Athanasius 3000

Introduction to the ‘Deposition of Arius’ And Encyclical Letter of Alexander.

3000 The following documents form the fittest opening to the series of Anti-Arian writings of Athanasius. They are included in the Benedictine edition of his works, and in the Oxford Collection of Historical Tracts, of which the present translation is a revision. The possibility that the Encyclical Letter was drawn up by Athanasius himself, now deacon and Secretary to Bishop Alexander (Prolegg. ch. 2,§2), is a further reason for its inclusion. The Athanasian authorship is maintained by Newman on the following grounds, which his notes will be found to bear out. (1) Total dissimilarity of style as compared with Alexander’s letter to his namesake of Byzantium (given by Theodoret, H. E. 1,4). That piece is in an elaborate and involved style, full of compound words, with nothing of the Athanasian simplicity and vigour. (2) Remarkable identity of style with that of Athanasius, extending to his most characteristic expressions. (3) Distinctness of the ‘theological view’ and terminology of Alexander as compared with Athanasius; the Encyclical coinciding with the latter against the former. (4) Athanasian use of certain texts. These arguments are of great weight, and make out at least a prima facie case for Newman’s view. The latter has the weight of Böhringer’s opinion on its side, while the counter-arguments of Kölling (vol. 1P 105) are trivial. Gwatkin, Studies, 29, note 4, misses the points (Nos. 1 and 3) of Newman’s argument, which may fairly be said to hold the field. The deposition of Arius at Alexandria took place (Prolegg, ubi supra) in 320 or 321; more likely the latter. Whether the Encyclical was drawn up at the Synod which deposed Arius, as is generally supposed, or some two years later, as has been inferred from the references to Eusebius of Nicomedia (D. C. B. 1,80, cf. Prolegg). ubi supra, note 1), is a question that may for our present purpose be left open. In any case it is one of the earliest documents of the Arian controversy. It should be noted that the ouoovolov does not occur in this document, a fact of importance in the history of the adoption of the word as a test at Nicaea, cf. Prolegg. ch. 2,§3 (1) and (2) b. At this stage the Alexandrians were content with the formulae omoio" katAE ousian (Athan)., aparallakto" eikwn, aphkribwmenh emfereia (Alex. in Thdt)., which were afterwards found inadequate.

The letter, after stating the circumstances which call it forth, and recording the doctrine propounded by Arius, and his deposition, points out some of the leading texts which condemn the doctrine (§§3, 4). The Arians are then (§5) compared to other heretics, and the bishops of the Church generally warned (§6) against the intrigues of Eusebius of Nicomedia. The letter is signed by the sixteen presbyters of Alexandria, and the twenty-four deacons (Athanasius signs fourth), as well as by eighteen presbyters and twenty deacons of the Mareotis. The scriptural argument of the Epistle is the germ of the polemic developed in the successive Anti-Arian treatises which form the bulk of the present volume).

Deposition of Arius

3100 S. Alexander’s Deposition of Arius and His Companions, and Encyclical Letter on the Subject.

Alexander, being assembled with his beloved brethren, the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, and the Mareotis, greets them in the Lord.

Although you have already subscribed to the letter I addressed to Arius and his fellows, exhorting them to renounce his impiety, and to submit themselves to the sound Catholic Faith, and have shewn your right-mindedness and agreement in the doctrines of the Catholic Church: yet forasmuch as I have written also to our fellow-ministers in every place concerning Arius and his fellows, and especially since some of you, as the Presbyters Chares and Pistus1 , and the Deacons Serapion, Parammon, Zosimus, and Irenaeus, have joined Arius and his fellows, and been content to suffer deposition with them, I thought it needful to assemble together you, the Clergy of the city, and to send for you the Clergy of the Mareotis, in order that you may learn what I am now writing, and may testify your agreement thereto, and give your concurrence in the deposition of Arius, Pistus, and their fellows. For it is desirable that you should be made acquainted with what I write, and that each of you should heartily embrace it, as though he had written it himself.

A Copy.

To his dearly beloved and most honoured fellow-ministers of the Catholic Church in every place. Alexander sends health in the Lord.

1. As there is one body2 of the Catholic Church, and a command is given us in the sacred Scriptures to preserve the bond of unity and peace, it is agreeable thereto. that we should write and signify to one another whatever is done by each of us individually; so that whether one member suffer or rejoice, we may either suffer or rejoice with one another. Now there are gone forth in this diocese, at this time, certain lawless3 men, enemies of Christ, teaching an apostasy, which one may justly suspect and designate as a forerunner4 of Antichrist. I was desirous5 to pass such a matter by without notice, in the hope that perhaps the evil would spend itself among its supporters, and not extend to other places to defile6 the ears7 of the simple8 . But seeing that Eusebius, now of Nicomedia, who thinks that the government of the Church rests with him, because retribution has not come upon him for his desertion of Berytus, when he had cast an eye9 of desire on the Church of the Nicomedians, begins to support these apostates, and has taken upon him to write letters every where in their behalf, if by any means he may draw in certain ignorant persons to this most base and antichristian heresy; I am therefore constrained, knowing what is written in the law, no longer to hold my peace, but to make it known to you all; that you may understand who the apostates are, and the cavils10 which their heresy has adopted, and that, should Eusebius write to you, you may pay no attention to him, for he now desires by means of these men to exhibit anew his old malevolence11 , which has so long been concealed, pretending to write in their favour, while in truth it clearly appears, that he does it to forward his own interests.

2. Now those who became apostates are these, Arius, Achilles, Aeithales, Carpones, another Arius, and Sarmates, sometime Presbyters: Euzoius, Lucius, Julius, Menas, Helladius, and Gaius, sometime Deacons: and with them Secundus and Theonas, sometime called Bishops. And the novelties they have invented and put forth contrary to the Scriptures are these following :—God was not always a Father12 , but there was a time when God was not a Father. The Word of God was not always, but originated from things that were not; for God that is, has made him that was not, of that which was not; wherefore there was a time when He was not; for the Son is a creature and a work. Neither is He like in essence to the Father; neither is He the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is He His true Wisdom ; but He is one of the things made and created, and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms, since He Himself originated by the proper Word of God, and by the Wisdom that is in God, by which God has made not only all other things but Him also. Wherefore He is by nature subject to change and variation as are all rational creatures. And the Word is foreign from the essence13 of the Father, and is alien and separated therefrom. And the Father cannot be described by the Son, for the Word does not know the Father perfectly and accurately, neither can He see Him perfectly. Moreover, the Son knows not His own essence as it really is; for He is made for us, that God might create us by Him, as by an instrument; and He would not have existed, had not God wished to create us. Accordingly, when some one asked them, whether the Word of God can possibly change as the devil changed, they were not afraid to say that He can; for being something made and created, His nature is subject to change.

3. Now when Arius and his fellows made these assertions, and shamelessly avowed them, we being assembled with the Bishops of Egypt and Libya, nearly a hundred in number, anathematized both them and their followers. But Eusebius and his fellows admitted them to communion, being desirous to mingle falsehood with the truth, and impiety with piety. But they will not be able to do so, for the truth must prevail; neither is there any “communion of light with darkness,” nor any “concord of Christ with Belial14 .” For who ever heard such assertions before15 ? or who that hears them now is not astonished and does not stop his ears lest they should be defiled with such language? Who that has heard the words of John, “In the beginning was the Word16 ,” will not denounce the saying of these men, that “there was a time when He was not?” Or who that has heard in the Gospel, “the Only-begotten Son,” and “by Him were all things made17 ,” will not detest their declaration that He is “one of the things that were made.” For how can He be one of those things which were made by Himself? or how can He be the Only-begotten, when, according to them, He is counted as one among the rest, since He is Himself a creature and a work? And how can He be “made of things that were not,” when the Father saith, “My heart hath uttered a good Word,” and “Out of the womb I have begotten Thee before the morning star18 ?” Or again, how is He “unlike in substance to the Father,” seeing He is the perfect “image” and “brightness19 ” of the Father, and that He saith, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father20 ?” And if the Son is the “Word” and “Wisdom” of God, how was there “a time when He was not?” It is the same as if they should say that God was once without Word and without Wisdom21 . And how is He “subject to change and variation,” Who says, by Himself, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me22 ,” and “I and the Father are One23 ;” and by the Prophet, “Behold Me, for I am, and I change not24 ?” For although one may refer this expression to the Father, yet it may now be more aptly spoken of the Word, viz., that though He has been made man, He has not changed; but as the Apostle has said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” And who can have persuaded them to say, that He was made for us, whereas Paul writes, “for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things25 ?”

4. As to their blasphemous position that “the Son knows not the Father perfectly,” we ought not to wonder at it; for having once set themselves to fight against Christ, they contradict even His express words, since He says, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father26 .” Now if the Father knows the Son but in part, then it is evident that the Son does not know the Father perfectly; but if it is not lawful to say this, but the Father does know the Son perfectly, then it is evident that as the Father knows His own Word, so also the Word knows His own Father Whose Word He is.

5. By these arguments and references to the sacred Scriptures we frequently overthrew them; but they changed like chameleons27 , and again shifted their ground, striving to bring upon themselves that sentence, “when the wicked falleth into the depth of evils, he despiseth28 .” There have been many heresies before them, which, venturing further than they ought, have fallen into folly ; but these men by endeavouring in all their cavils to overthrow the Divinity of the Word, have justified the other in comparison of themselves, as approaching nearer to Antichrist. Wherefore they have been excommunicated and anathematized by the Church. We grieve for their destruction, and especially because, having once been instructed in the doctrines of the Church, they have now sprung away. Yet we are not greatly surprised, for Hymenaeus and Philetus29 did the same, and before them Judas, who followed the Saviour, but afterwards became a traitor and an apostate. And concerning these same persons, we have not been left without instruction; for our Lord has forewarned us; “Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draweth near, and they shall deceive many: go ye not after them30 ;” While Paul, who was taught these things by our Saviour, wrote that “in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, which reject the truth31 .”

6. Since then our Lord and Saviour Jesus, Christ has instructed us by His own mouth, and also hath signified to us by the Apostle concerning such men, we accordingly being personal witnesses of their impiety, have anathematized, as we said, all such, and declared them to be alien from the Catholic Faith and Church. And we have made this known to your piety, dearly beloved and most honoured fellow-ministers, in order that should any of them have the boldness32 to come unto you, you may not receive them, nor comply with the desire of Eusebius, or any other person writing in their behalf. For it becomes us who are Christians to turn away from all who speak or think any thing against Christ, as being enemies of God, and destroyers33 of souls; and not even to “bid such God speed34 ,” lest we become partakers of their sins, as the blessed John hath charged us. Salute the brethren that are with you. They that are with me salute you.

Presbyters of Alexandria.

7. I, Colluthus, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.

Alexander35 , Presbyter, likewise

Dioscorus36 , Presbyter, likewise

Dionysius37 , Presbyter, likewise

Eusebius, Presbyter, likewise

Alexander, Presbyter,likewise

Nilaras38 , Presbyter, likewise

Arpocration, Presbyter, likewise

Agathus, Presbyter

Nemesius, Presbyter

Longus39 , Presbyter

Silvanus, Presbyter

Peroys, Presbyter

Apis, Presbyter

Proterius, Presbyter

Paulus, Presbyter

Cyrus, Presbyter, likewise

Ammonius40 , Deacon, likewise

Macarius, Deacon

Pistus41 , Deacon, likewise

Athanasius, Deacon

Eumenes, Deacon

Apollonius42 , Deacon

Olympius, Deacon

Aphthonius43 , Deacon

Athanasius44 , Deacon

Macarius, Deacon, likewise

Paulus, Deacon

Petrus, Deacon

Ambytianus, Deacon

Gaius45 , Deacon, likewise

Alexander, Deacon

Dionysius, Deacon

Agathon, Deacon

Polybius, Deacon, likewise

Theonas, Deacon

Marcus, Deacon

Comodus, Deacon

Serapion46 , Deacon

Nilon, Deacon

Romanus, Deacon, likewise

Presbyters of the Mareotis.

I, Apollonius, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.

Ingenius47 , Presbyter, likewise

Ammonius, Presbyter

Dioscorus48 , Presbyter

Sostras, Presbyter

Theon49 , Presbyter

Tyrannus, Presbyter

Copres, Presbyter


Orion, Presbyter

Serenus, Presbyter

Didymus, Presbyter

Heracles51 , Presbyter

Boccon,52 , Presbyter

Agathus, Presbyter

Achillas, Presbyter

Paulus, Presbyter

Thalelaeus, Presbyter

Dionysius, Presbyter, likewise

Sarapion53 , Deacon, likewise

Justus, Deacon, likewise

Didymus, Deacon

Demetrius54 , Deacon

Maurus55 , Deacon

Alexander, Deacon

Marcus56 , Deacon

Comon, Deacon

Tryphon57 , Deacon

Ammonius58 , Deacon

Didymus, Deacon

Ptollarion59 , Deacon

Seras, Deacon

Gaius60 , Deacon

Hierax61 , Deacon

Marcus, Deacon

Theonas, Deacon

Sarmaton, Deacon

Carpon, Deacon

Zoilus, Deacon, likewise

1 Cf). Apol. Ar. §24.
2 (
Ep 4,4). St. Alexander in Theod. begins his Epistle to his namesake of Constantinople with some moral reflections, concerning ambition and avarice. Athan. indeed uses a similar introduction to his Ep. Aeg., but it is not addressed to an individual.
3 paranomoi. vid). Hist. Ar. §71 init. 75 fin. 79.
4 prodromon AntiCriotou. vid Orat. 1,7). Vit. Ant. 69. note on de Syn. 5.
5 kai eboulomhn men siwph <`85Ÿepeidh de <`85Ÿanagkhn escon. vid). Apol. contra. Ar. §1 init, de Decr. § 2). Orat. i. 23, init). Orat. 2,init). Orat. 3,1). ad Serap. 1,1. 16. 2,1 init. 3,init. 4,8 init). Letters 52. 2, 59. 3 fin. 61. 1). contra Apollin. 1,1 init.
6 rupwoh, and infr). rupon. vid Hist. Ar. §3. § 80, de Decr. §2). Ep. Aeg. 11 fin). Orat. i 10.
7 akoa", and infr). akoa" buei. vid). Ep. Aeg. §13). Orat. 1,§7). Hist. Ar. §56.
8 akeraiwn). Apol. contr. Ar. §1). Ep. Aeg. §18). Letters 59. 1, 60. 2 fin). Orat. 1,8.
9 epofqalmisa" also used of Eusebius Apol. contr. Ar. §6). Hist. Ar. §7.
10 rhmatia vid). de Decr. §8, 18). Orat. 1,10). de Sent. §23 init S. Dionysius also uses it. Ibid. §18.
11 kakonoian. vid Hist. Ar. §75). de Decr. §1. et al).
12 ouk aei pathr. This enumeration of Arius’s tenets, and particularly the mention of the first, corresponds to de Decr. §6). Ep. Aeg. §12. as being taken from the Thalia. Orat. 1,§5. and far less with Alex. ap. Theod. p. 731, 2. vid. also Sent. D. §16). katacrhstikw", which is found here, occurs de Decr. §6.
13 ousian. ousia tou logou or tou uiou is a familiar expression with Athan. e.g). Orat. 1,45, 2,7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 18 init. 22, 47 init 56 init. &c., for which Alex. in Theod. uses the word upostai" e.g). thn idiotropon autou upostasin th" upostasew" autou aperiegastou newteran th" upostasew" gensin h tou uonogenou" anekdihghto" upostasi" thn tou logou upostasin.
14 (2Co 6,14)). koinwnia fwti. This is quoted Alex. ap. Theod). H. E. 1,3. p. 738; by S. Athan. in Letter 47. It seems to have been a received text in the controversy, as the Sardican Council uses it, Apol Ar. 49, and S. Athan. seems to put it into the mouth of St. Anthony, Vit. Ant. 69.
15 ti" gar hkouse). Ep. Aeg. 7 init). Letter 59. §2 init). Orat. 1,8). Apol. contr. Ar. 85 init). Hist. Ar. §46 init. §73 init. §74 init). ad Serap. 4,2 init.
16 (Jn 1,1,
17 (Jn 1,3 Jn 1,14,
18 (Ps 45,1, Ps 110,3,
19 (He 1,3,
20 (Jn 14,9-10 Jn 10,29). On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.
21 alogon kai asofon ton qeon). de Decr. §15). Orat. i. §19). Ap. Fug. 27. note, notes on Or. 1,19, de. Decr. 15, note 6.
22 (Jn 14,9-10 Jn 10,29). On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.
23 (Jn 14,9-10 Jn 10,29). On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.
24 (Ml 3,6). This text is thus applied by Athan). Orat. 1,30. 2,10. In the first of these passages he uses the same apology, nearly in the same words, which is contained in the text.
25 (He 13,8 He 2,10).
26 (Jn 10,15,
27 camaileonte". vid). de Decr. §1). Hist. Ar. §79.
28 (Pr 18,3 [cf). Orat. iii. 1, c. Gent. 8. 4, &c.]
29 (2Tm 2,17,
30 (Lc 21,8,
31 (1Tm 4,1). Into this text which Athan. also applies to the Arians (cf. note on Or. 1,9)., Athan. also introduces, like Alexander here, the word ugianoush", e.g). Ep. Aeg. §20, Orat. 1,8 fin). de Decr. 3, Hist. Arian. §78 init. &c. It is quoted without the word by Origen contr. Cels. 5, 64, but with ugiou" in Matth. t. 14,16. Epiphan, has ugiainoush" didaskalia", Hoer. 78. 2). ugiou" did. ibid. 23 p. 1055.
32 propeteusainto. vid). de Decr. §2.
33 fqorea" twn yucwn. but S. Alex. in Theod. uses the compound word). fqoropoio". p. 731. Other compound or recondite words (to say nothing of the construction of sentences) found in S. Alexander s Letter in Theod., and unlike the style of the Circular under review, are such as h filarco" kai filarguro" proqesi: cristemporian: frenoblabou": idiotropon: omostoicoi" oullabai": qehgorou" apostolou": antidiastolhn th" patrikh" maieusew": melagcolikhn: filoqeo" safhneia anosiourgia": flhnafwn mufwn. Instances of theological language in S. Alex. to which the Letter in the text contains no resemblance are acwriota pragmata duo: o uio" thn kata panta ouoiothta autou ek fusew" apomaxameno": di esoptrou akhlidwtou kai euyucou qeia" eikono": mesiteuousa fusi" monogenh": ta" th upostasei duo fusei".
34 (2Jn 10
35 Vid. Presbysters, Apol. Ar. 73.
36 Vid. Presbysters, Apol. Ar. 73.
37 Vid. Presbysters, Apol. Ar. 73.
38 Vid. Presbysters, Apol. Ar. 73.
39 Vid. Presbysters, Apol. Ar. 73.
40 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
41 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
42 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
43 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
44 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
45 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
46 Vid. Presbysters, ib).
47 Apol. Ar. 75.
48 Apol. Ar. 75.
49 Apol. Ar. 75.
50 Apol. Ar. 75.
51 Heraclius? ib.
52 Apol. Ar. 75.
53 Ib).
54 Ib).
55 Ib).
56 Ib).
57 Ib).
58 Ib).
59 Ib).
60 Ib).
61 Ib).

Introduction to Epistola Eusebii

4000 The letter which follows, addressed by Eusebius of Caesarea to his flock, upon the conclusion of the great Synod, is appended by Athanasius to his defense of the Definition of Nicaea (de Decretis), written about a.d. 350. It is, however, inserted here in the present edition, partly in accordance with the chronological principle of arrangement, but principally because it forms the fittest introduction to the series of treatises which follow. Along with the account of Eustathius in Theodoret H. E. 1,8, and that given by Eusebius, in his life of Constantine (vol. I. pp. 521–526 of this series), it forms one of our most important authorities for the proceedings at Nicae, and the only account we have dating from the actual year of the Council. It is especially important as containing the draft Creed submitted to the Council by Eusebius, and the revised form of it eventually adopted. The former, which contained (in the first paragraph of §3, from ‘We believe’ down to ‘One Holy Ghost’) the traditional Creed of the Church of Caesarea, which Eusebius had professed at his baptism, was laid by him before the Council, and approved: but at the Emperor’s suggestion the single word omoousion was inserted (not by ‘the majority’ as distinct from the Emperor, as stated by Swainson, Creeds, p. 65). This modification opened the door for others, which eventually resulted in the Creed given in §4. It is not altogether easy to reconcile this account with that given by Athanasius himself (below de Decr. 19, 20, Ad Afr. 5), according to which the Council were led to insist on the insertion of the omoousion by the evasions with which the Arian bishops met every other test that was propounded, signalling to each other by nods winks and gestures, as each Scriptural attribute of the Son was enumerated, that this also could be accepted in an Arian sense. probably (see (Prolegg. ch. 2,§3(1) note 5) the discussions thus described came first (cp. Sozom. 1,17): then Eusebius of Nicomedia presented the document which was indignantly torn up: then came the Confession of Eusebus of Caesarea, which was adopted as the basis of the Creed finally issued. In any case the Emperor’s suggestion of the insertion of omoousion must have been prompted by others, most likely by Hosius (Hist. Ar. 42, Cf. Hort, Two Dissertations, p. 58. Gwatkin, Studies, pp. 44, 45, puts the scene described by Athanasius during the debate upon the final adoption of the Creed).

The translation which follows, with the notes and Excursus A, is the unaltered work of Newman (Library of the Fathers, vol. 8, pp. 59–72), except that the word ‘essense’ (for ousia), as throughout this volume, has been substituted for ‘substance,’ and the translation of genhto" by ‘generate’ altered wherever it occurs, as explained in the preface. Additions by the editor of this volume are here as elsewhere included in square brackets).

Council of Nicaea

4100 Letter of Eusebius of Coesarea to the people of his Diocese1 .

1). What was transacted concerning ecclesiastical faith at the Great Council assembled at Nicaea, you have probably learned, Beloved, from other sources, rumour being wont to precede the accurate account of what is doing. But lest in such reports the circumstances of the case have been misrepresented, we have been obliged to transmit to you, first, the formula of faith presented by ourselves, and next, the second, which [the Fathers] put forth with some additions to our words. Our ownpaper, then, which was read in the presence of our most pious2 Emperor, and declared to be good and unexceptionable, ran thus:—

2. “As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Layer, and as we have learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this3 :”—3. “We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and dead. And we believe also in One Holy Ghost:”

“Believing each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost4 .” Concerning Whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy. That this we have ever thought from our heart and soul, from the time we recollect ourselves, and now think and say in truth, before God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ do we witness, being able by proofs to shew and to convince you, that, even in times past, such has been our belief and preaching.”

4. On this faith being publicly put forth by us, no room for contradiction appeared; but our most pious Emperor, before any one else, testified that it comprised most orthodox statements. He confessed moreover that such were his own sentiments, and he advised all present to agree to it, and to subscribe its articles and to assent to them, with the insertion of the single word, One-in-essence, which moreover he interpreted as not in the sense of the affections of bodies, nor as if the Son subsisted from the Father in the way of division, or any severance; for that the immaterial, and intellectual, and incorporeal nature could not be the subject of any corporeal affection, but that it became us to conceive of such things in a divine and ineffable manner. And such were the theological remarks of our most wise and most religious Emperor; but they, with a view5 to the addition of One in essence, drew up the following formula:—

The Faith dictated in the Council.

“We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible:”—

“And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, Only-begotten, that is, from the essence of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, One in essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered, and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead.”

“And in the Holy Ghost.”

“And those who say, ‘Once He was not,’ and ‘Before His generation He was not,’ and ‘He came to be from nothing,’ or those who pretend that the Son of God is ‘Of other subsistence or essence6 ,’ or ‘created’ or ‘alterable,’ or ‘mutable,’ the Catholic Church anathematizes.”

5. On their dictating this formula, we did not let it pass without inquiry in what sense they introduced “of the essence of the Father,” and “one in essence with the Father.” Accordingly questions and explanations took place, and the meaning of the words underwent the scrutiny of reason. And they professed, that the phrase “of the essence” was indicative of the Son’s being indeed from the Father, yet without being as if a part of Him. And with this understanding we thought good to assent to the sense of such religious doctrine, teaching, as it did, that the Son was from the Father, not however a part of His essence7 . On this account we assented to the sense ourselves, without declining even the term “One in essence,” peace being the object which we set before us, and stedfastness in the orthodox view.

6. In the same way we also admitted “begotten, not made;” since the Council alleged that “made” was an appellative common to the other creatures which came to be through the Son, to whom the Son had no likeness. Wherefore, say they, He was not a work resembling the things which through Him came to be8 , but was of an essence which is too high for the level of any work; and which the Divine oracles teach to have been generated from the Father9 , the mode of generation being inscrutable and incalculable to every originated nature.

7. And so too on examination there are grounds for saying that the Son is “one in essence” with the Father; not in the way of bodies, nor like mortal beings, for He is not such by division of essence, or by severance no nor by any affection, or alteration, or changing of the Father’s essence and power10 (since from all such the unoriginate nature of the Father is alien), but because “one in essence with the Father” suggests that the Son of God bears no resemblance to the originated creatures, but that to His Father alone Who begat Him is He in every way assimilated, and that He is not of any other subsistence and essence, but from the Father11 . To which term also, thus interpreted, it appeared well to assent; since we were aware that even among the ancients, some learned and illustrious Bishops and writers12 have used the term “one in essence,” in their theological teaching concerning the Father and Son.

8. So much then be said concerning the faith which was published; to which all of us assented, not without inquiry, but according to the specified senses, mentioned before the most religious Emperor himself, and justified by thee forementioned considerations. And as to the anathematism published by them at the end of the Faith, it did not pain us, because it forbade to use words not in Scripture, from which almost all the confusion and disorder of the Church have come. Since then no divinely inspired Scripture has used the phrases, “out of nothing,” and “once He was not,” and the rest which follow, there appeared no ground for using or teaching them; to which also we assented as a good decision, since it had not been our custom hitherto to use these terms.

9. Moreover to anathematize “Before His generation He was not,” did not seem preposterous, in that it is confessed by all, that the Son of God was before the generation according to the flesh13 .

10. Nay, our most religious Emperor did at the time prove, in a speech, that He was in being even according to His divine generation which is before all ages, since even before He was generated in energy, He was in virtue14 with the Father ingenerately, the Father being always Father, as King always, and Saviour always, being all things in virtue, and being always in the same respects and in the same way.

11. This we have been forced to transmit to you, Beloved, as making clear to you the deliberation of our inquiry and assent, and how reasonably we resisted even to the last minute as long as we were offended at statements which differed from our own, but received without contention what no longer pained us, as soon as, on a candid examination of the sense of the words, they appeared to us to coincide with what we ourselves have professed in the faith which we have already published).

Athanasius 3000