Vol. 3, Chapter IX (Cont’d) – The Post-Nicene Trinitarian Doctrine of Augustine


Augustine: De trinitate, libri xv., begun in 400, and finished about 415; and his anti-Arian works: Contra sermonem Arianorum; Collatio cum Maximino Arianorum episcopo; Contra Maximinum haereticum, libri ii. (all in his Opera omnia, ed. Bened. of Venice, 1733, in tom. viii. pp. 626-1004; and in Migne’s ed. Par. 1845, tom. viii. pp. 683-1098).

While the Greek church stopped with the Nicene statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Latin church carried the development onward under the guidance of the profound and devout speculative spirit of Augustine in the beginning of the fifth century, to the formation of the Athanasian Creed. Of all the fathers, next to Athanasius, Augustine performed the greatest service for this dogma, and by his discriminating speculation he exerted more influence upon the scholastic theology and that of the Reformation, than all the Nicene divines. The points in which he advanced upon the Nicene Creed, are the following:

1. He eliminated the remnant of subordinationism, and brought out more clearly and sharply the consubstantiality of the three persons and the numerical unity of their essence. Yet he too admitted that the Father stood above the Son and the Spirit in this: that he alone is of no other, but is absolutely original and independent; while the Son is begotten of him, and the Spirit proceeds from him, and proceeds from him in a higher sense than from the Son. We may speak of three men who have the same nature; but the persons in the Trinity are not three separately subsisting individuals. The divine substance is not an abstract generic nature common to all, but a concrete, living reality. One and the same God is Father, Son, and Spirit. All the works of the Trinity are joint works. Therefore one can speak as well of an incarnation of God, as of an incarnation of the Son, and the theophanies of the Old Testament, which are usually ascribed to the Logos, may also be ascribed to the Father and the Holy Ghost.

If the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity lies midway between Sabellianism and tritheism, Augustine bears rather to the Sabellian side. He shows this further in the analogies from the human spirit, in which he sees the mystery of the Trinity reflected, and by which he illustrates it with special delight and with fine psychological discernment, though with the humble impression that the analogies do not lift the veil, but only make it here and there a little more penetrable. He distinguishes in man being, which answers to the Father, knowledge or consciousness, which answers to the Son, and will, which answers to the Holy Ghost. A similar trinity he finds in the relation of mind, word, and love; again in the relation of memory, intelligence, and will or love, which differ, and yet are only one human nature (but of course also only one human person).

2. Augustine taught the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son as well as from the Father, though from the Father mainly. This followed from the perfect essential unity of the hypostases, and was supported by some passages of Scripture which speak of the Son sending the Spirit. He also represented the Holy Ghost as the love and fellowship between Father and Son, as the bond which unites the two, and which unites believers with God.

The Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed affirms only the processio Spiritus a Patre, though not with an exclusive intent, but rather to oppose the Pneumatomachi, by giving the Spirit a relation to the Father as immediate as that of the Son. The Spirit is not created by the Son, but eternally proceeds directly from the Father, as the Son is from eternity begotten of the Father. Everything proceeds from the Father, is mediated by the Son, and completed by the Holy Ghost. Athanasius, Basil, and the Gregories give this view, without denying procession from the Son. Some Greek fathers, Epiphanius, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Cyril of Alexandria, derived the Spirit from the Father and the Son; while Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret would admit no dependence of the Spirit on the Son.

Augustine’s view gradually met universal acceptance in the West. It was adopted by Boëthius, Leo the Great and others. It was even inserted in the Nicene Creed by the council of Toledo in 589 by the addition of filioque, together with an anathema against its opponents, by whom are meant, however, not the Greeks, but the Arians.

Here to this day lies the main difference in doctrine between the Greek and Latin churches, though the controversy over it did not break out till the middle of the ninth century under patriarch Photius, (867). Dr. Waterland briefly sums up the points of dispute thus: “The Greeks and Latins have had many and tedious disputes about the procession. One thing is observable, that though the ancients, appealed to by both parties, have often said that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, without mentioning the Son, yet they never said that he proceeded from the Father alone; so that the modern Greeks have certainly innovated in that article in expression at least, if not in real sense and meaning. As to the Latins, they have this to plead, that none of the ancients ever condemned their doctrine; that many of them have expressly asserted it; that the oriental churches themselves rather condemn their taking upon them to add anything to a creed formed in a general council, than the doctrine itself; that those Greek churches that charge their doctrine as heresy, yet are forced to admit much the same thing, only in different words; and that Scripture itself is plain, that the Holy Ghost proceeds at least by the Son, if not from him; which yet amounts to the same thing.”

This doctrinal difference between the Greek and the Latin Church, however insignificant it may appear at first sight, is characteristic of both, and illustrates the contrast between the conservative and stationary theology of the East, after the great ecumenical councils, and the progressive and systematizing theology of the West. The wisdom of changing an ancient and generally received formula of faith may be questioned. It must be admitted, indeed, that the Nicene Creed has undergone several other changes which were embodied in the Constantinopolitan Creed, and adopted by the Greeks as well as the Latins. But in the case of the Filioque, the Eastern Church which made the Nicene Creed, was never consulted, and when the addition was first brought to the notice of the bishop of Rome by Charlemagne, he protested against the innovation. His successors acquiesced in it, and the Protestant churches accepted the Nicene Creed with the Filioque, though without investigation. The Greek Church has ever protested against it since the time of Photius, and will never adopt it. She makes a sharp distinction between the procession, which is an eternal and internal process in the Holy Trinity itself, and the mission, of the Spirit, which is an act of revelation in time. The Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father alone (though through the Son); but was sent by the Father and the Son on the day of Pentecost. Hence the present tense is used of the former (Joh_15:26), and the future of the latter (Joh_14:26; Joh_15:26). The Greek Church is concerned for the dignity and sovereignty of the Father, as the only source and root of the Deity. The Latin Church is concerned for the dignity of the Son, as being of one substance with the Father, and infers the double procession from the double mission.


132. The Athanasian Creed

G. Joh. Voss (Reform): De tribus symbolis, diss. ii. 1642, and in his Opera Omnia, Amstel. 1701 (forming an epoch in critical investigation). Archbishop Usher: De symbolis. 1647. J. H. Heidegger (Ref.): De symbolo Athanasiano. Zür. 1680. Em. Tentzel (Luth.): Judicia eruditoram de Symb. Athan. studiose collecta. Goth. 1687. Montfaucon (R.C.): Diatribe in Symbolum Quicunque, in the Benedictine ed. of the Opera Athanasii, Par. 1698, tom. ii. pp. 719-735. Dan. Waterland (Anglican): A Critical History of the Athanasian Creed. Cambridge, 1724, sec. ed. 1728 (in Waterland’s Works, ed. Mildert, vol. iii. pp. 97-270, Oxf. 1843). Dom. M. Speroni (R.C.): De symbolo vulgo S. Athanasii. Dias. i. and ii. Patav. 1750-’51. E. Köllner (Luth.): Symbolik aller christl. Confessionen. Hamb. vol. i. 1837, pp. 53-92. W. W. Harvey (Angl.): The History and Theology of the Three Creeds. Lond. 1854, vol. ii. pp. 541-695. Ph. Schaff: The Athanasian Creed, in the Am. Theolog. Review, New York, 1866, pp. 584-625. (Comp. the earlier literature, in chronological order, in Waterland, l. c. p. 108 ff., and in Köllner).

A. P. Stanley: The Athanasian Creed. Lond., 1871. E. S. Ffoulkes: The Athanasian Creed. Lond., 1872. Ch. A. Heurtley: The Athanasian Creed. Oxf., 1872. (Against Ffoulkes.) J. R. Lumby: History of the Creeds. Cambridge, 1873; second ed. 1880. The Utrecht Psalter, a facsimile ed., published in London, 1875. This contains the oldest MS. of the Athan. Creed, which by Ussher and Waterland was assigned to the sixth century, but by recent scholars to the ninth century. C. A. Swainson: The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, together with an Account o f the Growth and Reception of the Creed of St. Athanasius. Lond., 1875. (Comp. his art. Creed in Smith and Wace, i. 711.) G. D. W. Ommaney: Early History of the Athan. Creed. An Examination of Recent Theories. Lond., 1875; 2d ed. 1880. Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, i. 34 sqq. and ii. 66-72, 555 sq. (With a facsimile of the oldest MS. from the Utrecht Psalter.)

[Comp. here the later and fuller treatment in Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, N. York, 4th ed., 1884, vol. i. 34-42; vol. ii. 66-72, with the facsimile of the oldest MS. of the Athan. Creed in the Utrecht Psalter, ii. 555 sq. The rediscovery of that MS. in 1873 occasioned a more thorough critical investigation of the whole subject, with the result that the Utrecht Psalter dates from the ninth century, and that there is no evidence that the pseudo-Athanasian Creed, in its present complete form, existed before the age of Charlemagne. The statements in this section which assume an earlier origin, must be modified accordingly. Added 1889.]

The post-Nicene or Augustinian doctrine of the Trinity reached its classic statement in the third and last of the ecumenical confessions, called the Symbolum Athanasianum, or, as it is also named from its initial words, the Symbolum Quicumque; beyond which the orthodox development of the doctrine in the Roman and Evangelical churches to this day has made no advance. This Creed is unsurpassed as a masterpiece of logical clearness, rigor, and precision; and so far as it is possible at all to state in limited dialectic form, and to protect against heresy, the inexhaustible depths of a mystery of faith into which the angels desire to look, this liturgical theological confession achieves the task. We give it here in full, anticipating the results of the Christological controversies; and we append parallel passages from Augustine and other older writers, which the unknown author has used, in some cases word for word, and has woven with great dexterity into an organic whole.




1. Quicumque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam fidem. 1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [true Christian] faith   

2. Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in aeternum peribit. 2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.   

3. Fides autem catholica haec est, ut unum Deum in trinitate et trinitatem in unitate veneremur; 3. But this is the catholic faith: That we worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity;   

4. Neque confundentes personas; neque substantiam separantes. 4. Neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the substance.   

5. Alia est enim persona Patris: alia Filii: alia Spiritus Sancti. 5. For there is one person of the Father: another of the Son: another of the Holy Ghost.   

6. Sed Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas: aequalis gloria, coaeterna majestas. 6. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coëternal.   

7. Qualis Pater, talis Filius, talis (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.   

8. Increatus Pater: increatus Filius: increatus (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 8. The Father is uncreated: the Son is uncreated: the Holy Ghost is uncreated.   

9. Immensus Pater: immensus Filius: immensus Spiritus Sanctus. 9. The Father is immeasurable: the Son is immeasurable: the Holy Ghost is immeasurable.   

10. Aeternus Pater: aeternus Filius: aeternus (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 10. The Father is eternal: the Son eternal: the Holy Ghost eternal.   

11. Et tamen non tres aeterni: sed unus aeternus. 11. And yet there are not three eternals; but one eternal.   

12. Sicut non tres increati: nec tres immensi: sed unus increatus et unus immensus. 12. As also there are not three uncreated: nor three immeasurable: but one uncreated, and one immeasurable.   

13. Similiter omnipotens Pater: omnipotens Filius: omnipotens (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 13. So likewise the Father is almighty: the Son almighty: and the Holy Ghost almighty,   

14. Et tamen non tres omnipoentes; sed unus omnipotens. 14. And yet there are not three almighties: but one almighty.   

15. Ita Deus Pater: Deus Filius: Deus (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 15. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.   

16. Et tamen non tres Dii; sed unus est Deus. 16. And yet there are not three Gods; but one God.   

17. Ita Dominus Pater: Dominus Filius: Dominus (et) Spiritus Sanctus. 17. So the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.   

18. Et tamen non tres Domini; sed unus est Dominus. 18. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord   

19. Quia sicut singulatum unamquamque personam etDeum et Dominum confiteri christiana veritate compellimur: 19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord:   

20. Ita tres Deos, aut (tres) Dominos dicere catholica religione prohibemur. 20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there are three Gods, or three Lords.   

21. Pater a nullo est factus; nec creatus; nec genitus. 21. The Father is made of none; neither created; nor begotten.   

22. Filius a Patre solo est:  non factus; nec creatus; sed genitus. 22. The Son is of the Father alone: not made; nor created; but begotten.   

23. Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et Filio: non factus; nec creatus; nec genitus (est); sed procedens. 23. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son: not made; neither created; nor begotten; but proceeding.   

24. Unus ergo Pater, non tres Patres: unus Filius, non tres Filii: unus Spiritus Sanctus, non tres Spiritus Sancti. 24. Thus there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.   

25. Et in hac trinitate nihil prius, aut posterius: nihil maius, aut minus. 25. And in this Trinity none is before or after another: none is greater or less than another.   

26. Sed totae tres personae coaeternae sibi sunt et coaequales. 26. But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal   

27. Ita, ut per omnia, sicut jam supra dictum est, et unitas in trinitate et trinitas in unitate veneranda sit. 27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.   

28. Qui vult ergo salvos esse, ita de trinitate sentiat. 28. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.   

29. Sed necessarium est ad aeternam salutem, ut incarnationem quoque Domini nostri Jesu Christi fideliter credat. 29. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that we believe also rightly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.   

30. Est ergo fides recta ut credamus et confiteamur quod Dominus noster Jesus Christus, Dei Filius, Deus pariter et Homo est. 30. Now the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.   

31. Deus ex substantia Patris, ante secula genitus, et Homo ex substantia matris, in seculo natus. 31. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world.   

32. Perfectus Deus: perfectus Homo, ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens. 32. Perfect God: perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.   

33. Aequalis Patri secundum divinitatem: minor Patre secundum humanitatem. 33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead: inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood.   

34. Qui licet Deus sit et Homo; non duo tamen; sed unus est Christus. 34. And although He be God and Man; yet He is not two, but one Christ.   

35. Unus autem, non conversione divinitatis in carnem, sed assumtione humanitatis in Deum. 35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God.   

36. Unus omnino, non confusione substantiae, sed unitate personae. 36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance; but by unity of person.   

37. Nam sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est home; ita Deus et Homo unus est Christus. 37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ.   

38. Qui passus est pro salute nostra: descendit ad inferos: tertia die resurrexit a mortuis. 38. Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hades: rose again the third day from the dead.   

39. Adscendit ad coelos: sedet ad dexteram (Dei) Patris omnipotentis: 39. He ascended into heaven: He sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father almighty:   

40. Inde venturus (est), judicare vivos et mortuos. 40. From whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   

41. Ad cuius adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis; 41. At whose coming all men must rise again with their bodies;   

42. Et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem 42. And shall give account for their own works.   

43. Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam aeternam; qui vere mala, in ignem aeternum. 43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; but they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.   

44. Haec est fides catholica, quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvos esse non poterit. 44. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.  


The origin of this remarkable production is veiled in mysterious darkness. Like the Apostles’ Creed, it is not so much the work of any one person, as the production of the spirit of the church. As the Apostles’ Creed represents the faith of the ante-Nicene period, and the Nicene Creed the faith of the Nicene, so the Athanasian Creed gives formal expression to the post-Nicene faith in the mystery of the Trinity and the incarnation of God. The old tradition which, since the eighth century, has attributed it to Athanasius as the great champion of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, has been long ago abandoned on all hands; for in the writings of Athanasius and his contemporaries, and even in the acts of the third and fourth ecumenical councils, no trace of it is to be found. It does not appear at all in the Greek church till the eleventh or twelfth century; and then it occurs in a few manuscripts which bear the manifest character of translations, vary from one another in several points, and omit or modify the clause on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son (#23 above). It implies the entire post-Nicene or Augustinian development of the doctrine of the Trinity, and even the Christological discussions of the fifth century, though it does not contain the anti-Nestorian test-word θεοτόκος, mother of God. It takes several passages verbally from Augustine’s work on the Trinity which was not completed till the year 415, and from the Commonitorium of Vincentius of Lerinum, 434; works which evidently do not quote the passages from an already existing symbol, but contribute them as stones to the building. On the other hand it contains no allusion to the Monophysite and Monothelite controversies, and cannot be placed later than the year 570; for at that date Venantius Fortunatus of Poictiers wrote a short commentary on it.

It probably originated about the middle of the fifth century, in the school of Augustine, and in Gaul, where it makes its first appearance, and acquires its first ecclesiastical authority. But the precise author or compiler cannot be discovered, and the various views of scholars concerning him are mere opinions. From Gaul the authority of this symbol spread over the whole of Latin Christendom, and subsequently made its way into some portions of the Greek church in Europe. The various Protestant churches have either formally adopted the Athanasian Creed together with the Nicene and the Apostles’, or at all events agree, in their symbolical books, with its doctrine of the trinity and the person of Christ.

[The statements concerning the origin and age of the Athanasian Creed should be conformed to the authors views as expressed in his work on Creeds, i. 36. The latest investigations do not warrant us to trace it higher than the eighth or seventh century. The first commentary on it ascribed to Venantius Fortunatus, 570, is of doubtful genuineness, and denied to him by Gieseler, Ffoulkes, and others. The majority of recent Anglican writers, including Stanley, Swainson, and Lumby, assign the Creed to an unknown author in Gaul between a.d. 750 and 850, probably during the reign of Charlemagne (d. 814). Hardy and Ommaney plead for an earlier date. The question is not yet fully settled. The Creed consists of two parts, one on the Trinity and one on the Incarnation, which were afterward welded together by a third hand. The second part was found separately as a fragment of a sermon on the Incarnation, at Treves, in a MS. from the middle of the eighth century, and was first published by Prof. Swainson, 1871, and again in 1875.]

The Athanasian Creed presents, in short, sententious articles, and in bold antitheses, the church doctrine of the Trinity in opposition to Unitarianism and tritheism, and the doctrine of the incarnation and the divine-human person of Christ in opposition to Nestorianism and Eutychianism, and thus clearly and concisely sums up the results of the trinitarian and Christological controversies of the ancient church. It teaches the numerical unity of substance and the triad of persons in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, with the perfect deity and perfect humanity of Christ in one indivisible person. In the former case we have one substance or nature in three persons; in the latter, two natures in one divine-human person.

On this faith eternal salvation is made to depend. By the damnatory clauses in its prologue and epilogue the Athanasianum has given offence even to those who agree with its contents. But the original Nicene Creed contained likewise an anathema, which afterwards dropped out of it; the anathema is to be referred to the heresies, and may not be applied to particular persons, whose judge is God alone; and finally, the whole intention is, not that salvation and perdition depend on the acceptance and rejection of any theological formulary or human conception and exhibition of the truth, but that faith in the revealed truth itself, in the living God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and in Jesus Christ the God-Man and the Saviour of the world, is the thing which saves, even where the understanding may be very defective, and that unbelief is the thing which condemns; according to the declaration of the Lord: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” In particular actual cases Christian humility and charity of course require the greatest caution, and leave the judgment to the all-knowing and just God.

The Athanasian Creed closes the succession of ecumenical symbols; symbols which are acknowledged by the entire orthodox Christian world, except that Evangelical Protestantism ascribes to them not an absolute, but only a relative authority, and reserves the right of freely investigating and further developing all church doctrines from the inexhaustible fountain of the infallible word of God.


II. The Origenistic Controversies

I. Epiphanius: Haeres. 64. Several Epistles of Epiphanius, Theophilus of Alex., and Jerome (in Jerome’s Epp. 51 and 87-100, ed. Vallarsi). The controversial works of Jerome and Rufinus on the orthodoxy of Origen (Rufini Praefatio ad Orig. περὶ ἀρξῶν; and Apologia s. invectivarum in Hieron.; Hieronymi Ep. 84 ad Pammachium et Oceanum de erroribus Origenis; Apologia Adv. Rufinum libri iii, written 402-403, etc.). Palladius: Vita Johannis Chrysostomi (in Chrysost. Opera, vol. xiii. ed. Montfaucon). Socrates: H. E. vi. 3-18. Sozomenus: H. E. viii. 2-20. Theodoret: H. E. v. 27 sqq. Photius: Biblioth. Cod. 59. Mansi: Conc. tom. iii. fol. 1141 sqq.

II. Huetius: Origeniana (Opera Orig. vol. iv. ed. De la Rue). Doucin: Histoire des mouvements arrivés dans l’église au sujet d’Origène. Par. 1700. Walch: Historie der Ketzereien. Th. vii. p. 427 sqq. Schröckh: Kirchengeschichte, vol. x. 108 sqq. Comp. the monographs Of Redepenning and Thomasius on Origen; and Neander: Der heil. Joh. Chrysostomus. Berl. 1848, 3d ed. vol. ii. p. 121 sqq. Hefele (R.C.): Origenistenstreit, in the Kirchenlexicon of Wetzer and Welte, vol. vii. p. 847 sqq., and Conciliengeschichte, vol. ii. p. 76 sqq. O. Zöckler: Hieronymus. Gotha, 1865, p. 238 ff; 391 ff.


133. The Orgenistic Controversy in Palestine. Epiphanius, Rufinus, and Jerome, a.d. 394-399

Between the Arian and the Nestorian controversies and in indirect connection with the former, come the vehement and petty personal quarrels over the orthodoxy of Origen, which brought no gain, indeed, to the development of the church doctrine, yet which have a bearing upon the history of theology, as showing the progress of orthodoxy under the twofold aspect of earnest zeal for the pure faith, and a narrow-minded intolerance towards all free speculation. The condemnation of Origen was a death blow to theological science in the Greek church, and left it to stiffen gradually into a mechanical traditionalism and formalism. We shall confine ourselves, if possible, to the points of general interest, and omit the extremely insipid and humiliating details of personal invective and calumny.

It is the privilege of great pioneering minds to set a mass of other minds in motion, to awaken passionate sympathy and antipathy, and to act with stimulating and moulding power even upon after generations. Their very errors are often more useful than the merely traditional orthodoxy of unthinking men, because they come from an honest search after truth, and provoke new investigation. One of these minds was Origen, the most learned and able divine of the ante-Nicene period, the Plato or the Schleiermacher of the Greek church. During his life-time his peculiar, and for the most part Platonizing, views already aroused contradiction, and to the advanced orthodoxy of a later time they could not but appear as dangerous heresies. Methodius of Tyre († 311) first attacked his doctrines of the creation and the resurrection; while Paulphilus († 309), from his prison, wrote an apology for Origen, which Eusebius afterwards completed. His name was drawn into the Arian controversies, and used and abused by both parties for their own ends. The question of the orthodoxy of the great departed became in this way a vital issue of the day, and rose in interest with the growing zeal for pure doctrine and the growing horror of all heresy.

Upon this question three parties arose: free, progressive disciples, blind adherents, and blind opponents.

1. The true, independent followers of Origen drew from his writings much instruction and quickening, without committing themselves to his words, and, advancing with the demands of the time, attained a clearer knowledge of the specific doctrines of Christianity than Origen himself, without thereby losing esteem for his memory and his eminent services. Such men were Pamphilus, Eusebius of Caesarea, Didymus of Alexandria, and in a wider sense Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzum, and Gregory of Nyssa; and among the Latin fathers, Hilary, and at first Jerome, who afterwards joined the opponents. Gregory of Nyssa, and perhaps also Didymus, even adhered to Origen’s doctrine of the final salvation of all created intelligences.

2. The blind and slavish followers, incapable of comprehending the free spirit of Origen, clave to the letter, held all his immature and erratic views, laid greater stress on them than Origen himself, and pressed them to extremes. Such mechanical fidelity to a master is always apostasy to his spirit, which tends towards continual growth in knowledge. To this class belonged the Egyptian monks in the Nitrian mountains; four in particular: Dioscurus, Ammonius, Eusebius, and Enthymius, who are known by the name of the “tall brethren,” and were very learned.

3. The opponents of Origen, some from ignorance, others from narrowness and want of discrimination, shunned his speculations as a source of the most dangerous heresies, and in him condemned at the same time all free theological discussion, without which no progress in knowledge is possible, and without which even the Nicene dogma would never have come into existence. To these belonged a class of Egyptian monks in the Scetic desert, with Pachomius at their head, who, in opposition to the mysticism and spiritualism of the Origenistic monks of Nitria, urged grossly sensuous views of divine things, so as to receive the name of Anthropomorphites. The Roman church, in which Origen was scarcely known by name before the Arian disputes, shared in a general way the strong prejudice against him as an unsound and dangerous writer.

The leader in the crusade against the bones of Origen was the bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (Constantia) in Cyprus († 403), an honest, well-meaning, and by his contemporaries highly respected, but violent, coarse, contracted, and bigoted monastic saint and heresy hunter. He had inherited from the monks in the deserts of Egypt an ardent hatred of Origen as an arch-heretic, and for this hatred he gave documentary justification from the numerous writings of Origen in his Panarion, or chest of antidotes for eighty heresies, in which he branded him as the father of Arianism and many other errors. Not content with this, he also endeavored by journeying and oral discourse to destroy everywhere the influence of the long departed teacher of Alexandria, and considered himself as doing God and the church the greatest service thereby.

With this object the aged bishop journeyed in 394 to Palestine, where Origen was still held in the highest consideration, especially with John, bishop of Jerusalem, and with the learned monks Rufinus and Jerome, the former of whom was at that time in Jerusalem and the latter in Bethlehem. He delivered a blustering sermon in Jerusalem, excited laughter, and vehemently demanded the condemnation of Origen. John and Rufinus resisted; but Jerome, who had previously considered Origen the greatest church teacher after the apostles, and had learned much from his exegetical writings, without adopting his doctrinal errors, yielded to a solicitude for the fame of his own orthodoxy, passed over to the opposition, broke off church fellowship with John, and involved himself in a most violent literary contest with his former friend Rufinus; which belongs to the chronique scandaleuse of theology. The schism was terminated indeed by the mediation of the patriarch Theophilus in 397, but the dispute broke out afresh. Jerome condemned in Origen particularly his doctrine of pre-existence, of the final conversion of the devils, and of demons, and his spiritualistic sublimation of the resurrection of the body; while Rufinus, having returned to the West (398), translated several works of Origen into Latin, and accommodated them to orthodox taste. Both were in fact equally zealous to defend themselves against the charge of Origenism, and to fasten it upon each other, and this not by a critical analysis and calm investigation of the teachings of Origen, but by personal denunciations and miserable invectives.

Rufinus was cited before pope Anastasius (398-402), who condemned Origen in a Roman synod; but he sent a satisfactory defense and found an asylum in Aquileia. He enjoyed the esteem of such men as Paulinus of Nola and Augustine, and died in Sicily (410).


134. The Origenistic Controversy in Egypt and Constantinople. Theophilus and Chrysostom a.d. 399-407

Meanwhile a second act of this controversy was opened in Egypt, in which the unprincipled, ambitious, and intriguing bishop Theophilus of Alexandria plays the leading part. This bishop was at first an admirer of Origen, and despised the anthropomorphite monks, but afterwards, through a personal quarrel with Isidore and the “four tall brethren,” who refused to deliver the church funds into his hands, he became an opponent of Origen, attacked his errors in several documents (399-403), and pronounced an anathema on his memory, in which he was supported by Epiphanius, Jerome, and the Roman bishop Anastasius. At the same time he indulged in the most violent measures against the Origenistic, monks, and banished them from Egypt. Most of these monks fled to Palestine; but some: fifty, among whom were the four tall brethren, went to Constantinople, and found there a cordial welcome with the bishop John Chrysostom in 401.

In this way that noble man became involved in the dispute. As an adherent of the Antiochian school, and as a practical theologian, he had no sympathy with the philosophical speculation of Origen, but he knew how to appreciate his merits in the exposition of the Scriptures, and was impelled by Christian love and justice to intercede with Theophilus in behalf of the persecuted monks, though he did not admit them to the holy communion till they proved their innocence.

Theophilus now set every instrument in motion to overthrow the long envied Chrysostom, and employed even Epiphanius, then almost an octogenarian, as a tool of his hierarchical plans. This old man journeyed in mid-winter in 402 to Constantinople, in the imagination that by his very presence he would be able to destroy the thousand-headed hydra of heresy, and he would neither hold church fellowship with Chrysostom, who assembled the whole clergy of the city to greet him, nor pray for the dying son of the emperor, until all Origenistic heretics should be banished from the capital, and he might publish the anathema from the altar. But he found that injustice was done to the Nitrian monks, and soon took ship again to Cyprus, saying to the bishops who accompanied him to the sea shore: “I leave to you the city, the palace, and hypocrisy; but I go, for I must make great haste.” He died on the ship in the summer of 403.

What the honest coarseness of Epiphanius failed to effect, was accomplished by the cunning of Theophilus, who now himself travelled to Constantinople, and immediately appeared as accuser and judge. He well knew how to use the dissatisfaction of the clergy, of the empress Eudoxia, and of the court with Chrysostom on account of his moral severity and his bold denunciations. In Chrysostom’s own diocese, on an estate “at the oak” in Chalcedon, he held a secret council of thirty-six bishops against Chrysostom, and there procured, upon false charges of immorality, unchurchly conduct, and high treason, his deposition and banishment in 403. Chrysostom was recalled indeed in three days in consequence of an earthquake and the dissatisfaction of the people, but was again condemned by a council in 404, and banished from the court, because, incensed by the erection of a silver statue of Eudoxia close to the church of St. Sophia, and by the theatrical performances connected with it, he had with unwise and unjust exaggeration opened a sermon on Mar_6:17 ff., in commemoration of John the Baptist with the personal allusion: “Again Herodias rages, again she raves, again she dances, and again she demands the head of John [this was Chrysostom’s own name] upon a charger.” From his exile in Cucusus and Arabissus he corresponded with all parts of the Christian world, took lively interest in the missions in Persia and Scythia, and appealed to a general council. His opponents procured from Arcadius an order for his transportation to the remote desert of Pityus. On the way thither he died at Comana in Pontus, a.d. 407, in the sixtieth year of his age, praising God for everything, even for his unmerited persecutions.

Chrysostom was venerated by the people as a saint, and thirty years after his death, by order of Theodosius II. (438), his bones were brought back in triumph to Constantinople, and deposited in the imperial tomb. The emperor himself met the remains at Chalcedon, fell down before the coffin, and in the name of his guilty parents, Arcadius and Eudoxia, implored the forgiveness of the holy man. The age could not indeed understand and appreciate the bold spirit of Origen, but was still accessible to the narrow piety of Epiphanius and the noble virtues of Chrysostom.

In spite of this prevailing aversion of the time to free speculation, Origen always retained many readers and admirers, especially among the monks in Palestine, two of whom, Domitian and Theodorus Askidas, came to favor and influence at the court of Justinian I. But under this emperor the dispute on the orthodoxy of Origen was renewed about the middle of the sixth century in connection with the controversy on the Three Chapters, and ended with the condemnation of fifteen propositions of Origen at a council in 544. Since then no one has ventured until recent times to raise his voice for Origen, and many of his works have perished.

With Cyril of Alexandria the theological productivity of the Greek church, and with Theodoret the exegetical, became almost extinct. The Greeks thenceforth contented themselves for the most part with revisions and collections of the older treasures. A church which no longer advances, goes backwards, or falls in stagnation.


III. The Christological Controversies

Among the works on the whole field of the Christological controversies should be compared especially the already cited works of Petavius (tom. iv. De incarnatione Verbi), Walch (Ketzerhistorie, vol. v.-ix.), Baur, and Dorner. The special literature will be given at the heads of the several sections.


135. General View. Alexandrian and Antiochian Schools

The Trinity and Christology, the two hardest problems and most comprehensive dogmas of theology, are intimately connected. Hence the settlement of the one was immediately followed by the agitation and study of the other. The speculations on the Trinity had their very origin in the study of the person of Christ, and led back to it again. The point of union is the idea of the incarnation of God. But in the Arian controversy the Son of God was viewed mainly in his essential, pre-mundane relation to the Father; while in the Christological contest the incarnate historical Christ and the constitution of his divine-human person was the subject of dispute.

The notion of redemption, which forms the center of Christian thinking, demands a Redeemer who unites in his person the nature of God and the nature of man, yet without confusion. In order to be a true Redeemer, the person must possess all divine attributes, and at the same time enter into all relations and conditions of mankind, to raise them to God. Four elements thus enter into the orthodox doctrine concerning Christ: He is true God; be is true man; he is one person; and the divine and human in him, with all the personal union and harmony, remain distinct.

The result of the Arian controversies was the general acknowledgment of the essential and eternal deity of Christ. Before the close of that controversy the true humanity of Christ at the same time came in again for treatment; the church having indeed always maintained it against the Gnostic Docetism, but now, against a partial denial by Apollinarianism, having to express it still more distinctly and lay stress on the reasonable soul. And now came into question, further, the relation between the divine and the human natures in Christ. Origen, who gave the impulse to the Arian controversy, had been also the first to provoke deeper speculation on the mystery of the person of Christ. But great obscurity and uncertainty had long prevailed in opinions on this great matter. The orthodox Christology is the result of powerful and passionate conflicts. It is remarkable that the notorious rabies theologorum has never in any doctrinal controversy so long and violently raged as in the controversies on the person of the Reconciler, and in later times on the love-feast of reconciliation.

The Alexandrian school of theology, with its characteristic speculative and mystical turn, favored a connection of the divine and human in the act of the incarnation so close, that it was in danger of losing the human in the divine, or at least of mixing it with the divine; while, conversely, the Antiochian or Syrian school, in which the sober intellect and reflection prevailed, inclined to the opposite extreme of an abstract separation of the two natures. In both cases the mystery of the incarnation, the veritable and permanent union of the divine and human in the one person of Christ, which is essential to the idea of a Redeemer and Mediator, is more or less weakened or altered. In the former case the incarnation becomes a transmutation or mixture (σύγκρασις) of the divine and human; in the latter, a mere indwelling (ἐνοίκησις) of the Logos in the man, or a moral union (συνάφεια) of the two natures, or rather of the two persons.

It was now the problem of the church, in opposition to both these extremes, to assert the personal unity and the distinction of the two natures in Christ with equal solicitude and precision. This she did through the Christological controversies which agitated the Greek church for more than two hundred years with extraordinary violence. The Roman church, though in general much more calm, took an equally deep interest in this work by some of its more eminent leaders, and twice decided the victory of orthodoxy, at the fourth general council and at the sixth, by the powerful influence of the bishop of Rome.

We must distinguish in this long drama five acts:

1. The Apollinarian controversy, which comes in the close of the Nicene age, and is concerned with the full humanity of Christ, that is, the question whether Christ, with his human body and human soul (anima animans), assumed also a human spirit (νοῦς, πνεῦμα, anima rationalis).

2. The Nestorian controversy, down to the rejection of the doctrine of the double personality of Christ by the third ecumenical council of Ephesus, a.d. 431.

3. The Eutychian controversy, to the condemnation of the doctrine of one nature, or more exactly of the absorption of the human in the divine nature of Christ; to the fourth ecumenical council at Chalcedon, a.d. 451.

4. The Monophysite dispute; the partial reaction towards the Eutychian theory; down to the fifth general council at Constantinople a.d. 553.

5. The Monothelite controversy, a.d. 633-680, which terminated with the rejection of the doctrine of one will in Christ by the sixth general council at Constantinople in 680, and lies this side of our period.