he recognizes progress of the human nature (Jesus) under the 
influence of the divine wisdom (Christ) with which it was united (Hid. 
28). So again he maintains with reference to Lk. 22 42 ( Not my will, 
but Thine be done , that there was in him the human will which shrank 
from pain as well as the divine will (though the latter always prevailed), 
the human weakness as well as the divine strength. The Lord made 
his own the lowly things of human f earf ulness , and gave proof of his 
possession of our nature by sharing in its affections (ibid. 32). (Cf. 
Ath. de Incarn. et c. Arian. 21.) And again (ibid. 53) "In his great 
long suffering he endured not to repel from communion with himself 
our nature, fallen though it was as the result of sin, but to receive it to 
himself to give it life again." 

That is to say, the human will, though fallen, is able by union with 
the divine will to realize its true power. In this conception the solution 
of the problem may be found. 


Recent investigation has firmly re-established the traditional view of 
the unity of the Quicumque vult as against the theory advocated by 
Prof. Swainson and others, that the Creed was composite, formed out of 
separate parts expositions of the doctrine of the Trinity and of the 
Incarnation. There are no indications of such patchwork about it : 
early commentaries on the Creed as a whole are in existence ; and the 
two-portion theory depends on the evidence of mere fragments of 
texts and assumptions which are quite inadequate to prove it. 

There is also general agreement that it is to the south of Gaul that we 
must look for its origin, and great probability that its birthplace and early 
home was the famous monastery of Lerinum, founded by Honoratus, of 
which Faustus and Vincent and Hilary of Aries were members. 

1 This seems certainly to be the sense in which Gregory understood the passage 
Jolm I 5 ov KartXaftev contrasted with ava\apui> above. 
2 SeeHahn 3 p. 174. 


It is further recognized that the Creed is prior to Eutychianism, 
though some of its phrases are clearly applicable to a similar form of 
thought; but there is still dispute as to whether it is really directed 
against Nestorian or against Apollinarian conceptions. 

It must suffice here to indicate reasons for the conviction that it 
is Apollinarianism that is opposed, and to cite the chief christological 
passage from the Creed for examination, as bringing into focus the 
different points in dispute throughout the controversy which has just 
been reviewed. It is as follows : 

" . . . Dominus noster Jesus, Dei films, Deus pariter et homo est. 
Deus est ex substantia Patris ante secula genitus, homo ex 
substantia matris in seculo natus : perfectus Deus, perfectus 
homo, ex anima rationali et humana came subsistens, aequalis 
Patri secundum divinitatem, minor Patre secundum humani- 
tatem. Qui licet Deus sit et homo, non duo tamen, sed unus est 
Christus : unus autem non conversione divinitatis in carnem, sed 
assumptione humanitatis in Deum ; unus omnino non confusione 
substantiae, sed unitate personae. Nam sicut anima rationalis et 
caro unus est homo, ita et Deus et homo unus est Christus." 
Let us see (1) what is opposed, (2) what is maintained. 

(1) Opposed is conversion of divinity into flesh, and confusion of 
substance (which means confusion of God and man as passages in 
Vincent and Augustine clearly shew). To these charges Nestorians 
were certainly not open. Apollinarians as certainly were, in their 
desire to avoid the risk of a double personality. 

(2) Maintained is the completeness of the Godhead and of the 
manhood (the former being in substance the same as the Father s, the 
latter in substance the same as his Mother s), and the assumption of 
humanity into God, in such a way that there are not two persons, but 
one ; that one being both God and man. 

That is to say, we may recognize to the full the two natures 
(though it is the inclusive term substantia that is used), without fear 
that by so doing we shall be involved in recognition of a double 

There is nothing here that would hit Nestorians. The completeness 
of the humanity (as well as of the divinity) was a cardinal tenet with 
them, and they at any rate did not raise the difficulty of the union of 
the two substances in a single person. 

The real aim of the Creed is to uphold (1) two complete substances, 
(2) united in one person. This is exactly what we should expect from 
an opponent of Apollinarianism (see e.g. Vincent Commonit. xii, and cf. 
Note on Substantia supra p. 233) ; and the incidental phrases ex 
substantia matris, in seculo natus, ex anima rationali et humana came, 
and the reference later on in the Creed to the Descent into Hell (on 


which much stress is laid by writers against Apollinarius), favour the 
conclusion that the composition of the Creed may be assigned with 
the greatest probability to the period during which Apollinarianism was 
rife, preceding the outbreak of Nestorianism in 428 A.D. 

(The best collection of materials for the study of the problems 
connected with the Creed is to be found in G. D. W. Ommanney 
A Critical Dissertation on the Athanasian Creed 1897, side by side 
with which should be read A. E. Burn The Athanasian Creed Texts 
and Studies vol. iv no. 1, where a lucid statement of the history of 
criticism of the Creed is given in the Introduction. Waterland s 
Critical History is still valuable.) 


The Theological Schools of Alexandria and Antioch 

IN these controversies, as in others, considerations which were 
really outside the main questions came in to complicate 
and embitter the relations between the two parties. Personal 
and ecclesiastical rivalries played their usual disconcerting part, 
and permanent differences in the mental constitution of men 
were reflected in the two great schools of thought which were 
engaged. The Alexandrian school had lost much of the scholarly 
instinct and interests which had characterized its representatives 
in earlier days, and the inheritance had passed to Antioch. The 
mystic tendency was to be found at Alexandria, the rational at 
Antioch. The theologians of Alexandria fixed their attention 
almost entirely on the divine element in the person of Christ, 
and so asserted in the strongest terms the unity of the divine 
and the human in him. While confessing the duality, they 
emphasised the unity. The human nature was taken into 
organic union almost as if it were absorbed with the divine : 
though the union was a mystery, incomprehensible. By the 
teachers of the school of Antioch, on the other hand, attention 
was concentrated in the first place on the human element. The 
completeness of the human nature of the Lord was certain, even 
if its separate personality was thereby implied. The tendency 
at Antioch was thus to separate the natures and explain the 
separation to confess the unity but emphasise the duality. 

Cyril, if himself untainted by the extreme conclusions, was 
at least an exponent of conceptions that easily led to the view 
of Christ as a composite being a confusion of God and man 
the Logos having absorbed humanity one person and one 
nature. Nestorius, in his teaching, was only carrying on the 
traditions of the school of Antioch, which tended to see in 


Christ a man who bore the divine nature, or the Logos joined 
to human nature two persons and two natures. 

Diodorus and Theodore 

These traditions had been formed and maintained by the 
great teacher Diodorus of Tarsus (f 394) and his more 
famous pupil Theodore, the teacher in turn of Nestorius, and 
probably the real originator of Nestorianism . He seems to 
reflect both in his life and teaching the best spirit of the 
school of Antioch. For ten years after his ordination l to the 
priesthood by Flavian, Bishop of Antioch, he devoted himself 
to the pastoral work of the office, and to assiduous teaching and 
writing, first at Antioch and afterwards at Tarsus (c. 383-393). 
During this time he established so high a reputation that he 
was chosen as Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia, and until his 
death, thirty-six years later (c. 428), his fame as a scholar and 
bishop continually grew. He died "in the peace of the Church 
and in the height of a great reputation " ; retaining to the last 
the warmest affection of Chrysostom and the highest regard of 
the emperor. An excellent scholar, far-famed in his day as a 
pillar of the truth and a commentator on the Scriptures, 2 and 
honoured as a bishop and administrator, he may thus be taken 

1 Theodore was born at Antioch, of distinguished parentage, about 350. He 
was a pupil also of the famous sophist Libanius (also a native of Antioch), in 
whose school he began his lifelong friendship with that other pupil of Libanius, 
whose eloquence won for him the name of Chrysostom (the John who should 
have succeeded his master if the Christians had not stolen him ). In early youth 
he was caught by the prevailing enthusiasm for monasticism, and went from the 
feet of Libanius to the ascetic and studious life of the cloister ; but his ardour 
soon cooled, and he returned to the prospect of office and honours in public life, 
and even wished for marriage. Chrysostom succeeded in dissuading him from such 
a change of purpose, and at the age of thirty-three his ordination took place 
(c. 383). 

2 He is said to have composed Commentaries on the Psalms (noticeable for their 
free investigations into questions of authorship and date), and on other books of the 
Old Testament, as well as on the New Testament some of which are still extant in 
Syriac or Latin translations, if not in their original Greek, though of many there are 
only fragments left. (He became to the Nestorian East Syrian Church the great 
exponent and critic of the Scriptures, and his works were at once translated into 
Syriac. ) But besides these commentaries he wrote a large number of dogmatic and 
controversial treatises, and, in particular, one On the Incarnation, of which frag 
ments are extant ( Against the Incarnation an opponent a century later styled it). 
See Migne P. O. Ixvi and Ixxxvi ; Leontius c. Nest, et Eutych. iii 43 ; and H. B, 
Swete Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Minor Epistles of St Paul Appendix A vol. ii 
pp. 293 ff. 


as a good representative of the theological thought of the 
Eastern Church at the end of the fourth century. The views 
to which he gave expression though some took exception to 
them commended themselves to the Christian scholars of 
his time, and shew us the stage in the developement of the 
doctrine of the Person of Christ which had then been reached. 
It was left for a general council after his death to condemn 
his teaching (though not himself 1 ) and to hunt to death his 
pupil ISTestorius who was elected Patriarch of Constantinople 
in the very year in which Theodore died when he gave expres 
sion to the same or similar thoughts. Not till a hundred years 
after his death was the anathema pronounced which marked him 
as a heretic, outside the Catholic Church. 2 

His characteristic conceptions can be clearly seen in the 
fragments, which are still extant, of his work On the Incarnation. 

In one of the longest of these 8 he discusses the nature of 
the indwelling of God in Christ. It is clear, he argues, that 
God does not dwell in all men, for it is promised as a special 
privilege to those that are holy (the saints) (Lev. 26 12 ). Some 
have supposed that the indwelling spoken of is the indwelling 
of the * being of God. If this were so, the being of God would 
have to be limited to those in whom he is said to dwell, if the in 
dwelling is to have any special significance : in which case he would 
be outside all else. This, however, is absurd, since He is infinite, 
everywhere present, and cannot be locally circumscribed. Or 
if we admit that He is everywhere, then by using the expres 
sion being f in this way, we should have to concede to every 
thing a share in his indwelling too : to everything, not only to 
men, but even to irrational things and those that have no soul 

1 A confession of faith drawn up by him was laid before the Council of Ephesus 
(431), and attacked by Charisius, a presbyter of Philadelphia. It had, he said, 
been sent by the Nestorians in Constantinople to some Quartodeciman heretics in 
Lydia, who wished to return to the Catholic Church, and had misled them into still 
greater errors than those from which they were to be brought. See Hahn 3 pp. 
302-308. This creed was regarded by Cyril (Quod unus est Christus 728) and 
by Marius Mercator (Migne P.L. xlviii p. 877) as the recognized statement of the 
Nestorian position. 

2 At the Fifth General Council, at Constantinople, in 553 : a contrast to the 
earlier verdict which was voiced in the cry often heard in the churches, "We 
believe as Theodore believed ; long live the faith of Theodore ! " (Cyril Al. Ep. 69). 

3 The extant fragments were collected and edited by 0. F. Fritzsch, 1847, 
and again by H. B. Swete I.e. This passage is from the seventh book of the 
work On the Incarnation, quoted by Leontius (485-543) c. Nest, et Eutych. iii 43 
(Migne P. G. Ixxxvi 1 pp. 1267-1396). 



(or life). So both alternatives are equally absurd, and it is clear 
that we must not speak of the indwelling as of the being of 
God. Others have described the indwelling as the indwelling of 
the energy (force, activity, operative power) of God. But this 
supposition brings us face to face with precisely the same diffi 
culties the same alternatives. The only way in which the 
truth can be expressed is by the use of the term complacency 
(or good pleasure or approval). 1 The indwelling of God is the 
indwelling of the divine approval. With the disposition of 
some God is well-pleased ; and in or by His pleasure in them, 
His approval, He dwells in them. By nature, as has been 
said, He cannot be limited or circumscribed ; He is omnipresent : 
near and * far are words that cannot be applied to Him. 
But in this moral relation He is near some and far from 
others. There is a divine aloofness and separation from those 
who have not affinity to the divine nature. A divine indwelling 
is established in those who are by character, by moral disposition, 
worthy of it. Of this indwelling there are grades : in some 
it is closer than in others, according as they have a closer or 
less close affinity to him. It is the same indwelling in the 
apostles and the just as in Christ. But Theodore repudiates, 
as the height of madness, the idea that the indwelling in Christ 
was comparable in degree to the indwelling in the saints. For, 
in the first place, the fact of his sonship to God, he declares, 
removes him to another plane. It means that God united 
with Himself entirely the man that was assumed, and prepared 
him to partake with Him of all the honour which he who dwelt 
in Him who is son by nature shares. The sonship thus 
brings Christ into a uniquely close relation to God, who dwells 
in him in a unique degree. This indwelling furthermore, in 
the second place, began, in accordance with the divine fore 
knowledge, with the very first formation of the manhood in 
the Virgin s womb (in the case of the saints the idea seems 
to be that they must prove their worthiness first), and shewed 
itself in his quick discernment of good and evil and his constant 
and easy choice of good and hatred of evil 2 in all of which 

1 The terms used are ofxrLa, tvtpycia, and evSoifta. Cf. the earlier use of the 
terms 0e\iJ/i<m, /SouXfl, and the like, in connexion with the generation of the Son. 
So etidoidq. . . . yevvrjO^ra in the Creed of the Apostolical Constitutions, Hahn 3 
p. 140. 

2 Thus, though contending against Apollinarian denial of moral freedom in 
Christ, Theodore does not allow the idea of liberty to result in liberty of choice, 


he received the co-operation of the divine Word, proportioned to 
his own natural disposition. Thus he advanced to the most per 
fect virtue, the pattern of which he afforded us, being appointed 
as it were for us a way to that end. And, thirdly, the union 
which he enjoys with God is indissoluble. 

Such is the general account which Theodore gives of the 
relation between the two natures in Christ 1 the human and 
the divine. He does not shrink from the term unification 
union (evwcris), though he often uses a word which means 
conjunction (vwdfaua) rather than union. It was his use of 
this term rather than the other to which exception was taken 
by his opponents. An extract which we owe to them enables 
us to understand his drift. It would be quite unfitting, he says, 
to speak of mixture of the natures, for each retains indis- 
solubly its own characteristics. Union is the proper term, 
through which the natures concur to form one person, so that 

but rather conceives the idea of the higher liberty, which consists in the un 
changeable harmony of the human will with the divine a kind of liberty which 
practically excluded all sin (Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 5). Comp. Augustine s 
conception of free will, as freedom to do always that which is right see infra p. 310. 

1 Dr. Swete sums up the teaching of Theodore upon this point, as exhibited in 
his commentaries on the Pauline epistles, in the following sentences : 

"In Jesus of Nazareth the invisible Word, the Only-Begotten of the Father, 
manifested Himself, dwelling in the Man, and inseparably united to Him. The 
Man Christ ... is thus the visible image of the invisible Godhead ; and on 
account of his union with the true Son of God, he possesses the privileges of a 
unique adoption, so that to him also the title Son of God belongs. . . . But if 
it be asked, in what sense God dwelt in this Man, we must reply that it was by a 
special disposition towards him, a disposition of entire complacency. God, in His 
uncircumscribed nature and essence, fills the universe, nay, is all in all ; in Christ 
He dwells in the person of the Word by a moral union, so unexampled and complete, 
that the divine Word and the humanity which He assumed are constantly regarded 
as being one person. The Man who thus became the habitation of God the Word 
received at his baptism the further indwelling of God the Holy Ghost, by whose 
power he wrought miracles, attained to moral perfection, and accomplished all that 
was necessary for the salvation of mankind" (Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Minor 
Epistles ofSt Paul vol. i pp. Ixxxiff.). 

And, pointing out the source of Theodore s doctrinal errors, he says: "With 
the true estimate of the evil of sin, the necessity for an actual Incarnation of the 
Eternal Word disappears ; a man indissolubly united to God through the permanent 
indwelling of the Word suffices for the work of vanquishing death " (ibid. p. Ixxxvii). 

In connexion with Theodore s "defective estimate of sin", it is to be noted that 
Marius Mercator charged him with being one of the originators of Pelagianism, and 
that he received Julian of Eclanum and other Italian bishops, when they were 
banished from their sees by Zosimus in 418 for refusing to accept the condemnation 
of Pelagius and Coelestius (see infra p. 320 n. 2). Theodore, however, afterwards 
concurred in the condemnation of Julian. 


what the Lord says in the case of husband and wife, " They 
are no longer two, but one flesh ", we too might reasonably 
say of the conception of union, " they are no more two persons 
but one " the natures of course being distinguished. For just 
as in the case of marriage, the fact that they are said to be 
one flesh does not prevent their being numerically two (the 
sense in which they are styled one is evident) ; so in the 
case before us the unity of the person does not preclude the 
difference of the natures (the fact that the person is one 
does not prevent the natures being different). This is how the 
matter stands When we consider the natures separately, we say 
that the nature of the divine Word is complete, and the person is 
complete, for we cannot speak of a distinct existence (vTroo-raai,?) 
as impersonal ; and we say that the human nature and person 
likewise is complete : when, however, we have regard to the con 
junction of the two, then we say that there is one person. 

The conception of personality may not be very precise 
the difference between nature and person not exact or 
definitive but Theodore certainly means to recognize (and other 
passages have the same effect) the divine and the human nature 
in Christ, and the unity of his person. The one person has 
for its constituents the divine Word (the God-Word) and the 
humanity each in its entirety ; the person resulting from the 
union of the two is one. 1 

When his exposition was represented as implying that there 
were two sons (the human element in Christ was son in one sense, 
and the divine element the God- Word in the fullest sense), he 
expressly repudiated this inference from his teaching. His main 
desire had been to provide for a free moral developement in the 
Saviour s manhood, and to preclude the errors of Apollinarian 

The Outbreak of the Controversy Nestorius at Constantinople 

Such were the literary and theological traditions in which 
Nestorius was trained. This was the environment in which, as 

1 Dorner s view is that "Theodore never really arrived at the conception of 
volitions and thoughts, which were at once divine and human (divine-human) : for 
he supposed the two natures (represented by him, at the same time, also as two 
persons), as to their inmost essence, to continue separate and distinct . . . Strictly 
speaking, the two persons were one only in outward appearance, as the image of 
marriage shews ! " (Doct. of the Person of Christ Eng. tr. Div. ii vol. i p. 47). 


a member of the monastery of Euprepius near Antioch, he won 
so great a reputation for eloquence and austerity that he was 
elected Patriarch of Constantinople; and thither he went in 428 
with his chaplain Anastasius, a presbyter of Antioch, and an 
adherent of Theodore s views. At Constantinople he at once 
began an active campaign against heresies, which was sure to 
rouse up animosities ; but it was apparently 1 his chaplain who 
actually kindled the flame, by preaching against the use of the 
title Theotokos 2 applied to the Virgin Mary. The title had 
been in use for many years, 3 but now apparently, as a result of 
the increasing tendency to pay her homage, it was being brought 
into new prominence ; and when Anastasius declaimed against 
it, " Let no one call Mary Theotokos ; for Mary was but a 
woman, and it is impossible that God should be born of a 
woman ", the fanatical feelings of the crowd were stirred, and the 
title became at once the watchword of a party. 

Nestorius followed up his chaplain s attack. 4 Theotokos 
was held to savour of heathenism and to be opposed to the 
scriptural phrases which could be applied. 5 Mary was mother 
of the human nature only. God alone was Theotokos. All 
that could be properly be said of Mary was that she was the 
receptacle of God and gave birth to Christ. 6 The divine and 
human natures were distinctly separated. There was only a 
conjunction of them an indwelling of the Godhead in the 

1 So Socrates H.E. vii 32 relates. The exact circumstances are not quite certain. 

3 0or6/cos (Lat. deipara, dei genetrix) Mother of God" is the common English 
translation, but the word means more precisely who gave birth to God God- 
bearer. Cf. German Gottesgebarerin . It is not really equivalent to (J-TIT^P 0eoO 
which was used at a later time. As Dr. Robertson writes "In the Greek word 
6eor6fcos the component 6e6s is logically a predicate, and as such is absolutely 
justified and covered by the Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, in the English 
phrase Mother of God, God is practically a subject rather than a predicate, and 
therefore includes logically the person of the Father." See also infra p. 262. 

3 It had been used by Origen, Alexander of Alexandria, Eusebius ( V. C. iii), 
Athanasius (e.g. Or. c. Ar. iii 33), Cyril (Cat. x 19), and others. 

4 The sermons of Nestorius (five adv. dei genetricem Mariam and four adv. 
hacresim Pelagianam] are extant in a Latin translation in the works of Marius 
Mercator, an African orthodox layman, who was in Constantinople at the time and 
took great interest in the controversy. His other works were diligently destroyed, 
and only fragments are extant as quotations in the writings of opponents, e.g. in 
the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, and in Cyril Al., especially his five books 
against the blasphemy of Nestorius. The twelve anathemas in answer to Cyril a 
are only extant in the translation of Marius. 

5 e.g. the dTrdrwp a/mrjTwp of Heb. 7 3 . 

6 The terms that could be used were Oeo56xos 


man, resulting in a moral and sympathetic union. " I separate 
the natures, but the reverence I pay them is joint", are the 
words in which Nestorius defended his teaching. 1 

Such a union is rightly described as mechanical and as 
due to the arbitrary exertion of the divine power, by which 
natures incongruous and incompatible in their essence had been 
brought together in an artificial alliance rather than a living 

The Title eoro/co? 

To refuse to the Mother of the Lord the title Theotokos 
was doubtless to deny her a title of honour that was rightly 
hers ; but it was much more than this. The English translation 
1 Mother of God brings into undue prominence the thought of 
the glory of her motherhood; the Greek term fixes attention 
rather on the Godhead of him who was born. To deny that she 
was Theotokos was really to deny that he who was born of her 
was God 2 as well as man. The abruptness of the English 
phrase does not attach to the Greek, which effectually guards 
the interpretation of the revelation in Christ that sees in him 
Very God made man, and teaches that the Son of God in 
assuming manhood from the Virgin lost nothing of the Godhead 
which was eternally his. At the same time it is worthy of note 
that it guards equally well against an opposite error from that 
which is now before us he who was born of Mary must have 
been man as well as God. 

Cyril of Alexandria Denunciation of the Nestorian Teaching 

The natural deduction from the denial of the title was 
indeed speedily made. Cyril 3 of Alexandria declared that some 
of his monks refused to call Christ God, styling him only the 
instrument of divinity ; and later on he charged Nestorius with 
denying the divinity of Christ. At Easter 429 he issued 
an elaborate exposition of the doctrine, and stirred up the 

1 Separo naturas, sed conjungoreverentiam. Cf. the reply of Noetus supra p. 104. 

3 See on this point and for the whole question the admirable notes to Blight s 
Sermons of Leo on the Incarnation (note 3 pp. 127, 128), and his Waymarks in 
Church History, pp. 180, 181. 

3 For the history and character of Cyril see the Church Histories and W. 
Bright s article in D.C,JB. He was certainly the best theologian of all who were 
engaged in this controversy. 


Egyptian monks and clergy in Constantinople and the ladies 
of the court, and engaged in a heated correspondence with 
Nestorius. Throughout the controversy, though Cyril had no 
doubt the better case, his methods of conducting it were most 
unamiable ; and he cannot be acquitted of the suspicion of being 
prompted by worldly motives, and jealousy of the rising see of 
Constantinople, as well as by the desire for theological truth. 
To Nestorius Apollinarianism was a red rag , and he was less 
dignified in manner than his chief assailant ; but impetuous as he 
was, he would have accepted, instead of Theotokos , a term that 
perhaps sufficiently defined the theory, 1 had the controversy been 
less a outmnce. As it was, Cyril secured from Celestine, the 
Bishop of Eome, the formal condemnation of Nestorius, by a 
Council held in August 430 ; and, having ratified the sentence at 
a Council of his own at Alexandria, he sent it to Constantinople in 
November, with a long expository letter and a dozen anathemas, 
which constituted an attack upon the whole school of Antioch. 2 
The letter, though couched in somewhat arrogant and dictatorial 
terms, is of high importance as a statement of the doctrine which 
is the basis of the anathemas. Nestorius responded to it by 
twelve counter-anathemas. 8 

Cyril s Anathemas and the Answers of Nestorius 

These two sets of anathemas reveal sufficiently clearly the 
points at issue. 

i. Cyril maintains that Emmanuel 4 (the Incarnate Son) is 
truly God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is Theotokos 
for she has generated (in fleshly wise) the Word of God who has 
become flesh. Nestorius replies that he who is Emmanuel is not 
to be called God the Word, but rather God with us , in the 
sense that, by the fact of his union with our constituents 
received from the Virgin, he dwelt in the nature which is like 
ours ; and the Holy Virgin is not to be called Mother of God 

1 Viz. X/HoroTiS/cos or 6eo56%os. 

2 The letter is given in Heurtley de Fide et Symbolo as the third letter to 
Nestorius pp. 182 ff. It is also known as the Epistola Synodica. The anathemas aro 
given in Hahn 3 pp. 312-316 with the Latin translation of Marias Mercator. (The 
English in Hefele Councils iii p. 31 ff. who, however, follows a different text.) 

3 These are only extant in the Latin translation of Marius Mercator Hahn 3 
pp. 316-318. 

4 God with us i.e. the Incarnate Person, both God and man. 


the Word , but of him who is Emmanuel . Nor is God the 
Word himself to be said to be changed into flesh, which he 
received for the purpose of manifesting the deity, so that he 
might be found in bearing as a man. 

ii. Cyril maintains that the Word of God the Father was 
hypostatically united with flesh, and with His own flesh is one 
Christ one and the same God and man together. Nestorius 
replies by an anathema on any one who, " in the conjunction of 
the Word of God which was made with the flesh, says that a 
change from place to place of the divine essence was made, and 
that the flesh was able to contain the divine nature, and that it 
was partially united to the flesh ; or again ascribes to the flesh an 
infinite extension, so that it could contain (or receive) God, 
though the divine nature cannot be contained within the limits 
of the flesh " t l and says that the same nature is both God 
and man. 

iii. Cyril condemns the view of those who in the case of the 
one Christ divide the hypostases (? persons or substances) after 
the union, conjoining them only by a conjunction of dignity, or 
by an arbitrary act of authority or power, and not rather by a 
concurrence or combination of them such as effects a natural 
union. Nestorius insists that Christ, who is Emmanuel, is not 
to be called one in regard to nature, but in regard to the 
conjunction (of the natures) ; and that out of both substances 
(that of the God-Word and that of the man assumed by 
him) there is one combination the Son, and that the sub 
stances still preserve this combination without being confused . 
[Nestorius probably used both ovcrla and hypostasis? He under 
stood Cyril to mean a union into one nature, though he 
really meant a real union into one being, one hypostasis, as 
opposed to a moral or external union. Nestorius was anxious to 
uphold the permanent distinction between the divine and the 
human, and to repudiate any mixture or merging of one in the 
other, and to him there were still two hypostases in the one 

1 The Latin is very obscure "in infinitum incircumscriptam divinae naturae 
coextenderit camera ad capiendum Deum ". Perhaps the Greek was cure ply paQov TT/J 
Oelas 0i;(rews. 

3 In the corresponding anathema of Cyril, Marius M. translates vTrfxrTfuns by 
substantia, though in others he has subsistentia. If Nestorius wrote v7r6<TTa<ris (and 
not ova-ia), it was probably in the sense of ovffla, according to the older usage ; 
and so it was rightly rendered by substantia. (Marius M. has essentia once 
Anath. ii.) 


Christ. Cyril meant nearly what we mean by person, Nestorius 
meant what Latins meant by substantial 

iv. The Scriptures contain sayings about Christ by himself, 
and by others of him, some of which seem to apply to him as 
man, some as the Word. Cyril condemns the method of 
interpretation which would separate these sayings into two 
classes, and apply them respectively to the two persons or 
hypostases (the man and the Word) conceived of separately from 
each other. 1 Nestorius replies that Christ is of both natures, and 
that to apply these sayings, as though they were written of one 
nature, is to attribute to the very Word of God human affections 
and passions. 

v, vi, vii, viii. Cyril protests against calling Christ a God-bear 
ing man 2 (rather than truly God and the one Son by nature), 
or calling the Word the God or Lord of Christ ; or saying that 
in Jesus as man the Divine Word operated, and that the glory of 
the Only-begotten was attached to him as something foreign. Nor 
may we say that the man who was assumed is to be worshipped 
and glorified together with the Divine Word, and together with 
him be called God, as distinct from him (different from that in 
which he is) ; but one worship and one doxology is to be offered 
to Emmanuel . Nestorius, on the other hand, declares it 
anathema to say that after the assumption of man the Son of 
God is naturally (by nature) one ; or after the Incarnation to 
name as God the Word anyone but Christ, and to say that the 
form of a servant which was with God the Word did not have 
a beginning but was uncreated as He is, instead of acknowledging 
it to have been created by him as its natural lord and creator 
and God. Again, we must not say that the man who was created 
of the Virgin is the Only-begotten who was born from the womb 
of his Father before the Day-star ; whereas he is acknowledged 
by the title of Only-begotten by reason of his union with him 
who is by nature the Only-begotten of the Father. And, on the 
question of worship, Nestorius replies that it cannot be offered to 
the form of a servant itself, which is reverenced only in virtue 
of the fellowship by which it is conjoined and linked together with 
the blessed and naturally sovereign nature of the Only-begotten, 
ix. Cyril repudiates the teaching that the one Lord Jesus 
Christ received glory from the Spirit, and used the power which he 

1 Cf. on this point Leo s Letter to Flavian 5, infra p. 290. 

2 See note on Otofopos dvdpuiros infra p. 276. 


had through him as other than his own (external), and received 
from him the power of action against unclean spirits, and of 
performing his miracles on men ; and declares that the spirit 
through which he wrought these signs was his very own . 
(This is against the Antiochene teaching with regard to the Holy 
Spirit, especially Theodore s see supra p. 2 1 6 n.) The anathema 
of Nestorius, on the other hand, is directed against those who say 
that the Holy Spirit is consubstantial with the form of a 
servant, and do not rather explain the miracles of healing and 
the power of driving out spirits by the connexion and con 
junction which exist between the Spirit and God the Word from 
his very conception. 

x. Cyril condemns the view that it was not the Word of 
God himself who became our high-priest and apostle, but the 
man born of a woman , regarded separately as distinct from the 
Word ; and also the view that he offered the sacrifice for himself 
as well as for us. Nestorius declares that the high-priesthood 
and apostleship are Emmanuel s rather than the Word s, and 
that the parts of the oblation ought to be separately attributed to 
him who united and to him who was united, assigning to God 
what is God s and to man what is man s. 1 

xi, xii. In conclusion, Cyril requires the confession that the 
Lord s flesh is life-giving and belongs to the Word of God the 
Father. It must not be regarded as belonging to some other, 
who is merely conjoined to Him or enjoys a divine indwelling : 
it is life-giving in that it has become the Word s own the 
Word s who has power to bring all things to life. And we must 
confess that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, and was 
crucified in the flesh, and tasted death in the flesh, and became 
first-born from the dead. Nestorius, on the other hand, insists 
that the flesh which was united to the Word of God is not life- 
giving by any property of its own nature ; that God the Word 
was not made flesh as touching his substance ; and that the 
sufferings of the flesh must not be attributed to the Word of 
God and the flesh in which he was made together, without 
discriminating between the degrees of honour which belong to 
the different natures. 

1 This means apparently that the Logos, who unites, offers the sacrifice of the 
manhood, which is united. But Hefele seems to understand the anathema 
differently, and certainly in an earlier sermon Nestorius had protested against the 
idea that God could act as High Priest. 


The Significance of these Anathemas the Reception given to them 

It is clear that, in regard to nearly all the points involved, 
each of the disputants was setting in the most unfavourable 
light what he regarded as the natural premisses or conclusions of 
his opponent s teaching. Scarcely ever does Nestorius meet the 
anathema by a direct negative. He suspects that there is at 
the back of it an idea which he regarded as false, and it is this 
latent error that he denounces. In the same way the anathemas 
of Cyril seem to deal more with possible inferences from 
Nestorian teaching than with the actual tenets of Nestorius. 
These anathemas of Cyril were indeed by no means universally 
acceptable. 1 They were read and approved, it is true, with 
the letter to which they were appended, at the Council of 
Ephesus ; but a request that the same approval should be given 
at Chalcedon was passed over. 

CyriVs Dogmatic Letter 

Greater authority attaches to an earlier letter (the Second 
or Dogmatic Letter, written in the first months of the year 
430), 2 which was formally sanctioned by both Councils. Cyril 
sets himself the task of expounding what the Creed really means 
by the Word of God being incarnate and made man , and 
what it does not mean. 

It does not mean that there was any alteration in the nature 
of the Word, or that it was changed into man as a whole (body and 
soul) ; but rather that " the Word united hypostatically to himself 
flesh ensouled (animate) with a reasonable soul, and in a manner 
indescribable and inconceivable, became man, and was called 
Son of man , not simply by an act of volition or complacence, 
nor yet in the sense that he had merely adopted a role ; but 
that while the natures which are brought together to form 
the true unity are different, out of both is one Christ and Son. 
Not that the difference of the natures is destroyed by reason of 
the union ; but rather that the Godhead and the manhood, by 

1 At the time itself they were supposed to be Apollinarian (esp. the third 
and the twelfth), and as such were opposed by the Antiochene school in general, 
and particularly by John of Antioch and Theodoret of Cyrrhus (on whom see 
infra pp. 284, 285). 

* The letter is given in full in Hcurtloy de Fids et Symbolo p. 182 ff., and the 
greater part in Hahn 3 p. 310. 


means of their inexpressible and mysterious concurrence to form 
a union, have produced for us the one Lord and Son Jesus 
Christ." It is in this sense that, though existing before the ages 
and having an eternal generation from the Father, he is said to 
have had also a generation of the flesh, since for our sakes and 
on account of our salvation he united human nature with 
himself as a hypostasis and came forth from a woman. This 
does not mean " that in the first place an ordinary man was 
generated of the holy Virgin, and that afterwards the Word 
came down upon him " ; but it means that, " since a union was 
effected in the womb itself, he is said to have undergone a 
fleshly generation, inasmuch as he made his own the generation 
of his own flesh ". 

The sense in which he suffered and rose again is similarly 
explained. The divinity, inasmuch as it is also incorporeal, cannot 
suffer, and it was not in regard to his own nature that the divine 
Word suffered blows, or piercings of nails, or the other wounds. 
" But since it was the body which had become his own that 
suffered these things, he himself is said to have suffered on our 
behalf. For he who cannot suffer was in the body that was 
suffering." In like manner the Word of God is by nature 
immortal and incorruptible, and life and life-giving. " But 
inasmuch as it was his own body which by the grace of God tasted 
death on behalf of everyone, he himself is said to have suffered 
that death on behalf of us not, of course, that he experienced 
death as regards his own nature it were madness to say or 
think such a thing but that . . . his flesh tasted death." 
Similarly it was his body that was raised again, and so the 
resurrection is called his. 

The Logos with the flesh and body which are his own is 
absolutely one, and so it is one Christ and Lord that we confess ; 
and as one and the same we worship him (i.e. not as though we 
worshipped a man together with the Logos) not making any 
distinction in this respect between the Logos and the manhood. 
Indeed, if any one takes objection to the hypostatic union, either 
as incomprehensible or as unseemly, he cannot escape the error 
of speaking of two sons ; but the one Lord Jesus Christ must 
not be divided into two sons. Nothing is gained either by 
speaking ominously of a union of persons "for Scripture has 
not said that the Logos united to himself the person of man, but 
that he became flesh ; and to say that the Logos became flesh is 


precisely to say that he partook of blood and of flesh just as 
we do." That is to say, the manhood which he assumed was 
impersonal, but the mode and the result of the union was 
personal. 1 Furthermore, he remained God all through, and the 
human generation in time did not in any way detract from the 
divine generation in eternity. " He made our body his own and 
came forth from a woman as man, not having lost his being 
God and having been born of God his Father, but even in the 
assumption of flesh remaining (continuing to be) what he was." 2 
Such, Cyril declares, has always been the accurate account of 
the faith of the Church, and, in conclusion, he adds an explana 
tion of the use of the term Theotokos as meaning what he 
has expressed. " It was in this sense that the holy fathers have 
been bold to speak of the Holy Virgin as Theotokos : not in 
the sense that the nature of the Logos, or his deity, received from 
the Holy Virgin the beginning of its being ; but in the sense 
that the holy body was born of her and rationally ensouled 
(received a rational soul) ; and therefore the Logos, being hypos- 
tatically united to this body, is said to have been born as regards 
the flesh." That is to say, the Virgin is the Bearer of God, 
because she bore him who is God as well as man, though she is 
the Mother of the Saviour in regard to his humanity only. 

Earlier Teaching in the Church on the Subject. Tertullian, 
Origen, Athanasius 

With regard to the main issue there can be no doubt that 
Cyril was right in claiming for this teaching the support of the 
fathers of the Church. He was indeed using almost the very 
words of Tertullian 3 of old, and of the greatest of the teachers of 
Alexandria before his own time. 

Origen, without any sense of saying anything that was not 
universally allowed, declared that the Logos " while made man 
remained the God which he was " 4 and again, " the Son of 

1 See Note on The Impersonality of the Human Nature of The Lord p. 294. 

2 See Note on The K<^w<m p. 294. 

3 Tertullian (as we have already seen supra p. 144) had been the first to give 
expression to the doctrine. Leo, at a later time, is simply restating his teaching 
almost in his very words. See esp. e.g. adv. Prax. 27, " Deus autem neque desinit 
esse, neque aliud potest esse. Sermo autem deus, et sermo domini manet in aevum, 
perseverando scilicet in sua forma." Of. also Greg. Naz. Theol. Or. iv. esp. 20 ff. 

4 Origen de Princip. preface, 4. 


God, through whom all things were created, is named Jesus 
Christ and the Son of man. For the Son of God is said to have 
died in respect, namely, of that nature which could admit of 
death ; and he who is announced to be about to come in the 
glory of God the Father with the holy angels is called the 
Son of man. And for this reason, all through the Scriptures, 
not only are human predicates applied to the divine nature, 
but the human nature is adorned by appellations of divine 
dignity." l 

And, with regard to the sufferings and other experiences of 
the human nature, Athanasius wrote: 2 "For this reason the special 
properties of the flesh, such as to hunger, to thirst, to be weary, 
and the like of which the flesh is capable, are predicated of him 
(or are described as his) because he was in it ; while, on the 
other hand, the works which are proper to the Logos himself, 
such as to raise the dead, to restore sight to the blind, and to 
cure the woman with an issue of blood, he did through his own 
body. The Logos endured the infirmities of the flesh as his 
own, for the flesh was his ; and the flesh ministered to the 
works of the Godhead, because the Godhead was in it, for 
the body was God s. . . . When the flesh suffered the Logos 
was not external to it, and therefore the passion is said to 
be his ; and when he wrought divinely the works of his Father, 
the flesh was not external to him, but in the body itself the 
Lord did them." And he proceeds to give instances just the 
same as those which Leo afterwards adduced to shew how, 
though the different experiences and works were accomplished 
by one and the same divine and human person, it was in 
virtue now of the manhood and now of the Godhead. 3 

The Council of Ephesus, 431, and the Victory of Cyril 

The emperor, Theodosius, was under the influence of Nestorius, 
and accused Cyril of disturbing the peace and trying to sow 

1 Origen de Princip. ii 6 3. Hefele (Councils vol. iii p. 8) cites from the Com- 
met^tary on the Epistle to the Romans the note, ( Through the indissoluble unity 
of the Word and the flesh, everything which is proper to the flesh is ascribed also 
to the Word, and what is proper to the Word is predicated of the flesh." 

2 Ath. Or. c. Ar. iii 31-33 ; cf. iv 6, 7 ; and incidentally, de Sent. Dirniys. 26 
" For he himself permits the special properties of the flesh to be predicated of him, 
that it may be shewn that the body was not another s but his very own." 

8 Cf. also Epiphanius Ancorat. 36 and 95 ; adv. Haer. Ixix 24, 42, Ixxii 23. 


sedition ; but by general consent a council was summoned to deal 
with the questions at issue, to meet at Ephesus at Pentecost in 
the following year. 

Nestorius with his bishops, and Cyril attended by as many 
as fifty of his, arrived at Ephesus before the time appointed, and 
within a few days of Pentecost there were gathered together 
most of those who had been summoned. But there were still 
some very important absentees. John, the Metropolitan of 
Antioch, and the bishops of his province, had been delayed on the 
journey, and sent word that they were coming as quickly as 
they could. When, however, the days went by and they did 
not arrive, 1 Cyril and his friends determined to open the Synod ; 
and in spite of the protests of the imperial commissioner and 
some seventy bishops (including Theodoret of Cyrrhus), and the 
refusal of Nestorius to appear, a session was held (on June 22nd) 
from early morning into the night, and the excommunication of 
Nestorius was decreed by a unanimous vote of two hundred. 
Some acts of violence against Nestorius and his friends were 
committed by the people of Ephesus, but they were provided 
with a guard by the imperial commissioner. A few days later, 
John of Antioch arrived with forty Syrian bishops, and at once 
held a council and deposed Cyril and Memnon of Ephesus for 
their disorderly proceedings. Cyril s party continued to hold 
sessions, and both sides endeavoured to secure the emperor s 
support, the Antiochenes, in particular, charging Cyril with 
Apollinarianism and violence and injustice. The emperor decided 
to confirm the depositions on both sides, and early in August 
Cyril and Memnon, as well as Nestorius, were arrested at Ephesus 
and imprisoned. The majority and their friends at once made 
fresh representations to the emperor ; and at last, after receiving 
deputies from both sides at Chalcedon, he ordered the release 
and restoration of Cyril and of Memnon ; while Nestorius was 
to remain at his old monastery of Euprepius, whither he 
had already been sent, and a new bishop was appointed in his 

Cyril had thus, partly by the inherent merits of his cause, 

1 It is reported (see Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 45) that two bishops of the 
province of Antioch said that John had bidden them tell Cyril not to wait for 
him, and it has been inferred that John wished not to be present at the con 
demnation of his former priest and friend. But, as the same two bishops signed 
the protest against the subsequent proceedings of Cyril, the account must be 
received with suspicion. 


but partly also by the aid of bribes or customary presents 1 to 
some of the great officials of the Court, secured his own position 
in the East, while he had been strong all through in the support 
of the West, through the Bishop of Borne. 

Terms of Agreement between Cyril and the Antiochenes. 
The Union Creed 

But the Antiochenes were by no means satisfied, and Cyril 
saw that it was necessary to divide them if possible, and to 
win over the Metropolitan the natural leader of the Syrian 
opposition. He and those who were most anxious for peace and 
concord were steadfastly determined not to recognize Cyril till 
he had given satisfactory explanations, and with this end in 
view, after much discussion, an envoy (Paul of Emesa) was 
despatched to Alexandria in 433, bearing with him a form of 
creed to serve as a test, which Cyril was to be required to accept. 
This creed 2 intended to unite the Antiochenes and to be an 
Eirenicon to their opponents contains the following declarations 
on the points at issue : " We confess therefore our Lord Jesus 
Christ the Son of God, the only begotten, complete God and 
complete man, of a rational soul and body : begotten of his 
Father as touching his Godhead before the ages, but all the 
same in the last days, on account of us and on account of our 
salvation, of Mary the Virgin as touching his manhood: co- 
essential with the Father as touching his Godhead and all the 
same co-essential with us as touching his manhood : for there has 
been effected a union of two natures therefore we confess one 
Christ, one Son, one Lord. In accordance with this conception 
of the unconfused union we confess the Holy Virgin to be the 
bearer of God (Theotokos), because God the Word was incarnate 
and made man, and from the very conception united to himself 
the temple which was received from her. And of the expressions 
of evangelists and apostles concerning the Lord, we know that 
theologians apply some generally as referring to one person, and 
discriminate others as referring to two natures ; and those which 

1 So his apologists (e.g. Hefele) prefer to style them. The abbot Eutyches first 
comes before us as Cyril s agent in this matter. The monks of Constantinople, under 
Dalmatius the Archimandrite, were also strong and even violent allies. 

2 See Hahn 8 p. 215. In the main it was the same as one previously sent to the 
emperor, probably composed by Theodoret. 


are of a divine character they refer to the Godhead of Christ, 
and those that are lowly to his manhood." 

This statement certainly seems to favour the Antiochene 
rather than the Alexandrian point of view but the title 
Theotokos is expressly admitted, and union is used instead of 
conjunction ; and Cyril accepted the Creed and embodied it in 
his reply, John on his part agreeing to the judgement pro 
nounced against Nestorius, and anathematizing his infamous 
doctrines . Cyril further defended himself in his letter l against 
misrepresentations, and particularly requested John to join in 
checking the senseless ideas of a mixture or blending of the 
Logos with the flesh, or of any change at all in the divine 
nature, " for that remains ever what it is and never can be 
changed ". 

Dissatisfaction with the Definitions on both sides. Cyril s 
Vindication of them 

The union which was thus brought about failed to satisfy 
many on both sides. Of Cyril s former adherents there were 
some who thought that he was now accepting Nestorian errors ; 
some merely misunderstood the terms which were used ; while 
others the forerunners of Monophysite conceptions consciously 
disapproved of the teaching which Cyril represents. Accordingly, 
in a series of letters, 2 he defended the union , insisting that 
there were two natures, and yet there was a complete but uncon- 
fused union of the two, and that the doctrinal statement agreed 
upon simply excluded misapprehensions of the doctrine which he 
himself had constantly repudiated. The Nestorians were right 
in teaching two natures ; their error lay in their not acknow 
ledging a real union of the two. So, now that the Orientals 
agreed in allowing no separation of the natures, only teaching a 
distinction between them in thought, they were really accepting 
what he himself meant by the phrase " one incarnate nature of 
the Logos ". So, too, with regard to the predications in Scripture, 
they did not say " one class refer only to the Logos of God, the 
other only to the Son of man " ; but they said " the one refer 
only to the Godhead, the other to the manhood " and in saying 

1 The letter known as Laetentur Coeli (Heurtley de Fide et Symlolo p. 
199 ff.). 

2 To Acacius Ep. 40, Eulogius Ep. 44, Valerian Ep. 50, and Successus Ep 45 
(Migne Ixxvii p. 181 ff.). See Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 140 ff. 



so they were right, ascribing both alike to the one Son (who is 
both Son of God and Son of man). 

Inasmuch as Cyril thus clearly recognizes the distinction 
between the natures, and insists that there is no kind of mixture 
of one with the other (though holding the union to be so com 
plete that in the incarnate Christ the distinction is apprehended 
rather in our own thought than in his person), it seems to be 
certain that the expression " one incarnate nature of the Word " 
is intended to denote the unity of the person. The centre of 
this personality was the Logos who " remained always what he 
was " before the Incarnation. 

And this was the teaching for which a large number of the 
Nestorian bishops were not prepared. It seemed to them to 
endanger the full recognition of the manhood of Christ. They 
would not anathematize Nestorius ; they would not accept the 
compromise in which apparently some were able to acquiesce 
without giving up their old ideas ; and they would not recognize 
Cyril as orthodox. 

The Strength and the Weakness of Nestorianism 

The real strength of Nestorianism lay in its clear perception 
of the reality of the human nature of the Lord. The Saviour 
of men really went through the normal experiences of the life 
which man must live. At a time in the developement of doctrine 
in the work of interpretation of the Person of Christ when 
there was once again danger lest the full and complete humanity 
of the Eedeemer should fail to win theoretic recognition, and 
an interpretation of his Person should be accepted which would 
practically be a denial of the Incarnation in its true significance, 
Nestorianism rendered service to the Church. It insisted that 
the human experiences of the Lord were really human. But 
what it gave with one hand it took away with the other. Its 
theory failed to cover the deepest conviction of the Christian 
consciousness that in Jesus God and man had really been 
brought together in a vital and permanent union, never hence 
forward to be dissolved : that the chasm between God and man 
had been bridged over, so that all who were united with Jesus 
were united with God Himself. The Nestorian theory only 
provided for an external union, which was understood to be an 
alliance of two distinct beings. And so the Incarnation was as 


much emptied of its meaning as it was by any theory which 
failed to provide recognition either for the complete manhood 
or for the complete Godhead of the Saviour. But though 
Nestorianism was inevitably condemned, the Church had still to 
seek for a clearer conception of the relation between the God 
head and the manhood and of their union in one Person. 

Nestorians were at all events convinced that Jesus Christ 
was both God and man ; that in him the experiences of both 
natures were fully represented. Nor can they be accused of 
exaggerating the distinction between the divine and the human 
natures and functions. They did not realize that distinction too 
vividly ; but they failed to realize the idea of God becoming 
man one who was eternally God entering upon the sphere of 
human life. In this respect at all events a fundamental issue 
was made clear by Cyril. The Catholic interpretation of the 
Gospel is based on the idea of God condescending to be born as 
man ; a divine Person stoops to assume human nature and live a 
human life, without ceasing to be divine. About this conception 
there is a unity which is never for a moment in danger of 
dissolution. But the very starting-point of Nestorian thought 
excluded the possibility of unity. Indeed, Nestorians started not 
from one point, but from two, and the lines of their thought ran 
always parallel, side by side. There was Man, and there was 
God. Both were persons, and the conjunction in which the 
two were brought together was only one of relation (O-^TIK^ 
a-vvdfaia). And so they never reached a clear conception of a 
Person living in two spheres of consciousness and experience. 1 
To this conception Cyril seems really to have attained, though 
there were some difficulties of terminology which he did not 
altogether overcome. 

As a theory of the Person of Christ, Nestorianism is weak 
and inadequate, so far as it fails to realize the union of manhood 
and Godhead as actually effected in a single Person who lived 
the life of men. But as against any theory which in any way in 
effect, if not intentionally, tends to annul the entirety of the 
manhood of Jesus, Nestorianism is strong, and makes its appeal 
direct to the heart of men. It is a mistake to regard it as 
merely rationalistic . 

1 They could not see that the distinction between the two spheres of existence 
might be maintained without abandoning or denying the unity of their subject 
(W. Bright The Age of the Fathers vol. ii p. 281). 


And so it won and retained its hold over great numbers of 

Suppression of Nestorianism within the limits of the Empire 

Against those who were not to be won over by explanations 
and negotiations, the Patriarch of Antioch at last appealed for the 
aid of the civil power. Nestorius in 435 was turned out of his 
monastery and banished to Petra in Arabia, and a little later to 
Ptolemais, a kind of Siberia, to which the worst criminals were 
sent. 1 The emperor ordered all his writings to be burnt, and 
his adherents all the more eagerly disseminated those of Diodorus 
and Theodore, and translated them into other languages (Syriac, 
Armenian, and Persian). Many bishops were deposed and expelled 
from their sees, and, in consequence of the stringent measures 
adopted, the Nestorian heresy was soon suppressed throughout the 
whole of the Roman Empire. For a time it found a refuge in 
the school of Edessa, but, when this famous centre of theological 
learning was closed by the Emperor Zeno in the year 489, 
Nestorianism lost its last hold in the Empire. 2 

By these means the controversy was silenced for the time. 
But the theological tendencies which prompted it were too 
opposed to admit of easy combination, and on the death of Oyril 
the extreme champions of the oneness of the natures, whom he 
had been able to keep in check, broke loose; and, when the 
controversy which resulted was closed, the Church had lost 
another band of enthusiastic, if mistaken, Christians. 

In a note on the use of the title 0eo$opos by Ignatius, as a second 
name for himself (6 KCU 0eo<opos) Lightfoot writes (Apostolic Fathers, 
Ignatius vol. ii p. 21) "This word would be equally appropriate to the 
true Christian, whether taken in its active sense ($eo<dpos bearing God, 
dad with God) or in its passive sense (#o <opos borne along by God, 
inspired by God} " ; citing in support of his comment the words of 
Clement Al. (Strom, vii 13) 0etos apa 6 yvoxrrwc&s /cat 77877 ayios, Oecxfroptov 
/cat 0eo</>opov/xei os. 

But he proceeds to shew that Ignatius certainly used the word in 

1 He was still alive in 439 when Socrates wrote his history, and a Coptic MS. of 
the life of Dioscorus says he was summoned to the Council of Chalcedon in 461. 
It seems unlikely that he lived so long, but when and where he died is unknown. 

3 See Additional Note "The Nestorian Church" p. 279. 


the active sense (as other similar compounds such as vao<opog, xpiaro- 
<o pos, o-apKo<j!>opo9, veKpo<o pos) ; and that it was so interpreted universally 
till a very late date, when the legend grew up that Ignatius was the 
very child whom our Lord took up in his arms (Mark 9 86 and II 3). 
He also cites passages proving that the metaphor of hearing God or 
1 bearing Christ was familiar to early Christian writers, and that it is 
this sense rather than that of wearing God as a robe that is intended, 
though the Syriac translator rendered it God-clad* and St Paul s 
metaphor of putting on Christ might suggest that image. 

The word has also commonly, if not universally, been understood in 
the active sense in the phrase &v6puiro<s 0eo<opos as used in the Christo- 
logical controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries, and so it has been 
taken in the foregoing account to mean a man who bears God with 
him , implying that the man, so to say, was prior in time, and was 
favoured with the special choice of God, who is pleased to dwell in him 
a man in whom God dwells. 

But Dr Kobertson writes that he holds that this is a mistake, and 
that the word is here passive in sense, God-borne i.e. inspired. 1 

There is only room here for a brief statement of the question. 

The phrase seems to be first used by Apollinarians as a taunt which 
they cast at the doctrine of their opponents, charging them with 
worshipping an cv0pa)7ros 0eo<o pog, and maintaining that the true 
object of worship was rather a $eos o-ap/coc^opos. (See Greg. Naz. Ep. 
102 where the allusion is brought in incidentally to shew the absurdity 
of the Apollinarian position by an interchange of crap and av0po>7ros in 
one of their own expressions.) The antithesis shews that the word is 
used in the active sense. 

It is again as a taunt that we meet it next, though in a sense the 
tables are turned. Apollinarians said that the Christ of the orthodox 
was a God-bearing man ; but now it is Nestorians against whom the 
charge is brought that they preach a 0eo</>opos avQpwrros, and this by 
Cyril who was himself suspected not without reason as far as his 
language went of Apollinarian tendencies. The historical antecedents 
of the phrase suggest, accordingly, that it is the active sense that is still 
intended a man bearing with him God . It was certainly understood 
and used in this sense by later writers (see passages cited in Suicer s 
Thesaurus) ; and thus interpreted it expresses concisely the objections 
which are constantly reiterated against Nestorians viz. that they made 
the manhood (the man) the starting-point, so to say, of their doctrine, 
and conceived of Christ as a man, with whom God was joined in some 

1 It must be noted that, whether the compound is active or passive, the general 
sense inspired would hold. If active, the idea is that of a man who bears within 
him God, and so has with him a divine guide. If passive, the idea is that of a 
man who is upheld and sustained by the divine light and strength. 


other way than in that of a real union (o-wa<jf>cta, not a/wens) ; so that 
his Person was composed, as it were, of a man and a God the Son of 
Man and the Son of God. So their opponents argued that the sense in 
which they applied the term God to the individual human person 
whom they called Christ could not exclude the notion of two Sons. 
The idea of the indwelling of God /car evSo/a av in a human heing 
was the source of their doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ. 1 
And so their Christ was fairly described by the nickname a.v6pw>Tro<s 

If the word be passive #o<opos it would not convey this sense. 
In the term * a God-borne man God is put first. There is God, and he 
takes up and bears with him a man. The objection that the doctrine 
implied two persons might still hold good, but the point of view would 
not be the same as that from which opponents of Nestorianism set out. 

But, nevertheless, it seems to have been in the passive sense that 
Cyril applied it to the Nestorian teaching. Dr Robertson points out 
that the anathemas must be interpreted by the covering letter to 
which they were appended. That letter is the substratum of the 
anathemas. And, in the passage in the letter which corresponds in 
positive exposition to the statements which are negatived in the 
anathemas, Cyril quotes two sayings which are apparently the sayings 
of Nestorius (1) Sia TOV (fropovvra TOV <opoty>ievov tre/So;, Sia TOV aoparov 
TTpoa-KvvS) rov opajjaevov, (2) 6 A.?/c0ts rC) Aa/3ovTi crvy^p^/xaTt^ei $eos. 
(That is, On account of him that bears I reverence him that is borne ; 
on account of him that is unseen I worship him that is seen , and He 
that is taken up is called God (shares in the name of God) along with 
him that took him up .) In these sayings there is no doubt that the 
active agency is ascribed to God throughout. It is God that bears, man 
that is borne. It is God that took up, man that was taken up. The name 
God, which properly belongs only to him that takes, is extended by 
virtue of the new association to him that is taken. The crvoroixia of 
ideas is unmistakeable. The l man is, as it were, passive throughout. 
And the phrases in the anathemas, which repudiate such ideas, are at 
least patient of the same interpretation (viz. $eo<opos av^pcoTros u>s 
avOpanrov fvyp-yrjo-Oat Trapa TOV Oeov Aoyov TOV Irjo-ovv TOV 

3.V&p(TTOV O~VfJL7rpOO~KWLO~Oa.l Sctv TO) $CU) Xoya) . . . KCt 

0eov a)S erepov cv ere pw). 2 

We must therefore recognize that Cyril meant $eo<opos, in the 

1 See supra Theodore s exposition of the doctrine. 

2 Dr. Robertson also points out that in the instance from the Excerpta Theodoti 
27 (r6 Oeofyopov ylvevdai rbv frvdpuirov Trpocrexws tvepyovfievov virb TOV Kvplov Kal 
Ka.66.Trep ffui/j,a O.VTOU yiv6fj.evov) which Lightfoot quotes in support of the active 
sense, he has overlooked the drift of the passage, and that the word is there 
passive (Oebfiopov), being explained by evepyo$iJ.evov \>irb TOV Kvplov. 


passive sense. As applied to Nestorian teaching the phrase 
avOpuTTos is probably his own coinage. It is not probable that Nestorius 
or his followers would have chosen it as their own expression of their 
doctrine, though the saying of Nestorius if it be his, which Cyril 
quotes, would seem to give him justification for the phrase. 

But in the active sense, 6eo<j>6pos av#po>7ros, the phrase was so 
convenient and concise an expression of the Nestorian doctrine, as 
commonly understood, that it was seized upon and regularly used in 
later times as a label for the famous heresy. And therefore, though 
as Dr Robertson has convinced me with some sacrifice of historical 
accuracy, I have given the phrase the sense which it has universally 
been believed to bear, from the days of Marius Mercator (see supra 
p. 261 n. 4), who slips in the gloss id est, Deum ferentem, down to 
the present time. 


The expelled bishops laid the foundation of the great East-Syrian 
Church. A temporary refuge was found by Nestorians in the great 
school of Edessa, which had been famous for generations as the literary 
centre of Christianity for Armenia, Syria, Chaldaea, and Persia. At the 
time of the Council of Ephesus (431) its head was a Persian, Ibas, an 
ardent disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia. After the Council he was 
expelled by the bishop Rabulas (who had himself been Kestorian at 
first), and spread translations of Theodore s works among the Christians 
in Persia. In 435 he was elected Bishop of Edessa, in succession to 
Rabulas, and a great stimulus was given to Nestorianism. The school 
was finally dissolved by the Emperor Zeno in 489, but it was transferred 
(to flourish more freely than ever) to Msibis, where already, under 
Barsumas, a Nestorian school had been founded, and the support of the 
Persian king was secured for Nestorian Christians only. In spite of 
occasional persecution, Kestorian schools and missionaries rapidly spread 
in Persia and India, and even far into China (where a bilingual inscrip 
tion in Chinese and Syriac, found by the Jesuits at Singanfu, relates 
that a Nestorian missionary laboured as far back as the year 636). The 
Nestorian Church, strongly established in this way by the end of the 
fifth century, and always famous for its educational and missionary 
enthusiasm, had become in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the 
largest Christian body in the world the Christian Church of the far 
East. The Patriarch (or Catholicos) resided at Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and 
later at Bagdad, and was acknowledged by twenty-five metropolitans (or 
archbishops) as their spiritual head. The Khalifs of Bagdad protected 
their Christian subjects, and important offices of state were often filled 
by them ; but when a Tartar race of sovereigns succeeded, bitter perse- 


cution broke out, and at last the invasion of Tamerlane in the fourteenth 
century spread universal devastation, and almost blotted out the Church. 
Only a fragment a nation as well as a Church survived ; and, in spite 
of almost incredible persecution and suffering, still survives in the moun 
tains and plains of Kurdistan (partly in Turkey and partly in Persia). 
The Euphrates valley expedition of 1835 first brought their existence to 
the knowledge of the West, and, in response to repeated appeals from 
the Catholicos for help, Archbishop Benson founded an educational 
mission to restore and build up, if possible, free from Nestorian error, 
something of their ancient state. [See "Archbishop s Mission to the 
Assyrian Christians" Annual Report, published by the S.P.C.K.] 



THE difficulty of finding a suitable expression of the union of 
the two natures in the person of Jesus Christ, which should 
recognize fully the earliest conviction, that, though one person, 
he was yet both God and man, was shewn again within a few 
years of the condemnation of Nestorian teaching. This time 
it was teaching of an opposite kind that called for correction. 

Cyril died in 444, and was succeeded by Dioscorus, who 
had, in an exaggerated form, all the bad qualities which have 
been attributed to Cyril, without his undoubted learning. 1 The 
Archbishop of Constantinople was Flavian, a moderate man, 
averse from controversy, desiring peace and quiet for the Church. 
But peace was not to be had when followers of Cyril were not 
content to use his language and abide by the qualifications which 
explained it. On the contrary, there were some who seem 
to have made it their business to scent out traces of Nestorianism 
in men who were reputed orthodox, and so to wound their good 

The Teaching of Eutyches his Condemnation 

It was one of these who caused the renewal of the strife 
Eutyches, who had been an enthusiastic follower of Cyril, and 
was archimandrite of a monastery outside Constantinople, and 
high in the imperial favour. He had fallen under suspicion of 
Apollinarian tendencies already, and at an ordinary synod of 
thirty- two bishops, held at Constantinople in November 448, a 
charge was brought against him by Eusebius, Bishop of Dory- 
laeum a former friend and ally in the contest against 

1 He seems to have been violent, rapacious, and scandalously immoral (see the 
evidence adduced at the Council of Chalcedon Hefele Councils vol. iii 323 ff. ). He 
brought all kinds of charges against Cyril, and confiscated his money and property 
on the ground that he had impoverished the Church. 


Nestorianism that he confounded the natures, and scandalized 
many of the faithful by his teaching. Eutyches was invited to 
attend before the synod and offer explanations. Again and 
again he refused to appear, and sent evasive answers to the 
messengers who were despatched to summon him ; but at last 
he came. The question was put to him : " Dost thou confess the 
existence of two natures even after the incarnation, and that 
Christ is of one essence (6/j,oova-iov) with us after the flesh ? " 
After trying to evade a direct answer, Eutyches declared that he 
had never hitherto used the latter phrase (though the Virgin from 
whom the flesh was received was of one essence with us), but 
that he would do so, if required by the synod. (He had really 
held the human nature to be assimilated, deified, by the Logos ; 
so that the body was no longer of the same essence as ours, but 
a divine body 1 so the human nature was as it were transmuted 
into the divine.) And at last he was obliged to admit that he 
confessed that the Lord was of two natures before the union, 
but after the union he confessed one nature. When required to 
anathematize all views opposed to the one declared by the 
synod (that Christ was of one essence with us as regards the 
flesh, and of two natures), he answered that though he would 
accept the manner of speech required, he found it neither in 
Holy Scriptures nor in the Fathers, and that therefore he could 
not pronounce the anathema which would condemn the Fathers. 
And he appealed to the writings of Athanasius and Cyril 
in support of his own teaching, 2 saying, before the union they 
speak of two natures, but after the union only of one though 
all the same he repudiated all change and conversion of one 
into the other. As it was only in so equivocal a fashion that 
Eutyches would accept the test, the synod decided that he did 
not really hold the orthodox faith and pronounced his deposition 
and excommunication. 

Appeal to the West and Counter -Attack on Flavian 

Eutyches maintained his ground and offered a stubborn 
resistance. Enjoying already the emperor s sympathy, he 

1 This view was represented as if he said that the Logos had brought his body 
from heaven (fouOev). This he denied that he held. 

2 Some of the writings on which he depended were really Apollinarian, fraudu 
lently ascribed to others. See supra p. 241 note. 


wrote to Leo, the Bishop of Eome, in ingratiating terms, and 
tried to secure his support. Leo, however, waited till he had 
heard the other side, and then wrote briefly to Flavian, con 
demning Eutyches, and promising full and complete directions 
in the matter. Feeling ran high in Constantinople. The 
emperor supported Eutyches and required of Flavian a pro 
fession of belief, in answer to the charges of Eutcyhes. Flavian 
in reply drew up a statement, 1 in which he declared his faith 
in the twofold generation of him who was " perfect God and 
perfect man, ... of one essence with the Father as regards his 
Godhead, and of one essence with his mother as regards his 
manhood. For while we confess Christ in two natures after 
the incarnation from the Holy Virgin and the being made man, 
we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord, in one subsistence and 
in one person ; and we do not refuse to speak of one nature of 
God the Word, if it be understood to be one nature incarnate 
and made man, inasmuch as our Lord Jesus Christ is one and 
the same (person) out of both (natures)." Flavian here was 
careful to use the phrase one nature with the qualification 
which Cyril too had added, one incarnate nature . Eutyches, 
on the contrary, did not shrink from acknowledging one 
nature of the incarnate God made man . 

The Council of Ephesus 

Against the wish of Leo and of Flavian, Theodosius II 
summoned a Council to meet at Ephesus, and, with the hope of 
determining the judgment of this Council, Leo wrote to Flavian 
the letter he had promised before. 2 The letter was written on 
June 13, and the Council met in August, with Dioscorus as 
president. Dioscorus was attended by a strong body of 
Egyptian bishops and monks, who all behaved with scandalous 
violence. They cried out against Eusebius for dividing Christ 
Bury him alive ; as he divides Christ, let him bo divided 
himself ! Flavian was mobbed by the monks of Barsumas ; 
Dioscorus refused to have the letter of Leo read ; the state 
ments of Eutyches were received with applause. The Council 

1 Hahn 3 p. 820. The letter containing it was sent to the emperor in the spring 
of 449. 

2 Hahn 3 p. 321 ff. An English translation in Bright St. Leo on the Incarnation, 
and in the English translation of Hefele (Councils vol. iii 225 ff.). See infra p. 288. 


asserted that after the incarnation the distinction between the 
two natures no longer existed. Eutyches was declared orthodox 
and restored, and all his opponents were deposed. Flavian 
appealed against the decision, supported by the Roman legates, 
who protested and retired in haste. The signatures of many of 
the bishops were extorted by threats and physical force. It 
seems certain from the evidence, even when allowance is made 
for some exaggeration, that the result was only reached by 
insolent intimidation which proceeded to personal violence ; and 
when the news reached Leo, he at once denounced the action of 
Dioscorus, and later on declared that a Council characterized by 
such brigandage l was no true Council at all. 

Victory of the Eutychians through the Emperor s Support 

Theodosius, however, supported Dioscorus and his party, and 
applauded the decision of the Council. He denounced Flavian, 
Eusebius, and the others as Nestorians, and deposed and exiled 
them. 2 Theodoret, who had not been at the Council, was included 
in this sentence, and his writings were forbidden to be read. 

The result of the stringent edict which was issued was 
hopeless dissension in the East. Egypt, Thrace, and Palestine, 
on the one side, held with Dioscorus and the emperor ; on the 
other side, Syria, Pontus, and Asia protested against the treat 
ment of Flavian and the acquittal of Eutyches. With them 
was Eome ; and Leo, excommunicated by Dioscorus, excommuni 
cated him in turn and demanded a new Council. As long as 
Theodosius lived nothing could be done, though the sympathies 
of Pulcheria were on the other side. His death in July of the 
year following the Eobber Synod (450) opened the way to the 
end of the wretched wrangle. 

The Council of Chalcedon 

Pulcheria and her husband, Marcian, favoured the cause 
which Leo represented, and the exiled bishops were recalled. 

1 Latrocinium Ep, 95 (to Pulcheria), dated July 20, 451 : hence the name by 
which the Council is known to history, the Robber Synod (crvvodos X-rjcrrpiKifj), 

2 Some accounts declare that Flavian died three days after the Council from 
the results of the violence of which he was the victim, and at Chalcedon Barsumas 
was denounced as his murderer. Other accounts say he was exiled and died at 
Epipa, a city of Lydia, perhaps by a violent death. 


A synod was held at Constantinople, at which the bishop, 
Anatolius, signed Leo s letter to Flavian by this time widely 
known and warmly welcomed by such men as Theodoret and 
other leaders of the Antiochenes ; and a General Council was 
summoned to be held at Nicaea. 1 Thither in the summer of 
451 the bishops and the papal legates journeyed; but to suit 
the convenience of the emperor (whose presence was required 
at the capital) the Council was transferred to Chalcedon. A 
number of sessions were held between the 8th October and 
the 1st of November, about six hundred bishops and others 
being present. 2 

At the outset the papal legates protested against the 
presence of Dioscorus, and the commissioners (who were in 
charge of the business arrangements) directed him to sit apart 
from the others, as not entitled to vote. All the documents 
relating to the case were read. While this was proceeding, the 
introduction of Theodoret, by command of the emperor, caused 
a violent outbreak of angry protests from the party of Dio 
scorus (who taunted him as the Jew, the enemy of God ) and 
counter-accusations from his friends. 8 Quiet was with difficulty 
restored by the commissioners, who declared " such vulgar shouts 
were not becoming in bishops, and could do no good ". Over the 
proceedings at Ephesus a heated debate took place, and many 
of the bishops who had been present disavowed their share in 
the decisions, declaring that they had been induced, through fear 
of the violence of Dioscorus and his monks, to act in violation 
of their real belief and judgement. Dioscorus declared that 
Flavian had been justly condemned, because he maintained that 
there were two natures after the union ; whereas he could prove 
from Athanasius, Gregory, and Cyril, that after the union we 
ought to speak of only one incarnate nature of the Logos. " 1 
am rejected ", he cried, " with the Fathers ; but I defend the 
doctrine of the Fathers, and swerve from it in no respect." He 

1 Leo now wished to dispense with a Council, and simply by his legates, in con 
junction with Anatolius, receive into communion all suspected bishops who would 
make profession of the orthodox faith. Even earlier he had apparently wished to 
adopt this course, and only to hold a Council if it failed. 

2 Yet the West was represented only by the Roman legates and two African 

3 Theodoret had written a dialogue (satirizing the monks, Cyril s supporters, 
and accusing the whole party of being mere Apollinarians) between Epavi<TTfy (a 
scrap-collector one who picks up scraps of heresies, like Eutyches) and Op66- 


was willing to accept the expression of two natures (i.e. 
formed out of the two), but not to say two natures still (i.e. 
existing in two natures), since after the union there were no 
longer two. 

By the close of the first session a large majority of the 
Council agreed that Flavian had been unjustly deposed, and 
that it was right that the same punishment should be meted 
out to Dioscorus. 

At the second session the Creed of Nicaea was read and 
received with enthusiasm as the belief of all, and the Creed 
then first attributed to the Council of Constantinople was 
approved, and after it the second letter of Cyril to Nestorius 
and his letter to John of Antioch. Then came the letter of 
Leo to Flavian, in a Greek translation. This too was received 
with approval as the faith of the Fathers " Peter has spoken 
by Leo ; thus Cyril taught ! Anathema to him who believes 
otherwise." But the letter did not pass at once. Some pas 
sages seemed to some of the bishops * Nestorian , and it was 
only after discussion and explanation that it was accepted. 1 

At the third session, on October 13, the formal deposition 
of Dioscorus was pronounced, and at the fourth the condemna 
tion of Eutychianism was renewed. 2 At the fifth session, on 
October 22, a definition of the faith was agreed to, not to add 
to the faith in any way or substitute a new confession for the 
old ones (which a canon of the Council of Ephesus forbade), but 
to refute the innovations of Nestorius and Eutyches. 3 The 
formula was drawn up by a committee of bishops in consulta 
tion, and begins with a declaration of the sufficiency of the 
Creeds of Nicaea and Constantinople, had not some attempted 
to do away with the preaching of the truth and to pervert the 
mystery of the incarnation of the Lord, and denied the term 
God-bearer as used of the Virgin ; while others introduced a 
confusion and mixture, and senselessly imagined that there was 
only one nature of the flesh and of the Godhead, and rashly 
maintained that the divine nature of the Only-begotten was 

1 Discussion, and ultimate acceptance on its merits, was not quite what Leo 
would have wished. 

2 Dioscorus, deposed and exiled, died in Paphlagonia in September 454. Eu 
tyches was also exiled, but probably died before the sentence was carried out. 

8 The statement is given in Heurtley de Fide et Symbolo p. 23 ff., a translation 
and part of the Greek in Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 346 ff., and the decisive clauses 
of the definition in Hahn 8 p. 166. 


become passible by the confusion or mixture. Therefore, the 
synod " opposes those who seek to rend the mystery of the 
incarnation into a duality of Sons, and excludes from participa 
tion in the holy rites (or from the sacred congregation) those 
who dare to say that the Godhead of the Only-begotten is 
capable of suffering. It sets itself against those who imagine 
a mixture or confusion in regard to the two natures of Christ, 
and drives away those who foolishly maintain that the form of 
a servant which was assumed from us is of a heavenly essence 
or any other than ours ; and it anathematizes those who fancy 
two natures of the Lord before the union and imagine only one 
after the union. 

" Following, therefore, the holy Fathers ", the declaration 
runs, " we confess and all teach with one accord one and the 
same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once perfect (complete) in 
Godhead and perfect (complete) in manhood, truly God and 
truly man, and, further, of a reasonable soul and body ; of one 
essence with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the 
same time of one essence with us as regards his manhood, in 
all respects like us, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead 
begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his 
manhood on account of us and our salvation begotten in the 
last days of Mary the Virgin, bearer of God ; one and the same 
Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, proclaimed in two natures, 
without confusion, without change, without division, without 
separation ; the difference of the natures being in no way 
destroyed on account of the union, but rather the peculiar 
property of each nature being preserved and concurring in one 
person and one hypostasis not as though parted or divided 
into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten 
God the Logos, Lord, Jesus Christ, even as the prophets from 
of old and the Lord Jesus Christ taught us concerning him, 
and the Creed of the Fathers has handed down to us. 

In this definition the Church at length pronounced a final 
verdict on both extremes of Christological opinion, clearly 
repudiating Apollinarian, Nestorian, and Eutychian teaching, 
and stating positively in few words the relation between the 
two natures in the one person : the relation which was more 
fully expressed in the statements of Cyril and Leo, to which, by 
recognition on this occasion, conciliar authority was given. 


The Letter of Leo to Flavian 

The letter of Leo well supplements the earlier statement of 
Cyril, and a summary of it may elucidate some points in the 
controversy which it helped to close. 1 

It is written all through in the tone of calm judicial decision 
and direction, and treats Eutyches as imprudent and lacking in 
sound judgement and understanding of the Scriptures. The very 
Creed itself refutes him : old as he is, he does not comprehend 
what every catechumen in the world confesses. To declare 
belief in " God the Father all-ruling and in Jesus Christ His only 
Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and 2 the Virgin 
Mary " is really to overthrow the devices of almost all heretics. 
These three clauses declare the Son to be God derived from God, 3 
co-eternal and co-equal and co-essential with the Father. The 
temporal nativity in no way detracted from the divine and 
eternal nativity, and added nothing to it, but was solely concerned 
with the restoration of man and the need for the assumption of our 
nature by one whom sin could not stain nor death keep in his hold. 4 

1 The Letter is often styled the Tome of Leo the term 7-6/ios, meaning a section 
or a concise statement, being commonly applied to synodical letters cf. Athanasius, 
Tomus ad Antiochenos. It is given in Heurtley de Fidk et Symbolo, and in Hahn 3 pp. 
321-330 (Translation in Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 225 ff. and Bright St Leo on the In 
carnation p. 109 ff.). Dorner (Doct. of Person of Christ Div. ii. vol. i p. 85) describes 
Leo as "more skilled in the composition of formulas of a full-toned liturgical char 
acter than capable of contributing to the scientific developement of a doctrine ", but 
at all events he was able to give very clear expression to the doctrine which he 

3 The Latin text has et. Hefele suggests ex, but the simple co-ordination of the 
Holy Spirit and the Virgin is no doubt original in the Roman Creed see the forms 
in Hahn 1 p. 22 ff. 

8 He uses the Nicene phrase de Deo Deus , which was not in the Constantinopolitan 
Creed, but was eventually inserted in the West, e.g. at Toledo in 589. 

4 The actual birth as well as the conception took place without loss of virginity. 
The title ael irdpdevos is found as early as Clement of Alexandria (Strom, vii 16) 
who reports that some in his day said the fact was known by examination ; 
anyhow he deems it true. On the other hand, Tertullian about the same time says 
she was virgo till the birth, but that the birth made her mulicr, and that St Paul 
implied this, cum non ex virgine sed ex muliere editum filium dei pronuntiavit, 
agnovit adapertae vulvae nuptialem passionem " ; and so he says, " etsi virgo concepit, 
in partu suo nupsit " (de carne Christi 23). The doctrine here laid down by Leo 
seems to have been generally held in the Church from early times (Tertullian I.e. 
and Helvidius in the fourth century being exceptions though doubtless finding 
followers). Athanasius uses the title Or. c. AT. ii 70, and Augustine declares she 
was virgo concipiens, virgo pariens, virgo moriens Cat. rud. 40. The best account 
of the different theories will be found in J. B. Mayor s edition of the Epistle o/ St 
James. See also Bright St Leo on the Incarnation p. 137. 


If the Creed was not enough he might have turned to the 
pages of Scripture and have learnt that as the Word was 
made flesh, and born from the Virgin s womb, so as to have the 
form of man, so he had also a true body like his mother. " That 
generation peerlessly marvellous and marvellously peerless is 
not to be understood as though through the new mode of the 
creation the peculiar properties of the kind (man, or the 
human race) were done away." It is true that the Holy Spirit 
gave fruitfulness to the Virgin, but it was from her body that 
the Lord s body was produced, animated by a reasonable soul 
( i, ii). " Thus the properties of each nature and essence 
were preserved entire, and went together to form one person ; 
and so humility was taken up by majesty, weakness by strength, 
mortality by eternity ; and for the purpose of paying the debt 
which we had incurred, the nature that is inviolable was 
united to the nature that can suffer, in order that the con 
ditions of our restoration might be satisfied, and one and the 
same Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, 
might be able to die in respect of the one and not able to die in 
respect of the other. 1 Accordingly, there was born true God in 
the entire and perfect nature of true man, complete in his own 
properties, complete in ours. By f ours we mean those which 
the Creator formed in us at the beginning and which he took 
upon him to restore. For of those properties which the deceiver 
brought into our nature, and man by the deception allowed to 
enter, there was no trace in the Saviour. And it must not be 
supposed that by entering into fellowship with human weaknesses 
he became a sharer in our sins. He took upon him the form of 
a servant without the defilement of sin, making the human greater 
and not detracting from the divine ; for that emptying of him 
self 2 by which the invisible presented himself as visible, and 
the Creator and Lord of all things willed to be one of the 
mortal, was a condescension of compassion and not a failure 
of power. He who, while continuing in the form (essential 
character) of God, made man, was made man in the form 
of a servant. For each nature keeps its own characteristics 
without diminution, and as the form of God does not annul 
the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not 
impair the form of God " ( iii). 

1 See Note Communicatio Idiomatum p. 293. 

2 See Note The <cfrw<rts p. 294. 



The Son of God in this way comes down to this lower world 
from his heavenly throne without retiring from his Father s 
glory born by a new order and form of birth, " continuing to be 
eternally while beginning to be in time." But the new order, the 
new nativity, in no way implies a nature unlike ours. He is 
true God, but also true man, with flesh derived from his human 
mother ; and " in the unity which results there is no deception, 
while the lowliness of man and the majesty of Deity are alter 
nated ; 1 for just as the Godhead is not changed by its compassion, 
so the manhood is not swallowed up by its acquired dignity. 
For each of the forms (sc. the form of God and the form of a 
servant) acts in communion with the other its appropriate part 
the Word effecting what is proper to the Word and the flesh 
carrying out what is proper to the flesh. The one shines out 
brightly in miracles, the other submits to insults. 2 Just as the 
Word does not retire from equality in the glory of the Father, 
so the flesh does not desert the nature of our kind (species). 
For one and the same person ... is truly Son of God and truly 
Son of Man." Leo then goes on to point out how the char 
acteristics of the two natures are respectively shewn in the 
different experiences of the one person which are conditioned 
now by the one nature, now by the other. " It does not ", he 
says, " belong to the same nature to say I and the Father are 
one , and to say the Father is greater than I . For although 
in the Lord Jesus Christ there is one person of God and man, 
yet there is one source of the contumely which Godhead and 
manhood share, and another source of the glory which they also 
share. From our properties comes to him the manhood inferior 
to the Father ; from the Father he has the divinity equal with the 
Father ( iv). 2 On account, therefore, of this unity of person, 
which is to be understood to exist in both natures, we read, on 
the one hand, that the Son of Man came down from heaven, since 
the Son of God took upon him flesh from the Virgin from whom 
he was born ; and, on the other hand, the Son of God is said to 
have been crucified and buried, inasmuch as he suffered thus not 
in the divinity itself (in which the Only-begotten is co-eternal 

1 Invicem sunt this probably moans are by turns , as explained in the follow 
ing attribution of different operations to the different natures : now one and now the 
other is active. But a possible meaning would perhaps be "are mutually or recipro 
cally", which would give the sense "have penetrated each other" (as Hefele tr.). 

2 See Note Communicatio Idiomatum p. 293. 


and co-essential with the Father) but in the weakness of human 
nature." Passages are cited from the New Testament to shew 
that experiences only possible in virtue of the human nature are 
predicated of the one person, under the title which is his in virtue 
of his deity ; and experiences only possible in virtue of the divine 
nature are predicated under the title which belongs to him as 
human. 1 And further evidence is adduced to prove that the 
distinction of the natures remained in the one person even after 
the resurrection. It was just to prove that the assumption of 
manhood was permanent, and that the divine and the human 
natures still remained in their distinct and individual characters, 
that the Lord delayed his ascension forty days, and conversed 
and ate with his disciples, and shewed the marks of his passion 
saying, " See my hands and my feet, that it is I. Touch and see, 
for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see that I have ". And 
so we should be saved from the error of identifying the Word 
and the flesh, and should confess both Word and flesh together 
to be one Son of God. The blessed Apostle John declares : 
" Every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ to have come in 
flesh is of God ; and every spirit which parts (divides or unmakes) 
Jesus is not of God, and this is anti-Christ " ; 2 and to part 
Christ is just to separate the human nature from him, and by 

1 The two passages are 1 Cor. 2 8 for if they had known they would never have 
crucified the Lord of majesty " a passage that Augustine had previously cited (de 
Trin. i 28) as shewing that the filius hominis propter formam servi and the Films 
Dei propter Dei formam are one and the same and Matt. 16 13 "who do men say 
that I the Son of Man am ? " 

2 1 John 4 3 qui solvit Jesum = 3 Xuet rbv Itjcrovv. No extant Greek MS. has 
this reading, but Socrates (H.E. vii 32) says it was so written in the ancient copies, 
which were altered by those who wished to separate the deity from the manhood in 
the Incarnation, and that ancient commentators noted that the epistle had been 
tampered with to further this design. Of Greek fathers Irenaeus and Origen alone 
attest the reading (in both cases we have only the Latin translation) ; Irenaeus quot 
ing the passage against those who imagine a plurality of gods and fathers, and divide 
into many the Son of God ; and Origen, while maintaining the characteristics of each 
substance , disclaiming any partition such as this passage has in view (see Iren. 
adv. Haer. iii 16, 8 and Orig. ad loc.). The reading is also found in Augustine (Horn, 
in 1 John 6 14 , but elsewhere he treats the reading as qui non confitetur or qui negat), 
Fulgentius, Lucifer, Tertullian (adv. Marc, v 16 and cf. de Game Christi 24, as 
Irenaeus supra), and in the Vulgate. Westcott and Hort and the Revisers place it in 
the margin. 

The Textus Receptus 8 /J.T) o/j.dXoye i (Lat. qui non confitetur) besides having the 
support of all Greek MSS. and the versions other than the Vulgate, seems to be 
implied by Polycarp, Cyril, Theodoret, Theophylact, Cyprian, Didymus (lat.). 
(Unless the text is exactly quoted it might be that the writer was only drawing the 
negative conclusion to which the first clause points. ) 


shameless fancies to make void the mystery through which alone 
we have been saved. " For the Catholic Church lives and grows 
by this faith that in Christ Jesus there is neither humanity 
without true divinity, nor divinity without true humanity" 

In conclusion Leo comments on the impiety and absurdity 
of the saying of Eutyches " I confess that our Lord was 
of two natures before the union ; but after the union I 
confess one nature " ; and insists that it is as wicked and 
shocking to say that the Only-begotten Son of God was of 
two natures before the Incarnation (when of course he was 
God only and not man) as to assert one only nature in him 
after the Word was made flesh ( vi). 

The Later History of Eutychianism the Monophysites 

Thus was the Creed of the Church defined ; and " writing, 
composing, devising, or teaching any other creed " was forbidden 
under penalties bishops and clergy to be deposed, monks and 
laymen anathematized. The Eutychian conception was, however, 
by no means suppressed. Large bodies of Christians refused to 
accept the doctrine of two natures as proclaimed at Chalcedon, 
though ready to condemn the teaching that the human nature 
was absorbed in the divine. Accordingly, numerous secessions 
from the Church took place, the seceders asserting one nature 
only (though not explaining the manner of the union) and being 
therefore styled Monophysites. In Palestine and in Egypt 
serious rioting and bloodshed followed large numbers of the 
monks and others endeavouring to drive out the bishops who 
accepted the Council ; and when, after many years, some measure 
of peace and unity was restored to the Church, she had lost her 
hold upon wide districts which had been hers before. 1 

1 For the details of the history see Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 449 ff. Nearly 
a hundred years after the Council of Chalcedon (in 541) Monophysitism was 
strenuously revived and organized by a Syrian monk, named Jacob Baradai, and 
Monophysite bishops were appointed wherever it was possible. In particular he 
revived the Monophysite patriarchate of Antioch, which is still the centre of all the 
Monophysite churches of Syria and other Eastern provinces. From him the name 
Jacobite Christians, adopted by all Monophysites, was derived. Monophysites 
have maintained their position down to the present time (1) in parts of Syria, 
Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Palestine subject to the Patriarch of 
Antioch (who now resides near Bagdad) ; but some of these were united with Rome 
in 1646 and a patriarchate of Catholic Syrians Climates ) was established at 



To three passages in Leo s letter (pp. 289 n. 1, 290 n. 2) objection was 
taken at the Council by the Bishops of Illyricum and Palestine, on the 
ground that they seemed to express a certain separation of the divine and 
the human in Christ. But the objection was dropped when almost iden 
tical statements were cited from Cyril s letters, and the papal legates de 
clared that they did not admit any such separation, and anathematized all 
who did, and protested their belief in one and the same Lord and Son of 
God. The passages together in their context express what is commonly 
called the communicatio idiomatum (dmSocris rtov tSiw/xaTwv, or ruv 6Vo//,a- 
TOJI/). But this technical term is used in somewhat different senses. The 
teaching of Cyril and Leo (which alone has the authority of a General 
Council, and is in harmony with the teaching of Origen and Athanasius 
referred to in connexion with Cyril s letters p. 269 supra), is clear. 
There is one person, and there are two natures. These two natures, 
though truly (mysteriously) united in the one person, remain distinct, 
each retaining its own properties. The properties of each nature belong 
to and are rightly predicated of the one person he exists at the same 
time in the divine nature and in the human nature, he lives always in 
both spheres. The experiences which are strictly divine, and the experi 
ences which are strictly human, are alike his experiences. But they are 
his in virtue of the different natures the one set of experiences because 
he is divine, the other set of experiences because he is human. Further 
more, the one person has different appellations, corresponding to the 
different natures. In virtue of the divine nature he is the Son of God ; 
in virtue of the human nature he is styled Son of man. It does not 
matter by which name he is called it is one and the same person only 
to whom reference is made : and therefore the experiences which the 
one person undergoes in virtue of his divine nature may be predicated 
of the Son of Man ; and equally the experiences which he undergoes in 
virtue of his human nature may be predicated of the Son of God. This 
is all that Cyril and Leo say ; and if the term communicatio idiomatum 
be applied to their (the Chalcedonian) teaching, it must be only in this 
sense. The one person shares equally in both names and the properties 
and experiences of both natures. 

At a later time, the union of the two natures being thought of as so 

Aleppo ; (2) in Armenia, under the Patriarchate of Etshmiadsin (in 1439 some of 
these were united with Rome and these Uniates have their patriarch at Constantin 
ople) ; (3) in Egypt, where out of hatred to the Byzantines they gave up Greek and 
adopted the vernacular (so called Copts or Coptic Christians), and in 640 helped the 
Saracens and were reinstated by them : they number now more than 100,000 ; (4) in 
Abyssinia, which was under the Patriarchate of Alexandria and so was involved in 
the Monophysite heresy. 


close, they were held to interpenetrate each other in so intimate a union 
(the fellowship of each with the other to be so complete) that the properties 
of one might be predicated of the other. It is difficult to discriminate 
this conception from the mixture of natures which has been repudiated, 
but in any case it cannot claim support from Cyril, Leo, or Chalcedon. 
Dorner notes that the doctrine of a real communicatio idiomatum, as 
taught by the Lutheran Church, is not in harmony with Leo s letter ; 
but the fact is sometimes ignored. 


The solution of the Nestorian difficulties, so far as it was a 
solution, was reached, as we have seen, in the teaching that it was 
not the person of a man that was assumed by the Logos, but man ; 
i.e. human nature, human characteristics and attributes, which could 
be taken up by the divine Person, the Logos, and entered upon and 
made his own. 

This teaching is fully expressed in the passages quoted supra, 
especially perhaps in Cyril s letter p. 268. Later expressions of it and 
the introduction of more abstract terms have not tended to elucidate 
the doctrine further (e.g. the term awTroo-racria to express this imper 
sonal existence of the human nature of Christ, and eyvTroorao-ta to 
express its existence in the Person of the God- Word). 

The centre of personality of Him who was God first and became man 
is necessarily to be found in the Godhead. That must be personal, 
and the manhood must therefore be impersonal. (See further Note 
Communicatio Idiomatum p. 293.) In no other way apparently could 
the Nestorian theories be excluded, and in no other way, it seemed, 
could the redemptive work of Christ be effective for the whole human 
race. Otherwise it would have been one individual only who was 

The Person who enters upon the conditions of human life, and 
accepts the limitation of his divine life which is involved by those 
conditions, is divine ; but all the human experiences are his, and in that 
sense he is human too. 

The enquiry as to what constituted personality was not pushed. 
The existence of a human will in Christ was recognized, but its recogni 
tion was not regarded as incompatible with the doctrine. 


The doctrine of the KeVucris can only be touched upon here so far as 
concerns the history of the Christological controversies of the fourth and 


fifth centuries. 1 It was not, apparently, till that time that enquiry was 
much directed to the consideration of the extent and character of the 
limitation of the divine powers which the Incarnation necessitated, and 
even then the enquiry is made in another form. For it is this question 
in effect that lies at the back of the discussion as to the human soul and 
will in Christ and the relation between the two natures. 2 

The general idea of a Kei/oxris no doubt is implied in all the orthodox 
attempts at interpretation of the Person of Christ, all through the period 
which has been reviewed, as it is also in the New Testament. He who 
was God became man. The Infinite condescended to be in some way 
limited, and to enter upon the sphere of human life and experiences, 
and in so doing to forgo in some sense the full exercise of the Godhead 
which was his. This idea underlies the teaching of most of the books 
of the New Testament, though it is to St Paul that the particular 
expression of it is due (see especially Phil. 2 6-8 os iv p-op^-fj Oeov inrapx^v 
. . . iavrov ei/evcoo~i> . . . Kai . . . Ta7retV(oo~v eavrov yevo/xevos VTTT^KOOS, and 
2 Cor. 8^ 7TT(o^t;o"ei/ 7rAou<rios wv cf. Rom. 8 3 ). 

St Paul s expression of the doctrine is merely incidental, and the 
purpose with which he introduces it is to press upon the Philippians the 
ideal of humility and renunciation of selfish aims. It is to a moral 
rather than a metaphysical motive that the statement is due. 

St Paul declares of Christ Jesus that he was originally and essenti 
ally God, living under divine conditions (the /XO/O<T) Oeov) on an equality 
with God ; but that he was willing to forgo (ov\ dpTray/xov ^y^o-aro) this 
life on an equality with God. So he emptied himself and took the 
life of service with its conditions (the /AO/X^T/ SovXov), and came to exist 
in the likeness of men. That is the first great act of the /cevwo-ts. It is 
followed, so to speak, by a second stage. Having entered upon the 
external conditions of human life (o-^^iart evpetfeis ws avOpwos), he 
1 lowered himself and became subject even unto death, and that death 
on the cross. 

Whatever the precise meaning of pop^-y may be, there is clearly 
implied here that the JU,OP<T/ Bfov is for the time renounced, in order 
that the pop<l>r) SovXov may be assumed and the life may be lived as 
man. A limitation is voluntarily chosen and accepted. And a further 
lowering or humbling takes place, till the lowest level is reached in a 

1 It may be noted that the chief subject of enquiry is not the particular aspect of 
the matter which has most engaged attention in recent times, namely, the limita 
tion of our Lord s knowledge as man. But see Irenaeus adv. Haer. ii 28. 6-8, 
Athanasius Or. c. Ar. iii 51-54, Basil Ep. 236, Greg. Naz. Or. Theol. iv 15. 

2 Arian or Arianizing thinkers had seized iipon N.T. passages bearing on the 
question as proof that Christ was not really God, without attempting to understand 
them as expressive of the limitation of the Godhead under conditions of human 


death which is shameful in the eyes of men. It is all to be followed, 
as St Paul goes on to say, by a corresponding exaltation. But this only 
serves to mark more plainly the reality of the previous renunciation 
and emptying and humbling. 

As to what was the exact nature and extent of the self-limitation of 
the divine majesty, St Paul says nothing. Only it is clear that the 
KeVwo-is is regarded by him as a moral act of God and Christ, a free act 
of will, a voluntary humiliation and self-surrender culminating in the 
death on the cross. It is to this passage that all later expressions go 

Only a few can be cited here. 

One of the earliest references to the question is made by Irenaeus 
(adv. Haer. iii 19. 3). " For just as he was man in order that he might 
be tempted, so too he was Logos in order that he might be glorified. 
When he was being tempted and crucified and dying, the Logos 
remained quiescent (^<ri>xao Tos T0 {) \6yov) ; when he was overcoming 
and enduring and performing deeds of kindness and rising again and 
being taken up, the Logos aided the human nature (o-vyyivojottVou r<3 

Here we have a definite expression of the conception that the 
Godhead was in abeyance during the processes and experiences proper 
to the manhood. Free play, so to speak, was allowed the human nature. 
The Logos forbore to exercise his functions. But at the same time he 
was there. In these few words Irenaeus expresses, perhaps, as much of 
explanation of the problem as is attainable. 1 Hilary s later and more 
elaborate statement of the theory is on the same lines. 

But another point of view is represented by Origen. 

As Origen describes it (see contra Celsum iv 15), though the KeVwcns 
is conditioned by God s great love for men, its special purpose is to 
render the divine glory comprehensible to men. So far, at all events, 
the Incarnation was a weakening and obscuring of the divine glory 
(cf. C. Bigg Cliristian Platonists p. 262). " That which came down to 
men ", he writes, " was originally in the form of God (i.e. existed at the 
beginning as God / f*.op<f>f) 6tov inrrjpxf) , and because of his love 
toward men he emptied himself (eavrov ei/eVwo-e), in order that he might 
be able to be comprehended by men (Iva. ^prjOrjvaL VTT avOpw-rraiv SvvrjOr)) ; 
. . . and he humbled himself (e avrov eraTreiVwcrcv). . . . Out of con 
descension to such as cannot look upon the dazzling radiance of the 

1 Reference should be made to Tertullian s reply (adv. Marc, ii 27) to the 
criticisms of Marcion in regard to the unworthy characteristics of the God of 
the O.T. In attributing all these to the Son who represented God to men always, 
Tertullian seems to conceive of a kenotic process, a limitation for the purpose of 
revelation, dating from the first example of it in the creation of the universe and 
of man. 


Godhead, he becomes as it were flesh, being spoken of in corporeal 
fashion, until he that received him in this guise, being lifted up little by 
little by the Word, becomes able to contemplate also what I may call his 
inherent Godhead (T>)I> Trporryovfj.evfjv (jLop<j>yv, referring to lv popfyri Oeov 
inrijpxe which precedes)." 

In these two sentences the /cevwo-ts is described. But the chapter in 
which they occur is concerned with the objection of Celsus that the 
Incarnation involved a change in the being of God and exposed him to 
7ra$os, and in meeting that objection Origen lays stress on the perman 
ence of the divine state along with the /ceVwcris. When the immortal 
God- Word took upon him a mortal body and a human soul, he did not 
undergo any change or transformation (aAAaTTe<r0cu /cat /teraTrAarTeo-tfai), 
or any passage from good to evil, or from blessedness to the reverse } 
but "remaining essentially (rr} ovo-ia) the Word, he is not affected by 
any of the things by which the body or the soul are affected ". Even a 
physician may come into contact with things dreadful and unpleasant, 
and be unaffected by them; but whereas the physician may fall a 
victim, he, while healing the wounds of our souls, is himself proof 
against all disease. 

The theory of the /cevwo-is is thus very little worked out by Origen. 
It is little more than a veiling of the divine majesty which he expresses 
by it, and he goes far towards representing it as something quite 
external, and he describes it elsewhere (ibid, iv 19) as a device which 
would not have been chosen by God of set purpose but was made 
necessary by the circumstances of the case. 

It is a much more reasoned theory that is expressed by Hilary (see 
de Trinitate ix 14, xi 48, 49, xii 6, and Dorner Doctrine of the Person 
of Clirist Eng. tr. div. i ii p. 405 ff.). He definitely considers (de Trin. 
ix 14) the question how it is possible for him who is God to begin with, 
and who does not cease to be God, to take the form of a servant , 
through which he was obedient even unto death. He who is in the 
form of a servant is one and the same person as he who is in the form 
of God . Taking the form of a servant and remaining in the form of 
God are different things the one form is incompatible with the other 
form ; and he who remained in the form of God could take the form of 
a servant only by a process of self-renunciation (per evacuationem suam). 
(The form of God excludes obedience unto death, the form of a servant 
excludes the form of God.) 

But it is obvious that it is one and the same Person all through, who 
emptied (exinanivit) himself and who took the form of a servant (for 
only one who already subsists can take). 

Therefore the renunciation (evacuatio) of the form does not involve 
the abolition of the nature, for he who renounces himself does not lose 
his own existence (non caret sese), and he who takes is still there 


(manet). In renouncing and in taking he is himself. In this there is a 
mystery (sacramentum}, but there is nothing to prevent him remaining 
in existence while renouncing, and existing while taking. Accordingly, 
the renunciation of the form of God goes just far enough to make 
the form of a servant possible ; it does not go so far that Christ, 
who was in the form of God, does not continue to be Christ ; for it 
was none other than Christ who took the form of a servant. The 
change of fashion (habitus, i.e. outward visible guise) which the 
body denotes, and the assumption of human nature, did not destroy 
the nature of the divinity which still continued. The renunciation 
of self was such that remaining Spiritus Christus he became Christus 

By forma Hilary seems to mean mode of existence ; by natura the 
sum total of attributes. He does not use the word substantia in this 
context ; but the thought seems to be that substantially he cannot be 
other than God such he remains all through, and as such he must 
always have the attributes of God (the divine natura). But God can 
exist in different modes, and he gives up the divine mode of existence so 
far as is necessary in order to enter on the human mode of existence 
(forma servi). He personally accepts a limitation. The emptying of 
himself (exinanitio) takes place just so far as to make the true assump 
tion of the humanity possible; and the renunciation of the use and 
enjoyment of the forma Dei is a continuous process all through his life 
on earth. He tempers himself to the form of human fashion. He is 
always forgoing the forma Dei, while all the time the divine natura, 
which is absolutely his, is under that limitation in operation for the 
benefit of mankind. (See ibid, xi 48.) 

It cannot be said that the extent of the limitation is clearly 
defined by Hilary. And when, elsewhere (ibid, x 47, 48), he con 
siders in what sense the only-begotten God could undergo the 
sufferings of men, he has been understood to speak of our Lord s 
body as endued with impassibility (indolentia), and of his soul as 
not obnoxious to human affections of fear, grief, and the like. His 
language is not quite satisfactory ; he seems to denote the suffer 
ings as ours rather than his, while the triumph through and over 
them is his. He draws a distinction between suffering and feeling 
pain (pati and dolere), feeling pain on behalf of us and feeling pain 
as we feel it (pro nobis dolet, non doloris nostri dolet sensu). But his 
saying quidquid patitur, non sibi patitur gives the clue to his meaning, 
and he would probably have accepted Cyril s explanation of the matter 
(see supra p. 268). 

He is only trying to guard the impassibility of the Godhead in itself, 
while recognizing the sufferings of the Incarnate God in his human 
nature ; and he styles it all a sacramentum or a sacramentum dispensa- 


tionis^ and a voluntary act. Hilary s whole presentation of the matter 
recognizes the mystery or the economy as ethical, the outcome of 
free volition and self-sacrificing love ; 2 the manifestation not of weak 
ness but of immeasureable and unfailing strength. 

What further advance was made in the enquiry during the 
Apollinarian controversy may be in some measure gathered from 
the discussion as to the human soul and will in Christ (see Notes 
supra pp. 247, 249). 

The opponents of Nestorianism were chiefly concerned to assert the 
single personality, and the KeVeoo-is is only touched on from this point of 

Thus Cyril expresses his conception in the following words (Ep. iii 
ad Nestorium) : "The only-begotten Word of God himself, he that was 
begotten of the very substance of the Father . . ., he by means of 
whom all things came into being . . ., for the sake of our salvation 
came down, and lowered himself to a condition of self-renunciation 
(fcafcts eavTw eis /ceVwcrtv)." But he goes on at once to add, "and he 
came forth man from woman, not having put away from him. (or l lost ) 
what he was (oi>x oirtp -TJV a,7ro/3y8X^KOJs), but although he came into 
being sharing flesh and blood, even in that state remaining what he was 
(KCU OVTO> fjLCfAtvrjKws OTTC/O rjv\ namely, God both in nature and in reality 
. . . for he is unchangeable and unalterable, perpetually remaining 
always the same, according to the Scriptures. But while visible, and an 
infant, and in swaddling-clothes, and still in the bosom of the virgin 
who bare him, he was filling all creation, as God, and was seated by the 
side of Him who begat him." (Cf. also Cyril s letter to John of Antioch 
Heurtley p. 202.) 

Nor did the subsequent Eutychian controversy contribute much to 
the elucidation of this particular problem. 

Leo s letter to Flavian does not do more, in this respect, than assert 
concisely the maintenance of the personal identity and of the divine 
power through the process of the Incarnation, while declaring it to be 
an act of condescension. (See the passage supra p. 289 Lat. humana 
augens, divina non minuens . . . exinanitio ilia . . . indinatio fuit 
miserationis, non defectio potestatis : . . . qui manens in forma Dei 
fecit hominem, idem in forma servi factus est homo : . . . tenet sine de- 
fectu proprietatem suam utraque natura.) By this act of compassionate 
condescension he made himself visible and voluntarily subjected him 
self to the conditions of human life. But Leo does not define the extent 

1 These considerations should correct Harnack s depreciating criticism (DG. 
Eng. tr. vol. iv p. 140) "When dealing with the idea of self-humiliation, Hilary 
always takes back in the second statement what he has asserted in the first, so that 
the unchangeableness of God may not suffer. " 

2 Cf. John 10 18 . 


or character of the limitation which the emptying involves. He is 
content with an edifying statement, and there is no such attempt at 
accurate scholarly discrimination of terms as Hilary made. (Leo 
apparently regards the forma Dei and the forma servi as existing 
together side by side, whereas Hilary declared that the two forms 
could not coexist.) 

Hilary s statement remains the one direct attempt which was 
made during this period to understand and explain the nature of the 

(Augustine deals with the matter in part de Trin. v 17 and vii 5. 
See further on the whole subject Ottley Doctrine of the Incarnation 
vol. ii p. 285 ff., and Gore Dissertations The Consciousness of our 
Lord .) 



NOWHERE probably in the course of the history of doctrines are 
fundamental antitheses more sharply marked than in the contro 
versies of the fifth century, as to the nature of man and sin and 
grace. The different conceptions which then emerged seem to 
be due to different points of view, corresponding to deep- 
rooted differences of individual constitution and experience. One 
man is inclined to natural explanations, another to supernatural ; 
one to lay stress on the human power of good, another on the 
human power of evil and inability to secure the good. The two 
tendencies may be detected in ancient philosophies and religions, 
and they are seen as clearly when men began to face the facts of 
their experience in the light of the Christian revelation. Conscious 
of sin and of the need of a force that was not his own to save him 
from himself, and at the same time conscious of power of his own 
which he must exercise himself; conscious of personal responsibility, 
and, at the same time, of almost irresistible forces marshalled 
against him how was the Christian to express his experiences 
in terms consistent with the doctrine of God which he had learnt? 
The problem was scarcely faced till the time of Augustine. 
The antithesis which St. Paul had recognized when he urged the 
Philippians, " Work out your own salvation, for it is God that 
worketh in you ", was not made the subject of theoretic treatment. 
Free will and guiding grace went side by side in the thought, as 
in the life, of Christian men. Both are apparently recognized 
by the writers of the New Testament : on the one hand, the 
gracious purpose of God, and, on the other, man s power to fulfil 
or to defeat God s purpose. Sometimes Church teachers laid 
more stress on the corruption of man s nature, on the opposition 
between grace and nature, and on the all-essential need of the 
divine grace. Sometimes, against what seemed an extravagantly 
supernatural tendency, they gave special prominence to human 



freedom and power of self-recovery. But the relation between 
free will and grace, and the exact nature and origin of sin in 
individuals, were not reasoned out. The question did not attract 
the attention of the Church as a whole, and did not become 
prominent enough to call for authoritative settlement. But 
various individual opinions were formed and expressed on 
questions which really lie at the root of the whole matter ; 
such questions as the origin of the soul and the effects of the 
Fall. A short review of early thought and teaching in the 
Church, in regard to these subjects, will be the best introduction 
to the consideration of the controversy which was roused by the 
teaching of Augustine and Pelagius. 

Origin of the Soul Different Theories 

Three different theories of the origin of the soul were held 
in the early Church Pre-existence, Creationism, Traducianism. 

(a) Pre-existence was taught by Origen. All human souls 
were created at the beginning of creation, before the worlds, as 
angelic spirits. They sinned (except the one which remained 
pure and was in Jesus), and in consequence of their apostasy 
were transferred into material bodies. This existence is thus 
only a disciplinary process, on the completion of which the soul, 
having passed if necessary through many bodily lives, will be 
restored to its original condition. The bodies of men come 
into being in the ordinary course of physical propagation. 

This theory seems to carry with it the theories of Metem 
psychosis (as regards human beings) and Anamnesis (Transmigra 
tion of souls and Eecollection) ; but Origen makes little use of 
either. It was no doubt suggested to him by Platonism, though 
he defended it on scriptural authority. 1 

The theory secures individual responsibility and accounts 
for original sin 2 ; but it makes the soul the real man, and 

1 Kg., particularly, John 9 2 , "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, 
that he was born blind ", and the allegorical account in Genesis of the fall of the 
finite pre-existent spirit from the higher to the lower sphere, and the hope of 
restoration (Rom. 8 19 ) ; and he explained the choice of Jacob in preference to Esau 
as the result of merit acquired in a preceding stage of existence (cf. Rom. 9 11 ff> ). 

2 In his later works, during his life at Caesarea, Origen seems to have accepted 
the Church theory of original sin, in consequence, however, of the prevalent 
practice of infant baptism, rather than of his own theory of pre-existence . See 
Bigg Christian Platonists pp. 202, 203, 


the body merely a temporary prison no constituent element 
of humanity. Further, it is an extreme form of individualism ; 
each soul being a pure unit created by a distinct fiat, and 
having no connexion with other souls, there is no created 
species, no common human nature, no solidarity of mankind. 1 

(&) Creationism was the prevalent theory among the 
Eastern fathers, and was held by Jerome and Hilary. Each 
individual soul was a new creation by God de nihilo (at the time of 
birth, or whenever individual existence begins) and was joined to 
a body derived by natural process of generation from the parents. 2 

Thus the physical part of every man is derived by procrea 
tion and propagation from the originally created physical nature 
of the first man and so the solidarity of the physical nature is 
upheld, going back to the first creative act. But the spiritual 
part is a new divine act and must therefore be pure, and so evil 
must have its seat in the body only, that is, in matter. 3 

(c) Traducianism was generally accepted in the West (Leo 
(Ep. 15) asserted that it was part of the Catholic faith), and in 
the East by Gregory of Nyssa. Tertullian, in particular, gave 
forcible expression to the theory. The first man bore within 
him the germ of all mankind; his soul was the fountain-head 
of all human souls ; all varieties of individual human nature 
were only different modifications of that one original spiritual 
substance. Creation was finally and completely accomplished on 
the sixth day. As the body is derived from the bodies of the 
parents, so the soul is derived from the souls of the parents 
body and soul together being formed by natural generation. 4 

This theory entirely accounts for the unity of mankind and 
the transmission of sin through the parents (tradux animae 
tradux peccati). All human nature became corrupt in the original 
father of the race and inherits a bias to evil. This is the vitium 
originis, the blemish or taint in the stock which necessarily 
affects the offspring, so that all are born with its stain upon 
them. But against this theory objections are urged, that it 

1 This theory was condemned by the Council of Constantinople in 540. 

2 So Jerome ad Pammachium "God is daily fashioning souls" supported by 
John 5 17 , Psalm 33 15 , Zech. 12 1 , and Hilary Tract <m Ps. 91 3. 

3 And infants before committing any actual offence would be sinless ; see Augus 
tine on the theory, infra p. 304. 

4 The biblical basis of this theory was St Paul s teaching on the connexion of 
the race with Adam and the origin of sin, Rom. 5 12 19 ; cf. 1 Cor. 15 22 , Eph. 2 3 , 
Heb. 7 10 , Ps. 51 5 , Gen. 5 s . 


makes man the product of previous circumstances, allows no 
room for individual free will, and seems to materialize the soul. 

Augustine, who probably contributed most to its currency, 
nowhere definitely teaches it. But the view which he held of 
sin and its origin and transmission seems to imply the trans 
mission of the soul that sins. He argues (de Anima bk. i, 
against a work of Vincentius Victor on Creationism) that no texts 
demonstrate Creationism, and insists that anyone holding that 
theory must avoid the four following errors (i) that souls so 
created are made sinful by an infusion of a sinful disposition, not 
truly their own, at the moment of birth ; (ii) that infants are 
destitute of original sin and do not need baptism ; (iii) that souls 
sinned previously, and therefore are imprisoned in sinful flesh ; 
(iv) that souls of those who die in infancy are only punishable 
for sins which it is foreknown they would have committed later. 
All passages from the Holy Scriptures prove, he says, that God 
is the creator, giver, framer of the human soul ; but How 
whether by in-breathing it newly created or by the traduction of 
it from the parent they nowhere say. 

In the Middle Ages Traducianism fell into disrepute, as con 
flicting with the soul s immortality, and materializing it, and not 
being needed by the form of anthropology which then prevailed a 
form which was more closely allied to Greek than to Latin thought. 1 

These different theories would involve different conceptions 
of the atonement. According to the first, evil is a fall from a 
higher to a lower state of being, and the atonement would be 
spiritual but individual a rescue of individual souls one by 
one from the material bodies in which they were imprisoned. 
According to the second, evil is material, and the atonement 
would concern the physical nature only, unless the soul be 
regarded as becoming tainted by its association with the body. 
According to the third, evil is inherent in body and soul alike, 
and the atonement would be an almost magical new creation . 

Note. Though it is no part of the purpose of this sketch of the 
history of doctrine to justify or criticize the doctrines which are dealt 
with, it may be pointed out that the Traducian theory is the only one 
which modern biological knowledge supports. Though it is impossible 
to dissect a man in any stage of his existence into body and soul, it is 
impossible to point to any moment when the soul begins to be. From 
the first, in human experience, both are one, and both alike are as one 

1 See infra pp. 307, 325. 


derived from the parents. The whole man is derived from the 
parents. But if it be right to speak of body and soul as his constituents, 
it is not right to declare that this process * materializes the soul. It is 
at least as probable that it is all through the soul in its growth that 
determines the body, as that the body determines the soul. The matter 
cannot be proved either way, and in the present stage of knowledge, 
when such terms as spirit and matter and the relations between 
them are so ambiguous, it is impossible to feel confidence in the current 
criticisms of the Traducian theory. 

Different Conceptions of the Fall and its Effects 

Similarly, different conceptions of the effects of the Fall were 
current. On the whole, in the early Church, in spite of a keen 
sense of the opposition between the ideal and the real, the more 
hopeful view of human nature and its capacities prevailed. Of 
sin and its origin there was no exact idea (so that the Gnostics 
could refer it either to the Demiurge or to matter). 1 The 
accounts in the Mosaic books were the historical foundation 
some (as Tertullian) regarding them as strictly literal, others 
(Origen, Irenaeus, the Gnostics) as allegorical, while Augustine 
held the story of the Fall to be both historical and symbolic. In 
any case the temptation was regarded as a real temptation to sin, 
and the transgression of the command as a fall from a state of 
innocence which was followed by disasters to the human race, 
death and physical evils being the result ; 2 though the more 
spiritual view was put forward by such men as Origen, who 
wrote on one of the key-passages, " The separation of the soul 
from God, which is caused by sin, is called death ". 3 

Individual sin, however, was still regarded as the free act of 
man s will : rather a repetition than a necessary consequence of 
the first sin not simply the result of a hereditary tendency. 
The Fall was not regarded as destroying human freedom of will. 
The power of self-determination, held to be inherent in the 

1 Sin, though in some sense a fact of universal experience, cannot be said to 
have been fully realized till it was felt (as by Jews and Christians) as an offence 
against an Eternal Holiness. The true idea of sin was first grasped side by side 
with the idea of redemption. The idea of redemption implies a sense of being 
rescued from some alien power, and, at the same time, a sense of possessing capacity 
for the higher life to which such a rescue leads. It implies, that is, the corruption 
of human nature from a state in which it is capable of reaching holiness, so that 
in its present state it needs some stimulus to its innate capacity, to enable it to 
regain and realize the condition which it has lost. 

2 Of. Iren. adv. Haer. iii 23 ; v 15, 17, 23. 3 Origen on Rom. lib, vi 6. 



human soul, was the manifestation of the image of God in man. 
To this freedom of man to choose good or evil the early apolo 
gists and Fathers, and even Tertullian, unanimously testify. Thus 
Justin says, 1 " If it has been fixed by fate that one man shall be 
good and another bad, the one is not acceptable, the other not 
blameable. And, again, if the human race has not power by a 
free moral choice to flee from the evil and to choose the good, it 
is not responsible for any results, whatever they may be ". And 
Origen declared that if the voluntary character of virtue were 
destroyed, the very thing itself was destroyed. 2 As in sin, so 
too in the work of redemption, man had his part to play his 
own free will to exercise : " As the physician offers health to 
those that work with him with a view to health, so too God 
offers eternal salvation to those that work with him with a view 
to knowledge and right conduct." 3 This moral power of choice 
in all men was, for example, strenuously maintained against the 
Gnostic teaching, that capacity for redemption and power of 
moral freedom belonged only to one class of men (the irvev- 
fiartKoL), and that the schism in man was something necessary 
in the evolution of existence. 4 Tertullian, approaching the 
problem from the Traducian theory, was the first to use the 
expression vitium originis to describe the stain or blemish or 
defect from which man s nature suffered since the Fall ; so that 
while his true nature is good, evil has become a second nature 
to him. But this original sin he did not regard as involving 
guilt in urging delay of baptism he asks what need there is 

1 ApoL i 43 ; cf. Tatian. Or. 7 ; Athenag. Leg. 31 (God did not create us as 
sheep or brute beasts, so it is not natural that we should will to do evil (^0eXo- 
KaKeiv)) ; Theophilus ad Autol. ii 27. 

3 G. Gels, iv 3. 3 Clem. Al. Strom, vii 7. 

4 The Gnostics were the first to frame the dilemna "If the first man was 
created perfect, how could he sin ? If he was created imperfect, God is Himself the 
author of sin." It cannot be said that any sufficient answer was given on the side 
of the Church. Clement, indeed, denied that man was created perfect, declaring 
that he was made with the capacity for virtue, but that its cultivation depended 
on himself (Stromateis vi 12). And others drew a distinction between the CIKWV 
(the image, the original capacities which were indestructible), and the 6/io/w<ru TOV 
0eov (the likeness of God, which was to be realized by the right use of these capaci 
ties in due developement). The perfection was ideal , and there was also freedom of 
the will ; and it was in the will that the source of sin was found, the actual develop 
ment of the innate capacity falling short of the ideal. Most of the fathers also 
held that for the realization of the ideal there was needed a third principle, which 
was supernatural in character, namely, fellowship with God, so that without this 
co-operation man could not attain to his destiny. 


for innocent children to hurry to the remission of sins. 1 And 
though laying stress on the moral depravity of man resulting 
from inherited sin, and on the need of the grace of God to 
effect his redemption, he expressly taught the inherent capacity 
of the soul for communion with God in virtue of its proper 
nature. 2 Origen, by his theory of the origin of human souls, 
according to which they were all stained by sin in a previous 
stage of existence, might seen to favour the idea of original 
sin ; 3 but his assertion of the freedom of the will is in strong 
contrast with Augustine s teaching, and he maintained that guilt 
arises only when men yield to sinful inclinations. 4 The moral 
powers might be enfeebled by the Fall, but with one voice, up to 
the time of Augustine, the teachers of the Church declared they 
were not lost. So the Cappadocian fathers taught, and Chry- 
sostom. Gregory of Nyssa definitely finds in the freedom of the 
will the explanation of the fact that the grace of faith does not 
come upon all men alike. The call, he declares, 5 comes with equal 
meaning to all, and makes no distinction (this was the lesson of the 
gift of tongues), but " He who exercises control over the universe, 
because of His exceeding regard for man, permitted something to 
be under our own control, of which each of us alone is master. 
This is the will (irpoalpecr (,<;), a thing that cannot be enslaved, 
but is of self-determining power, since it is seated in the liberty 
of thought and mind (Sidvoia) ". If force were used, all merit 
would be gone. " If the will remains without the capacity of 
action, virtue necessarily disappears, since it is shackled by the 
paralysis (aKivrja-ia, lack of initiative) of the will." Whatever 
stress was laid on the need for the introduction into human nature 
of a new principle, 6 it was reserved for Augustine to represent 
man as unable to even will what was good and right. 7 

1 De baptismo 18. 

2 See e.g. de anima 40, 41, and the treatise on the tcstimonium animac nat. 

3 See de Princ. iii 5. 4 ; but see also supra p. 302 n. 2. 

4 See de Princ. iii 2. 2, iii 4 ; cf. Basil Hcxhaem. n 5, vi 7. 

5 Greg. Nyss. Or. Cat. xxx, xxxi ; cf. Antirrhet. xxix (Migne xlv p. 1188). 

6 As, e.g., by Athanasius. Man had admitted corruption into his nature and being, 
and had passed into a state of moral death it was therefore necessary that incorrup- 
tion and life should be united with that nature before it could recover. See the de 

7 According to Augustine himself, the Church of Christ had always held the 
doctrines he taught, and any sayings of the fathers that seemed to favour Pelagian 
conceptions were but obiter dicta, the Pelagian inferences from which would have 
been repudiated at once (Pelagianis noudum litigantibus securius loquebantur). 


The Teachiing of Augustine 

Augustine was, it is true, the first great teacher who dealt with 
anthropology the developement of which was peculiarly Western, 
as the result of practical experience and needs. The conception 
of redemption implies at once a sense of moral insufficiency and 
a sense of moral freedom on the part of those who seek redemp 
tion a freedom which recognizes its own guilt and appropriates 
the means of redemption. According as the one or the other 
sense is the more active, Christianity appears either as a new 
creation, a new element in life, changing and ennobling the 
entire nature, or, as a higher power, calling out all that is best 
in human nature and freeing it from impediments to its due and 
destined developement. Those who experience a sudden crisis, 
or from a turbulent consciousness of guilt, are brought to the 
sense of pardon and peace, naturally tend to the former con 
ception, while those who reach the goal by a more quiet and 
gradual process will recognize the latter conception as true to 
the facts they know. 

The two courses and tendencies are represented in Augustine 
and Pelagius respectively. Of Augustine it has been well said, 
that " he could do neither good nor evil by halves. From a 
dissolute youth he recoiled into extreme asceticism, and from 
metaphysical freedom into the most stringent system of authority. 
He was the staunchest champion of orthodoxy ... he did not 
sufficiently respect the claims of conscience. . . . He sacrificed 
the moral element to God s sovereignty, which he maintained 
unflinchingly." 1 He was specially conscious of the difficulty of 
the struggle for holiness, of the opposition between that which 
issued from nature left to itself, estranged from God, and the 
fruits of the new divine principle of life imparted by union 
with Christ. Different stages in the developement of his views 
may be detected, but the final form they assumed is the most 
characteristic, and has been the most influential. Justice can 
hardly be done to the views of so profound a thinker in a 
summary ; but the ideas of human nature, of sin, and of grace 
which dominated his thought, may be concisely stated in their 
main aspects. 

1 De Pressense, Art. c Augustine D. C.B.&U excellent appreciation of Augustine, 
in which full weight is also given to other elements in his nature, especially his 
"love for Christ and for the souls of his brother men ". 


As to human nature, he held the fall of man to have been 
complete, so that the power of spiritual good is entirely lost, and 
ever afterwards he wills nothing but evil and can do nothing 
but evil. 1 The fall was not limited to Adam in him all have 
sinned 2 and all have been condemned. By birth all receive the 
taint of the ancient death which he deserved. 3 Adam, as the 
stem of the human family, infected and corrupted his entire 
posterity. The whole race shares his guilt, and cannot by any 
efforts of its own escape the penalty which is due. It shares 
his guilt, because it was already in existence potentially in him, 
so that it really sinned when he sinned. It is only by a very 
resurrection a second creation in effect that it can recover 
the divine life which it had in Adam before the Fall. 

As to sin, he held that human nature as originally created, 
was free from sin, designed for communion with God and able to 
realize the end of its being, though having also the capacity for sin. 
Sin was contrary to the law of human nature, but ever since the 
first sin it has been present in every one as a disease eating out 
all true life, and only a radical cure can overcome it. A new 
life must be given to men, planted in them afresh. 

As to grace, he maintained / that this power to recover life, 
which is really a new gift of life, is entirely the free gift of God 
drawing men to Christ. 4 No human power can deliver man from 

1 Action follows the strongest motive. This is given either by God or by Nature. 
Nature being tainted, the strongest motive must always be evil, prior to God s gift 
of grace. 

2 So he interpreted Rom. 5 12 in quo omnes peccaverunt a possible meaning of 
the Latin but not of the Greek ty $. See contra ducts epp. Pel. iv 7 c. 4. But 
the conception of a race life and a race guilt (in which every individual is 
involved) does not depend only on a mistaken interpretation of this passage. 
Augustine conceived of Adam as originally perfect (the original righteousness of 
the race), possessing free will (liberum arbitrium], but capable of using his freedom 
to the injury of his highest interests. He might have persevered had he wished ; 
his will was free, so as to be able to wish well or ill (de CorrepL et Gratia 11) ; but 
since, through free will, he deserted God, he experienced the just judgement of God 
was condemned with his whole stock, which was then contained in him and sinned 
with him (shared in his sin) (ib. 10), and so lost the gift of original righteousness 
which could only be restored by a second gift of supernatural grace. 

3 Augustine found the support of tradition for the doctrine of original sin in the 
rite of exorcism, which he believed to be of apostolic origin (c. Julian, vi 5 11). 

4 At an earlier time Augustine had held that the first step by which man was 
qualified to receive the gift of grace was his own act, the act of faith on his own 
part (de Praedest. iii 7). Cf. what he says, when reviewing the history of his thought, 
Retract, nil "to solve this question we laboured in the cause of freedom of the 
human will, but the grace of God won the day". 


his hereditary depravity. In the process man is completely 
passive as passive as the infant child in baptism. In a sense 
it is true to say, that the human will plays no part in it at all ; 
it has no power of initiative, and when the new gift is given it 
has no power of resistance. But, on the other hand, it is evident 
that this was not Augustine s real meaning. The grace given is 
a new gift ; and it renews the will in such a way that the will 
is set free to choose the good and to follow it unswervingly. 
And the grace thus given is irresistible, in the sense that the 
will, which has thus had true freedom restored to it, has no 
desire to resist the good. 

Of all Augustine s most characteristic conceptions, none 
perhaps is more significant than this conception of true freedom 
as connoting inability to sin. Man is only really free when 
nothing that could injure him has any power over him. The 
highest virtue is the fixed habit of good, when man feels no 
wish to sin and cannot sin. Then and then only does man 
enjoy true freedom of will. The finest expression to this thought 
is given incidentally, in writing of the eternal felicity and per 
petual sabbath of * the city of God 7 when evil will have lost 
all power of attraction. " It is not the case that they will not 
have free will, because sins will not have power to delight them. 
Nay, the will will be more truly free, when it is set free from 
the delight of sinning to enjoy the unchangeable delight of not 
sinning. For the first free will which was given to man, when 
he was first created upright, had power not to sin, but had 
power also to sin. This latest free will, however, will be all the 
more powerful because it will not have power to sin this too 
by the gift of God, not by its own unaided nature. For it is 
one thing to be God, and another thing to partake of God. God 
by his very nature is not able to sin ; but one who partakes of 
God has received from Him the inability to sin. . . . Because 
man s nature sinned when it was able to sin, it is set free by a 

1 De Civitate Dei xxii 30. To some extent it is true that there is here a 
paradox, or a confusion of sense. There is never really freedom of will. Prior to 
grace, man can only do evil ; after grace given, he cannot do evil. This confusion 
of sense is plainly seen in another passage De gratia et libero arlitrio 15. "The 
will (voluntas) in us is always free, but it is not always good. It is either free from 
righteousness (justitia) when it serves sin, and then it is evil : or it is free from sin 
when it serves righteousness, and then it is good. But the grace of God is always 
good, and through this it comes about that a man is of good will who before was of 
evil will." Free here simply means unimpeded by any power that thwarts the 


more bounteous gift of grace, to lead it to that liberty in which 
it is not able to sin. Just as the first immortality, which Adam 
lost by sinning, was the ability to escape death, and the latest 
immortality will be the inability to die ; so the first free will 
was the ability to escape sin, the latest the inability to sin. 
The desire for piety and equity will be as incapable of being 
lost as is the desire for happiness. For, assuredly, by sinning we 
retained neither piety nor happiness, and yet even when happi 
ness was lost we did not lose the desire for happiness. I 
suppose it will not be said that God Himself has not free will, 
because he cannot sin." 

This conception of freedom, the leata necessitous non peccandi 
well summed up in the motto of Jansenism, Dei servitus vera 
libertas, and the familiar phrase of the Collect for Peace , whose 
service is perfect freedom was supported, or accompanied, by other 
novel teaching : novel at all events in the form it assumed. 
Clearly the question had to be faced, if man has entirely lost 
the power of self-recovery and self-determination, and salvation 
depends absolutely on the free gift of God; what is it that 
determines the disposal of this gift ? To this question Augustine 
could only answer that the difference between men, in their 
reception of the divine grace, depends on the decree of pre 
destination which determines the number of the elect who are 
to replace the fallen angels. God s will, God s call, alone decides 
the matter. All men are debtors. He has a right to remit 
some debts and to demand payment of others. We cannot 
know the reason of His choice : why the gift of grace, the new 
principle of life which restores to men their true free will, is 
given to some and withheld from others. By the divine decree, 
without reference to future conduct, some are elected as vasa 
misericordiae to redemption ( praedestinatio), and others are left 
as vasa irae to condemnation (reprobatio). The latter are simply 
left. 1 The former are kept faithful by the further gift of 
perseverance by which fresh supplies of grace are bestowed 
this again being beyond man s comprehension. " Why to one 

1 So Augustine put the matter. In this respect, at all events, ho would not go 
beyond the words of St. Paul, who speaks of the "vessels of mercy" as "afore pre 
pared unto glory " by God, but of the "vessels of wrath " as "fitted to destruction " 
without attributing the fitness directly to God (Rom. 9 22 23 ). But naturally some 
of his followers (notably the monks of Adrumetum in North Africa) applied to the 
vasa irae the positive principle, and taught the twofold predestination (praedestinatio 
duplex) to sin and evil, as well as to life. 


of two pious men perseverance to the end is given, and is not 
given to the other, is only known to God s mysterious counsels. 
Yet this much ought to be regarded as certain by believers 
the one is of the number of those predestinated (to life), the 
other is not." 1 

The two ideas of predestination and of grace are clearly 
expounded in his letter to Sixtus, 2 a priest of the Eoman 
Church. He sets forth the conception of a Will absolute, which 
out of a mass of souls, all alike deserving of perdition (massa 
perditionis) on account of original sin (apart from sins of their 
own commission), selected a minority to be vessels of divine 
mercy, and abandoned the majority as vessels of wrath, without 
any regard to foreseen moral character. 3 The purpose of God 
thus formed cannot be frustrated. The grace which is given is 
irresistible and indefectible. It must achieve its object : it cannot 
fail. The souls of those predestinated or elected to salvation it 
so bends to its own pleasure, as literally to make them respond 
and obey. 4 

The plain assertion of St Paul that " God wills all men to 
be saved " he interpreted as meaning that he is no respecter of 
persons, and that all classes, ages, and conditions of mankind, are 
to be found among the elect. 

Opposition of Pelagius his Antecedents 

1 Pelagianism was really a reaction against Augustine s system 
and the tendency which it represents. The experiences of 
Pelagius, in all the circumstances of his life, had been very 

1 The divine counsels are inscrutable. Again and again Augustine is brought to 
this confession of human ignorance ; but he is very far from admitting anything 
arbitrary or unjust in the methods and acts of God. All are the outcome of justice, 
wisdom, and love, and are governed by an eternal purpose of good. Yet how 
predestination is consistent with the love of God, he does not expressly attempt 
to shew. 

2 Written in 417 or 418. 

3 In earlier years he had regarded the choice as conditional on man s free will 
and faith, foreknown by God see the reference in de prccdcst. 7 ; but the doctrine 
of grace, as described above, requires a doctrine of predestination independent of 
man s initiative. 

4 The relation between free will and grace is also set forth in the letter to 
Vitalis, Ep. 217 (Migne xxxiii p. 978 if.), especially ch. vi, where ho insists that 
the doctrine of grace in no way destroys the freedom of the will, inasmuch as it is 
grace only which makes the will free to choose and to do what is good the con 
ception which has been referred to supra p. 310. 


different from Augustine s ; and it seemed to him that such 
conceptions as Augustine s were alike unscriptural and immoral. 
It is said that he was greatly shocked when a bishop quoted 
to him from the Confessions of Augustine, 1 which had just been 
published, the famous prayer, Da quod jubes et jube quod vis 
(give what Thou biddest and bid what Thou wilt), since it seemed 
to exclude man s part in his own salvation. But his point of 
view was altogether different. A monk of Britain and a layman, 
he had lived all his life in the peace and solitude of a monastery, 
a regular life under the shelter of the cloister walls. He had 
probably passed through a quiet course of developement, without 
experience of the darker sides of human existence and the depth 
of evil to which human nature can sink. He had not been 
called on to engage in any such struggles as those which 
Augustine went through ; and the character built up by his 
experience was predominantly sober and discreet, well-balanced 
on the whole, although perforce somewhat lacking in sympathy 
with emotions in which he had had no share. Of learning and 
moral earnestness he had full measure. 

The weakness of the monastic ideal has often been pointed 
out. Like all other rules of life, though designed to govern the 
inner man, it is in danger of concentrating attention on the sur 
face of life. Individual sins are battled against and conquered, 
and outbreaks of sinful impulses checked by constant watchful 
ness. The conquest of sins may be mistaken for the conquest 
of sin. Again, high moral ideals have different effects on 
different temperaments. Some are led by them to deeper self- 
examination and inner spiritual life, to fuller realization of the 
opposition between the ideal outside and the actual within. 
They are stimulated to seek to remove the opposition, and yet, 
distrusting self, to realize the need of the aid of a power not 
their own. Others, conscious of victory over the temptations of 
sense, of successes already effected in the struggle, may be led 
to confide in their own moral efforts and to think they have 
produced great results, while really the evil may be in no true 
sense eradicated. 

1 Confess, x 40. Cf. what Augustine says about it de dono persev. 20, 53 
(Migne P.L. xlv p. 1026). He defends the prayer on the ground that God s chief 
command to man is to believe in Him, and that faith in Him is His own gift, and 
that by grace He turns the wills of men, even when actively hostile, to the faith 
which He requires. 


The Chief Principles maintained ~by Pelagius 

If Pelagius rose above the worse consequences of the monastic 
ideals, yet the life he had led no doubt exerted an influence on 
his views. One far-going principle, which resulted from the life 
of obedience to detailed rules, 1 was the distinction he drew 
between what was enjoined ( praecepta obligatory) and what was 
only recommended as an object of higher perfection (consilia 
optional). By abstaining from what was permitted you could 
become entitled to a higher reward, there being different grades 
of merit and of Christian perfection. 

On the study of Scripture Pelagius laid great stress, insisting 
wherever possible on the literal interpretation of its teaching. 
" If you choose to understand precepts as allegories, emptying 
them of all their power, you open the way to sin to all." The 
injunction " Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in 
heaven is perfect ", was enough to prove that perfection is possible 
for men. What the Lord said, he meant. The giving of the 
command presupposes the power to obey it. And when the 
apostle declared to the Christians of Colossae that the purpose 
of the reconciliation which God designed was to present them 
" holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight " (Col. I 22 ), 
Pelagius rejects with scorn the notion that he knew he had 
enjoined on them what was impossible. 

But his principles were really evolved in opposition also to 
the practical evils of the time. Much of the Christianity of 
those days was very worldly. The distinction between the 
spiritual and the secular was employed as an excuse for a lower 
standard of life. The corruption and weakness of human nature 
was used as a plea for indulgence. " We say ", Pelagius replies, 
" it is hard, it is difficult ; we cannot, we are but men. ... Oh 
what blind madness ! It is God we impeach ! " 2 And so his 

1 But see infra p. 353, Note The Doctrine of Merit . 

2 In the letter to Demetrias ( 7, 8 Migne P.L. xxx p. 22) he insists that the 
Scriptures never excuse those who sin, on the ground that they cannot help them 
selves, but put the burden on their lack of will (peccantes ulique crimine voluntatis 
gravant, non excusant necessitate naturae) : all through they write alike of good and 
of evil as voluntary. And he explains that his anxiety to defend the good of 
nature is due to his desire to repudiate the idea that we are driven to evil through 
the defect of nature, whereas we really do neither good nor evil except by the 
exercise of our own will we are always free to do one of two things. (This is his 
conception of the freedom of the will the power of choosing at any moment one 
course or another, good or evil.) He says that the argument involved in the plea 


first concern was to make men see that they were not in want 
of any of the faculties which are necessary for the fulfilment of 
the divine law. Even among pagans there were great examples 
of virtue which proved how much human nature unaided could 
do. It was not their nature, but their will, that was to blame. 
Men had it in their power to reach perfection, if they would 
use the forces which they had at hand. The power and freedom 
of choice possessed by men he specially emphasized against the 
doctrine of irresistible grace and predestination. It is the use 
which is made of it which determines the issue, whether a man 
succumbs to or conquers temptations. 

And thus, in the interest of the power of self-determination, 
and against the fatalistic acquiescence in a low morality, he was 
led to deny the corruption of human nature a doctrine which 
seemed to him to encourage moral indolence. " Neither sin nor 
virtue is inborn, but the one as well as the other developes 
itself in the use of freedom and is to be put to the account 
only of him who exercises this freedom." Each individual is a 
moral personality in himself, apart from others, endowed by the 
Creator with reason and free will ; and the only connexion 
between the sin of Adam and the sin of men is the connexion 
between example and imitation. He could not acknowledge sin 
propagated by generation (peccatum ex traduce), and believed the 
soul to be a new creation from God, contemporaneous with the 
body and therefore untainted and pure (Creationism). God has 
given all the power to reach perfection they have only to will 
and to work it out. The widespread existence of sin in the 
world is due to education and example. Augustine, on the 
other hand, with a much stronger sense of the solidarity of the 
human race, regarded the sin of Adam as involving so vast a 
change as to affect his whole posterity. 1 

that we have no power to fulfil the divine commands (it is hard, it is difficult . . . 
16) really implies that God orders us what is impossible for us to do, and then 
condemns us for not doing it ; as though he sought our punishment rather than our 
salvation. He is Justus and plus it is impossible that a theory which has such 
consequences can be true. 

1 Pelagius apparently recognized no criterion of sin but acts which arc the 
products of the individual s own volition. For these only is he responsible. 
Hereditary sin would therefore be impossible. Augustine, on the contrary, with 
a strong sense of the solidarity of the race, regarded sin as present since the fall, in 
the disposition or nature of man, prior to any individual conscious act. The 
individual s volition was exercised once for all by Adam, and every man had 
inherited ever since an evil disposition, the acts of which must necessarily be evil. 


These two negations of Pelagius (1) the denial of the 
necessity of supernatural and directly assisting grace for any true 
service of God on the part of man ; and (2) the denial of the 
transmission of a fault and corruption of nature, and also of 
physical death, to the descendants of the first man in consequence 
of his transgression found expression in the commentaries he com 
posed on the Epistles of St Paul, 1 and attracted attention during a 
visit which he paid to Eome in the early years of the fifth century. 

The Pelagian Controversy Coelestius 

Pelagius was little inclined for controversy, but while at 
Eome he converted to the monastic life an advocate, Coelestius, 
who eagerly adopted his ideas and wished to defend and propa 
gate them against all others. It was Coelestius, rather than 
Pelagius himself, who was the immediate cause of the outbreak 
of the controversy. Three stages in it may be noted. 2 

The First Stage at Carthage. The scene of the first stage 
was Africa. Pelagius was on his travels to the East, and 
left Eome with Coelestius in the year 409, and after a stay 
in Sicily went to Carthage in the year 411. When he left, 
Coelestius stayed behind and wished for ordination to the 
priesthood there, but rumours of his peculiar views were 
current, and a discussion ensued at a synod held at Carthage 
in 412 (or possibly the previous year). He was charged 
with six heretical propositions, 3 the chief and centre of which 
were (a) that the sin of Adam had injured himself only 
and not the whole human race, and (&) that children come into 

The origin of sin is thus not separated from volition, and though the volition of the 
individual is determined by the sin of the first man, yet he is himself responsible. 
It is from a disposition or nature already sinful that sinful acts proceed. 

1 Migne P.L. pp. xxx 645-902. On the curious literary history of this book see 
Art. Pelagius D.C.B. 

2 See Art. Pelagius D.C.B., and Hefele Councils vol. ii pp. 446 ff. See also, for 
the whole question, Art. Augustine by Dr. Robertson in the new volume of D.C.B. 

3 These were 1. Adam was created mortal, and would have died whether he 
had sinned or not. 2. The sin of Adam injured himself alone, not the human race. 
3. Little children, born into the world, are in the condition in which Adam was 
before the Fall. 4. It is not through the death or the fall of Adam that the whole 
race of men dies, nor through the resurrection of Christ that the whole race of men 
rises again. 5. The law, as well as the gospel, conducts to the kingdom of heaven. 
6. Even before the coming of the Lord there were men who were free from sin. (In 
another account, 5 is combined with 6, and in its place is given Infants, although 
they be not baptized, have eternal life.) 


life in the same condition in which Adam was before the Fall. 
Against the accusation, he insisted that the orthodox were not 
agreed upon the manner in which the soul was propagated, and 
whether sin was inherited or not. The issue was merely specula 
tive and not a matter of faith. It was an open question in the 
Church. It was enough that he maintained the necessity of 
baptism. For the bishops, however, this was not enough ; and, as 
he refused to condemn the views attributed to him, he was ex 
cluded from communion. Against the sentence he appealed to 
the judgement of his native Church, and going on to Ephesus 
obtained the ordination which he wished. 1 

The Second Stage in Palestine. The scene of the next stage 
of the controversy was Palestine, whither Pelagius had gone. 
There he found an opponent in Jerome, 2 and in a Spanish priest, 
Orosius, sent to Bethlehem by Augustine to stay the progress of 
Pelagian teaching. Accordingly, at a synod at Jerusalem in 415 
under the bishop, John, he was called on to explain. Orosius 
reported what had happened at Carthage, and said that Pelagius 
taught "that man can live without sin, in obedience to the 
divine commands, if he pleases ". Pelagius admitted that he 
taught so; and God s command to Abraham to walk before him and 
be perfect (Gen. 17 1 ) was cited by the bishop himself, as pre 
supposing the possibility of perfection in a man. But, in reply 
to questions, Pelagius declared that he did not exclude the help 
of God, but held that everyone who strove for it received from 
God the power to be entirely sinless. In the East, at all events 
at this time, men were not accustomed to fine distinctions be 
tween grace and free will, and were not anxious to define precisely 
the limits of each agency, and were not prepared to accept with 
out discussion the decisions of the synod to which Orosius 
appealed. 3 They were satisfied by general statements of belief 

1 Soon after this a book of Pelagius de Natura was given to Augustine, and he 
replied to it in his tract de, Natura et Gratia (which contains all that is extant of the 
work which it answers). He had previously written the tract de Spiritu ct Litera. 

2 Jerome was in agreement with Augustine, and referred Pelagianism to the 
influence of Origen and Rufinus, and wrote against it. See ad Ctesiphontem (Ep. 133, 
MigneP.Z-. xxii p. 1147) and Dialogus contra Pelagianos (Migne P.L. xxiii 495-590). 

3 They resented as a rudeness the curt reply Pelagius made (What have I to do 
with Augustine ?), when asked if he had really propounded the doctrine which 
Augustine opposed ; but they were not ready to consider even the support of his 
great name decisive. The Bishop of Jerusalem had been suspect for Origenistic 
leanings, and therefore was not likely to be a persona grata to Jerome or Augustine. 
See his defence Hahn 3 p. 294. 


in the need of divine assistance, and were ready to admit 
Pelagius as orthodox when he assented to the need. 1 Orosius, 
however, demanded that, as the question had originated in the 
West, 2 it should be left to the Latins to determine ; and deputies 
and letters were sent to Innocent, Bishop of Rome, requesting 
him to hear and decide the case. 

Nevertheless, a few months later in the same year, Pelagius 
appeared before a second synod in Palestine, at Diospolis or 
Lydda, to answer to a paper of complaints put in against him 
by two Gallican bishops, who had been driven from their sees 
and made their way to Palestine. 3 Many of the theses alleged 
against him he was able to explain to the satisfaction of the 
Palestinian bishops ; others he declared he did not teach, although 
Coelestius might maintain them. For these he had not to 
answer ; but he was ready to declare that he rejected them, and to 
anathematize all who opposed the doctrines of the holy Catholic 
Church. 4 He acknowledged and maintained both grace and free 
will, and professed that his assertion that " man, if he pleases, can 
be perfectly free from sin " was meant to apply to one who was 
converted such an one being able to live without sin by his own 
efforts and God s grace, although not free from temptation to sin. 
This was enough for the synod. It declared Pelagius worthy of 
communion, and earned from Jerome the epithet miserable . 5 

The Third Stage Appeal to Rome. So far, Pelagius had 
won the victory ; but his opponents were not to be silenced. 
In North Africa they would not rest content with these de 
cisions of the East. Two synods met in the following year 

1 The difference between Pelagius and Augustine is tolerably clear. Pelagius 
regarded the grace of God as an essential aid, a reinforcement from without, to 
second the efforts which were put forth by the free will of man. To Augustine 
grace was a new creative principle of life, which generates as an abiding good that 
freedom of the will which is entirely lost in the natural man. What it meant ex 
actly to Pelagius is not clear. He does not seem to have conceived it as an inner 
spiritual illumination, but rather as some external stimulus applied to the natural 
faculties so that Augustine could represent him as recognizing little more than the 
influence of teaching and example in it ( law and doctrine de gratia Christi 11). 

a Orosius could only speak Latin, and the bishop only Greek ; so misunder 
standings might easily arise. 

3 Heros of Aries and Lazarus of Aix. They were perhaps put up by Jerome. 

4 Hereby he was said to have anathematized himself. His desire was for peace 
and freedom from doctrinal disputes. The practical moral aspect of the question was 
what he really cared for. 

5 The treatise of Augustine de gestis Pelagii deals with the proceedings at this 


(416), 1 and renewed the previous condemnation of Coelestius, 
and announced their decisions to the Bishop of Kome, Innocent i, 
begging him to help to stay the spread of the Pelagian errors. 

In its third stage, accordingly, the controversy was enacted 
mainly at Eome. The bishop accepted fully the African view, 
praised the synods for their action, and confirmed the sentence of 
excommunication pronounced against Pelagius and Coelestius. But 
immediately afterwards Innocent died ; and Zosimus, his successor, 
received from Coelestius in person, 2 and from Pelagius by letter, 3 
confessions of faith, by which he declared that they had completely 
justified themselves ; and he wrote to the African bishops, blaming 
them for their hasty condemnation (Sept. 417), and declaring that 
the opponents of Pelagius and Coelestius were wicked slanderers. 

The Fourth Stage Final Condemnation ~by Councils in Africa 
and at Rome. The African bishops assembled in all haste in synod 
(late in 417 or early in 418), and protested that Zosimus had 
been misled, that " he should hold to the sentence pronounced 
by Innocent against Pelagius and Coelestius, until both of them 
distinctly acknowledged that for every single good action we need 
the help of the grace of God through Jesus Christ ; and this not 
only to perceive what is right, but also to practise it, so that 
without it we cannot either possess, think, speak, or do anything 
really good or holy." To this Zosimus replied that he had al 
ready fully considered the matter ; but he sent the documents 
regarding it to the Africans, that there might be consultation and 

1 One at Carthage for the province of Africa (a local synod at which, therefore, 
Augustine was not present, his see belonging to the ecclesiastical province of 
Numidia), and one at Mileve (Mileum), for the Numidians, at which Augustine was 
present. See the synodal letters in Aug. Epp. 175, 176 (Migne xxxiii pp. 758 ff.). 

2 For fragments of his creed see Hahn 3 p. 292. He argues that "infants ought to 
be baptized unto remission of sins ", but repudiates Traducianism as alien from the 
Catholic conception, on the ground that "the sin which is afterwards practised by 
man is not born with him, for it is proved to be a fault, not of nature, but of will ". 
And he denies that he claims the authority of a dogma for his inferences from the 
teaching of prophets and apostles. On the contrary, he submits them to the correc 
tion of the apostolic see. 

8 See Hahn 3 p. 288. It had been addressed by Pelagius to Innocent, and went 
at length into most articles of the faith, concluding with an appeal to him to amend 
anything in it that might have been less skilfully or somewhat incautiously ex 
pressed. On the special questions at issue he wrote as follows : We confess that 
we have free will, in the sense that we always are in need of the help of God, and 
that they err who say . . . that man cannot avoid sin, no less than they who . . . 
assert that man cannot sin ; for both alike destroy the freedom of the will. We, 
however, say that man can sin and can not sin (is able to sin and able not to sin), in 
such wise as always to confess that we possess free will." 


agreement. A council of two hundred bishops was speedily 
held at Carthage (in April 418), at which nine canons were 
drawn up, with anti-Pelagian definitions of the points in ques 
tion. 1 What were regarded as Pelagian compromises are 
definitely faced and detailed, and declared anathema. The 
absolute necessity of baptism to effect regeneration, and to counter 
balance the corruption of nature and stain of sin that is innate 
the powerlessness of the human will unaided, and the vital need 
of grace to enable us to fulfil the commands of God are insisted 
on. No ingenuity of any adherent of Pelagius or Coelestius 
could evade the significance of this pronouncement. Imperial 
edicts against the Pelagians were also procured from Honorius 
and Theodosius (banishing Pelagius and Coelestius and their 
followers) ; and the Bishop of Kome was obliged to reopen the 
case. He summoned Pelagius and Coelestius, and, when they 
did not appear, condemned them in their absence and issued a 
circular letter (epistola tractoria) accepting the African view of 
the matter. This he ordered should be subscribed by all bishops 
under his jurisdiction. Eighteen refused, and were deposed and 
banished from their sees, while many probably signed unwillingly. 

The Ultimate Issue of the Controversy. In this way 
Pelagianism was stifled, by force rather than by argument ; and 
at the next General Council of the Church (at Ephesus in 431) 
Pelagius was anathematized in company with Nestorius. 2 But 
in modified forms the Pelagian conceptions continued, and have 
always found some place in the Church. 

It must, indeed, be noted that, while the negations of Pelagian- 
ism were rejected, and Pelagianism was condemned (i.e. the 
denial of inherited sin and of the need of baptism of children for 
remission of sins), yet the positive side of Pelagian teaching (the 
point of departure of Pelagius himself) found sympathy in deep- 
rooted Christian sentiment and convictions ; and Augustine s anti- 
Pelagian theories did not win wide acceptance. 3 

1 Halm 3 p. 213. 

2 All that is known as to the consideration of Pelagianism at Ephesus is contained 
in the synodal letter to Coelestiue of Rome, which states that the Western Acts on 
the condemnation of Pelagius, Coelestius, and their adherents were read and 
universally approved. Little is known of the history of Pelagius after his condem 
nation by Zosimus. He is said to have died in Palestine when seventy years of age 
(? c. 440). Of Coelestius, too, nothing more is known. 

3 Cf. Loofs Leitfaden p. 260. In the Greek Church Augustinianism never took 
root. Many were ready to sympathize with the eighteen bishops, of whom Julian 


" Semi- Pelagianism " l 

The attempt to mediate between the two extremes to 
express, that is, a theory of human nature and of sin and grace 
which should be more in harmony with the general conceptions 
that had been prevalent among Churchmen in earlier ages was 
made by John Cassian and Faustus of Ehegium, as representa 
tives of a considerable number of Gallican churchmen. 

(a) John Cassian 

Like Pelagius, Cassian passed a large part of his life from 
boyhood onwards in a monastery. A friend and admirer of 
Chrysostom, after some years spent at Constantinople he was 
sent about 405 on an embassy to Eome, to enlist the support of 
Innocent ; and perhaps he stayed on at Eome and met Pelagius. 
On the invasion of the Goths he retired, and ultimately made 
his home near Massilia (Marseilles), where he founded two monas 
teries (for men and for women), and probably as abbot of 
one of them devoted himself for many years to study and 
writing. As a framer of monastic rules and ideals his in 
fluence on Western monasticism was long-lived ; 2 and the Semi- 

of Eclanum in Campania became the chief mouthpiece a man of high character 
and generous benevolence and ample learning and ability, who was firmly convinced 
that the cause of the Christian faith and of morality itself was endangered by the 
Augustinian doctrine. He did not shrink from charging that doctrine with Man- 
icheism, considering that its teaching as to the .taint which had permeated human 
nature was equivalent to the Manichean theory that its material part was essentially 
evil ; and he wrote at length against Augustine and his conceptions, and tried to 
enlist bishops and the emperor (Theodosius n) on his side not altogether un 
successfully at first. Both Theodore of Mopsuestia (see supra p. 256) and Nestorius 
endeavoured to shield him ; but in 429 he was driven from Constantinople (which 
had been his refuge for a short time after his deposition by Zosimus and his banish 
ment) by an imperial edict. This was largely through the instrumentality of 
Marius Mercator, who opposed Pelagianism as well as Nestorianism. And later 
on he was again condemned by a Council at Rome under Celestine and by suc 
cessive bishops. He died in 454 in Sicily. His writings are known to us only 
from Augustine s replies. See especially the four books Contra duas epistulas 
Pelagianorum (420), and the six books Contra Julianum Pelagianum. [See 
the Art. Julianus of Eclanum D.C.B.] 

Julian was a thoroughgoing supporter of Pelagianism. A more conciliatory 
position was taken by John Cassian. 

1 The familiar term may be retained, but Semi-Augustinianism would be at least 
as accurate a designation, and would beg no question. 

2 His works on these subjects were "highly prized all through the Middle Ages 
as handbooks of the cloister-life ". 



Pelagianism 1 which he taught has always numbered many 

Above all else he was inspired by a moral interest and 
a profound sense of the love of God. As, in his counsels 
to his monks, he insisted that no outward obedience to 
rule availed without purity of intention and consecration of 
the inner life ; so he believed that the doctrine of grace was 
to be known and understood only by the experience of a 
pure life. 

He was repelled equally by the assertions of Pelagius (which 
he styled profane and irreligious) as by those of Augustine. 
Against Pelagius he held the universal corruption of human 
nature as a consequence of the first transgression of the father 
of the race, and so far accepted the Augustine conception of 
grace. On the other hand, he was entirely opposed to the 
denial of free will and of man s power to determine in any way 
the issues of his life. In the renovation of the human will there 
are, he held, two efficient agencies the will itself and the Holy 
Spirit. The exact relation between the two free will and grace 
is not capable of definition ; no universally applicable rule 
can be laid down ; sometimes the initiative is with man, some 
times with God. Nature unaided may take the first step 
towards its recovery: If it were not so, exhortations and 
censure would be alike idle and unjust. c Predestination he 
rejects it is a shocking impiety to think that God wishes not 
all men universally, but only some, instead of all, to be saved. 2 

1 It must be remembered that Semi-Pelagians (so-called) were in full agreement 
with the Church at large in repudiating the chief Pelagian propositions. It is only 
when Augustine s teaching is taken as normal that the name is valid. 

2 Collationes xiii 7 : Quomodo sine ingenti sacrilegio putandus est [Deus] non 
universaliter omnes sed quosdam salvos fieri velle pro omnibus ? Other significant 
passages on the subject are 8 "When He (sc. God) sees in us any beginning of good 
will, straightway He enlightens it and strengthens it and stimulates it to salvation, 
giving increase to that good will which He planted Himself, or sees has sprung up 
by our own effort" ; 9 "in order, however, to shew more clearly that the first 
beginnings of good desires (good will) are sometimes produced by means of that 
natural goodness (naturae bonum) which is innate in us by the gift of the Creator, and 
yet that these beginnings cannot end in the attainment of virtuous acts unless they 
are directed by the Lord, the Apostle bears witness and says, for to will is present 
to me, yet how to accomplish the good I find not (Rom. 7 18 )"> and 11 "if, 
however, we say that the first beginnings of good will are always inspired by the 
grace of God, what are we to say of the faith of Zacchaeus and of the piety of 
the crucified thief, who, applying force, as it were, to the kingdom of heaven by 
their own longing desire, anticipated the special monitions of the call." The 
Collationes (conferences of Egyptian monks on true asceticism) were written about 


The most that can be rightly said is that God knows beforehand 
who will be saved (praescientia foreknowledge). He thus really 
departs a long way from the Augustinian conceptions, connecting 
the idea of grace with a dominant purpose of divine love which 
extends to all men and wills the salvation of all ; whereas to 
Augustine election and rejection alike were divine acts l entirely 
unconditioned by anything in the power of the individuals 
elected or rejected. 

(b) Faustus of Rhegium 

Similar teaching to that of Cassian was given also by another 
of the greatest monks and bishops of Southern Gaul Faustus, 
a member, and from about 433 abbot, of the famous monastery 
of Lerinum (Lerins), and afterwards Bishop of Ehegium (Eiez in 
Proven9e), most highly honoured for his learning and his ascetic 
and holy life of self-sacrificing labours and active benevolence. 2 
A staunch champion of the Nicene faith against Arianism the 
religion of the Visigoths into whose power his diocese passed 
and therefore driven from his see, he yet did not escape criticism 
for his anthropological doctrines from some of his contem 
poraries, and still more from theologians of the next generation. 
Neither Augustine nor Pelagius seemed to him to express the 
whole truth. Pelagius indeed he severely condemns as heretical ; 
but at the same time he expresses fear of teaching which, in 
denying man s power as a free agent, becomes fatalistic. He 
anathematizes anyone who says that the * vessel of wrath can 
not ever become a vessel of honour , or that Christ did not die 
for all men, or does not will that all should be saved, or says 
that anyone who has perished (being baptized, or being a pagan 
who might have believed and would not) never had the oppor 
tunity of being saved ; and he strongly urges the need of human 
endeavour and co-operation with the divine grace. He that 

425-428. The third and thirteenth are on Grace and Free Will and were impugned 
by Augustine, and by Prosper De gratia Dei et libero arbitrio contra Collatorem 
(Migne P.L. li p. 213). 

1 Of. his de Praedestinatione Sanctorum and de Dono Perseverantiae. 

2 He was born in Brittany (or perhaps Britain) early in the fifth century, and 
lived nearly to the end of it. His local reputation was so great that the title of 
Saint was given him, and his festival was observed, in spite of the weight of 
Augustine s authority. In more modern times Jansenist historians and editors 
naturally impugn his right to canonization, while learned Jesuits defend him. 


hath, to him shall be given he has the power and must use it. 
The doctrine of predestination, in particular, called forth his 
energetic protests, and he strongly denied the assumption of any 
such special and personal grace (gratia specialis and personalis) 
as Augustine s theory of predestination involved ; though at the 
same time he speaks of a precedent grace (gratia praecedens) of a 
general character. 1 

A presbyter of Gaul named Lucidus had roused uneasiness 
by his advocacy of these and other Augustinian conceptions, 
and Faustus was requested by Leontius, the Archbishop of 
Aries, to write upon the subject ; 2 and at a Council held at Aries 
in 472 (or 473) his writing was formally approved and signed 
by the bishops present, who also agreed to six anathemas against 
the extremer teaching on either side. What is commonly known 
as the Semi-Pelagian position is set forth in these anathemas. 3 
They condemn the Pelagian ideas that man is born without sin 
and can be saved by his own efforts alone without the grace of 
God, and, along with the anti-Pelagian conceptions already noted, 
the view that it is the fault of original sin when a man who has 
been duly baptized in the true faith falls through the attractions 
of this world. And they further reject the compromise by 
which many were satisfied to speak of God s foreknowledge 
rather than of predestination, it is not even to be said that the 
foreknowledge of God has any effect on the downward course of 
a man towards death. 

The later History of the Doctrine 

Teaching to this effect prevailed in Gaul for some time. But 
synods at Orange (Arausio) 4 and Valence 5 in 529 decided for the 

1 See the Letter to Lucidus (Migne P.L. liii p. 683). It appears that he did not 
mean to express the need for a definite prevenient grace (as positively requisite 
before any step towards salvation was possible) in the Augustinian sense, as some 
thing altogether external to the human will, but rather an awakening of the will so 
that it was able to co-operate at once in the work, which, however, could never be 
successfully completed but for the divine grace. 

2 He wrote first a letter to Lucidus and afterwards to the same effect a more 
formal treatise entitled De gratia Dei et humanae mentis libero arbitrio (Migne 
P.L. Iviii p. 783 ff). 

8 Hahn 3 p. 217. 

4 Under the presidency of Caesarius of Aries, sometime abbot of Lerinum. 
* The priority of these Councils is disputed (see Hefele). Arnold Caesarius von 
Arelate p. 348 n. 1129 puts that of Valence first. 


Augustinian doctrine, with the limitation that predestination to 
evil was not to be taught (Augustine himself did not really teach 
it in words at least), and accepted canons which had been drawn 
up at Rome in accordance with the teaching of ancient Fathers 
and the holy Scriptures. 1 The decisions of this Council were 
confirmed by the Bishop of Eome, Boniface II, in the following 
year. But, on the whole, Semi-Pelagianism prevailed in the 
West that is to say, the theory of inherited evil and sin, the 
somewhat uncertain acceptance of the necessity of grace as pre- 
venient to the first motions of goodness in man, and the belief 
in the power of man to aid in the work of divine grace within 
himself ( synergistic regeneration, man co-operating with God). 
During the Middle Ages individuals as Gottschalk (with 
strong assertion of twofold predestination), Bede, Anselm, Bernard 
represented the Augustinian teaching. And it was revived in 
its harshest forms by Calvin to arouse the opposition of Armin- 
ians and Socinians. Luther was only to some extent Augustinian 
in this respect. He believed that the fall of man changed his 
original holiness into absolute depravity, exposing the whole 
race to condemnation ; but the divine grace, which is indispens 
able to conversion, he taught was proffered to all men without 
distinction, but might be rejected by them. Free play was thus 
allowed for human responsibility, and the only predestination 
possible was such as was based on foresight as to the faith and 
obedience of men, on which the decrees of God were held to be 
conditional. It is certainly not the doctrine of Augustine that 
was stated at the Council of Trent. That man s free will alone 
is insufficient, and that without prevenient grace he cannot be 
justified, and without its inspiration and assistance cannot have 
faith or hope or love or repentance, is asserted in plain terms. 2 
But no less clearly it is maintained that man himself has some 
thing to contribute to the process of salvation : he can receive 
and he can reject the inspiration and illumination of the Holy 
Spirit, and he does so according to his own proper disposition 
and co-operation. 3 The fall of man caused the loss of the gift 
of divine grace originally bestowed upon him, and its consequence 

1 See the canons of the Council of Orange Hahn 8 pp. 220-227, esp. canon 25 
p. 227. They insist with emphasis that human nature is unable to make any kind 
of beginning of faith and goodness, or to invoke the divine aid, without the grace of 
God. The giving and reception of grace depends solely on God s initiative. 

3 Sess. vi cap. 3. 3 Sess. vi cap. 4, 5, 7. 


was weakness and imperfection. His freedom of will was 
weakened and turned aside, but not lost and extinguished. 
Koman orthodoxy thus recognizes gratia praeveniens, and gratia 
co-operans, and the human power of self-determination. Simil 
arly, as opposed to the theory of predestination, the Council of 
Trent declared the universality of grace ; and, when the Jansenists 
attempted to revive the doctrines of Augustine, predestination 
was still more decisively rejected. 

Art. Augustinus D. C. B. new volume) 


412 De pecc. meritis et remiss, lib. iii, and De spiritu et litera (to 

415 De natura et gratia, and De perfectione iustitiae hominis (against 

the teaching of Coelestius). 

417 De gestis Pelagii (on the proceedings in Palestine), and Epp. 176, 

177, andSerm. 131. 

418 De gratia Cliristi et de peccato originali lib. ii. 

419 De nuptiis et concupiscentia lib. ii, and De anima eiusque origine 

lib. iv (on the transmission of original sin and on the origin of 
the soul). 

420 Contra duas epp. Pelagianorum lib. iv. (a reply to Julian s attack 

on the treatise De nuptiis). 

421 Contra JuUanum lib. vi. 

426-7 De gratia et libero arbitrio and De\ 

correptione et gratia I (against the arguments of 

428-9 Depraedest. sanctorum and De dono t the Semi-Pelagians). 

per sever antiae 




WHAT we have seen to be true in the case of other doctrines is 
even more noteworthy in regard to the Atonement. The certainty 
that the life and death of Christ had effected an Atonement be 
tween God and man was the very heart and strength of the faith 
of Christians from the earliest days. They did not need to theorize 
about it ; they were content to know and feel it. So it was 
long before any doctrine of the Atonement was framed. Various 
points of view, no doubt, are represented in the various books of 
the New Testament ; but the allusions are incidental and occa 
sional. And it is now from one point of view and now from 
another that we find the mysterious fact of the Atonement 
regarded in such writings of Christians of the first four centuries 
as happen to have been preserved. If more had come down to 
us there might have been more points of view to claim con 
sideration. But nothing like a definite theory is propounded in 
the earlier ages nothing that can be said to go beyond the 
expressions of the apostolic writers except perhaps by Irenaeus 
and Origen. They indeed were conscious of questions which the 
New Testament does not answer ; l they wanted to define more 
closely the why and the wherefore, and they let the spirit of 
speculation carry them further than others had tried to pene 
trate. The solution of some of the unsolved problems which 
they reached satisfied many of the ablest theologians of their 
own and later generations, though in the process of time they 
came to be regarded as erroneous, and have for us now a merely 
historical interest. But apart from these particular theories, 
which we must notice in their place, we have no attempt at 
formal statement of a doctrine, and can only record incidental 
references and more or less chance phrases which indicate, rather 

1 See supra Chapter II pp. 20, 21. 


than express, the conceptions of the earlier exponents of Christian 
teaching. 1 They are in all cases only personal attempts to set 
forth and illustrate experiences and emotions that were still 
personal, however widely they were shared among those who 
were fellows in faith. How far they were generally received, 
or what if any measure of official sanction was given them, 
it is impossible to say. Only, it is clear that every theologian 
was free to give expression of his own to the feelings which 
stirred him at the moment, and it would be a mistake to suppose 
that he emptied his whole thought on the mystery of the Atone 
ment into such utterances as have been preserved. Nor must 
it be supposed that any such utterances in any way committed 
more than the writer himself. Later thinkers were still free to 
take them or to leave them ; just as, for example, Athanasius 
is apparently quite untouched by the modes of thought which 
are commonly regarded as characteristic of Irenaeus and Origen, 
and Gregory of Nazianzus expressly rejects the theory which his 
friend Gregory of Nyssa handed down to later ages. 

It is then as individual answers to speculative questions, or 
as personal utterances of faith and hope, suggestive and illustra 
tive of larger conceptions than are expressed, that we must take 
such expressions of the doctrine as we find. 

Of the various aspects of the Atonement which are repre 
sented in the pages of the New Testament, 2 the early Fathers 
chiefly dwell on those of sacrifice (and obedience), reconciliation, 
illumination by knowledge, and ransom. Not till a later time 
was the idea of satisfaction followed up. 3 

The Apostolic Fathers 

Outside the New Testament the earliest references to the 
doctrine are to be found in the Epistle of Clement. They 
are only incidental illustrations in his exposition of love 

1 Of books on the history of the doctrine of the Atonement see H. N. Oxen- 
ham The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement. For special points of view see also 
R. C. Moberly Atonement and Personality ; R. W. Dale The Atonement ; B. F. 
Westcott The Victory of the Cross, and the notes to his edition of the Epistles of 
StJohn; M Leod Campbell The Nature of the Atonement, and J. M. Wilson The 
Gospel of the Atonement. 

2 See supra Chapter II p. 19. 

3 The only satisfaction which was thought of was the satisfaction which the 
penitent himself makes. There is no suggestion of any satisfaction of the divine 
justice through the sufferings of Christ. 


Through the love which he had towards us, Jesus 
Christ our Lord, in the will of God, gave his blood on behalf of 
us, and his flesh on behalf of our flesh, and his life on behalf 
of our lives. So it is that we are turned from our wander 
ing and directed into the way of truth, and through the 
benevolence of the Word towards men we are become the 
sons of God. His blood, which was shed for the sake of our 
salvation, brought to all the world the offer of the grace of 
repentance. So it is not by works which we have done in 
holiness of heart that we are justified, but only by faith ; though 
he adds at once " let us then work from our whole heart the 
work of righteousness ". 

Incidental though the references are, they shew that Clement 
taught that the motive of the whole plan of redemption was the 
love of God and the spontaneous love of Christ fulfilling the 
Father s will, and that by the sacrifice of himself by his blood 
is offered both the grace of repentance and the knowledge of 
the truth to all men. 

In the JZpistle of Barnabas 2 there are many allusions to the 
passion and sufferings of Christ as effecting our salvation the 
remission of sins by the sprinkling of his blood. The Son of 
God could not suffer except only on account of us. Incidents 
in the history of Israel and prophecies are cited, which find 
their fulfilment and real meaning in the passion of the Lord. 
For instance, the account of Moses stretching out his hands, 
while the Israelites prevailed against the Amalekites, is a type 
of the Cross, and is designed to teach that unless men put their 
hope and faith in it they will not conquer and cannot be saved. 
But perhaps most prominence is given in the Epistle to the idea 
of a new covenant founded by Christ s life and death, by which 
the way of truth is exhibited for our knowledge ; and the special 
need for the coming of the Saviour in the flesh is found in 
human weakness, requiring an unmistakeable revelation visible 
to the naked eye. " For had he not come in flesh, how could 
we men see him and be saved ? " 

In The Shepherd of Hermas 8 there is only one clear reference 
to the doctrine, but it has special interest as connecting the 
value of the work of the Saviour with his obedience to the 
Father s will and laws. The thought is expressed in the form 
of a parable of a vineyard, which represents God s people, in 

1 1 Ep. 49. 2 See esp. chs. 5, 7, 12. s Similitude v 6. 


which the Son is bidden to work as a servant, and in which he 
labours much and suffers much to do away their sins, and then 
points out to them the way of life by giving them the law which 
he received from his Father. The perfect fulfilment of the 
Father s will, at the cost of toil and suffering, on the one hand, 
and on the other hand, the revelation of that will to men ; that 
is, obedience, active as well as passive, on his own part, and the 
instruction of men that they may render a similar obedience on 
their part, are represented here as being the two main elements 
in the work of Christ. 

In the Epistles of Ignatius the reality of the sufferings of 
Christ is emphasized again and again against docetic teaching, 
and it is clear that the writer attached unique importance to 
the passion, although it is the reality of the manhood as a whole 
that he is all through concerned to uphold. All in heaven and 
in earth, men and angels, must believe in the blood of Christ 
if they are to escape condemnation. 1 But how the redemption 
is effected, and precisely what value is to be attributed to the 
sufferings of the Eedeemer, is naturally not expressed. It was 
no part of the task of Ignatius to expound the doctrine of the 
Atonement, but only to appeal to the deepest convictions of 
those that he addressed, based on the teaching they had already 
received. But he insists on the supreme need of faith and 
love toward Christ on the part of men ; and he seems to re 
gard the death of Christ as operative in bringing the human 
soul into communion with him, as the means of imparting the 
principle of spiritual life, and as a manifestation of love by 
which a corresponding affection is generated in the believer s 
heart. In this way he has in mind perhaps the sanctification 
more than the justification of mankind. 2 


No systematic treatment of the subject is to be found either 
in Justin s Apologies or in the Dialogue with Trypho ; but enough 
is said to shew that various aspects of the work of Christ were 
clearly present to his thought. The reason why the Logos became 

1 Ad Smyrn. 6. 

2 The idea of justification is hardly present, though the verb occurs twice 
Philad. 8 and Horn. 5 (with reference to 1 Cor. 4 4 ). He speaks also of peace 
through the passion (Eph. inscr.) and of deliverance from demons through Christ 
(Eph. 19). 


man, it is declared on the one hand, was that he might share our 
sufferings and effect a cure, 1 cleansing by blood those that believe 
in him. 2 But on the other hand, Justin emphasizes more than 
other writers of the time the didactic purpose of the Incarnation. 
The Saviour saves by teaching men the truth about God and 
withdrawing them from bondage to false gods. " Having become 
man he taught us . . ." 3 " His mighty Word persuaded many 
to leave demons, to whom they were enslaved, and through him 
to believe on the all-sovereign God." 4 " We beseech God to 
keep us safe, always through Jesus Christ, from the demons 
who are contrary to the true religion of God, whom of old we 
used to worship ; in order that after turning to God through 
him we may be blameless." 5 The intellectual purpose issues 
in the moral reformation, the knowledge of God in the blame 
less life. 

Justin also alludes to the conquest of Satan as one of the 
consequences of the Passion, and seems to attribute the ultimate 
responsibility for the sufferings of Christ to the devils who 
prompted the Jews, 6 so that his triumph over death was a 
victory over Satan himself. But he does not express the idea 
of any kind of ransom to Satan. 

And though he speaks of sacrifice , he does not refer it to 
the idea of justice, and he is far from any theory of satisfaction 
of an alienated God. His thought is shewn in his treatment of 
the passage Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree (Gal. 3 13 ). 
All mankind, he says, is under a curse, and God willed that 
Christ, his own Son, should receive the curses of all. Christ 
also willed this, and all who repent of their sins and believe in 
him will be saved. But the curse which he takes upon him is 
not God s curse. 7 " In the law a curse is laid on men who are 
crucified. But God s curse does not therefore lie upon Christ, 
through whom he saves all those who have done things deserving 
a curse." 8 Eather, the words of Scripture indicate God s fore 
knowledge of what was destined to be done by the Jews and 
others like them. It was by the Jews, and not by God, that he 

1 Apol. ii 13, and esp. (the chief passage) Dial. c. Tryph. 40-43 and 95. 

3 Apol. i 63. 8 Ibid, i 23. 

4 Dial. c. Tryph. 83. 6 Hid. 30. 

6 See Apol. i 63 "he endured to suffer all that the devils disposed the Jews to do 
to him ". 

7 Indeed, he styles it only an apparent curse (Dial. c. Tryph. 90). 

8 Ibid. 94. 


was accursed. For all who have faith in him there hangs from 
the crucified Christ the hope of salvation. 1 

The Writer to Diognetus 

Some fine passages in the Epistle to Diognetus shew the 
writer s conception of the Atonement as essentially an act of 
compassion which is prompted by the unalterable love of God, 
and insist on the perfect union of will between the Father and 
the Son. " God, the Master and Maker of all things, who 
created all things and set them in order, was not only a 
lover of man but also long-suffering. He indeed was always 
and will be such, gracious and good, and uninfluenced by 
anger and true. He alone is good, and he conceived the 
great inexpressible design which he communicated only to his 
Son." 2 The Son carries out the Father s will, but it is 
his own will too. It is the Father s love that finds expression 
in the self-sacrifice of the Son. " When our unrighteousness 
(iniquity) was fully wrought out, and it was fully made 
manifest that its wages, punishment and death, were to be 
expected, and the time was come which God fore-appointed to 
make manifest His goodness and power Oh the surpassing 
kindness towards men and love of God ! He did not hate us or 
thrust us from Him or remember our evil deeds against us, but 
He was long-suffering, He was forebearing, and in His mercy He 
took our sins upon Himself. He Himself gave up His own Son 
as a ransom on behalf of us : the holy on behalf of lawless men, 
him who was without wickedness on behalf of the wicked, the 
righteous on behalf of the unrighteous, the incorruptible on 
behalf of the corruptible, the immortal on behalf of the mortal. 
For what else but his righteousness was able to cover our sins ? 
In whom, except only in the Son of God, was it possible for us, 
the lawless and impious, to be declared righteous (justified) ? " 3 
But it is no external act or transaction that effects the object in 
view. It is a real inner change that is wrought in man. God 
sent His Son with a view to saving, with a view to persuading, 
not with a view to forcing: for force is not the means God 
uses. 4 

1 Dial. c. Ti-yph. 96, 111. A similar view of the curse was held by Tertullian 
(adv. Judaeos 10). 

2 Ch. 8. 3 Ch. 9. 4 Ch. 8. 



From Terfcullian, if from any one, we should have expected 
a theory of atonement based on legal conceptions and forensic 
metaphors. 1 But he has no more definite theory than the 
writers before him. He is the first to use the term satisfaction , 
it is true, but he never uses it in the sense of vicarious satis 
faction which afterwards attached to it. He means by it the 
amends which those who have sinned make for themselves by 
confession and repentance and good works. 2 He does not bring 
the idea into connexion with the work of Christ, but with the 
acts of the penitent. 3 

Similarly he insists 4 that the curse which was supposed to 
attach to the crucified Christ, in accordance with the application 
of the words of Deuteronomy (2 1 32 ) Cursed is he that hangeth 
on a tree , was not the curse of God but the curse of the Jews. 
They denied that the death upon the cross was predicted of the 
Messiah, basing their denial on that passage ; but he argues that 
the context shews that only criminals justly condemned were 
meant the curse is the crime and not the hanging on the 
tree, whereas in Christ no guile was found : he shewed perfect 
justice and humility. It was not on account of his own deserts 
that he was given over to such a death, but in order that the 
things which were foretold by the prophets as destined to come 
on him by the hands of the Jews might be fulfilled. All those 
things which he suffered, 5 he suffered not on account of any evil 
deed of his own, but that the Scriptures might be fulfilled which 
were spoken by the mouth of the prophets. 6 


When we pass to consider the conceptions of Irenaeus we 
must note at the outset that no one has ever more clearly 

1 So Oxenham points out op. cit. p. 124. 

2 See Note on the Doctrine of Merit p. 353. 

3 This is evident from the references in de Poen. 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 ; de Pat. 13 ; de 
Pud. 9 ; de Cult. Fern, i 1 ; adv. Jud. 10. 

4 See adv. Judaeos 10. 

5 That the highest value attached to the sufferings of Christ in Tertullian s 
judgement is shewn by his argument against docetic teaching (adv. Marc, iii 8). 
If his death be denied, he says (and a phantasm could not really suffer), the 
whole work of God would be overthrown and the whole meaning and benefit of 
Christianity rejected. 

6 It was only dimly that the mystery (sacramentum) of his passion could be 


grasped the fundamental truth of the solidarity of humanity. 
No principle is more characteristic of Christian theology than 
this, that the race of men is a corporate whole all members of 
it being so closely bound together in a union so intimate that 
they form together one living organism. To this conception 
Irenaeus gives the clearest expression, and following up the 
meaning of the title Son of Man which St Paul had been the 
first to expand, 1 he points to Christ as the great representative 
of the race, in whom are summed up all its ripe experiences as 
they were contained in germ in Adam. What Christ achieves 
the whole race achieves. Just as mankind in Adam lost its 
birthright, so in Christ mankind recovers its original condition. 
The effect of Adam s acts extended to the whole company of his 
descendants, and the effect of Christ s acts is equally coextensive 
with the race. In each case it is really the whole race that 
acts in its representative. 

It is this that the Incarnation means. " When he was 
incarnate and made man, he summed up (or recapitulated) in 
himself the long roll of the human race, securing for us all a 
summary salvation, so that we should regain in Christ Jesus 
what we had lost in Adam, namely, the being in the image and 
likeness of God." 2 And again, " This is why the Lord declares 
himself to be the Son of Man, summing up into himself the 
original man who was the source of the race which has been 
fashioned after woman ; in order that, as through the conquest 
of man our race went down into death, so through the victory 
of man we might mount up to life." 3 And again, " For in the 
first Adam we stumbled, not doing his command; but in the 
second Adam we were reconciled, shewing ourselves obedient 
unto death." 4 These passages shew clearly that the writer s 

shadowed forth in the O.T. (in order that the difficulty of interpretation might lead 
men to seek the grace of God), in types such as Isaac and Joseph, and in figures like 
the bull s horns and the serpent lifted up. See also adv. Marc, v 5. 

1 See such passages as Rom. S 12 31 , 1 Cor. 15 s0 - 22 , Eph. I 10 . 

2 Adv. Haer. in 19. 1. The thought expressed by the words recapitulare, recapit- 
ulatio, applied in this way to Christ, is the chief clue to the full conception of the 
writer, both as to the Incarnation and as to the Atonement. The doctrines are 
one and the same : the Incarnation effects the Atonement. It brings to completion 
the original creation, and is its perfecting as much as its restitution. From this 
point of view the Incarnation is the natural and necessary completion of the self- 
revelation of God even apart from sin. 

8 Ibid, v 21. 1. 

4 Ibid, v 16. 2. Compare the striking passage (ibid, ii 83. 2) in which Irenaeus 


thought was as distinct as possible. The whole race is 
it exists as a whole in each of its great representatives, Adam 
and Christ. As a whole it forfeits its true privileges and 
character in Adam ; as a whole it recovers them in Christ. The 
thought is not that Adam loses for us, and Christ regains for us ; 
but that we ourselves lose in the one case, and we ourselves 
regain in the other case. 

Whatever else Irenaeus says in regard to details of the work 
of atonement must be interpreted in the light of this principal 
conception, in his treatment of which he has in mind particularly 
such passages as Eom. 5 19 As by one man s disobedience the 
many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the 
many be made righteous . It is in connexion with another 
passage (Heb. 2 14 * destroying him that hath the power over 
death, that is the devil ) that he gives expression to the idea 
which was emphasized by later thinkers and became for centuries 
the orthodox opinion among theologians. Man, in the free 
exercise of his will, had yielded to the inducements set before 
him by Satan, and had put himself under his dominion ; and 
the justice of God required that this dominion should not be 
violently overthrown, but that Satan himself should be met, as 
it were, on equal terms, and induced to relinquish his possession. 
" The powerful Word and true man ", he writes, 1 " by his own 
blood ransoming (or redeeming) us by a method in conformity 
with reason, gave himself as ransom for those who have been 
led into captivity. And since the apostasy (i.e. the spirit of 
rebellion, or Satan himself) unjustly held sway over us, and, 
though we were Almighty God s by nature, estranged us in a 
manner against nature, making us his own disciples ; the Word 
of God which is powerful in all things and not wanting in 
justice of his own, acted justly even in dealing with the 
apostasy itself, ransoming (buying back) from it what is his 
own, not by force in the way in which it gained sway over us 
at the beginning, snatching greedily what was not its own ; but 
by a method of persuasion, in the way in which it was fitting 
for God to receive what he wished, by persuasion and not by 
the use of force, so that there might be no infringement of the 
principle of justice, and yet God s ancient creation might be 

describes the passing of Christ through the different stages of human growth and 
developement in order that he might redeem and sanctify each age. 
1 Adv. Haer. v 1. 1. 


preserved from perishing." To achieve the end in view man 
must render perfect obedience as a first condition, and that is 
one chief reason for the Incarnation, in order that the obedience 
may be at once man s and perfect. 1 " For if it had not been 
man who conquered the adversary of man, he would not have 
been justly conquered." 2 

He speaks of the obedience as being specially shewn in the 
three temptations : 3 " And so by conquering him the third time 
he drove him away for the future as having been legitimately 
conquered ; and the violation of the command which had taken 
place in Adam was cancelled (or compensated for) by means of 
the command of the law which the Son of Man observed, not 
transgressing the command of God." 4 

The redemption, however, of man from the devil s dominion 
is finally won by the Redeemer s death. " By his own blood, 
therefore, the Lord redeemed us, and gave his soul on behalf of 
our souls, and his own flesh instead of our flesh ; and poured out 
the Spirit of the Father to effect the union and communion of 
God and man, bringing down God to men through the Spirit, and 
at the same time bringing up man to God through his incarna 
tion, and in his advent surely and truly giving us incorruption 
through the communion which he has (or we have) with God." 5 

While, therefore, the thought of man s bondage to the devil 
(of Satan s dominion as a real objective power) is thus clearly 
present to the mind of Irenaeus, and the additional thought that 
the justice of God required that man should be bought back 
from the devil by consent, he does not attempt to describe in 

1 Adv. Haer. Hi. 19. 6. Cf. v 1, v 16. 2. 

3 It is to God, of course, that the obedience is due. Cf. ibid, v 16. 2, 17. 1-3. 

8 The temptations of Jesus are the counterpart of the temptation of Adam, as 
the obedience of the mother of Jesus is the counterpart of Eve s disobedience, and 
the birth from the Virgin Mary the counterpart of Adam s birth from the virgin 

4 Ibid, v 21. The Latin "soluta est ea quae fuerat in Adam praecepti 
praevaricatio per praeceptum legis quod servavit lilius hominis " is not quite clear, 
but the translation given above seems to convey the full meaning of the words. 
The technical legal sense of prae.varicari (of an advocate who so conducts his case as 
to play into the hands of his opponent) can scarcely be maintained, and certainly 
there is no idea in soluta eat of the payment of a price (cf. parallel expressions dis- 
solvens (or sanans) . . . hominis inobedientiam v 16. 2, nostram inobedientiam 
per suam obedientiam consolatus v 17. 1). 

Hid. v 1. 2 (the conclusion of the passage quoted supra), but the idea of the 
blood of Christ as ransom does not seem to occupy a very prominent place in the 
whole work of atonement and redemption. 


any detail the nature of the transaction which is implied. These 
are certainly not the aspects of the matter which appeal to him 
most, or which he cares to emphasize. Any unscriptural con 
clusions that might be drawn from them were for Irenaeus 
himself, it seems, effectively precluded by the other conceptions 
which he grasped so firmly. 1 

Nevertheless difficult questions were bound to be put, coarsely 
and crudely perhaps, but anyhow questions which had to be 
met. In what sense could it be said that the justice of God 
required such a method of working ? 2 and how was it that the 
devil came to make so bad a bargain ? 


Origen met the latter question with an answer more frank 
than satisfactory. The devil accepted the death of Christ (or 
his soul) as a ransom, but he could not retain it in his power, 
and so lie found himself deceived in the transaction. The 
arrangement was conceived of as between God on the one side 
and the devil on the other, and so the author of the deception 
was God Himself, who in this way made use of Satan as the 
means of the destruction of his own power. He thought that 
by compassing the death of Christ he would prevent the spreading 
of his teaching, and by getting possession of his soul as an 
equivalent (dvrd\\ayfjia) would secure his control over men for 
ever. He did not perceive " that the human race was to be 
still more delivered by his death than it had been by his 
teaching and miracles ". He did not realize that the sinless soul 
of Christ would cause him such torture that he could not retain 
it near him. So he over-reached himself. The issue was, of 
course, all along known to God ; and Origen does not face the 
question how this deception was consistent with the recognition 
of Satan s rights. 3 

1 So Harnack writes: "Ironacus is quite as free from the thought that the devil 
has real rights over man as ho is free from the immoral idea that God accomplished 
his work of redemption by an act of deceit" (DO. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 290). 

2 The kingdom had been established in the first instance by injustice and 
usurpation, how could this inveterate wrong become a right ? 

3 This theory is expressed or alluded to in various writings of Origen. E.g. 
Co-nun, in Jocinn. torn, ii 21, in Matt, xvi 8, in Rotn. ii 13. But the notion of 
intentional deception on the part of God (expressed in Matt. torn, xiii 9) is not 
prominent in Origen. His idea was rather that the devil deceived himself, imagin- 



However, this particular point is only quite a subordinate 
element in the doctrine which Origen held on the whole matter. 
He dwells at greater length on other more important aspects of 
the Atonement. 

Thus he sees in the Incarnation the beginning of an intimate 
connexion between the divine and the human, which is to be 
developed progressively in men. " Since the time of the Incar 
nation the divine and the human nature began to be woven 
together, in order that the human nature might become divine 
through its communion with the more divine not only in Jesus 
but also in all those who along with belief receive life which 
Jesus taught. 1 ^Redemption is thus effected by joining in one 
the divine and the human nature. 

The death, too, was his own act. St Paul had written 
(Rom. 8 32 ) of the Father that he spared not his own Son, but 
delivered him up for us all; and Origen s comment on the 
passage is this. " The Son too gave himself unto death on 
behalf of us, so that he was delivered up not only by the Father 
but also by himself." 2 

This death is described as the chastisement which we de 
served, the discipline which was to lead to peace. He took our 
sins and was bruised for our iniquities, that we might be in 
structed and receive peace. 3 So the death is regarded as the 
expression of voluntary penance which cleanses 4 from sin, and 
in its inmost sense it must be experienced by every Christian, 
" So now if there be any one of us who recalls in himself the 
consciousness of sin, ... let him fly to penitence, and accept a 
voluntary doing to death of the flesh, that cleansed from sin 

ing that he could retain possession of the Son of God. (Contrast with Origen s 
words on the subject, Gregory of Nyssa s Airarr) rls ion rp6irov rivd on the part of 
God, that Jesus veiled his divine nature, which the devil would have feared, by 
means of his humanity, so that the devil was outwitted in spite of all his cunning. 

1 c. Cels. iii 28. 

2 In Matt. torn, xiii 8. 

3 In Joann. torn, xxviii 14 (Opp. iv p. 392, Migne). Thus he explains Isaiah s 
prophecy of the discipline of our peace being laid upon Christ as the chastisement 
due to us for our discipline, our peace-producing discipline, not a retributive 
punishment but a remedial chastisement. (This is Origen s conception of all 
punishment of sin, which therefore he could not think of as endless. ) 

4 Jesus, who alone was able to bear the sins of the whole world, also removed 
judgement from the whole world by his own perfect obedience. In this conception 
may be seen perhaps, in germ, the later Anselmic theory of the need of redemption 
by obedience paying back a debt to God, man having deprived him of honour by 
disobedience. For the stress laid on obedience by Irenaeus see supra p. 336. 


during this present life our spirit may find its way clean and 
pure to Christ." l This moral interpretation of the death of 
Christ is very significant. Its purpose, thus understood, was not 
to save us from suffering, but to shew us the true purpose of 
suffering, to lead us to accept it in a spirit of docility the 
spirit which transforms pain into gain. " For he did not die 
for us in order that we may not die, but that we may not die 
for ourselves. And he was stricken and spat upon for us, in 
order that we who had really deserved these things may not 
have to suffer them as a return for our sins, but suffering them 
instead for righteousness sake may receive them with gladness 
of heart." 2 

At the same time, the death is described as an atoning 
sacrifice for sin, resembling in kind, though infinitely transcend 
ing in degree, the sacrifices of those men who have laid down 
their lives for their fellow-men, and is designed to act as a 
moral lever to elevate the courage of his followers. 3 It is from 
this point of view a sacrifice to God, and on Kom. 3 24 he 
comments thus : " God set him forth as a propitiation, in order, 
that is, that by the sacrifice of his body he might make God 
propitious to men." And elsewhere he speaks of Christ as by 
his blood making God propitious to men and reconciling them to 
the Father. 4 This conception of a sacrifice to God he does not 
seem to bring into correspondence with the idea of a ransom to 
the devil ; and the allusion to a change effected by it in God s 
attitude to men, merely incidental and passing as it is, must be 
interpreted in harmony with his main conception, according to 
which he regularly ascribes the whole work of redemption to the 
love of God for men. 5 

From the time of Origen to the end of our period the two 
ideas of a ransom to Satan and a sacrifice to God remain un 
reconciled. 6 The idea that man needs to be rescued from the 

1 In Levit. Horn, xiv 4. 

2 In Matt. Comment, series 113, vol. iii p. 912 (Moberly op. cit.). Serm. in Matt. 

3 See in Num. Horn, xxiv 1 ; cf. torn, in Joann. xxviii 393 ; c. Gels, i 1, ii 17 

4 In Lev. Horn, ix 10. 

8 Similar expressions elsewhere (e.g. Iren. adv. Hacr. v 17. 1 propitians quidem 
pro nolis Patrem, and Ath. Or. c. Ar. ii 7) seem to shew that such language was 
not regarded as unnatural ; while at the same time it was kept subordinate to the 
idea of the love of God in sending His Son, and no theory of propitiation was framed. 

6 But a second attempt to mediate between the two notions was made by Athan- 


power of evil and the penalty of sin is dominant. It is in that 
need that the later Fathers find the reason for Christ s death as 
the only sufficient ransom that could be paid. And the power 
of evil is no abstract idea, but a personal power Satan, who is 
regarded as having acquired an actual right over men. This 
conception controlled the thought of the ages till the time of 
Anselm, along with the idea that the devil was deceived, and 
deceived by God, 1 as the explanation of the problem, although 
voices were raised against it. 

The conception was expressed more precisely a century after 
Origen by Gregory of ISTyssa and Kufinus, and repudiated at the 
same time by Gregory of Nazianzus. 2 

G-regory of Nyssa 

The theory that Gregory of Nyssa framed is in some respects 
so characteristic and won such long acceptance that it must be 
stated at some length. 3 He begins by shewing the reasonable 
ness of the Incarnation. Man had been created in the image of 
God, because the overflowing love of God desired that there 
should exist a being to share in His perfections. He was bound, 
therefore, to be endowed with the power of self-determination, 
and in virtue of this freedom was able to be misled and to 
choose evil rather than good (or, more accurately, to turn aside 
from good), inasmuch as having come into being, and so passed 
through a change, he was susceptible of further change. Such 
a change or deviation or fall from good took place, and to 
counteract its effects the Giver of life himself became man 
the divine nature was united to the human. How, we cannot 

asius when he emphasized the necessity of God s fulfilment of the sentence pronounced 
on Adam s sin. (It is deliverance from Death rather than from Satan that Athan- 
asius conceives as effected, see infra p. 345 n. 3.) 

1 The first trace of the idea that the Deceiver of man was himself in turn de 
ceived by God s plan of Redemption is to be found in the famous passage in the 
Ignatian Epistles (EpTi. 19) on the three secrets, wrought in the silence of God, which 
were to be proclaimed abroad, namely, the virginity of Mary, her child-bearing, and 
the death of the Lord. These, it is said, "deceived the prince of this world ". [Some 
would regard the idea as implied in St Paul s allusion to the rulers of this world 
(1 Cor. 2 8 ) to be interpreted as meaning not earthly rulers but spiritual powers 
(as it was by many ancient commentators). Ignatius has referred to the passage 
just before. (See Lightfoot s note I.e.).] 

1 For an excellent criticism of this theory see Oxenham op. cit. p. 150 ff. 

3 See the Oratio Catechetica, esp. chs. xxi-xxvi ed. J. H. Srawley (Eng. tr. in 
Gregory of Nyssa N. and P. -N.F. ). 


understand ; but the fact of the union in the person of Jesus is 
shewn by the miracles which he wrought. Human life was 
purged by this union and set free again to follow a course of 
freedom. This divine scheme of redemption must be character 
ised by all the attributes of the Deity, and display alike good 
ness and wisdom and power and justice. The first three were 
clearly shewn, it is in regard to the fourth that Gregory s 
exposition is most noticeable. Man was intended always to 
move in the direction of the highest moral beauty. But in the 
exercise of his own free will he had allowed himself to be 
diverted from the true line of developement and to be deceived 
by a false appearance of beauty. He had thus delivered himself 
over to the enemy (the devil) and bartered away his freedom. 
Justice therefore required that the recovery of his freedom 
should be effected by a transaction as voluntary on the side 
of the enemy as the fall had been on the side of man. Such 
a ransom must be paid as the master of the slave would agree 
to accept in exchange for his slave. In the Deity invested with 
flesh he recognized a unique object of desire, the flesh veiling 
the Deity sufficiently to preclude the fear which the devil 
would otherwise have felt. He eagerly accepted the proffered 
exchange, and, like a ravenous fish, having gulped down the bait 
of the flesh, was caught by the hook of the Deity which it 
covered. 1 That the wish to recover man proclaims the goodness 
of God, and the method adopted his power and wisdom, Gregory 
regards as obvious ; but he notes that some one might think that 
it was by means of a certain amount of deceit that God carried 
out this scheme on our behalf ; and that the veiling of the Deity 
in human nature was ( in some measure a fraud and a surprise . 
The deception he admits, and justifies. He argues that the 
essential qualities of justice and wisdom are to give to everyone 
his due, and at the same time not to dissociate the benevolent 
aim of the love of mankind from the verdict of justice ; and in 
this transaction both requirements were satisfied. The devil 
got his due, and mankind was delivered from his power. " He 
who first deceived man by the bait of sensual pleasure is himself 
deceived by the presentment of the human form." The deceiver 
was in his turn deceived this was entirely just, and the inven- 

1 This strange simile is found again in regard to Death, John Damasc. de 
Fid. iii 27. Leo (Serm. xxii 4) expresses himself to much the same effect as 


tion by which it was effected was a manifestation of supreme 
wisdom. 1 


A very similar account is given by Eufinus. He expresses 
his conception in his exposition of the Creed, 2 on the article 
He was crucified . . . He speaks of the Cross as a signal 
trophy, and token of victory over the enemy. By his death he 
brought three kingdoms at once into subjection under his sway 
things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the 
earth . And the reason why the special form of death the 
Cross was chosen was that it might correspond to the mystery : 
in the first place, being lifted up in the air and subduing the 
powers of the air, he made a display of his victory over those 
supernatural and celestial powers ; in the second place, all the 
day long he stretched out his hands to the people on the earth, 
making protestations to unbelievers and inviting believers ; and 
finally, by the part of the Cross which is sunk under the earth, 
he signified his bringing into subjection to himself the kingdoms 
of the nether world. Eufinus then touches on what he styles 
some of the more recondite topics, particularly how at the be 
ginning, having created the world, God set over it certain powers 
of celestial virtues, to govern and direct the race of mortal men. 
But some of these, particularly he who is called the Prince of 
this world, did not exercise the power committed to them as 
God intended, but on the contrary, instead of teaching men to 
obey God s commandment, taught them to follow their own 
perverse guidance. Thus we were brought under the bonds of 
sin. Christ triumphing over these powers delivered men from 
them, and brings them (who had wrongfully abused their 
authority) into subjection to men. And thus the Cross teaches 
us to resist sin even unto death, and willingly to die for the 
sake of religion ; and sets before us a great example of obedience, 
to be rendered even at the cost of death. 

Having laid down these main principles and lessons, Eufinus 
goes on to the special topic of the snare by which the Prince 

1 The crudity of Gregory s conception is somewhat modified by his comparison of 
God s act of deception with the procedure of the physician who deceives his patient 
for a beneficent purpose. Satan himself shall profit by the deception and be healed. 
See Or. Cat. xxvi. 

2 Rufinus Comm. in Syml. Apost. 14ff. 


of this world was overcome. " The object," he says, " of that 
mystery of the Incarnation which we expounded just now was 
that the divine virtue of the Son of God, as though it were a 
hook concealed beneath the fashion of human flesh (he being, 
as the Apostle Paul says, found in fashion as a man, Phil. 2 8 ), 
might lure on the Prince of this world to a conflict ; so that, 
offering his flesh as a bait to him, his divinity underneath might 
catch him and hold him fast with its hook, through the shedding 
of his immaculate blood. For he alone who knows no stain 
of sin hath destroyed the sins of all of those at least who have 
marked the doorposts of their faith with his blood. As, there 
fore, if a fish seizes a baited hook, it not only does not take the 
bait off the hook, but is itself drawn out of the water to be food 
for others ; so he who had the power of death seized the body of 
Jesus in death, not being aware of the hook of divinity enclosed 
within it; but, having swallowed it, he was caught forthwith; and 
the bars of hell being burst asunder, he was drawn forth as it 
were from the abyss to become food for others." And so it was 
not with any loss or injury to the divinity that Christ suffers in 
the flesh ; but by means of the flesh the divine nature descends 
to death in order to effect salvation by means of the weakness of 
the flesh not to be kept by death in its power as mortals are, 
but to rise again through his own power and open the gates of 
death ; just as a king might go to a prison and open the gates, 
and unlock the fetters, and bring out the prisoners and set them 
free, and so he would be said to have been in the prison, but not 
in the sense in which the others were. 

Gregory of Nazianzus 

The idea of a ransom paid to Satan was indignantly repudi 
ated by Gregory of Nazianzus, the intimate friend of Gregory of 
Nyssa. Head and heart alike reject it, though logic seems to 
require it. " We were," he says, 1 " under the dominion of the 

1 Orat. xlv 22. For an excellent criticism of the theory see Oxenham op. cit. 
p. 150 ff. It involves great difficulties, intellectual and moral. The notion of deception 
cannot be harmonized with the notion of a bargain struck and a price paid to satisfy 
a just claim. If the devil was tricked into forfeiting his just rights by grasping at 
rights where he had none, how was compensation made to him ? And how could the 
blood, or the soul, or the death, of the Redeemer be an equivalent to him at all for the 
empire which he lost, when it gave him no real power over him who only died to rise 
again at once from the dead. And again, the theory makes the God of truth choose 


wicked one, and ransom is always paid to him who is in posses 
sion of the thing for which it is due. Was the ransom then paid 
to the evil one ? It is a monstrous thought. If to the evil 
one what an outrage ! Then the robber receives a ransom, not 
only from God, but one which consists of God Himself, and for 
his usurpation he gets so illustrious a payment a payment for 
which it would have been right to have left us alone altogether." 
That, at all events, cannot be. Was it then paid to the Father ? 
But we were not in bondage to Him : and again, How could it 
be ? Could the Father delight in the blood of His Son ? 

Yet though his moral and intellectual insight led him 
surely to reject the notion of a ransom, either to the devil or 
to the- Father, Gregory has no certain positive answer to give. 
He can only fall back on the mystery of the economy of God. 
The Father received the sacrifice " on account of the providential 
plan, and because man had to be sanctified by the Incarnation, 
so that, having subdued the tyrant, he might deliver and recon 
cile us to himself by the intercession of his Son ". The death of 
Christ is thus regarded as a sacrifice offered to and accepted by 
the Father ; but no theory of satisfaction is put forward, and it 
would seem that the great theologian deprecated any closer 
scrutiny of the divine economy - 1 

No solution of these problems, it is true, was found by the 
thinkers of the Church of those days ; but it was not to such 
details, however important, that the greatest of them directed 
their deepest thought. 

As representatives of the best of that thought we may 

as his instrument deception, and represents the end as justifying the means (and a 
parallel is drawn between the deceit which ruined man and that which redeemed 
him). An unjust victory could confer no claims, nor could wrong, because successful, 
become the ground of an immoral right. And further, the theory implies the accept 
ance of dualism two independent powers set over against one another, a kingdom 
of light and a kingdom of darkness, with jurisdictions naturally limited by conflicting 
claims : instead of treating evil as a temporary interruption of the divine order. 

1 One striking passage, however, as Mr. C. F. Andrews has reminded me, must 
not be overlooked, viz. Or. xxx 5, 6 (The Theological Orations of Gregory ed. A. J. 
Mason p. 114 ff.). Gregory here emphasizes the representative character of the 
human experiences and sufferings of Christ the learning obedience , the strong 
crying , and the tears . *A dpa/j.arovpye iTai. /cat TrX^/cercu 6avfj,a<rlws virtp TJ/J-WV is the 
remarkable phrase he uses of them. The Saviour endures them as representing 
mankind : he makes what is ours his own, and his is ours in him. He imperson 
ates and plays the part of the human race, entering into a full realization of our 
circumstances. It is our state that is described and represented in his experiences ; 
and Gregory implies that, till we have fully made his experiences our own, our 
salvation is not fully accomplished we are not 


fairly take, among Greek Fathers, Athanasius, and among Latin, 
Augustine; and this sketch of the conceptions of Atonement 
which were prevalent among Christians during the first four 
centuries of the life of the Church may be concluded with a 
brief account of the ideas and teaching of Athanasius and 

Athanasius 1 

No more fresh and bracing treatment of the doctrine of the 
Atonement is to be found in the literature of the early Church 
than that which Athanasius gives in his writing On the Incarna 
tion of the Word. 2 The necessity for the redemption of men he 
finds in the goodness of God, and in this main thought he is 
entirely at one with Augustine. But his conception of good 
ness includes the consistency and honour of God, which make it 
requisite that his decrees should be maintained and put in force, 
and thus the principle of justice is recognized under the wider 
concept. He had appointed rational beings, his creatures, to 
share in his life, and he had ordained the sentence of death as 
the penalty of transgressions. 3 By transgression man lost the 
life which was ordained by the plan of God to be his, and re 
demption became necessary. But no plan of redemption would 
be admissible which did not do away with the transgression and 
also restore the life which had been lost (e.g. repentance would 
do the one, but could not avail to effect the other). 4 The only 
way in which the corruption, or mortality, of man could be over 
come was by the introduction of a new principle of life which 
should overpower and transform the corruption. As, therefore, 

1 See Harnack DG, Eng. tr. vol. iii p. 290 ff., and Moberly Atonement and 
Personality p. 349 ff. (a full and sympathetic and discriminating appreciation of 
the teaching of Athanasius). I cannot think that the tradition which ascribes 
this work to Athanasius has been in any way shaken by the elaborate arguments of 
Dr. Draseke (Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1893, and Zeitschriftf. tviss. Thcol. 1895). 

2 And in frequent references to the doctrine elsewhere, particularly in the 
Orations against the Arians, esp. ii 67-70. 

3 It is said that a personification of Death takes the place of the devil in the 
thought of Athanasius, and that his conception has thus much kinship with the idea of 
a ransom to the devil : but it will be seen that he has really very little in common with 
such an idea. It is nearer perhaps to the thought of Athanasius to describe the penalty 
as paid to the justice of God in close connexion with the demands of His veracity. 
But it is difficult to grasp exactly what Athanasius means by Death in this con 
nexion, if he had an exact idea himself. 

4 Athanasius speaks of it as unthinkable (&TOTTOV yv} that mere penitence should 
compensate for sin and restore the tainted nature. 


the Logos had originally made all things out of nothing; so it 
was fitting and necessary that he should take human nature 
to himself, and recreate it by assuming a human body, and 
once and for all overpowering in it the principle of death and 
corruption. This, therefore, is the first and chief effect of the 
Incarnation : l the principle of corruption is annihilated. And 
it is in virtue of the inherent relation of the Logos to the human 
race that he effects its restoration. 2 He is able to represent the 
whole race and to act on its behalf. 

To secure the purpose in view the death of the humanity 
thus assumed was necessary, to pay the debt that was due from 
all. 3 Exactly why, or how, Athanasius does not clearly define or 
discuss. But it is the death of all mankind that is owed, and it 
is the death of all mankind that is effected in his death. And, 
in like manner, in his conquest over death and the resurrection 
which ensued, it is the conquest and resurrection of all mankind 
that is achieved. And the death is called a sacrifice. The Logos 
is said to have " offered the sacrifice on behalf of all, giving up to 
death in the stead of all the shrine of himself (i.e. his human 
body or humanity), in order that he might release all from their 
liability and set them free from the old transgression, and shew 
himself stronger even than death, displaying his own body 
incorruptible as the first-fruits of the resurrection of all ". 3 So 
he suffers on behalf of all, and can be ambassador to the Father 
concerning all. 4 Athanasius does not expand the conceptions of 
debt and sacrifice . But his whole presentation of the matter 
shews that he regards the incarnate Logos as achieving all his 
work of redemption as the representative, not as the substitute, 
of man. 5 The argument is carefully elaborated, with the main 

1 See the famous simile in ch. ix. "Just as when a great king has entered 
some great city and takes up his dwelling in the houses in it, such a city is 
certainly deemed worthy of much honour, and no enemy or bandit any more attacks 
it and overpowers it, but it is counted worthy of all respect because of the king who 
has taken up his dwelling in one of its houses ; so it has happened in the case of the 
King of All. For since he came into our domain and took up his dwelling in a body 
like ours, attacks of enemies upon men have entirely ceased, and the corruption of 
death which of old prevailed against them has vanished away." 

2 See chs. iii and viii. 3 Ch. xx ; cf. Or. c. Ar. ii 69. 
4 Ch. vii ; cf. ch. ix. 

8 Phrases are used which by themselves might suggest substitution, but the 
whole drift of the argument shews that representation is meant. E.g. ch. ix 
7] Trpo<T(f>opa TOV Ka.Ta\\ri\ov, rb 6(f>ei\6/>oi>, avrtyvyov but they are virtp Travrwy. 
The phrase avrl ir&vruv is, I think, used once only (ch. xxi), and then in the mouth 
of an objector to the argument. 


purpose of shewing that no mere external act done by another 
would suffice. And elsewhere, in referring incidentally to the 
manner of redemption, Athanasius emphasizes the thought. 
" If the curse had been removed by a word of power, there 
would have been indeed a manifestation of the power of God s 
word ; but man would only have been (as Adam was before the 
fall) a recipient from without of grace which had no real place 
within his person ; for this was how he stood in Paradise. Or 
rather, he would have been worse off than this, inasmuch as he 
had already learned to disobey. If under these conditions he 
had again been persuaded by the serpent, God would have had 
again to undo the curse by a word of command ; and so the need 
would have gone on for ever, and men would never have got 
away one whit from the liability of the service of sin ; but for 
ever sinning they would for ever have needed to be pardoned, 
and would never have become really free, being flesh for ever 
themselves, and for ever falling short of the law because of the 
weakness of their flesh." 1 No eternal change, no remission of 
penalty or equivalent compensation, no fiat of God, no change in 
Him, if that were conceivable, would have sufficed : there was 
needed a change in man himself. And again : " That henceforth, 
since through him all died, the word of the sentence on man 
might be fulfilled (for in Christ all died ) ; and yet all might 
through him be made free from sin and the curse upon sin, and 
remain for ever truly alive from the dead and clothed in immor 
tality and incorruption." 2 It is not only the penalty for sin, but 
sin itself, from which man must be freed : the condition of dead- 
ness within him must be quickened into life. 3 This double end 
could only be achieved by one who could go through the process of 
dying, by which alone sin could be eliminated, and yet paradox 
as it sounds escape annihilation, and overpower death by a 
superior energy of life. So it was that the Logos, being the Son 
of the Father and incapable of death, " when He saw that there 
could be no escape for men from destruction without actually 
dying, . . . took to Himself a body which could die ; in order 
that this, being the body of the Logos who is over all, might 
satisfy death for all, and yet by virtue of the indwelling Logos 
might remain itself imperishable, and so destruction might be 

1 Or. c. Ar. ii 68 (Dr. Moberly s translation). 2 Ibid, ii 69. 

3 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa s idea that the ailing part must be touched in order to 
be healed Or. Cat. xxvii. 


averted from all by the grace of the resurrection. . . . Thus he 
abolished death at a stroke from his fellow-men by the offering of 
that which stood for all. . . . For the destruction which belongs 
to death has now no more place against men, because of the 
Logos who through the one body indwells in them." 1 This 
special immanence of the Logos in humanity since the Incarna 
tion is known and recognized by the presence of his Spirit in his 
followers. It is we ourselves who receive the grace. " By 
reason of our kinship of nature with his body we ourselves also are 
become a temple of God, and have been made from henceforth sons 
of God ; so that in us too now the Lord is worshipped, and those 
who see us proclaim, as the apostle said, that God is in truth 
in them ." 2 " The descent of the Spirit, which came upon him 
in Jordan, came really upon us, because it was our body that he 
bore. . . . When the Lord, as man, was washed in Jordan, it was 
we who were being washed in him and by him. And when he 
received the Spirit, it was we who were being made by him 
capable of receiving it." 3 

Such are the thoughts which specially characterize the teach 
ing of Athanasius and give it its peculiar value. But he does 
not, of course, ignore other aspects of the work of Christ, and he 
lays particular stress on his mission of revelation of God. 
Through the Incarnation of the Logos the true knowledge of God, 
which they had lost, was restored to men. They had not been 
able to recover it from the works of God in creation ; they had 
their eyes cast downwards, fallen low down in the depths as 
they were, and looking for him only in the objects of sense. 4 
Therefore the compassionate Saviour of all, the Logos of God, 
took to himself a body and lived as a man among men, and 
assumed the experiences which are common to all men, in order 
that they who conceived that God was to be found in the domain 
of the body might perceive the truth from the actions of the 
Lord through the body, and thus by those means might form a 
conception of the Father." 5 So, as Athanasius holds, in one 
who lived among them under the same conditions as their own, 
one who was at the same time God, it was possible for men to 

1 Ch. ix. That all his experiences are really in a true sense ours, and that his 
immanence in humanity is of widest consequence, is further argued Or. c. Ar. i 41, 
iii 33, iv 67. 

2 Or. c. Ar. i 43. 8 Ibid, i 47 ; and again ibia. ii 48, 49. 
4 De Incarn. ch. xiv. 6 Ibid. ch. xv. 


gain a true knowledge of God, which they could not have gained 
in any other way. The invisible thus became visible, and made 
himself known as he really was. 

So, at the end of his book, Athanasius sums up his exposition. 
" He became man, in order that we might become divine ; and he 
manifested himself through the body, in order that we might get 
a conception of the unseen Father ; and he endured the outrage 
which befell him at the hands of men, in order that we might 
inherit immortality." l 

Augustine s Conception 

Augustine was perhaps the first of the Fathers to definitely 
face the question Cur Deus Homo? which was to occupy the 
acutest minds of the Middle Ages, and to attempt to shew the 
inherent necessity of the particular form of Atonement which 
was adopted. His discussion of the question is incidental, in 
connexion with his exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity and 
the analogies to illustrate it which are furnished by the pheno 
mena of human thought and other experiences. 2 

He states the objection which was already urged Had God 
no other way of freeing men from the misery of this mortality 
than by willing that the only-begotten Son God co-eternal with 
Himself should become man and, being made mortal, endure 
death ? In reply, it is not enough, he says, to shew that this 
mode is good and suitable to the dignity of God : we must shew 
that there was not, and need not have been, any other more 
appropriate mode of curing our misery. 3 This he aims at shew 
ing by pointing to the primary condition of our rescue. The first 
thing to do was to build up our hope and free us from despair. 
The most effective means of doing this was to shew us at how 
great a price God rated us, and how greatly He loved us ; and in 
no way could this be shewn more clearly than by the Son of God 
entering into fellowship with our nature and bearing our ills. 
Good deserts of our own we have none they are all His gifts. 
We were sinners and enemies of God. But through the means 

1 De Incarn. ch. liv. 2 De Trinitate xiii 13 ff. 

8 It is in this sense that the Fathers of this time speak of the necessity of the 
particular mode of atonement which was adopted, not as absolute but as conditioned 
by God s purposes. That God might have chosen other methods is recognized by 
all. (See Oxenham op. cit. p. 149.) 


devised we are saved : we are justified by the blood, and recon 
ciled by the death, of the Son of God ; we are saved from wrath 
through him, saved by his life. 

Augustine then faces the difficulty How are we justified 
in his blood what power is there in the blood ? and how are 
we reconciled by the death of the Son ? It could not be as 
though God the Father was wroth, and was appeased by the 
death of His Son ; for on that supposition the Son must have been 
already appeased, and there would be implied a conflict between 
the Father and the Son. And St Paul (Rom. 8 31 > 32 ) represents 
the Father as delivering up His Son, not sparing him so shew 
ing that the Father was already appeased. And indeed there 
could be no doubt that God had always loved us. And the 
Father and the Son work all things together harmoniously and 
equally (there could be no kind of conflict or difference between 
them). We must look elsewhere for the solution of the problem. 

The fact is, that the human race was delivered over into the 
power of the devil by the justice of God, inasmuch as the sin of 
the first man passed over by nature l into all who are born by 
natural process from him, and the debt incurred by the first 
parents binds all their posterity. But though the race was de 
livered over to the power of the devil, yet it did not pass out 
of God s goodness and power. And as surely as the commission 
of sins subjected man to the devil, through the just anger of 
God ; so surely the remission of sins rescues man from the devil, 
through the gracious reconciliation of God. 

But further reasons for the Incarnation may be seen. 
Justice (righteousness) is greater than might, and it pleased God 
that the devil should be conquered by justice rather than by 
might, so that men also, imitating Christ, might seek to conquer 
the devil by righteousness rather than by might. And the way 
in which the devil was conquered was this. Though finding in 
Christ nothing worthy of death, he slew him : he shed innocent 
blood, taking that which was not owed him ; and so it was mere 
justice that he should be required to surrender and set free those 
who were owed to him the human race over whom he had 
acquired rights. 

Christ the Saviour had to be man in order to die, and he 

1 The word used is originaliter. It is explained immediately as meaning by 
nature , i.e. as it has been depraved by sin, not as created upright (recta) at the 


had to be God in order to prove that the choice of righteousness 
was spontaneous (i.e. to shew that the Saviour could have chosen 
the way of might rather than the way of justice) ; and this volun 
tary humility made the righteousness the more acceptable. 

Although it was only death for a time that the devil secured, 
the blood of Christ was of such price that release from sins was 
fairly bought by it. The death of the flesh and other ills still 
remain for man, even when sin is forgiven ; but they give oppor 
tunity for pious endurance, and set off the blessedness of eternity. 

The manner in which it was all accomplished was also a 
great example of obedience to us : and it was fair that the devil 
should be conquered by one of the same rational race as that 
which he held in his power. 

Augustine s main conceptions of the Atonement are clearly 
revealed in this discussion. The claims of the devil are recog 
nized ; and the death of Christ has for its final end the release 
of mankind from the devil s power. The satisfaction of justice is 
in view throughout. There is a great principle involved. Might 
could have set aside the claims of justice, but G-od s action is 
determined by right. Above all else, it is the love of God for 
men that is the motive power that originates and guides the 
whole plan of redemption. Certainly, Augustine had no concep 
tion of an angry God needing to be appeased. It is only on the 
part of man that love is wanting ; and the plan of Atonement was 
chosen just because it was peculiarly fitted to reveal to men the 
depth of the love of God, and so to arouse in them a correspond 
ing emotion. 1 

From this review of the teaching of the Church it will be 
seen that there is only the most slender support to be found in 

1 Harnack (DGf. Eng. tr. vol. iii p. 313) describes the propitiation of an angry 
God by a sacrificial death as the characteristic Latin conception of the work of Christ. 
It is clearly not the conception of Augustine. As to the conceptions of Tertullian and 
Cyprian see supra p. 333. With the passage cited above may be compared the treat 
ment of the passage John 17 21 29 (Tract, in Joh. ex 6) : "For it was not from the time 
that we were reconciled unto Him by the blood of His Son that He began to love us ; but 
He loved us before the foundation of the world. . . . Let not the fact, then, of our 
having been reconciled to God through the death of His Son be so listened to, or 
understood, as if the Son reconciled us unto Him in such wise that He now began to 
love those whom He formerly hated, as enemy is reconciled to enemy, so that on 
that account they become friends and mutual love takes the place of mutual hatred ; 
but we were reconciled unto Him who already loved us, but with whom we were at 
enmity because of our sins." 


the earliest centuries for some of the views that became current 
at a later time. It is at least clear that the sufferings of Christ 
were not regarded as an exchange or substitution of penalty, or 
as punishment inflicted on him by the Father for our sins. 
There is, that is to say, no idea of vicarious satisfaction, either in 
the sense that our sins are imputed to Christ and his obedience 
to us, or in the sense that God was angry with him for our sakes 
and inflicted on him punishment due to us. Wherever language 
that seems to convey such notions is used, it is safeguarded by 
the idea of our union with Christ, so peculiarly close and 
intimate that we are sharers in his obedience and his passion, 
and only so far as we make them our own do we actually 
appropriate the redemption which he won for us. Also, in spite 
of a phrase or two suggesting another conception, it is clear that 
the main thought is that man is reconciled to God by the Atone 
ment, not God to man. The change, that is, which it effects 
is a change in man rather than a change in God. It is God s 
unchangeable love for mankind that prompts the Atonement 
itself, is the cause of it, and ultimately determines the method 
by which it is effected. 

Furthermore in the light of the teaching which has been 
reviewed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the death 
was regarded as in itself of high value and importance as an 
integral part of the work of Atonement and not only as the 
entrance to a new and greater life. 

As to the scope of the Atonement, no limit seems to have 
been thought of (except by the Gnostics) till the theory of pre 
destination was worked out. Kedemption was effected for all 
men (according to Origen, for all rational orders of being), though 
individuals must come within the range of its influence by an 
act of volition (and Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, at least, be 
lieved that ultimately all men would be redeemed). The theory 
of predestination carries with it a limitation of the scope of the 
Redeemer s work, however the limitation may be disguised. 


In the foregoing review of early conceptions of the Atonement no 
notice has been taken of heretical thought upon the subject. It is, 
however, worth noting briefly in what points the doctrine would be affected 
by the different christological conceptions of some of the leading heretics. 


E.g. to Gnostics, who denied the reality of the human nature, the suffer 
ings which were only apparent could have no value or effect of any kind : 
redemption was accomplished by teaching, by knowledge. To Ebionites, 
who acknowledged the human nature only, the death of Christ could 
not be regarded as availing for others : the infinite value attributed to 
his acts and sufferings as man, in virtue of the hypostatic union of the 
divine and the human, could not enter into their conception of the 
matter. The Arians conceived of Christ as a supernatural being sent 
to announce redemption, and put the reconciliation in the bare pro 
clamation of forgiveness. Apollinarian teaching, as it was understood, 
excluding the human soul from the constituents of the Redeemer s 
person, deprived him of one of the chief qualifications for his 
mediatorial work and made him unable to act as the representative of 
men. The Nestorian conception of the junction of two persons was 
inconsistent with the idea of the true reconciliation of God and man as 
actually effected in the Incarnation, while a similar consequence followed 
from the confusion of the substances involved in the teaching of 
Eutyches (see also supra pp. 247, 274). 


Tertullian and Cyprian 

Tertullian s conception of merit is based on the idea that in some 
spheres of life and conduct God imposes no law on men. He wills , it 
is true, some things ; but He permits others. Man is therefore free, 
either to avail himself of this permission (indulgentia) and follow his 
own natural inclinations, or to forgo what God permits and follow 
instead the guidance of His will (voluntas). That is to say, he can 
choose between the indulgentia and the voluntas of God. And to forgo 
what He permits, and to follow instead what He wills, is to acquire 

It is, of course, self-evident that no one may do what God has 
directly forbidden. Tertullian treats it as equally self-evident that it is 
possible for a man to do meritorious acts, and on the strength of them 
have a claim for reward from God ; because to take advantage of God s 
indulgentia (or permissio or licentia) is in no way sin. It may at times 
be even good, relatively to actual sin ; though there is a better, i.e. a 
good in the full sense of the word, viz. abstinentia. God gives the 
opportunity both to use and not to use, and our choice not to use earns 
us merit. 

This earning of merit through renouncing that which is allowed by 
the indulgentia Dei and doing instead the voluntas Dei is, however, 
passive in character. In contrast with it is the active presentation of 
the matter, viz. the doctrine of merit resting on the idea of satisfactio, 

2 3 


This idea depends on other considerations. God is the lawgiver before 
whose authority man must bow in unconditional obedience. His will 
is set before men in the Old and in the New Testament (both of which 
Tertullian styles lex], and in the order of Nature, as also in the ecclesi 
astical discipline and in the tradition. Herein, from these sources of 
knowledge, can be found what is pleasing to God and what is not 
pleasing but forbidden. To satisfy or content God is to do what is 
pleasing to Him, and not to do what is forbidden. Otherwise a sin is 
incurred. No recourse to the indulgence of God is admitted here. But 
men are always falling into sin, and each sin incurs guilt, and God in 
accordance with His righteousness must take vengeance, must exact 
punishment. (Baptism washes away inherited sin and all sins actually 
committed by the individual before baptism, but after baptism a man 
must do God s will must satisfy God or he ceases to be a Christian.) 
The punishment, the suffering which is due for sin committed, man can 
take voluntarily upon himself. It is accepted by God as equivalent to 
the fulfilment of the law, and in this way man can in effect fulfil the 
law and escape God s punishment. This satisfactio may be accomplished 
in various ways e.g. by bodily castigation, by fasting, by voluntarily 
stripping oneself of wealth, in order to give alms and endure poverty, 
and especially by death in martyrdom. All such satisfying suffering is 
a debt due to God, by which the deficit on man s part is balanced (it 
is styled pro Deo, pro Christo). It is an expiatory sacrifice, and the 
amount of the sacrifice required is in exact correspondence with the 
offence. If more than is needed is offered, the surplus is deemed a 
meritorious offering or good work (bonum opus), and counts as merit. 
These bona opera put God in our debt (habent Deum debitor em). 

The religious motive which prompts us to acquire merit with God is 
furnished by the hope of temporal and eternal reward on the one hand, 
and the fear of temporal and eternal punishment on the other hand ; of 
both of which reward and punishment there will be various grades, 
proportioned to the merit or guilt acquired here. 

Such, in outline, is the doctrine of merit which is expressed and 
implied in Tertullian s writings ; which Cyprian reproduced, and which 
through Cyprian so profoundly affected the ethical system of the Church 
of the West in later times. 

Tertullian was the first to formulate the conception, while Cyprian 
was the first to naturalize it fully in the system of church doctrine. 

Two presuppositions of the doctrine must, of course, be borne in 
mind : (1) it is only man regenerate by baptism who is thought of as 
able to do good works (all that Tertullian and Cyprian say on the 
subject has reference only to those who have undergone the supernatural 
change of moral personality which they believed the sacrament of 
baptism effected) ; (2) there is no suggestion that the baptized Christian 


who does good works has any claim for reward apart from God s own 

An important developement of the conception is to be noted in the 
teaching of Cyprian, for whom, it will be remembered, the question how 
to deal with Christians under penance, or even excommunicate, to whom 
martyrs or confessors had given libelli pads, was a very pressing practical 
difficulty. It is possible, he held, by special sanctity (or by martyrdom) 
to acquire an accumulation of merit over and above what is needed for 
the highest grade of the heavenly reward. This surplus of merit may 
pass over to the benefit of others, through the intercession of those to 
whose credit it stands ; though the benefit can only be obtained by an 
act of God s grace, conditioned by the relative worthiness of those for 
whom intercession is made by the saints. He can grant indulgence and 
He can refuse it : and the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church 
may be used as the means through which He gives it. The efficacy of 
the intercession of the Saints shews itself in two ways : here, on earth, 
in the restoration of the fallen to the privileges of church membership ; 
and afterwards, on the Judgement day, when the merits of the martyrs 
and the works of the just may have great weight with the Judge. 

It is evident that all the germs of the mediaeval theory are here. 
Such scriptural basis as they have is to be found in passages in the 
Gospels in which a reward is promised, so that if by the grace of God 
the conditions are fulfilled the reward may be claimed; in St Paul s 
teaching to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7), where he draws a distinction 
between the commandment of the Lord (praeceptum) and his own 
judgement or advice (consilium) all must obey praecepta, but in matters 
with regard to which there were no praecepta special merit might be 
acquired by doing more than was obligatory ; and in passages such as 
Kom. 12 5 , 1 Cor. 12 26 , Col. I 24 which seem to imply that the faith and 
piety and good works and sufferings, done and borne in Christ, of some 
of the members of his Body the Church may in some sense pass over 
to and affect the condition of others, who are united to them in so close 
and intimate a union. 

An admirable collection of the passages in the writings of Tertullian 
and Cyprian which shew their conceptions will be found in Der 
Verdienst -Begriffty Dr. Wirth (Leipzig 1892 and 1901), on whose 
exposition this note is based. For some considerations which would 
modify his presentation of the matter as a whole, see a notice of his 
work contributed to the Church Quarterly Review October 1902 p. 207, 
a considerable part of which is here reproduced. 



OF the doctrine of the Church, as of other doctrines which have 
been reviewed, there was for some time no clear definition 
framed. The limit-line was not drawn. There was a general 
sentiment about it, in keeping with the conceptions expressed in 
the New Testament, but it was not easily fixed in words. 

Till the time of Cyprian no special treatise on the Church 
was written, and the general sentiment about it must be gathered 
from the evidence of incidents and occasional phrases and 
allusions. 1 It must also be remembered that whatever im 
portance was attributed to the Sacraments attached also to the 
Church, without which the Sacraments could not be had; 2 
and that, when evidence of definite theories as to the powers 
of the Church is wanting, practical proof of her authority over 
her members was being given all along in the system of disci 
pline and penance which however great its developements in 
later ages was in existence from the earliest times. 3 

The idea of a new spiritual society which was potentially 
world-wide, united by a common faith and worship and pledged 
to definite moral standards of life, enjoying a real spiritual union 
with Christ himself, permeated and sustained by the Holy 
Spirit and his various gifts of grace, is implied from the first. 4 

This new spiritual society was the visible organization to 
which baptism gave admission. The attempt to distinguish 

1 Any attempt at summary statement must therefore be received with caution 
as e.g. in regard to Clement Al. infra p. 362. 

2 This was clearly seen in the matter of heretical baptism. No Church, there 
fore no Sacrament. See infra p. 386. 

3 See infra p. 372. 

4 See the picture of a Church as it should be in the Epistle of Clement 1, 2, 59. 
Cf. Didache 9, 10 ; Barn. Ep. 3, 6. All were brethren according to the spirit and 
in God (Aristides Apol. 15). Mutual love was, to outsiders, the most striking 
feature of the society. They were a new people. 



between the two, to recognize an invisible Church within the 
visible, does not belong to the earliest thought. Precise 
definition is indeed wanting, but the Church is regarded 
always as at once a spiritual society and an external organ 
isation. Though St Paul addressed the first generation of 
Christians as saints or holy , it is clear from his letters 
to them that they were so potentially only, and that he applied 
the term to them as set apart (called out from the rest of men) 
for a holy purpose, rather than possessed of personal holiness. 1 

The authority of the Church was guaranteed ultimately by 
its connexion with the Holy Spirit himself ; but the continuity of 
this authority was preserved through the bishops, the successors 
of the Apostles, or the living representatives of Christ upon earth. 
It was this unbroken succession that gave the assurance that 
the Church was still the society founded by Christ. 2 

It was in and through this Society and its ordinances that all 
the benefits of the life and death of Christ were to be obtained. 3 
In the Society were vested all the means of grace. 

The four epithets which were at a later time applied to 
the Church one, holy, catholic, apostolic truly represent the 
earliest conceptions, although the experience of growth and 
new conditions of life and controversy gave fresh force and 
meaning to some of them as time went on. 

We may, accordingly, simply note a few characteristic ex 
pressions of the earlier writers, and consider a little more fully 
the more exact and elaborate treatment of the matter by the later 
writers, who set themselves the task of expounding a definite 
theory in view of opinions or actions that threatened disunion 
and disruption. 


Thus Ignatius insists above all else on the unity of the 
Church, the security for which he finds in the bishop, who is 
the representative of Christ, or God, and the head of the 

1 Set apart , devoted to sacred purposes is the primary meaning of 

The problem how to reconcile the holiness of the society as a whole with the 
unholiness of its individual members was bound to arise ; but the relation 
between the true body and the mixed body (corpus verum and corpus per- 
mixt^(,m) was thoroughly considered for the first time by Augustine in the con 
troversy with the Donatists. See infra p. 369 n. 1. 

2 See infra and Note on the Bishops as centre of the Church p. 373. 

3 Of. e.g. the African Creeds, remissionem peccatorum . . . et vitam aetemam 
per sanctam ccclesiam (Hahn 3 pp. 59 ff. ). 


organization, administration, discipline, and worship of each 
local Church. 1 The bishop and, with him, the body of presbyters 
and deacons are essential to the existence of a Church. Apart 
from them the Sacraments cannot be validly performed. The 
bishop is, he argues, the centre of each individual church, as 
Jesus Christ is the centre of the Catholic Church. 2 

The people must be united to the bishop as the Church is to 
Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father. And as he insists 
thus strongly that the bishop is the head of the local church, 
so he shews, by an incidental allusion, that he is familiar with 
the conception of the relation between Christ and the Church 
as that of the Head to the Body. 3 The Body is to be charac 
terized by the incorruptibility of the Head; but it is itself 
composed of various members whose union is guaranteed by 

1 It is clear the conception is the same whether the bishop s charge (the 
Church of which ho is chief) bo merely a town and its vicinity, as in the time 
of Ignatius, or a larger area like the diocese of a later age ; and whether the 
presbyters and deacons are expressly included or not. See further Note on the 
Bishops as the Centre of Union of the Church infra p. 373. 

2 Nearly every letter has repeated statements and exhortations to this effect. 
See e.g. Eph. 5, 6 ; Smyrn. 8 ; Trail. 2, 3 ; Magn. 3, 6 ; Philad. 7. This 
(ad Smyrn. 8) is the first instance of the use of the epithet Catholic (universal) 
applied to the Church. The word was in common use in the sense of universal 
or general as opposed to partial or particular ; and Ignatius follows here the 
current usage. "Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the universal Church" so 
Ignatius writes, and therefore (though he expresses himself in the form of exhor 
tation), wherever the bishop is seen, there is the body of Christian people which 
constitutes a particular local church. That is to say, just as the Church universal 
spread throughout the world is to be recognized by the presence of Jesus Christ, 
so the church particular is to be known by the presence of the bishop (that is, the 
bishop and the congregation that gathers round him is the local church not 
the congregation without the bishop). This is the primary sense of the words 
Catholic Church , denoting extension over space. So it is used again in the 
Letter of the Symrnaeans inscr. 8, 19. But in view of heresies, or errors of 
particular bodies of men or churches, it soon acquired a special doctrinal sense. 
The appeal is made to the consensus fidclium, the Church universal, against the 
opinions of individuals. And so, a little later, this technical sense, denoting 
doctrinal exactitude and fullness of truth, as contrasted with inaccuracy and error 
or partial understanding, is found in the Muratorian Fragment of the Canon, 
which declares of heretical writings that they cannot be received into the Catholic 
Church. Cf. also Clem. Al. Strom, vii 17. The two ideas of local extension and 
comprehensiveness of doctrine (or orthodoxy ) remained combined, and later writers 
delighted to draw out still deeper meanings of the word. Cf. Cyril of Jerusalem 
Cat. xviii 33, cited infra p. 366. 

3 Eph. 17, "the Lord received the ointment upon his head, in order that he 
might breathe the odour of incorruptibility upon his (the) Church." See Von der 
Goltz Texte u. Unters. xii 3, and J. H. Srawley Epistles of St Ignatius S.P.C.K. 
ad loc. 


their relation to the Head. 1 They must be seen as true branches 
of his Cross, bearing incorruptible fruit. 

Again and again Ignatius insists on the need for visible 
unity. He knows nothing of any distinction between a visible 
and an invisible Church. Just as all through his teaching he 
insists on the Incarnation as the very union of the seen and 
the unseen, of the flesh and the spirit, of man and God; so 
that Jesus Christ is really God existing as man, the spiritual 
revealed in the material, the unseen become seen ; so the Church 
is at once both flesh and spirit, and its union is the union of 
both. 2 The Church thus clearly represents to Ignatius the very 
principle of which the Incarnation is the great expression, and 
in and through its unity that principle is set forth. The life of 
faith and love to which Christians are pledged is a practical 
evidence of the union of spirit and flesh, 3 but it is in the Church 
itself that the union is most manifestly realized. 

The independence of local churches under their bishops, and 
at the same time the intimate interdependence of one Church on 
another, and the closeness of the tie of brotherhood which bound 
them together the consciousness of essential union in one society 
is plainly revealed in these letters of Ignatius. The Church 
as a whole is, as it were, focused in each particular Church. 

Irenaeus the Church as Teacher and Guardian of the Faith 

Another point of view comes before us in the writings of 

The needs of his argument against heresies of various kinds 
led Irenaeus to speak of the Church, particularly in its aspect 
as a teacher, as the home of faith the treasure-house amply 
filled by the Apostles, so that every one who will may take from 
it the draught of life. It is the entrance to life : and had there 
been no writings left to future generations by the Apostles the 
traditional teaching preserved in the Church would have sufficed. 4 

1 See esp. Trail. 11. a Eph. 10, Magn. 13, Smyrn. 12. 

8 Heretics, who fail to realize this, prove themselves thereby opposed to the 
mind or purpose of God Smyrn. 6. Cf. Eph, 14. 

4 Adv. Haer. iii 4. 1 ; cf. iv. 48. 2, where he sees in Lot s wife, become a pillar 
of salt, a type of the Church which is the salt of the earth, and is left behind on 
the confines of the world, enduring all that falls to human lot. And, often as 
members are taken from her, she yet remains whole a pillar of salt, the strength 
of the faith, strengthening and sending on her sons to their Father. 


This teaching of the faith (always and everywhere constant and 
persistent, always young and strong, endowed with perennial 
youth, and making the vessel in which it is young) is a trust 
committed to the Church by God, to give life to all that share 
it. 1 It is only in the Church that communion with Christ, i.e. 
the Holy Spirit, can be obtained the Holy Spirit which is 
the guarantee of immortality, the security of our faith, and the 
ladder by which we mount to God. Where the Church is, 
there too is the Spirit of God: and where the Spirit of God 
is, there is the Church and every operation of grace ; and the 
Spirit is Truth. 2 Those who do not share in that are without 
the vital nourishment of their mother s milk and the pure 
waters that flow from the body of Christ. They are aliens 
from truth, and doomed to wander in all directions. They have 
no rock as their foundation, but only sand and stones. The 
light of God never shines upon them. 3 

The true Church is distinguished by its unity. Though 
diffused through the whole inhabited world to the ends of the 
earth, it has one and the same faith everywhere, derived from 
the Apostles. 4 

It is endowed with miraculous powers to cleanse from evil 
spirits, to foresee the future, to heal the sick, and even to raise 
the dead : and all these spiritual gifts it ministers freely, as 
freely it received them. 5 So it follows that, inasmuch as the 
Church alone has the true faith, it alone can bear witness to 
it; and so it is only the Church that can furnish examples 
of true martyrdom for the love it has toward God. 6 

Tertuttiaris Conception of the Church 

Tertullian has much in common with Irenaeus, though he 
deals with fresh aspects of the matter. His conceptions under 
went a change after his conversion to Montanism. In his 
earlier days, against heretics, he defended the claim of the 
Church to be the sole repository of the truth, the witness 
and keeper of holy writ , in such a sense that no one outside 
the Church had any right to attempt to put his own inter- 

1 See adv. Haer. i 3, 4 ; iii 12. 9 ; v 20. So the magisterium and the charisma 
veritatis, a succession of truth, belong to the bishops. 

2 Adv. Haer. iii 38. 1. 3 Ibid, iii 38. 2. 4 Ibid, i 2, etc. 
6 Ibid, ii 48. 3, 4 ; 49. 3. 6 Ibid, iv 54. 


pretation on it. As the Church is made up of many individual 
Churches, the test of truth is ultimately to be found in the 
consent of those which were of apostolic foundation, which 
received, that is, their doctrine from the Apostles, who received 
it from Christ, as Christ received it from God. Yet many 
Churches of much later origin, which can point to no apostolic 
founder but agree in the same faith, deserve the name in 
virtue of this consanguinity of doctrine. 1 From this point of 
view the chief function of the Church is the preservation of 
the first tradition, which is derived from God through Christ 
and the Apostles. The Church has thus a divine origin and a 
divine authority. No mention is made of the bishops ; but it 
is essentially a visible external Church that Tertullian has in 
view, and its rulers were bishops. 

In other connexions he shews, by a merely incidental 
reference, that the conception of the Church as the body of 
Christ was familiar to him. In baptism, he says, 2 not only 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are named, but also the Church ; 
because wherever there are the three, Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit, there is the Church, which is the Body of the Three. 

And quite in keeping with the general thought that under 
lies this saying is another incidental description of the Church 
in connexion with the first clause of the Lord s Prayer. As we 
therein recognize God as our Father in heaven (and in invoking 
Him address at the same time the Son who is one with Him), 
so we have in mind the Church our Mother. 3 That is to say, 
Tertullian conceives of the motherhood of the Church as corre 
sponding upon earth to the Fatherhood of God in heaven, as 
though without the agency of the Church we could not have 
the Fatherhood of God. It is through her that we become 
his sons. 

Later, when a Montanist, 4 Tertullian still conceived only of 
an outward visible Church ; but, as a spiritual society essentially 
pure and holy and undefiled, it must be composed exclusively 
of spiritual men. The Church, he declares, is in its essential 
nature and fundamentally Spirit : Spirit in which exists a 
Trinity of one and the same divinity Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit. . . . Accordingly the whole number of those who agree 
together in this faith in the Trinity are counted as the Church 

1 Depracscr. haeret. 21, 32, 37. a De Bapt. 6. 3 De Oral. 2. 

4 See especially de Pudidtia 21, and the whole argument. 


by its founder and sanctifier. To this Church belongs the power 
of forgiveness of sins but it is a Church which is Spirit and 
acts through a spiritual man, not a Church which consists in a 
body of bishops. For the right of decision is the Lord s, and not 
his servant s : it belongs to God Himself, and not to His priest. 

Here, then, we have Tertullian utterly repudiating the 
theory that any but the spiritually minded could ever con 
stitute the Church, and insisting that episcopal office in itself 
conferred no authority to absolve from sin. 

It is thus entirely a spiritual and inward criterion that he 
adopts, though it is not obvious how the test would be applied. 
Only, it is clear that he finds no guarantee in the outward 
organization and the continuity of bishops. 1 

It was in the West always, rather than in the East, that 
the social conceptions which underlie any idea of the Church 
were felt with most force ; and if we turn from Tertullian in 
Africa to his contemporaries in the East to Clement, for 
example, at Alexandria, we do not find much help towards a 
clearer definition. 

Clement and Origen 

To Clement 2 every person who has been baptized, and has not 
forfeited the privileges which were then obtained by any judicial 
sentence, is a member of the Church on earth the one, true, 
ancient catholic apostolic Church, 3 a c lovely body and assemblage 
of men governed by the Word , the Company of the Elect , the 
Bride of Christ, the Virgin Mother, stainless as a Virgin, loving 
as a Mother. But that Clement s chief thought of the Church 
was as the mystical Body of Christ 4 is shewn by the distinction 

1 It is noteworthy that in this connexion he insists that the Lord s sayings to 
Potcr were to him personally, and that the bishops or Church of Eome (of whom 
he is writing) have no right to take them to themselves. To regard the authority 
and powers entrusted to Peter as extending to others is to change the plain 
intention of the Lord who said, On thee I will build my Church and I will 
the keys to thee , not to the Church (de Pudicitia 21). With this interpretation 
cf. the view of Cyprian (infra p. 364) that the commission and the authority was 
given equally and fully to all the Apostles and their successors the bishops. 
Tertullian and Cyprian are at one in rejecting the idea that any special authority 
or power was inherited by Peter s successors in the Roman see. 

2 See C. Bigg The Christian Platonists of Alexandria p. 100 f. 

3 Strom, vii 17 (Migne ix p. 548). Other references given by Bigg (p. 99) are 
Strom, vii 26, vii 5, iii 6, 11 ; Pacd. i 6. 

4 Strom, vii 14 (Migne ix p. 521). 


which he recognized between the persons, the members, compos 
ing it a distinction corresponding to that between the flesh and 
the spirit. Those who, though members of the Body, still live as 
do the Gentiles are the flesh ; those who truly cleave to the Lord 
and become one spirit with Him the Sons of God, the Gnostics 
are the Holy Church, the Spirit. This Church, which is thus 
composed of those who are called and saved, is the realized pur 
pose of God. 1 On the oneness of the Church he naturally lays 
stress in this connexion. The Virgin Mother is one, alone ; just 
as the Father is one, and the Word one, and the Holy Spirit one 
and the same everywhere. 

Yet the distinctions he marks almost amount to a division 
of the one Church into two parts. He does not seem to attempt 
any real reconciliation of the antithesis. 

Origen certainly insi