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LADY Margaret's pbofessor ok divinmtv amd 




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First Published . , . September loth iqcg 
Second Edition .... iqio 







In the preparation of tliis volume the writer has been guiderl 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 doctrine;^ into 
the terms of the new knowledge, it seems certain that the woi-k 
of the great leaders of Christian thought in the interpretation of 



the Gospel dnrinj: iho earlier ages can never be stipersedcd. 
They were failed UiK)n, 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 wiiieh human speeulMlion and experience 
have framed in exi)lanation of the mystery of human life; and 
the conclusions which they reached must still be at least the 
stJUting-jMjint for any further advance towards niore complete 
solution of the prol>lem8 with which they had to deal. Chris- 
tians, whether conservative or prof^ressive, will find in the study 
of the course through which doctrines were evolved their 
strongest stay and safeguard. 

On the one iiand, if defence of Christian doctrines l)e 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 
ottered 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 pri\'ilege 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 TJie 
Gospel of Life. 't^ 

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 Hageubach wrote.^ He will learn a great deal also from 
Dorner's Doctrine of tM 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 Exposit/ion 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.^ 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 (BiUiothek der Syml)ole 
und Glauhensregeln 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 Eev. 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 

' If he reads German he will do well to tum to Loofs' Leitfaden zum Studium 
der Dogmengeschichte? (Ritschlian), Seeberg's Lehrlnich (Protestant), and Schwane's 
Dogmen^eschichte^ (Roman Catholic). For introduction to the chief patristic 
writings he may consult Bardenhewer's Patrologie, or Swete's Patristic Stttdy in the 
Series ' Handbooks for the Clergy '. 

^ Special attention may be directed to two volumes of this series — Mr. Ottley's 
Doctrine of the Incarnation and Mr. Bum's Irdroduct,iora /-o the, History of the Creeds, 
and to Dr. Swete's The Apostles' Creed. 


of all tho iiiip«^rfrotions t.haf reninin. nior<' useful foi' its purpose 
than it. would othorwiso have boon. 

In the oarlier part of the biH)k 1 had also the advantage (if 
the criticism of Dr. Robertson, tlie Editor of this Series, who, 
oven when the pressure of preparation for his removal from 
Ixjndon to Kxeter left him uo leisure, most kindly made time for 
the ])urp()se. 

Finally, I have to thank the Syndics of tho (^ambridge 
Univeisity Press, and the Dean of Westminster, as Editor of the 
Series Tcria and Studies, for ]>ermi8sion to make use of various 
not<?s — and in some cases whole pages — front The Meamiiuj of 
Homocnu^im in the ' Covstontinupolitan ' Creed, which 1 contribiit^ed 
to that Series (vol. vii no. 1). T 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 T 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.^ But I am, of coui-se, conscious that even history 
must be written from some ' 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 

^ Though much independent work over old ground has been bestowed upon it, 
and no previous ^v^ite^ has been followed without an attempt to form an inde- 
jiendent judgement, yet the nature of the case precludeb real iudependence, except to 
some extent in treatment. 


ca,nnot accept may serve to make clearer and more definite, or 
even to create, the point of view which is true for us. Salvo 
jure commimionis diversa sentire — different opinions without 
loss of the rights of communion — opposite points of view 
without disloyalty to the Catholic Greeds and the Church — 
these words, which embody the conception of one of the earliest 
and keenest of Cliristian controversialists and staunchest of 
Catholics,^ 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. 


Pbmbeoke Collkoe, Oambeidqe, 
\st May 1903. 

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


In the studies of which this book, published in 1903, was the 
outcome, I had set before myself an aim as purely objective as 
possible. I desired to ascertain, and to state as clearly as I 
could, what had been the actual course of the developement of 
Christian Doctrine so far as it was exhibited in contemporary 
documents as they have come down to us. I wanted to detect 
and to mark the stages that bridge the interval between tJie 
New Testament and the Council of Chalcedon, and to understand, 
rather than to account for and explain, what the leaders of 
thought in the Church actually said and meant. Only so far 
as was necessary for this main purpose was I concerned with 
the roots of any particular elements of their thought in current 
philosophies or popular religious speculation and worship. 

It was not my purpose to vindicate the results of the 
wonderful process by which One who was undoubtedly a man 
was found by Christian experience to have the value of God ; 
and earlier ideas of God, His being and nature, were amended 
and enlarged in the light of this experience, and the doctrine 
of the Incarnation and the Trinity elaborated. Nor was I con- 
cerned to justify, or to claim finality for, the definitions of the 
Church of the fourth and fifth centuries, closely dependent as 
they could not fail to be on the historical knowledge and the 
philosophical and scientific conceptions of the time — knowledge 
and conceptions which I certainly cannot regard as nearer 
finality than are those of our own age when the latter conflict 
with the former. 

The problem before the Christian philosopher to-day is how 
to appraise and retain the religious values of old beliefs of the 
Church which have lost their original correspondence with con- 
temporary knowledge and ideas. Critical study of the origins 
of these old beliefs, such as is absent from this book, is necessary 


before a valuation of this kind can be made. During the last 
twenty years much fresh knowledge has come to hand about 
these origins. Old documents have been studied by minds not 
hypnotized by orthodox presuppositions, and fresh materials have 
been discovered or made more generally accessible. Were I 
to-day attempting to write a critical history of Christian Doctrine 
I should have to draw on many sources of information which 
were not utilized by me in the years before 1903. 

But owing to the restricted range of the subject dealt with 
in the book, I find but little that I should wish to alter if I 
were free to rewrite the whole. Only perhaps at three points 
would it be desirable to make modifications of any moment, if I 
kept to my original scheme. 

The real evolution of the study of the subject that has 
taken place in recent years concerns much more the very 
earliest beginnings than the succeeding history, the religious 
thought and practice of the first century and the second, the 
documents of the New Testament, rather than the writings 
of the Fathers. The Gospels and the other books of the 
New Testament are no longer so isolated as they have been 
in the past from other religious literature of their period — 
neither in language nor in ideas. We are able to appreciate 
more justly the originality that belongs to them when we study 
them in relation to their real background. And when we no 
longer make the portentous assumption that the Gospels are 
a photographic representation in writing of the actual facts of 
our Lord's life and the very words of His teaching, the writers 
being miraculously preserved from any of the errors and ten- 
dencies which affect other historians and propagandists, we are 
for the first time in a position to make a critical study of the 
origins of the Christian Eeligion and to form a sane judgement 
as to the real course of events. We can discriminate sources 
and strata, tendencies and purposes, points of view and schools 
of thought. To some extent at least we can detect earlier and 
later versions of incidents ; we can compare different traditions 
and estimate their historical values. But nothing of this kind was 
possible for the men who framed and formulated the traditional 
Doctrine of the Church. Though some of them were peculiarly 
influenced by one or other of the many lines of interpretation 
and exposition which the New Testament reflects, yet for the 
Church it was the Bible as a whole — parts of the Old Testament 


qnite as certainly as Uie New — to whir-li Doctrine miist confonu. 
The Bible \va« jicoeptcHl as it stooil, without any critical diH- 
criuiinatiou, us wlioliv authoritativa Accordinj^ly, for the 
undcrstandinj^ of the doctrinal developcmontH of the ancient 
(Jhuivh, we have to exclude from i>ur minds the rosnlts of 
modern iuvoslijifatioji into the literary connexionn and the 
historical value of the documents that make up our New 
Tcst^iment. Discussions about the true text and the true mean- 
ing of different passages were common enough, and if more 
' heretical ' writings had been preserved we should probaldy find 
1-oflected in them much more of the modern historical sense than 
survived in the d«)ctrinal system of the Church ; but that 
system was built up on the assumption that the sacred books 
of the Church were infallible guides to truth, and we should not 
be helped to understand the subject before us by any other 
view of them. 

Apart, therefore, from details of minor importance, so far as 
concerns the subject of this book, it is with regard to Gnosticism, 
the Mystery Religions, and Nestorianism only, I think, that 
fresh investigations since 1903 have added materially to our 
knowledge, either of the background of Christian thought and 
institutions or of the actual facts. But even here competent 
judges are by no means entirely at one as to the true inter- 
pretation of the new facts that have come to light, and I am 
not clear that I could amend what I have written on the 
subjects with advantage to the class of students who have found 
the book useful. 

Accordingly, in these difficult times I have not thought it 
necessary to make alterations in the text which would entail the 
cost and labour of re-setting the book as a whole. I have 
contented myself vdth correcting a few misprints and supplying 
an Appendix with references to fresh work and evidence and 
brief indications of the new points to which the attention of 
students should be directed. Some of these * additional notes ' 
are, in my judgement, of considerable importance. 

The Council of Chalcedon was, of course, deliberately chosen 
as the limit of the period to be treated, The decisions arrived 
at then have been normative for the Church to a degree not 
reached by later decisions. Yet the questions at issue become 
far clearer in the light of the later Monophysite and Monothelite 
controversies, without study of which the real spirit and the 


full drift of the Doctrine of the ancient Church cannot be 
adequately understood. As regards restatement of Doctrine, 
almost all that happened afterwards down to the eighteenth 
century may be ignored, but not the Monophysite and Monothelite 
controversies themselves. The best short account of these 
controversies known to me is given in the third volume of 
M. J. Tixeront's excellent Histoire des Dogmes (Paris, 1905- 
1912), where also other controversies bearing on the nature of 
the conditions of our Lord's life on earth may be studied. 
These are live questions to-day. 

Absurd as it is, in my judgement, to permit the doctrinal 
speculations of the Church of the first or of any later century to 
fetter and control the thought of the Church of the twentieth, 
I am yet convinced that study of the early period is the best 
preparation for that reconstruction of Christian Doctrine in 
relation to modern knowledge that must be effected in the 
near future if the Church is still to offer men a Gospel worthy 
to claim the allegiance of their mind, their heart, and their 
soul, and so to engage their whole personality and become the 
faith by which they walk. 

J. F. B.-B. 

Cambridge, I9th November 1919 




The scope of the book — Wliat Christian Doctrines are 
The part played by heresies . 
Gradual progress and develop^ment 
Notes : Dogma . i 




(note) 2 







The New Testament gives the earliest interpretations 

The doctrine of God .... 

The doctrine of Man — of Sin . 

The doctrine of Atonement . 

The doctrine of the Church and ot the Sacraments 

Baptism . 

the Eucharist 




Different theories in explanation of tlie dcvelopement of doctrine- 

(1) Corruption and degeneration (the Deists) . 

(2) Disciplina arcani (Trent) 

(3) Developement (Newman) 
In what sense developement occurred 
Influence of Greek thought on the expref^iou of docU iiv 

Note: OiKovofxia, 'Accommodation', 'Reserve' 








l'!arlio8t idea of Christian inspiration 

of tradition 
Inspiration of Scripture : dilfcreuL conceptions — 
Jewish .... 

Glcntile .... 

Philo ..... 

The Ajiostolic Fathi'is . 

Muratorian Fiagnieul of the Canon 

The Apologists .... 

Irenaeus ..... 

Olomont and Origen 
Interpretation of Scriptui-e. The written word — 

Homer ..... 

Philo ..... 

Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement 

Origen's theory .... 

The Cappadociane — Tyconius, Augustine — The 6c 
Antioch .... 

The place of tradition in interpretation — 

Irenaeus . . . . • 

Tertullian . • . • 

Vincent . . . • • 

hool of 






52, 53 






Characteristic Jewish conceptioiiB 
Ebionism — 

Different degrees . . 

Cerinthus . • 

The Clementines . 

NoTK : Chilia-sm 



65 f. 

66 f. 
68 fl. 



Characteristics of Oriental religious thought 

The problem of evil ...... 

Oriental ideas applied to the Christian revelation . 






The Gnostics — their aims and clafssitication of the various schools 
The earlier representatives of Gnostic conceptions 
Marciou and his followers .... 

Carpocrates and his followers — The Cainites and Ophites 
The School of Basilides ..... 
The Valentinians ..... 

The inriuence of Gnosticiani on the developement of Christian 
doctrine ...... 

Note : Manicheism ..... 






The ' Monarchian ' School of interpreters prompted by ' orthodox ' 

intention .... 

Attempts at explanation which should maintain alike the oneness 

of God and the divinity of Christ 
Two main Schools — 

(a) Dynamic or Rationalistic 
(/>) Modalistic or ' Patripassian ' 
The Alogi the point of departure for both Schools 

(a) The Theodotians 
Artemon .... 
Paul of Samosata 

(b) Praxeas and Noetus . 
Sabellius and his followers . 

Sympathy with Sabellianism at Rome 
Noi'ES : Nova ti an 

Monarchian exegesis 
Lucian .... 
Paul of Samosata and o/xoovo-los 




















Significance of this correspondence . . . . . 113 

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

Diverse uses of the equivocal terms ovala and vTroa-Taais and con- 
fusion due to Latin rendering of ova-ia by substantia . . 116-118 





The Doctrine fully expressed iii uutline iu the pi'ologue to the 
Clospel acconling to St. John, but not fully apprerialed ; 
ditferent iiaj^ecte and relations of the doctrine represented by 
ditleri'nt early Christian writer,* — these to be rej^arded as 
typical and couipleuienUiry rather than bh mutually e.x- 
cluHive .... 

The Epistles of Ignatius 

dyfvrjros and dytri/r/rov 
The Letter to Diognetus 
Justin Martyr 

The Human Soul in Christ. 
Tatian ..... 

TheophiluB .... 

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

Athenagoras — his fuller recognition of the problem . 
Ireuaens — important contributions to the doctrine , 
riement of Alexandria ...... 

The Logos Doctrine superseded by the Doctrine of the Sonship 


. 119, 120 

. (note) 122 

. 124-126 
. (note) 125 



128, 129 



Tertullian's use of terms and analogies 
Doctrine of the Sonehip and the Trinity 
The full Nicene and Chalcedonian doctrine 






The great importance and influence of Origen 

The basis of his doctrine 

The eternal generation of the Son 

The Trinity .... 

Apparently con trad ictorj- teaching 





148, 14y 



The fitness of the Incarnation 

His teaching Nicene .... 

NoTK : Origenistic theology and controversies 






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 developenient of the doctrine of the Person of Christ 

be lure 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 3 U . 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 seciire a non-Nicene Creed — the fiaKpotrnxos 

SKdeais ........ 176 

Condemnation of Photinus and tranquillization of the ' moderates ' : 

subsidence of fears of Sabellianism . . . . 177 

Developeraent 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 WiU of the Father' . . . . 194 

Movoyfvris — Unigenitus — Unicus . . . 195 

XX a 




The coursp tlirom^li wliich the iloi^trine wenl 

Tlie Old Tfstnment and the New Teslaiiienf doctrine 

The early Church ....... 

The full doctrine expressed by Tertullian . . . . 

Origen's exposition of the doctrine — the first eystematic attempt 
at a scientific expression of it in view of difhcultie-s suggested 
Teaching in the Church just before the outbreak of Arianism — 

Gregory Thauniaturgus ..... 

Dionysius of Alexandria ..... 

Ensebius of Caesarea ..... 

The Arian theories — not emphasized and for a time ignored 

The teaching that was given in the Church in the middle of t'h 

fourth century shewn by Cyril of Jerusalem's lecture.'* 
Need for authoritative guidance as to the doctrine . 
The teaching of Athanasius (the Letters to Sarapwa) 
and of Hilary (the de Trinitate) 

The new theories of Macedonius .... 

The doctrine declared at Alexandria in 362 and at subsequent 

s>Tiods in the East and in the West 
The Epiphanian Creed ..... 

The procession of the Spirit — relation to Father and Son 

Basil's treatise on the Holy Spirit 

(iregory of Nyssa, ' that there are not three Glods ' 

The prevailing uncertainty reflected in the sermons of Gregory of 

Naziauzus .... 
The Council of Constantinople 

Augustine's statement of the doctrine 

The ir(pi)(i>pricns 

Niceta on the doctrine of the Spirit 
Notes : Substantia .... 

Persona .... 

Oixria and vTrocrravis 



198, 11)9 



201 -204 








(note) 215 



(note) 226 
(note) 231 







The results of previous developement of doctrine . , . 239, 240 

The points of departure of Apollinarius and his theories . . 240-243 

Objections to them and his defence .... 243-246 

The union of the two natures not satisfactorily expressed . . 246, 247 

Notes : The Human Soul in Christ .... 247-249 

The Human Will in Christ .... 249-250 

How can Chiist be ' complete man ' and ' without 

sin'?. . . . . . . 250-252 

The Athanasian Creed .... 252-254 



The theological schools of Alexandria and Antioch , 

The teaching of Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia 

The outbreak of the controversy — Nestorius at Constantinople 
The title deoronos ..... 

Cyril of Alexandria — denunciation of the Nestorian teaching 
Cyril's Anathemas and the answers of Nestorius 
Their signiticance and the reception given to them 
Cyril's dogmatic letter ..... 

Earlier teaching in the Church on the subject (Tertullian, Origen. 
Athanasius) ...... 

The Council of Ephesus and the victory of Cyril 

The terms of agreement between Cyril and the Antiochenerf -the 
Union Creed ...... 

Dissatisfaction on both sides with the definitions — Cyril's defence 
of them ...... 

The strength and the weakness of Nestorianism 

Suppression of Nestorianism within the Empire 

NoTKS : deo(l)opos oivdpamos .... 

The Nestorian (East-Syrian) Church . 


261, 262 



269, 270 

270, 271 









The teaching of Etitychefl — his condemnation , 

Appeal to the West and counter-attack on Klavian . 
The Council <>f Kphefius ..... 

Victory of the Eutychians through the Emperor's support 

Death of Theodosius — A new Council summoned 
The Council of Chalcedon and its Definition of the Faith . 

The letter of Leo to Flavian .... 
The lattr hisU)ry of Eutychiauisni — the Monophysites 

NoiKti : The communicatio idiomatum . 

Christ's human nature impersonal 

Tlie Kiuaxrit ..... 

2R1 -28-J 




284, 285 









Introductory : the difficulties of the doctrine not faced in the 
earliest times ....... 

Different theories aa to the origin of the Soul . 
Different conceptions of the Fall and its effects 
The teaching of Augustine ...... 

Contrast between him and Pelagius . . . . 

BUs doctrine of humau nature, sin, grace 

,, „ freedom of will ..... 

Novel teaching on other points — predeaLinalion, reprobation . 
The opposition of Pelagius ...... 

His antecedents and the chief principles which controlled his 
thought and teaching ...... 

The Pelagian controversy — Coelestius . . . . 

The first stage at Carthage — condemnation of Coelestius 

The second stage in Palestine : attack on Pelagius by Jerome 

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

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 Rome 

Tiie ultimate issue of the controversy . . . . 

Julian of Eclanum ...... 















(note) 320 




Attempts to mediate between the two extremes of Pelagianism and 

Augustinianism— Senii-Pelagianism .... ,321 

John Cassian — his teaching ..... .321 -.32.3 

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

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



Diffei'ent points of viev/, but no definite theory, in early times 

The Apostolic Fathers (Clement, E-pistle of Barnabas^ Hernias, 

Justin Martyr 
The Writer to Diognetus 
Irenaeus — doctrine of the Incarnation and theory of Satan's 

Origen — Ransom to the Devil . 

Other aspects of the Atonement 
Gregory of Nyssa 
Rufinus .... 
Gregory of Nazianzus 
Summary of the teaching of the period 

Notes : ' Heretical ' conceptions of the Atonement 

The Doctrine of Merit (Tertullian and Cyprian) 









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 
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 





Opiipral concoption of a sucrament — the use uf Lho term 

Early anueptions of Iwptism : tlit* names for it, the form, what 

efl'ected — New Tei^tAment and Liter 
J u.otin Martyr on baptism 
Tertullian .... 

The idea of the water 
Cyprian .... 

Cyril of .)eru.«alem (the rites ami their significance) 
Aml'ro'te on baptism (his peculiar conceptions) 
K0TK8-; Martyrdom as baptism 
Heretical baptism 
Baptism by laymen 
The Unction and Confiriuatiuu 




(note) 381 




[NoTF. — The different theories which have been held in later times, 
namely, Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, the 'eacra^ 
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 eflfect 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 

AppE>rDix ........ 429 

Index ........ 445 




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 
is 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 hfe 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 those statoments were drawn up, the circum- 
stances whicli 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 ' 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 contrihuted to the developement of doctrine and the 
elucidation of dilliculties. 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 tlie 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.^ 

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 

^ In this way 'heresies' have rendered no small service to theological science. 
The defence of the doctrines impugned and the di.scussion of the points at issue 
led to a deeper and clearer view of the subject. Subtle objections when carefully 
wei<;hed, 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 '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 pe.stilent and 
scabby disease, incurable and dangerous poison, more abominable than all shame, 
double-mouthed and two-headed serpents. See II. E. 11; 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 H<ym,. ix in Num.: 
" Nam si doctrina eccle.siastica simplex esset et nullis intrinsecus haereticoram 
dogmatum assertionibus cingeretur, non poterat tam clara et tam examinata videri 
fides nostra. Sed idcirco doctrinam catholicam contradicentium obsidet oppug- 
natio. ut fides nostra non otio torpescat, sed exercitiis elimetur." And similarly (as 
Cyprian de unit, eccles. 10, before him), Augustine Confess, vii 19 (2.5), could write : 
" Truly the refutation of heretirs 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.^ 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.^ 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 beyoud 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.^ 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 
at such questions ; and they did not easily make the new point 
of view their own. They embraced Christianity at one point 

^ Professor Westcott used to define Christian doctrine as ' a partial and progi'es- 
sive approximation to the full intellectual expression of the truth manifested to 
men once for all in the Incarnation '. Cf. Gospel of Life. 

2 Acts 17^. 

^ Thus Augustine c?e PraedesHnatione 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 tliey 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 Perseveranliat'. 
c. 20, and the two volumes of liis own Retractations. In like manner Athanasius 
defended Dionysius of Alexandria against the Arians (see infra), and Pelagius ii 
{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 unfre'iuently it would seem that 
C'hristian thinkers und teacliers, conscious of tlio 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 apjiear 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- 
tiikes. 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 drawii 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 has 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^) ; 
(2) the body of such edicts (Acts 17'^); (3) the ordinances of the 
Mosaic law (Eph. 2^^, Col. 2^*) ; (4) the decisions of the apostles and 
elders at the 'Council' at Jerusalem (Acts 16*, cf. IS'^*^), 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, Tavrd a-oi dpKetVo), ael 86y/j.aTa 
lo-Tw), and it bears a similar sense in the first Christian writers who 
used it: Ignatius ad Mar/n. 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 ^oyfiara, as rites and ceremonies with mystic meaning derived 
from tradition, with K-qpvyjjLara, 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 So'y/xa as relating to faith is contrasted with Trpo^is, 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/Aa is similarly set 
in antithesis to rf rjOiKrj BiSaaKakia). Hence the general significance — a 
doctrine whicli 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 requireil of nil Christians {i.e. not merely a subjective 
opinion or conception of » 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 liopends upon iU^ 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 8ub8e(iuent recognition and acceptance {cij. the Council of Constan- 
tinople of 381); 6o no 'dogma' (though individuals may contribute to 
it« expression) is authoritative till it has passed the test of the general 
feeling of the Church na a whole, the ' communis sensus fidelium', and 
by that been accepted. 

Arpttrts— HER?:SY 

Aipco-t?, the verbal nonn from aipcVj, atpficr^ai, is commonly used both 
in the active sense of 'rapture' and in the middle sense of 'choice'. 
It is tlie 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^^) and Pharisees (Acts 15*), and of the Christians — 'the a'pco-is 
of the Nazaraeans ' (Acts 245- ^*). 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 (?; aipeai^ rj KaBoXiKrj — Euseb. X 5. 21), just as TertuUian 
frequently uses * secta '. 

But though the Christian Society as a whole may be in this way 
designated a ai/jccris, inside the Society there is no room for aipctreis. 
There must not be ' parties ' within the Church. It is Christ himself 
who is divided into parts, if there are (1 Cor. \^^). And so, as applied 
to diversities of opinion among Christians themselves, the word assumes a 
new colour (1 Cor. 11^®), and is joined to terms of such evil significance 
as epiddai ' factions ' and Sixoa-racriai ' divisions ' (Gal. 5^). 

The transition from the earlier to the later meaning of the word is 
well seen in the use of the adjective in Tit. 3^°, where St Paul bids 
Titus have nothing to do with a man who is atpcrtKos if he is 
unaflfected 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 fideliuin, •will not abandon it when his error is pointed out, is a 
' lieretic '. 

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^ was understood and Matt. 13-^ : 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. Proef. 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. 11^^, "for there miist 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- i 
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." 

©eoXoyt'a — ^eoXoyeiv 

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 
^€oA.oyoi 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 to. OeoXoyovfjieva 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 causea. So in the sense * ascribe 


(livinity to ', ' nRmt* ns fJod ', ' i-all Goil ', ' asfiert the divinity of ', the verb 
6^€o,\oy<ri' is \Ksi>d by Justin Dial. r)l) (in i-onjunction willi KvpioXoydv), 
by the writer of the Little Ijibyrintli (^coXoy^aai toi' •)(pi.(rr6v, ovk ovra 
Otoy—' call Christ Goti, tliough ho is not (iod '— Eusebius H.K v 28), 
and by later writers of all the Persons of the Trinity and in other 

(3) The verb is fonnd in a more pencral sense 'make religious 
investigations' in -histin Dial. 113; while in Athenagoras y.^'r/. 10, 20, 
32 the noun expresses the doetrine of God and of all beings to whom 
the predicate ' deity ' belongs. (Cf. also the Latin ' theologia ' — Ter- 
tullinn ad Nat. ii 2.) 

(4) Aristotle describes dfokoyia as >; irpoiT-q (fnkoaotfiia, atid to the 
Stoics the word was equivalent to ' philosopliy ' — a system of philo- 
sophical principles or truths. For Hellenic Christians at least tlio 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 oxiatence 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 worki. (See 
note on the words, Harnack Dogniengeschichte Eng, tr. vol. ii p. 202, 
Sophocles Lexicon, and Suicer Thesaurut.) 

' In relation to the Son, in particular, 6eo\oyia is used of all that relates to the 
divine and eternal nature and being of Christ, as contrasted with oUovo/iLa, which 
has reference especially to the Incarnation and its consequences (so Liglitfoot notes 
Apost. Fathers ii ii p. 75). But this is only a particular usage of the term in a 
restricted sense. 


The Chief Docteines in the New Testament Writers 

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 interpfetation. 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 tliere is to be drawn, beyond all question, the record of 


the actual experiences of the Cliristians nearest to the time of 
JesuB of whom we have any record at all. Their record of their 
own experiences, and their interiiretations of them and of him 
who was the source of all, are the starting-point from which 
the developenient of Christian doctrines proct'iMld. In this sense 
the authors of the Goapels and Epistles are the first writers on 
Christian theology.^ 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 : 

' 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 mifjht 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 tlic 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 developemeut. 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 exfiansion 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 exjiression 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 whicn 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 liim 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. 

Tlie 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 


chariicteristic of different writers or groups of writings, respect- 
ively, yet it is easy to see that the tliought of God as Spirit and 
as Love is present und natural to the minds of the writers who 
use more readily the description of him as P'ather, which indeed 
is the title regularly employed by all the writers of the New 
Testament.' 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 ))etween 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 
Grod as P'ather of the universe (the Creator and Sustainer of the 
physical world and of animate things), aud by earlier teachers 
of the Jews He had been described as — in a moral aud 
spiritual sense — Father of Israel and Tsraelites,^ but their sense 
of ' fatherhood ' had been limited and obscured by other con- 
ceptions.^ In the experience aud 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 

^ The Tvriter to the Hebrews is perhaps an exception, but see Heb. 1-- * 12". 

- See the references given by Dr. Sanday, Art. * God 'in Hastings' D.B. vol. ii 
p. 208 {e.g. Deut. l^^ 8' .32«, Ps. lOS^^, Jei-. Z^-^^, Isa. 63'« ei**) ; and for the whole 
subject see, besides that ai-ticle, G. F. Schmid Biblical Theology of the New 

^ 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 undividfd 
devotion, in the other it is His rea<Jine3S to bestow His infinite love on man. 


himself, — ' My Father ', he claimed Him.^ But he also spoke of 
Him to his disciples as ' your Father ', '^ 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. Tlie 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 f -^pt in 
the writings of St John.^ This special description or cc eption 
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.^ He is 
the source of all life, so that apart from Him and knowledge of 
Him there can be no true life."^ 

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 ; * 
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. 11^7 6^- »• 8, John 2^^ 5". 
Cf. St Paul's frequent use of the phrase 'the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ', e.g. 
Col. 13, Eph. 13, 2 Cor. 1^ ll^i, Rom. Vo^ ; cf. 1 Pet. 1*,— though he commonly 
writes ' God the Father ', or ' our Father '. 

2 Matt. 68- 15 1020, Lute %^\ Cf. ' Our Father', Matt. S^ ; 'My Father and your 
Father ', John 20". The common addition of the designation ' heavenly ', or ' that 
is in heaven ', serves to mark the spiritual and transcendent character of the 

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

* E.g. Matt. 6<-8. ^^, John 421. » John 521- 26 ; cf. 51^ 17*. 

* 1 John 4*. 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'*), and not to be intended to have explicit reference 
to the distinctions within the Godhead. 


Christian doctrine wliicli is of the higlicst value. It iw not too 
much to say that in the sontence ' God is Love ' wo have 
an interpretation of the Gospel which covers all the relations 
between God and man. And yet it is only the essential 
eharacter of all true fatherhood that the words express 
St John is only explainiu}.,' by auotlicr term the moaning 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.^ 

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 ^ — teaching which obviously lies at 
the back of the thought of St Paul ^ and of the writer to the 
Hebrews.* And more again is seen in the references to the 
Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, in the Gospel according to St 
John,^ 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 
Di\ine Being. Thus to say that the Godhead is one in essence, 
but contains within itself tliree relations, three modes of exist- 

^ 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'^ Luke 1S'», Mark b*^ 7", John 3'"). 

2 See John !'« W'^K Of. John 10»« IZ^ U»- 20 15=» le^^, 1 John l^-^, Matt. 

' Cf. 2 Cor. 4*, Col. 1'^ Phil. 2» (Christ the 'image' of God, and existent 'in the 
form ' of God). 

* Heb. 1* (the Son the ' effulgence of the glory ' and the ' exact impress of the 
very being' of God). John l^"*, Phil. 2«-'', Col. li''-'», and Heb. l^"* siiould he care- 
fully compared together. 

» John 14i«-28 152« 16^-". 

* The baptismal commission, Matt. 28'*, 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 evidenff to the same effect (see the Pauline equivalent 
2 Cor. 13'*, Rom. 8"^, 1 Cor. 12", Ei)h. 4«'). 


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.^ 

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. 

^ 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. 


Tlie Doctrim of Man in the New Testament 

Tu like manner, witli regard to the conception which the 
writers of the New TestJinioiit, the first Christian theologians, 
had formed of man and his place in the universe, we find no full 
and systematic expression, hut only a numhor of isolated — and 
for the most jtart incidental — indicjitions of a doctrine. 

The teaching of the Old Testament must he 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 * 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 ia 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.^ For this reason they are to 
look to heaven rather than to earth afe the treasury of all that 
they value most.^ Man is so constituted that he is capable of 
knowing the divine will and of desiring to fulfil it ; * he has a 
faculty by virtue of which spiritual insight is possible,^ — 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,^ 
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 

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

=> Matt. 5*8. s Matt. 6^9 ^. 

* E.g. John 5". •' E.g. Matt. &^- ^, Luke ll**"^. 

« E.(f. Matt. Ill* l?.il Mark 4»*, Luke 125«-", John 7=". 


them and the higher constituent is strongly expressed — ' the 
spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak '} 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 wliich 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 developeraent 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.^ 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.^ 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,^ or even, 
by contrast ^yith true life, as death. Those who are living under 
such conditions are ' dead '. ^ Of this state the opposite is life, 
or life eternal — a particular way of living now, characteristic of 

1 Matt. 2e*\ cf. John 3« : "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". ('Flesh' is the name by which mankind was commonly expressed in the 
Hebrew Scriptures, with particular reference to its weaker and move 'material' 

^ The words afiapTia. and di'o.ut'a — the essence of sin (a/xapTla) being declared by 
St John to be lawlessness or the absence of law {duouia) 1 John 3'. 

^ The words TrapciTrrw/xa, TrapdjSaaty, 6<p£i\ir]/xa. 

* E.g. Matt. 9i% 8 E.g. John o^^-^-l 



wliicJi in knowlcilL,'*! of CIchI and Kive of the biothrcn.' li. is to 
give this knowledge and to unickcMi this love that is declared 
to l»e the Rpeiial object of the life and death of Jesun.- The 
condition of sin is one of e^tranp'inent from God and selfish 
disrcijard of what is dno to others. It is a state which merits 
and involves punishnient, and yet at the same time is its own 


' John 17* ««• " 3« 5« and r,^. = John 10'» 13»» 15", 1 John i" 

' Tho contoiitidn uf !<in ovidcssed in St Paul's ([listlcs, though not essentially 
fiiHeront from tlio eouci-ptions which arc relh-ctod in other writings of the New*iucnt, is characteristic enough to call for special notice. 

It was the common K'lief of tin- Jews at tlic time that tlie pt^rsoual tiansgiession 
of Adam wa.>* the urigin of .sin, and further thatdcatli i-anie into the world »h the 
l>enalty for sin. 

St Paul assumes this helief. Tlio keynote to his moaning in the chief passage 
in which he discusses the matter (Rom. .'">'■-■-') is .struck iu the words 'tlirough the. 
one man's disobedience the many were made .sinners' (ver. 19). Sui, then, entered 
the world liy Adam's, and death -which is the penalty of sin —followed. 
And, furthermore, death became universal, because all men sinned. 'Eif>' (^ Trdvrev 
</^i.apTov can only mean 'because all sinned': but the question remains whether by 
*bcse wonls St Paul means to assert the personal individual sin of evciy 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 on the 
passage, and the di.scu.ssion by G. B. Stevens The Pauli->ie Theology p. 127 U'. See 
also H. St J. Thackeray The RehUion of St Paul to CoiUcmporanj Jewish Thought 
ch. ii *Sin and Adam', and further ' Pelagianisni ' ivfra 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 empha.sized, and its connexion 
with Adam's sin ; (2) the redemption fiom sin actually accomplished through the 
one man, Jesus Christ, is treated as parallel to the result? 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 Cf. 2 Cor. 5'^ "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 (the head of the spiritual humanit}^) and Christians is parallel 
to that which exists between Adam (the liead of the natural humanity) and all 
mankind. (Cf. 1 Cor. 15-- "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 
dctine the way in which the connexion comes about. On this question tbe phrabo 
Ulieda. riKva 0wr« 6fr/f)s, Eph. 2^ 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 
4>vcii ; (2) the expression ' children of wrath ' is ])arallel to such Old Testament 
expressions as '-sons of death' and means 'worthy of God's reprobation' ; (3) the 
reference is to individual pei-sonal sins actually committed ; (4) .so far as there is 
any emphasis on ^iVet 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 efTeotiug 
salvation. Sec the emphatic reiteration of x<ii/5'7"' 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 
(rod, the increased knowledge of man's own position, was to play 
a large part in the work. And this mental and moral illumiua- 
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.^ 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', where the Gentiles are regarded 
as sinners <f>v<T€i, i.e. belonging to the class of sinners — see Sanday and Headlam on 
Rom. 519. 

Furthermore, it is clear that St Paul speaks of the <rdpf, in antithesis to the 
Wivfia, 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 expeiience, 
opposed to the spiritual ; (3) symbolic, of uuregeucrate human nature. The three 
senses tend to pass over into one another, and the first and second, and the second 
ami 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. S'^^-; and the 
antithesis between the 'spirit' and the 'flesh' is not presented in the manner of 
Greek or Oriental dualism. (On Rom. V'"^, see Sanday and Headlam.) 

^ On the meaning of the ' blood ' of Christ, see particularly Wcstcott 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 flF. ; 
and R. "W. Dale The Atonement, witli the notes in the Appendix. 


writers of the Now Testament are content to treat the result 
as a fact and to emphasize some of its conBequences. Tliey 
do not attempt to explain the manner in wiiich tiie 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 ' reconciliation ' (KaTaXXay}')), 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.^ 

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 hira.^ 

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

' The words KaraWayri, KaraWdcrfftiv in this sense are peculiarly Pauline (Rom. 
510. 11 1115^ 2 Cor. 5»8- »9- ="), and airoKaTa\\d(r<T€i.u (Epli. 2'«, Col. l^*- ^'), 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 alwa^'s 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 sec Sanday and Headlam on Rom. .0".) For the result as peace, 
see John 14^', Rom. 5', Eph. 2''- '", Col. 3'^; as union with God or life in Christ, 
see esp. St John, e.g. John 3'5- le 20»', 1 John 5"- '2; cf. Col. 3»-*, 2 Tim. 1', 
Rom. 5'», Heb. lO^". 

- The chief words used to express this conception are dyopa^u,! Cor. 6^ 7^, 
Gal. 4^ ; e^ayopdi'ij}, Gal. 3^^ ; \vTp6u, XOrpwan, diroXuTpwais, Tit. 2", 1 Pet. 1'*, 
Eph. 1", Col. 1'*, Rom. Z-\ Heb. G^--'^ and Xvrpov, dvriXvrpov, Matt. 20^11 Mark 
10^, 1 Tim. 2®. It is only in connexion with this metaphor that Christ is said to 
have acted 'instead of us (dcW), and even here the phrase in 1 Tim. 2* is 
dvTiXvTpov i'lrip i]/iu>u. 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 
{{/irip rifjiwv), and more simjily still as 'concerning' us, or 'in the matter of sin or 
our sins (""cpi rtfii^v or vipl d/xaprias, irtpl d/naprtaJf rjfj.wv). 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^) ; 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 ])assages as Rom. 6^""). And, 
again, it must be observe'! that it is not said to whom the ransom is paid. It is 
indeed only when wTiat is simply a metaphor is pressed as though it were a formal 
definition that the question could well arise. One thing, however, in this rcsi)ect, 
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'*-7*. 


the metaphor of ' satisfaction ' ; as though a creditor was 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 ' obedifnoe ' of 
his life.^ Yet again there is the conception, derived from tlie 
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 olT'erings 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 
forward now one and now another aspect of the mystery, only 
erring when they wished to represent some one particular aspect 
as 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^\ Gal. 5» 3'«, 2 Cor. 5^\ 1 Pet. 2^-*, Phil. 28, Heb. 5^ lO" ; A^etru, 
'remission' of sins, Matt. 26^, Luke 24^'', Acts 2^^ et saepe, Eph. 1^ Col. 1^^ 
cf. Heb. 9". 

-This conception is expressed especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews and by St 
.Tohn. See Heb. 2''' 9^9-^ IQio- '- •*• =«, and 1 John 1^ 2- 4'"; but cf. also Rom. 
o^, Eph. 5". Here too it must be noticed that the idea of propitiating God (as one 
who is angry with a personal feeling against the oflender) 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 Ujiistles 
of St John, note on IXia-Ketrdai, l\a<x/J,6s, IKaarripioi/. p. 85. But see also Sanday and 
Headlam, I.e. supra. 


Tlu Diytriru of thf. Church and of the. Saf.ramcnta in the 

Nnn Tfdament 

As to I lie means I)y whioli these true rclutiunH iire to bo 
realized ami m.iiutiiined by individuals thruugliout their lile 
on earth, the teaching of Jesus and the practice of tlie first 
Christians, as recorded in the New Testament, is clear, though 
not detailed. 

Meniborship 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 rae is against me.' ^ All who were sincere in 
their acceptance of him and their faith in him must ' follow ' him,''^ 
and tlicreby shew themselves his disciples. The realization of 
the ' kingdom ' was to be eltected through the society which he 
founded.-* 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- 

' Matt. 12**, Luke 11^. 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 uentral. The side of Clirist must be resolute])' taken. But the inter- 
pretation which was aiijiarcntly put upon the saying by those who recorded it, and 
by the Church from the tirut, was probably true for those days at all events. There 
might be here and there a secret adherent ; but, in the main, disciplnship 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'", Luke 9^), 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 jjurpose of this .raying 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 be won to full memliership of the societ)'. At least he should not be disowned. 

- Note the frequency of this expression in the Gospels. 

^ 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 Ec-ffsia. The kingdom was in one sense established whnn 
the first disciples ' left all and followed him ' ; but they had to be trained lor their 
work of sj^reading the kingdom (see Latham PoMm- Pastorum), audit would not be 
realized till all nations of the world were made disciples (ef. the parables, Matt. 
1381.32.33^ M)d the commission, Matt. 28i»). That the Church and the kingdom of 
God are not convertible terms in the teaching of Jesus is certain. See further 
.\. Robertson Renvum Dei p. 61 ff. 


nizing their common responsibility and obligations; and tliis 
company or brotherhood was one and the name society or Church 
although existing in separate local organizations. Therr 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.^ 

This new society was to inherit the promises and succeed to 
all the privileges which liad 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.'- 

From another point of view the whole of this new Church is 
the body of Christ, he himself heing 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.-^ 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 hira it draws its hfe 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 ; ^ that no one could remain a member of it without par- 

' If the idea finds any justification in such sayings of our Lord as ' He that is not 
against us is for us ' (Luke 9*^, of. Maik 9''*') ; ' Other sheep I have which are not of 
this fold' (John 10^^), at all events there is no e%nde.nce that they were so under- 
stood by his early followers. 

- See Rorn. 9«, 1 Cor. 10>8, Gal. G'*, Rom. \V^--\ So 1 Pet. 2»- 1". The titles of 
honour used of the people of God are applied to Christians. 

3 Eph. 4"-i6 5i«-32 (Col. l'»- -* 2'") ; cf 1 Cnr. 12'2-« 

* Acts 2", 1 Cor. 1213 ^is 


tokiiip in the one bread which was the oulwnrd mark of tinion 
and fellowship ' sooniH ccrtain.- 

Baptisni is thu.s juimarily the rite by which admission to the 
Church, and to all the spiritual privileges which mcmbcrHhip of 
the Church confers, is obtained. It is administered once for all.^ 
It must be preceded by repentance of sins,* and it eflects at once 
union with Christ — membership of his body and participation 
in his death and burial and resurrection.^ 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 '. * As 
such it involves the washing away or remission of sins which 
had stained the former life,'' — a real purification, by which the 
obstacle to man's true relationship to God is removed and he 
occu})ies actually the position of souship which had always been 
ideally his.^ 

In the New Testament itself forgiveness of sins is always 

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

» Acts 2*-- •»«, 1 Cor. 10i«- 2» ll"-« 

* 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''''^ of 
the inipossiliility of 'renewing again unto repentance those that have been once 
enlightened ' refers. 

* Acts 2^ S^. = Gal. 3'^ ; cf. 1 Cor. 122^, Rom. 6="- *. 
« John 33- =, Tit. 3' ; cf. 1 Pet. 1^ 3"-'. 

' 1 Cor. 6", Acts 2216, jjeb. lO^^. So of the whole Church, Eph. 5^- ^. 

* Tliis is implied in the phrases, ' torn anew or from above ', ' begotten of God ', 
1 John 3» ; ' chiMren of God ', 1 John 3^ ; ' sons of God ', Rom. 8", Gal. 3"-«- ^. The 
term viodfffia, ' adoption as sons ', is used (Rom. 8""'*- ^, Gal. 4*) in specially close con- 
nexion with the action of the Spirit (more closely defined as 'the Spirit of God', or 
' the Spirit of His Son '). So Tit. 3', ' 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^) appear to imply that the gift was a result of 
baptism. The narrative in Acts 8'*"" 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'-' 
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^*. (See further 
A. J. Mason The Eelatior, 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 (Hel). 6-). 


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

The fullest doctrine of baptism to be found in the writings 
of the apostles is given by St Paul (Eoni. 6^"^^). 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^) directly calls 
' the bath of regeneration ', that he reaches these results : and 

^ 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 ba}»tisnis 
in the New Testament are described as in or into the single name of Jesus (or Jesus 
Christ, or Christ) ; see Acts 8i« 19^ lO*^, Gal. S^^, Rom. 6^ 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 (cf. the doctrine of circumincessio). But in view of the Trinitarian 
formula given in Matt. 28^'' (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 {de Spir. Sand, i 4), and 
probably by Cyprian in like manner {Ep. 73. 17, tliough he is cited for the latter 
view). See Lightfoot on 1 Cor. 1'^, and Plummer, Art. 'Baptism' Hastings' D.B. 

* 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 bom again was, as such, 
unable to sin (1 John 3^) ; though in aim and intention sin was impossible for any 
one who was 'in Christ' : yet the constant moral and spiritual exhortations whicli 
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"), serve to shew tliat the Apostles did not consider that the hope ol 
forgiveness was exhausted in baptism (cf. Jas. 5'*). 


there is' no kind of unreality about them — rleath, burial, resur- 
rection are all intonsely roiii and ]tractical. " Ah niiiuy of you 
OS wore baptized into Christ did ])ub on (Jhrist " (Oal. o'-"- '^), and 
are become ' members of Christ ' (1 Cor. 8"). 

The main points in this eonception of St Paul were seized 
upon and utilized by subsequent writers on baptism, and became 
the text on which fiermons to catechumens were preached.' 
But it was still forgiveness of sins that was commonly regarded 
a.s the chief ^ift in 

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 Nicodemus, 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 Hcsh ; and that which is born of the 
Spirit is Spirit. ]\Iarvel not that I said unto thee. Ye must be 
born from aljove." ^ 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.* 

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 wQl of the 
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God ".* 

So too St Peter speaks of God as begetting us again (re- 
generating us),^ and of Christians as ' begotten again (regenerated), 
not from corruptible seed, Ijut from incorruptible ',^ and seems to 

^ See e.g. Cyril of Jenisalem Cat. xx 4-7. Cyril particularly insists on the 
truth of each aspect of the rite, she^ving how much more is iuvolved in it than mere 
forgiveness of sins. 

2 John 3«-. ' E.g. 1 .John 3' 5= 3». * John V'- '". 

» 1 Pet. 1'. ' 1 Pet. 1-^. 


have St Paul's teaching to the Komaus 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.' 

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 efl'eeting 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 
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 {8aifj.6via, 
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.^ 

^ IPet. 3i8ff-. 

^ It is clear that the Christian rite— assumed to be 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 wliich was 
slain. Through participation in the flesli and blood of the victim a real union was 
effected between them, and so the divine life was communioated to the worshipper 
who offered the .sacrifice. See especially Robertson Smith Religion of th'. Semites, 
and Art. ' Sacrifioc ' in Encycl. Brit. 


In this connexion, accordint!:ly, he describeR the nature of 
the Christian rite * to which, in lecording its inHlituliiui, he gives 
the name ' tlie Lord's Su)t])er'.- lie insistH that, in it tJiere is 
ellected fellowship with the blood of Christ and with the body of 
Christ.^ It is one bread which is broken, and therefore all who 
partake of it are one body. And so, in lik(^ manner, to eat of 
the things sacrificed to demons, to drink tlieir cup and to partake 
of their ttible, is to become fellows (to enter into fellowshi])) with 
them. Such fellowship at one and the same time with demons 
and with the Lord is impo.ssible. The two things are incom- 
jxitible — union with demons and union with the Ix)rd. This 
then is the main thoutrht : the Lord's Supper means and ell'ects 
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 * — ' This is my body which is (given) for your sakes *, 
and ' This cup is the new covenant in my blood '. To eat of 
the bread and to drink the cup is to be incorporated with 
Christ. But though the act is thus so intimate and individual, 
it 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." ^ 

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

» 1 Cor. 10i« ff. "ICor. ll«>ff 

' "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not fellowshiji 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. lO^*-"). 

M Cor. 11^3 «. 

" 1 Cor. 10'". 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. rd. ; Cyprian A>. 73. 13; Aug. Tract, 
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. 

• 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 ths express authority of Christ's own 


is shewn by tlie words, " Do this as a memorial of me ", and " As 
ofcen 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.^ 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.^ 

From yet another pouit of view, the incidental reference to 
the Manna and the Water from the Eock as spiritual food and 
spiritual drink (the Rock being interpreted as Christ),^ 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.* 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 

^\ ords delivered to liim ; and tliat there is no trace of any opposition to the jji-actice 
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 rrjv i/xTju avafx.vyi<nv 
were understood to mean a Hctcrifidal memorial {e.g. Eusebius Demonstr. I. 13 
seems to conceive it so). 

^ All the accounts of the institution give prominence to this aspect, and the early 
prevalence of the word (^ ei'xaptcTi'a) as the name for the whole sei-vice shews how 
it was regarded. 

= Cf. ICor. iP'ff. 8 1 Cor. 10'-". 

* John 6^**^. Whatever opinion be lield as to the time when the rite was instituted, 
and as to the freedom which the author of this Gospol jiormittpd hiiuself 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) y;iviiiL,' stronger and strongor expression to the 
doctrine, till nuiny of his disciples wore even driven away by 
the hardness of the saying. 

First of all tiiere is only the contrast between the ordinary 
broad, their daily food, and the food whicli 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 Closes 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 Aesh 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 
(Jhrist 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.^ 

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." ^ 

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 

' " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in uie and lin Mm. 
Even as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so he thai 
■ atcih 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 be^t 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 gi-eat 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 CJirist p. 24: "He plainly means them to under- 
stand that, in some sense, his manhood is to be imparted to those who believe in 
Tlim, 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 ". 

^ 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 siicrifice.* It is, however, only in tlie Epistle 
to the Hebrews that this conception is clearly implied, the 
Kiicrament 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 l)e seen, merely 
amplifications and restatements of the various aspects to which 
expression is given in the New Testament itself. 

' Besides the four accounts of the iustitution, cf. Heb. 13'". Tli c woifls roOro 
roithf naturally would have the meaning ' i»eiforni this attiou ', though the Bacri- 
ficial significance of iroitiv may possibly have been intended (viz. ' ojfer this '). 
But in any case, as is shewn above, the action to be jierformed is a commemoration 
of a sacrifice, [iroiuv 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, 
r. Tnjph. 41, 70) is ajipjirciitly the only early Christian writer who recognizes this 
meaning iu connexiou with the iustitution of the £ucharit>t.J 


Developement of Doctrine 

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 Clmrch, 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 
lieeu, it is argued, from the apostolic age onwards, ever more and 
more 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.^ 

* 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 

1 3S 


More consiiloration inuHt 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 
Rome. It affirms that there are two sources of divine know- 
ledge: one, Holy Scripture; and the other, traditions handed 
down from tlie Aiwstles, to whom they liad been dictated, as it 
wore, orally by Clnist or by tlie 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 disciplina arcani, — the latter term being one 
of post-Reformation 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.^ ' Spiritual ' hearers and ' carnal ' 
hearers need different teaching.^ Wisdom can only be spoken 
among the full-grown.^ 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 Dodrijie, and till they are certainly deter- 
mined wnthout 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 Chrisrianity, can only be answered according to 
personal taste" (Otto Pfleiderer Developcmcjit of Theology p. 299). Such a view 
remains subjective and defies scientific treatment. (We can now, however, refer to 
What is Christianity ?) 

1 Heb. 512-14. 2 1 Cor, 31, j Cor. 2«. 


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.^ 
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.^ 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 airop'prjra) of the faith could not 
be committed to writing, but must be orally preserved. So 
Clement of Alexandria " believed that Christ on his resurrection 
had handed down the ' knowledge ' to James the Just, and John 

'The earliest reference to such reticence is perhaps Tertiillian's "omnibus 
mysteriis silentii fides adhibetur" {Apol. 7) ; and his complaint tliat heretics threw 
open everything at once {dc Praescr. 41). With regard to the secrecy of the Ci'eed, 
see Cyprian Testim. iii 50, Sozomen H.E. i 20, Augustine Servi. 212. 

- See Additional Note oiKovoixla. infra p. 39. 

^ See the passage from the Hypotyposeis bk, vii (not extant) (juoted in Eusebius 
Ecd. Hist, ii 1. Cf. Strom, i 1, yi 1 ad fin. ; cf. Slruni. v 10 ad fin. on Rom. 
152s. 2e. a. and 1 Cor. 26- '^ ; and i 12 on Matt. 7«, 1 Cor. 2". 


ami Peter, and they to the other apostles, and they iu 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 dilTering in contents from that which wus 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- 
sophiwil view of the popular faith.^ 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,^ 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 ",^ 

' See Strom, vi 15, 

^ See the essay on the Developement of Christian DodriTU, 1845, Of., however, 
C. Gore Bampton Lectures p. 253. 

* "Westcott CoTiiemp. 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 umlorstood. 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 
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." ^ 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.^ 

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

^ Westcott Gospel of Life preface p. xiiii. The reveltitiou is in this eenisi 
continuous, present, and progressive. 
^ dee Ecce Homo oh, m' . 


and conditiona of porsonal \\fv DilVment nationalities, owiiip to 
their ditVci-ont antecedents, approliend very dilVerently. The con- 
ception that 08 Christ came to save all men through liiniself, 
80 ho passed t!irt)ugh all tlie Htuges of huuiau gro\\th, sancti- 
fying each in turn, was familiar in early days,^ and doctrine 
must correspond to the intellectual and moral and Bpiritual 
growth of man. To the expresflion of doctrine every race in 
turn makes its characteristic contribution, nut to the contents 
of the Revelation but to the interpretation and expression of 
its significance. The influence of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman 
modes of thought and of expression is obvious during tlie 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 metapliysical 
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 gra^lual process by which expression is found for the 
true interpretation of it — recognizes the element of truth con- 
tained in these over-statements.^ They seem to involve a con- 

^ Irenaeus ii 33. 2 {ed. H<arvey vol. i p. 330). 

''See Hatch Hibhert Lectures, and Gore Sampton Lectures iv. Cf. also 
Lighttoof Epistle to the Colossians p. 125. 

^ It lias been truly said that with the Incarnation of the Redeemer and tho 
introduction of Christianity into the world the materials ot 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 : irom the 
negative, to guard it against all foreign additions and influences. This twofold 
object mast be kept In view. The spirit of Christianity had to woik through the 
forms which it found, attaching itself to what was already in exi-'^tence and 
appropriating prevalent modes of expre.sfiion. ChrLst did not come to destroy but 


fuBion 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. 


oiKovo)Mta- RESERVE 

Such an ' economy ' or ' accommodation ' of the truth as is described 
above is evidently legitimate and educationally necessary.^ "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 th. faith 
and religious opinions which were being combated It would be right 
to shew that the new trath included all that was true in the old, and 
to state it as much as possible in the familiar phraseology : such 
argumenta ad hominem might be the truest and surest ways of en- 
hghtening 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 
'bears on his tongue whatever he bas in his mind', but only *to those 
who are Avorthy 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 if/evStTai kolv ij/evSo-; Aey??). And Origen is 
quoted by Jerome (adv. Rufin. Apol. i 18 ; Migne I .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 — iroXvfiipui kuI iroKvTpbwuz God spoke of old. 
The Son in •whom He spoke to ns 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 -he riches of the Gentil&s 
claimed for his service. 

' See Newman Arians i 3, and \as Apologia. See also his essay on Developement 
of Christian Doctrijie. 


of CAre t^ olwprvo the rules of the art, and only ubo tho lio as a 
conJiment and medicine. To no one else can it be permitted So hia 
pnpil, Gregory of Neo-Caosarea, used lungungt about the Trinity con- 
fessedly erroneoua,* and was defended by Basil {Ep. 210. 5; Migne 
P.O. xxxii p. 776) on the ground lliat ho waa not speaking 
^oy^oTiKw? but (iy(i)i'«rri>cojs (controver.sially), that is, not teaching 
dot;trine but ar>,Miing with an unbeliever; so that he was riglit to 
concede some things to the feelings of his opponent in order to win 
him over to the most important points.- And Jerome himself claimed 
to write in this manner yi'/iruoriKuis, 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 {Ej>. 48. 13 ; Migne P.L. xxii p. 502). 
So Gregory of Nazianzus, in defence and in praise of Basil (see Kp. 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 psedagogic 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 

* When he said Father and Son were two iinvolq., but one biroar&aei (but really 
inr6ffTcurii was then equivalent to ovffLa). 

2 Cf. also Basil cU Spir. Sando 66 on the value of the secret unwritten tradition. 
See Swete Docirine 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 Sca^ani 
Theolog. Mor. ii 23, Pascal Letters, and Jeremy Taylor Dudor Dubit. iii 2 (Jackson 
' Basil' N. and P.-N. FatUrs vol. vii). 


The Sources of Doctrine: Oral Tradition — Holy 


The original source of all Christian doctrines is Christ himself, 
in his hnman 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.^ 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.^ 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 ' ^ 
he bids the Thessalonians, ' the tradition which ye received from 
us';* and again he urges Timothy to guard the deposit com- 
mitted to him.^ 

By degrees this oral tradition was supplemented by the 

> John W- ". ' John 16'«. » 2 Thess. 2i». 

* 2 Thess. 3«. • 1 Tim. 6'^. 



written tradition, so that alnvidy in liiK exhortation to the 
Thcsaalonians 8t Paul was able to i)lace aide by side on a level 
the traditions which thoy had hwird from him, whether by word 
or by letter, his teaching when with them and what he had 
written since. But between the two tradilinus there was no 
sense of discord, and we shall search in vain for any suggestion 
that one possesses a gi'eater measure of inspiration than the 
other.^ 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. Tliey were at first two forms 
of the same thing. Both together constitute the Tradition, the 
Canon or Rule of Faith.^ 

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 '.^ 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 

' It might perhaps be inferred that in early times the oral tradition was regarded 
as more tnistworthy 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 traditicmis 
caput et origo (Ep. 74. 10), appealing to it as the ultimate criterion, but tliis conception 
is unusual. 

- The same terms KaviLv, regula («r. fidei),, traditio, are applied to both, 
' See Liddon's Sermon before the University of Oxford with this title. 


ill that was either of a heterogeneous cature 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. 

iTispiration 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 
wth 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. 

On the other hand was the Ethnic idea of divination (^77 navriKr]), 


according to which the medium of the diviue revelation, who was 
naually a woman, hoaime the mechanical mouthpiece of the God, 
losing her own consciousness, so that she gave vent in agitated 
tiance to the words she was inspired to utter.^ Inspiration is 
thus an ec^tntic 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 ^ — 

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 sujjerior force he pres.'^Vl ; 
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 tliat 
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^ 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 

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

' Aen. vi 77-80— Dryden. 

* See William Lee Itispiration 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, 
' entire with all their parts as they are accustomed to be read in 
the Cathohc 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 
(Hfferent 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.^ Thus Clement, in writing to the Corinthians,- 
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 {jprinciina) 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 princiixdi 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." 

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

■ Cf. §§ 47, 8. 


About the same time iiiul later on wc have some indications 
of the pre\'ailing view of inspiration in the writings of the 
Apologists and Irenfteus. 

To Justin, for example, Scripture is the word of God, given 
by (tOD throuj^lj the Word, or tliiough tlie Spirit. It is the 
Spirit of God who is the author of thu whole of the Old 
Testament — the single author of one great drama with its 
many Jictors. 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 wrcjught in 

Theophilus, however, recognizes 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.* 

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.* 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 whicli 
such a letter or word of God could not be cited in 

> ^4pol. i 36 (cf. 33, and ii 10;. * Legatio 9. 

3 Ad Autol. ii 9 (cf. Euseb. Hi^t. Eccl. iv 20). < Apol. 18. 


evidence. The prmciple that nothing is required for nalvation 
which cannot be proved by Scripture ^ was not enough for 
him : rather, Scripture denies that which it does not give 
instances of, and prohibits that which it does not expressly 

To the Montanists the annihilation of all human elements 
was of the first importance. Prophecy must be ecstatic. Un- 
consciousness on tlie 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 prop! < ■• 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 " ^ . . . 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).^ 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.^ It contains 
the following significant description of the manner in which 
inspiration worked. " Not naturally nor by human thought 

^ Cf. Article vi. - De Afonog. 4 ; dc Cor. 2. 

^ See adv. Ilaerescs iii 1 and 5 — Harvey vol. ii pp. 2, 18. 

■• Ibid, iii 17— Harvey ii p. 83. 

' Eusebi'.is Hist. EccL iv 18 mentions two writings of Justin to the Greeks, but 
neither the extant Oratio ad GenlUes nor the CohoricUio which contains the above 
l)assage 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 liad 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 thouj'li 
they imparted their divine teaching to us in different places and 
at ditterent 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." Hero 
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 efifect 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 inspii'ation worked. Eecognizing as he 
did the action of God in the moral teacliing 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.^ 

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

^ "But he that is of David and was before him, the Word of God, despising lyre 
and harp — mere lifeless instruments — took this cobmic 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.O. 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 
to 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.^ 

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 Scriiiture 

The ideas of inspiration, as applied to writings, and of 
exegesis, were formed, it has been said,^ 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. Eeverence 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 

' See de Primlp. bk. iv. Cf. Greg. Nyss. dr conim. Not. p. 181 (M?gne P.G. xW). 
^ Hatch Hibbert Lectures, 18S8, from which (p. 50 IT.) the following paragraphs 
are taken. 


woK'Ad of an undying wiailom. So when the uneonsciouH imitation 
of hrroic ideals paasod into conscious philosophy of life, it was 
neceesttry that such philoBophy should ho nhown to he con- 
sonant with the old ideals and current standards. And when 
' education ' began it was inevitable that the ancient poets 
shoidd be the basis of education. So the professors of educa- 
tion, the ])hilosoi»hers 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 ho became 
a sujiport to them instead of being a rival. " In the childhood 
of the world, men, like children, had to be taught by tales"— 
and Homer wjis regarded as telling tales with a moral purpose. 
The developing forms of ethics, physics, metajihysicR, all accord- 
ingly appeal to Homer ; all claim to be the deductions from his 
writings ; and as the essential interval between them, between 
the 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 wliich 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 tf> 
their religion and be in a [)Ositiou 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. Iilvery 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,^ " 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 supeiior 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, 
l^ut 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 Ijound 
to explain away all that, when taken in its literal sense, was 
offensive to human reason or seemed unworthy of the Deity. 

^ Pliilo de Somniis i 20 ou Gen. 28"— Hatch I.e. 


Modem conceptions of aireful scholmly inteii»n!tation und 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. Thi' insjiired Scriptures were separated by 
a wide choani from all other books and writings — the heavenly 
from the earthly : and so the superfifial nieaninLj was the furthest 
from the real lueaning. To the uninitiated Scripture was as a 
hierofTJyph which needed a key that few possessed to decipher its 
enigmas. S^> 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.^ 
And the author of the Epistle to Barnabas ^ carried on the same 
method in an elaborate application to Christ and to men of the 
imagery of the Day of xA-tonement. 

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 whigh 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 bands . . . elude our knowledge, 
and even those we have to resign to God ".^ 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.* The 
typical and allegorical method he condemns as used by the 
Gnostics, but he does not shrink from adopting it at times himself.^ 

1 E.g. as to Elias— Matt. 17"", Mark 9" * ; cf. JEpistle to the Hebrews all through ; 
.and St Paul, e.g. Gal. 422* 

- Ep. Bam. 17. ' Adv. Haer. ii 41 — Harvey vol. 1 p. 350. 

* Ibid. p. 351. See further, Harnack DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 251. 

'' 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 


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

So Tertullian ^ 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.^ And Clement of Alex- 
andria found rich meaning in the candlestick with its seven 

It is in Clement that wa first find' a definite theory of a 
threefold sense of Scripture.* " 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.^ 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,^ 
" 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 

' De Hesurredione Carnis 20 ad fin. 

^ Cf. 'Non hahet tempus Aeternitas' adv. Marc, iii 5, i 8. 

» Clem. Al. Slrom. v 6. 

* 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 down a precept for light conduct, or 
as uttering a prophecy." Here is the triple sense of Scripture — mystic, moral, pro- 
phetic Cf. Slrom. vi 15. 

' See esp. de Princip. iv §§ 1-27, esp. § 11. 

« De Princip. iv § 11, Tr. A.-N.C. Library. 


uiKta hia soul : in order thai the simple man may bo edified by tho 
' tk«h ', as it were, of tho 8cri])tiiro, for so we name the obviouK 
.souse ; while he who has ascended a eertain way [may bo edified] 
by the ' soul ', as it were. The perfect man, a^aiu, and he who 
resembles those spoken of by the apostle, when he says 'We 
speak wisdom among tliem (bat are perfect . . .' [may receive 
editityitiou] from the spiritual law, which has a shadow of good 
things to come. For as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, 
ao in the same way does Scripture, which has been airanged to 
be given by God for the salvation of men." This method of 
interpretation, Origen points out, is recognized in Holy Scripture 
— Cin'ist distinguished between the first and second in the 
Sermon on the Mount and (»n other occasions ; and theallcgoricnl 
and mystical senses were utilized in the arguments of the Epistles 
to the Galatians and to the Hebrews.^ The literal sense, how- 
ever, was not always possible.- Instances of things which have 
uo 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 ])e 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,^ 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 * and Turn the other cheek ^ 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 puiity and reverence.^ 

1 Origen cites Gal. 4««, 1 Cor. lO*"", Heb. 48- ». 

2 Ibid. § 12 ; cf. Hovi. ii in Gen. 6. » Cf. Horn, x in Job. 

* Luke 10«. 6 Matt. 5^, and so 1 Cor. 7'". 

® Cf. Athana.sius de TncamafAone Vcrhi, a/l fin. "For the investigation and 
tnie 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 miist 
previously wash and cleanse his soul by his life. . , ." 


The samo method of extgcsLs was followed, to a large extent at all 
•nents, by the later Easterji Fathers, especially hy the Cappadociuns. 
See e.g. Gregory of Nyssa de comm. Not. p. 181 Migne, Or. Cat. 32, in 
(Jant. Cant. p. 756 Migne, c. Eimom. vii p. 744 Migne. 

After Origen the first attempt at a formal statement of the principles 
uf interpretation that calls for notice was that of Tyconiiis, an African 
Donatist {c. 370-420). He drew up seven rules of interpretation which 
•A-ugustine a little later discussed and, with some reservations, recom- 
mended as useful though incomplete. (See the edition of F. C. Eurkitt 
Texts and Studies vol. iii no. 1, and Augustine de Doct. Christ, iii 
chs. xxx-xxxvii. On Augustine as Interpreter, see W. Cunningham 
Hvhean Lertm-es — ' St Austin ' .) Methods very diflierent 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. K. 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 
gi'eat variety of interpretations was possible, and that Scripture 
by itself could hardly be considered a sufficient guide. It could 
be claimed by both sides on most questions. Hence in con- 
troversy, 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 the 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 faith). 
The latter offered, obviously, the easier test, and the highest 
importance was attached to it. 

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


question — SuppoBing, as inip;ht. have happened, that we ha<i 
no Scriptures, to what should wo have to make our appeal ? 
" Should we not have to go hack to the most aiieient Churches, 
in which the Apostles lived, and take from them . . . what 
is fixed and ascertained ? What else could we do ? If the 
Apostles themselves luui not left us writings, should we not be 
obliged to depend on the teacliing of the tradition which they 
bequeathed to those to whose care they left tlie Churches ? " ^ 
We must go hack to the most ancient Churches — it is here, in 
the consent of Churches, that Irenaeus sees tlie 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.^ 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. 

- 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 {ibul. iii 3. 1 — Harvey vol. ii pp. 8, 9). See also the note on ' principali-s 
ecclesia' in Abp. Benson's Cyprian, p. 537. 


there had any chance of escaping notice and criticism. The 
tradition preserved at Korae 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 recognized in every Church 
by all who wish to know the truth " ; ^ 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.^ 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 tribvmal 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 
enquiry 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,^ accordingly, on this limitation of the question, and asks, 

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

' See further Lipsius, Art. "Irenaeua" in D.C.B. 

' De Fraescnptione Eaerelicorum — ' ' Concerning the Limitation of the Suit again st 
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 a«^ 
the commencement of a suit, which — if maintained— dispensed with the need of 


" Whose are the. ScripUires { liy whom and through whoso 
means and when and to whom was the dii^cijilinc, (the touching 
or system) handed down wliieh makes men Christians ? Wher- 
ever yon tind the true Christian diKcijjline and faitli, there will 
be the trnth of tht* Christian Scriptures and expositione 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 whicli can determine the truth. Heretics have no 
right to use Scripture in argument against the ortliodox, 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 Cod.^ 

And Origen, for all his elaborate system of interpretation, 
declares, in the Prologue to the work in which it is expressed, 
the nece.ssity 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 
light 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."^ 

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.* 
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.^ 

entering into any discussion of the merits of a case. FraescHptio technically meant 
a clause prefixed to the intejiiio of d, formula for the purpose of limiting the scope of 
an enquiry (excluding points which would otherwise have been left open for discus- 
sion before the judex), and at the time when TertuUian wrote it was used only of 
the plaintiff. ' Demurrer' is thus technically WTong, and somewhat misleading as a 
title of the treatise. 

' Strom, vii 16. ^ Dc Princip. Proem 1. 

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

* Cat. iv 33. 

' 'Ego vero evangelio non crederem, nisi me catholicae e<;clesiae commoveret 
auctoritas' (c. Ep. Munich. 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 T.erinnm 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.^ 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 xvithout the guidance of the tradition, which shews what 
has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. Quod ubique, 
quod semper, quod cd) omnibus — this is the great principle on 
which Vincent takes his stand. But he recognizes that it is 
not always easy of appHcation, 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 Chui"ch 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- 
nized 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, imanimous 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 Eeligion ; but Vincent was much 

^ Adversus jyro/anas omnium novitatcs haereticorum Commointoriv,m, ■\vritten 
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 be would use them against him. He was a meniber 
of th' famous monastery on the island near Cannes, now known as L'ile Saiut 
Honorat, from Honoratus the founder. A good analysis of the Common itoriwm will 
be found in Harnack DG. ii », pp. 106-108 (Eng. tr. vol. iii pp. 230-232) ; handy 
editions in vol. ix of Hurtcr's F!. Pairtutn Opuscula Selecia, and in the Sammluny 
Quellenschriften ed. Kriiger. 


too scholarly and soimil a thinker to coiuuiil In'nipolf to such a 
negation. When the argument brings him to the question, ' Ih 
there in the Church of Christ a progress in Keligion ? * 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 
nature 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 higli 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.^ 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 obvioiis 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 

^ 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 " ; ^ 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 ".^ 

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. » Tert. de Virg. Vel. § 1. 

Jewish Attempts at Interprktation — EmoNisM 

Characteristic Jewish Conreptiona 

Rooted in Jewish tbouc^ht were two ideas, from the obvious 
signiticjxuce 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 ' divhiity ' of Christ seemed to be ;t 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 tlie 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 gi'owth 
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.^ And the fear lest the 

^ It is clear from the Epistle of Clement that by the end of the first century all 
traced 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,^ the representatives of which are known as 
Ebionites.^ We have no record of their origin as a distinct and 
separate body.^ It is as schools of thought within the Church 
that Justin, our earliest informant, seems to regard them.* 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.^ 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.^ 

' ' Judaizing ' may not be the most accurate desiguation for what perhaps is only 
in origin an archaic foi-m of interpretation, hut relatively to the Catholic interpreta- 
tion of the Person and Gospel of Christ it expresses the facts sufficiently exactly. 

^ 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. Origin 
dc Princi'p. iv 1. 22 : 'E/3tw»'atoi, ttjs tttwx^s oiavola^ iiruii'vfxoL' 'E/3t'wv yap 6 tttcoxos 
Trap' "Eppaioii ovofid'^erai. 

' Dr. Hort supposed the}' 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 .ludaistic 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.) 

* Justin Dial. c. Tryph. 47 and 18. — See Hort JudaiMic Christitmiltj p. 196, 
on whose discussion the following statement of the facts is based. 

* See Hort — the two lines, developement and supersession of the Law, in tlie 
teaching of Christ himself {ibid. ' Christ and the Law ', Leel. ii). 

* 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 
hiid hy IroujKMiH,' who is the iirst to name them I'^bioniieaiis, 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 Jis heretics. 

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

And Eueebius'* after him, more precisely, makes the diflerenco 
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 Sonsliip 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 Resurrection. 

Later still Epiphanius * 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,^ while 
' Ebionaeans ', an equally genuine popular term,^ 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,'^ 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. 

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

' Contra Cels. v 61, 65. * Euseb. Hist. Ecd. iii 27. 

♦Epiph. adv. Haer. xxix and xxx. ' Cf. Acts 24^. 

«Cf. Matt. 5'. 7^"^. 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. 

Ce7"mthus and his School 

Of all the Ebionites one individual only is known to fame, 
Cerinthus — and he had almost as much in common with th(i 
' Gnostics ' as with them. Eeally 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 ^ 
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 
Cerinthus the enemy of truth was there. 

The province of Asia was probably the scene of his activity, 
though Hippolytus, witliout mentioning Asia, says he was trained 
in Egyptian lore. In his teaching, side by side with the 
' 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. 

' Reported by Irenaens iii 3, 4 — Harvey vol. ii p. 13 ; and twice quoted by 
Eusebius {Hid. Ecd. iii 28, iv 14). Iienaeus also .says (iii 11. 7 — Harvey vol. ii 
p. 40) that the Go.spel of St John was directed against Cerinthus {e.g. the doctrine 
of Creation by the Logos). Cf. Robert Browning A Death in the Desert. 
Epiphauius (^.c.) says he was the ringleader of St Paul's Judaizing antaLfonists at 
Jerusalem. Hegesippus does not seem to have mentioned him, nor does Justin, 
nor Clement, nor Tertullian. 


The creation, he taught, was not olTocted by God HiniBclf, but by 
angels — powers distinct from God — one of whom was tlie God 
of the Jews and the giver of the Law. As to the person of tlie 
Redeemer, he held that his Sonship to God could only be due 
to his cthiail merits, which qualified him for a special gift of 
grace and spiritual power. God might not arbitrarily make a 
person lioly. 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 '), 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 whtMice he came.^ Furthermore, he taught that the 
Resurrectiou 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 ; ^ but millenarianism 
was too widely accepted in the Church to be characteristic of any 
particular school of thought.* 


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 Recognitioiis (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 

' There is no evi.Ience that he used the Guostic term ' Aeon ' of the Christ. 
*Cf. the 'Gospel of Peter'. "My power, my power, thou hast deserted me!" 
Tliis is the only docetic element in the teaching of Cerinthus. 

' Eusebius, the deter nuued opponent of ' Chiliasm ', speaks specially of this {I.e.). 
* See infra p. 68, Note on Chiliasm. 


current early in the third century.^ 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 travelhng 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) ^ 
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.^ 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 spii'it 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 

' Hort Judaistic Chrislianity p. 201. See also D.O.B. Art. 'Clementine 
Literature', and Doriier. 

* See Hippol. ReJ'iit. Uaer. ix 13. They professed to have obtained this book 
from the Seres, a Parthian tribe (a mythical race like the Hyperboreans ot Greek 
le;,'end), 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, 

' See infra p. 75. 


appears to bo attarhefi. His mission has an ediu'utional purpose 
only, to exhibit to men a kind of object-let^son. 

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 Sc'ri])ture 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 whicli the age sujiplicd, 
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 ba^ed 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.^ 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.^ This conception of the reign upon earth of 
the Christ differed Httle 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 Avritings, as were their conceptions of the fate of 

' For thLs idea chief support waa to be got from the Gospel according to St John. 

- 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.^ Thn 
imagination pictiired, and hopes were fixtil 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- 
judaistic 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 
suiferings, 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 ■n-apova-ia from the first lAevats.) 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. 2629), and promises that 
those who now hunger and thirst shall hereafter be satisfied (Matt. 5"), 
and that faithful service shall be rewarded by rule over many cities 
(Luke 19^'^-19), — sayings which received a literal material interpretation.^ 
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 
(201-10). 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 (Jhrist. 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 ^ the belief was held by the 
authors of the Epistle of Barnabas,* 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 : ^ " I 
suppose he got those ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic 

^ E.g. the Apocalypses of Esra, Enoch, Baruch, Moses. Cf. the Apocalypse of Peter. 
^ Against this interpretation see Origen de Priiicip. ii 11 § 2. 

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

* Eii. Bam. 4, 15. * See Euseb. ff.K iii 39. 


account*, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken 
mystically in figures. I'^or he appears to have been of a very Ijinitcd 
unilorstanding, as one can see from his discourses." The raaterialistic 
character of their expectations is illustrated by the fainou.^ 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 
t«n thousand shoot.", and in every one of the shoots ten thousand grapes, 
and every gnipe when pressed will give five-and-twcnty measures of wine." 

Justin sl>ew8 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,^ and the Christian people were to be 
gathered together there and live in happiness with him and with the 
patriarchs and prophets." 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.^ In support of 
the belief he cites the prophet Isaiah* and the apostle John,^ and 
applies the imagery of the prophet Micah ^ to describe the happiness of 
the time when heaven and earth will be renewed,^ 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 prophwts' words will inherit in it eternal 
and imperishable blessings.^ 

These hopes were fully shared by Irenaeus (who derived them from 
Papias direct perhaps),' Melito,^'^ Hippolytu8,ii Tertullian,^^ and 

* Justin Dial. e. Tryph. 51. 

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

' Ibid. 81. Justin thus recoguizes a twofold resurrection, as Irenaeus does. 
Apoc. XX was so understood. Tertullian seems to teach an immediate resuiTection 
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 exj)ressed 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 Eabbi Ben Ezra. 

* Isa. 65»'-^. * Apoc. 20«-». «Mic. 4}-'' {Dial. 109, 110). 
' Dial. 113. « Ihid. 139. 

* It is Irenaeus to whom we owe the parable of Papias quoted Hupra (see lien. 
V 33-35). The letter from the Churches of Lugdunum and Vienna also shews 
Chiliastic ideas (Euseb. H.E. v Iff.). 

1" See Polycrates in Euseb. E.E. v 24. " See e.g. in Dan. iv 23. 

" See esp. adv. Marc, iii and de Res. Carn. 
" Inst. Div. vii § 11 ff. (esp. § 24). 


The Gnostics were the first to reject such conceptions (Maicion re- 
ferred tliem 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 ; ^ 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,- 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.^ 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.'^ 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 
Eesurrection,^ and destined to last a thousand years. 

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

' The Eefutation of AUegorists — pi-obably aimed at Origen. (Euseb. I.e.) 

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

^ See 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 milleunial 
rest upon earth, the delights of it being spii'itual enjoyment of the presence of the 


Gkntilk Attempts at iNTKnpitKTATioN 

Characteristics of Oriental Religious Thotujht 

Though it was to .Tews that the earliest atteinpts at interpre- 
tation of the revelation in Christ were coinniiLtcd, 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 developenieut of Christian doctrine. 
The lirst gi-eat 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.^ 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';^ 
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 di\'ine 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- 

' E.g. Indian and Persian compared with Greek. 
^ Nt-ander 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 
case there is no God, as Jews and Christians conceived of God. 

7%e Problem of Evil 

The distinction between the religious thought of the East 
;ind 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 visible 
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 whicli 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 
gi'appled with the problem.^ 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 ; ^ 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 

^ The Eleatics assert the dogma that the One alone exists, plurality and change 
have no real being (of. the Parmenides). Plato did not elaborate any systematic 
treatment of the question, though apparently regarding matter as the souice of 
evil — Tb fiT] 6v contrasted with jh 6v (which is idemified with rd a.-/a06v, 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. 

* 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 existonco of evil, the idea of the one being 
necessary to the ideji of the other). 'J'liosc theses, it is 
rightly pointed out,' are not ]iliilosophical e\])lHnationa of the 
origin of evil in the world, b\it examinations of the dilhcnlties 
whicli 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 murk of somewhat ilimsy optimism ^ 
on it : the unity of nature is preserved, but the reality of evil 
and of sin is sacrificed.* 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, wliose feelings opened out to all that was 
bright and beautiful and beneficial in nature.* 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 second supposes 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 

' Mansel I.e. 

2 With it may be compared the position of Shaftesbury as rei)re8ented 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." 
' Hebraism, with one perfect God of righteoufjness outside fhe world, could 
realize sin. Hellenism, with no idea of perfection about its goils, had no place for 
sin in its thought : to break law, not to live in accordance with nature, was folly, 
not sin. 

* 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 auimals and plants of a contrary kind, and 
inflicting 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 Revelation 

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 I'edeemer (who is divine) cannot have come in the flesh. 
The creator of the -woild, 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 Eedeemer who could not suffer was 
separate from the man in whom he appeared. 


Thf Qnostics their Aims and Clamficafion 

The 'Gnostics' were thinkers who, etarliiiL; from Oriental 
principles such as these, iind feeling the need of re(l('ni])tion by 
a sj)eeial divine revelation, beheved that Jesus of Nii/areth was 
the Hedeeiuer sent to save sinners, and tried to work out this 
belief and thei^e principles into a j)liilosopl)ic'al theory of the 
universe. It is this conviction of the need of Kedeni]>tion, 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 inter])vetation {i.e. a religious heresy) from a 
mere philosophical extravagance.^ " Tlio time is gone by ", wrote 
one of the soundest and soberest of modern scholars,^ " 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 dilhcult which can occupy the human )nind. . . . 
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 a])preciated." 
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.'^ But they drew a distinction between the 
popular simple faith, which was founded on authority and 

^ So Bigg {Christian Hatonists of Akouindria p. 28) insists that "the interest, 
the meauing, 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 sa)-? "it is a mistake to approach the Gnostics on 
the metaphysical side ". 

^ Lightfoot — Preface to Hansel's Gnostic Heresies. 

^ Yet at least, when their teaching was repudiated by the official heads of the 
Church, they became rival Chtirches, 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.^ 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 
spiritual contents of the Gospel in a spiritual manner in relation 
to aspects of life which seemed to be ignored.^ In this way they 
constituted themselves an intellectual aristocracy, for whom alone 
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 
been 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 

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

' Loofs (pp. 70, 73) distinguishes the chief variations of Gnosticism from (a) the 
Christian tradition {i.e. the popular creed) and (b) the Christian ecclesiastical phQo- 
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 — cosniical 
origin of evil and corresponding conception of Redemption — abandonment of early 
Christian eschatology ; and (6) salvation dependent on secret knowledge, or at least 
the Gnosis has jiromise 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 — 
superstssion of the genuine ai»ostolic tradition thi'ongh unlimited allegorical exegesis 
and its secret 'apostolic' tradition. 

For fragments of Gnostic writings see especially Stieren's e^lition of Ireiuievs. 


noted — a moral di (Terence ; Bonio of the Gnostics being ascetic, 
and some, it was said, licontious. The charge of iniinoriility 
has always been brought against religions op])onents in all ages 
and must never be receivod without examination ; but in this 
case it appears to be justified, some of tlie (Jnostics indeed 
making it a principle. If matter was essentially evil and 
antitheticnl 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 cr»uld 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 '.^ 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 ^ (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,^ older forms 
maintaining themselves side by side with later developements, and 
representative teachers and writers of the most diverse kindp 

^ Iren. i 1. 11, 12, ri ffapKiKii rots aapKiKoU Kal rd vpev/MTiKh rois irvev/xaTiKoU 
dxo5t5o(7^at Xiyovai. Cf. Clem. Al. Strom, iii 5. 

* 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 

' LooCs, 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, witliout 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 ; ^ Hippolytus gives an account of a work attributed to 
him, called ' The Great Announcement '^ and Menander is named 
as his pupil and successor. So too the Nicolaitans of the 
Apocalypse were usually considered Gnostics,^ 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) pufteth up but love edifieth ',* 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, noi- 
does the term ' aeon ' occur in the Gnostic sense of ' emanation '.^ 
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,^ but they are 
probably of Jewish rather than ' 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 '' to " Jesus Christ come in flesh " and the condemna- 
tion of those who do not ' 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 

^ Acts 89- 1". 2 -g •A7r6<^a(ris iJ.e-y6.\-n—Wi^^o\. Refut. Haer. vi 9 ff. 

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

* 1 Cor. 8'. Cf. 13", and contrast 2 Cor. 11^. 

" Probably not till its use by Valentinvis. Similarly irXi^pwfM (Eph. 1-^ 4") has 
no technical sense, though its use in Col. 1^' 2** of the totality of the divine 
attributes approximates towards the Gnostic conception. 

' Rg. the higher knowledge, Col. 2^- ^^ 1 Tim. 6^ ; the idea of the Demiurge, 
Col. 1>«- " ; angel-worship, Col. 2^^ ; asceticism. Col. 2'^'^ 3^-' ; incipient Docetism, 
Col. 2' ('bodily') ; and the evil of matter, 2 Tim. 2'^"'^ (matter being evil could not 
be eternal, so the resurrection would be spiritual only). 

^ 1 John 42- ». Cf. 2 John 7. 


not enoiiph to aoknowledgo his divinity; that lie was .also 'very 
Mau ' is of the essence of the fuith. He who tries to disLinguish 
the man Jesus from the Christ is fur from the truth. ^ 

And it is a similar docetic view, which made the human 
nature and the sulleringH of the Lord unreal, that roused the 
strenuous opjxisition of Ignatius." "He verily KuHured, 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 h;i])pen to 
them, bodyless and spectral as they are."'^ 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 crueiHed 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 V * It was indeed as man he 
was made manifest, though he was God.^ 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 ciipable of suffering and then incapable of suffei-ing." "^ 

To docetic thinkers the divinity of Christ presented no 

» IJohn 2«. 

■■* The ' Judaistic ' aud 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 aud docetic conceptions, and in both it is only apparent, namely, the 
Epistles to the Magnesians aud 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 Marpi. \au-xi in warning against (ivOevfiaTo. to. iraXaid (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. 

' Smym. 2. * Trail. 9, 10. » Eph. 18. « Eph. 7. 


difficnlties. 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." ^ 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."^ 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 fimdamental 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 
to 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 imder his control ; and Christ came 
to abolish his power and lead men back to the truth. 

Cerdo, also a Syrian, who came to Eome 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.^ It 
was perhaps from Cerdo that Marcion derived his leading thought. 

Marcion and his Followers 

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

^ Iren. iii 11. 8. 

-[Origen] Dial. adv. > Gnosticos iv p. 121 (Rufinus v 9). Cf. Tert. de Came 
Christi 20 (Hahn» p. 10) ; Theodoret ^jp. 145 (Migne P.G. Ixxxiii 1380b). 

* Views similar to those of Saturninus and Cerdo seem to have been adopted late 
in life by Tatian. Bfirdesancs, another Synan, at the end of the second century 
{^vhose hymns were in use by the Syrian Christians till the time of Ephraem two 
centuries lator), had more in common with Valentuius. 

* The son of a bishop of Siuope in Pontus (said to have been expelled from the 



<^i)ri/in<4 as thoy induli^t'd iii; ami while all the rest ro^'ard the 
iedemi)tivi' work of I'iuist as ctmsiBtiiig in his dofUine, whether 
treated mainly from the theoretic or from tlio etliical 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 ininieasunmldy nearer the 
Catholic 8tand]>oint than they : his interest was predominantly 
soteriological. But ho and his followers wore commonly reckoned 
Gnostics by their opponents, and the instinct <)f such men as 
Trenaeus and TcrtuUian was probably not much in error. It is 
at any rate certain that the dualism of the Gnostics, whicli 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. ffaer. xlii 1), 
who came to Koine 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 dvvelt.^ With a material body ho could have 
nothing to do, nor with a birth ; - 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 ^ and all the works of the God who 
had created and rrded 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^ its strength imdoubtedly lay. It could not have 
been on moral grounds that Polycarp professed to recognize 
in Marcion " Satan's firstborn ".^ It is recorded of one of 

^ It is not clear in what relation lie held Christ to stand to the Supreme 
God : pei'haps he made no distinction between Father and Son — the Supreme God 
Himself appcining without any mediator in the world. (So a kind of Modalisra, 
see infra p. 97). 

^ The birth and infancy and the genealogy he excised from the only Gospel 
which ho admitted (viz. our Gospel according to St Luku amended tc harmonize \vitli 
liis views). Against this ' docetic ' conception of Marcion see Tertullian de Carna 
Clirlsli, who maintains that Christ w^s as regards his flesh and body altogether one 
with us {concarnnlio and co/tviscerafio). 

^ 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. 

■• They regarded the Church as still in the chains of the Law — 'sunk in 
Judaism '. See Tert. adv. Mare, 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." 

* The talc is told by Irenaous (iii 3. 4). Marcion had known Polycarp in the 


Marcion's most distinguislieil followore * that he niaint-ainocl that 
those who liad their hope Het on the Criicilied would be saved, 
only if thoy were found doers of good works. His teaching 
proved extraordinarily attractive. Justin declared it was 
dilVused throuj^h every race of men.* TertiiUian compared the 
Marcionite^, who had "churches" with bishops and presbyters 
and songs and martyrs of their own, to swarms of wasps 
building combs in imitation of the boes,^ As well as their 
own churches and organization, thoy had their own Canon of 
Scripture, based on the conviction that Paul alone had under- 
stood the teaching of Jesus ; •• and some of their alterations and 
corrections exerted a disturbing iutluence on the text which 
was current outside the Marcionite communities.^ 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.® 

Carpocrates and his Followers 

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

* Apelles (with his companion Phihimenc, a 'prophetess') — opposed by 
Rhodon (see Euseb. Hist. Eccl. v 13), Hippolytus, and Tertullian {de Came Christi 

- Ap. i 26. 

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

* 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 Cor., Rom., 1, 2 
Thess., Eph., Col., I'hm., Phil.), the Pastoral Epistles being rejected. Marcion's 
own book, the 'kvTidiffei^, was also standard. 

' See Rendel Harris Codex Bezue, p. 232. 

" The wiitings 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. 

' 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. Htrom. 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 m the second century : the sect which lie founded 
being still active at Eome 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 Carpocrsites 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.^ 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 ^ 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 Platouic conception of Recollection {' AvdfjLvqcris) expi'essed in the 
great Phaedrus myth (Plato PhaedruH 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. siiiiitu- 
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 
sui)erior 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 >vith God. 

* See p. 78 supra. 

- Ophiani (Clem., Ocig.), Oi)liitai (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 
9) symbolized the world. It was said that the Ophites alloM'ed tame snakes to 


as iiu evil power, acting in hoslility to the Supreme God, the 
Fall became the emanripation of man f-rom the iiuthority of a 
malevt»lont being: the 8eri)ent was the symbol of true wisdom 
ami freedom, wishing to bo man's friend against the jealous 
Jehovah ; and no the usual reading of the Old Testament was 
reversed — the bad characters becoming good, oppressed by the 
servants of Jeliovah. 

Of sects with these general principles there wore many 
varieties and degrees. In princij»le })robably, and in practice 
c«rtiinly, they are the furthest removed of all the Gnostic 
schools from the Catholic view of the purport of the (Jhristian 
revelation, and exhibit the greatest admixture of foreign ele- 

The School of Bcmlidea 

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

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 : ^ for the present 
the following may be taken as a general description. 

The Supreme God, the uubegotten 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 spiiitual 
being which had emanated from Him. Of these the higliest 
— the first emanations from Him — were a group of eight (the 
first Ogdoad), comprising in descending order Mind (or Reason 

rrawl about and 'sanctify' the Eucharistic bread ; and their teaoliing and actions 
no tloulit encouraged the belief of the heathen in the tales of debauchery practised 
at the Christian love- feasts. 

* 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 
r. 200 A.D. Tlie work is composed in the form of a dialogue in which the 
disciples, male and female, put questions to Jesus and elicit ausAvers giving ex- 
pression to Gno.stic concej'tions. There is a Latin translation by Schwartze, and 
an English translation ]»ubli.^hed by the Theosojiliical Publishing Society. 

- The Basilides of Irenaeus is described as an emanatiouist and dualist ; the 
Basilides of Hippolytus as an evolutionist and pantheist (Stoic and monistic). So 
Bigg (p. 27) says the aeon.s have no place at all in his system, follo^ving the 
account of Hippolytus Refnl, Haer. His teaching was probably understood, or 
developed by his followers, in diflferent ways. 


in itself), Eeason or Word or Speech (the expression of Mind), 
Understanding (or practical Wisdom), Wisdom, Power, Virtues, 
Chiefs, and Angels.^ 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-live gradations of spiritual being.^ 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 Euler), who wislied 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 perisl" 
and be resolved into formlessness, while the constituents of the 
higher nature ascended to their own region.^ 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 

' NoCs, A670S, ^pdPTiffts, '^o(pta, At^ca/u;, 'Aperal. 

- The whole s[)iiitual world, the totality of spiritual exi.stence, is thus expressed 
by the mystical watchword ofteu 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^lOO, $ = 60, s = 200). 

•^ It was also said that he did not sufter himself to be crucified, but substituted 
Simon of C3'rene in his stead. 


work of man is the cxtir])ati(»n of all traces of the low grade of 
life which cling to him, as appendages which. niUHt bo torn away.' 
The strength and the weakness of the system of Busilidoa 
has been well ap]>raised when it is said that of all the Gnostic 
systems it " least recognizes any break or distinction between 
the Cliristian revelation and the other religious of the world. 
His leading thought is the continnity 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. P)Ut 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." '^ 

The Valentinians 

Similar to the teaching of Basilides, at least in many of its 
chief conceptions, was the system of Valentiuus,^ who lived at 
Alexandria and in Cyprus till towards the middle of the 
second century he came to Eome, 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. 

' 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 Teo:is aivd Studies vol. i 
no. 4). A letter by Ptolemaeus, another disciple, who roused the opposition of 
Irenaeus, is given by Epiphanius [adv. Haer. xxxiii 3-7), ; and also an extract from 
an anonymous work (ibid, xxxi 5, 6). Fragments from Valentirius 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,^ 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,^ 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,^ 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 

^ Alujves, probably from Plato's use of tlie singular 'aeon' to express the ever- 
present form of the divine e.xistence prior to time, — so applied by Valentinus to 
the manifestations of this existence. 

- Each of these pairs is the consort (ffiyfiryos) of the other. Their names are as 
follows. The Ogdoad— "A/JpijTos (or Bidos or UarTjp dyivvtjTOi) and -(.yn (or'Ei'voia 
or Xdptj) ; NoCs (or llarrip or Mopoyevfjs) and 'AXijfleta (forming together the highest 
tetrad, from wliicli proceeds a second tf-trad) ; A670S and Zwt? ; 'AvOpuiros and 
EKKXijala. [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 tlie world]. The Decad — BvOios and 3Ii|ts ; 'Ay-rjpaTOi and "Ei/wcrty ; Airro- 
(pirrjs and 'Hoo»'^ ; 'A/c^i'tjtos and 'ZvyKpairis ; Mo;'07€i'7js and MoKapm. The Do- 
decad — liapaKKriTOi and IIiffTts ; IlarptKds and 'EXTrifs ; M7;Tpi/c6s and 'AydTrrj ; 
AlihvLOi and Swe(rts ; '^KKKriaiaariKbs and MaKapiiryjy, 0eX7;r6s and Zoipia. The term 
Bvdus (the ab3-ss) for the great cause, expresses the infinite fulness of Kfe, 
the ideal, where the spirit is lost in contemplation. See Irenaeus, i 1. 1 (Epiph. 
adv. HacT. xxxi) ; of. Tert. adv. VaUnt. 

' It is in connexion with this conception, with special reference to the idea 
that the cnicifixion under I'ontius 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-linutation of llio Inliiiite, and it is of Ruprenie 
importiiiice that euch form of lieing should iviiuiiii witliin the 
limits of ita own individuality, keeping its proi)er jdace in 
the evolution of life. This i)rinciplc is personified in Hovos 
(Boundary), the genius of limitation, who fixes the hoimds of 
individual existence and carefidly guiinls them against dis- 
turbance. Even in the spiritual world this function had to 
be exercised, for there too theie 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 (Wi.sdom), 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 tJie 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 ^ 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 ^ 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 Christiajii" 
(adv. Valenl. 27 ; cf. Tgnatius loe. cit. supra). 

* The accounts differ in details. All that is clear is that ^} <To<f>la, as having 
been in the Pleroma, has in her something of the spidtiial or real existence, and 
therefore imparts to the matter into which she falls the seed of life. 

' This is what was visible in Jesus. According to Irenaeus (i 1. 13 — IT. 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 coinniunicates ; 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 
80 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, 
hylic, 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 otlier of these elements 
prevailed. The spiritual were only a select few from among men, 
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 higlier 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 ^ 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 "? 

The Infiuence 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 vvev/ia 
or spiritual principle (such as was derived from Achamoth) ; (2) a \pvx^ or animal 
sonl 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 prc-cxisteut Saviour 
who descended in the form of a dov-' at the Baptism anil withdrew with the spiritual 
principle before the Crucifixion. (There was thus no real humanity or body ; it was 
only apparent, docotic.) 

^ Iren. ii 39— ZT. vol. i p. 34.5. 

- Of the school of A'alentinus was Theodotus, whose writings were well 
known to Clement. See the Excerfda ex Scriptis The-oifoti (extracts made perhaps 


triumph would have meant the overthrow of Christiiinity as a 
historical religion and the diKruption and ruin of the Church. 
It is said that its inthionce was almost entirely no<j;ative — in 
that it discredited Dualism and the ne<;utioii of the human free 
will and Old Teytamont criticism, and by its ap])oal to a]K)Stolic 
writings and tradition which were not genuine occasicmeil the 
formal establishment of genuine apostolic standards in the 
Church.^ If, however, it is diHicult to point to any definite 
positive intluence 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,^ 
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.^ 

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,* 
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.^ 

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) ; Migue P. G. ix pp. 653-698. An account of his 
system in Bigg I.e. p. 31 ff. 

^ E.g. Loofs, p. 73. 

^ See King Gnostic Oeins. So Domer Person of Christ Eng. tr. vol. i p. 254 
writes ' ' hardly any one could wish that the Church might have escaped the Gnostic 

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

* 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. 1=^, Col. 2^, Matt. 14'9, Luke \^ ll'»). 

® Domer (i p. 252) points out the witness both of Ebionism and of Gnosticism 
to the Christological conceptions of the early Church. Ebionism asserted that the 
geuuine 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 f oatures 
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 Acta Archelai, 
which professes to report dialogues between ]\fanes and Archelaus (a 
Bishop of Carchar in Mesopotamia) in the reign of Probus (supposed to 
have been composed m 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 ^Eanicheism 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 ' 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) The 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, 
and elaborated in a manner somewhat similar tu that of the Gnostic 


posmologies. No distinction wjis drawn between tlio physical and the 
otliical, nnd llius "relijjious knowledge could bo nothing but the know- 
ledge of nature nnd it«i elenien(3, nnd redemption consisted exclusively 
in n physical deliverance of the fractions of light from darkness, . . , 
Kthica became n doctrine of abstinence from all elements arising from 
the realm of darkness" (Ilarnack). The powers of darkness or evil 
sought to bind men (who always had some share of light) to theinselvcs 
through sensuous attractions, error, and false religions (especially that of 
^^oses 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 — Avho was held to be the last and greatest prophet, 
the guide, the ambassador of light, the Paraclete, by whose instrument- 
ality ihe separation of light from darkness is accomplished. Practical 
religion thus became a rigorous asceticism, abstaining from all sensuous 
enjoyment (the three seals, the siynactdum oris, manus, et sinm — the 
mouth, the hand, the breast — symbolized the complete abstinence from 
everything containing elements of darkness), practising constant f.-vsts (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' 
Mauichaeans — tlie elect — fuUillLng these strict rules, while the lower 
class of secular Manichaeans, catechumens or hearers (aicdifores), were 
ouly required to avoid idolatry, witchcraft, and sensual vices, and to 
kill no living creatiu'e. Worship consisted exclusively of prayers and 
h}Tans ; they had no temples, altars, or images, 

(4) To the difficult question why Manicheism spread so far and 
wide, Ilarnack gives the answer that its strength was due to the combi- 
nation of ancient mythology and a vivid materialistic dualism wuth 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 ofifered 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 
^vTitten, 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 
^Vestern 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 
coloiu", 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 Aiiditores there was 
a carefully gi-aduated 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 agaiiist 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 av/Utor. They also reached Spain and Gaid, 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. lii. 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, 


Attemtts to Maintain, on ' Monarciiian ' Lines, alike thk 
Oneness and Sole Kule of God and the Divinity of 


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 Rome, 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 mthout believing that this one God was the maker 
of evil.^ 

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

The doctrine of the divinity of Christ, accepted at first with- 
out precision of statement by the consciousness of Christians, 
wlien 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 

'The full title of the treatise is given by Eusebius H.E. v 20, 'Concerning 
Monarchia, or that God is not the Author of Evil Things '. It is clear (though 
Eusebins 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. 

- So Tertullian adv. Prax. 1 says that the Devil, who vie;; with the trutli in 
various ways, makes liiniself 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 di^'ine 
' economy '} 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 Hippoly tus 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 ".^ 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 ^) 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 

' oUovofiia — the providential ordeiing and governmont of the world, so the plau 
■or system of revelation, so especially the Incarnation. Tert. adv. Prax. 3. 

- Origen on John 2-. 

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



p. 103 n. 2), or Sahellians (from the chief exponent of the system 
in its most developed form), or ' modalistif ' Mouarchiaus. 

Tjie Alooi 

The earliest representatives of these Monarchians seem to 
have been the ' Aloj^i ', so called because they rejected not tlie 
Logos doctrine altogether, but the Gospel of St John, v/hich 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. Tliuy did not, probably, admit 
distinctions within the Godhead ; such deity as resided in Christ 
beijig the deity of the Fatlier, pre-existent therefore, and 
brought into peculiar union with the man Jesus, but whether in 
that union remaining ])ersonal or being a mere force seems not 
to be determined. And so tlie Alogi were possibly tlie point of 
departure for both forms of Monarchian tliouglit ; but very little 
is known about them, and it is not clear that they ever existed 
as a detinite sect at all.^ 


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 tlie 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.^ He was a 

^ 'Alogi' is a nickname coined by Epiplianius adv. Haer, li. It is uurertain 
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. 

^ He is said by Tertullian de Pracscr. 53 to have regarded Christ as a mere man, 
though bom 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 bom, 


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

The same views were held by a second Theodotus, a banker 
at Piome, a student of the Peripatetic philosophy and a critic 
and interpreter of Scripture^ 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 ' ^ 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 
Rome, 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 derelope- 
mcnt (irpoKoirr)) and the moral proof of his sonship — by growth in character he grew 
to bo divine. 

* On the biblical criticism and textual ' corrections ' and dialectic method of the 
Theodotians, see Euseb. H.K v 28. 13, quoting the Little Labyrinth. The author 
of this refutation of their teaching charged them with falsifying and corrupting 
the Scriptm-es, and witJa prefemng 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 coimter-charge 
against the Roman Church, accusing it of having recoined the truth, like forgers, 
by omitting tiie word ' One ' with ' God ' in the primitive Creed (so Zahn Jpostles' 
Creed Eng. tr. p. 35). 

- ir(piypa<p^ is the word used, see infra p. 110 n. 1. 


l»y the author of the Little Labyrinth,^ who aimed at shewing"; 
that from the earliest limes Christians ha<l rej^rdod Christ as 
God, :ind he succeodcd so far at least that this form of Mon- 
archianism soou passed into obscurity in Rorue. The o-xplana- 
tion that Christ was suiwrnaturally born, superior in sinlessnoss 
and virtue to the pro])liets, and so attaining to unique dignity, 
but yet a man, not God — this was felt to bo no adequate 
interpretation of the powtjr 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 "?■ 

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.^ Following Artemon, and laying 
aU stress on the unity of God as a single person, he denied any 
' hypostasis ' of the wisdom or Logos of God — regarding the 
intelligence or reason in the human heart as analogous. The 

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


" Augnstine Confessions, vii 19 [25], ed. Bigg. 

' 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 ac^ainst him ; the ecclesiastical fabrics were to belong to the bishop who 
was recognized as such by the Bishops of Italy and Rouie. 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 thougli 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.^ The personality of Jesus was entirely human ; ^ 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.* Whether this goal was attained after the 
Baptism or not till after the Kesurrection is not decided ; 
but the union, such as it is, between CJod 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.* 

His condemnation by no means disposed of his views.^ 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 ^ ; while in the great theologians of 
Antioch, a century later still, a portion of the spirit of Paul of 

^ ovK oi)<rtw5(2s dXXA Kard, iroidriyra. 

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

*' Cf. Ailianasius de Synodis 26, 45, quoting the Macrostich, £k npoKoirfii reOeo- 
TToirjadai — i^ dvdpibwov yeyovi 6e6s. See Hahn ^ § 1 59. 

* See Hahn ^ § 151. See note on Paul's use of o/jloovitiot infra p. 111. 

' Harnack points to the Ada Arcliclai §§ 49, 50, as shewing the prevalence of 
similar conceptions in the East at the beginning of the fourth century. The 
Coimcil of Nicaea, by ordering the rebaptism of followers of Paul, treated them as 
not being Christians at all. 

* See Additional Note on Lucian infra p. 110. 


Siunosata lived iigain, and in the peryous of a Theodore ami a 
Ne8tx)riu8^ was again condemned. 


The rationalisi or '(iyiianiic' form of Monarohian tenohing 
was 80 ohviounly destnictive of the real divinity of Jesus that it 
can scarcely have been a serious danger to the faith in the 
Inwirnalion. Much more likely to attract devout and earncat 
thinkers was the ' modalistic ' doctrine. While maintaining the 
full divinity of Christ it was safe from the reproach of ditheiKm, 
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.^ So it is easy to understand the gi'eat 
impression which was made by the earliest representatives of the 
' modalistic ' school of thought, Noetus and Praxeas,^ both of 
whom came from Asia Minor (the home of Monarchian views) 
to Eome towards the end of the second century. 

^ Paul seems to be differentiated from Nestorius chiefly hy the denial of the 
personality of the Logos. 

- 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 Fatlier') and Melito 
{6ebi ireirovBev iirb 5e|tay UrparfKLTidos). 

' Our knowledge of Noetus comes from Hippolytus (Ref. ITaer. ix ad init., x 23 
(72>. and the special treatise c. Noct.). Hippolytus does not mention Praxeas, 
against whom TertuUian 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 Eome, 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 ' modalisin ' 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 ^ 
Tertullian wrote against him (using his name as a label for the 
heresy), and in epigrammatic style described him as having done 
' two jobs tor the Devil at Eome ', — " 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,^ 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 or 
the Son. 

A compromise perhaps was found ^ in the theory that the 

^ The exact date is uncertain — c. 210, Harnack. 

^ Origen explains ^atrvpassiani 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.ij. Zephyrinus avowed, " I know one God Christ Jesus, 
and besides him no other oiiginate and passible", — but also, " It was not the Father 
who died, but the Son ". In two cases only that arc 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 
AquUeia (Hahn' p. 42), and in the Crefid of Auxcntius, the senii-Arian predfcessor 
of Ambrose as bishop of Milan, whose Creed may bo the baptismal Creed of 
Cappadocia (Hahn* p. 148). 

^ Possibly by Callistu-s, whose modified ' Praxeanism ' Tertullian is thought to be 


Father, nnliorn, invisible (Ihougli us Spirit, as inviBiblo God, Ho 
could not suner),8oim»lu)w participated in the surierings of Christ, 
the Son who was born — " The Son sufVers, the Father however 
shares in the sulVering " ; though really in such a compromise 
the essential principle of Modalism would be lost.' 

Noetus, however, wlien brought face to face with the logical 
issue, seems to have scorned all comjjroniiae. 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. Tlie 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 
harm have I done? I believe in one God" — so Epipbanius 
reports him ; or " Why ! what harm am I doing in glorifying 
Christ ? " — as Hippolytus gives his words.^ 

Sahellius 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," 

^ It involves a distinction in tlie 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, 
Hahn* p. 7. Cf. the Arian conception — the Logos cam/iatitur mth the human 
y,hich. paJAtur in the person of Christ. See Hahn* § 161 (the Synod of Sirmium 
357), and infra pp. 180, 181 notes. 

- Ti oi'v KaKov neiroirjKa ; ?va. debv So^dfw — Epiphanius. ri odv KaKbv iroiQ, do^dj^av 
-rbv Xpi<TT6v — Hippolytus. 


exactly each coutributed we cannot tell : even of Sabellins the 
full accounts belong to the fourth century.^ To him the developed 
form of the teaching — embracing the whole Trinity — seems to 
be due,^ 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.^ He seems to have adopted the language of the Church 
so far as to speak of three ' persons ', using the term irpoaoinra, 
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 * 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 

^ 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. Hacr. ix) and in Athanasius {e.g. Or. c. Ar. 
iv) — the earliest accounts of him. Cf. Basil Ep}^. 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) c^-rt^inly says 
that conceptions of expansion and contraction were taught by Sabellius, and not, 
as some have argued, that their natural consequences were Sabellian. 

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

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

■• As Hamack understands EpiphaniuB and Athanasius. 


that thore is no pennunence about such ' personalities '. Thore is 
no real incarnation ; no per8onal indissohible union of the God- 
heAd with the Manhood took place in Christ. God only ni.iiii- 
fested Himself in Christ, and when the part was played and the 
curtain fell u]^)on that act in the great drama there ceased to be 
a Christ or Son of GikI. This conception of u merely transitory 
pereonality of Christ ' (which seems to involve 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 tlieory 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. 

Partwl Sywpathy with Sahellianism at Home 

In Eome, though the fierce opposition of Hippolytus ^ got 
little support, and Callistus ^ at first was favourable to the 
modalistic conceptions, Sabellius was condemned and excommuni- 
cated, and the Monarchians soon found few followers in the 
West,* though, as Harnack points out, the hold which they had 
had for tvrenty 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- 

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

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

' Callistus was bitterly attacked by Hippolytus for his protection of the school 
of which Epigonus and Cleonienes, and later on Sabellius, had I)een head. It is 
probable that Callistus, as Zephyrinus before him, simply wished to secure as much 
toleration and comprehension as }>ossible, to protect the Church from the rabies 
thf.ologoTwnx (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. 

* Cyprian could class Patripassnani witli ' ceterae haereticorura pestes ' {Ep. 73. 4). 


andria. TJome and the West were chiefly responsihle for the 
ofiooixnov formula of Nicaea (so long opposed as Sabellian). 
Kome received Marcel) us, who carried out the Sabellian prin- 
ciples, and rejected rpel^ viroarrdaei'i and supported the Eusta- 
thians at Antioch, And finally, it was with Eome that 
Athanasius was most at one. Indeed, Sabelhanism 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 ChriHt- 
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 Rome is seen from the 
treatise On the Trinity by Novatian, the most learned of the presbyters 
of Rome 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 Rule 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 cowmunio substantiae {oixo-ova-ta) 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 personamm distinctio, speaks of Christ as 
sevunda persoTia post patrem and of the proprietas personae suae, and 
regards the imion in its moral aspect as concord. He even speaks of the 
Son as proceeding from tlie Father when the Father willed. But at the 
same time he insists on the suhsfanfiae communio. In respect of the 
person of Christ he is concerned to maintain both the true deity and the 
true humanity — the filiiis dei and the jilius hominis. The union is 
emphasized — the jiliiLS hominis is made by it the filius dei — but the 
nature of the imion is not discussed. The doctrine of the Logos falls 
into the background. [The authority of Jeronie de Vir. lU. c. 70. \Aho 
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 ppitc of more moilorn cioubts ; cf. Harnack Gewh. d^r attchriftt. 
LUteralur i 652-656. The treatise is printed in Mi^iio P.L. iii 
885-952. With it may bo CDinpured the Tractattis Oriijfuh diBCOvered 
by Batifol and aiicrilu-d by Weyiuan to Novatian, thuuj,'h Doni HiiLh^r 
with j^roator probabiUty a-^signs it to an anonymous writer of the iiftli 
or sixth century. See J.T.S. vol. ii pp. 113 If. and 254 IF.] 

Tliis work of Novatian is described by Harnack as creating for the 
West a dogmatic vatle viecum. 


It is worth while over against the thcniies of the NoptiaHi=; and 
Sab( Ilians to set the theory of their uncompromising opponent, Hippo- 
lytus — whose own theology gave almost equal offence and was charged 
uith ditheism. It is to be found in his Refutatio Haeresium and in his 
sermon against Noetus (which was earlier and less definite, but expre.<5!=es 
the same views, often in the same words). For his Christology, see 
especially Ref. Ilaer. x 33, and c. Noet. 10-15. The following ia a sum- 
mary of Dt^illinger's account in his Hippohjtus and Callistua. 

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. 
oT€ rjOiXrjo-iv, fca^ws yj6e\r}(Tev — 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 dpi(TK(jiv 6e<3. 

The whole is thus the Father, but the Logos is a power proceeding 
from the whole — the intelligence of the Father, and therefore his ova-La, 
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 lie first became when he became 
man. Xevertheless God already called him Son because he was to be 
born {r. 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 erepo? 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 per.son is irpoanovio^ before all time, but not from eternity 
(liSios ; (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 mil ; (4) his representation of the Logos as the Koo-fio'; vorjT6<5 — 
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 j cf vi 20) recording that "he dared to assert that our 


Saviour and Lord did not pro-exist in an individiml existonce of his 
own^ 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 seini-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 efllux 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 Trpoarwirov side by side with the waTpiKr] ^con;?, and Sabellius, with 
his recognition of a distinct irpoatDirov or irfpiypa^i] both of the Logos 
and of the Si)int. 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^); "I an.l the Father are one" (John lO'^o); "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*-^^). Against his interpretation of such passages, see Ter- 
tullian chs. xxi-xxiv. Other texts which Noetus used were Ex. 3*" 
20-, Isa. 446 4514^ i>,ar. 336^ liom. 9^ (Christ— God over all)— see Hippo- 
lytus contra Noetuin. 


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 

^ kot' Iblav oi}fflas vfpi-ypa<p^v — Tepiyf>a<p^ primarily 'limit-line', 'circumscription', 
so used of jiersonal individual exittence, 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 (irpoKOTr^) 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 will) 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 
Hahn3p. i87.) 

He is probably fairly described as 'the Arius before Arius ' 
(Harnack DG. ii p. 182), and among his pupils were, besides Arius him- 
self, Asterius, the first Avian writer, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis 
of Nicaea, Maris of Chalcedon, and Athanasius of Anazarba. His 
activity in textual criticisjn 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 «o<»ni8 possible ilmt objection wns takon to Paul's rensoninpj that 
the Logos wiis oup porson with (tod as the reason is one with man, on 
the ground that the doctrine of the Chtiroh required one God but more 
than one tt/mJo-wttoi', and tl)at to nu'et tliis objection he dnr,lare<i tliat he 
recognized such irpuaioTra — God and Christ standing over against f-ach 
other as Homoousioi — meaning alike personal (ova-ia being taken in the 
sense of particular, individual being) ; (roSt ti). This would be, in the 
opinion of his opjwnents, to introduce a human personality into the 
Godhead, and so the word would be rejected. (It is of course quite 
clear that if ovaia wore 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 Horaoousios, 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. C. 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 ofioovatos was considered 
and disapproved by the Council of Antioch has recently been questioned 
by Dr. Strong in the Journal of Theolor/ical Stwlies 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 Correspondence between the Dionysii 

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.^ 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 ditferent (or foreign) in being {ovctlo), 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 

' He took a leading part in all the controversies of the time, conceriiiug the 
lapsed, re-baptism, Easter, Paul of Samosata, Sabellianism, and the authorship of 
the Apocalypse. Many of his letters, festal {iwLaroKat iofyracrTiKaL) 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 wepl ^iVews — a refutation of materialism and the theory 
of atoms, of the irepl iira.yye\iQiv — a thorough rejection of millennial expectations 
ami a vindication of the allegorical interpretation of the proplirtic descriptions of 
the Messianic kingdom (and incidental denial of the Johannine authorship of the 

8 113 


husl)an(linnn, or Unit of the bout to tho Hhiphuilder. lie insisted 
on the fact that tliere were three (iJHtinct hypo.staseK in the 
Godhead, and for these and other similar ex]iression8 he wa8 
elmr^ed with error l>y Rome members of the Alexandrian (,^hurch, 
and the jndgement of the liishop of Eome, his namesake (Bp. 
259-268), was invoked. A synod, accordingly, was held at 
Rome,' which condemned the views repoited to it, proclaiming 
the verbally simple creed that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist, 
and that the tiiree are at the same time one : and a letter was 
written by the bishop^ expressing the sentiments of the synod, 
exposing the erroneons nature of the arguments on which 
other views depended, and asking for an explanation of the 
charges. In reply Dionysius of Alexandria conjposed four books 
of ' liefutation 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, 

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

^ Athanasius de Deer. Nic. 26 gives an extract from i t. Wliat more there was 
can only be inferred from the reply of Dionysius of Alexandria, of which considerable 
quotations of the important passages are preserved in Athanasius de Scntcn- 
tia Dionysii (cf. de Synodis 44 and dc 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 lioly 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. dc Deer. 26). It 
should be noted that Dionysius of Alexandria in t])c passage quoted uses the words 
6/u.o7f y^s (and ffvY^evf)^) and 6fio(f>vris as though they were near equivalents to bjj.oo'ucnos. 
Tliis 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 suhstanlia of Godhead existing in 
ilixtQ pers(m<ie. He thought more naturally of the three pcrsonae of the same genus 
and nature ; that is to say, he was more ready to acknowledge the getieric than the 
essential oneness of the Godhead. See further infra p. 236, Note on inrbaracris. 


evidently as being homogeneous, saying tliat 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." ^ 
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 arc though they like it 
not, or they must utterly destroy the divine Trinity ". ^ 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.^ 

' Ath. de, Sent. Dion. 18. 2 Basil de Spirilu S. 72. 

' Dionysius of Rome contented himself with sliewing the false cousequences of 
the teaching attributed to Dionysius of Alexandria. Atlianasius at a later date, 


The fact that the one was accuatonied to Hpeak aiid think in 
Greek aud the other in f^itin is ahnost onough in itself to 
account for the mienndt'iHtanding. 

Ovaia — Being, Existence, Essence — was used in two senses, 
particulur and general. In the first sense it meant a ywirticular 
being or existence or essence, and so in such connexions tis this 
was almost equivalent to our word individual oi- ' p(!rson '. To say 
that the Son was of the same ovaia 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 tho Alexandrine was con- 
tending. But ovaia 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 
Roman \inderstood fiuhstaiifiu, the Latin equivalent of the term, 
and in this sense Diouysius of Alexandria (though much more 
willing to declare imity of nature, i.e. much less than substantia 
meant) was induced to agree to proclaim the Son of one ovaca 
with the Father. 

Again, the word viroaraaL^ — hypostasis — could bear two 
different meanings. Primarily it was that which un^lerlay a 
thing, which gave it reality and made it what it was. It was 
generally used by Greeks as almost equivalent to ov(rla iu 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 ova id) 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 
iu the more limited and particular significance of the term the 
Christian faith required that three * 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 Roman. 
The proper rendering of ovaia 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 Eome,^ 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 irpoaco'rrov 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 ovala 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 ovala 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 6fxoova-io<; 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 ovaiai 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, 

^ 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 nratoria (to represent pijropiKri) 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 picsbytor of Caesftrea, whose great collection of hooks and 
dovotion to the memory of Ori;j;cn were iuheriled by EuBebius, 
— the spokesman and loader of the great majority of Eastern 
bishops in the controversy which, during the following century, 
seemed to thre<iten the very foundations of the Cliristian 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 tliey 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 Alonarchian teaching. 


The Logos Docti:ine 

In tracing the developenient of the Logos doctrine we are at once 
confronted by the statements in the preface to the Gospel 
according to St John/ which in unteclinical 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 reahzed, 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- 

^ See "VVestcott Gospel according to St John. 


niiaence is givtMi. Now one relation, now another, is crapliasi/.ol 
by dill'eront writers. Tlu> limitationH of human thought and 
experience are such that wo are perhaps justified in saying in 
sucli cjises that only the jjarticular aspect, the particr.lar relation, 
was giasped 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 prol.)ably 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 cliief 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 readUy 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.^ 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 Romans 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 
' 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.^ 

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

-See further on this point J. Orr The Progress of Dogma pp. 24, 48, 49 ff., 
against Hamack's view {DG. Eng, tr. vol. ii pp. 169-230). 


TJie Ifjnatian Epistles 

In the epistles of Ignatius references to the doctrine are 
only incidental. Jesus Christ is the Logos " who came forth 
from silence " ^ — the only utterance of God ; " the unlying 
mouth by which the Father spake truly " ; ^ he is " God made 
manifest in human wise ".^ The one God " manifested Himself 
through Jesus Christ His Son ".* 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.^ 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 witli 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,^ " 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."^ 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.h., 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 ".^ And the explanation is to be found 

' Ma^. 8. 2 p^om. 8. =• Eph. 19. ■* Magn. 8. 

' There is some jnstifiration for the descrij>tion of his theology as ' modalistic' 
« Eph. 7. ' Ibid. 18. ** Ma^jn. 6. 


partly ia a Inxity in tho use of terms due to eomo iiuliHlincl- 
ness (rather th.iii iuaccurjicy) of theologicuil conception ; aiul 
j>artly also iu the close eiiuilaiity in the Greek of the words 
ingouerate or unbo^utton and uuoriginate or without origin. 
The doubling of a single letter changes the latter into the 
former, which Ignatius wrote, though he really meant the latter. 
l>y clas.sical writers the distinction was always observed, but iu 
Christian writings the one woid used by Ignatius seems to have 
sometimes done duty for both.^ 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 liis 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 cliastity 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 ". 

* Cf. Justin Dial. e. Ti-yph. 5 and 8. The words iu question are dyhriro^ and 
ayivvTjTos. Against the argument that tlie interdiange of the words is due to clerical 
eiTor in the uianuscript.s — the v being wrongly repeated or omitted, see I.ightfoot 
J(/iuUius vol. ii p. 90. Lightfoot points to the discussion by Athanasiub in 359 {de 
Syn. 46, 47 on the meaning of ofioo^ixios) of the twofold sense of dyii>i>7)roi — (1) that 
which exists but was ndt generated and has no originating cause, and (2) that which 
is uncreate. In the latter sense the word is aii[>Iicalile to the Son, in the fornirr 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. Jr. 
i 30 (written earlier c. 350-355 and c. 357-358), it seems certain, as he implies, that 
the word under discussion is dyfVTjTov. So Robertson insists that in the later passcage 
{de Syn. 46, wiitten in 359) Athanasius wrote dyepijros, not dyewi^Tos. See his 
note 'Athanasius' N. and P-N.F. p. 475.] Properly dyevrp-os denies oiigin, and so 
maintains eternal existence : while dyew-qros 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 yevvrjrdv, but not yePTp-ds ("begotten, rot ha\ang 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 dyew-qrot, 
but the orthodox had no liking for the phrase and were disposed to retort upon the 
Arians that it was unscriptural (Epiph. adv. Hae.r. Ixxii 19). When, however, the 
fear of Arianism had passed, it became a convenient terra by which to exjtress the 
relation between the Father {dyivvi\To%) and the Son {yivvi]rh%^ but not yivriroi) — 
Lightfoot I.e. 

2 Eph. 10, 20. 


The Letter to Diognetv.s 

The writer of tlie letter to Diognetus ^ 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, addreosed 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 

' Ep. ad Diognetum vii-x. 


Justin Martyr 

A much moro systematic treatmont of the doctrine is foimd 
in the writings of the Greek Apologists. Justin Martyr, in the 
Bialofjiie with Trypho,^ gives deliberate expression to the chief 
conceptions in cle^r view of the objections to them from the 
monotheistic standpoint. 

He insists that Christians really hold monotheism inviolate 
and yet recognize true deity in Ciirist. 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 ",^ — 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 ^ by the Father's will. Yet he is not the absolute God, 
who is unoriginate.^ 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. 

^ See esp. ch. 61 — Otto's edition. 

- This when argning that it was to him personally that the words "Let us make 
man " were addressed. 

' It is uncertain here and frequently throughout the Dialogue whether Justin 
wrote the word meaning 'come into being' or the word 'be bom' {i.e. yevrp-bs or 
ytvvtp-bi), 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. 1 22 n. 1 . 


But though Justin, with the other Greek Apologists, may be 
«aid 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 ; ^ he 
was present among them from the first, disseminated as seed 
scattered among them,^ and those who, before liis 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 ; ^ 
and those who hved 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.'* 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.^ 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 

^ See Jpol. i 46. The Logos (Reason) is the divine element in all men — the 
Reason within them (almost the conscience). 

- Cf. Apol. ii 13 : 6 airepfiariKbs deios X670S, It was the seed of the implanted 
word that enabled them to see clearly realities (cf. ii 8). 

^ He names among others Socrates and Heracleitiis and Abraham and Elijah. 

* 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, \6yos avopdideis). The question has, however, been raised— Did he recognize a 
human soul in Christ ? There is no doubt he speaks of auixa, \6yos, and ^vxri (body, 
Logos, soul) as the constituents of his person, and he uses \pvxv in the sense of ypvxv 
AXoyoi, 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 aiofia, ^vxv, 
TTVfO/jia. 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. 

^ Fragment — Otto vol. ii p. .550 {Corp. Apol. iii p. 256). The genuineness of 
the fragment is, however, disputed. 


anotlier race, — the race wliich is born aguin by him through 
water and faith and wood (the tree), wliich jMjsacsscis tlie secret 
of the cross.^ Those who arc thus prepared beforoliand and 
repent for their sins will escape (bo acquitted in) the judgonient 
of God which is to come. 


Tatian was, both as his ]»upil and in thought, closely con- 
nected witii .lu.slin. In his defence of Christian doctrine To 
(he Greeks^ 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),^ we have 
been instructed, is the potentiality* of the Logos. For the 
Lord of the universe, wlio is himself the essence ^ of the whole, 
in so far as the creation had not yet come to be, was alone : 
but inasmuch as he was all potentiality,* 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 (virecrTrjaev, 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 impartation, 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,^ has not made him whence he 
was taken defective. For just as from one torch there are 

1 c. Try ph. 138. 

- Oratio ch. v {al. vii and viii). His own title was simply Tartavoi/ irpb% 
EXXijxas. The text of Otto is followed (but see ed. Schwartz). 

^ V ^PXV — 'beginning', and also first cause or guidin<^ governing principle. 

* Svva/Ms. The conception is tliat the Logos was not actually, but only poten- 
tially, existent (dvvdfiei not ivepyeiq.). 

^ i] viruffraffis — "that wliich makes things what they ai-e and gives being or 
reality to them." See on the Correspondence of the Dionysii p. 116. All things 
were potentially in Him. 

® " The part of olKovofiia ", 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 T who con- 
verse with you certainly do not become void of speech (Logos) ^ 
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.^ He was probably the first 
to use the actual term Triad (Trinity) ■' and to apply Philo's 
terms ' indwelling ' (or ' immanent ') and ' proceeding ' (or ' pro- 
jected ' or ' transient ') * 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 fortli ' : — He begat him as " proceeding, first-born of all 
creation ; not himself being made empty of the Logos, but 

* The twofold sense of \lyyo^, reason and the expression of it in speech, must be 
borne in mind ; but the dominant thought in this passage is of the outward 

^ 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. 

* ivSiadfzoi and tfpo^opiKbs. The use of these terms is of Stoic origin, marking 
the two senses of X67oy {reasmi and word), so mental and vttercd or proiiouitcaK 
As representing two aspects of the same truth the use is recognized, but neither 
term isolated fi-om the other would be accurate. 


begetting IjOgos and continually consorting with his Tjogoa".' 
The lA)g(>8 is clearly regarded as the medium for the Futhor'.^ 
work in the world and among men. Always with Cod, he i.s 
the jn-ineiple of all things. The Father Himself cannot be 
ctinUiiued in space — but the Logos can ; and so he assumed in 
the world the part '^ 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, 
woidd 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 
(oua-ui), 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 whicli 
this criticism of the Apologists may fairly be accepted have 
been already noted at the outset.^ 

Athenagoras : ?ois fuller recognition of the conditions to he 

accounted for 

Tn AtheuHgoras is found a clearer view of the personal 
existence of the Logos (or the Sou) 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 Cliristians, 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 
(ev(i)cn<;) of all these and the distinction {Biaipeai<;) of the 

^ This idea of continuous generation has something in common with Origen's 
doctrine of the eternal generation. 

^ The word used is irp6<T(airov. * See supra p. 120. 


united — the Spirit, the Son, the Father : ^ — " 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 ' {Kocrjios:), 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) ".^ " 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 

^ Ltg. 12 (for Son he writes Trats). The best edition of Athenagoras is that of 
E. Schwartz, Leipzig 1891 (Textc und Uiitersuchunrjen iv Bd. 2 Heft). 

^ 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 temi Trepix'^/"?"'") see infra p. 226 n. 2). 

- Ibid. The terms are t'S^a and ivip-y€i.a — the latter being the actualization of the 


of the parly Church. It iR unnecessary here to enlarge on the 
importance of the various ]»artH ho played. Hie thought was no 
tlouht mainly moulded hy his Eastern origin and built up on a 
foundation of early traditions and modes of thought current in 
Asia Minor,^ though largely developed and determined in opposi- 
tion to Gnostic theories.'' 

It was (Gnosticism that led him to lay such stress on the 
eternal ct)existence 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 Reason of God. 
He is familiar with the conception of a twofold generation.^ 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 

' E.g. he held to the early millennial expectations {adv. Haer. v 5 and 25 ff., 
ed, Harvey). 

* See Loot's Leitfaden* 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, ApoUonius, 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 olKovofila 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 ^vith the assurance of immortality, based on 
the saying, 'This is eternal life, that they should know Thee ' (John 17^) ; yet an 
essentially physical expression of the means of salvation. 

" 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 suflered 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 fuUilment 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 


leacliing this consunimnlion 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 corruptihle but have the 
hope of the resurrection), — but tliere is also the mystic pre- 
sentation which is summed up in the pregnant saying, " the 
vision of God is the life of man "} 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 wlio 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 ; ^ 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,* 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."^ 

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 ^ionditioned 
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 ^ in 
this respect. 

^ Irenaeus adi: Haer. iv 34. 7 {ed. Harvey). ^ Ibid, iv 34. 6. 

^ Credere autem ei est facere ejus voluntatem {ibid, iv 11. 3). 

* Hid. I.e. and iv 34. 

^ Ibid, iv 25. 1 {ed. Harvey). Haniack finds in Irenaeus tAvo 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. 

« E.g. in the Epistle to the Ephesians l^' 3". 


The thought aud 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 gi-ound 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 cliaracteristics 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 "} " 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.^ He is the ultimate beginning (cause or 

' C. Bigg Tlie Christian FlatonlsiH of Alexandria ch. iii p. 98 f. 

" "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 hy the Logos." He certainly wrote {Strom, iv 13) with 


principle) of all tliinyn tliut arc, himself without hej^iimiug (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 l)eings, 
but, by reason of his divine being, specifically dillbrent from 
them. He is the interpreter of the Father's attributes, the 
manifestation of the truth in person, the educator of the human 
race,^ who at last became man to make men ]»ar takers of his 
own divine nature. 

That Clement thus held clearly u distini^tinn between the. 
Logos and the Father need not be argued. The real question 
which wills for consideration is wh(^ther 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,^ — the 
Logos proper who remains unalterably in Tlod (the Logos 
immanent), and the Sou - Logos who is an emanation of the 
immanent reason of God (the Logos proceeding forth in 

He is said to have written,-' " 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,^ 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 doctriue 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). 

^ 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.ff. 
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). 

- 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. 

' In the Hypotyposeis (Harnack DG. Eng. tr. vol. ii p. 352). 

■* In Strom, v 1 Clement seems to me to be certainly objecting to the term Xo'^os 
irpo(popiKbs ;is 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 
X670S ivbi.d.6eroi and the lower X670J irpo<popiK6s. 


Clement's great trilugy — the conception of tlic Logos, one and 
the same, from the beginning to the end of things, drawing men 
to faith, training them, iiad 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.^ 

^ Tlie 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 tlie 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 Jin.). 

Our Instructor is like His Father God , . . God in the form of man . . . the 
Word wlio is God, who is in the Father {Pacd. 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 tlie Word, who is 
common to both— the Son of God, the Saviour of men : His Servant, our Teacher " 
{ihid. iii 1). 


There arc fn-qnent reft'iences to tlio Sou being what ho is 
and exorcising the functions lie exercifes 'by the will' and 
'according to the will' of the Father, but they are obviouHly 
intended rather to safeguard the authority of tlio Father than 
to limit the power of the Son. Such jjhruKes do not iniply 
any non-Catholic conception of the subordination or ' inferiority ' 
of the Son to the Father. Tliey 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 soiuce 
than the very essence of the divine.^ 

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 lal)our8, 
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- 
gi-aphical 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 Figypt 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 I^gos 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. 

^ 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 liad 
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 ie 

So the conception of the Souship 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 Tovl.ullian Uiat wc first find tlio accurate definition and 
teclmical terms that passed over into Catholic theology, winning 
prom]>t acceptance in tlie West and seeming — when the time 
came — the grudging but certain approval of the East.^ 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 efifectively 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 cliief opponent of the 
modalisti?. form of Monarchianism, which he understood to 
mean that the Fatlier Himself suffered ; and it was uuder 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.^ ' 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 
Roman law from invasion or infringement. ' Person ' (persona) 

' 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 wa.s a dominant influence in the West. So it was Ter- 
tuUian's doctrine that Dionysius of Rome pressed on his namesake of Alexandria. 

2 See Harnack DG. ii' p. 285 fr.(EDg. 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 bonie 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 
proprietas), 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 natiu'e. So too 
there might be various kinds of ' substance ', each marked by 
special characteristics or ' properties ' (in the sense of that wliich 
is proper or peculiar to each) or ' nature ' (proprietas, natura). 

Tlius, 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 tlie 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.^ Thus there is 
no contradiction or confusion of thought in speaking as regards 
the being of God of one substance and three persons,^ and as 

1 Melito {de Incara. Christi (Ronth Rel. i p. 121)) uses ovala as Tertullian uses 
SHhstanCia in this connexion, and speaks in regard to Christ of rds 8vo avrov 
ovfflas — the two realities, Godhead and manhood, v/hich were his. 

' Tertullian seems, however, to avoid the use of the word persmia/: in this 
connexion, usinpj trcs 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 Trlnifate v 10, ^^i 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 uomina in personas singulas tinguimur " {adv. Prax. 26). 

On the other hand, he has no scrapie about using the tenu persona of Jesus 
Christ, both man and God — combining in himself the two subdantiaf, but one 


regards the constitution of the peiBon of Christ of two sub- 
sUinces and one person, lie being at once God and man {Dcils et 

In this way the unity of the Godhead is strongly marked ; 
it is one and the same divinity wliicli all three share alike. 
This is " the mystery of the providential order wliich 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 (gradits), 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 
powor, 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 ". ' 

When TertuUian 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 ",^ 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,^ " 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. Frax. 27 " Videmiis duplicem statum, non confusum. Bed con- 
iunctuni in una persona, deum et hominem Jesum." 

' Adv. Prax. 2. Trcs autem non statu sal gradu, nee substantia sed/orma, ntc 
poicstaie sed speck. Apparently Ijy gradits (relation or degree) is meant " the order 
whereby the Father exists of Himself, the Son goes forth immediately from the 
Father, and the Holy Sjiirit 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 specifs 
(forms and aspects) he seems to have meant to indicate the different modes of 
subsistence {Tp6irovi virdp^eu^), whereby the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit 
subsist in the same divine nature" (Bp. Bull Drf. 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 ibia. 

- Unam substautiam in tribus cohaerentibus {adv. Prax. 12). 

^ De Anima 32. Similarly {adv. Prax. 26) he distinguishes between substantia 
and the accidentia or proprietaies imiuscuiu^que suhstantiae. 


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',^ — 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 ' 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 "^ 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 "? He who is emitted from the substance of the 
Father must of course be of that substance,* 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 ; ^ 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 ' 

* See further Journal of Theological Studies vol. iii p. 292 and vol. iv p. 440. 
« Adv. Prax. 4. 2 j^j^^ 5. ■» Ihid. 7. » Ibid. 9. 


you say that then* are two. It i« in order to mark clearly 
tho distinct i)ei-sonality of the Son that he calls him ' second '. 
There is no suggestion or thouj^jlit of Hubordination, 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 conies from the shrub is third from the 
root, and the rivei- which Hows from the stream is third from 
the spring, and the ' peak ' of the ray third from the sun." * 
There is, moreover, a sense in which the Fatlier is one, and 
the Son other, and the Spirit yet other ; as he who g(3nerate8 is 
other than he who is genenited, 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.^ 

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.' 

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,* 
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,^ which 
was intended for more general reading ; but in the Apology he 

^ Adv. Prtxx. 8. Yet it is a 'trinUas unius dlvinitaiis'. See de Pvdicilia § 21. 

- 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 (unvji) ; as it was said, ' I and the 
Father are One (unum) ', in regard to unity of substance, not in regard to singularity 
of number." 

3 Adv. Prax. 3. * JMd. 5. * 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.^ The 
flesh was built up by the spirit, was nom-ished, grew to man- 
hood, spoke, taught, v/orked, 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.^ 

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- 

^ ' Homo deo mixtus. ' Tertullian did not mean that the two together made 
a third thing. He expressly repudiates the conception, using the iUustratiou 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 lie 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. Cf. also de Came Christi, esp. § 18, where he insists on the 
distinct origin of the spirit and the flesh and discusses the interpretation of John 3* 
as spoken by Christ of himself, shewing that each remains what it was. 


tiling but GihI, Mio iK.'sii was never auyLliiiig but man. He vvlio 
was Son of God as regards the K]»int was man and sou of 
man. " Wo see ", he says, " the double status, the two not con- 
fused but conjoined iu 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 
atVairs, that i.s, the deeds of power and works and signs, . . . 
and the flesh underwent its sulTerings, hungering in tlie instance 
of the Devil (the Temptation), thirsting in the instance of the 
Samaritan woman, weeping for I..{izaruK, sorrowful unto death ; 
and finally it died." It is clear, he insists, that both substances 
e.vercised their functions each by itself. Qua llesh 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." ^ 

It may thus be fairly said tliat 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,^ but as Iiaving 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.^ 

^ Adv. Prax. 29, where he argues against the conception that tlie Father 
' suffered with ' the Son, on the main ground that in the divine substance (which 
was all the Father and the Son had iu common) the Son himself did not suffer. 
On the parts played by the two substances see also de Came Chrisli (§ 5), 
where the doctrine of the commtinicatio idiomatum is expressed for the first 

^ Hamack (DO. 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 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. Praz, which follows it (Harnack D&. Eng. 
tr. vol. iv p. 122). 

5 Cf. Hamack 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 theie asserts the consubstanti- 
alityofthe Son so frequently and so plainly, that you would suppose the author 
had written after the time of the Nicene Council." 



Origen is one of the great landmarks in the history of doctrine.^ 
He was the first of the theologians whose work is really known 
to us to attempt the scientific systematic ^ exposition of the 
Christian interpretation of life. And however mnch 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 
(»f 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 
ho'inincm ; he had perhaps some ooiter dicta to recall,^ 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. 

' Hamack 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). 

^ This seems to be the fact, although it is true that "his wiitings represent an 
aspiration rather than a system, principles of researcli and hope rather than 
determined formulas" (Westcott 'Origenes' D.C.B., an article of the highest 
value. Cf. his Essay on Origen in Relirjious Thovghl in the West). See also 
particularly C. Bigg The Christian Platonists of Ahxand/ria (Bam]iton Lectures, 
1886), esp. pp. 152-192 ; but for the study of the conceptions of Origen the 
I most helpful book is still perhaps that of Redcpenning, with its rich quotations 
' from bis writings. 

^ Cf. the aayiijg of Jerome, that in souic of his earlier treatises, written in the 
immaturity of youth, Origen was ' like a boy playing at dice '. 
lO 1^5 


ll is in his great writing Trcpt apx^*^^ {'f^ J'rhicijnis) that Hub 
oxprossiou is chiclly to be found.' 

Basing the wliole 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 tlie 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 pi-ovidence, 
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-Christiau — 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 imderstood : 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 dc Principiis (228-231), the most important works in which his 
theological teaching is set forth are the Comrnentaries on St John (228-238), the 
C'oiUra Celsum (249), and the de OrcUione. 


ini])art Himself. Love cannot be thought of, except as giving. 
(4oo(iness desires that all shall share in the hif^hest knowlcdfic. 
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.^ It is for the very purpose of revealing God 
that the Logos exists,- and for this reason he has a personal 
subsistence side by side with the Father,'^ 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."^ 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.^ It is this conception of a con- 

' It is ouly iu connexion with the revelation of God that Oiigen conceives, or 
at least expounds, the Trinity. God is goodness — the avrb ayaOov : He must there- 
fore reveal Himself. Origen does not, as later on Augustine did, deriva 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 wfra pp. 204, 228. 

^ See e.g. dc Princ. 1 2. 6. 

^ 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." 

■* Pamphilus {Ajjology for Origen c. 5 tr. Rulinus) quotes him as using, iu his 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, the very word 6fioov(nos 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 ; 
tor an effluence (aporrhoea) is evidently homoousios, that is, of one essence (sub- 
stance) with the body of which it is an effluence or vapour." Of. 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 iire {ibid, ii 6. 6), and of 
the statue {ibid, i 2. 8). 

* "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). "Hi|) 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 fjither without 
having a sou" (i 2. 10 ; cf. iv 28). And in Jcrcvi. Horn, ix 4, "The Father did 
not beget the Son and let him go from the Source of his generation {and t?}? 
ycvicTfus avTov, i.e. Himself the Father, — or perliaps 'after, or in consequence of, 
his generation '), but He is always begetting him (deJ yevvq. aOrdv)." 


tiuuous timeless jirucess Llmt brings the idea of tlio generaUou 
of the Sou, wliiih earlier thinkers had expresHed, into the sphere 
of living reality. It eeases to be an act in time, and becomes 
an action outside time — living and moving .and real. It is 
f Origen's chief permanent coutril)ution to the doctrine of the 
Person of (.'hrist. 

Th(? Stin is iiidceil said to be begoLlen oi" or by the will of 
the Father *- -but within the being of the Father no contradiction 
could be thought of — His will is of His very essence. And so, 
though there shoidd be an act of will, there would he also an 
inner necessity for it, and the Son woidd be equally truly said 
to be begotten of the essence of the Father.'-^ 

The function of revelation is also exercised by the Holy 
Sjiirit,^ who is the most exalted of all the beings that have 
come into existence through the Logos.* 

These three existences together constitute the Trinity, which 

' E.g. dc Frinc. i 2. 6, "who is born of Him, like an act of His will proceeding 
from the mind ". 

- Loofs {Lcitfadai? p. 125) sets in antithesis various i)hraH(w, extracted from 
ditlerent contexts, to shew the .subordinate rank of the Son in relation to the Father. 
The Father alone is ay^wrjros {dc Princ. i 2. 6 ; m Joh. 2"), the Son in relation to 
Him a Kria/xa. [Justinian is the only authority for the assertion that Origen styled 
the Son a KzlapM. Origen certainly never meant it in any Arian sense.] 

The Father is avrbdeos and oKiidivb^ deds (in Joh. 2'), the Son is de^npos 
0e6^ (c. Cels. 5. 39) and A^tos rrjs oevTepevoJLiffrjs fura, rbv debv tup SKwv rifXTJs (ibid. 
7. 57). 

The Father is iirapaWdKTus ayadbs, the Son is eiKuv &ya66rt)TOi rod 0eov, dXX' 
ovK aifToayadbs (dc 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 6{6%, the Son is debs (in Joh. 2^), and prayer should be made to 
the Fathci only (de Oral. 15). [But nevertheless the Son is equally with the 
Father an object of worship, Father and Son being two actualities rp viroTrdaei, 
but one in unanimity and harmony and sameness of purpose (c. C'cls. 8. 12). So 
worship is offered to Christ as he Ls 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.)J 

In the case of such a writer as Origen it is jieculiarly dangerous to isolate 
particular : — 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. (Ci^. 
Westcott I.e. p. 133.) Any summary statement of his teaching must therefore 
be peculiarly precarious. 

^ 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 Sou ". He has the .same know- 
ledge and, just like the Son, reveals it to whom he mil. 

* See Comm. in Joh. i 3 and infra p. 202. 


ill its real inner being transcends all thought — essentially of 
one Godhead, eternal and co-equal.^ 

But in manifestation to the created universe a dilTerence 
Ijetvveeu 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 tlie 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." ^ 

As regards the Son, in particular, it is clear that Origen 
maintained his distinct personality,^ his essential Godhead (kut 
ovaiav earl 6e6<;), and his co-eternity with the Father (ael 
yevvaTai o acorrjp viro tov irarpo';) : 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^n) 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.* 

' See de Princ. i 3. 7, nihil in triuitate niajus 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 Prviic. i 34 and iv 28. 

- De Princ. i 3. 5, Gk. fr. Cf. Athanasius ad Scrap, iv 10, and Origen de 
Princ. iv 27 f. 

' This (namely, that the Son is not the Father) is certainly the meaning of the 
passage de Oratione 15 : 'irepos /car' owlav Kal viroKel/jLevou tov Trarpi^ — oiKxia being 
used in its primary sense of particular or individual existence. 

•• 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 lie 
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 ; 
l)ut not Very Goodness. He is Perfect Image of the Father's Goodness, but not the 
Absolute Good, tliough 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 8i)L'cial aliinity m whieli tho Sou stands to rational 
l>eiug8 establishes the litiicss of the Incjirnatiou, aud through 
the human soul * the divine Logos was united with the man 
Christ Jesus — perfect nmnhood, subject to the conditions of 
natural growth, and perfect divinity becoming one m him, while 
each nature still remains distinct. To describe this unity he 
was the tirst to use the compound word God-Mun {QedvOpwjTo'i), 
and the relation between the two natures was expressed by the 
image of the tire aud the iron, when the tire heats and pene- 
trates the ii'on so that it becomes a glowiug mass, and yet its 
character is not altered — the fire and the metal are oue, but the 
iron is not changed into something else.^ 

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, aud 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, Ijut as modal simply. The Sou qua Son is inferior 
to the Father qua Father. ... He could not, he dared not, shrink back where tlie 
Word of Gtod 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 
daimtless spirit these words of the Master seemed to be not a scandal but a flash 
of light." 

^ 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. In-espeetive 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 
Chiist. See de Princ. ii 6. 3, 5, where he exjtlains 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 fm-ther on this point infiu Ai^ollin- 
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 fuKilled in due measure in eacli 
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.^ 

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 
Christology 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.^ Nevertheless the sympathies 
of his followers in the East — in the great controversy which 

^ Westcott {I.e.), who refers {for the statements in this paragraph) to c. Cels. 
iv 3 f., 15 ; vi 68 ; iii 79 ; ii 64 ; iv 15 ; vl 77 ; iii 28 ; iii 17. On his theory of 
the atonement see iTtfra p. 337. 

- 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 tliis article he sometimes expressed himself otherwisu tlian 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 DO. Eng. tr. vol. ii ji. 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 trholc fulness of his essence. ..." 


hroke out early in tJic ftillowiiig ciuit.iiry — were rather with th( 
Ariniis than with tluMr ojiponcnits. 


Amoiij^ the special ninccpLions aiul thcones of Origen, which led at 
a later time to his contleiunation a.s heretical (apart from miscoiiceptiun 
of his doctrine of the Trinity), are these. Moral evil is negative, a state 
from which good is ahsent, rather than a positive active force. AH 
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 ia 
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 Methcxlius, 
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 ApoUinarius, and 

The attack of course produced defenders. Chief among the champions, 
who included his successors Pierius and Theognostus, were Pamphilus 
and t^usebius 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 Zahn Mareellus p. 55fl'.)j 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 ' Nicene ' 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 ; of. ad Scrap, iv 9 if.), 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 Il^yssa 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 Kufinus, and led to the condemna- 
tion of Origen by Anastasius, Bishop of Rome (though probably not at 
a formal synod), after Eufinus had translated into Latin the Apology of 
Pamphilus 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 Avas 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 hie errors, a refutation of tlu>ui, and anathemas on all his followorfi 
(Hahn^ p. 227). WhcthtM- tlii.'- « I'lidi'mnotion was or was not miowcil at 
the Fifth (Joneral Council whi«li met in 553 cjinuot be dotcnuinoil. The 
lK>lief 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 (llalui" p. 16S), l)ut there is some reason to think that the name 
is a later insertion, and no direct evidence that his opiniims were con- 
sidered on that oc<'asion. In any case, thoufjh the ideas of Origen have 
found supporters in all ages, Ori^^'cnists asa party were cllcctually stamped 
out. [See A. W. W. Dale 'Origenistic Controversies' D.C.B., and C. 
Bigg cyy, c. pi>. 273-280.] 


The Akian Contkoveksy 


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 adheients 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. Tlie 
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 



luid outwanl ponce from pers(^eution been won than llie inwaid 
ponce of the Church was shattered by the outbreak of the Arian 
controversy. It was in and round this controversy tluit all the 
forces of the old religions and philosoj)IiieH of the vvoild were 
massed in the elVort to dieUite an iuLerpreLation of the Christian 
revelation which would have nullihed 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, tlie Western Church was never 
in such doubt, and Arianism never gained such hold in tlie 
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.^ 

AriiLS 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- 

^ On the history of Arianism the works of Professor Gwatkin are invaluable — 
Studies of Arianism, 1st ed. 1882, 2nd ed. 1900, and The Aricm Controversy in the 
series ' Epochs of Church History '. 


ception, and in sonnd 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.^ 

Before tracing the history of the controversy we must note 

what were the principles on which Arius based his thought.^ 

> An excellent sketch of the devclopement of the doctrine of the Person of 
Christ up to the time of Arius is given by Professor Gwatkin {Studies of Arianism 
\\ 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 tliis 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 aixl the Father. By the fourth 
centm-y 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 oecouomic 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 (Tr/socrwTra) 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 
ol all must be rectified before the position was secure. 

^ 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. Uaer. Ixix, and 
Ath. dc 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 dr Deer. Syn. 
JVic. 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). Philostorgius, a Eunornian, of Cappadocia (c. 368-430), ^^•^ote a history 
in twelve books of the time from tJie appe;irancc of Arius to the year 423, in which 
lie defended Arianism as l)eing the original form of Christianity. Of this there arc 
extant many short pieces and one long passage (see Migue P.G. Ixv 459-638). The 
letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus (Theodoret H.E. i 5) is of importance. 


To be inc'lu<b'd in his theory there was God, and the Son of (Jod, 
and the Son liad to be accoiintod 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 liim 
wjis the ' simplicity' — the singleness — of God, as being absolutely 
One and transcendent, far-otl", unknown, inaccessible, and incom- 
municable, hidden in eternal mystery and separated by an inHnitc 
chasm from men. God willed to create the world ; but in virtue 
of 1 1 is nature he could not directly create the material universe, 
and so He created the Logos for the )»urpose as His Son. (This was 
the reason for his existence.) The Son of God is therefore before 
time and the world, independently of the Licarnation, and distinct 
from the Father — a middle being between Him and 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 fatheihood 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. Tlicreforc he must at some time, 
however remote, have been brought into being. 

For the refutation of Arianism proper tlic writings of Atliauasius 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 Athauasius — called the 
De^msitio Arii ; see also the letter of Alexander in Theodoret H.S. 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, sec 
his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, his ' fellow- Lucianist ', the ' truly pious ' 
(etVe^Tjs), 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 uube- 
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 begiiming, but that God is without beginning, . . . 
and likewise, because we say that he is of the non-existent. And this we say because 
lie 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 ofiooijcnos of some 
ovaia 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, Arius held that tlie isolation and 8])irituality 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 have come into being from or out of the essence 
(or being) ^ of the Father, but only by a definite external process 
or act of the Father's will. But ex hyjjothesi 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.^ 

By these lines of reasoning the Arians were convinced that 
the Son was not eternal and was a creature,^ though coming 

' For other objections to this expression, see infra p. 171 n. 1. 

^ 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 objcolion. So, for example, Justin wrote Kara 
TT)V Tov irarpbs ndvTuiv koI deffirLrov deoO ^ovXtjv dia irapOivov ivOpwiroi aTreKir^dri 
{Apol. i 46), and used similar expressions (Dial. c. Tryiili. 63, 85) ; Origen, see 
siipra p. 148 ; and Novatian (less accurately) ' ex quo {sc. the Father), quando ipse 
voluit, sermo tilius natus est'. Cf. the Creed in the Apostolic Constitutions vii 41 — 
rbv wpb alwvup evdoKla tov warpos yevvrjOevTa. 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. 

' A typical instance of Arian logic seems to be furnished by Asterius in this 
connexion. He wrote a ti-act (see Ath. Oj: c. Ar. i 30-33) of which the main 
thesis apparently was that there could not be two ayivTjTa. He then defined 
dy4vTiTov as rb /at; iroirjBev dW del 6v, and jiroceeded to argue that as the Father 
alone was dyevrfrov it was to Him alone that the descrijition ov TroirjOiv dXX' del ov 
applied. That description was thus not true of the Son ; and tlierefore 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 dyivriTov, as sounding more philosophical and having traditional 
sanction, became a plausible substitute for the original phrases of the Arians when 
they were diiven 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 dyivrjTov and y(vr)Tov — e.g. by Athanasius de Deer. 31 : 


into existence before liuic ' and before all otliur creatures, and 
not like other creatures (inasmuch as they wore 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 beinj; of the Father, he must be subject to 
the vicissitudes of created beings, and so he 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 he\\) of grace and be kept sinless by his own virtue and tlie 
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 worsliip. 
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.^ 

Such was the theory by which Arius sought to conciliate the 
pagan and the Christian conceptions of God and the universe.^ 
It seems to us quite clear that the Jesus to whom such a theory 
could apply would be neither really Imman 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 l)ia\', say, God Unorigiuated ', but rather when 
ye pray, say, 'Our Father, which art in heaven'." And "He bade us be baptized, 
not iuto the name of Unoriginate and Originate, not into the name of Uucreate and 
Creature, but into the name of Father, Sou, and Holy Spirit" — thougli at the same 
time it is of course allowed that the term Unoriginate does admit of a religious use 
{ibui. 32). 

' For this reason they were careful to say only ' there was once when he was not' 
{ftv TTore 5x6 o{jk Tiv), and not ' there was a linic when he was not'. Cf. their phrase 
dxp<5i'ws 7rp6 irdvTUf yevvrjOeis (Ath. clc Synod. 16). 

- The Logos took the place of the human rational soul, the mind, or spirit. Sec 
in/ra on the Human Soul of Christ p. 247. 

* 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 met,aphor 
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. Ea^th metaphor must be limited by the other. 

The title Son may obviously imply later origin and a distinction amounting to 
ditheism. It Ls balanced by the other title Logos, which implies co-eternity and 
inseparable union. Neither title exhausts the relations. Neither may be pressed 
80 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 terms ; 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 creatures ; 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 

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. 8-2~^ (LXX, which was regarded as authoritative 
by nearly all on both sides), The Lord created me a leginning of 
his loays for his vjorks, before time (the age) he founded me in the 
heginning . . . before all hills he begets me. On this passage we 
have the comments of Eusebius of Nicomedia in his letter to 
Paulinus (Theodoret ff.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-Lo), 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 
sous, and they set me at nought ' (Isa. 1^), and ' Thou hast 
forsaken the God who begat thee'(Deut. 32^^); and in other 

* Among the chief passages to which they appealed were these : — For the unity 
of God, Deut. 6^ Luke 18>9, John 17=' ; for the nature of the Sonship, Ps. 45», 
Matt. 1228, 1 Cor. l^* ; for the creation of the Logos, Prov. 8=3 (LXX), Acts 2=*, 
Col. 1^*, Heh. 3^ ; for his moral growtli and developement (ttpo/cotpt}), Luke 2'-, 
Matt. 26^«'-, Heb. S*- », Phil. 2^"-, Heb. l"* ; for the possibility of change (t6 rpeirrSi-) 
and imi)erfection of knowledge, Mark 13^, John 11** 13^' ; for his inferiority to the 
Father John 14=8, ^att. 27^«. (Cf. Matt. 11=7 26»» 28'*, John 12^, 1 Cor. 15=«.) 


places it says, ' Who is he that begat the drops of dew ? ' 
(Job SS-'^), not inii)lying 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, tliat 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. 1^, IVho is tJie image of the invisible {unseen) God 
7rp(OTuT0K0<; Trda-T}^ KTiaeca. If the last three words were isolated, 
their meaning might be doubtful, and it might be supposed 
that the irpwroroKO'; (first-born) was included in the iraaa KTtai'i 
(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 TrpcoroTOKo^ does not himself belong to the 
KTiav<i. 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 ' {avTo<; earcv 
TTp'o Trdvroiv). It would also be inconsistent with many other 
passages in St Paul.^ 

^ See Liglitfoot's note ad loe. He argues that the word is doubtless used with 
reference to the title irpuT6yoi>os given to the X^vos 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^), 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 I-nUrnaMonal Critical Cora- 
mentary ad loc. All that the phrase can be said with certainty to mean is ' bom 
before all creation {or every creature) '. 


(3) John 14^8, My Father is greater than I. . . . 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 (1)j. 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 a,nd its History up to the 

Council of Nicaea 

The immediate cause of the outbreak of the controversy is 
not known.^ 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.^ About the 
year 317 his teaching excited attention, and exception was taken 

^ 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 Arianwum 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 
Corresiiondence between the Dionysii supra p. 113, and the extracts in Ath. de 
Deer. 25-27. 

^ "It is not clear that Lucian of Antioch was heretical "—Gwatkin Studies of 
Arianism^ -p. 17. It will be borne in mind that the style of exegesis at Antiocli 
was literal, and that the Lucianists thought that logic could settle everything. 


to its churacter. Tho hiHhop, Alexander, seems to have been at 
first conciliatory ; Imt Anna was convinced that ho was right 
and would not yield. Persviaaion and arfj;unieiit havinj.^ failed, a 
synod was sumiuoned in 321, and Ariua was depoKcd from hin 
olUce. He enlisted support, however, both in Ej^ypt and farther 
alield — especially from fellow-pupils in tho school of Lucian, 
many of whom occupied positions of power and inlluence. In 
particular, he won the sympathy of Eusebius,^ bishop of the 
capiUil, Nicomedia, and high in the emperor's favour, who called 
a Council at Nicomedia, and issued letters to the binhops 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 Chuxch 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.^ 
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.^ In this way it was hoped that 
the mind of the Church on the points at issue might be 

^ Cf. the letter of Arius to him (Theodoret H.E. i 4), and his letter to Paulinus 
of Tyre {iJnd. i 5— or 5 and 6). 

* This is the treatise known as the Depositio Arii among the writings of 
Athanasius. It is described by Robertson ('Athanasius' Nicene a-nd Post-Nicene 
Fathers vol. iv) as the germ of all the anri-Arian writings of Athanasius. 

' The bishops assembled numbered three hundred and eighteen, about one-sixth 
of the whole body of bishops. The Coimeil lasted about three months. 


The Council of Nicaea and Us 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.^ 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.^ 

^ To this ' middle ' pariy 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 tme 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. 

^ 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 
Panjphilus, 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 Subordinationism and 
Sabellianism, and shewed the need for more precise definitions. Dorner describes 
his doctrinal system as a chanieleou-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 Clirist Eng. tr. div. i vol. ii pp. 218-227). But on the main points he is explicit 


rroininent in support of Arius were two Egyptian bibhops, 
Seciindus of Ptolenmia and Theonaa of Marniarica, unfaltering 
in their opinions to the end : and with them at heart three other 
hisliops, pupils of Lucian — Kusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of 
Nicaea, and M.iris of Chulcedon, and a few more. 

Of the resolute op]»onents of Arinnism, Alexander, the Tishop 
of Alexandria, was of course the centre, with Athanaaius as his 
' chaplain ' and right-hand. But the most decisive part in the 
opposition seems to have been played rather by Hosius ' of 
Cordova, as representative of the Western bishops, and Eusta- 
thius of Antioch, and IMarcellus 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 Ariauisni, namely — (1) that the Logos was not a Krlafia like other creatures, 
and (2) that there wsis not a time when he was not ; though he speaks of the Father 
as pre-cxisteut 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 ff.H. ii 21, where passages are 
cited to prove his orthodoxy against those who charged liim with Ariauizing. ) 

^ The Western bishops present were few, but thoroughly representative. Africa 
was represented by CaecUiau 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 Stiidon. 

Hosius had been for years the best known and most respected bishop in the 
West (bom in 256, he had already presided at the Synod of Elvira in c. 306), and 
as such had been singled out by Constantine 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 ofwovaios is only the 
Greek equivalent of the Latin miius suhstantiae, with which all Latin Christians 
were familiar from the days of Tertidlian and Novatian. On Hosius, see P. B. Gams 
Kirch-.ngeschichte von Sjmnien 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 
luajority 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 Ariaus. 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.^ At all events the Council was not Arian. 
At last Eusebius of Caesarea read out what was probably the 
Baptismal Creed of his Church,^ 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 

^SeeTheodoret^.i;. 17. 

- The Creed is given by Socrates E.E. i. 8 (Hahn^ p. 257), in the letter which 
Eusebius Avrote 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 liis baptism, with 
his own knowledge leamt from the sacred Scriptures, and with his belief and teach- 
uig 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' 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 {vlhv fiovoyevij), first born before 
all creation {irpurbTOKov irda-rjs Krlaeus), 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 {(xapKwdevra) and lived as a man among men {iv avOpwirois 
Tro\ — 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^^ 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 altenitione ; and at tho cud wiih added an oxpreRa repudia- 
tion of the chief expressions of the Arians.' 

The Creed thus nioditiod was in its final form as follows:'-^ 

" We believe in one IJod tlie Father all-sovereign,^ 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 * from God, that is from the [very] 
being of the Father ^ [or ' begotten from the Father as only 

' In drawing up tho Creed of Nicaea from tho Creed of Euseblus tho following 
jihrasps wore stnick out : (1) X67o»' — which represented the vaguo Eimebian Christologj', 
instoaj of wliicli the Soiu>hip was to be brought promint'ntly forward ; (2) Trpwrdro/cov 
Tdcijf Kr/o-ewt and irp6 irdyTUf tuv aiLOvuv tK toC n-arpdi ytytvvritJLivov, liucauso sui-i- 
ceptiblo of Arian intrrpretation ; (3) iv dvOpJnroii ToXirtvai/ievov, because too vague, 
not expressing explicitly the real manhood. Modilications of jihrases, in cflnrt new, 
wore the following : rbv vibv toO dtov, and yivvi)divTa (k roO Trarpis fj.ovoyn'ii (iofitoad 
of \6ryov and later on in the Creed vlbv pLovoyfVTJ), and ivavOpuiir-ficavra. Three 
phrases only were quite new additions ; Tovriffriv iK t^j oifflai toO irarpds, ytvvqOivTa. 
oil iroiriBlvra, and bfioo'lxn.ov t<J3 narpL 

^ The Creed agreed to by the Council must not be regarded as a full and oomploto 
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 teat^hing of the Church on the matters in (ii.'jpute — 
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 resmTcction 
of the flesh and life eternal ". 

^ TavTOKparup, the termination signifies the active exercise of rule — 'all-ruler', 
'all-ruling'. In the New Testament it is used in the Apocalypse (o debs b tt., nine 
times) and in 2 Cor. 6'^ (quotation of LXX, Amos 4'*= Lord of Hosts). All-mighty 
— simply possessing all power, apart from any notion of its employment — is iravro- 
Suva/jLos. Both words are represented by the Latin omnipoleiis. 

* 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 nopoytvii and always treats the 
clause iK rij! oi/fflas rov waTpbs as a mere exegetical expansion of ^k toO Trarpbs or (k 
Ofov (see next note), and the order of the clauses is extremely awkward if Dr. 
Hort's interpretation be right. However familiar tho collocation fiovoyevrj dfbv 
was at the time, I am not confident that it was intended here, and the more 
generally accepted rendering, which Ls given in the text as an alternative, may be 
accepted with less misgiving. 

' iK TTji oixrlas rov waTpbs. Oiffla 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 ot the Father, God from God '], 
light from light,^ very God from very God,^ begotten, not 
made,^ sharing one being with the Father,"* 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,*^ 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 tlie real meaning, and ' nature ' too is strictly quite inadequate. The phrase 
is intended to mark the essential unity of the Son with the Father, declai-ing that 
he has iiis 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 Beer. 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 conld it be said that it was ' from the essence of God '. Tlie 
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 cf God ' is the same thing 
as to say ' of God ' in more explicit language (ibid. 22). 

^ 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 es.sence ' (Ath. de Deer. 23 and 24). 

" 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. 

* It is generation, and not creation, by which the Son exists : as it is asserted 
later that he was himself the agent through wliom Creation was effected. 

•• ofj-oovdiov T($ ircLTpl. The ovcrla. of the Son is the oxxrla of the Father : as far as 
oxktIo. 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 oiala.'s tov TrarpSi expresses 
the one idea, 6fj.oov<nov ry iraTpL safeguards the other ; and Basil was able to insist 
that the latter phrase, so far from agreeing with the SabeUian 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 — Ti]v 
raiT^TTjra ttjs inroaTdaeujs — accordii)g to Basil's limited use of virSffTcurii), 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 Ej}. 52 (and see Bull op. c, 
p. 70). 

' ivavdp(i3Tri](yavTa. The preceding phrase (rapKudivra, ' 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 oiala is the same as the Father's, became 
wMiM. 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 tliore was once when he was not, 
and before ho was begotten lie was not,^ and that he cau»e 
into being out of nothing, or assert that the Son of God 
is of n dilVcrent essence (subsistence) or boinfj,''^ or created, 
or ca])ab]e of change or alteration " — the (Jatholic Church 

This Creed was signed by all the bishops present except 
Secundus and Theonas ; * 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 Arianisra was disposed 
of. But this result was far from being eflected. 

' It seems certain that the thesis here aDatheniatizcd ' he was not before he was 
begotten ' is the Arian tlicsis cquivnlciit to the di'uial 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 upliolds the Arian conception expressed in the 
previous clause * there was once when he was not '). The anathema is thus intended 
to maintain simjily the eternity of the existence of the Son — though lie is Son j'et 
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. Ifoct. 10) and Thcophilus {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 Niceue 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 
fjcncraticn " — this generation being only one of a succession of events in time liy 
which the real and eternal truth was shadowed out. See Robertson Alhanasius 
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 

^ i^ fT^pai virocrrio-eus fj oMas. 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 i^ iripas oixrlai, shewing that to 
him at least no new conception was added by the alternative viroa-rdjews. It 
was perhaps intended for the West {= substantia). See Additional Note on 
vv6aTa(Ti.% infra p. 235. 

' TpewTov rj dWoLwrdv. 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. 

* So Theofloret. Socrates, however, says all except five. 



. The Renction 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.^ 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 ^ were singled out 
as most obnoxious. They had to bear the brunt of the attack. 

' Tl.e objections to the new terms iK ttjs oiulas and 6/j.oov(tios were numerous. 

(1) There was the scriptural (positive) objection which every one could appreciate. 
The words were not to be found in the inspiied 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 teclinical interpretation. (This 
objection Athanasius meets in dc Decretis 18, where he turns the tables on the 
objectors, asking from what Scriptures the Arians got their phrases e^ ovk 6vto}v, 
Tfv wore '6t€ ovk y]v and the like, and shewing that scriptural expressions oft'ered no 
means of defence against such novel terms. The bishops had to ' collect the sense 
of the Scriptui-es ' — ibid. 20. ) 

(2) There was the ' traditional ' or ecclesiastical (negative) objection. Tlie use 
of the word oyuooi/crtos had been condemned at the Council of Antioch in 269 (see 
supra p. 111). (Athanasius, however, claims 'tradition' for it — see de 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 oixria in the 
primaiy sense of particular or individual existence, it was difficult to see any but 
a 'Sabellian' meaning in the word which implied common possession of the divine 
oiiaLa.. Ditheism (and Tritheisra) all were agi'eed in repudiating, but this word seemed 
to imply that the persons were only temporary manifestations of the one omia. 

(4) There was the philosophical objection. The words implied either that there 
was some ovffia piior both to Father and to Son, which they shared in common (and 
tlu'n this oyfft'a 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 oi)<r/a. (This objection being based on the identification of 
omia with efSos or vKt).) See Ath. Or. c. Ar. i 14, De Sy7i. Arim. el Sel, 61 ; 
Hilary de Fide OrieiU. 68. 

- See Additional Note on Marcellus, p. 190. 


After years of intrigue and misrepresentation Arius was 
recrtlled and would liave been reinstated but for his sudden death, 
and Athanaaius and Marcolhis were exiled (M.'^G 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 attemj)t to 
get rid of the obnoxious Creeil--the terms of which so rcdent- 
lessly excluded Arian conceptions. The reaction ceases to be 
80 personal, and becomes more openly doctrinal — a formal 
attack ujKin the definition 6fj,oovcrio<i under cover ol the pretexts 
to which reference has been made. 

Alkmph to supersedr. the Niccne Crc.rd — Council of Anfioch 341 

The opportunity was found at the Council of Antioch in 341 , 
when Rimu! ninety bishops assembled for the dedication of 
Constantine'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,^ 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 ?), 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 
Nicaea, 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 ^ 
we believe in one God, Father all-sovereign, the framer and 

1 They are given in Ath. de Synod. 22 ff., and Socr. H.K ii 10 (Hahn = p. 183 ff. ). 

' The appeal which is made thruugliout to Scripture aud 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 Sou, the only-begotten ^ God, by means 
of whom [were] all things, who was begotten before the ages 
(worlds) from the Father, God from God, whole from whole,^ 
sole from sole,^ 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,'* the first-born before every 
creature^ (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.^ Who 
suftered 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 tliis case certainly be joined with * God ', which other- 
wise would stand in an impossible position. See sicjnu p. 168 n. 4, 

^ These words are directed against any notion of jjartition 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 entii's. 

' 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 fiovoyevi^i, 
and became a favourite formula of the Anomoeans. 

* This is the nearest equivalent to the discarded dfiooijaioi>. 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. eiKwv means the complete representation, and 
elKiiv TTj^ oi/ff/as ToO irarpSs, if fairly interpreted, might suffice to exclude Arianism ; 
but Arians could accept it as being practically true. 

* There is nothing in the Creed to exclude the Allan interpretation of this phrase. 
See supra p. 162. 

® This emphatic reference to the Father's will would be agreeable to Arians. 


of the IToly Spirit — clearly nieiming^ of a Fatlier who Ih 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, hut indicating accurately 
the peculiar existence'^ (? individuality) and rank and glory belong- 
ing to each of tiie [three] named — namely, that they are three 
in existence (? individuality), but one in harmony.^ 

" 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 ojnnion. And if any one, 
teaches contrary to the sound right faith of the Scriptures, 
saying* 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." ^ 

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 

' Anti-Sabellian. The names correspond to permanent numerical distinctions 
within the Godhead. 

' vvtxrraffiv. The word here probably comes close to the meaning ' personal 
existence '. See the history of its use p. 235. 

* This expression, which really makes the imity of the three persons moral rather 
than essential, has been described (Robertson Athanasius p. xliv) as an artfuUy 
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' p. 189) as implying a blasphemous and corrupt interpretation of the saying 
' I and the Father are one '. 

* 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. 

* 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 ' 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, v/ished 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 (vTroaracn^;) ' is qualified by 
the further definition ' and not out of God ', so that though 
intended to be more acceptable to Nicenes 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' 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 Constit utions io Luciau 
is quite hyjiothetical (though its basi.s 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 iu the writings of Lucian (see Sozonien) would not be 
inconsistent with its having been touched up here and there before the Council 
approved it. (See Hahn ^ pp. 139 and 184.) 


Opposition of the Wed to any New Creed — Cowncil of Sardica 343 

Constiius refused to lecoivo the deputation. The Western 
bishops were averse to tiny tinkerin<^' with tlie Creed, and, in the 
ho|)e of j)uttinj» a stop to it, Constans, with the assent of Con- 
stantius, summoned a general Council to meet at Sardica.^ The 
Council met in :M3, 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 Philippojjolis, 
at which they reiifhrmed the condemnation of Athanasius and 
approved a Creed which was substantially the same as tlie Fourth 
of Antioch with the addition of new anatliemas.^ 

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).^ 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).* The positive senti- 

^ In Dacia, in the dominions of Constans, between Constantinople and Servia — the 
modem Sophia in Bulgaria. According to Tlieodoret 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 i)resent {Studies of 
Arianism * p. 125). Hosius, Athanasius, and Marcellus were among them. 

- Hahn * p. 190 (a Latin version). 

» See Theodoret H.E. ii 6-8, and Hahn » p. 188. 

* fiaKp6<iTixoi ifKdeffii — so Sozomen {H.E. iii 11) says it was called. The Creed 
is given by Socrates H.E. ii 19, and Hahn » pp. 192-196. 


merits 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 tlie subordina- 
tion of the Son is asserted but balanced by words d' laring him 
to be by nature true and perfect God and like the j.^ather in all 
things ; ^ 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 Photiuus ^ 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. 
Duiing this time, however, two events of the first importance 

Pacification of the ' Conservatives ' hy Condemnation of Photinus 

In 351 a synod was held at Sirmium at which Photinus, the 
chief follower of Marcellus, was condemned and deposed."^ 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 Sabellianisui 
was concerned. And so they were at liberty to reconsider their 
]-)Osition in relation to their Arian allies, with whom the dread of 
' confusion of the persons ' had united them, and to reflect whether 

^ The use of this phrase t(^ irarpl Kara iriura 8/j,oiov is notable, but it does not 
occur conspicuously till 359 (see infra p. 182). 

- 'ZKOTeiv6$, ' Son of Darkness ' rather than ' of Li^ht ' — his o[)pon(nts' perversion 
of liis name, it seenis — is the fonii which Athanasius givc.'f. 

' For the Creed of this synod (the Fourth of Autioch with new anathemas) 
seeHahu^p. 196. 


after all Aiijiniem was compatible with tlio doctrino of the Lord's 

Derelo}^mfnt of Extreme Form of Arifuiism 

r>y the deiith of Conslnns in 350 Constantins was left solo 
emperor, without the restraining infhicnce of any colhiagnc of 
Xicene 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 Arianisin (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,^ Eunomius," and Kudoxius.' 

At Councils hold by Constantius in 353 at Aries, after the 
defeat and death of Magnentius, and in 355 at Milan,* the con- 
demnation of Athanasius was voted; and in 356 took place a 

* Aetius actively attacked the teaching of the semi- Arian bishops Bnsil of Ancyra 
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 sliort treatise in forty-seven theses, and a preface 
%vrittcn by liim defending his use of the watchword dvdfioios against misrepre- 
sentation of his opponents, are preserved in Epiph. adv. JIacr. Ixxvi, and lettci's 
to Constantius in Socr. H.E. ii 35. He was condeumed at Ancyra in 358 find at 
Constantinople in 360 ; recalled by Julian and made a bishop ; but he had chequered 
fortunes till his death in 367 (see Socr. H.E. ii 35, and Bid. Christiaa Bwg. 'Aetius'). 

- 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 cajiital crime. 
Against him in particular Basil and Gregory wrote. (See Art. D.C.B.) 

' 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 Anomoeau 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 impro])erly 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 be was 
appointed patriarch of Constantinople in 360 in succession to Macedonins, 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.). 

•* 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 
A'alens,^ Ursacius,^ and Germinius,^ 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 
dilficulties to which such terms have given rise, and because they 
are not to be found in the Scriptures and transcend human 
knowledge.^ 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,* 

^ Valens and Ursacius had been pcrsoual disciples of Arius, probably during his 
exile into Illyricum after Nicaea. Later on they found it politic to profess ' con- 
servative piiuciples' (see Socr. H.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 
•liarges 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 (Acaeius 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 trj'ing to omit the words 
Kara wdfra. They were at Ariniinum 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). 

* Germinius was Bishop of Sirmium. 

3 The Creed is in Hahn » p. 199 (Latin), and (Greek) Ath. de Syn. 28 ; Socr. 
ir.E. ii. 30. 'Ofioiotiaiov occurs here for the first time. 

^ 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 Poitiers 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 tlie three, who thereupon, liy repre- 
sentations (probably false) to the emperor, secured an edict banishing Hilary to 


8uj:^,'est<Kl — ' the blasphemy of Sirmium ' ' — it has since beoii 

riirypia (;J5(J). Tho oxilo lasted thriH* years, and during it Hilary carried dii the 
\v!ir a>;ainst Arinnism by his writin^fs, dr. Synodii (conciliiitciry iis AtliHiiiiHius was 
towanls suiui-Ariaus. who si'ciutMl roally to nocoiit the Nioiiio toachiiighiit to utunihit) 
at the Nioone terms) and rfc TrinitaU. And on his return, till his death in [\60, by 
leal tfiujicred by tact and mutual explanations of uncertain tenns, he < (Toctivcly 
won over tho wavorcrs and reduced tho Arian party to the smiUlest dijnensions. 
(Sco J. O. Cazenovo 'llilarius I'icUv.', D.C.B. ; and for his doctrinal teaching 
osi>ooially Horner Doctrinr of lh>- Person of Christ Eng. tr. div. i vol. ii p. 391) WA 

Hanlly less important was tho work of Ambrose later— like Hilary, a layman 
suddenly elevated to the episcopate to be a pillar of tho Faith (Bishop of Milan 
374-397). The suc^^es8or of tho Arian bishop Auxentius, and unliinching in his 
resistance by word and by dood to Arianism, however supported in imperial circles, 
lie .steadily maintained the Catholic teaching against all heresy. As a diligent 
.student and warm admirer of the Greek theologians, especially Basil, ho exerted all 
his gre«t influence to secure the complete victory of tho Nicene doctrine in the West. 
^.See especially De fide ad Gratianuvi (od. Hurler, vol. 30) and De .S'piritu ,S'.) 

' 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 Valcns, 

Ursacius, and Germinius. It is certain that there is one God, all-mling and Father, 

.IS 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"). 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. 3-"- *'). 

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 undeTsiood—homousion, or 

the term Iwmoevsim, 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 t ho 

Son, concerning whom it is written ' Who shall declare his generation ? ' (Isa. 53*^). 

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^). And no one 

is ignorant that this is Catholic— that there are two persons of Father and Son, 

that the Father is gieater, the Son subject along with all the things which the 

Father subjected to Himself ; that the Father has not a beginning, is invisil^le, 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 

iu suffering. Futhermore, 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.* It was mucli 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 Fast 

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.^ 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^^). 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 which he assumed. A reference in the explanation of the Creed 
which was offered at Sardica in 343 in order to repudiate Arian conceptions (Hahn ^ 
p. 189), '-'This (sc. the Spirit) did not suffer, but tlie human nature {dvdpuiros) which 
he put on suffered — which he assumed from JIary the Virgin, the human nature 
which is capable of suffering", shews that Arians t^iught 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) wa.s already in some con- 
nexions expressed by Athanasius (Or. c. Ar. iii 31-33), as it had been previously by 
Tertiilliun (see stipra p. 144).] 

1 See Hilary de Hynodis 11 and adv. Cmistautium 23. Hosius, Bishop of Cordova 
— to whose suggestion the term Homoousios at Nicaea wa« probably due — was present 
at this synod, and was comjielled by violence to sign the Creed (see Soz. U.E. iv G). 
So Hilary could call it also 'the ravings of Hosius', a singularly uncharitable 
obiter dictum in view of all the facts and the gieat services of Hosius. 

'' See Hahn=* p. 201. 


Ariau theses, and Lho omphatie declaratiou that the Son was 
like the Father even in CBsence (i.e. in his very beinj^) was 
at this juncture just the bridge which was needed to lead 
wanderers back to the Nicene faith in its fuhiess. 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 Anonioeau party, whom Constantius obliged 
them to recall after an Arian deputiitiuji 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, wilh 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.^ 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 

* This was the third assembly at Simiium within the decade, and the Creed \? 
commonly counted the ' third ' of Sirmium (there was, however, one drawn up 
at Sirmium against Photinus in 347, whieli, 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 Hahn' p. 204, and 
Bum 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. 3) 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^ p. 204. 



not contained in the Scriptures. Such was the Creed ^ by 
which it was hoped to unite all imrties and bring back 
harmony to the Church. But though the ' Cabinet-meeting ' 
of Sirmium could agree, the new party of ' Homoeans ' (or 
• Acacians ', or ' semi-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 ; ^ yet the very word ' like ' seems to connote some 
difference, and the divine ovaia 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,^ 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 ovaia, 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- 

^ 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 iKelae olKovo/Mrjaavra), and when the door-k&fa{*r3 of Hades 
saw him they were affrighted " (Job 38" LXX) — a clause which probably sliews 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 Sfioiov Kara wavra really embraces everything, and is enough to 
exclude any difference between Father and Son. He shews at length that though 
the bare term oi/cria is not contained in either the old or the new Scriptures, yet 
its sense is everj'Avhere. The Son is not called the Word of God as a mere force 
of expression {ivip^eia XeKTiK-rj) of God, but he is Son (a definite hypostasis) and 
therefore oiala, 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 tc 
proscribe oiVia, says tliey wished to do away with the name ovaia in order tliat it 
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 oixxla '. 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 jiurpose 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 ffaer. Ixx iii 12-22 
(esp. 15). [It is the theology of Basil of Ancyra expressed in this treatise that 
Hamack regards as ultimately adopted, with developements, by the Cappadocians 
Basil and the Gregories. See infra p. 193.] See Additional Note on 6/iO(oyo-toj and 
tlie Homoeans infra p. 192. 

*See Socr. H.K ii 37 ; Ath. de Syn. 8 ff., ad Afros 3. 


stjintius to oxpliiin alVairs and urge that no cliange oiiLjbt to l»o 
allowed. Tho eiajxTor sliewecl all Ijonour to UrBaciua and 
Valens, and sent back the other dopnUition 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 Thruce, near Hadrianople, a few- 
bishops (whether the original de[»utie8, or the partisans of 
l-rsaciu8 ^ only, is uncertain) published as the work of the 
Council of Ariminum a revised translation of the Dated Creed," 
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 ^ 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. 1^), " 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 faitli, 
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 ".* 

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 

' Cf. Socr. I.e. with Ath. de Syn. 30. 

^Halin* 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 fxia 
inrbcTacn^ also is forbidden. 

" Hahn ' p. 200. 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.) 

* Jerome Dial. adv. Lucif. 19 (Migne P.L. xxiii p. 172). On the Councils of 
Ariminum and Seleuceia (and the whole question), see the great work of Athanasius 
d^ 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 (witli ' in all things ' omitted), was issued as the faith 
of the Church ^ — and the victury of Arianism in the lloinoean 
form was apparently complete. As representative and scape- 
sfoat of the Anoinoeaus, Aetius was abandoned — -excommunicated 
and deposed; but Eudoxius 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- Avians 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 ^ was that they should accept this test, 
and anathematize Arianism and the view which spoke of the 
Holy Spirit as a creature.^ 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.^ Furthermore, in connexion with the 

convince the genuine semi-Arians that notMng but hfu>oii<Tiov would suffice, and 
that it really was what they meant (§§ 41-54). 

^ Hahn ^ p. 208. It was at this Council that Macedouius, Bishop of Alex- 
andria, ordained by Arian bisbojis in opposition to Paul and Athanasius, was 
deposed. See infra ' Doctrine of tho Holy Spirit ' p>. 212. 

- Lucifer of Calaris, who had been exiled to Egypt, was present at the Council. 
He could not agree to the .Arians obtaining veniam ex jwenitmiHa. Hence his schism. 
Ue too had consecrated Paulinus in opposition to Melctius at Antioch. 

* 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 detiuition as to the Holy 
Spirit, and to distinguish between them in regard to deity. See infra pp. 206, 209. 

* This was in opposition to the christological conceptions already noted {■•nipra 
p. 160), which were destined to excite greater attention when 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 wa.s not possible, when the Lord had become man for us, that his body should 
bo \\ithout intelligence ; nor was the salvation elfocted in the Word himself a 
salvation of body only, but of soul also " {Turn, ad Ant. 7). 


most ' practical ' probk'in before the Council — the position of 
afluire at Aiitioch, the disKeusions between tlie Nieene party 
(EusUitliiaus) and the Honioiousiau party (Meletians) — the 
meaning of the word ' hypostasis ' in relation to the (jodhead 
was discussed. It was recogni/.ed that two usaj^es were curnMit, 
and that questions of words ou^dit not to be allowed to divide 
those who really agreed in idea. Both ' one hypostasis ' and 
' three hypostases ' could be said in a pious sense. The 
former was in accordance with the usage of the Creed of 
Niciiea, in which the word is an equivalent for ovaia ; 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 . sijbstance 
(three ' persons '). In the there had been some disposition 
to use the word ' hypostasis ' in this latter souse — 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 wliich they were used, and so to reveal to the disputants 
the merely verbal nature of their apparent diflereuce, was a 
conspicuous success achieved by Athanasius.-^ 

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 reattirmed the Creed 
of Nicaea,^ 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 ovcla of the Father ' and * that he is 
like the Father in ovaia ' ; 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 

^ See the account of the Council in the Letter which he \vrote to the Church of 
Antioch (the Tomus ad Aniiochenos) — ' calm and conciliatory, the crown of his 
career' — urging them to peace. Both sides are represunted 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 Nieene 
Creed may therefore have been to some extent opportunist. See Socr. H.E. iii 2r>. 



the following year drove Athanasius again into banishment for 
the winter, but the revolt of rrocopius and the indignation of 
the people of Alexandria led to hiss speedy recall early in 366, 
and the remaining seven years of his life were free from any 
such disturbance. 

A Council was held at Lampsacus 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 Nicene 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 Coimcil 

of Constantinople 

The Council which met at last in 381 ^ at the capital, Con- 
stantinople, solemnly ratified the faith of the Council of Nicaea 

^ Only Eastern bishops were present, and Meletius of Antioch, who was held 
in universal estimation (though he had been so much distrusted in the AVest), was 
appointed to preside. Gregory of Nazianztis 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 jjossible again to 
give the Catholics of Constantinople a diocesan administrator. But as bishop only 
of the insigniticant Sasin;a, he had hardly ecclesiastical rank enough to preside. 
The first act of the Council was to appoint him, nmch 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 
Antioch (in violation of the agreement that when either of the two bishops 
Meletius and Paul died, the survivor should be afknowledged by both parties) ; 
and when the Egyptian liishops (who probably desired the recognition of Maximtxs, 
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 Noctaiius. See Hefele Councils vol. ii p. 310 tf. 

The West had no part in the Council, and it was not till 4.51 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 Cappadouian Fathers — had been of 
liighest value. See further in regard to them Cliapter XIII. 


in its on^^inal slmi»e/ and c.ondonunid all forniB of Arian teach 
ing ; and edicts of Thoodo8iu8 were iRsued — in accordance wKli 

' No new CtochJ was fnuiiod (seo Soer. JI.K. v 8, nnd Soz. U.K. vii 0). An en 
largt'd Creed, jiftPi wnrds known as tho Creed of tho Council of Con8taiilinoj)Iu, was 
ajijiarontly cntirt'd in tho Acts of llu' Council (which arc not iixttmt), as it wan rem! 
unt from thoni at tho Coum'il of Chulcodon. Possibly it was tho (heed jirofusHcd 
l>y Nectarius on his baptism and consecration as Bishop of Constantinople dminLC 
tiio progress of the Council. See Kunzc Da^ vicfini-arh-kmutlantiiicpolitanischt 
Stjmlioi, ami A. E. Burn Guardian, March 13, 1901. I'ossihly Cyril of Jerusalem. 
whoso ' ortliodoxy ' had boon more than doubtful (ho certainly disliked the test- 
word liomoousios), and who on thi.s ocension pul)licly iirodaimed his tidheicnco 
to the homoousian formula (see Socr. I.e.), recited in ovidenco of his opinions the 
form of Creed which was in use in liis Church — a form based upon tho old Baptisnuil 
Creed of JerUNalcm (which can ho ^^athcrcd from his catechetical lectures on it lu 
348-350) -revised and augmented from the Creed of Nicaea about 3C2, aftur he 
was reinstitod in his bialiopric. And this Creed, being ajiproved by the Council, 
was entered in the Acts — though not intended for imbliciition and general use ; 
and then, inasmuch as it was manifestly useful in view of later developuments ol 
teaching as to tho Holy Spirit, it passed into wider currency, and came at lengtli 
to be regarded as a Creed drawn up on this occasion bj' 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 Dainasus, Bishop of Rome, 
i-eferred to 'a more expanded confession of tho 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 tho Council 
met, when it was appended to an exposition of the Faith (styled o 'kyKvpwrbs — 
Aticoraivs —the Anchored One), composed by E])iphanius, Bishop of Salamis (Con- 
stantia), in Cyprus. The connexion of Salamis with Jerusalem (its motropolis) would 
lead to the use of the same form of Creed in both placet). 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 Chalccdou seventy 
years later. At this Council of Chalcedon the genuine Nicone 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 Niccne Creed, though 
in close agreement with its teaching as to the Person of Christ. Thus it does not 
contain the clause iK t^s ovaias tov warpos, 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 fijvst 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 efi'ectually jire- 
clude the possibility of the Homoean interpretation of the Creed, yet Athaiiasius 
always insisted that they were only an explanation of ii: tov Trarpis (see Addi- 
tional Note). To sura up — (1) All tlie historians of the Council say that it was 
(only) the Nicene Creed that was alCrmed. (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 
lieffire 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 unsiiccessful, the heresy was 

rigorously suppressed by force and expelled from the greater 

part of the empire.^ 

has as its basis not the Nicene Creed, but the Baptismal Creed of Jerusalem (being 
an enlarged edition of the latter with Niccnc corrections and amendments). See 
Hort Two Disscrtation.<. It is possible that before the time of the Council of 
I halcedon 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. Sec also infra pp. 214-217. 

^ Though Arianism was thus banished from the Church of the Roman Empire it 
became the faith cf 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 
tliom 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 
tiU 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 
Chri-^tianity. 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 Athaua.sius was beyond comparison 
superior to the Arians. Arianism was indeed "a mass of presum^jtuous theoris- 
ing, supported by scraps of obsolete traditionalism and uncritical text-mongering — 
and, besides, a lifeless system of unspiritual pride and hard unlovingness ", 

The victory of o/Moovcnos 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 throughout by Court intrigue and military outrage." 



The chief authorities for tlic teaching of Marccllus, the chief rcprc 
sentjitive of the suppt^scd Sabellian tendencies of the Nicenc Christo- 
logy, are two treaties of ICuspbius of Cacsarea {ruiifra Marcellum ami 
lie Eccleaiantira Tlteologin), wliich contain extracts from his own work 
On tlw Snhjertion of the Son ; a letter to Julius in I'lpiplumius Ifarr. 
Ixxii ; fra^'inents of u wrilin}^ of Acinius against him, and n Creed of 
the Miircollians, also in Epiphatiius, I.e. (Migno P.O. xlii 383-388, 
395-400). In Atliunasius Ur. c. Ar. iv (as Newmnn thinks, and Zahn 
insist-s) the system of Marcellus is probably attacked (without his 
name). Sec Th. Zahn Marcellus von Anrijra, Gotha, 1867. 

He wa.'i r.ishop of Aiu'vra in Galatia (perhaps as early as 315), and 
at Nicaca was one of the minority whose persistence secured the inser- 
tion of the test-word o/ioov'o-ios ; and after the Council he wrt)to his 
treatise irtpl t^s tov vlov xmoTayrj<; 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 crdled 
in question at successive synods at Tyre and Jerusalem, and at Con- 
stantinople in 336, when he was deposed from his office on the charge 
of teaching false doctrine. Eusebius of Cacsarea took in hand the 
refut'ition 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 acconlingly 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 iuimanent 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. ttpcutotokos) 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 
d too much in common with Sabellianism — the bugbear of the East. 
Marcellus was regarded as teaching that the Son had no real person- 
ity, but was merely the external manifestation of the Father. 

[Ifarnaek 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 Arius", 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 Epj). 69, 125, 263. 

It is impossible to determine how far the picture of Marcellus, which 
Kusebius gives, is coloured by the widespread fear of Sabellian views 
in the East. Either ^larcellus 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 distinct existence 
in the future. St Paul's words (1 Coi \b^) 'then shall the Son himself 
too be subjected to him that subjected all things to him, in order that 
God may be all in all' might be understood to point to an ultimato 
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 ho would only meet an appeal with a quiet smile 
(Epiphanius, who tells the tale, ad\h 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 


aiul nftor the enquiry, wpn« road, and his fiiiLh Wfis provtvl to l>r orthodox. 
llo did not utlirm, as they represented, that the b<'j,'innin}^ of tlie Word 
of God was dated from liis conception by the holy Mary, or that his 
kingdom would have an end. On the contrary, he wrote that his 
kingdom liad had no beginning and would have no end " (Theodorot 
Ui«t. AVW. ii 6— A^. and P-N.F.). 

Hilary indeed doclarep that at a later time, by siuuc rash utterances, 
and by hi.>< evident sympathy with IMiotinus, he camo to bo su«poctod 
by all men of heretical leanings j but in face of the evidonce it is 
difiicult to suppi»80 him heretical at the earlier time, however strong 
the extnicts in Kusebius (who was clearly bia-ssed) may seem. 

What the followers of Marcellus said for thcnisnlvcR may be seen 
from a statement of belief whicli 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 Marcelluf-), 
under the leadership of the deacon Eugenius (see Ilahn* 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 birtli from Mary, They thus 
clearly maintain the eternal Sonship and the reality of the three xmoa- 
Tcio-cis 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,, Hahn^ 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 irdvTa, 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 ' eWier ' 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 oiaia" with the Father the 


Council meant "that the Son was from the Father, and not merely 
like, hut the same in likeness ..." his likeness being diflerent 
from such as is ascribed to us : and he proceeded to show (§ 23) that 
mere likeness implies something of difl'erence. " Nor is he like only 
outwardly, lest he seem in some respect or wholly to be other in 
ouorta, 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 ovcria 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 imlike 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 ovala) Father and Son 
were not like but the same — of one oia-ia: 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/iooucrios 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 elVect, to say thiit it wns permitted to believe in three 
beings with natures like ench other, oixria receiving a sense nearer to 
' nature ' than to * being '. 1 nstead of one Godhead, existing permanently 
in three distinct forms or spheres of existence, there are three forms 
of existence of like nnturo with one another, which together make 
up the Godhead. 

It would indeed be strange if expert theologians, after so long a 
I'ontroversy, at last agreeing to reject homoiousios in favour of the Nicene 
horaoousios, strained out the term and swallowed the sense. It would 
indeed be a scathing satire on the work of councils and theologians. 
It would bo proof of strange incompetence and blindness on the ]>art 
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 wliich the Church has all 
these centuries been committed to an essentially tritheistic interpreta- 
tion of the Person of her Ix)rd. [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 Avithin 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 w^as 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 
Ai-ian 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 Avill, 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, goe^ far beyond an act of the will (cf. Greg. Naz. Theol. Or. iii 
3 fip.). And Cyril of Alexamlria 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-wSpo/AOS 6iXr](n<i, not Trporjyovfxev'rj — see de Trin. ii p. 56)." 

So Dollinger writes, but he goes on {Hippolytus and CaUistus Eng. 
tr. p. 198) to shew that, though the Catholics contended vigorously 
against the Arian teaching on this point, the Trinitarian self-determina 
tion 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 pui'e 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 (voluntaria). 
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 ixovoyevq<;, 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. So Basil adv. 
Eunom. ii 20 explains it as meaning 6 /idvos yevvrjOek, and repudiates 
the meaning 6 /xovos Trapa fiovov Ycvo/iicvos (ov yevi^^cts) which was 



arbitrarily put upon it by Kuiiomius. The special Idnd of unicity 
wbii'li brlongs to nn only child is latont in tho word in the few uku^'ps 
in which it is not apparent, as when it is uP(>d of tho Phcnnix, or hy 
Pluto Tiut. .'Hb with ovpav6<i (iis niadn by the Fntht'i of nil, ih. '28("), 
and by later writors of the »co<r/io?. In a few cases only tho wonl is 
liHisely applied to inanimate objects thut are merely alone in their kind, 
as if it wore connected with yevos. 

Tho pamphnuse ^jlovo^ yevvydtU, which Basil jjfives, is essentially true 
to the sense, but the passive form goes beyond ixovoya'-q<i. So proliably 
does uniyeni/us; and 'only-begotten' is still narrower in meaning. If 
it is connected with vlU, 'only iSon ', as in the Ajwstles' Creed, would 
be the nearest (equivalent in English. If it is connected with 6'cos, 
'only' would not, of course, be a possible translation : 'solo-born' might 
express the meaning more exactly. 

Uniciis was the rendering of ftovoyivq^ througliout the Bible iu the 
earliest Old Latm versions, bat it was supplanted by unigenitus in some 
forms of the Latin before the time of Jerome in the five pa.ssages in tho 
New Testament in which it has reference to our Lord (namely John P''- 1® 
316. 18^ 1 John 4'). Nearly all tlie native Latin Creeds have Jilium 
uninim eins, 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 Jiliuvi unicuin in the Apostles' Creed 
(English 'only'), h\i\, jilium unigenitum in the Latin translations of the 
' Constantinopolitan ' Creed (English ' only begotten '). Seo Hort Two 


The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity 

The Course throiigh which the Dodritie 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.^ 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- 

' Whatever opinion may be held as to the date of the Jolianiiine \vritings, tlie 
Acts of the A}iostles 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 eai'liest Christian communities. 



lions. In seekiuj^ unj^uardedly for closer dofiuition tliey some 
times reiiched results incousi.steiit with main principles, or in 
devoting attention to particular lines of reasoning they ignored 

Trticing out the history of the doctrine, therefore, means 
Lnu'ing out the touching 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 unmistakcable expression of what had 
ofti-'u hitherto been only half-cousciously held. 

The Docfrive of the Spii'it 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 i.s exjjlicit 
and unanimous in its witness that he is divine.^ " V>\\\> 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." ^ 

" 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 Sphit 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." ^ 

Functions of the Holy Spirit are recognized in the Old Testa- 
ment in nature, in creation and conservation ; in man, in the 

' 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. Ct also supra pp. 11-15. 

^ Ibid. ; cf. Ps. 433 57* 139'', Isa. 48'« es**- 1». 


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 
^apia-fiaTa 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 ' 
(Eorn. 8'^) (a phrase which he also uses of Christ's human spirit, 
Rom. 14; of his pre-existent nature, 2 Cor. 3^'^; and of his 
risen life, 1 Cor. 15*^); while in some cases the Holy Spirit is 
apparently identified with Christ (Eom. 8^- ^^), 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 ^ 
shew the same teaching ; but in The Shepherd of Hermas, which 
contains many allusions to the Holy Spirit, language is used 
which identifies the Spirit with the Son.^ 

Some of the Apologists were so much concerned to expound 
the doctrine of the Logos ^ 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 iu some cases they shew a disposition to rank the Spirit 
lower than the Son.* 

^ 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 Chirrch {Magn. 13 ; PMlad. 7 ; Eph. 17, 18, 9 ; 
Smyrn. 13). He is included in the doxologies in Mart. Polyc. 14, 22, and Mart. 
Ign. 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, 

- See Swete Hid. 

' See supra p. 124. This is true perhaps especially of the teaching of Justin 
Martyr in regard to the \byoi <nrepfiari.K()S. He also says that the Word himself 
wrought the miraculous conception {Ajml. i 33). Similarly Theophilus speaks of 
' the Word, being God's Spirit ' coming down on the prophets (ad Aulol. ii 33), and 
the wTiter to Diognetus used .similar e.xpressions. 

•• 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 " (yueT-d \6yov Tifubfiev — Apol. i 13 ; 
cf. 60 ; see also Apul. i 6) ; and Tatian describes the Spirit as the minister of the 
Son {Oratio ad. G-racc. 13), 


Conspicuous among those of these eiuly writers who arc 
known to ns sUuid Thooi)hihiH, who is tlie tirst to use tlio term 
Triad (Trinity) in reference to the Godhead (though it must be 
noted that lie does not actually name the Holy Spirit),* and 
Athenagora8, who sees in the Sjiirit the bond of iniion by which 
the Father and Son coinhore, and implies the doctrine of his 
essential procession by the image in which he doscrilics him as 
an etlluence from God, emanating from Him and returning to 
Him as a ray of the sun or as light from iire.'^ 

Gnostic thought ujiou the subject shews points of contact 
both with Cathohc 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 intluential 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.^ 

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 * and to the 
Son,^ 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 

^ As the Triad he names ' God and his Word and his Wisdom ' {ad Aniol. ii 15). 

^ "The Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son by the unity and 
power of the Spirit " {Leg. 10 and 24). 

^ 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. 

* 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. w praef. and chh. 14 and 34 ed. Harvey. 

* This particularly in relation to men, since the Incarnation, of which the gift of 
the Spirit is a fruit {ilnd. iii 38, v 36). See further Harvey's hidex 'Spirit'. 


full Catholic doctrine of the relations between the Three Persons 
in the one Trinity, linked together in the one divine life.^ 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,^ Novatian, and 
Dionysius of Eome. 

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 recogni/cs 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.^ 

Ori{jen'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.* 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,^ or also as a Son of God or not ; for these are points 

1 See su2}ra p. 140. This doctrine is expressed particularly in his tract against 
Praxeas. See §§ 2, 4, 8, 25, 30. 

2 See supra p. 108. 

8 See esp. Faed. iii 12, i 6 ; Siro7)i. v 13, 24. 

* He says they delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on points which 
they believed to be necessary to eveiy one, leaving, however, the grounds of their 
statements to be examined into by those who should receive the special aid of the 
Holy Spii'it ; 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 
disjilay the fruit of their talents. De Princ. Preface 3 — Ante-Nicene Christian 

* The Greek of this passage is not extant. Rufinns translates ' natus an inuatus', 
which represents yevvr)Tbs fj dytwriTos. Jerome, however, has ' factus an infectus ', 


which have to be eiuiuired into out of sacred Scripture according 
to tlio best of our ability, and wliich domand cjirefiil investi- 
gation. And that tliis Spirit inspired eiicli one of the saints, 
whether prophets or apostles ; and that there was not one 
Spirit in the n)en of the old dispensiitiou and .mother in those 
who were inspired at tlio advent of Christ, is most clearly taught 
throughout the Churches." Tiiis 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 ^t 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 ? ^ 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.^ The 
third : that the Holy Spirit has no being of his own (personality) 
other than that of the Father and the Son.^ 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.^ 
It remains therefore that the Spirit has come into being througli 
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 yevrjrbi ^ ayevrjTo^ (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 svjjra p. 122 n. 1. 

^ Origen Comm. in Joh. i 3, ed. Brooke vol. i p. 70 f. 

2 ayefvriTov, but the argument requires rather ayev-qrov, unoriginate, the ojjposite 
of yiVTyrbv, to exclude Him from the class of yevrp-i. 

* fiT]Si oiaiav riva iSiav v^effrivai. rov aylov irye^fiaroi irepav irapa. rbv irarepa Kal 
rbv vi6v. 


perliaps is why he is not also called ' Son ' of God ; since the 
Only-bogotteu 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 

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 
lionour above the Son ^ — " 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."^ 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.* 

'To this thought Origen is led by the passage in 1 Cor. 12-"''- : "There arc 
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." 

- Passages exan)ined are Isa. 48'®, and the Siu against the Holy Spirit 
(Matt. 12»2). 

^ De Princ. i 34. 

* Cf. dc Prinr. i 33 : "We have been able to find no statement in Holy Scrip- 


The special idea of creation does not seem to be proscnt 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 nses — tho word on which he is commenting ; 
and it is really tho origination of the Sj)irit thnnigh the Logos, 
and conseqnently his inferiority in order to the Logos, that he is 
concerned to maintain. 

He does ind(MHl definitely extend to the Spirit^ tho 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 
atUnn])ting to deal with the inner being and relations of the 
( Jodhead." 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.^ 

Gregory Thaumaturyus 

One of the most famous of them, however, Gregory of 
Neo-Caesarea,* 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 be 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." 

^ See de Friiic. 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." 

- See e.(/. such strong assertions as de Princ. i 37 : "Nothing in the Trinity can 
be called greater or less. . . . There is no dili'erence in the Trinity, but that which 
is called the gift of the Spirit is made known through the Son and operated 
(actualLsed) by God the Father." 

^ See Swete I.e. 

* Known as Thaumaturgus, the evangelist of Pontus and Cappadocia. See his 
Creed (Hahn ^ p. 2.03), composed probably soon after 260. 


pecially closely with the Son, as he is in the preceding clauses 

' the Creed which describe him as " having his existence from 

ifod and appearing through the Son, the Image of the Son, 

[.erfect (image) of perfect (Son) ; Life — the first cause of all 

' hat live ; Holiness — the provider of hallowing, in whom is made 

lanifest God the Father who is over all and in all, and God the 

M.u 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 : ^ " 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 (aTrrjXXo- 
Tpioyrai) from the Son, nor is the Son banished (cnrwKLaTai) 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." 

JEusebius 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 
' See Ath. de Sunt. Dionys. 17, and supra p. 115. 


seems not to discritnimite botwoeu tlie procession and the 
mission of tlie Holy S])irit, luul uses the same torni both of him 
and of the Son.' 

The Arian Theories expresst^d hut not emphasized, and for 

a time ignored 

At the Council of Nicaea the battle raged round the doctrine 
of the Crodhoad 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 " ; '^ 
80 the simplest expression of belief was enough,^ and little more 
found place in any of the many Creeds (Arian and Semi- 
Arian) which were drawn up in the following thirty years. 
Hut 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." * 

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.^ 

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 

^ Swete I.e. The passages referred to are Praep. Evan^. vii 16 ; de Eccl. 
Thcol. iii 6. 

- Basil Ep. 125, in explanation of the absence of any detailed profession of faith. 

* See su/pra p. 4, on the willingness of the Church to acquiesce in simple 
' Creeds ' till forced to exclude erroneous interpretations by closer definition. 

* See Ath. de Syn. 15. 

'' These lectures to catechumens (Caf. xvi and xvii) are reaUy the firs ; system- 
atic attempt to present the doctrine of the Spirit that we have. 


I'lict that the Holy Spirit spoke the Scriptures, and said about 
himself all that he wished or all that we could receive, we may 
sell limit ourselves to the teaching of Scripture (§§ 1, 2). 

He disclaims the attempt to accurately describe his being 
(hypostasis), aud will only mention misleadiug 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 suflicient 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 {(j^vaiv rj vTroaraa-iv), — 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.^ 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,^ directly and 
through the appointed channels of the ordinances and sacra- 
ments of the Church,^ the ' 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 

^ 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 the words of Job. 7^ and 4" 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 aud loveliness of the life of nature depends. 

^ 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 {^ihid. iii 3, iv 3, 
v 7) ; aud he is the giver of various gifts and graces for ministry. 


by way of negation, when he declarea that none of tlie things that 
have come inti) bcin^ \» eijuul in honour witli liiui. None of 
the order of the angels has e(iuality with him. He has no ])eGr 
among them ; they are contrasted with liim as recipients of a 
mission of service : whereas he is ' the divinely appointed ruler 
and teacher and sanctitier ' of all angelic orders.' But he also 
insists that the gracious gifts which he gives are all tiie 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 Fnther freely 
bestows them all through the Son together with the Holy Spirit";''^ 
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." ^ 

Over against Sabellian ' confusion ' he expresses repeatedly 
the distinct personality of the Spirit. Ho 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.* — " He who speaks and sends is living 
and subsisting (personal) and operating." And once he drives 
home the teaching of such incidental comments in tlie 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." ^ 

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 ; ^ and in 
another passage he brings together two sayings of Christ to shew 
that the Son himself derives from the Father that which he 

' See esp. xvi 23 and viii 5, excluding the idea that the Spirit was among the 
Sou\a of the Son. 

■ xvi 24. » xvi 4 ; cf. iv 16. * E.g. xvii 9, 28, 33, 34. 

" xvii 5. • xvii 11. 


gives in turn to the Spirit.^ 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 Gaddance 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 351 ^ against 
any one who styled the Father, Sou, and Holy Ghost ' one 
person ' {irpocrwirov), or spoke of the Holy Spirit as the ' unbe- 
gotten God ', or as not other than the Son, or as a ' part ' ((Ltepo?) 
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.^ 

The particular assailants of the doctrine of whom Sarapion 
told him professed to regard the Son as di\dne, 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 

^ xvi 24 : " All things were comraittcd to me by the Father ", and "he receives 
of mine and shall declare it to you ". 

2 Hahn » p. 198. 

^ He sent four letters in all {ad Sarapioncru Orationcs iv) — the first a long one, 
the seconil and third intended to be simpler (the second really deals with the 
Godhead of the Sec, while the third summarizes the first), and the fourth in reply to 
objections (particularly with regard to the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). [A 
convenieut edition of the letters in Bibliotlicca Pair. Qraec. dof/iaatica, ed. Thilo, 
vol. i.] 

The opponents of the doctrine against whom he argues he culls 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 rin»^ the cliangcs. 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 thoroforo tlie Son is not a creature, it is impossible 
that his Spirit can be. And furthor, 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 Ood ' (i 17) 
indivisible and homogeneous. The term ' Spirit ' is used in 
various senses in tiie 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.^ 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 ^ (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 

^ 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'^. 

- The chief [jassage on which they depended was 1 Tim, 5^*, " 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).^ 

It is on Scripture that we must depend, and Scripture 
describes the Father as the Fountain, and the Son as the Kiver, 
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,^ because he shines forth and is sent and given 
by the Logos {irapa tov \6yov) who is from the Father (§ 20). 
He is the Son's very own {l8iov rov viov) and not foreign to God 
i^evov TOV Oeov) (§ 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 
(tSio<i rr}? ovaia<i avrov) ; 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 Kar ova-lav tov viov). ... He is proper to the deity 
of the Father.3 ... In him the Trinity is complete* (§ 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 
CathoKc Church, received from the Lord, preached by Apostles, 

' Cf. iv 6. The Father is always Fatlier, and the Son always Son, and the 
Holy Spirit is and is called always Holy Spirit. 

- The terms are wapa (or 6k) tov irarpbs 8ia rod viov. 

' He is also in Him (iv 4). 

'» The Scriptures further prove his divinity by shewing him to be immutable ami 
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 he a creature. 


and preserved by the Fathers, — it is tho very fouiulation of tlic 
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 
whieh the Lord himself bade the Apostles lay for the Church 
when he said to them '(}o ye and make disciples of all nations, 
bjiptizing them into tho name of the Father and of the Sou and 
of the Holy Spirit' (§ 28). 

Those who dare to separate the Trinity and reckon the Holy 
Spirit amonj^ created thiiu^s are as audacious as the riuirisees 
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 Poitiers 

At the same time as Athanasius was expounding the doctrine 
in the East, Hilary of Poitiers, a representative of the Niccno 
faith in the West, was maintaining similar teaching in more 
systematic form ^ 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 {jjer) 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 the 
Father and the Son. His own phrase is ex Fatre per filium.'^ 

The Theories of Macedonius 

The chief repiesentative 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 

^ The importance of the great dogmatic work of Hilaiy (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 tlaough Augustine was destined to 
overshadow and supersede Hilary. (Aug. De Trinitatc was published more tliau 
fifty years later, c. 416.) See Cazeuove ' Hilarius Pictaviensia ' D.C.B. 

' See Swete ' Holy Ghost ' D. C.B. 


deposed by the Synod of (Jonstantinople in 360.^ In his 
retirement he is said to have elaborated the theories connected 
with his name ; teaching that whereas the Sou 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.^ If not true God 
he must be a creature. The favourite argument seems to have 
been a redudio ad ahsurdum : 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 ^eo? uiwz/o?.^ 

77ig Doctrine declared at the Council of Alexandria 362, and 
subsequent Synods in the Bast 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.* 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 

' The synod dominated by Acacius at which, in the Arian interest, the strict 
Iloinoean formula (' like ' only) was agieed to, and Semi-Arians and Anomooans 
alike were suppressed, ilacedonius and others {e.g. Basil of Ancyra and Cjril of 
Jerusalem) were deposed really because they were Semi-Arians, to whom the strict 
Homoeau formula seemed ' Arian ', but nominally on various charges of irregularity. 
See Hefele Councils vol. ii p. 273, and supra p. 185. 

'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. 

' See e.g. Greg. Naz. Or. Theol. v 7, and Athanasius supra p. 210. 

* See supra, p. 185, and Atli. ad Antiochenos, esp. §§ 5, 6. Note the claim to 
liold the Nicene faith along with the ' Macedonian ' doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Cl'. 
TheodoretiT.i;. 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 tli:it 
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 Sjiirit than the Creed of Nicaea 
svipplied 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.^ 

About this time the same faith was embodied in a letter to 
the Emperor Jovian,^ 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 fif.), synods at Kome 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,^ 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 pui-pose (his olKovofiia) — " to the weak he becomes weak to gain the weak ". 
He is utterly astonished at the boldness of those who venture to speak against 
him (Ath. E'p. 62 and 63 ; Basil Ep. 204). 

^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. 

' This is known as the ' Tome of Damasus '. The anathemas repudiate in detail 
aU false ideas about the Spirit and maintain the divine attributes of each person of 
the Trinity (see Hahn ' p. 271). They shew what teaching was current. 

* Hahn * p. 134. But as to the origin of this Creed see siipra p. 188 n. 1. 


pliaiiius, 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-existerice 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 — eh eva deov irarepa 
— Koi ets" €va Kupcov . . . tov vlov — kol el<; to irvevfia to ayiov. 
He too is Kvpiov as the Son, and he proceeds e'/c tov •jraTp6<; (i.e. 
e'/c T^9 ovaia^ tov 7raTp6<;, he was therefore in the Father). He 
is worshipped and glorified together with (aw) ... as a person. 

(b) The Eternity. This is implied in the phrases which 
shew the personality, particularly by the present eKiropevofiwov, 
which connotes neither beginning nor end ; also, to some extent, 
by the operations attributed to him, especially the title ^(oottoloi: 

(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 
aKve — 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 '} 

' 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, hut preferring the expression ' through the Son ' as medium — 
as TertuUian in the West had said a Paire 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 (iK or airb) the Father and receiving 
of the Son' {tov TloD Xd/jL^avov ; cf. John 15-* and 16"). 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 iK or irapd ; see Ancor. 8, 9, 67, 73, 
69-70 ; adv. Ecier. Ixii 4). 

It will thus be seen that though, in common with the Greek Fathers, he does not 
express the y/rccfssitwt from the Son, he comes nearer in his language than others to 
putting the Father and tlie Son together as the joint source of derivation of the Spirit. 

In the West, Ambrose, writing a little later (381) (see dc S'p. S. i 11) makrs 
the derivation of the Spiiit dependent on the Son ; and the declaration of Cyril of 


Compjirod witli the Creed of Nicaea (which, however, wh8 only 
intended (o deal with the doctrine of the Tersou of (Jhrist, see 
supra p. 168 n. 2) all those clauses are new, except the one bare 
statement of faith ' in the Holy Spirit '} But they only amount 

Alexandria tliat the Spirit i.s tlio Son's very own (Anathema ix against Nefltoriua 
— Hahu' p. 315) was approved by tlie Couneil of Ki)he.s;is in 431. 

The first definite denial that the Holy Spirit receives his essence from the Son 
(as well as from the Fatlier) was expressed by Thcodoret in answer to Cyiil's 
anathema. If, by the Spirit being the Son's very own, Cyril only meant to desorilio 
him as of the same nature and proceeding from the Father, he would agree and 
accept the phrase as pious ; but if ho meant that the Spirit derived his being from 
the Son or through the Son, then he must reject it as blaspliemous and iinj)ious. 
Cyril in re]>ly justified his expression (without going into Theodorefs charge), on the 
ground that the Spirit juoceeds 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" 
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. xcui 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 Rcccared, king of the Visigoths), to emphasize the 
national renunciation of Arianisiii, 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 
nosier in the Eucharist. As a defence against Arianisni 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 Hatlield 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 Coimcil : 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 lll., 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 
Coimcil 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.] 

' The CreexJ contains all the chief Nicene clauses and anathemas. 


to a scanty summary of the teaching which, as is shewn above, 
;in ordinary presl)yter gave his catechumens before any con- 
troversy as to the Holy Spirit arose. (The words tov irapd- 
KKrjTov wliich 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 ^ (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 (et? 
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 {iv avrw), that he is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, 
the perfect Spirit, the Spirit Paraclete, uncreated, proceeding 
from the Father and received ^ 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 ^ p. 135. 

* A variant reading gives the active sense ' receiving ' ; cf. .lolm 16'^. The pliiase 
is first found here. 


lie had used two fuinis of tlie doxology, " to God the Father 
through the Son in the Holy Spirit", and " iritk the Son together 
wilh the Holy Spirit " ; ^ that the two forms were regarded iis 
mutimlly inconsistent, and the latter as an innovation. Ao.tius 
had framed a rule hy which the use of the jnepositions iu 
Scripture was governed, and argued that the dilVcrence of use 
corresponded to, and clearly indicated, a dilVcrence of nature (§ 2); 
and according to this rule the first f<n-ni of doxology only was 
legitimate — CJod being widely dillerentiated from the Son, anc 
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 'ivitlc 
{fjL€Tn), sometimes through (Bui), is the more appropriate ; accord- 
ing as, for example, pi'aise 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." 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." ^ In every dis- 

' 5ii Tov vloxj iv Tif ayUj} irvevfiari and /icrd rov vlou <tvv rt^ irvetj/jMri t<^ ayl(p. 

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). 

* To express with some show of ' worldly wisdom ' the idea that the Spirit was 
not co-ordinate with Father and Son but subordinate to thenj, 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 tho 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 aud 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 {wKeiwukvov Kara rrjv (ftvatv 
avru) § 46); he is as it were an ' intimate' of the Son. He is 
thug 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' {avv § 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 he was not ' numbered 
with' them, but was 'numbered under' them, and that co-numeration suits tilings 
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 if. 


Grtffory of Nyssa — Quod non sint tres Dei 

The same teuohing was being given by Gregory of Nyssa 
too about the same time. The devoted yt)unger brother of Basil, 
of whom he constantly speaks as his ' master ', while not intending 
to depart in any way from iiis brotlier'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 NotioTis (Migno P.G. xlv pp. 
175—186), so in his letter to Ablabius, That there are not three 
Qods {ibid. pp. 115—136),^ written about 375, he works out the 
position that ' God ' is a term indicative of essence (being), not 
declarative of persons (not irpoawTrcoi' BtjXcotikov but oi>(Tia<; 
crqjxavTiKov) ; and therefore it is, and must be, always used in 
the singular with each of the names of the persons. So we aay 
' 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 terra ' 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 (ivepyeta) 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 

' An English translation in ' Gregory of Nyssa' N. omd 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 {tt]v Kara ro atriov koI ahiarov 
Bt,a(popdv), 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 Spiiit 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 ho^v He is. 
" The divine nature itself is apprehended through every concep- 
tion as invariable and undivided ; and therefore one Godhead 
and one Crod, 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 


oausiition serves only to distiiii^'uish the throe modes of existence. 
CJoil is one (6 ©toV) ; but within His boing there is Cause 
(TO aiTiov), to which the name ' Father ' corresponds, and there 
is caused (to aiTtaTov), which includes tlie immediately caused 
(to irpoa-ey^Mf tx toD irptltiTov) to which the name ' Son ' corre- 
sponds, and the inodiatoly caused (to hia rov 'rrpo(Ti')(Co<i ck tov 
TrpcoTov) to whicli the name ' Holy Spirit ' corresponds. Tlie 
lloly Spirit is thus in such wise 'fro?n 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.^ 

A year later, in 376, a synod at Iconium, presided over by 
the bishop to whom Basil had written, decided that the Nicene 
Creed Wiis enough, but that in doxologies the Spirit should be 
glorified togetlier 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.^ 

The prevailing uncertainty reflected in the Sermons of 
Gregory of Nazianzus 

The uncertainty, however, which still prevailed is clearly 
retlected in one of the sermons which Gregory of Nazianzus 

' Cf. the Oratio Calechetica ii, ' ' an essential power existing in its own proper 
jifrson, but incapable of being separated from God, in whom it is, or from the "Word 
of God, whom it accompanies" ; On the Holy Spiril (Migne xlv p. 1304), eV rov Oeov 
i<TTi, Kal TOV xp^<^'''ov 4<TTi, KaOijis yiypairrai ; "not to be confounded with the Father 
in being unoiiginate, nor with the Son in being onlj'-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 TrinUy (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 jiroves identity of nature or essence. 

He also touches the line of argument which Augustine afterwards worked out so 
f'dly (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.^. Oratio Cat. i-iii.) 

It is to be noted that Gregory of Nyssa does not claim that the oiala of the God- 
head in itself can be known, but only its Idiibfiara or yvupicT [lara. See de Conimunihus 
Notioniln(s (Migne xlv p. 177), Hcfut. alt. lib. Evnoiaii (ibid. p. 945), Quod m/n 
sint tres dii {ibid. p. 121). So, among others, Augustine in Jolt. Tract, xxxviii 8, 
" ego sum qui sum, quae mens 'potest eapere V 

* Hefele Councils vol. ii j>. 290. 


r>reached at Constantinople about the year 380, while engaged 
I his noble task of building up again a * Catholic ' congregation 
1 the city which had so long been given over to the Arians. 
" Of the wise among us ", he says, " some have held the 
■ Spirit to be an Energy, others a Creature, others God. 
others again have not decided which of these he is — out of 
! uverence, 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." ^ 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 enoucrh 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.^ 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 

> Greg. Naz. Or. 31 § 5 (Or. TJifoL v § 5). 

- Lauguage ol' this kind might have seemed to the Moutanists of earlier times to 
support their main conceptions. 


Son ; and, so long as this was still not accepted, to impose the 
burden of tlie Spirit, if so bold a phrase may be allowed." * 

From the }»oint of view of CJregory the Macedonians would 
be lag^'ing behinil the necessary — the divinely appointed — course 
of develop<}nient of revelation of the nature of the Godhead. 
And before, and at the time of, the Council of Constantinople in 
381 every elfort was made to win them over to the recognition 
of the truth luid 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 ; 
they retiffirmed the Nicene Creed with an explanation ^ of various 
points of doctrine, among which the Godhead of the Spirit was 
alilrmed, and every heresy was declared anathema ; * 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 ". ^ 

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 

» Ibid. § 26 ff. See the whole of this Sernion, esp. §§ 9, 10 and 28 for the testi- 
mony of Scripture to the Holy Spirit. 

- Tliey included (besides tliose mentioned) Cyril of Jerusalem, Hf^lladius the 
successor of Basil at Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa. and Aniphilochius of Iconium — all 
well versed no doubt in the Catholic doctrine. 

^ This is not extant, but tlie 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 CouncQ 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 {viroardaecriv) and three perfect 
persons (irpoiruTrois) ". 

* The heresies specified are those of the Euuomians or Anomoeans, the Arians or 
Eudoxians, the Semi-Arians or Pneuraatomachians, the Sabellians, Marcellians, 
Photiniaus, and Apollinarians. 

* " 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 Spuit." — 
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 
jtrnnps gion nfj ^bft 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 liis summary of it may be given in conclusion.^ 

Ai(fjustine'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 Xarpeveiv (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 wa3 that appeared.^ 

' The next Latin writer on the subject after Hilary was Ambrose, the spiritual 
father of Augustine, in the year of the CouncU 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 oomjileted 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 dc Fide et Symbolo, 16 ff.), and again a few yeuns 
later in a Sermon to catechumens (§ 13), and also in his sermons on the Gospel of 
at John (see Tract, xeix esp. 6 tf.) ; but it was not till after the 3'ear 415 that he 
published the treatise On the Trimly, at which he had been working at intervals 
for many years, and in which he gave to the doctrine the fullest expre.ssion. 

- Bk. ii ; the means beiug further considered in bk. iii. 



Just as the Son, tliough 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 Fatlier but also from the Son.* The Lord 
himself says of the Spirit ' w^hom I will sand unto you from the 
P'ather ' 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).- It is possible to predicate of God 

' Bk. iv § 27 ff. 

' To the thought of the inseparable operation and intercommunion of the Three 
Persons, which Augustine expressed hero and again in bk. viii ad init., later 
theologians applied the term Treptxwpjjiris. Both senses of the verb X'^P^'") ' 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 oh. ix), — 
and so the numerical unity of substance is maintained. Latin equivalents of the 
term are thus either circumincessio (the thi-ee 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 1'* 10^ and 14'"- " ("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 " (^/x^tXoxwpf '" t(^ Oeifi 
Kal evSiairairdai — in Deo manere et hahita/re), and supporting it by the same passages 
of Scripture {de Decrctis § 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 frotn 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 Ix)rd 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,^ recurring to the same subject, " for the sake of 
speaking of things that are ineffable, that we may be able in 
some way to say 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).^ 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 (continu- 
ally) resting in the Father's lap." Hahn' p. 195. 

1 De Trin. vii §§ 7-10. 

* They are together the only beginning {principium} of the Holy Spirit (§ 15). 
He is a gift, given in time, but also eterasilly existent (as a gift may exist before 
it is given) (§ 16). 


vif the arfjument (bk. viii), in which he eni})ha8izeR the perfert 
equality of all the ' rersons ' and the completeness of ouch in 
respect of Deity (no ono in the Trinity, nor two to^etlier, 
nor even all three together, being greater than each one 
severally) ; Augustine passes on to the most characteristic 
argument of iiis essay. On the ground that man is the inuige 
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 
l)eing understood ever since the creation by the things He has 
made ".' 

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.- 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.^ 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.* 

' Rom. 120. cf. Wisd. 13i-» (bk. xv § 3). 
^ AmaiLS, et quod aiiiatur, et amor. 

^ Mens, notitia qua se novit, auioi quo se notitiainque suam diligit. 
* Nee minor proles, dum tantara se novit mens quanta est : nee minor amor dum 
tan turn se diligit quantum novit et quanta est (ix 18). 


Other trinities may be seen in the mind — in memory, uuder- 
stfinding, will ^ ; in sight — the object, the act of seeing or vision, 
the attention of the mind or the will which comljines 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 Cod^); 
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 botli (but this trinity also — though in the mind 
— is really of the outer man, because introduced from bodily 
objects which are perceived from without^). Later on in the 
treatise * 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 ^ 
— 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.^ 
Then, reverting'^ 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 

' Menioria, intelligentia, voluutas suimetipsius (x). 

2xi2-T0. ^xiiitr. M^k. xiii. 

» Bk. xii. 6 Bk. xiii. ^ Bk. xiv. 


image of God, boars wiLiiess to the truth of the doctrine iȣ the 

The main thesis of the treatise is tlms apparently conchided ; 
but it is of the Trinity itself, not only of evidence for its 
existence, that Aui^ustine writes ; and in the last book he adds 
larjjjely to what he has before said in regard to the Holy Spirit, 
ptvrticularly as to his relation to the Father and the Son. 

The Holy Spirit, he says,' according to the holy Scriptuiea, 
is neither of the Father alone nor of the Son alone, but of both : 
and so ho 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 siieeially 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 tf. 


that he is begotteu 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 Sou 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.^ 

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.'^ 

Mr. Burn draws my attention to the fresh and vigorous treatment of 
the doctrine by Niceta of Eemesiana in Dacia (near Palanka in Servia), 
a great admirer of Basil. His treatise was written, Mr. Birrn thinks, 
soon after 381, as part of the third book of his Ldbelli instructionis. (It 
is printed in Migne vol. lii 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 1^^, Eom 8^^, 
John 2022 161^ 1 John 2\ 1 Cor U'-^). Scripture and all his operations, 
whether benignant or awe-inspiring, shew his fidl 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 

^ Here he refers to his Sermon on St John's Gospel — in Joh. Trad, xcix 6ff., 
where he insists that the saying "proceeds from the Father" does not exchide 
procession also from the Son. 

- With Augustine's statement of the doctrine may be compared the statement of 
Hilary de Trinitate esp. ii 29-35, viii 25, Lx 73, xii 55. 


liavo tmhufanfia. an* oontrasUMl witli IIiksc which tmly hav*^ an iniaf^inaiy 
oxist^'nco, ]Knn^ fa^hioiieJ by ilhisury or unreal llunight, liko CciiUiuih 
or giants (Sonccn A)). 58): — a contrast which shows tlio moaning of 
itHhstantia 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 
nuhstaritia (xr. his real existence, the fact that he is) : so that you cannot. 
make the question of his hn'ni/ a subject of examination (Quintiliaii 
vii 2. 5). That is to say, substantia denotes '•eal existenf(>, as to the 
pjirticular form or character of wliich enquiry may be made. So, too, 
substantia and qualitas are distinguished as subjects of investigation 
(i7». 3. 6) ; and in this way it comes about that the substantia of a thing 
is an easy periphrasis for the thing itself. 

A socomlary sense of the term — ' property ', ' patrimony ', ' fortune ' — 
has been siifhciently referred to in the text in comicxioii with Tertullian's 
usage (see sitpra 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 (sujira p. 117), for both oixna and t/Troo-Tams. 
Both words alike arc 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 TevtuWiiMi de A nirna 11, 
where he distinguishes between the soul as substantia and its acts or 
operations ; and in the adjectival forms which he employs, for instance, 
(f-e Res. Carn. 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 (siibstantivus), he declares that he is a 
suhstantiva res, whereas ' the power of the Most High ' and the like are 
not, but only accidentia subsfantiae. Or again ' faith ' and ' love ' are 
not sjibstantiva 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 substardia has its own 
natura which is inseparable from it, but the sidjstantia is not the natura. 
The retention of the distinction is plainly perceptible in the expressitm 
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 twi) 'natures' merely. If they do not actually employ the term 
mbdantia (speaking of the mhsfantia of Godhead and the substantia of 
manhood as united in the Person of the Son), they use some other 
jthrase to represent it rather than naiura. Thus forma Dei and forma 
servi are preferred by Hilary, as jilitis Dei and filiufi hominis by 
iVovatian and Augustine; and Leo, though he freely uses ufraque 
nafiira, is careful to mark his full meaning by adding et substantia to 
Tiatura, and by interchanging with it the expression utraque fornia 
{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 ApoUinarius as the refusal to recognize in Christ 
two substances (diias mhstantias), the one divine and the other human ; 
whereas Nestorius, 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, defined 
either as divina or as humana, and retaining TertuUian'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, fijst there is recognized in the 
person of Jesus Christ the two substantiae of Godhead and manhood 
(he is unius 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 
I'exts 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 OT that persona. Thus slaves, as not possessing any rights of citizen- 
ship, were regarded by Roman law as not having ^iersona : they were 
dTrpocrcoTToi or persona carentes. (Cf. the phrase personam amittere 'to 
l(Ase rank or status ' and the Vulgate rendering of irpoawTrov Aa/i./?av«tv — 
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 moans what * person ' means in morlorn |>opn]iir 
usage, even when it seems to be used very nearly in the sense of 
' person ', and when it has no otiier reprosontative in Knglish. It 
always designates status, or character, or part, or function : not, of 
course, that it is conceived as separate from sonic living subject oi 
agent, but that attention is lixed 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 Dasil's rpoTros vTrap^ews denoted, and what uTroo-rao-is was 
ultimately narrowed down to mean. 

The history of Trpoa-ayTrov is similar, as to its primary uses, to that of 
jyersona. In the New Testament the regular sense of the M'ord is ' face ' : 
either literally (of living beings or frop. of e.(/. the face of the earth), or 
as equivalent to 'presence'. It is also found in the phrase TrpoaoiTrnv 
\afji(3dvtiv 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^^ where it means nearly 
' presence ', and 2 Cor 5^'^ where it denotes ' outward show ' or ' de- 
meanour' as contrasted with real feeling; (2) the phrase cv TrpocrwTrw 
Xpia-Tov, 2 Cor 2^** 4", where it stands for ' character ' or ' part ' ; (3) 
2 Cor P^ where it is almost exactly like TertuUian'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 Avhich 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 r61es (or parts or 
characters or functions) assumed simply for particular purposes. But 


Sabellius stole the word away ; and Greek Iheolngians were left without 
any suitable way of expressing the conception, till they could agree 
among themselves to use another term which properly meant something 
ijuite 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.) 

Ovaia — 'YTrocrTacrts 

The word oiaCa 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. ovto) as contrasted with the appearances 
on earth (ra (f>aiv6ixeva) : 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 oio-ia, 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 suhstantia in Latin) it is equivalent to to 
eivat ; but particularly he uses it to express real concrete existence — to 
uv, TO (iTrAws 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 (crvix^e/^rjKOTa). And thus, in 
accordance with Aristotle's inductive method, it is primarily and properly 
descriptive of individual particular existence — each particular entity (the 
ToSe Ti) : and this primary sense is distinguished as irpuirr) ovata. But 
inasmuch as there may be many examples of one particular oima, 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 
oevrepa ovcria. 

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 ^I'o-t? or 
' nature ' — the sum total of the attributes or properties (a-vfxfSefS-qKOTo). 
But it is never employed as a mere synonym for <fiv(Ti<;. It always 
means much more, including (fivcns perhaps, but logically to be dis- 
criminated from it. 

'Y7rocrTao-t9, as a philosophical term, is a later and much more rare 
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 onrlior and not unconinion uso of tho verb of 
vliioli it is tho noun. Tho nxxriu was said to oxiat at the outset, to be 
the underlying existence (i'</>f(rTai'ai) ; and so the noun u7ro<rr«o-ts was a 
possible equivalent for ovcri'a, expressing the essential siihsfrafimi, tho 
' foundation ' of a thing, tho vehicle of all qunlitica. The earliest 
examples of its use are found in Stoic writers, and thenceforward botli 
words, ovo-t'a and iVdoTttcris, were current without any clear distinction 
being drawn between thcni. Hut ova-ia was by far the commoner term, 
vwooTao-ts being comparatively rarely found. So Socrates {H.K. iii 7) 
could say ' the ancient philosophical writers scarcely noticed this word ', 
though ' the more modern ones have frequently used it instead of 
oitria'. It wa.s, however, as has been stated supra p. 117, the equi- 
valent of uTrwrratris (viz. snhsiantia) which was acclimatized in thf( Latin 
language more readily than the equivalent of ova-ia (viz. essentia), and 
therefore snhftauiia was all through tho normal term by which Ijatiii 
theologians expressed the conceptions for which ova-ia stood. 

Tho LXX translators of the Old Testament employed the word to 
express the ' gi'omid or foundation of hope '; and it was introduced into 
Christian theology by the Avriter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In his 
phrase )(apaKTr)p rijs vTroo-Taorccos avTov (Heb. 1^), i^oa-raais is exactly the 
equivalent of ovaia ('being', 'essence', 'substance', as in the /xia ovaia 
or una subsfantia of later technical theology) ; and so it was expounded 
by the later Greek theologians, who would themselves have used oia-ia 
there instead and have kept vTrdcrTatris 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 eXTri^o/utVwv v/rdo-rao-ts 
(Heb. IP) — 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 vTroa-raats occurs (Heb. 3^*, 2 Cor. 9* IP'^ — in which at 
least the meaning 'subject-matter', 'tlie matter of is possible; cf, the 
Vulgate and Tyndale's versions). 

So ovo-ta and vTrdo-Tacris remain in use side by side. Origen was the 
iirst to attempt to discriminate between them ; but the use of vTroaruais 
as the equivalent of ovcrta was too firmly rooted to be much .shaken. 
The supposition that Dionysius of Alexandria was familiar with a 
different usage, and that rpcis iwoo-Tacrccs 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 develoiiement of precision of 
terminology in this connexion must be resisted. The fragments of the 
correspondence between him and Dionysius of Rome 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 s^q^ra p. 114 n. 2). So great was his 


nputatioM, that if the discrimination liad 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 
ovcria and {iTroo-rao-t? 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 Nicene anathema, 
has only l^ iTepa.<; oro-tas ; and in one of his latest writings ad Afros 4, 
refuting the objections brought against the words as non-scriptural, he 
says " v7roo-Tacrt9 is ovcria and means nothing else but simply being." And, 
though most of the creeds devised as substitutes for the Creed of Nicaea 
are content to forbid the use of ova-La without mention of vTroa-Taa-is, 
the Synod of Constantinople in 360 declared against wocrTao-ts too, 
evidently regarding the words as synonymous — see the Creed in Hahn ^ 
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 vn-ocrrao-is which made it possible to speak of the 
Trinity as rpeis uTroo-Tao-ets, 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 /x,ta vTroo-racris only could be said, 
received like recognition (see Ath. ad Antiochenos 5, 6, and Socr. H.K 
iii 7). By this time many ' orthodox ' theologians were becoming 
accustomed to the usage of the two terms ovcria and vTroorao-is, whereby 
(ivcria expresses the existence or essence or substantial entity of the 
Trinity as God, and woo-rao-/,? expresses the existence in a particular 
luode, 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 
vTTocTTatris as TO iStcos A.c-yo/>t€i/ov — a special and particular sense of ovcria. 
It denotes a limitation, a separation of certain circumscribed conceptions 
from the general idea. " Not the indefinite conception of ovcria, 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) : " Ovcria has 
the same relation to uTroo-rao-ts as the common has to the particular. 
Every one of us both shares in existence by the common term of ovcria 
and by his own properties is such or such an one. In the same 
manner, in the matter in question, the term ovcria is common, like 
goodness or Godhead or any similar attribute (i.e. it is not ' goodness ' 
or any attribute) ; while uTrdo-Tao-ts is contemplated in the special 


property of Fathorhootl, Souship, or the power to sanctify." That is 
to say, vTrfkrrao-i? oxpressos tlie particular motlc of existence or special 

So the two toruiK passed (ni^'otlier into Catholic use to express 
respectively the one Godhead and the forms of its existence. There is 
^'a oitrt'a and rptis viro<rTd.afii, or fua ovcria iy TpLtrlv vTroardcrtariv — one 
substance or essence or entity, in three subsistoncies or forms or modes or 
spheres of existence or conscioiisness : one God permanently existing in 
three eternal modes. The ovcria of Father atul Son and Holy Spirit is 
one and the same. Roth Father and Son together with the Holy Spirit 
are the Godhead. The one Jieiug exists in three forms, or spheres, or 
functions. The one God is tri-personal. (See further Texts and Sludvss 
vol. vii no. 1 pp. 74-81.) 


The Christological Controversies — Apollinarianism 

The Results of the previo^is 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 distingmshed in human thought and experience, and are 
to be attributed respectively to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
These three ' 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 ami clear couceplion of pereonality. And this difli- 
culty, not even yet surmounted, was at the root of the next great 
controversy to which the Cliurch 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 ultiiuiitcly framed, took note of four main factors — 
his full and perfect divinity, his full and perfect Ininmnity, the 
union of the two in one pors(jn, the relations existing between 
the two wlien united in the one person. 

By the time the Arian controversy ended, tlie first two 
explicitly and the third implicitly of these four factors had been 
fully recognized in the doctrine of the Trinity ; but tlie 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 fi^tli 
century, in tlie prelude to which ApoUinarius played the leading 

The Points of Departure of ApoUinarius and His Theories 

Apollinarius ^ had been a chief champion of the Nicene 
doctrine against the Arians, and it was in opposition to them 

' ApoUinarius, Bishop of Laodicea, in tlie latter half of tho fourth century, was 
son of the (frammatista (schoolmaster) of Berytus, and afterwards presbyter of 
Laodicea, who undertook the composition of Christian works, in imitation of the 
old cla-ssics, when Julian's educational laws precluded Christians from studying and 
teaching the ancient Greek and Latin literature. In thix work the son heljied his 
father, and also wrote in defence of Christianity against Julian and Porphyiy, 
and against heretics, such a.s the Arians and Marcellus, besides commfntaries on 
Scripture and other works, of which only fiagnients are extant in tlie answers of 
Gregory Naz. Epp. ci, cii (to Cledonius), Gregory of Nyssa Antirrheticus adv. ApolL 
and Ep. ad Theophilum adv. ApolL, and Theodoret. Cf. also Epiphanius adv. 
Haer. Ixxvii, 'Athanasius' CoiUra Apoll. (Eng. tr. Bright Later Treatises of St 
Atfuinasius, probably not the work of Athanasius — see Draseke Zcitschrift f. wiss.- 
scliaft. Theologie 1895 pp. 2.54 ft". — but written while the controversy was at its 
height), Theodoret Fabulae Haer. iv 7, v 9, 11, and Basil Ep. 263 (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 tlic doctrine docs 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 ApolUnarians 388-428, till they became absorbed in the Church or 
the Mouophyaites. 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 teacliing of the possilDility 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 /lipos Trhris Hahn^ p. 278, 
an exposition of the faith, ascribed to Gregory Thaumatujgus ; (2) some letters 
ascribed to Julius of Rome ; (3) a Creed on tlie Incarnation Hahn ^ p. 266 — ascribed 
to Athanasius, accepted as Athanasian, and followed as such by Cyril of Alexandria 
— containing the formula fiia ^v<ns tov dtov \6yov ffe<TapKw/j.&7i (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 ^vl•iter 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 modem scholar, who argues tliat 
wliole treatises have been so dealt with, and assigns to Apollinarius, as well as the 
Creed above named and fragments of a work 07i the Incarnation, the correspondence 
with Basil {E2)p. 361-364 in Basil's Works), the last two books of Basil's Treatise 
o'jainst Eunomius (written c. 360, thoroughly orthodox, especially in regard to the 
Ibjly Spirit), Dialogues on the Holy Trinity (assigned variously to Athanasius, 
Theodoret, and others), and the irepl rpidSos 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 ApoUinarian. See further 'Apollinarius von Laodicaea' J. Draseke, 
Ti'.rtc und Untcrsuchungen (Gebhardt und Haraack) 1892 ; and article in Church 
i.huirterly October 1893. And on the date and authorship of the work advcrsus 
fraudrx ApoUinistarutn see Loofs Texte u. Unt. iii 1, 2. On the corres)iondenco 
with Basil see Texts and Studies vii 1 p. 38 ff, 


miiiology alrcjidy noted. To Apollinurius it seemed that a 
complete ' nature ' was the same thing as a ' person '. A com- 
plete divine nature and u complete human nature joined together 
meant two persons joined together. If, tlierefore, Christ had all 
the constituents of humanity, the two complete natures thus 
supposed wouhl make two poisons, for there could not be a 
composition of his person out (»f two. (The current teaching 
of the union of full divinity and full hunuuiity 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.^ This 
was the determining and ruling element in Imman nature, 
necessarily instinct with capacities for evil — in virtue of which 
developcment — good or e\n\ — was possible. Furthermore, it 
was this that difiereutiated 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 sou], 
the controlling and deterniinuig principle). Cf. 1 Thes.s. ^>'\ Gal. 5". But some of 
his opponents (' Athanasius ' and Giogory of Nyssa) expressly disallowed this three- 
fold division, maintaining that Scripture recognized only a ' dichotomy ' into body 
and soul. (Tliey refer to the account of the Creation of man in Oenesis and to the 
Gospel narrative of the death of the Lord — wliile liis body lay in the gi-ave, he went 
with his soul into Hades.) See Adv. Apoll. i 14, and Antirrhet. 8, 35. 


as it were, absorbed.^ 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,^ though the person was " neither 
wliolly man nor wholly God, but a blending of God and man " ; ^ 
and the Scriptural teaching was maintained — " the Word became 
flesh " (not spirit), and God was " manifest in the flesh "^ 

Objections to his Theories and his Defence of fhem 

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. 

- It will be noticed that iii 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 fiu'ther be observed that the formula tj.ia <pv<ns rod 6eov "Koyov aeaapKoi- 
tiivri, "one incarnate nature of the God-Word", attributed to Apollinarius and 
adopted by Cyril (see infra p. 274), is widely different from the fornmla, " one nature 
of the Word incarnate " (fiia <pij(Tis toD deov \&yov cretrapKuii^vov). 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, iK 3tjo (pinrncv). 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 Incarnalmi, which was, however, probably 
written by Apollinarius, and ascribed to Athanasius by his followers {see Note 
on p. 241 supra). 

^ oihe AvOpuiros 6'Xos, oire deos, aXKa deov Kal auOpdiirov fil^is. This mode of 
expression, ' mixture ' or ' blending ', had been used in all good faith in earlier 
times, e.g. by Tertullian Apol. 21 hohio deo mkdus, Cyprian de idol, vanit. 11, and 
Dcus cum liomine miscelur, Lactantius Inst, iv 13 Densest et hmno, ex utroque generc 
pcrmixtus. Origen speaks of the union of the two natures as an interweaving 
(ffvvvcf)aive(rdai) and a Kpaais or dm^-pacrts {Contra Cds. iii 41, cf dc Princip. ii 6.3). 
So Ireuaeus adv. Eacr. iii 19.1, and others, down to the two Gregories, who both 
use the terms (7vyKpa<ns and avaKpaais, 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 {({>{iireis /xkv di'o, Oebs Kal dvdpwiros). 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 0]>ponentH of Apollinarius express the manner of the union satis- 
factorily ; thougli they do maintain the entirety both of the Godhead ami of the 

■* To this Gregory of Nazianzus replied Ef. ci that ' flesh ' was litre usud for 
human nature, the part for the whole — ivuipKuuis really meant ivavBpdmrjcis. 


making it umoal.* If his theory were true, the lii^hcst faith 
and deej^st convictions of Christians were dolusious. God hail 
not become man : lie had only, as it were, put on a garment of 
tiesh.* And, further, the spirit or soul, which, as ho 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 sidvation.^ 

Yet A])olliuarius \mdoubtedly held the person so coni])osed 
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 
e-xternal 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, perliaps, 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 ; * and the argument 
of Apollinarius was ingenious rather than convincing. 

' See Additional Note to this chapter on ' The Human Soul in Christ ' p. 247. 

^ Christ was only deds ffapKo<f>6pos — God clad in flesh (just as later on, by con- 
trast, Nestorianisni was said to teach an AvOpwiroi 6€0(f>6pos — a nian hearing with him 
God — but on tliLs latter phrase see iii/ra p. 276). Ignatius had used the word 
ffapKO(p6po$ of Christ {ad Smyrn 5). 

* See e.g. 'Ath.' cmUra Apoll. i 19 ; and the retort of Gregory Naz. Ep. 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 spectra] person" Ep. cii. 

* The question how entire manhood could be compatible with entire sinlessness 
in Christ is dealt with at length in 'Atli.' crmtra Apoll. bk. ii — the answer being 
that the human nature assumed was all that God had made, and this excluded sin, 


He Wcas indeed accused by Gregory of Naziiinzus and Gregory 
of Nyssa ^ 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 
he was the Sou of Man before he came down, and came down 
brincjiny; 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 

Rut in his own words to the Emperor Jovian, he 
emphatically condemns as ' insane ' the teaching that the flesli 
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. Nyss. Ep. adv. A'poll. "'Though he 
was made siu 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. 

^ A Creed, still in use among the Armenian Christians, is remarkable for the 
clear and copious language in which it precludes ApoUinarianism : ' ' Came down 
from heaven and was incarnate, was made man, was bom 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 (w all tliat 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 
Hahu-^ p. 151 ff'., cf. p. 137, and is regarded by Hort {Two Disse7-ta/iam -p. llGff.) 
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 Ca[ipadocia, and thence into the 
Church of Armenia (whose patriarclis were consecrated at Caesarea, the Cajipadocian 
capital, till the end of the fourth century, the Church owing its origin at the 
beginning of tlie century to Cappadocia). For other views of the origin of tliis 
Creed see Hahn^ Appendix p. 154. 

^ See Greg. Naz. £p. ci, ccii, and Bright SI Leu cm the Incarnation p. 518. 


only.' This was intU-od ;in inference that niiglil he easily, if 
carelessly, drawn from his own aeserlion, that the ilesii itf 
Christ while really derived from the Virj^in — might he called 
co-essential with the Word, hecause of its close union with 
him ; from the close connexion, on whicli ho insisted, between 
all human nature and the Logos who was the uioans by which it 
was originally made ; and from his use of phrases such as ' God 
is born *, ' Clod died ', ' our God is crucified '.^ 

It was the Apollinarian use of phrases such as these that 
was ])eculiarly abhorrent to Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore 
of Mo})suestia, 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 contioversy on which the Church at last pro- 
nounced at the Council of Chalcedf)u. 

It has been stated ^ that the manner of the union of tlie 
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 absor])tion 
of the human into the divine, so that the special characteristics 

' It should, however, be noted that Hilaiy of Poitiers, in his treatise de Trinitate 
(written c. 356-3.'i9 in Asia Minor, to expound the teaching of the Church against 
Arianism), does not hesitate to use the expression 'heavenly body' (corpus ((eleste) 
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 ' creation ism ' 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 himael f 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 if. 

- It was in view of such expressions that the theological principle known as 
cammunicatio idiomcdum {dvrldoffis idicofidruv) was finally worked out (see infra 
p. 293), though the conception was already full}' expressed by Athanasius Or. c. Ar. 
iii 31, and by Tertullian before him. The opponents of Aj)ollinarius refused to 
associate the sufferings of the Christ with his divine nature. The Apollinarians 
therefore argued that their opponents held tliat 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. A2)oll. and Greg. 
Nyss. Antirrh£t. 27, f>2, 54. 

» See p. 243 n. 3, p. 244 n. 4. 


of the human nature disappear. He says ^ " The firstfruits of 
the human nature assumed by the ahnighty 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 pecuhar properties. For if it were so, then it would 
follow that a duality of Sons might be conceived — if, that is, in 
the iuetrable Godhead of the Son some nature of another kind 
existing in its own special characteristics were reqognized — 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 Apollinariiis 
for attributing all the experiences of the Incarnate Person to the 
Godhead ; - and ^ where he defines fii^i<; (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 JEp. adv. ApoJl. (Migiie xlv p. 1276). 

2 AnlirrJut. 24. Antirrhet. 51. 


to \ye inaintnini'd, it sppius to bo obvious tliat ho iiuist liave had a huninn 
soul !us well as a human Ixxl y : if the tiTin soul l»o usud to inoan, ns 
it is in this connexion, without uioro modern precision of delinition, 
the higher element in human nature that controls and di-torminea 
thought and action — the mind, the reason, the sj)irit, the will. A 
human nature n)bbed 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 
alKiut 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 jierson of (Jhrist 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 tlie theory of a human soul while still denying 
the reality of the lunuan body. But the distinction between soul and 
body seems not to have been thought of in this connexion. (Yet see 
Tert. de Came 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 Irenreus {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 jNIartyr, anxious to maintain the truth of Christ's 
humaiuty, like that of other men, made use of phrases which ex- 
pressed his possession of body or flesh, and of the animal soul {\pv)(ri) ; 
and it seems certain that he intended to assert his ftill 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 hody and thinking 
soul, as animating principle (see Jc Aniiiia e.g. 27, 51). liuL 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 
(cf. de Came Christi 11 ff.). 

Origen, as wo have seen (sttpra p. 150), had a definite theory i>i 
regard to the human soul with which the Logos was united. 

The Arians were tlie first to frame an explanation of the person of 
Christ which, while admitting as constituents a human body and an 
animal soul {^vxv aXoyos), expressly excluded the rational soul (voCs, 
irvevaa) and supposed its place to be taken by the Logos, thus and so 
far anticipating Apollinarius. It was in accordance with this thetjry 
that they preferred the description in the Creed 'made flesh' 'in- 
carnate ' {o-apKwdevTo) to the term ' made man ' {ivavOpwTrr'jo-avTa) which 
their opponents were constrained to introduce : the ' flesh ' they fully 
admitted, but they knew that the latter term would })in 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 ApollLnarian 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 hfe 
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 


luiml. Our ininti, ho says, is a complete wliole (reXeiov) and possessed 
of sovereign }H)Wt'r (i;y€/jioi'iK()i') ; tliat is to say, it has sovereign i)ow< r 
over the animal situl and lK«ly. Relatively to the rest of us, it is 
sovert>ign ami complete. Hut absolutely it is not so ; it is God's slave 
ami subject. In relatiiui 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 muslnrd 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) i.< 
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. Theoh iv 2.) 

But the question had also to l)e considered, not only in regard to the 
unity of person, but also in reg;ird to the freedom of the person from 
.sin. It was an ethical question as well as a metai)hysical problem. 
Could the Ix)rd liave a human soul (and the human will which it 
implied) and yet be sinless (X'^P'^ u/oiaprias) ? 


The fullest consideration of this question is to be found in 
'Athanasius' adv. Apoll. ii 6 ff. (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 ' 1 " 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 ovra absolute sinlessness emancipated man's nature henceforward 
from sin. 


The April linarian?, 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 tliere was no human nature free from sin for Christ to assiime 
(su<.'h seems to be tlie meaning of their objection J5 8). Its natural biai^ 
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 eflect 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 
tlefeated : 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 Monothehtes, but the context shews clearly that the 
writer fidly recognized a human will in Christ, and only intended to 
maintain that all the volitions of the human nature in him were in 
haniiony with the will of the divine nature.) 

Apollinarians have no right whatever to say ' it is impossible that 
human nature which has once been made captive shoidd 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 ApoUinarian 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 1 What more did it do than exhibit an example of man as 
he Avas before the Fall, as he might have been if there had been no Fall 1 
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 Xyssa, 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 tlio oonsuiiimation of nil thiiij^ was drawing noar, by a special 
(lisponsation of lovo iowani iiu'n ; when wickoiliicss had grown (o its 
grpfttost ; then, witli a view to the dostruction of sin, was blended with 
human nature, like a Sun as it wore making his dwelling in a murky 
f^»ve ami by his presence dissijiating the ilarkness by means of his iiglil. 
I'or though he took our filth uj)on himtself, yet he is not himself dehled 
by tljc pollution : but in his own self he iMirifies the filth. l<'or, it 
says, the light shone in the darkness, but the darkness did not over- 
jxiwer it.* It is just what happens in the case of medicine. When 
curative medicine is brought to bear upon the disease, tlie ailment yields 
and vanishes, but it is not changed into the art of medicine." 

And ho recognizes progress of the human nature (Jesus) under the 
inlluence of the divine wisdom (Christ) witli which it was united {ilmL 
28). So again he maintains with reference to Lk. 22*^ 'Not my will, 
but Thine be done ', that there was in him the human will wliich shrank 
from pain as well as the divine will (though tlie latter always prevailed), 
the human weaknes^s as well as the divine strength. The Ijord made 
his own ' the lowly things of human fearfulness \ and gave proof of his 
possession of our nature by sliaring in its affections {ihid. 32). (Cf. 
' Ath.' de Incam. et c. Avian. 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. 

' This seems certainly to be the sense in which Gregory understood the passage 
John l' — ou KariXa^ev contrasted with ivaKa^uv above. 
^SeeHahn'p. 174. 


TL is fiuther recognized that the Creed is prior to Kutychianism, 
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 ApoUinarianism that is opposed, and to cite the chief christulogical 
))a.ssage from the Creed for examination, as bringing iiito focus the 
different points in dispute throughout the controversy which has just 
been reviewed. It is as follows : — 

"... Dominus noster Jesus, Dei lilius, 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 rational! et humana carne subsistens, acqualis 
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 
ubstance (which means * confusion of God and man ' as passages h\ 

Vincent and Augustine clearly shew). To these charges Nestorians 
were certainly not open. ApoUinarians as certainly were, in their 
desire to avoid the risk of a double personality. 

(2) Maintained is the completeness of the Godhead ami of tlie 
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 Avay 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 ApoUinarianism (see e.y. Vincent Commonit. xii, and cf. 
Xote on ' Substantia ' suj>ra p. 23.3) ; and the incidental phrases ex 
xnhstaniia matris, in seculo iiatns, ex anitna rationali et huviaiia carne, 
and the reference later on iu the Creed to the Descent into Hell (on 


wliicli much stress is laid by Avriters against Aixjllinarius), favour the 
conclusion tliat the comix)sition of the Creed may be assigned with 
the greatest probability to the period during which Apolliuariauism was 
rife, preceding the outbreak of Nest^irianism in 428 a.p. 

(The l>ost collection of materials for the tstudy of the problems 
connected with the Creed is to be found in G. T>. W. (.)nnnanney 
A CrUical Disserfatum on the Athanasian Greed 1897, side by side 
with which should be rend A. K Burn Tht' Athaiiaxian Creed Tcxt^s 
and Studiej^ vol. iv no. 1, where a lucid statement of the history of 
criticism of the Creed is given in the Introduction. \\'utr.Tland's 
Critical Hutory 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 iu 



(Jhrisl ii man who boiv the divine niilure, or the Logos joined 
to human nature — two perBona and two natures. 

Diodorus and Theodore, 

Tliese traditions liad been formed and maintained by tlio 
great teacher Diodorus of Tarsus (f 1:594) and his more 
famous pupil Theodore, the teacher in turn of Nestorius, and 
probably the i-eal ori<^inator of ' Nestorianism '. He seems to 
reflect both in his life and teaching tlie best spirit of the 
school of Antioci). For ten years after his ordination ^ to the 
priesthood by Flavian, Bishop of Antioch, he devoted himself 
to the pastoral work of the ollice, and to assiduous teaching and 
writing, first at Autioch 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 afi'ection 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," and 
honoured as a bishop and administrator, he may thus be taken 

' 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 tho 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 monasticisra, 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 
(e. 383). 

- 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 Nestoriau — East Syrian — Chiu'ch the gi'eat 
exponent and critic of the Scriptures, and his works were at once translated into 
Syriac.) But besides these commentaries he ^v^ote a large number of dogmatic and 
controversial treatises, and, in particular, one On the Incarnation, of which frag- 
ments are extant ('Against the Inoaruation ' an opponent a century later styled it). 
See Migne F.G. Ixvi and Kxxvi ; Leontius c. Nest, et Eiitych. iii 43 ; and H. B. 
Swete Tluodorc 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 ^) and to hunt to death his 
pupil Nestorius — 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.^ 

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 ^ he discusses the nature of 
the indwelling of God in C^hrist. 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^^). 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 ' in this way, we should have to concede to every- 
thing a share in his indw^elling too : — to everything, not only to 
men, but even to irrational things and those that have no soul 

^ 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 lieretics 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 •* pp. 
302-308. This creed was regarded by Cyril {Quod umcs est CJtrislus § 728) and 
by Marius Mercator (Migne P.L. xlviii p. 877) a.s the recognized statement of the 
Nestorian position. 

* 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. Up. 69). 

^ 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 Tncarnatimi, ([uoted by Leontius (485-543) c. Nest, et JJutych. iii 43 
(Migne P. G. Ixxxvi 1 pp. 1267-1396). 



{or life). So both alternatives are equally absuitl, and it is clear 
that we must not speak of the indwelling as of the ' beint^ ' of 
God. Others have described the indwelling as the indwelling of 
the enei-gy (force, activity, operative power) of God. lUiL this 
Hupposition brings us face to face with precisely the same dilli- 
eulties — the same alternatives. The only way in which the 
truth can be expressed is by the use of the term C()Ui])laceiicy 
(or good pleasure or approval).' The indwelling of (Jod is the 
indwelling of tiio 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 appbed 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 aflinity to the divine nature. A divine indwelling 
is established in those who are by character, by moral disposition, 
worthy of it. Of this ' indwelHng ' 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 tirst place, the fact of his son ship 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 ^ — in all of which 

' The terms used are oi/ala, ivipyeia, and evdoKia. Cf. the earlier use of the 
terms OeXrifiaTi, /SouX^, and the like, in ''ounexion with the generation of the Son. 
So evBoKiqi . . . -fivvridivTa in the Creed of the Apostolical Constitutions, Hahn ^ 
p. 140. 

- 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-operution of the divuie 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^ — the human and 
the divine. He does not shrink from the term unification — 
union (evwcrt?), though he often uses a v/ord which means 
' conjunction ' (avvd(f}eia) rather than ' union.' It was his use of 
this term rather than the other to which exception was taken 
by his opponents. An extract whichi 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. 

* 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 Na^rareth 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 bo 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 
imcircumscribed 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 tlie Minor 
Epistles of St 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 pei-manent 
indwelling of the Word suffices for the work of vanquishing death " {ihid. 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 Eclanura and other Italian bishops, when they wen- 
banished from their sees by Zosimus in 418 for refusing to accept the condemnation 
of Pelagius and Coelestins (see infra p. 320 n. 2). Theodore, however, afterwards 
concurred in the coudemnation of Julian. 


wlmt the Tx)rd says in the case of husband and wife, " They 
are no longer two, but one llesb ", wo too might roaaoniibly 
say of the conception of union, " thoy are no more two persons 
but one " — the natures of course being distinguished. For juat 
as in the cjise of marriage, the fact that they are said to be 
one flesh does not prevent their being numerically two (the 
sense in whieh they are styled ' one ' is evident) ; so in the 
case before us the unity of the person does not preclude the 
difterence of the natures (the fact that the person is one 
does not prevent the natures being dilferent). This is how the 
matter stands — Wlien we consider the natures separately, wo suy 
that the nature of the divine Word is complete, and the person is 
complete, for we cannot speak of a distinct existence {inTO(xra(TL<;) 
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.^ 

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 

^ 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) : f<ir 
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 Euprcpius near Antiocli, he won 
80 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 Antiocli, 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 ^ his chaplain who 
actually kindled the flame, by preaching against the use of the 
title ' Theotokos ' ^ applied to the Virgin Mary. The title had 
been in use for many years,^ but now apparently, as a result of 
tlie 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.* ' Theotokos ' 
was held to savour of heathenism and to be opposed to the 
.scriptural phrases which could be applied.^ 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.^ The divine and 
human natures were distinctly separated. There was only a 
' conjunction ' of them — an ' indwelling ' of the Godhead in the 

^ So Socrates H.E. vii 32 relates. The exact circumstances are not quite certain. 

^ Geori/ios (Lat. deipara, dei genetrix) — 'Mother of God' is the commou English 
translation, but the word means more precisely 'who gave birth to God' — God- 
bearer. Of. German ' Gottesgebarerin '. It is not really equivalent to m-Vtvp ©foi' 
which was used at a later time. As Dr. Robertson writes — "In the Greek word 
QfordKOi the component 0e6s is logically a predicate, and as such is absolutely 
justified and covered by the Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, in the English 
jihrase Mother of God, ' God ' is practically a subject rather than a predicate, and 
thei'efore includes logically the person of tlie Father." See also infra p. 262. 

* It had been used by Origen, Alexander of Alexandria, Easebius (V.C. iii), 
Athanasius {e.g. Or. c. Ar. iii 33), Cyril {Cat. x 19), and others. 

* The sermons of Nestorius (five adv. dei gemtricem Mariam and foiu" adv. 
hacresim Pclagianam) are extant iu 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 weie diligently destroyed, 
and only fragments arc extant as quotations in the writings of opponents, e.g. in 
the Acts of the Coimial of Ephesus, and in Cyril Al., csih ■ i;illy his five bofks 
agaiust the blasphemy of Nestorius. The twelve anathemas in answer to Cyril's 
are only extant in the translation of Marius. 

* e.g. the dirdrwp an-qrosp of Heb. 7''. 

* The tenus that could be used were Bioooxos and xp'<'^''0'"0'«>». 


niau, reHultin*^ m a luuiul aiitl syiiipaUiotif. union. " 1 sofurate 
the natures, but the reverence I pay them is joint ", are the 
words in which Nestorius defended his teaching.^ 

Such a union is rightly described as ' mechanical ' and as 
due to the arbitrary exertion of the divine power, by which 
natures incongruous and inconi])atible in their essence had been 
brought together in an artilicial alliance rather than a living 

Tht Titlf eeoruKo^ 

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 wis much more than this. The English translation 
' Mother of God ' brings into undue prominence the thought of 
the glory of her motlierhood ; 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 lie who was born of her 
was God "^ as well as man. The abruptness of the English 
plirase 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 wlio was born of Mary must have 
been man as well as God. 

Cyril of Aleocandria — Denunciatimi of the Nestor ian Teaching 

The natural deduction from the denial of the title was 
indeed speedily made. Cyril ^ 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 

^ Separo naturas, sed conjungoreverentiam. Cf. the rejily of Noetiis supra p. 104. 

- See on this point and for tlie whole question tlie admirable notes to Bright's 
Sermons of Leo rni the Incarnatiov (note 3 pp. 127, 128), and liis IFaymarks in 
Church History, pp. 180, 181. 

' For the history and character of Cyril see the Church Histories and W. 
Bright's article in D.O.B. 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 cuiTespondeuce with 
Nestorius. Throughout the controversy, though Cyril had no 
douht the better case, his methods of conducting it were most 
unamiable ; and he Ciinnot 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 ApoUinarianism 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,^ had the controversy been 
less d, outrance. As it was, Cyril secured from Celestine, the 
Hishop of Eome, the formal condenniation 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.- 
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.^ 

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* (the Incarnate Son) is 
truly God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is ' Theotokos ' — 
for she has generated (in fieshly 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 

^ Viz. 'KpiarorbKO^ or 0eo56xos. 

-The letter is given in Pleuitley de Fide et Symholo as the 'third letter' to 
Nestorius pp. 182 ff. It is also known as the Epistola Sifnodica. The anathemas arc 
given in Hahn' pp. 312-316 with the Latin translation of Marina Mercator. (The 
English in Hefele Councils iii p. 31 IF. who, however, follows a ditl'crent text.) 

^ These are only extant in the Latin translation of Marius Mercator — Hahn ' 
pp. 316-318. 

* ' God with us ' — i.e. the Incarnate Person, both God and man. 


the Word', but 'of liiui wlio is Eninmuuel '. Nor is God the 
Word himself to be said to be chaiijfed into iii-sli, which he 
received for the pur[)ose of manifesting hia deity, so that he 
might be found in bearing as a man. 

ii. Cyril maintains that the Word of God the Father was 
hyiK)sU\tically united with Hosh, and with His own licsh 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 liesh, 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 liesh ; 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 'V 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 conjimction of dignity, or 
by an arbitrary act of authority or power, aud 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 ovaia 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 

^ The Latin is very obscure ' ' in infiuitum incircumscriptam divinae naturae 
coextenderit camem ad capiendum Deum ". Perhaps the Greek was direpiypa^ov rrjs 
6ela$ ipvaewi. 

- In the corresponding anathema of Cyril, Marius M. translates vvia-rcuns by 
substantia, though in others he has subsisteniia. If Nestorius wrote iVoo-raertj (and 
not ovffia), it was probably in the sense of ov<ria, according to tlie older usage ; 
and so it was rightly rendered by substantia. (Marina M. has c^ieTUia once — 
Anath. ii.) 


Christ. Cyril meant nearly what we mean l)y person, Nestorius 
meant what Latins meant by substantia.] 

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 methud 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.^ 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 aflections 
and passions. 

V, vi, vii, viii. Cyril protests against calling Christ ' a God-bear- 
ing man ' ^ (rather tlum 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 vnth 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 felluv/ship 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 L()rd Jesus 
Chrisfr received glory from the Spirit, and used the power which he 

^ Cr. on this point Leo's Letter to Flavian § f>, Infra y. 290. 
* See note on dtoipopos aydpwiros infro. \i. 276. 


luul through him as other than his own (external), anil received 
from him the power of action against unch^an spirits, and of 
]>erforming his miraclea on men ; and declares that the spirit 
through which he wrought these signs was ' his very own '. 
(This is against tlie Autiochene teaching with regard to the Holy 
Spirit, especially Theodore's — see mpra p. 2 1 n.) The anathema 
of Nestorius, on the other hand, is directeil against those who say 
that the Holy Spirit is consuhstantial with the ' form of a 
servant,' antl 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 se])arately 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 Kmmauuel'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.^ 

xi, xii. In conclusion, Cyril requires the confession that the 
Ix)rd'8 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, aiid 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 difi'erent natures. 

^ This means appai-ently that the Logos, who unites, offers the sacrifice of the 
manhood, which is united. But Hefele seems to understand the anatliema 
differently, and certainly in an earlier sermon Nestorius had protested against the 
idea that God could act as High Priest. 


The Sir/nificance of these Anathemas — the Reception given to them 

It is clear that, in regard to nearly all the points involved, 
each of the dis})utant8 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.^ 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),^ 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. 
Xot that the difference of the natures is destroyed by reason of 
the union ; but rather that the Godhead and the manhood, by 

' At the time itself they were supposed to be ' ApoUinarian ' (esp. the third 
and the twelfth), and as such were opposed by the Aiitiochene school in general, 
and particularly by John of Antioch and Theodoret of Cyrrhus (on whom see 
i'lfra pp. 284, 28.'>). 

' The letter is given in full in Heurtley de Fuh et Symbolo p. 182 IT., and the 
greater part in Hahn ^ p. 310. 


means of their inexpressible and mysterious concurrence to form 
a union, have proiiueed for us the one Lord and Son Jesus 
Christ" It is in this sense that, though existing before the ages 
and liaving an eternal generation from the Father, he is said to 
have had also a generation of the tlesli, since for our sakes and 
on account of our salvation he united human nature with 
himself as a hi/posfasis and came forth from a woman. This 
does not mean " tiiat 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 ihe 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 
sutler, and it was not in regard to his own nature that the divine 
Word sulVered 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 deatli." 
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, lie 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.^ 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 
.iRSumption of flesh remaining (continuing to be) what he was."^ 
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 TertuUian ^ 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 " * — and again, " the Son of 

' See Note on 'The Impersonality of the Human Nature of The Lord ' p. 294. 
3 See Note on 'The K^vwcru' p. 294. 

* Tertulliau (as we have already seen svjyra 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, neque aliud potest esse. Sermo autem deus, et sermo domiui manet in aevum, 
perseverando scilicet in sua forma." Cf. also Greg. Naz. Theol, Or. iv. esp, 20 ft'. 

* Origen dU Prindp. preface, § 4. 


God, through whom all things weio 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 coulil admit of 
death ; and he who is announced to he about to come in the 
glory of Ood the Father with the holy angels is called the 
Son of man. And for this reason, all through the Scriptures, 
not only are human predicate-s ajjplied to tlie divine nature, 
hut the liuman nature is adorned by ajjpellations of divine 
dii^nitv." ' 

And, with legard to the sufVerings and other experiences of 
the human nature, Athanasius wrote: * "For this reason the special 
properties of the tlesh, such as to hunger, to thirst, to be weary, 
and the like of which the flesh is cajjable, 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 tlesh 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.^ 

The Council of Ephesiis, 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 

^ Origen dc Princip. ii 6 3. Hefele {Councils vol. iii p. 8) cites from the Com- 
nnentary 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." 

'-■ Ath. Or. c. Ar. iii 31-33 ; cf. iv 6, 7 ; and incidentally, de Sent. Dionys. 26 
" For he himself permits the special properties of the flesh to be predicated of him, 
that it may be shewn that the bod} was not another's but his very own." 

^ Cf. also Epiphanius Ancorat. 3(i and 95 ; adv. Haer. Ixix 24, 42, Ixxii 23. 


sedition ; but by general consent a council was summoned to dciil 
with the questions at issue, to meet at Ephesus at Pentecost in 
tbe 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,^ 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 
Apolliuarianism 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 Ephe-sus 
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, 

^ It is reported (see Hefele Caundls vol. iii p. 45) that two bishops of the 
province of Antioch said that .John had bidden them tell CyrO 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 suUsequeut proceedings of Cyril, the account must be 
received with suspicion. 


but partly also by the aid of bribes or cuRtomary presents^ to 
some of the great ollicials of the Court, secured his own j)osition 
in the East, while he had been strong all through in the support 
of the West, througli the Bishop of Kome. 

Terms of Aqrecment between Cyril a /id (he Antioclienes. 
TJie Union Creci 

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 ^ — 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 

^ 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 ' 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 ^ 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,- 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 

^ The letter known as Laetentur Coeli (Heurtlcy de Fide et Symholo p. 

199 fr.). 

" To Acacius E]). 40, Eulogius Ep. 44, Valfiian Efi. 50, and Successus E^. 45 
(Migne Ixxvii p. 181 ff.). See Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 140 tf. 


so they were right, ascribing both ;iHke to the one Son (who is 
both Sou of God and Son of man). 

Inasmuch as Cyril thus cleariy recognizes the distinction 
between the natures, and insists that there is no kind of mixture 
of one with the otlier (though holding the union to be so com- 
plete that in the incarnate Christ the distinction is apprehended 
ratlier in our own tliought than in his person), it seems to be 
certiiin 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 Redeemer 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, Vv^hich 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 pouit, 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 {a-'x^eriKt] 
(Tvvdipeia). And so they never reached a clear conception of a 
Person living in two spheres of consciousness and experience.^ 
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 imion of manhood 
and Godhead as actually effected in a single Person who Hved 
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 '. 

^ They ' could not see that the distinction between the two spheres of existence 
might be maintained without ali.mdoning or denying the unity of their subject ' 
(W. Bi-ight The Age of the Fatliers vol. ii p. 281). 


Anil BO it won tind loLainud its hold over great numbers of 

iSiippre.'ision of N't'storianism within the limits of the Empire 

Aj^uinst those who wero not to he won over hy explanations 
and negotiations, tiie Patriarch of Antioch at last ajipealcd foi 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 
rtolemais, a kind of Siberia, to which the worst criminals were 
sent.' 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.^ 

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 Cyril 
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. 

©eo<^opo9 av9poiTro% 

In a note on the use of the title 6(.o<^opo<; by Ignatius, as a second 
name for himself (6 Kal 6eo(f>opo<;) Lightfoot writes (Apostolic Fathers, 
Ignatius y(A. ii p. 21) "This word would be equally appropriate to the 
true Christian, whether taken in its active sense (^co^opos hearing Ood, 
rlad with God) or in its passive sense (6€6<fiopo? home along by God, 
inspired by God) " ; citing in support of his comment the words of 
Clement Al. {Strom, vii 13) ^eios apa h yvwcmKos Koi rjhr] ayios, Oiocftopwu 

Koi 6€0(f>OpOVfl€VO?. 

But he proceeds to shew that Ignatius certainly used the word in 

' He was still alive in 439 when Socrates ^v^ote his history, and a Coptic MS. of 
the life of Dioscorus says he was summoned to the Council of Chalcedon in 451. 
It seems unlikely that he lived so long, but when and where he died is unknown. 

2 See Additional Note— "The Nestorian Church"' jj. 279. 


tlie active sense (as other similar compounds such as vao^opo?, )^icrTo- 
ff>6po<;, crapKo<^6po<i, i/expoc^opo?) ; ami that it was so intorpretod 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 CMark O^*^ and lis). 
He also cites passages proving that the metaphor of * bearing God ' or 
' bearing Christ ' was familiar to early Christian writers, and that it is 
this sense rather than that of ^ tcearing 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 pbrtise avOpo^rro'; ^eo</)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 Robertson writes that he holds that this is a mistake, and 
that the word is here passive in sense, * God-borne' i.e. inspired.^ 
There is only room here for a brief statement of the question. 
The phrase seems to be first used by ApoUinarians as a taunt which 
they cast at the doctrine of their opponents, charging them with 
worshipping an avOpo}Tro<; ^eo^opos, and maintaining that the true 
object of worship was rather a 6e6<s trapfco^opos. (See Greg. Naz. Ep. 
102 where the allusion is brought in incidentally to shew the absurdity 
of the ApoUinarian position by an interchange ot crdp$ and av^pwTros 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. ApoUinarians 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 ^co^opos av^puTros, and this by 
Cyril who was himself suspected — not without reason as far as his 
language went — of ApoUinarian 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 

^ 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. II pasaive, tlie idea is that ol" a 
luan who is upheld and sustained by the divine light and strength. 


other way than in that of u real niiion {<rvyuif>fia, not evaxrt^) ; so that 
his Person was composod, as it wor(>, of a man and a God — the Son of 
Man and the Son of God. So their oi)pnnt>.nts argued tlmt the sense in 
which thoy applied the term 'God' to the individual luininn person 
whom thoy called Christ could not exclude the notion of two Sons, 
The idea of the indwelling of God kut €v8oKiav in a human being 
was the source of their doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ.^ 
And so their Christ wa:i fairly described by the nickname uvOpw!ro<; 

If the word be passive — $t6<f)opo<: — it would not convey this sense. 

In the term 'a God-borne man' God is put first. There is God, and h(^ 

takes up and bears with him a man. The objection that the doctrine 

mplied two persons might still hold good, but the point of view would 

not be the same as that from which ojipononts of Ncstorianism sot out. 

But, nevertheless, it seems to have been in the passive sense that 
Cjiil 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) 8ia rov (popovvra tuv fjiopovjxtvov cr€^o), 8ta tov aoparov 
TrpocTKVViti TUV opio/Mfvov, (2) 6 Xr](f)$€\<; Tw KafiovTi cn}y)(pr)jxaTit,ci. 6c6<;. 
(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 (TV(TToi\ia of 
ideas is unmistakeable. The ' 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. $€6<f)opo<: avOpoyrros — w5 
a.v6pW7rov ivrjpyrja-Oai Trapa tov Oeov Xoyov tov 'Irjcrovv — tov dvaXrjtfiOevTa 
ai'^pcoTTOV o-VfiTrpoaKWiLcrOaL Sciv t<3 Oeot Xoyto . . . kol (Tvy)(ji-qfJuaTit,uv 
PCOV CUS €T€pOl' €V eTepu)).^ 

We must therefore recognize that Cyril meant ^€0(/>opos, in the 

^ See su]}ra Theodore's exposition of the doctrine. 

- Dr. Robertson also points out that in the instance from the Excerpta Theodoli 
27 (to 0eo<popoy yivecrdai rbv ai/Opwirov trpoo'fxCjs tvepyou/ievov virb rod Kvpiov Kal 
Kadaxep (Tw/xa aOrov yivbixevov) which Lightfoot quotes in support of the active 
sense, he has overlooked the drift of tlic passage, and that the word is there 
passive {deb<popov), being explained by fvepyovfuevov virb rod Kvpiov. 


passive sense. As applied to Nestorian teacliing the phrase 6e64)Of)o<; 
au9pwiro<; is probably his own coinage. It is not probable that Nestorius 
or his followers Avould have chnt;(m 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, 6^o4>6po<i av^pojTros, 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 snyra 
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 Nestorian 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 Nisibis, 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, Nestorian 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 Chiu-ch, 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 perso- 


cutiuii broke out, ami at last tlie invasion uf Taiiu'ilane in tlio foiiriecnili 
century sprt'ad universal dt»v)ustation, and almost blotted out ilm Ohunli. 
Only a fraj^'uient — a nation as well as a Church — survived; and, in spite 
of almost incrcdiblo jier^eeution and sulFerin^, still survives in the raoun- 
tnins and plains of Kurdistan (partly in Turkey and partly in I'orsia). 
The Kuphratos valley expedition of 183') tirst brought their existences to 
iho 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, 
wimething of their ancient state. [See " Archbishoji's Mission to the 
Assyrian Christians" Annual Rejjort, 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.^ 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 Nestorianisni 
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 

' He seems to have been violent, rapacious, and scandalously immoral ^see the 
evidence adduced at the Council of Chalcedon — Hefelo Councils vol. iii 323 ff.). He 
brought all kinds of charges against Cyiil, and confiscated his money and property 
on the giound that he had impoverislied the Church. 




Ne8torianisin--tlml he confounded the nfttures, and scandalized 
many of the faitliful by his teaching. Kutychos was invited u> 
attend before the synod and oiler ex^jlauations. Again and 
again he refused to ai)i>ear, and sent evasive answers to the 
messengers who were despatched to sunnuon 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 (ofioovaiov) with ua 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 ^ — 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 thei 
tlesh, and of two natures), he answered that though he would 
accept the manner of speech required, he found it neither in 
Holy Scriptures uor in the Fathers, and that therefore he could 
not pronomice the anathema which would condemn the Fathers. 
And he appealed to the writings of Athanasius and Cyril 
in support of his own teaching,^ 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 

^ This view was represented as if he said that the Logos had brought his body 
from heaven {dvudev). This he denied that he held. 

* Some of the \vritings on which he depended wen- really Apollinarian, fraudu- 
lently ascribed to otliors. See sujrra p. 241 Twte. 



wrote to Leo, the Bishop of Kome, in ingratiating terms, and 
tried to secure his support. Leo, however, waited till he had 
lieard 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,^ 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 
Ciireful 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 EpJiesus 

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.^ The letter was written on 
June 13, and the Council met in xVugust, 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 
— ' Burn him alive ; as he divides Christ, let him be 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 

' Hahn ' p. 320. The letter containing it was sent to the emperor in the spring 
of 449. 

2 Hahn' p. 321 fif. An English translation in Bright St. Leo on the Iiicaniati&n, 
and in the English translation of Hefele {Councils vol. iii 225 ff.). See infra p. 288. 


at^serted that after the iiioirimtiDij the disliiiotion l)«»twion the 
two natures no lonpir oxistA^d. Entydies was declared orthodox 
ajid restored, and nil his opponents were deposed. Flavian 
appealed a^'ainst the decision, supjwrted by the Konian lef,'ates. 
who protested and retired in haste. 'J'he signatures of many ol 
the bisljops were extorted by threats and physiciil force. It. 
seems certain from the evidence, even when aHowance in mnxU) 
for some exaggeration, that the result was only reached by 
insolent intimidation which jjroceeded 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 ' ^ was no true Council at all. 

Victory of the Eutychians through the Emperor's Suppoi-t 

Theodosius, however, supported Dioscorus and his party, and 
applauded the decision of the Council. He denounced I'lavian, 
Eusebius, and the others as Nestorians, and deposed and exiled 
them.2 Theodoret, who liad 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 I*alestine, 
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 Rome ; and Leo, excommunicated by Dioscorus, excommuni- 
cated him in turn and demanded a new Comicil. 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 Couiicil 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 ' {(Tivobo% XrjCTTpiK-q). 

- 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, 
Auatolius, 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.^ 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.^ 

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.^ 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 
Fla\'ian 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. " I 
am rejected ", he cried, " with the Fathers ; but I defend the 
doctrine of the Fathers, and swerve from it in no respect." He 

* Leo now w-ished to dispense with a Council, and .siinply by his legates, iu 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 

* Theodoret had written a dialogue (satirizing the monks, Cyril's supporters, 
and accusing the whole party of being mere Apollinarians) between 'E/javKm;? (a 

rap-collector — one who picks up scraps of heresies, like Eutyches) and 'Opdd- 


was williiif; to accept the cxprcsaion ' of two natures ' (ic 
funned out of the two), l)Ut not to Bay ' 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 inujorily 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 NestoriuH 
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.^ 

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.^ 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.^ 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 ^dth 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 

^ Discussion, and ultimate acceptance ou its merits, was not (^uite what Leo 
would have wished. 

- Dioscorus, deposed and exiled, died in Paphlagonia in Se[tte.mber 454. Eu- 
tyches was also exiled, but jjrubably died before the sentence was carried out. 

' The statement is given iu Heurtley de Fide et Symbolo p. 23 fl'., a translation 
and part of the Greek in Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 346 £F., and the decisive clausc^j 
of the definition in Hahu " p. 166. 


become passible by the confusion or mixture. Therefore, the 
synod " opposes those who seek to rend the mystery of the 
incarnHtion into a duality of Sons, and excludes from participa- 
tion in the holy rites (o?' from the sacred congregation) those 
who dure to say that the Godhead of the Only-be;^otten 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 tlie 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 Christologicul opinion, clearly 
repudiating Apollinarian, Xestorian, 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. 

288 CliKlbllAN DOCTRINE 

The Letter of T^o to Flavian 

The letter of Leo well Hupplenienls the ourlier stiitenient of 
Cyril, and a suiuniury ot' it iniiy elucidate some points in the 
controversy which it helped to close.' 

It ie written all through in the tone of calm judicial decision 
and direction, and treats Eutyches as imprudent and lacking in 
sound judgement and miderstauding 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 Spii'it and ^ 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,'* 
co-eternal and co-equal and co-essential with the Father. The 
temporal nativity in no way detracted from the divine ami 
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.* 

' The Letter is often styled the ' Tome ' of Loo — the term rdfios, meaning a section 
or a concise statement, being commouly apjilied to synodical letters — cf. Athanasins, 
Tamils ad Aniiochenos. It is given in Heurtley de FUU el Symbolo, and in Hahn" pp. 
321-330 (Translation in Ilefele Coxmcih vol. iii p. 225 ff. and Bright SI Leo on the In- 
carnation p. 109(1.). 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 

^ The Latin text has d. Hcfele suggests ("x, 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»p. 22 ff. 

' He uses the Kicene phrase 'de Deo Deus', which was not in the Constantinopolit<an 
Creed, but was eventually inserted in the West, e.g. at Toledo in 589. 

* The actual biith as well as the conception took place without loss of virginity. 
The title ael irdpdivos is found as early as Clement of Alexandria {Strom, vii 16) 
who reports that some in his day said the fact was kno^vn by examination ; 
anyhow he deems it true. On the other hand, TertuUian about the same time says 
she was virgo till the birth, but that the birth made her mulier, and that St Paul 
implied this, "cum non ex virgine sed ex muliere editum filium del pronuntiavit, 
agnovit adapertae vulvae nuptial em passiouem " ; aud so he says, " etsi virgo concejiit, 
in partu suo nupsit " {de came 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. Ar. ii 70, aud 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 of Si 
James. See also Bright Si 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.^ Accordingly, the/e was born true God in 
the entire and perfect nature of true man, complete in his own 
properties, complete in ours. By ' 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 ' ^ 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). 

' See Nole ' Comnmnicatio Idiomatum' p. 293. 
2 See Note 'The K^uuffn' p. 294. 



The Son of God in this way comes down to this lower world 
from his heavenly throne without retirinf^ from his Father's 
glory — born by a new order and form of birtli, " con tinning to be 
eternally while beginning to be in time." But the new order, the 
new nativity, in no way inii)li('S a nature unlike ours. He is 
true God, but also true man, with tlesh derived from his human 
mother ; and " in the unity which results there is no deception, 
while the lowliness of nuin and tlie majesty of Deity are alter- 
nated ; ^ 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 
airrying out what is proper to the flesh. The one shines out 
brightly in miracles, the other submits to insults.^ 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).^ 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 suff'ered thus not 
in the divinity itself (in which the Only-begotten is co-eternal 

^ ' Invicera sunt ' —this probably means ' 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 perhap.s b« "are Ttiutually or reeij^ro- 
cally", which would give the sense "have penetrated each other" (as Hefele Ir.). 

* See Note ' Comniunicatio Idiomatum ' p. 293. 


and co-esseiitial with the Fatlier) 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.^ 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 " ; ^ and to ' part ' 
Christ is just to separate the human nature from him, and by 

1 The two passages are 1 Cor. 2* "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 formain servi and the Filiv.s 
Dei propter Dei formam are one and the same — and Matt. 16'^ "who do men say 
that I the Son of Man am ? " 

* 1 John 4^ ' qui solvit Jesum' = 5 Xvet rbv 'li)(xovv. 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 diviile 
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. Hcver. iii 16, 8 and Grig, ad loc). The reading is also found in Augustine {Horn, 
in 1 John 6", but elsewhere he treats the reading aa qui non confitetur or qui iKgat), 
Fulgentius, Lucifer, Tertullian {adv. Marc, v 16 and cf. de Came Christi 24, as 
Irenaeus stipra), and in the Vulgate. Westcott and Hort and the Revisers place it in 
the margin. 

The Texlxis Beceptus 8 ni) 6fj.o\<yyeT (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.) 


shanielesB fancies to make void the mystery through which alone 
we have been saved. " For the Catholic Cliurch 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 T 
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 Licaruation (when of course he was 
God only and not man) as to assert one only nature in him 
after the Word was made Jlesh (§ vi). 

The Later History of Evtychianism — the Monophysites 

Thus was the Creed of the Church defined ; and " writing, 
composing, devising, or teactiing 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.^ 

^ For the details of the history see Hefele Councils vol. iii p. 449 fl'. Nearly 
a hundred years after the Council of Chalcedon (in 541) Monophysitism was 
strenuously revived and oiganized by a Syrian monk, named Jacob Baradai, and 
Monophysite bishops were aiipointed 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 
Lave 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 ('Uniates') 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 
■-,'round that they seemed to express a certain separation of the divine and 
I he human in Christ. But the objection was dropped when almost iden- 
tical statements were cited from Cyi'il'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 idiomafum (avTiSoa-Ls twv ISiwfjidToiv, or tojv 6vofx.d- 
viov). But this technical term is used in somewhat different senses. The 
leaching 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, The.-^e 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 sphere.«5. The experiences which are strictly divine, and the experi- 
ences which are strictly human, are alike his experiences. But they are 
hLs 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. La 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 idioraatum 
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 uuion of the two natures being thought of as so 

Alpppo ; (2) in Armema, 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 l>y them : they number now more than 100,000 ; (4) in 
Abyssiuia, which was under the Patriarchate of Aleiundria and so was involved in 
the Monophysite heresy. 


close, tlipy were held to iutorponetrato each other in ko intiiimto a union 
(the fellowship of each with the other to be so complete) that the properties 
of one might be predicated of the otlier. It is diflicult to discriminate 
this conception from the mixture of natures which has been repudiated, 
but in any Onise it (uumot claim sujiport from Cyril, Leo, or Chnlcedon. 
Dorner notes that tlu^ doctrine of a real cnminvniraiio idiomatnm, as 
taught by the Lutherau Chureh, is nut in harmony with Leo'w letter ; 
but the fact is sometimes ignored. 


The solution of the Nestorian difficulties, bo far as it was a 
solution, was reached, as we have seen, in the teaching that it wan 
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 Iiogos, and entered upon and 
made his own. 

This teaching is fully expressed in the passages quoted sitpro, 
especially perhaps in Cyril's letter j). 268. Later expressions of it and 
the introduction of more abstract terms have not tended to elucidate 
the doctrine further {e.g. the term awiroa-Taa-ia to express this ' imper- 
sonal existence ' of the human nature of Christ, and iwrrooTacria to 
exjiress 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 KevoiCTL^ 

The doctrine of the Kevtucris can only be touched upon here so far as 
concerns the history of the Christological controversies of the fourth and 


fifth centuries.^ 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.^ 

The general idea of a ksVojo-is no doubt is implied in all the ' orthodox ' 
attempts at interpretatioii 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^"^ os iy fJ.op(firj Oeov wrdpxwv 
. . . kavTov €K€va)(rev . . . Kai . . . cTaTrctVojo'cv eavTOv yevoyacvos vtt^/coos, and 
2 Cor. 8^ €7rT{o_)(€vo-€v ttAovo-ios u>v — cf. Rom. 8^). 

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 fj-opcfii] Oeov) on an equality 
with God; but that he was willing to forgo (oi'x dp-n-ayp-ov yjyrja-aTo) this 
life on an equality with God. So he 'omptied' himself and took the 
life of service with its conditions (the p-cp<f)r] BovXov), and came to exist 
in the likeness of men. That is the first great act of the KeVwo-is. It is 
followed, so to speak, by a second stage. Having entered upon the 
external conditions of human life (crxry/iart evpeOeU ws av^pwTro?), he 
' lowered ' himself and became subject even unto death, and that death 
on the cross. 

Whatever the precise meaning of p-opclyrj may be, there is clearly 
implied here that the p-opt^r] Oeov is for the time renounced, in order 
that the fiop(j)r] BovXov 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 

^ It may be noted that the chief subject of enquiry is not the particular aspect of 
the matter wliich has most enpjaged attention in recent times, namely, the limita- 
tion of our Lord's kno\vled<,'e as man. But see Ireuaeus adv. Ha^r. 11 28. 6-8, 
Athanasius Or. c. Ar. ill 42 ff., Basil Ep. 236, Greg. Naz. Or. Theol. iv 15. 

* Arian or Arianizing thinkers had seized upon N.T. passac;es 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 


tloatli whioh is $hiimof\il in the eyes of men. It is all to be followed, 
as St Paul .uo<\'^ on to say, by a corrosponding oxnllution. lint this only 
serves to mark more plainly the reality of the previous renunciation 
and emptying and humbling. 

As to wliat was the exact natiiro and extent of the self-limitation of 
the divine majesty, St Paul says notliing. Only it is clear that the 
Ktktixrt? is regarded by him as a moral ae.t of Got! and (', a free aet 
of will, a voluntary humiliation and self-surrcndia- culminating in the 
death on the cros.'<. It is to this passage that all later expressions go 

Only a few can Iw cited here. 

One of the earliest references to tlie question is made by Ircnaeus 
(Ofiv. Tlrur. iii 19. 3). " For just as be was man in order that he might 
be temptetl, so too he was Logos in order that he might be glorilied. 
When he was being tempted and crucified and dying, the I/igos 
remained quiescent (rja-vxa^oiro^ rov koyov) ; when he was overcoming 
and enduring and performing deeds of kindness and rising again and 
being taken up, the Logos aided the human nature (truyyivo/AcVou tu 


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 L-enaeus expresses, perhaps, as much of 
explanation of the problem as is attainable.^ Hilary's later and more 
elaborate statement of the theory is on tlie same lines. 

But another point of view is represented by Origen. 

As Origen describes it (see contra Celsum iv L5), though the Kivo)cn<i 
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 CJiristian 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 — cv fiopcf>rj Oeov vTnjpxf) ; and because of his love 
toward men he emptied himself (eavrov eKtvwa-ev), in order that he might 
be able to be comprehended by men (Iva y^biprjdrjvai vir uvSpwrroiv SwriOfj); 
. \ . and he humbled himself (iavrbv cTaTrciVwcrcv). . . . Out of con- 
descension to such as cannot look upon the dazzling radiance of the 

' 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 attributiug all these to the Son who represented God to men always, 
Tertnllian 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, lie becomes as it were flesh, being spoken of in corporeal 
fashion, iintil he that received him in this guise, being lifted up httle by 
little by the Word, becomes able to contemplate also what I may call his 
inherent Godhead (rriv Trporjyov/j.ivrjv fxopcfirjv, referring to ev iiop(f)fj 6tov 
vTnjpx^ which precedes)." 

In these two sentences the kcvwo-is 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 
irddos, and in meeting tliat objection Origen lays stress on the perman- 
ence of the divine state along with the kcVcocti?. When the immortal 
God- Word took upon him a mortal body and a human soul, he did not 
imdergo any change or transformation (dXXaTTecr^ai koI ix^TaTrXama-Oai), 
or any passage, from good to evil, or from blessedness to the reverse ; 
but "remaining essentially (rij ova-ia) the Word, he is not affected by 
any of the things by which the body or the soul are aifected ". 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 Kevwcns 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 
(if CJirist 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 suain). 
(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 Jiature, for he who renounces liiniself does nut lose 
hifl own existence {non caret sese), and he who takes is still there 


(inanet). In rpnonncing and in taking he it; himself. In this there is a 
mystery (i^arfntncjituDi), hut there is nothing to prevent him remaining 
in existence while renouncing, nnd 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 ' {habifus, i.e. outward visible guise) which the 
Ixnly denotes, and the assumj)tion of human nature, did not destroy 
the nature of the divinity which still continued. The renunciation 
of self was such that remaining Sjnritus Christus he became Christiis 

T^j Jornia Hilary seems to mean mode of existence; by «a/'?/ra the 
sum toUd of attributes. He does not use the word suhstaniia in this 
context ; but the thought seems to be that subHtanfialbj he cannot be 
other than God — such he remains all through, and as such he must 
always have the attributes of God (the divine naiura). 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 serri). 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 fa.shion. He is 
always forgoing the ftyrrna Dei, while all the time the divine naiura, 
which is absolutely hi:r, 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 iindolentid), and of his soul as 
not obnoxious to human atiections of fear, grief, and the like. His 
language is not quite satisfactory ; he seems to denote the sufi'er- 
ings as ours rather than his, while the triumph through and over 
them is Ms. He draws a distinction between suffering and feeling 
pain {paii 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- 


Honis} and a voluntary act. Hilary's whole pre.^entation of the matter 
recognizes the ' mystery ' or the ' economy ' as ethical, the outcome of 
free volition and self-sacrificing love ; ^ 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 KeVwo-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 
{Kadels iavTov cts K€vwa-Lv)." But he goes on at once to add, " and he 
came forth man from woman, not having put away from him {or ' lost ') 
what he was {ovx oirep rjv dTrofiefiXrjKdys), but although he came into 
being sharing flesh and blood, even in that state remaining what he was 
(koI ovToi aefjievrjKm oirep ^v), 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 . . . inclinatio fuit 
miserationis, non defedio potestatis : . . . qui maiiens in forma Dei 
fecit hx)minem, idem in forma servi facfus 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 

^ These considerations should correct Harnack's depreciating ciiticisra (DG, 
Eng. tr. vol. iv p. 140) "When dealing with the idea of selt-humiHation, Hilaiy 
always takes back in the second statement what he has asserted in the first, so that 
the unchangeableness of God may not suffer." 

^ Cf. John 10^8. 


or character of the limitnti(ni which the 'emptying' involves. He is 
content with an edifyinp statement, and tliere ia no such attempt at 
accurate scholarly «liscriniinatioij of terms as Hilary marie. (Leo 
apj>are!itly repirds the forma Dn and the forma nerm 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 wa: 
made during this period to understand and explain the nature of the 

(Augustine deals with the matter in part iIp 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 
I/Drd '.) 



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 Xew 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 



freeilom and power of self -recovery. But tho relation between 
free will and grace, and the exact nature and origin of sin in 
individuals, were not reasoned out. The ([uestiun 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 ellects 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 Recollection) ; but Origen makes little use of 
either. It was no doubt suggested to him by Platonism, though 
he defended it on scriptural authority.^ 

The theory secures individual responsibility and accounts 
for 'original' sin 2; but it makes the soul the real man, and 

^E.g., particularly, .John 9^ "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 jire-existent spirit from the higher to the lower sphere, and the hope of 
restoration (Rom. 8'*) ; 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"*-). 

"^ 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 tlian 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. Purther, 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.^ 

{h) ' Creatiouism * 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." 

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.^ 

(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.* 

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 ofilspring, so that all are born with its stain upon 
them. But against this theory objections are urged, that it 

^ This theory was condemned by the Council of Constantinople in 540. 

* So Jerome ad Pammachium " God is daily fashioning souls " — supported by 
John 51", Psalm 33", Zech. 12S and Hilary Trad on Ps. 91 § 3. 

' And infants before committing any actual offence would be sinless ; see Augus- 
tine on the theory, infra p. 304. 

* 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'^'^* ; cf. 1 Cor. 15^, Eph. 2*, 
Heb. 71", ?s. 51^ Gen. 5'. 


makes man the product of previous circumstanceB, allows no 
room for indi\ iduul free will, and seonis to materialize the soul. 

Augustine, who probably contributed most to its currency, 
nowhere definitely teaches it. But the view which he l)eld of 
Bin and its origin and transmission seems to imply the trans- 
mission of the soul that sins, lie 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 llesh ; 
(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.^ 

These different theories would involve dilferent 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 thiid, 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 

' See infra pp. 307, 325. 


— derived from the parents. The whole man is dovivcd 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 terras 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 ConcepfAons of the Fall and its Effects 

Similarly, different cunceptious 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).^ 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 ; ^ 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 ".^ 

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 

^ iSin, tliough in some sense a fact of universal experience, cannot be said to 
have oeen fully realized till it was felt (as by Jews and Christians) as an ofleDce 
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 aud realize the condition which it has lost. 

- Cf. Iren. adv. Haer. iii 23 ; v 15, 17, 23. ^ Origen on Rom, lib. vi § 6. 



liuman soul, was the munifostjition of the image of God in man 
To this frci'dom of man to ohuoso good or evil the early apolo- 
gists and Fatlu'rs. and oven Tertullian, unanimously testify. Thus 
Justin says,^ "If it has been fixed by fate that one man shall bo 
good and another bad, the one is not acceptiible, the other not 
blame^ible. And, again, if the human race has not power by a 
free moral choice to llee 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.^ 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 oflers health to 
those that work with him with a view to health, so too God 
odere eternal salvation to those that work with him with a view 
to knowledge and right conduct." ^ This moral power of choice 
iu 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- 
fxaTiKoi), and that the schism in man was something necessary 
in the evolution of existence.* Tertullian, approaching the 
l)robleni from the Traducian theory, was the first to use the 
expression viiium 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 

* Apol. i 43 ; cf. Tatian. Or. 7 ; Atlienag. Leg. 31 (God did not create ns as 
sheep or brute beasts, so it is not natural that we should will to do evil {^de\o- 
KaKely)) ; Theophilus ad Autol. ii 27. 

2 C. Ccls. iv 3. 8 Clem. Al. Strom, vii 7. 

*The Gnostics were the first to frame the dilemna — "If the first man was 
created perfect, how could he sin 1 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 {StromaUis vi 12). And others drew a distinction between the eUtav 
(the image, the original (yipacities which were indestnictible), and the o/xoiuaii rod 
Oeov (the 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, ilost 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-oijeration man could not attain to his destiny. 


for ' innocent ' cliildren to hurry to the remission of sins.^ And 
though laying stress on the moral depravity of man resulting 
from inherited sin, and on the need of the grace of God to 
elTect his redemption, he expressly taught the inherent capacity 
of the soul for communion with God in virtue of its proper 
nature." Origen, by his theory of the oiigin of human souls, 
according to vfhich they were all stained by sin in a previous 
stage of existence, might seen to favour the idea of original 
sin ; ^ 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.* 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,^ 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 imder our own control, of which each of us alone is master. 
This is the will {7rpoaipeai<;), a thing that cannot be enslaved, 
but is of self-determining power, since it is seated in the liberty 
of thought and mind (Buivoia) ". 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 (aKLVT)aca, lack of initiative) of the will." Whatever 
stress was laid on the need for the introduction into human nature 
of a new principle,^ it was reserved for Augustine to represent 
man as unable to even will what was good and right.' 

' De ba2)ti<iino 18. 

- See e.g. de anima 40, 41, and the treatise on the testimonium animac nat. 
Christian, ae. 

^ See de Princ. iii 5. 4 ; >iut see also nvpra p. -302 n. 2. 

* See de Pri'iic. iii 2. 2, iii 4 ; of. Basil Hexhaem. ii 5, vi 7. 

* Greg. Nyss. Or. Cat. xxx, x.\xi ; cf. Atiiirrhet. xxix (Migne xlv p. 1188). 

' As, e.g., by Athanasius. JIan had admitted corruption into his nature and being 
and had passed into a state of moral death — it was therefore necessary that iueoiTup- 
tion and life should be united with that nature before it could recover. See the dc 

'' According to Augustine himself, the Clmrch of Christ had always held the 
doctrines he taught, and any sayings of the fathers that seemed to favour Pelagian 
conceptions were but obiter dido, the Pelagian inferences from which would have 
been repudiated at once (Pelagianis nondum litigantibus securius loquebautur). 


Thf Trnching of Aug'usiim 

Aiig\istinc Wflii, iL IS irue. the first j^reat teaclier who (l(\tlt witli 
rtiitluopology -the tlevelojK'iiuMitof which was ix'culiarly WcHterii, 
218 the result of ]»raetical experience and needs. The conception 
of redemption ini]>lies 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 ap))ropriates 
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 itp 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." ^ 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. 

' De Presseuse, Art. ' Augustine ' D.C.B. — an 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.^ The fall was not limited to Adam — in him all have 
sinned " and all have been condemned. By birth all receive the 
taint of the ancient death which he deserved.^ 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.* No human power can deliver man from 

^ Action follows the strongest motive. This Ls given either by God or by Nature. 
Nature being tainted, the strongest motive must always be evil, prior to God's gift 
of grace. 

- So he interpreted Rom. 5^- ' in quo omnes peccaverunt ' — a possible meaning of 
the Latin but not of the Greek i<p' (?. See contra duos epj>. 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), porisrs.sing free will (libcrum arhitriuni,), but capable of using his fi-eedoni 
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 Corrept. 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. 

•* 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 f> 11). 

* 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 Praedrat. iii 7). Of. what he says, wlien reviewing the history of his tlionght, 
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 hcroditary depravity. In the pioci'ss man is complotoly 
paissive — as jmssive as the hifaiit child in buptiam. Tn a sense 
it is true to say, that the Imnian will plays no part in it at all ; 
it has no jwwer of iuitiativo, and wlien the new gift is given it 
has no power of reaisUiiico. Hut, 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 rlux-se the good and to follow it unswervingly. 
And the grace tiius given is irresistible, in the sense that the 
will, wliich has thus had true freedom restored to it, has no 
desire to resist the good. 

Of all Augustine's most characteristic conceptions, none 
perha].is 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 ',^ 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 tlie uncliangeable delight of not 
sinning. For the fiirst free vdll 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 

' De Civilak Dei xxii 30. To some extent it is true that there is here a 
paradox, or a confusion of sens< . There is never really freedom of will. Prior to 
grace, man can only do evil ; alter grace given, he cannot do evil. This confusion 
of sense is plainly seen in another passage I>e gratia el libera arbitrio 15. "The 
will {voluntas) in us is always free, but it is not always good. It is either free from 
righteousness {justMia) 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 coraes about that a man is of good will who beforr 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, vvliicli 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 happmess. I 
suppose it will not be said that God Himself has not free will, 
becjause He cannot sin." 

This conce^jtion of freedom, the hcata necefisitas non peccandi — 
well summed up in the motto of Jansenism, Dei servitus vera 
libcrtas, 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 
miseHcordiae to redemption ( praedestinatio), and others are left 
as vasa irae to condemnation (reprohatio). The latter are simply 
left.^ 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 

^ So Augustine put the matter. In tliis respect, at all events, he woiild not go 
beyond the words of St. Paul, who speaks of the "vessels of mercy" as "afore pre- 
pared unto glory" by Ood, but of the "vessels of wratli " as "fitted to destruction" 
without attributing the fitness dii'ectly to God (Rom. 9--"^). But naturally some 
of his followers (notably the monks of Adrujuetum in North Africa) applied to the 
vojici irae the positive principle, and taught the twofold predestination {praedestinatio 
duplex) to sin and evil, as well as to life. 


of two pious men poraovorance to the end is given, and ia not 
given to the other, is only known to God's mysterious counsels. 
Yet this much ought to be regarded as certain by bohevera — 
the one is of the number of those predestinated (to life), the 
other is not." ' 

The two ideas of predestination and of grace are clearly 
expounded in his letter to Sixtus,^ a priest of the Koiuan 
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.^ 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.* 

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 

' 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 

' 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. Ep. 194. 

^ 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 praedest. 7 ; but the doctrine 
of grace, as described above, requires a doctrine of predestination independent of 
man's initiative. 

■* The relation between free will and grace is also set forth in the letter to 
Vitalis, Ep. 217 (Migne xxxiii p. 978 ff.), especially eh. vi, where he 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 x\.ugu8tine'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,^ which had just been 
publisb.ed, the famous prayer, Da quod jubes et juhe quod vu 
(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 slielter of the cloister walls. He had 
probably passed through a quiet course of dovelopement, 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. 

^ Confess, x 40. Cf. what Aiifnistine says about it de dono persev. 20, 53 
(Migne P.L. xlv p. 1026), He defends the jirayer on the ground that God's chief 
command to man is to believe in Him, and that faitli in Him is His own gift, and 
that by grace He turns the wills of men, even when actively hostile, to the faitli 
which He requires. 


Tht' Chvf Pr{iu'ij»lis maintained hy Pdaqina 

If rda^ius rose above the worse consoquoiices of the monastic 
ideals, yet the life he had Iwl no doubt exerted an inlluence on 
his views. One far-goinp principle, wliich resulted from the life 
of obedience to detnili'd rules,' was the distinction he drew 
between what was enjoined ( prawcpta — obligatory) and what was 
only recommended as an object of higher perfection (runsilia — 
optional). By abstaining from what was permitted you could 
become entitled to a higher reward, there being diirerent grades 
of merit and of Christian perfection. 

On the study of Scriptm-e Tebigius 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 (!4od designed was to present them 
" holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight " (Col. 1^2), 
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 
spii'itual 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 ! " ^ And so his 

1 But see infra p. 353, Note ' The Doctrine of Merit '. 

- Id the letter to Demetrias (§§ 7, 8 Migne P.L. x\x p. 22) he insists that the 
Scriptures never excuse those who sin, on the ground that they cannot help tliem- 
selves, but put the burden on their lack of \vill (peecantes vhique 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 de-sire 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 clioosing at any moment one 
course or another, good or evil.) He says that the ar^mment involved in the i)lea 


first concern was to make men see that they were not in want 
of any of the faculties which are necessary for the fiillilment 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 {ijeccatum ex tradtice), and believed the 
soul to be a new creation from God, contemporaneous with the 
body and therefore untainted and pure (Creationisra). 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.^ 

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, aud then 
condemns us for not doing it ; as though he sought our i)unishmeut rather than our 
.salvation. He is jushts and 2>ius — it is impossible that a theory which has such 
consequences can be true. 

* Pelagius aiiparently recognized no criterion of sin but acts which are 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 .«in 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 nej^iations of IVlaj^iua — (1) the denial of the 
necessity of enpornutural and directly a.ssisting }^rac,o 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 
]iiiysical death, to the descendants of the lirst man in consequence 
of his transgression — found expression in the commentaries he com 
posed on the Kj)ist.les of St Paul,* and attracted attention during a 
visit which he paid to Komo in the early years of the fifth century 

Tlie Pelagian Controversy — Goelestius 

Pelacjius was little inclined for controversy, but while at 
Rome lie converted to the monastic life an advocate, Goelestius, 
who eagerly ado])ted his ideas and wished to defend and propa- 
gate them against all otliers. It was Goelestius, rather tluin 
Pelagius himself, who was the immediate cause of the outbreak 
of the controversy. Three stages in it may be noted.^ 

The First Stage at Carthage. — The scene of the first stage 
was Africa. Pelagius was on his travels to the East, and 
left Kome with Goelestius in the year 409, and after a stay 
in Sicily went to Carthage in the year 411. When he left, 
Goelestius 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,'* the chief and centre of which 
were — (a) that the sin of Adam had injured himself only 
and not the whole human race, and (b) 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. 

' Migne P.L. pp. xxx 64f>-902. On the curious literary history of this book see 
Art. 'Pelagius' D.C.B. 

- 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. 

* These were — 1. Adam was ci-eated 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 tlie 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. f>. 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 accormt, 5 is combined with 6, and in its place is given — Infants, although 
they be not baptized, have eternal life.) 


life in the same conditiou in which Adam was before the Fall. 
Against the accusation, he insisted that the orthodox were not 
acrreed 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 
' hurch. 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.^ 

The Second Stacje in Palestine. — The scene of the next stage 
of the controversy was Palestine, whither Pelagius had gone. 
There he found an opponent in Jerome,^ 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^) 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.^ They were satisfied by general statements of belief 

' Soon after this a book of Pelagius de Nalura was given to Augustine, and he 
replied to it in his tract rfe Nalura et ft-oiia (which contains all that is extant of the 
work which it answers). He had previously written the tract de Spiritu et Litera. 

- Jerome was in agreement with Augustine, and referred Pelagianism to the 
influence of Origen and Rufinus, and wrote against it. See ad Ctedphontem {Ep. 133, 
MigneP.Z. xxiip. 1147) and Dialogue contra Pelagianos {M.\gne P. L. xxiii 495-590). 

^ 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 — Hahu'' p. 294. 


in the need of divine assistunce, and were ready to admit 
Telu^ius as orthodox when he assented to the need.' DrosiuH, 
however, demanded that, as the (juestiou had originated in the 
West,' it should be left to the Latins to dcterniino ; and deputies 
and letters were sent to linioceut, Bishop of llome, requesting 
liim to hear and decide the case. 

Nevertheless, a few niontlis later in the same year, Pelagius 
appcjirod before a second synod in Palestine, at Diospolis or 
Lydda, to answer to a paper of complaints })ut in against him 
by two Gallican bi3hoi)s, who had beon driven from their sees 
and made their way to Palestine.-' 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, althougli 
Ooelestius might maintain them. For these he had not tf» 
answer ; but he was ready to declare that he rejected them, and to 
anathematize all who opposed the doctrines of the holy Catholic 
Church.* 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 '.^ 

The Third Stage — Ajjpeal 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 

' The difference between Pelagius and Augu.stine is tolerably nlear. Pelagius 
regarded the grace of God as an essential aid, a reinforcement from without, to 
second the efforts wliich 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 couceive'l it as an inner 
spiritual illumination, but rather as some external stimulus ai)plied 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 (jrafia Christi 11). 

- Orosius could only speak Latin, and the bishop only Greek ; so misunder- 
standings might easily arise. 

^ Heros of Aries and Lazarus of Aix. They were perhaps ' put up ' by Jerome. 

* Hereby he was said to have anathematized himself His desire was for peace 
.•ind freedom from doctrinal disputes. The practical moral aspect of the question was 
what he really cared for. 

' The tieatise of Augustine dc yestis Felagii deals with the proceedings at this 


(416),^ and renewed the previous condemnation of Coele^tius, 
and announced their decisions to the Bishop of Rome, 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 Rome. 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 
imuiediately afterwards Innocent died; and Zosimus, his successor, 
received from Coelestius in person,^ and from Pelagius by letter,^ 
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 hy Councils in Africa 
and at Rorac. — 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 

^ One at Carthage for the province of Afiica (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.). 

- For fragnients of his creed see Hahn^ 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 hiui, 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. 

* See Hahn^ 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 spjccial questions at issue he wrote as follows : "We confess that 
we liave 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 siu and able not to sin), in 
audi wise as always to confess that we possess free wiU." 


atjrecnieut. A council of two huudrod hishopa was sj)oodily 
held tit Cartliaj^o (in April 418), at which niuo canonH were 
drftwn ui', with anti-P(>lagian definitions of the points in ques- 
tion.' What weio regarded as l*elagian compromises are 
definitely faced and detailed, and declared anathema. The 
absolute necessity «)f baptism to effect regeneration, and to counter- 
bjilance the corru))tion of nature and stain of sin that is innate — 
Mie powerlessness of the liunian will unaided, and the vital neeil 
of grace to enal)lo us to fullil tlie commandR 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 TheodosiuR (banishing Pelagius and Coelestius and their 
followers); and the IJishop of Rome was obliged to reoyjen 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 bishojjs 
under his jurisdiction. Eighteen refused, and were deposed and 
banished from their sees, while many probably signed unwillingly. 

The intimate Issue of the Controversy. — In this way 
Pelagiauism 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.^ 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 w-ere 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.^ 

1 Hahn*p. 213. 

- All that is known as to the consideration of Pelagianism at Ephesus is contained 
in the synodal letter to Coelestine 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. 

' Cf. Loofs Leitfade/n p. 260. In the Greek Church Augustinianism never took 
Oct. Many were ready to sympathize with the eighteen bishops, of whom Julian 


" Semi-Pelagianism 


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 Hhegium, 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 Rome, to enlist the support of 
Innocent ; and perhaps he stayed on at Rome 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 ; ^ and the Semi- 

of Eclaiium in Campania became the chief mouthpiece — a man of high character 
and generous benevolence and ample learning and ability, who was tinnly 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 ii) 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 Celestino and by suc- 
cessive bishops. He died in -1.54 in Sicily. His writings are known to us only 
from Augustine's replies. See especially the four books Contra duos epislnlas 
Pelagiaiwi-um (420), and the six books Contra Julicmum Pclagiaiium. [See 
the Art. 'Julianus of Eclanum ' D.C.B.] 

Julian was a thoroughgoing supporter of Pelagianism. A more conciliatory 
position was taken liy .John Cassian. 

* The familiar ti.rm may be retained, but Semi-Augustinianism would be at least 
as accurate a designation, and would beg uo question. 

- His works on subjects were "highly prized all through the Middle Ages 
as handbooks of the cloister-life", 



IVlagirtiiiam ^ whicli ho ttiught. has always numbered many 

Above uU else he was inspired by a moral interest and 
a profound sense of the love of God. As, in his counsels 
to his monks, lie insisted that no outward obedience to 
rule availed without purity of intention and consecration of 
the inner life ; so he believed that tlie 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 determhie 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. ' 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.^ 

^ It must be remembered that Semi-Pelagians (so-called) were in full agreement 
with the Church at large in repudiating the cliief 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 
iiniversaliter omnes sed quosdam salvos fieri velle pro omnibus ? Other significant 
passages on thesulijectare — § 8 "When He (sc. God) sees in us any beginning of good 
^vill, straigiitway 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 bo7ium) whicli 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'®)"; and § 11 "if, 
however, we say that the first beginnings of good will are always insjiired 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 sfiecial 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 ^ 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 
Proveuqe), most highly honoured for his learning and his ascetic 
and holy life of self-sacrificing labours and active benevolence." 
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 libera arhitrio contra CoUatorem 
(Migne P.L. li p. 213). 

^ Cf. his de Praedestinatione Sanctorum and de Dono Persevtrantiae, 
^ He was bom 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 liis right to canonization, while learned Jesuits defend him. 


hath, to him shall be given ' — he has the power and must use it. 
The dtx'tiine of predestination, in particular, cjilled forth his 
energetic protests, and he strongly denied the assumption of any 
such ' special and personal ' grace ((/ratia specialis and jursoyutlia) 
as Augustino'3 theory of preilcstiuation involved ; th<tugli at the 
same time he speaks of a precedent grace {ijratm jrroccrdens) of 11 
general character.' 

A presbyter of Gaul named Lucidus had roused uneasiness 
by his advocacy of these and other Augustiniau conceptions, 
and Kaustus was requested by Leoutius, the Archbishop of 
Aries, to write upon the subject ;- and at a Council licld 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.^ 
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. Rut 
synods at Orange ( Arausio) * and Valence ^ in 5 2 9 decided for the 

* 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 extern&l 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. 

- He wrote first a letter to Lucidus and afterwards to the same eflFect a more 
formal treatise entitled De graiia Dei et humanae nventvs libera arhitrio (Migne 
P.L. Iviiip. 783 fl). 

^Hahn^p. 217. 

* Under the presidency of Caesarius of Aries, sometime abbot of Lerinum. 

•' The priority of these (youncils is disputed (see Hefele). Araold Caesarius von 
Ardate p. 348 n. 1129 puts that of Valence first. 


Angustinian doctrine, with the limitation that predestination to 
evil was not to be taught (Augustine liimself 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.^ The decisions of this Council were 
confirmed by the Bishop of Rome, Boniface Ji, 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 
iTi 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 prevcnient 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.^ 
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.^ The fall of man caused the loss of the gift 
of divine grace originally bestowed upon him, and its consequence 

' See the canons of the Council of Orange — Hahn '' 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 
Go<l. The giving and reception of grace depends solely on God's initiative. 

^ Sess. vi cap. 3, * Sess. vi cap. 4, 5, 7. 


was wcakncRS and imjKM'fectiun. Ilia freedom of will was 
weakened and turned anidc, but not lost and extinguished. 
Ktnnan orthodoxy thus recognizes (jratin prafivenicns, and grntm 
co-opcrans, and the human power of self-determination. Simil- 
arly, as op|30sed to the theory of predestination, the Council of 
Trent declared the universality of grace ; and, when the Jan^onists 
attempted to revive the doctrines of Augustine, predestination 
was still more decisively rejected. 

Augustine's Chikf Anti-Pelagian Writinos (see Robertson 
Art. 'Augustiuus' D.C.B. new volume) 


412 De jwcc. mtritiK et remiss, lib. iii, and Dp spiritu ef litrra (lo 

415 De natura et gratia, and De perfectione iustitiae Iwminis (agains 

the teaching of Coelestius). 

417 De gestis Pelagii (on the proceedmgs in Palestine), and Epp. 176, 

177, and iierm. 131. 

418 Dp gratia Chnsti et de peccato originali lib. ii. 

419 De nuptiis et concupiscent ia lib. ii, and De anima eiusque oi'igiiie 

lib. iv (on the transmission of original sm and on the origin of 
the soul). 

420 Contra duos epp. Pelagianorum lib. iv. (a reply to Julian's attack 

on the treatise De nuptiis). 

421 Contra Julianum lib. vi. 

426-7 De gratia et libero arbitrio and De^. 

correptione et gratia | (against the arguments of 

428-9 De praedest. 8a7ictoruTn 3ind De do7io i the Semi- Pelagians), 

perseverantiae J 


The Doctrine of the Atonement 


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;^ they wanted to define more 
closely the why and the wherefore, and they let the spii'it 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 onlv record incidental 
references and more or less chance phrases which indicate, rather 

' See supra Chaiitev II \y\^. 20, 21. 


tliim express, tho (.'oiicrpliDHs of tlio earlier exponents of Cbrislian 
teaching.' They tire in ull eases only ])ersonul atLenipla to set 
forth ami illustrate experiences and emotions that were still 
pereoiial, however widely they were shared among those who 
were fellows in faith. How far they were generally received, 
iir what — if any- measure of ofticial sanction was given them, 
it is impossihle to siiy. 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 emjttied his wlmle 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 Irenacus 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,^ 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.^ 

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 ' 

' Of books on the history of the doctrine of the Atonement see H. N. Oxen- 
ham Tlir CafJi'jlic Dodritve of the Atoncriumt. For special points of view see also 
R. C. Moberly Atonement and Personality ; R. W. Dale The AtoncTnent ; B. F. 
"Westcott Tlte Victory of the Cross, and the notes to his edition of the Epistles of 
St John; M'Leod Campbell The Nature of the Atone'tnent, and J. M. Wilson The 
Gospel of the Atonement. 

- See supra Chapter II p. 19. 

* The only ' satisfaction ' which was thought of was the satisfaction which the 
penitent himself makes. There is no suggestion of any satisfaction of tlie divine 
justice through the .suflerings of Christ. 


{dydiTT})} 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 ottered both the grace of repentance and the knowledge of 
the truth to all men. 

In the Epistle of Barnabas ^ 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 coidd 
we men see him apd be saved ? " 

In The Shepherd of Hennas ^ 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 Eji. 49. - Sec esp. chs, 5, 7, 12. ' Similitude v 6. 


which the Ron is biildon to work as a servant, and in wliich he. 
klionre much and suH'oi-a much to do away their sins, and then 
l^HDiuts out to them the way of life by Rivinj; tlicni the law which 
he received from liis Father. The perfect fuHilment of the 
Father's will, at the cost of toil and sull'erin^', 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 Ejnstles of Iffiiafius the reality of the euffevings of 
Christ is em]>hasized again and again against docetic teaciiing, 
and it is clear that the writer attached unique importance to 
the passion, altliough 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.^ But how the redemption 
is eftected, and precisely what value is to be attributed to the 
suflerings of the Kedeemer, 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 ' sauctification ' 
more than the ' justification ' of mankind.* 


No systematic treatment of the subject is to be found either 
in Justin's Ajyologies 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 

' Ad S/uyrn. 6. 

• The idea of 'justification ' is hardly present, though the verb occurs twice 
Phila/1. 8 and Bom. 5 (with reference to 1 Cor. 4''). He speaks also of 'peace' 
tlirough the passion {Eph. inscr.) and of deliverance from demons through Christ 
(Eph. 19). 


iiian, it is declared on the one hand, was that he might share our 
sufleriugs and effect a cure,^ 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 . . ." ^ " His mighty Word persuaded many 
to leave demons, to whom they were enslaved, and through him 
to believe on the all-sovereign God." * " 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."^ 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,^ 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^). 
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.' " 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." ^ Bather/ 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 

* Apol. ii 13, and esp. (tlic chief passage) Dial. c. Trypli. 40-43 and 95. 
2 Ajiol. i 63. ' IMd. i 23. 

* DiaZ. c. Tryph. 83. » lUd. 30. 

® See Ajiol. i 63 "he endured to sufFev all that the devils disposed the Jews to do 
to him ". 

' Indeed, he styles it only au ' apparent ' ourse {Dial, c. Tryph. 90). 
8 Ibid. 94. 


was accnrsed. For nil who have in him there hiinge froui 
the crucitied Christ the hope of salvation.* 

Thr Writer to Drnpuiun 

Some tine pasRafjPB in the Epv<tle to Dioqiretiui Rhew tht 
writer's conco])tion of the Atonement aa esRoiitially an act ol 
comjmssion whicli is ]>roni]ited hy the unalterable love of Goti 
and insist on the perfect union of will between the Father and 
the Sou. " (rod, the Master and Maker of all things, who 
(•recited all thing's and set them in order, was not only a 
lover of man but also long-sufl'ering. 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 hin 
Son."* 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 forbearing, 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) ? " -^ 
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 

' Dial. c. Tryph. 96, 111. A similar view of the curse was held by Tertullian 
{adv. .Tvdaeos 10). 

' Ch. 8. » Oh. 9. * Oh. 8. 



From Tertullian, if from any one, we should have expected 
a theory of atonement based on legal conceptions and forensic 
metaphors.^ But ho 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.- He does not bring 
the idea into connexion with the work of Christ, but with the 
acts of the penitent.^ 

Similarly he insists * that the curse which was supposed to 
attach to the crucified Christ, in accordance with the application 
of the words of Deuteronomy (21^^) — * 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,^ 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.^ 


When we pass to consider the conceptions of Irenaeus we 
must note at the outset that no one has ever more clearly 

* So Oxenham points out op. cit. p. 124. 

* See Note on the ' Doctrine of Merit ' p. 353. 

* This is evident from the references in de Foen. 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 ; de Pat. 13 ; de 
Pud. 9 ; de Cult. Fern, i 1 ; adv. Jud. 10. 

* See adv. Judtwos 10. 

'' That the highest value attached to the sufiFerings of Christ in Tertullian's 
judgement is shewn by his argument against doeetic 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 
< "hristianity rejected. 

" It was only ilimly tliat the mystery (sacrameHtwm) of his passion could be 


grasped the fiindrtinental truth of the ' solidarity * of humanity. 
No principle is more ehunicteristic of ChviHtiuu theology than 
this, that the race of men is a corporate whole — all mcinbcrB ol 
it being so closely bound tog(>ther in a union bo intimate thai 
they form togetlier one living organism. To tliis conception 
Irenaeus gives tlie clearest expression, and following up tli(^ 
meauiug of the title ' Son of Man ' which St Paul had beeu th(^ 
first to expand,^ 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. Wiiat 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 eilect of Christ's acts is equally coextenHive 
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."^ 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," * And again, " I'or in the 
first Adam we stumbled, not doing his command ; but in the 
second Adam we were reconciled, shewing ourselves obedient 
unto death." * 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 gi-ace 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. 

^ See sucli passages as Rom. 5^^"^^, 1 Cor. W^'^-"'^, Eph. 1'". 

^ Adv. Haer. m 19. 1. The thought expressed by the words recapitulare, recapit- 
7tla(io, applied in this way to Christ, is the chief clue to the full concejition of the 
writer, both as to the Incarnation and as to the Atonement. The doctrines arc 
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. 

« Ibid. V 21, 1. 

* Ibid. V 16. 2. Compare the striking passage {ibid, ii 33. 2) in which Irenaeus 


thought was as distinct as possible. The whole race is soUdaire : 
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 ; 
hut 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^^ ' 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^* ' 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,^ " 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. 
^ Adv. Haer. v 1. 1. 


preserved from perishing." To achieve the end in view man 
must render perfect obedience us u first condition, and that is 
one chief re;ison for the Incarnation, in order that the obedience 
may be at once man's and perfect.' " For if it had not been 
man who conquered the adversary of man, he would not have 
been justly compiered." ^ 

He speaks of the obedience as being specially shewn in the 
three temptations : ^ " 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 cancelletl {or compensated for) by means of 
the command of the law which the Son of Man observed, not 
transgressing the command of God." • 

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." ^ 

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 

> Adv. Haer. iii. 19. 6. Cf. v 1, v 16. 2. 

' It is to God, of course, that the obedience is due. Cf. ihid. v 16. 2, 17. 1-3. 

* The temptations of Jesus are the counterpart of the temptation of Adam, as 
the oliedience 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 

* Ibid. V 21. The Latin "soluta est ea quae fuerat in Adam praecepti 
praevaricatio per praeccptum legis quod servavit filius hominis " is not quite clear, 
but the translation given above seems to convey the full meaning of the words. 
The technical legal sense of pracva/ricari (of an advocate who so conducts hLs case as 
to play into the hands of his opponent) can scarcely be maintained, and certainly 
there is no idea in soluta est of the jiayment of a price (cf. parallel expressions ' dis- 
solvens {or sanans) . . . hominis inobedientiam ' v 16. 2, 'nostram inobedien tiara 
per suam obedientiam consolatus' v 17. 1). 

* Ibid, v 1. 2 (the conclusion of the passage quoted supra), but the idea of the 
bloofl of Christ as ran.som do&s not seem to occupy a very prominent i)lace in the 
whole work of atonement and redemption. 


any detail the nature of the transaction wliich is implied. These 
are certainly not the aspects of the matter which appeal to him 
most, or which he cares to emphasize. Any uuscriptural 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.^ 

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 ? '^ 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 he 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 (avToXXayfia) 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.^ 

^ So Hainack ^Tites : "Irenaeus is quite as free fi-om the thought that the devU 
has real rights over man as he is free from tlie iruraoral idea that God accomplished 
his work of redemption by an act of deceit " {D6. 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 ? 

* This theory is expressed or alluded to in various writings of Origen. E. g. 
Gomm. in Jonnn. torn, ii 21, in Matt, xvi 8, in Rom. ii 13. But the notion of 
intentional deception on the part of God (expressed in JlcUf. torn, xiii 9) is not 
prominent in Origen. His idea was rather that the devil deceived himself, imagin- 



llDwever, this particular point is only (juite a subordinate 
I'lenirnt in the doctrine wliicli Crimen held on the whole mutter. 
He dwells at greater length on other more important aspecta 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 receivi' life which 
•lesus tiiught." ' Redemplion is tliuH effected by joining in one 
the divine and the human nature. 

The death, too, was his own act. St. Paul had written 
(Rom. 8^-) 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 ou 
behalf of us, so that he was delivered up not only by the Father 
but also by himself." ^ 

This death is described as the chastisement which wo 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.^ So the death is regarded as the 
expression of voluntary penance which cleanses * 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 llesh, that cleansed from sin 

iug that he could retain possession of the Sou of God. (Contrast with Origen's 
words on the subject, Gregory of Nyssa's dirdT-ri rli iari. rpowov nvd 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. 

' c. Cels. iii 28. 

- In Matt. torn, xiii 8. 

' In Joann. torn, xxviii 14 (Oj/?;. iv p. 392, Migue). Thus he explains Isaiah's 
prophecy of the di!><-iiiline of our i)eaf;e 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.) 

* Jesus, who alone was able \a) 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, maii having deprived him of honour by 
disobedience. For the stress laid on obedience by Irenaeus see suj^ra p. 336. 


during this ])resent life our spirit may find its vviiy clean and 
pure to Christ." ^ Tliis '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.^ It is from 
this point of view a sacrifice to God, and on Eom. 3^* 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.* 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.'"' 

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.^ The idea that man needs to be rescued from the 

' In Levit. Horn, xiv 4. 

^ In Malt. Comment, series 113, voL iii p. 912 (Moberly o}). cit.). Serin, in Mail. 

^ See in Num. Horn, xxiv 1 ; cf. toni. in Joann. xxviii 393 ; c. Cels. i 1, ii 17 

* In Lev. Horn, ix 10. 

' Similar expressions elsewhere {e.g. Ireu. adv. Haer. v 17. 1 propitians quidcm 
pro nobis Patran, and Atli. Or. c. Ar. ii 7) seem to shew that such language was 
not regarded as umiatural ; wliile at the same time it was kept subordinate tu the 
idea of the love of God in sending His Son, and no theory of propitiation was framed. 

" But a second attempt to mediate between the two notions was made by Athau- 


power of evil and the penalty of sin is dominant. It is in that 
ii«»ed that llio lator Fathers tiiul the reason for Christ's death as 
the only sufficient ransom that could be paid. And the j^ower 
of evil is no abstract idea, but a personal power — Satan, who is 
regarded as having acijuired an actual right over men. This 
conception controlled the thought of the ages till the time of 
Auselra, along with the idea that the devil was deceived, and 
deceived by God,' 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 Nyssa and Rutinus, and repudiated at the 
same time by Gregory of Nazianzus.* 

Gi'egorji of Nyssa 

The theory that Gregory of Nyssa framed is in some respects 
so characteristic and won such long acceptance that it nmst be 
stated at some length.^ He begins by shewing the reasonable- 
ness of the Incarnation. Man had Ijeeu created in the image of 
God, because the overflowing love of God desired that there 
should e.xist a being to share in His perfections. He was bound, 
therefore, to be endowed with the power of self-determination, 
and in \'irtue of this freedom was able to be misled and to 
choose evil rather than good (or, more accurately, to turn aside 
from good), inasmucli 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 etfects the Giver of life himself became man — 
the divine natui'S was united to the human. How, we cannot 

aoius when he emphasized tlie 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.) 

^ 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 {Eph. 19) on the three secreta, w rought in the silence of God, wliich 
•were to be proclaimed alood, namely, the ^^rginity 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 impUed in St Paul's allusion to the rulers of this world 
(1 Cor. 2^) 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 /.c.).] 

* For an excellent criticism of this theory see Oxenham op. cit. p. 160 ff. 

' See thn OraHo Catechetica, esp. chs. xxi-xxvi — ed. J. H. Srawley (Eng. tr. in 
'Gregory of Nyssa' N. andP.-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 ail 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.^ 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 inveu- 

^ This strange simile is found again in regard to Death, John Dainasc. de 
Fid, iii 27. Leo (Serm. xxii 4) expresses himself to much the same effect as 


tion by which it wa« on'odi^d was a manifoHtation of bu])ioiiu> 

A very similar account is i^iven by liuHnua. He exproRses 
his concoptiou in his exjiosition of the Creed,* on the article 
' He was crucilied ..." He speaks of the Cross as a signal 
trophy, and token of victory over the enemy. By his death ho 
brouiflit three kinjjjdoms at once into subjection under his sway 
— ' things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the 
earth '. And the reason why tlie special form of death — the 
Cross — was chosen was that it might correspond to the mystery : 
in the tirst 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 Itnig he stretched out his hands ' to the people on the earth, 
making protestations to unbelievers and invitiug 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 
Grod 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 

' The crudity of Gregory's conception is somnwhat modified by his comparison of 
God's act of deception with the procedure of the |jhy.siciau who deceives his patient 
for a beneficent purpose. Satan himself shall profit by the deception and be healed. 
See Or. Cat. xxvi. 

^ Ruilnus Comm. in Symb. Apost. § 14fl. 


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 tiesh (he being, 
as the Apostle Paul says, found in fashion as a man, Phil. 2^), 
might lure on the Prince of this world to a conflict ; so that, 
ottering 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 Ntizianzus, the intimate friend of Gregory of 
Nyssa. Head and heart alike reject it, though logic seems to 
require it. " We were," he says,^ " under the dominion of the 

' Oral, xlv 22. For an excellent criticism of the theory see Oxeuham op. cit. 
p. 150 fF. It involves great difJiculties, 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 liad none, how wms 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 tlie God of truth choose 


wicked one, and ransom is always paid to liim who is in posses- 
sion of the thing for which it is (hie. Was the ransom then paid 
to the evil one? It is a monstronf? thou-^'ht. If to the evil 
one — what au outrage ! Then the rohber receives a ransom, not 
only from (Jod, 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." 
Tiial, 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, 
80 that, having subdued the tyrant, he might deliver and recon- 
cile us to himself by the intercession of bis 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 '} 

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 
liim). 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 indfipendent powers set over against one another, a kingdom 
of light and a kingdom of darkne>s, with juiisdictions naturally limited by conflicting 
claims : instead of treating evil as a temj)orary interruption of the divine order. 

^ One striking passage, however, as Mr. C. F. Andrews has reminded me, must 
not be overlooked, vi:. Or. xxx 5, 6 (The Thological 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 dpafiarovpyflrai Kai irXfKerai OavyxKriw^ iiirkp i}/j.uif 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 creffuff/jL^poi. 


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 ^ 

No more fresh and bracing treatment of the doctrine of the 
Atonement is to be found in the literature of the early Church 
than thac which Athanasius gives in his writing On the Incarna- 
tion of the Word} 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.^ 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).* 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, 

^ 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 elaboiate arguments of 
Dr. Draseke (Theol. Stitd. u. Krit. 1893, and Zeitschrift f. v/iss. Thcol. 1895). 

^ And in frequent references to the doctrine elsewhere, particularly in the 
Orations against the Arians, esp. ii 67-70. 

* 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. 

■• Athanasius speaks of it as unthinkable (dToirov riv) that mere penitence should 
compensate for sin and restore the tainted nature. 


the Logos had ori^,firmlIy made all thinp^ out, of nothing; so it 
was fitting unti ni'cossjuy tliat he should take human nature 
to himself, and recreate it by assuming a Inmian body, and 
once and for all overpowering in it the ])rinciple of death and 
corruption. This, therefore, is the first and chief ellect of the 
Incarnation : * the principle of corruption is anniiiilated. And 
it is ill virtue of the inherent relation of the Logos to the human 
race that he cHects its restoration.* 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.^ 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 elVected 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 Losos 
is said to have " oflered 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 ". ^ So 
he suHers on behalf of all, and can be ambassador to the Father 
concerning all,^ 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.'' The argument is carefully elaborated, with the main 

^ See the famous simile in ch. ix. "Just as when a groat king has entered 
some great city and takes uji 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 overpowei-s 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 viiL * Ch. xx ; of. Or. c. Ar. ii 69. 

* Ch. vii ; cf. ch. ix. 

* Phrases are used which by themselves might suggest substitution, but the 
whole drift of the argument shows that representation is meant. E.g. ch. ix 
7\ TTpoiTtpoph, Tov KaraWi^Xov, rb 6(peik6fievoi>, avr/^uxoi'— but they are i/Tr^p vAvtuv. 
The phrase ivrl vivroiv is, I think, used once only (ch. xxi), and then in the mouth 
of an obje^.-txir 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." ^ No eternal change, no remission of 
penalty or equivalent compensation, no jiat 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." ^ 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.^ 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 

' Or. c. Ar. ii 68 (Dr. Moberly's translation). ^ Ibid, ii 69. 

^ Cf. Gregory of Nyssa's idea that the ailing part must be ' touched in order to 
be healed — Or. Cat. xxviL 


averted from all by the grace of tho resurrection. . . . Thus hf 
iibolished deuth at a stroke froui his feUow-incu by the olVeiing o\' 
that which 8t<x)d for all. . . . For tho dcistruction which belongs lii 
to death has uow no more place against men, becauee of the'" 
Ixjgos who through the one body indwells in them." ^ 'J'lii 
special immanence of the Logos in humanity since tho Incaruit 
tion is known and recognized by the presence of his Spirit in hi.- 
followers. It is we ourselves who receive the grace. " li\ 
reason of our kinshij) of nature with his body we ourselves also an 
become a temple of God, and iiave been made from henceforth soii.'- 
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 trutl 
in tliem '." ^ " The descent of the Spirit, which came upon him 
in Jordan, came really u])on us, because it was our body that hi> 
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 S})irit, it was we who were being made by him 
capable of receiving it." ' 

Such are the thoughts which specially characterize the teach- 
ing of Athauasius 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.^ 
' 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 domai)i 
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."^. 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 

' Ch. ix. That all his experiences are really in a tnie sense ours, and that hi"? 
immanence in huuianity is of widest consequence, i.s further argued Or. c. Ar. i 41, 
iii 33, iv 67. 

- Or. c. Ar. i 43. ^ IMd. i 47 ; and again ibia. ii 48, 49. 

* De Tncam. ch. xiv. ^ Ibid. ch. xv. 


giiiu a true knowledgp of God, which they could not have gained 
in any other way. The invisible thus became visible, aud made 
himself known as he really was. 

So, at the end of his book, Athanasins 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 
;i 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." ^ 

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.^ 

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.^ 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 

' De Incam. ch. Kv. ^ Dc Trinitaie xiii § 13 ff. 

' It is in this sense that the Fathers of this time speak of the ncca^sily of the 
particular mode of atonement which was adopted, not as absohite but as conditioned 
by God's imriioses. That God might have chosen other methods is recognized by 
all. (See Oxenham op. cit. p. 149.) 


(Icviscil wo are savod : wo are justilioil by Hk- blood, and rccnn 
ciled by Iho doath, of tl»e Sou of God ; wo aio savod from wrain 
through him, saved by his lifo. 

Augustino thon faces the dillieulty — How are we jimtiliod 
ill his blood — what power is there in the blood ? and bow are 
we reconciled by the death of the Son ? It couUl iiot be as 
ihou^^h CJod the Father was wroth, raid was appeased by the 
doatii of His Son ; for on that supposition the Son must have been 
alroady ajipoasotl, and there w<mld be implied a conflict betwoen 
the Father and the Son. And St Paul (Rom. 8^^' '^'^) represents 
the Father as delivi'ring up His Son, not sparing him — so shew- 
ing that the Father was already appeased. And indeed there 
could bo no doubt that God had always loved us. And the 
Fatlier and the Son work all things together harmoniously and 
equally (there could be no kind of contiict or dillerence 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 ^ into all who are born by 
natural process from him, and the deljt 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 

^ The word used is oHyinalUer. It is explained immediately as meaning ' Ijy 
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 cJiosen 
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 llesh 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 God'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.^ 

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 

' Harnack {DG. Eug. 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 TertuUian and 
Cyprian see supra p. 333. AYith the passage cited above may be compared the treat- 
ment of the passage John 1721-20 [Tract, in Joli. ex 6) : "For it was not from the time 
that we were reconciled nnto 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 
haWng been reconciled to God through the death of His Son be so listened to, or 
imderstood, as if the Son reconciled as 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 accoiint they become friends and mutual love takes the place of nmtual hatred ; 
but we were reconciled unto Him who already loved us, but with whom we were at 
emnity because of our sins. " 


the earliest centuries for some of llie views that became current 
at a later time. It is at least clear that the sulferings of Christ 
were not regarded as an exchange or substitution of penalty, or 
{18 punisinnent inflicted on him by the Father for our sins. 
There is, that is to say, no idea of vicarious satisfaction, eitlier 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 safeguurdcd by 
the idea of our union with (Jhrist, 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 
appro])riate the redemption which he won for us. Also, in spite 
of a phrase or two suggesting another conception, it is clear tliat 
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 diflicult 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. Redemption 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 tho, 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 imable 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 »n,pra pp. 247, 274). 

Tertullian and Cyprian 

TertuUian'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 inrlulrfenfia 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. ahstinentia. 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. 



This idea depnds on other considorations. God is the lawgiver before 
whose authority man must bow in unconditional obedience. His will 
is set l>efore men in the Old and in the New Testamont (l)oth of which 
Tertnllian styles lex), and in the order of Nature, as also in the ecclesi- 
astical discipline and in the tradition. Herein, from these sources of 
knowleilge, can be found what is pleasing to God and what is not 
pleasing but forbidden. To 'satisfy' or contont God is to do what is 
plejising to Hin>, and not to do what is forbidden. Otherwise a sin is 
incurred. No recourse to the indulgence of God is admitted here. But 
men ai-e always falling into sin, and each sin incurs guilt, and God ii: 
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 Chri;?tian.) 
The piniishment, 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 satiffadio 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 Gliristo). It is an expiatory sacrifice, and the 
amount of the sacrifice required is in exact correspondence with the 
utlence. 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 {liabent Deum debitorem). 

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. 

TertulUan was the first to ' formulate ' the conception, while Cyprian 
was the first to * naturalize ' it fully in th'e system of church doctrine. 

Two presuppositions of the doctrine must, of course, be borne in 
muid : (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) the; e is no suggestion that the baptized Christian 


\\'ho 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 lihelli 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 benelit 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 martjTs 
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. 125, 1 Cor. 1226, Col. 124 ^hi^h seem to imply that the faith and 
piety and good works and sufi"erLngs, done and borne in Christ, of some 
of the members of his Body — the Church — may in some sense pass over 
to and affect t