Svetoslav Ribolov


Sofia University “St Kliment Ochridski”                                                                            DOI                              
Theology Depatment  22 June 2020
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Abstract: Arianism is a Christian teaching, which appeared at the beginning of the 4th c AD. It represents the most serious threat to the unity of the Church during the first millennium of the Christian era. The orthodox writers of that age consider it the most serious early Christian heresy, and for this reason Arianism is still considered the archetypical heresy. The core of its teaching is the belief that God is not a Trinity in the true sense of the word, but a divine monad. According to this teaching, Christ is the Son of God, but he cannot be considered divine, since the divine Logos, who dwells in Christ’s soul is also not divine, but rather an entity who serves as a mediator between God and the created world.

Key Words: Arianism, patristics, ancient Christianity, theology


I. The Concept of the Divine Unity

The usual academic stereotype that was established by the studies of the triadological disputes during the 4th c. AD was that Arianism had its origins in the heretical teaching of Paul of Samosata. Moreover, an adherent of this teaching was also the martyr Lucian of Antioch († ок. 311)[1] and the Christian teacher Origen of Alexandria († 254).[2] However, such an explanation can only be considered as an oversimplification of the foundational ideas, which lead to the emerging of Arianism in the 4th c. AD. The controversy between presbuter Arius[3] (Fig. 1) and his bishop takes place in 318 AD.[4] In the same year or a little later, the bishop of Alexandria convened a council, in which one hundred bishops took part and condemned the teachings of Arius.[5] Subsequently, the latter decided to go to the Roman Asia where he had the chance to collaborate with a number of students of the martyr Lucian of Antioch. Arius considers himself a disciple of Lucian of Antioch, and the members of the group of the influential bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia – one of Arius’s most important supporters – proudly call themselves “con-lucianists.”[6] As we will see during the disputes that arose in Alexandria, the Syrian East remained cautious in regard with the term of “consubstantial” (τὸ ὁμοούσιον), which was proposed by the Niceans as a key for resolving the dispute. For this reason Arius was never isolated not only before but also after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

After all, apart from the political and social context, which is excluded from this study, it is evident that the presence of Arius in Alexandria (a former student of the school of Lucian of Antioch) ignited the theological discussions. By allowing two different theological concepts to come into direct contact, the quarrel reveals the theological meaning of the term ὁμοούσιος in its entirety.[7] In this respect, it is very important to take into account the philosophical prerequisites of the Aryan teaching, which had its origins in the neoplatonic interpretation of Aristotle.

Following the intervention of Emperor Constantine, who wanted to prevent the dispute from expanding further, he decided to convene an Ecumenical Council. In 325 at Nicaea the “consubstantiality” of the Son with the Father was affirmed, while the teachings of Arius were rejected and condemned. However, many of the bishops of the East did not accept the Nicene deree of faith. Some of them were outspoken followers of Arius, while most will remain in the history as “semi-Arians” or “Eusebians”. Those did not accept the term of “consubstantiality”, but they did not confide to Arius too.[8]

After the powerful reaction against Nicaea in the East, the Roman government, headed by Emperor Constantine, decides to take the side of the Arians bishops because they are much more influential insofar as many Arians reside in the palace and exert their influence to the rulling class. Many Orthodox bishops were exiled and persecuted. The most famous defende of the Nicene Creed, Athanasius of Alexandria, is also being persecuded. He had to be exiled at least five times during his time as a bishop.

As early as in 335 AD, during the grand opening of the newly built Great Temple of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, an open pro-Arian coup occurs: in a local council in Tyre (Phoenicia), the anti-Nicaeans decide to overthrow Athanasius, and almost the same bishops in Jerusalem during the time of the Temple’s consecration (dedicated to the “Christ’s Resurrection”) decide that Arius and his associates must be accepted into communion. Even the Emperor Constantine himself was baptized on his death in 337 AD by Eusebius of Nicomedia, an outspoken advocate of Arius and those who were condemned in Nicaea.[9] This situation raises the serious question of the transformation of Christianity in that era.

It can be said that this unwavering resistance against Nicaea partly lessens only after 361, when the successor of Constantine, Emperor Constantius, dies. Only then did Athanasius of Alexandria had the chance to convene a council in order to bring peace in the East, while at the same time the three Cappadocians began to create their synthesis, which justificates the Nicene Decree against the anomoeans (known as Neo-arians), a sythensis that will be considered foundational for the orthodox East. It is the Cappadocian Fathers – Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa and Amphilochius of Iconium – who established in stable foundations the Nicene Creed by creating the right concepts based on the philosophical tradition of Antiquity. They were able to express and substatiate logically the orthodox faith in one consubstantial God with three hypostases and thus to attract the moderate adversaries of Nicaea. Since then, the distinction between the terms οὐσία and ὑπόστασις became more common in the use of the Church; the formula “one essence in three hypostases” was affirmed. The Cappadocian synthesis has a profound effect on the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 at Constantinople, where the question about the divinity of the Holy Spirit was clarified. In this Council the series of attempts to rationalize the Christian faith is brough to an end. The basic principles of Christian faith, based on the early New Testament writings of the apostles of Christ, were laid down. However, it should be noted that, though this common terminologial premise reflects decisively on the understanding of the Trinity of God and accordng to the “consubstantiality” between the persons of the Holy Trinity, it does not included into the supplemented version of the Nicene Creed, which was adopted in the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381, but is only considered as a theological foundation. Clear information on the understanding of the fathers in this matter is drawn from a conciliatory letter of 382 AD, sent by the departing council fathers to the Bishop of Rome, who invited them to come to Rome in order to explain to the Western bishops the changes in the Decree.[10]

Despite the developments, especially after 361 AD, we should note that the issue of Arian heresy is much more complex. If Arius was just an undoubtless heretical innovator, „then it is difficult to account for the wide and ready support he found in Syria and Asia Minor. Arius must have stood for some aspect of traditional Christianity, which others felt was now coming under attack“, as John Behr notes.[11]

According to this, it can be mentioned that in the history of Arian studies there has never been a consensus on what the ideological roots of this influential heresy were. Arianism shook the Church in the 4th c. AD but it also left clear traces over the next centuries. On one hand, it is obvious Arius’s exceptional reliance on Aristotle’s logic, which was reached to him through the peripatetic tradition and especially through the neoplatonic interpretations of Aristotle’s thought.[12] In the last few decades, the most popular view on the emergence of Arianism was expressed by the Anglican scholar Rowan Williams who stated that the beginning of this doctrine is tied to the tradition of Neoplatonism.[13] According to him, Arius was influenced by Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus. R. Williams even suggests that Arius met with Iamblichus somewhere around 300 AD in Syria – in Antioch or in Apamea. However, most of his arguments are only hypothetical. The most significant counter-argument against this view is based on the indisputable fact that Arius himself left an insignificant amount of texts, in which he does not appear to be particularly philosophically literate.[14] The cliché that he was a good dialectician was said much later than the time, in which he actually lived.[15]

However, we can hardly doubt a certain dependence of Arius on Origen († 254). Although influenced by the Alexandrian teacher, Arius hardly follows him unreservedly[16]. Unlike Origen’s Triadology, the Arian Divine Trinity unfolds only in the context of the creation and follows Origen’s subordinationism, which in Arianism is brough to an extreme that is completely alien to Origen’s thought.[17] According to Origen, the deity expands downwards and thus leads to the development of a divine hierarchy, in which the source is the Father and from Him the deity descends to the every next level or sphere based on its participation in Him. Through the Logos and the Spirit, it reaches the archetypical ideas contained in the Logos, and because of it contained also in all the reasonable beings that are in communion with Him. Because of this communion everything becomes one entity, that is to say one unified whole (cited in: Hieronymus, Epistola 124 ad Avit.). Led by his understanding of divine immutability, Origen teaches the eternal generation of the Logos, but based on the same prerequisites, he accepts the eternal creation of the world. According to him, it is impossible for God to take action at a particular moment, since it would lead to an alteration of His essence (Cited in: Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 235.). According to Origen there is no way for God to be perceived as omnipotent, if there is nothing on which He exercises His omnipotence and power. (Origenes, De principiis I, 2,10).

It is clear from the preserved fragments of the work of St. Methodius of Olympus († approx. 311) „On Created Things“ (De creatis excerpta, the excerpt is cited in Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 235) that he criticized Origen’s position[18] that creation (the creation as an ongoing process) is eternal.[19] In his cosmological reflections, St. Methodius conceives in a purely chronological sense Origen’s concept of “eternal existence” of cosmos and therefore he regards it as a compromise in relation to the uniqueness of God. If, according to the bishop of Olympia, Origen’s cosmos is a reality con-eternal with God, then it would be problematic as such. Consequently, according to St. Methodius, there was a time when the world did not exist. As he states: “The Son is the all-powerul and firm hand of the Father, with which after he had created matter from nothing, He adorns it”.  (ἔστι δὲ υἱὸς ἡ παντοδύναμος καὶ κραταιὰ χεὶρ τοῦ πατρός, ἐν ᾗ μετὰ τὸ ποιῆσαι τὴν ὕλην ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων κατακοσμεῖ). In this way the solution of St. Methodius to the question of “creation from nothingness”, which is undoubtedly proclamed in the Scripture, requires the belief that there was after all a temporal beginning of the creation, and the Son, the Logos, existed in sometime before the temporal emergence of the world as parallel to God (De creatis excerpta). Fearing that some Platonic or Gnostic notion of the origin of the cosmos can enter into the Christian history of salvation, St. Methodius of Olympus had the intention to criticize the cosmological dualism in relation to the question of the creation of the world. He undoubtedly detects such “mythmaking” (τὸ μυθήσασθαι) in Origen’s thought, and does not hesitate to criticize it in a formal dialogue where Origen is called “centaur.” However, it does not seem to be concerned, at least from the preserved fragments, about the problem of the origin of the Logos. As far as we can tell from the surviving fragments the issue is absent from the cited work. All he says is the words of the prologue of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God„ (John 1:1-2).

Under the term beginning it must be understood that, from which is generated the All-Truthful Logos, and This is the Father and creator of everything, inwhom He [Logos] He was residing. And the following words: this one was in the beginning with God signify the dignity of the Logos, that He had from His Father even before the creation of the World; the term beginning means authority. Therefore, beginning after the beginning that is without beginning – i.e., the Father – the Logos becomes beginning of everything else and through that beginning creates everything. (De creatis excerpta).

Things are a little different with St. Dionysius of Alexandria (†265/268?)[20] and with the little-known Alexandrian Christian writer Theognostus (†282?).[21] Both of them probably were involved in a debate influenced by the philosophical trends of that time and by the problem of Sabbelian mixing of the persons of the Divine Trinity by making statements about the Son; statements dependent on Origenian subordinationism[22]. While the latter calls Son “creature” (ποίημα) (Athanasius, Ep. de sententia Dionysii 4, cf. ibid. 14, 16, 18), the former calls him „creation“ (κτίσμα) (Photius, Biblioth. cod. 106) – names that also Arius used later for the Son. Subsequently however St. Dionysius of Alexandria renounced his exaggerated allegation after communicating through correspondence with the bishop of Rome, Dionysius. (Athanasius, Ep. de sententia Dionysii 15, 17, 18, 23).

Patriarch Photius, from whom we know about the work of Theognostus “Sketches”  (ὑποτυπώσεις), thinks that he was a sympathiser of Origen and probably because of his claim that the Son is a creation, he tried to approach those readers who were unfailliar with the Christian teaching (Photius, Biblioth. cod. 106). Undoubtedly, this exegetical attempt is the result of the influence of Origenian subordinationism in Triadology.

The aforementioned criticism of St. Methodius of Olympus against Origen, probably provoked by the debates in Alexandria during the second half of the 3rd c. AD, gives us the main arguments of Arius in his criticism against the bishop Alexander of Alexandria. The latter refers to the Origen’s concepts of eternal generation of the Son. Although very clearly cosmologically oriented, Methodius’s of Olympus criticism carries the logic of his arguments to the questions raised by the presbyter Arius against the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. Arius seems to perceive, like Methodius of Olympus, this process of “generation” in a purely temporal sence rather than as a way of existence of the Son’s nature, and considers Him to be a parallel reality of the one ungenerated and non-created God.[23] It is probable that having in mind the texts of St. Dionysius of Alexandria and Theognostus, Arius might have reached to the thought, which made him infamous – namely that there was a time, in which the Son did not exist. In his words: “God is without a beginning, the son has a beginning in his existence” (ἀρχὴν ἔχει ὁ υἱός, ὁ δὲ θεὸς ἄναρχός ἐστιν) (Epiphanius, Adv. haer. 69, 6: Ep. Arii ad Eusebium). The Son of God was created and there was a time in which He did not exist[24] and for this reason He is not ungenerated (ὁ υἱός οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγένητος) (Epiphanius, Adv. haer. 69, 6: Ep. Arii ad Eusebium), while the main characteristic of God is that He is not generated (ἀγέν[ν]ητος) (Epiphanius, Adv. haer. 69, 6: Ep. Arii ad Alexandrum).

The idea of Methodius of Olympus that God resided in some dimension between the non-existent time and the creation of time before the creation of the world seems to suggest according Father John Behr that offers a justification to Arius’s reflections on the possibility of the existence of a premature time, in which the Son was not, but arose in some dimension of “half-time” in order to begin creating the World as we know it, in the time.[25] Arius probably considered that the eternal generation of a divine Son would violate the absolute uniqueness of the one God and would impair His absolute freedom to create. It seems that his intention was to rebute the preached equality, and co-honourship and correlation of the Father and the Son in the sermons of the bishp Alexander of Alexandria.  (Alexandrus, Ep. de Ariana haeresi deque Arii depositione). In this way, Arius seems to answer the question that was raised by Methodius, but not in regards with the world. The answer of Arius was centered to the Son, by placing him on the side of the creation. Georges Florovsky explains this phenomenon with the assumption that the concept of “beginning” (ἀρχή) probably had only a temporal meaning for Arius and any other occurrence, including the “generation” of the Son, which the Holy Scriptures speak about, was placed according to him in some degree with the “creation” (κτίσις) and thus it was something that took place in time. By denying Origen’s notion of the eternal natural generation of the Son, Arius also denies the conclusions of Origen’s understanding of the origin of the time, however he depends on him in relation to the understanding of the immutability of the divine nature and the concept of the “beginning” (ἀρχή); thus he follows the prerequisites of Origen’s thought.[26]

According to Arius the second person of the Divine Trinity does not have a divine essence, but represents a creative mediator in the act of creation of the universe. Thus, the combination of subordinationism in the divine Trinity and strict monotheism causes Arius to criticize even the monarchianism of Sabellius for introducing distinctions into the deity.[27] However the most interesting characteristic of dependence from Origen could be the use of the world “dyad” (δυάς) by Arius to designate the second person of the Trinity in the sense of “second in order” after God, namely that the Logos has a beginning. He may have borrowed this term from the neoplatonic philosophical tradition by changing its meaning (dyas means imperfection in neoplatonism), and is also possible that by this term Arius denotes Origen’s concept of “second God” (δεύτερος θεός) for purely quantitative reasons, since this term is found in his poem “Thalia”.[28]

Somewhere about 230–235 AD Origen visited Rome and became involved in a dispute related to the monarchical understanding of Noetus and Sabellius, who by adhering in a solid monotheism developed the idea that the three persons of one God, undoubtedly attested in Scripture, were in fact only temporary manifestations, who do not have a personal character. So they taught that Christ is the Father Himself and the Father Himself was born, suffered and died. (Hippolytus, Contra haer. Noeti cuiusdam I). Origen, excited by the controversy that had lasted several decades in Rome; in his attempt to rebut the monrchical merging of the persons of the Trinity and in order to substantiate the personal being of the Father and the Son, he developed the so-called pluralistic Triadology characterized by the following concepts: God the Father is αὐτόθεος (God in Himself), the Son, ie., the Logos is δεύτερος θεός (second God) and αύτόλογος (the Word/Logos in Himself) (Origenes, Contra Celsum V, 39).[29]Because of his triadological model, Origen was later accused of imposing subordinationism on the three divine persons.

Probably based on this theological heritage, Arius decisively rejects the “consubstantial” (τὸ ὁμοούσιον) of the Logos with the Father, because according to him it destroys the divine “monarchy” (μοναρχία). If the Father and the Son exist simutaneusly as two elements in a relationship, then according to Arius there should be too first causes. In a letter attributed to Arius, which is found in the compilation of St. Athanasius “On the Synods” and in the “Panarion” of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus there is the following unambiguous passage: 

And God, being the cause of all things, is Unbegun and altogether Sole, but the Son being begotten apart from time by the Father, and being created and founded before ages, was not before His generation, but being begotten apart from time before all things, alone was made to subsist by the Father, For He is not eternal or co-eternal or co-unoriginate (συναγένητος):  with the Father, nor has He His being together with the Father, as some speak of relations, introducing two ingenerate beginnings (οὐδὲ ἅμα τῷ πατρὶ τὸ εἶναι ἔχει, ὥς τινες λέγουσι τὰ πρός τι, δύο ἀγεννήτους ἀρχὰς εἰσηγούμενοι), but God is before all things as being Monad and Beginning of all. (cited in Athanasius Athanasius, Ep. de synodis 16; Epiphanius, Adv. haer. 69. 8).

In his letter to his bishop Alexander of Alexandria, Arius lays a strong emphasis on the uniqueness of God and refers to Him by a series of adjectives describing His divine attributes, but he cautiously avoids using the word “Father”. Even when he speaks about the generation of the Son, he does not relate him to the Father, but “to God.” Arius attempts at the beginning of the text to avoid any materialistic conceptions of the relationship between the Father and the Son; clearly referring to the Gnostic influences in Alexandria during the 3rd and the early 4th c. In this context, he also rejects the concept of ὁμοούσιος as a possible term defining the relationship between the Father and the Son. The signatories (a group of five presbyters, six deacons and five bishops – followers of Arius) rejected the view that the Son was a projection (προβολήν), similar to that of Valentinus, or a consubstantial part of the Father (μέρος ὁμοούσιον), as the Manicheans believed. They refuse to agree with Sabellius that both the Father and the Son is the same person (υἱοπάτορας); they also reject the views of Ierax that the Son is light from light. Thus they accept a pre-existing Logos before the creation of the material world, who after being born He became a son. (Epiphanius, Adv. haer.: Ep. Arii ad Alexandrum; Athanasius, Ep. de synodis 16).

A letter written to Eusebius of Nicomedia is the only occasion where Arius calls God the Father in order to convey the words of the bishop Alexander of Alexandria (Epiphanius, Adv. haer.: Ep. Arii ad Eusebium). In later texts – the poem „Thalia“[30] and the „Letter of Arius and Eusonius to the Emperor Constantine,“[31] the word „Father“ (πατήρ) is used not according to a Triadological meaning, but rather in a cosmological one – God as the Creator Father of everything that exists.

Thus, it seems that Arius was preaching that God existed “before” the Son, Who “was not before he was generated” (οὐκ ἦν πρὶν γένηται) (Athanasius, Ep. de sententia Dionysii 4). According to Arius, accepting the eternal existence of the Son together with the Father means to accept the existence of two beginnings that do not have an origin themselves. In his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia Arius is quite direct in stating his idea that the Son is “established”, “generated”, “created” and that he did not exist before he began to exist, since he was created according to God’s will from nothing and not from God’s essence (Epiphanius, Adv. haer. 69, 6: Ep. Arii ad Eusebium).

However, the tradition on which the Alexandrian presbyter Arius belongs is a modified Origenism that poses a serious challenge to his opponents and a serious claim for the antimonarchianist circles that have been formed in the Council of Antioch in 268/269 AD where the infamous Bishop of Antioch Paul of Samosata was condemned. Many of them were supporters of Arianism based on their origenistic views and fears, which Origen also had because of the sabbelian (monarchianistic)[32] mixing of the persons of the Trinity, which renders meaningless the salvific economy of the Son, as traditionlaly was understood in the Church, meaningless. For those reasons, Arius, though a critic of Origen’s allegorism is dependent on him in relation with his subordinationism[33].

On the other hand, St. Alexander of Alexandria and even st. Athanasius of Alexandria, Arius’s main opponent, regarded Origen as a great teacher and often refered to him. Even the early writings of St. Athanasius “Against the Hellenes” and “On the Incarnation of theWord” were heavily influenced by Origen.[34] On this we can also add the fact that the theological term of the Council of Nicaea (325) – “consubstantial” (ὁμοούσιος) – was only briefly mentioned by St. Athanasius until 341 AD.[35] The particular tendencies and nuances among the opposing groups are also reflected in the fact that Athanasius himself distinguishes the followers of Arian in Egypt from those in the Roman Asia until the fourth decade of the 4th c. AD. While he claims for the former that are Arians (Athanasius, Apologia contra arianos 24, 32-33), he calls the latter during this period “people around Eusebius,” according to the name of the most prominent of them, the bishop of Nicomedia, and speaks of them as a separate group of Ἀρειομανῖται/Ἀρειανοί who support the heretics (see Athanasius, Tomus ad antiochenos 1-3; Ep. encyclica 2; Apologia contra arianos 27-31). The latter are his main opponents in the struggle for the affirmation of the Nicene Decree, while the former are condemned as heretics in Nicaea (325) – those are Arius himself, bishop Secundus, bishop Theonas, presbyter Pistus and deacon Eusonius, as well as the opponents of Marcellus of Ancyra, with whom Athanasius spent his exaile in Rome with Pope Julius I between 338–346 AD. It was not until 341 AD that in his three books, “Against the Arians,” St. Athanasius the Great began to call his main opponents “Arians”, like those who had been condemned in Nicaea in 325 AD. This action is linked to the publication of the four confessions of the “eusebians” in January 341 AD at the Council of Antioch, supported bby the majority of the Orthodox bishops in theEast who did not accept the Nicean Decree.[36] In January of that year, the bishops who have been assembled in Antioch said that they have admitted Arius to themselves, not that they were his followers The pro-Arian ecclesiastical historian Philostorgius presents Arius rather as not a straightforward witness of a stable theological tradition to which he himself belongs (Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. II, 3). Even tracing the chronology of Arian flight from Alexandria, first in Palestine and then in Nicomedia under bishop Eusebius, reveals the tension and the divided attitude towards the Arian doctrine among the bishops who accepted it.[37] According to direct evidence, it can be argued that the “con-lucianists” did not agree with some of the ideas of Arius, expressed in his poetic work “Thalia”, which was written during his stay in Nicomedia.[38]

However, most of them they also do not accept Nicaea’s belief and this is what unites them. Thus it turns out that the opponents of the Council of Nicaea and the concept of “consubstantial” (ὁμοούσιος) cannot be defined simply as “Arians.” They are followers of a tradition whose prominent representative and iconic personality is the martyr Lucian, a teacher in Antioch who remained unviolated in the consciousness of the whole Church.[39] St. Jerome testifies that Lucian has written short letters and a small “Book of Faith” (Hieronymus, De viris illustribus 77).[40] This is very likely to be the text of one of the symbols handed out by the Arian bishops to the Council of Antioch in 341 under the leadership of Eusebius of Nicomedia (Socrates, Hist. eccl. II, 10 gives the whole text).[41] It is exactly this text that relates directly to the personality of the martyr Lucian with the so-called “Arians” as Athanasius called them. Church historian Hermias Sozomenus testifies that the bishops gathered there (probably the leading group around Eusebius of Nicomedia) claimed exactly that “this is precisely the faith of…Lucian“ (Sozomenus, Hist. eccl. III, 5). This Council is the most significant in a series of anti-Nicaean councils in the mid-4th c. AD. It was attended by Emperor Constantius and other high magistrates. The Council issued four doctrinal formulas, the second of them seems to be that of Lucian (see details for the Council: Socrates, Hist. eccl. II,8; Sozomenus, Hist. eccl. III,5).

The last extensive studies on the theological debates of the 4th c. AD tend to avoid the consideration that the supporters of Arius and Eusebius of Nicomedia are a merely monolithic group of “Arians”, but they see them more as a broad and heretogeneous coalition of Anti-Nicaeans, who hardly would be united under a single doctrine and one leader. The concept of a “unified school” is completely abandoned by the modern studies in relation with this movement. The bishops who gathered in Antioch in 341 AD succeded in maintaining the Anti-Niceanic mood until the sixth decade of that century, after they were disintetegrated as a diverse group under the pressure of the centrifugal fores of people who have different views.[42]

It seems that the successful polemics of Athanasius of Alexandria succeeded in convincing the Orthodox bishops that the whole multifaceted group, which had several certain common points, should be denoted by the name of “Arianism” (a little later arises the term “Semi-Arianism”, to denote some of them). In fact, St. Athanasius’s tactic is to lead his opponents Anti-Niceans and those who do not accept the term “consubstantial” (τὸ ὁμοούσιον) to affirm the condemnation of Arius, which may have greatly undermined their common position on a number of issues.[43]

II.The influence of the discussions from ΙΙΙ c.

In fact, the Eastern bishops in the 4th c. AD are most afraid of the heresy of the Paul of Samosata,[44] condemned in Antioch in 268/269 AD, and all their arguments are reduced to the fear of the rejuvenation of his monarchical heresy, closely related to the Western Sabbelianism. At this early stage of the debate, they are attempting to encompass to the already condemned heresy of Paul both Eustathius of Antioch and Marcellus of Ancyra (see Socrates, Hist. Eccl. I, 23; Eusebius Eclogae Propheticae I, 19). The tactic is not accidental, as Pavel of Samosasta is the first bishop who was excommunicated and removed from his bishopric by a Council for heresy and canonical violations.[45] The correlation with his case would legitimize every condemnation of a teaching related with his.

All sources of this heresy come from his opponents, therefore it is not easy to draw objective conclusions about the teachings of Paul of Samosata. However the following few characteristics can be outlined. In the “Church History” of Eusebius of Caesarea is preserved a synodical message of the six bishops who condemned Paul at the Council of Antioch in 268/269 AD.[46] It mentions that Paul, following the heresy of Artemas (Artemon) claimed that Jesus Christ was an “ordinary man” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. V, 28; VII, 30). One interesting pattern can be observed from the account of Paul of Samosata: he is not particularly concerned with the concept of the Logos, but rather speaks about the Son of God and refers to him as an ordinary man. In other words, he separates the Logos from the Son, rejecting the “pre-existence” of Christ because he does not acknowledge His divinity. He emphasizes the fact that Christ has a human soul and functions as a human being – having communion with the ordinary human nature. Eusebius of Caesarea, who was probably well versed in the protocols of the Council of 268/269 AD, explains that the “Church Fathers,” namely the six bishops gathered at the Council of Antioch declared that Paul of Samosata is a stranger to the Church of God, since he did not profess that “Christ is the Son of God and God even before be begotten in flesh.” (Eusebius, De Eccl. theologia I, 14). In the context of the Triadological disputes, the essay “On the salvific advent of Jesus Christ against Apollinarius,” preserved under the name of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (but probably it is not written by him), explains Paul’s intention to consider Christ as an ordinary man by denying the “pre-existence” of the Son, which in turn it depends on the strict monotheism of Paul, whose focus is to consider the Father as “the God of everything that exists” and every pluralism, like that of Origen’s is considered to introduce polytheism. (Athanasius, De salutari adventu Jesu Christi, et adv. Apollinarium II, 3).[47] St.Athanasius the Great gives an interesting piece of information that can partly explain Paul’s strict monotheism – he and his patron the queen of Palmyra Zenobia appear to have been influenced by Judaism (Athanasius, Hist. arianorum 71). This may be a very important testimony, namely that they professed a “simplistic Christianity,” which does not accept the two most foundational and simultaneously most difficult to human rationality teachings of Christianity, that is to say the two natures of the Savior and the existence of the Holy Trinity. Therefore it seems that Paul of Samosata also adopted the term “consubstantial” (ὁμοούσιος) but in a different meaning. He uses this term in order to emphasize the oneness, the unique nature of God’s essence, in which no separate hypostases can be observed.[48] In the 6th c. Leontius of Byzantium also testifies that the teaching of Paul of Samosata is centered around the idea of absolute monotheism: “He does not say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one and the same, but he calls the Father God, Who created everything, he calls the Son an ordinary man, and the he calls the Holy Spirit grace, which inspired the Apostles” (Leontius Byzantinus, De sectis III, 3). However, it should be noted that some of the Orthodox sources are not always and undoubtedly convinced that Paul of Samosata used the term ὁμοούσιος in relation with the Trinity (these are: Athanasius, Ep. de synodis 43; 47; Basil, Ep. 52, 1; св. Hilary of Poitiers, De synodis 81).

According to the testimonies of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus and St. Athanasius the Great about Paul of Samosata, the Logos is found in the heart of God. He has by no means a personal character but it is uttered and is something like a commandment or the Will of God, which Christ voluntarily and unwaveringly follows (see Epiphanius, Adv. haereses II, 65, 1). The Word of God condescended upon the “born of David”, whom the Holy Spirit conceived and the Virgin bore, but the Word of God Himself was generated of God without a virgin and remained God’s Word (Fragm. I, Lawlor (1917), 21). The Logos/Word is something like the “providential intention” of God for his anointed (Messiah) – Christ, and even for humanity as a whole. It is in this sense that he is consubstantial to the Father and between them there are no differences in essence.[49] In the words of Paul himself (1) God [Father, Son and Holy Spirit ] is one God, but in God resides always His Word [and His Spirit], just as in the heart of man is the word itself [i.e., reason]. But the Son of God has not His own hypostasis (ἐνυπόστατος), but he is inside the God. But the Word came in Jesus, who is human. Thus one is God…from these testimonies... The Lord our God, The Lord is one (Deuteronomy. 6:4)... said: „I am in the Father and the Father is in me“ (John 14:10)... when Word came,he only acted and then he went to the Father. (2) The Father Himself – is God alone. (3) After birth, the Word is revealed to Him and exists again in God above as reason (Logos) in the heart of man.  (3) Word in action and Wisdom came from heaven upon him, who was predestined before centuries, but for his existence was accepted rom Nazareth, in order to be one Father, one God above all“ (Fragm. IX, Lawlor (1917), 35).

Jesus Christ – the Messiah – according to Paul of Samosata is divine, but only insofar as he is God’s chosen Son, otherwise he is not divine. He became God because of his spiritual development and moral progress, but he is not a God by nature. „He, after His incarnation advanced in wisdom and became divine, while his  nature was that of an ordinary man“ (cf. Luke 2:52) (Athanasius, Oratio III adv. arianos 51). If we read in parallel “The Council Letter of the six bishops”, who condemned Paul of Samosata, the three little fragments of his sentences, preserved in the “Against nestorians and eutychians” of Leontius of Byzantium (Leontius, Contra nestorianos et eutychianos 3) and the Fragm. 11 of Paul of Samosat from the edition of Lawlor (Fragm. XI, Lawlor (1917), 39 and the content of Fragm. XIII and ХVІІ, Lawlor (1917), 40–41), Paul’s view of Christ fits into a plan of gradual development of an ordinary man commensurate with the prophets, even though he is under the influence of the Logos, who is “someone else.” The man Jesus is Christ – the Anointed (Messiah) of God – Who appeared in the fulfillment of time, fulfilling God’s will and thus (by a progressive moral development) becomes God.[50] He is the redeemer and the savior of humanity, insofar as he is perfected by ascetical endeavour.  

If the sources are accurate, the soteriological opinion of Paul of Samosata is based on a moralistic perspective, in which Christ presents a moral model of gradual development of virtue, unfortunately it remains unclear how this development relates to the members of the Church, except in personal, moral development combined with ascetical endeavours. Thus the salvific significance of Christ’s deeds is to a very high degree purely informative and paradigmatic.

It will be of interest to our study to note the remarkable fact that this specific opinion is overlooked as a problem by otherwise profound protestant scholas such as Friedrich Loofs, Franz Diecamp and John Burke,[51] since the protestant understanding of salvation is centered precisely in the realm of moral philosophy.[52] On the other hand, the Orthodox researcher father John Behr regards this opinion as particularly problematic for the Church and that the bishops who have gathered to excommunicate Paul are turning in their letter the perspective of salvation to the opposite direction.[53] It is not a coincidence that Paul was excommunicated by the Church and his teaching was proclaimed a heresy by the Council of Antioch (268/269). In the „Synodical letter of the six bishops,“ who condemned Paul, it is imposed the thought that He did not become as a human being God because of a gradual development in perfection, but vice versa: the interpretation that the fathers of the Council made on the „Epistle to the Romans“ (1:1) and the „Epistle to the Galatians“ (1:11-12) of St. apostle Paul define that due to soteriological reasons God became a man. Thus, it is followed what the evangelists meant and the early fathers such as st. Ignatius of Antioch and st. Irenaeus of Lyons defended, namely that the ontologic principle of the incarnation that God became a man so that man could become a God. (Irenaeus, Adv. haereses III, 10, 2. It is no coincidence that Athanasius adopts the same principle in his teaching: De incarnatione Dei Verbi 3).

In the „Synodical letter of the six bishops“ are highlighted elements, which are adopted in the 4th Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451) – the confirmation of the divine and human nature in Christ, and simulatenously – that he is an entity,[54] with a divine superiority, and at the same time that He exists everlastingly according to the testimony of the Scripture. According to the six bishops, Christ is present both in the Old and the New Testament – He exists eternally.[55] He is „God before the ages... in essence and in hypostasis“ (πρὸ αἰώνων ὄντα... οὐσίᾳ καὶ ὑποστάσει θεόν), Wisdom, Word and Power of God, as the Scripture testifies (cf. Ps. 148:5; John 1:3; Col. 1:16), but he is not  „ungenerated, without a beginning, invisible and immutable God“, He is the Son of the unbegun God, His image the firstborn of all creation (Epistula 2; 5 – in: Bardy (1929), 14, 16). The members of the Council are fully convinced that Christ is the One, in whom the Father reveals Himself, and that He is not a man who has reached by gradual development the deification. As Father John Behr notes, His eternity and divine essence were clarified by a purely exegetical motive – that he is the one from the Old and the New Testament – from the whole Testament, and is not interpreted in terms of relations, as the defenders of Nicaea were going to do later.[56] The letter shares the thought that He as son has limited knowledge of the Father and fulfills His will regarding creation; thus he is the “subsistent action” of the Father (Ep. 2; 4 – in: Bardy (1929), 14, 15). Here it is clear the existence of a subordinationist tendency in the letter that betrays the strong intention of the authors to highlight the separate, personal being of the person of the divine Trinity against the mixing that exists in the monarchianist thought of Paul of Samosata. It is no coincidence that the conceptual apparatus is highly dependent on Origen, since he led his Triadology earlier to subordinationism in his quest to confront Sabellianism (the western version of Paul’s heresy) after having visited Rome during the Sabellian controversy.[57]

Christ performed miracles as a God, the letter affirms, and as a man experienced everything that human flesh experiences, the same with other human beings – he was tempted but he remained without sin (сf. Heb. 2:14; 4:15) (Ep. 8 – in: Bardy (1929), 18). What is emphasized the most in the text that concerns the soteriological model of the letter is the principle that the begotten body from the virgin, in which bodily dwells the whole fullness of the divinity (сf. Кол. 2:9), was unchangeably united with God and was deified“ (τῇ θεότητι ἀτρέπτως ἥνωται καὶ τεθεοποίηται) (Ep. 8 – in: Bardy (1929), 18).[58] Precisely drawing on this decision of the Council of Antioch (268/269), St. Athanasius states that since Christ did not become as human being a God, the contrary has happened – God has became a man (Athanasius, Ep. de synodis 45).

During the debates on the Nicene Creed and in particular about the concept of ὁμοούσιος Paul of Samosata was a widely discussed author, and the same happened in the context of the Christological debate. It is usually said about him that he taught the existene of “two sons.”

In the course of the Arian controversy, St. Athanasius and other Orthodox authors draw attention to the fact that the fathers of the Council of Antioch rejected the term of “consubstantial” (τὸ ὁμοούσιον) (see Athanasius, Ep. de synodis 43-51; Basilius, Ep. 52, 1; Hilarius, De synodis 81), which is in full harmony with Origen’s intention to clarify the question of the personal existence of the individual hypostases of God.[59] In such a context and clearly influenced by Origen, the fathers of the Council have determined with the help of the term “essence” (οὐσία), that the Word has a definite personal being. However, in the context of Arian disputes this fact justifies the opponents of the Nicene faith to reject the term ὁμοούσιος, since this term while remains in the context of the controversy with Paul of Samosata, it is understood as erasing the personal characteristics of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The interpretation of the Holy Trinity by Marcel of Ancyra and Eusthathius of Antioch in the second and third decade of the 4th c. and their sharp anti-Arian response reinforced even more this impression.

III. Christ’s economy according to the Arians

The term “economy” (οἰκονομία), i.е. “planning,” “dispensation” namely all of God’s dealings and interactions with the creation is established as an irrevocable term in christian thought precisely in the 4th c. AD. It is used for the interpretation of the apostolic teaching on Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and redeemer of the mankind from the consequences of sin, i.e, death that accompanies the existence of created beings. God’s economy begins with God’s providence for the world, the creation, the coming of God’s Word into the creation, his deeds here on earth, the sending of the Holy Spirit at the Church and the restoration of creation in God’s judgement. The concept of economy seeks to distinguish those elements of christian teaching that affect the earthly ministry of Christ from the teaching of the Holy Trinity, since their mixing gives rise to a number of logical and conceptual inconveniences, which were seriously realized precisely during the Arian controversy. The term economy in relation with Arius’s teaching is conditionally used insofar as he himself hardly used it. The reason is that in his theological interpretation the teaching on the Holy Trinity and the teaching on the earhly ministry of Christ is being mixed. However, as we shall see, the central theological point for Arius is that Christ suffered on the cross. This is the center of the Arian speculation, which is based on the impossibility of Christ to be fully divine and savior of mankind in the sense that the Orthodox consider Him.

In the general courses of patrology and history of dogmatics on Arius and the those who decided to defend him during the third and the fourth decade of the 4th c., it is said usually that they are concerned primarily with cosmological issues and discuss metaphysical concepts that provoke the Triadological debates.[60] In this way, a number of other elements of the discussions remain unknown. It is clear that the thought of the Arians is highly involved in cosmological questions, but what is their view on salvation? It remains somehow unexplored in the rest of the sources by Arius and his followers.

As we shall see, in the beginning of the controversy the main concern of the bishop Alexander of Alexandria – the first to fall under Arius’s criticism – is that the latter has ignored important elements of the apostolic teaching on the divine economy of salvation. Is there a specific understanding of redemption and salvation beneath the surface of the Arian cosmological and metaphyisical arguments? We can probably examine this point after looking at an anonymous Arian text preserved by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. In the “Third Oration against the Arians” (ch. 26)[61] he presents a short text of some Arian teacher whose name does not explicitly mention.[62]

Here St. Athanasius of Alexandria has succeeded in bringing forth four Arian theses, supported by references in 17 places in the Gospel of John and Matthew. These are the following 1) The son is not generated by the Father by nature and is not “coessential”; 2) He is not Father’s inherent power; 3) He is not Father’s inherent wisdom 4) He is not inherent in the Father’s Word – he is a creation (κτίσμα) (Athanasius, Oratio III adv. аrianos 26). Finally, the excerpt ends with the following words:

If the Son was, according to your opinion, eternally existent with the Father, He had not been ignorant of the Day (of judgement), but had known it as He is the Word; nor had been forsaken [to die on the cross] as being coexistent [to God]; nor had asked to receive glory, as having it in the father; nor would have prayed at all; for, being the Word, He had needed nothing. But since He is a creature and one of things originate, therefore He thus spoke, and needed what He had not. For it is proper to creatures to require and to need what they have not. (Athanasius, Oratio III adv. аrianos 26).

The speculation of the Arian obviously implies that the Word has taken the place of the soul of Christ beforehand. This should not surprise us, because is a testimony attested by Arius’s critics of his Christology, namely that the Word, when was incarnated, received a body without a soul (σῶμα ἄψυχον) (Athanasius, Oratio III adv. аrianos 51-58). Acording to St. Athanasius’s account, firstly we note that the anonymous Arian attributes to the Incarnate Logos purely human feelings and even strange limitations (Mat. 28:18; John 3:35-36; 5:22; 6:37; Lk 10:22). The second thesis is related to various moments in the Gospel where Jesus Christ experiences fear (John 13:21; 22:27-28; Mt. 26:39). The third suggests that He perfected himself and acquired wisdom in proportion with his natural development (Lk 2:52); that in many things had ignorance and when he questioned his students in Caesarea Philippi or when he asked where Lazarus was buried he did not really know what other people would answer to him. (Мt. 16:13; John 11:34; Мk. 6:38). The fourth thesis suggests that He had to pray in order not to fall into temptation and to overcome the weakness of the flesh. (Mt. 27:46; John 22:28; 17:5; Mt. 26:41; Mk. 13:32).

On the one hand, in order to understand the Christological plan, which directly leads to the meaning of Christ’s salvific task, it must be remembered that according to the Arians incarnation was firstly a trial imposed by God on the Word in order to justify the privileges that the Word received in the beginning of its creation. (see Athanasius, Oratio I adv. аrianos 5; 37). On the other hand, they used to preach that the Word being far from knowing the essence of God, he also did not know even his own nature (see Athanasius, Oratio I adv. аrianos 6). This explains how they could have assumed that on the day, which the Word was born from Virgin Mary simultaneously had fell in the lower position of an ordinary human soul and that he had to begin at some point to gather knowledge and virtue from the start. The poorly preserved sources do not allow us to conclude that the Arians understand the humility-humiliation of the Word as an alteration of his nature or as a temporary limitation of His powers as a result of his embodiment. However, such an option is absolutely logical.

In addition to that it should be noted that the biblical arguments, which refer to the text quoted by St. Athanasius of Alexandria concern only the supposed weaknesses or agitation of Christ’s soul. Nothing is found or suggested about his bodily passions: e.g. hunger, thirst, the need for sleep or physical pain – apparently the purpose of the unknown Arian author is to discuss the agitaions of the Word, which are in the place of Christ’s soul.[63] It turns out that the Son of God – the Word – clearly suffered for the sins of human beings, and this is something very important for the Arians.[64] It seems to have a redeeming significance, but not in the sense of Anselm’s sacrifice for atonement, but rather in the context of a particular martyrdom pathos of early Christianity, where the example of the martyrdom mobilizes the spiritual powers of the members of the Church and represents an extraordinary and miraculous merging with the body of Christ himself – the arch-martyr.

On the other hand, precisely on the basis that the incarnate Son has suffered, both Arius and his follower Eudoxius of Constantinople deny the possibility that He is divine in nature.[65] Eudoxius’ creed confirms clearly this thesis, linking it closely with the Arian understanding of salvation and probably by presenting a logical continuation of the earlier Arian interpretations.[66] The following excerpt from a work that is not preserved fully and it was written by the aforementioned author having the title “On the incarnation” author speak about this fact:

We believe in one Lord – the Son, who, when he was incarnated, he did not become human, because he did not receive a human soul, but became flesh, thus through flesh as a disguise for the people, in order for God to enter into communion with us. He was not of two natures, for he was not a perfect man, but apart from the soul he was God in flesh. The main thing is – he was one nature in connection, subject to passion in economy, because he could not save the people with the soul or with the body. (Hahn (1897), 262).

Therefore, the Arians have no teaching for the ontological significance of Christ’s incarnation as participation in human nature, enabling the spiritual life of the Church to provide to the believers the possibility of participation in the divine life through the God-Man. In fact, there is no such a discussion at all in the early stages of the controversy. So the question remains on how exactly the Arians understand the redeeming work of Christ and the process of salvation as a reponse of human beings to Christ’s invitation. Here, of course, we do not mean all the Anti-Nicenes but only those closest to Arius such as Eudoxius.

The deepest concern of bishop Alexander of Alexandria was that in interpreting the Scripture Arius provides a historical account of exposing various figures – such as God and his Word, by quoting the Old Testament and Jesus Christ by referring to the New Testament. These “two figures” though closely related (instead of a human soul Christ has the Word), appear as a result of a confusion about what was said in Scripture on the one hand according to nature and on the other according to the economy of the Incarnation. In fact by this exegetical confusion Arius denied any expression referring to the economy of salvation (οἰκονομία) of the Son and thus denied the apostolic tradition by declaring Him equal with us the human beings. (Alexandrus, Ep. de Ariana haeresi deque Arii depositione 12-14). Thus, misled by Arius’s exegetical decisions, his followers such as Eudoxius quite logically denied the salvific work of the incarnate Word, at least in the sense in which it was understood by bishop Alexander of Alexandria and the followers of the Nicene decree. In the end, the Arian concept of salvation remains unclear due to the few sources left by Arius and his closest associates. All that we are left with is to understand it by relying on indirect testimonies of a tradition, which Arius follows in his teaching and which probably goe beyond what we call Orthodoxy. However it could have stayed within the tradition as an opinion, perceived from the focal point of the redemptive work of the Savior.

It may be suggested that the ambiguity associated with Arius’s understanding of salvation is due to the fact that he followed a model that goes beyond the traditional understanding of the Gospel in relation with salvation. A model, which regards Christ as a teacher of what is considered good and as a moral example for the believers, who based on his example confront their personal sins and exactly as Him walk on the path of virtue, developing over time in order to reach the position of divine adoption. He reveals to them the truth about the one God, who awakenes in them certain moral powers. His eathly life is seen as an example of imitation and an individual ascetic path to salvation, in which anyone can attain his own accomplishment at the end, where one receives liberation from bodiness and earns the transition to a “purely spiritual” environment for the soul’s existence , i.e. a return to God..[67]

As strange as it may be, Arius in understanding the divine humanity of Christ by following the six bishops who condemned Paul of Samosata at the end of the 3rd c. AD reaches a certain adoptionism based on the withdrawl from the side of the created of the divine Logos.

This tendency to explain Christ’s salvific task was not a new one. It can be observed in some of the Christian apologists of the 2nd c. AD – a fact noted not only by one scholar of the history of dogmatics from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th c.[68] An important aspect of Christ’s task in the apologists is the image of the Savior as a universal Teacher of divine knowledge – konwledge of the one God and the miserable situation in which the human being is found. This picture is associated with a particular moral emphasis that appears as an apologetic endeavor in their writings, exposing the gentile customs and orders as part of their religiosity. In addition to this, Christ is presented by St. Justin the Philosopher as a moral example of the otherwise ignorant Christians who, by following Him in His innocent sacrifice attain virtue. (Two passages in Justin’s the Philosopher writings are indicative in relation to that): Apologia II pro Christianis 10; and also: Dialogus cum Tryphone 102).

It is exactly this view of the Apologists, which the Greek scholar Savvas Agouridis explains as the “narrowness” of the framework within which the Apostle’s teaching on Christ is presented. According to him, St. Justin the Philosopher, Athenagoras, Aristides, St. Theophilus of Antioch and Tatianus did not initiate a deeper explanation of the salvific meaning of the incarnation, since they wrote mainly for the Gentiles and the Jews. Thus they did not touch other important aspects of Christian theology that could only be presented to the initiated, i.e., meaning the baptized Christians.[69] For this reason they speak using the words of the Gentiles in order to be understood by them and namely because of this they use platonic and stoic concepts and terms. Obviously this can be traced in the writings of St. Justin the Philosopher and St. Theophilus of Antioch who use in this context the important concept of Logos, known in ancient philosophical thought and the Middle Eastern thought of that time,[70] as well as an Old testament image of the Messiah – Christ as an “angel.”[71]

This emphasis in understanding the salvific importance of incarnation is laid by Origen within a general system of Christian Platonism, where Christology is peculiarly detached from soteriology and eschatology, since it presents only one of the arguments for the formation of a pedagogical soteriology and mystical contemplation. The contemplation of the Incarnate Word is combined with the original state of pure minds, still not fallen in the material world and contemplating the Word of God, who in the process of this contemplation ensures the goodness of their being in union with Himself. In this Christ-centered pedagogical mysticism, the World is the way of soul’s ascension to God in order to reach “knowledge” (γνῶσις) –the supreme level of the spiritual life. The contemplation of the Incarnate Word from a human being who now is a fallen mind (νοῦς) inside the material world is similar to that original contemplation of the Word of God from the unfallen minds. Christ’s particular place as a teacher and moral model consisted in that He is the only human mind that did not fall in sin; the only one who kept his soul from falling and did not received a body, something that happened with all the pre-existing souls who have been “distracted”. The fall of the logical creatures is the consequence of the diminution of their attention and the consequent distraction from the contemplation of God.Their ardour is getting call and they fall in a world made up of material bodies (Origenes, De principiis ІI, 8, 3).[72] This image designed by Origen strongly resembles the behavior of mischievous students in the classroom.

In his book “Against Celsus”; perhaps for the same apologetic reasons, which the above-mentioned authors of the 2nd c. had, Origen presents Christ as a teacher of morality. Origen finds in the close relationship, in which human flesh had with the deity, i.e., the Word, a purely practical dimension of Christ’s example. This close relationsip gives the opportunity to every believer to experience the life that Jesus Christ have lived and taught and consequently this experience will give him the opportunity to be deified like Jesus.  (In more detail: Contra Celsum III, 56). On the other hand in his book “On First Principles” (ІІІ, 5, 6) Origen portrays Christ as a Savior insofar as He is a moral model for the believers. In his „Homilies on Leviticus“Origen speaks every clearly of the moral and spiritual development leading to the perfection of Christ, which is also presented as a model for the believers. (In Leviticum homilia XII: De mango sacerdote). In this context the incarnation is not the focal point of the divine economy of salvation but a temporary concession to human beings who could not have bear a direct revelation, because they are immeasurably more powerless in nature compared to God. So He actually becomes recognizable to them so that He can teach them the knowledge according to their ability.[73]

According to Origen perfection is defined as the attainment of godlikeness. In the beginning, man was created as a soul in the image and likeness of his Creator (Gen. 1:26-27).  However, the “image” is something already given in the human souls while “likeness” is the opportunity provided to them in order to achieve perfection (De principiis III, 6. 1). It also includes deliverance from corporeality, which is an unfortunte consequence of sin, understood as the distraction of souls’ attention and subsequent detachment from their concentrated contemplation of God (Ibid. I, 4, 1-2). Perfection is attained in its fullness only after the end of times when God “will be all in all” (1Кор. 15:28) (Ibid. III, 5, I). Origen seemed to believe that this condition was precisely the restored perfection of the original form of the creation:

I reckon that this expression, where God is said to be all in all, also means that he is all in each individual person. And he will be all in each individual in such a way that everything which the rational mind, when cleansed from all the dregs of the vices and utterly swept clean of every cloud of wickedness, can sense or understand or think will be all God; it will no longer sense anything else apart from God; it will think God, see God, hold God; God will be the mode and measure of its every movement; and thus God will be all to it. (Ibid. III, 6, 3).

According to him the condition of deification means unity with God. Moreover, this unity is accomplished by excluding any other aim or purpose on the path to perfection. Thus, God becomes “all in all” for Origen, meaning that the mind of man is not capable of knowing anything else but God. Deification is achieved through contemplation and God becomes “all in all” by every human being and by knowing Him individually.[74]

So Origen’s pedagogical soteriology has a protological focus rather than an eschatological one. In fact, eschatology is the same as protology for him.[75] Here the ontological dimension of the incarnation is completely absent; there is no need for the Church’s ontology of the divine mysteries while the salvation for the believer is understood according the categories of moral individual improvement, enclosed in the inner world of man in his soul and in his subjective ecstatic experience.

On the other hand, the emphasis that Origen lays on the actual human nature of Christ, including His actual human soul (an element that differentiates him from Arius), probably reflects the intense debate with the Gnostic teachers in Alexandria, where they were particular popular in the 3rd c. AD. For this reason, Origen was also charged that he was teaching the existence of two sons, at least according to Pamphil’s “Apology of Origen” (written in the early 4th c.).[76] However the charge against Origen is startling, since all the bishops who attended Paul’s condemnations were disciples or were close to Origen.[77] However, the most influential in that era were the Manichaeans, who at an early stage in the development of their sect the personality of Christ had a central place in their mythology as a redeemer, giving to the elect a direct knowledge of God. In this perspective, His humanity, as changeable and temporary, appears only superficial. They even accuse Christians of profanity against Christ because they were saying that He was born of a woman, suffered and died.[78] In this perspective it is not by chance that Origen and all the Alexandrians after him support so stubbornly the complete humanity of Christ. The gnostic and the manichaean fatalism has clearly encouraged Christian thinkers in Alexandria to emphasize the importance of Christ’s moral freedom in relation with the true meaning of His path towards martyrdom as a real and achievable example of those who believed in Him. Actually the unveiling of the Word, His human life and His martyrdom of His transformed humanity are the means of the spiritual enlightenemnt of the people, who because of the fall have forgotten who they are and where they are.[79] Thus, the struggle against gnostic fatalism could be a particular impetus for the Christian authors of that era in order to underline Christ’s moral freedom. This fact provides us with an idea why Arius approaches the adoptionism of the earlier Antiocheans.

Almost a contemporary of Arius and a follower of Origen, Peter of Alexandria portrays Christ in his “Canonical Letters” in a similar way, as a teacher of virtue and a moral example to the believers (particularly canons 1 and 9) (see Petrus Alexandrinus, Epistola canonica, Canon I; IX).

An interesting detail in unraveling the dispute and the roots of Arius’s soteriological thought is provided by the identification of an apology, attributed to the martyr Lucian – a teacher of the Alexandrian heretic during his early years. This is a short excerpt from his “Apology,” published by Rufin the Aquileian in his supplemental latin translation of Eusebius’s “Church History” (see Rufinus, Hist. eccl. IX, 6).[80] Elements of it coincide with the information from the “Life of Lucian” that is included in Philostorgius’s “Church History,” so that the text cannot in any case be detached from the tradition associated with the name of the Antiochian teacher (see Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. II, 14). Actually in this text is of particular importance, if it really conveys Lucian’s thoughts, the way that describes the purpose of the incarnation. Although brief, the passage is reminiscent of Origen’s pedagogical mysticism, which probably influenced Arius himself, as well as the other disciples of Lucian. God sends the Wisdom incarnated to human beings in order to show them the way to God and to teach them who is the creator of all that exists. At the same time, it is emphasized already at the beginning of the text that God is completely inaccessible and unknowable:

This supreme Majesty cannot be understood in any way from the senses of the human mind, unless it is reduced [in the sense of being opened through condescension] by the goodness of His Spirit or by the clarification of His Word or Wisdom…This true almighty God, whom our hands did not sculpt [like the pagan idols] pitying the deceived people, sent into this world His Wisdom, clothed in flesh, to teach us about God, Who created heaven and earth; Who is not to be sought in the created from human hands [idols] but in the eternal and invisible things.He has laid down the laws of life and commands to educate us – in order to be frugal, to rejoice in poverty, to appreciate meekness, to be peacemakers, to embrace the purity of heart, to be long-suffering. [cf. Beatitudes – Mat. 5:3-11]... And finally that He Himself, Who is immortal – the Word and Wisdom of God offered Himself in flesh to death, thereby granting us an example of long-suffering. However, he did not deceive us with His death, but he rose again on the third day…But as an innocent, flawless and pure man accepted death only in order to defeat it by resurrection…  … (Bardy (1936, 138)

In this perspective, Arius’s conviction on the actual humanity of Jesus Christs and His sufferings, which are particularly emphasized in the anonymous Arian text presented by St. Athanasius the Great in the 26th chapter of the “Third Oration Against the Arians,” appears in the context of a supposed debate in Alexandria with the Manichean preachers who professed an extreme docetism in relation with Christ’s humanity. In the 2nd c. AD St. Ireneaus in his anti-gnostic polemics also resorted in highlighting the sufferings of Christ as evidence of His true humanity (Irenaeus, Adv. haereses III, 18, 5-6). The same does Origen in the debate with the Gnostics. Even Origen, who was opposed to Gnostic fatalism, portrays Jesus’s struggle in order to encourage the believers to follow the path of spiritual development and martyrdom (Origenes, Comment. in Joannem 13, 38). Let us not forget that Origen when was young wanted to die as a martyr. The main focus of such a concept of salvation is centered on the understanding that what was possible for one is also possible for all the others who share the the same nature with Him. Thus, it is normal to lay a strong emphasis on the human nature of Jesus Christ and to accentuate His equality and His likeness to the rest of humankind. He must be brought to the level of the human beings so that His sufferings and death be valid as a moral example. In this way it will provide meaning for the other human beings to carry out the same ascetic endeavors by imitating His experiene on the path to perfection. Thus, being convinced that by having the same nature as Him, they will be able to achieve what He has accomplished.

However in this situation an exegetical attempt must be made to reconcile those statements in Scripture that refer to Him as the Son of God – God, with those that who treat Him as the incarnate Son of God – the Word Incarnate.

The exegetical solution followed by Arius in order to achieve the unity of Christ in the tradition is obviously, as we have seen above that the Son has become the soul of one man. But in such a position he is lowered to the condition of an ordinary human soul, since His sufferings belong not only to the body but to His soul too and are essential in the plan of paradigmatic soteriology, which Arius presents. On the one hand this plan accentuates the moral freedom of Christ through His willful efforts in His way to perfection, while on the other hand what is being accentuated is His actual human nature, which serves as a model for other human beings in their path to perfection. What is possible for the redeemer must also be possible for the one who wants to be redeemed. Exactly in this direction is found the main principle of the Arian system[81] – Christ acquires and receives his sonship in the same way as other creatures (more in detail: Contra Celsum III, 56). This moral accentuation is a particularly important means against Manichaean and Gnostic fatalism in general. Even here it is refuted by the idea of the changeability of the Son, who has condescended to accept the condition of an ordinary human soul. Let us not forget that Arus himself and all his followers were strict ascetics and were respected as such. There is even information that in his parish in the suburbs of Alexandria was organized a group of Christians inclined to asceticism.[82] At the same time, several influential Gnostic sects were operating in Alexandria and inevitably were contributing to the polemical environment.

The stated soteriological concept also explains the unwillingness of Arius and his adherents to accept the consubstantiality of Father and Son. It is not by chance that in his letter to bishop Alexander Arius mentions that the Son is not a “consubstantial part (μέρος ὁμοούσιον), as the Manicheans consider” – a clear indication of Arius’s involvement in duscussions with the Manicheans in Alexandria. In order to point out the reality and not the superficial appearance, as the Manicheans would say, of the suffering of Christ and to maintain the unity of the person of Christ (remaining faithful to the Council of Antioch of 268/269) Arius inevitably reaches to the idea that the Son of God, the Word of God, cannot be divine in the same sense as the God-Father is divine. Thus, according to him ony the Father can rightly be called God. The son must share the fate of all the other creatures, at least temporarily, so that they may be saved by following Him in His deeds. This obviously makes Him changeable and denies His divinity.

Apart from this, the obvious methodological flaw in Arius’s theology is that he considers the unfolding of God’s Trinity in relation to the creation. This is an error noticed in various Christian authors before Nicaea. The lack of understanding the metholodogical distinction between theology (the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in itself) and economy (the teaching of God’s arrangement to bring about the salvation of human beings) as a process unfolding in history inevitably leads to an incorrect Triadology. According to Arius God is one in itself and remains one.

Thus, if Arius had a paradigmatic understanding of salvation he was still based on a context existing in the tradition before him. He was influenced not only by the discussions on the Sabbelian merging of the persons of the Holy Trinity but also from opposing the Gnostic attemps to speculate with the gospel image of Christ. It is very likely that the Gnostic understanding of salvation as a deliverance from matter would have prompted Arius to lay emphasis on the salvific meaning of Christ’s sufferings. The logical contiuation, based on the notion that the divine cannot suffer is to claim that the Logos found in Christ is a non-divine entity: the opposite of most modern history courses that consider Arius a follower of Paul of Samosata, while it is very likely that one of the opponents of the bishop of Antioch was precisely the alexandrian presbyter Arius. In spite of the few sources left by him, his theological experience is apparently the result of the controversly with the Sabbelian interpretation of the history of salvation.  

The followers of the Arian ideas during the fifth and the sixth decade of the 4th c. AD will bring his positions to their extreme conclusions based on logical reasong and presented in a systematic way. In the history of the Church they are known as “anomeans” or “eunomeans. Their most famous representatives are Aetius and Eunomius. Apart from the fact that they were priests and they were also exceptional orators, something that played an important role in their teaching on the Holy Trinity. The teaching of Athanasius of Alexandria, which was presented in an earlier and different context, was not enough to confront Aetius and Eunomius. Consequently it was necessary to attract new authorities to participate in the discussions with the Arians. Such authorities were the Cappadocian fathers, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa. They have been proved to be unsurpassed thinkers who have accomplised an original theological synthesis, created new theological terms and harnessed the ancient philosophical thought in order to clarificate positively the apostolic teaching. The final substantiation of the Nicene Creed is to a large extent their work.   




[1] About his personality: Bardy (1936), 33–81.

[2] See Harnack (1902), 654–656; Harnack (1909), 188–190; Коев (2011), 28 sq.

[4] It can be assumed that at that time in Alexandria local presbyters had acquired some independence from the bishop due to the fact that many of them were ordained during the so-called “Melitian schism.” This schism was erupted after the retreat of the bishop of Alexandria Peter, along with other Egyptian bishops, into the wilderness in May 305 due to the persecution, which had been initiated by Diocletian and carried out by Maximian. During their absence the newly elected bishop of Lycopolis Melitius began to visit the empty parishes. It is probable that during that time he also ordained presbyters. This action provokes a schism with the canonical bishop of Alexandria. When Alexander was elected in 313 AD as the bishop of Alexandria, he found out that in his diocese there were priests who were by Melitius. One of them was probably Arius. This fact introduced an element of tension between those presbyters and the new bishop.  (see Williams (1989), 401–413 and Scwartz (1959), 87–116, who indicates the sources of these events).

[5] See Boularand (1964), 192–195. Сf. Hefele (1873), 268, according to whom the event accured between 320–321. Other authors assume 318 AD – detailed evidence for the justification of that date: Tefler (1946), 129–142.

[6]  In detail for the so-called συλλουκιανισταί в: Bardy (1936), 185–216.

[7] Tuilier (1961), 422.

[8] See Коев (2011), 56–62, provides information on the various parties during the disputes and the nuances of their propositions. Cf. Καλογήρου (1968), 295 sq.

[9] On these events: Eusebius Caes. De vita Constantini 4, 40-43; Socrates, Hist. eccl. 1, 27-35, както и: Ortiz de Urbina (1964), 142 sq.; Коев (2011), 111–112.

[10]The text is preserved in: Theodoretus Cyr. Hist. eccl. V, 8.       

[11] Behr (2004), Vol. 2, Part. 1, 22–23.

[12] See Риболов (2014), 100–142; Tuilier (1961), 421–430; Arnou (1933), 269; сf. Stead (1961), 397–414.

[13]  See Williams (1987); Williams (1983), 56-81. See. също Meijering (1974),  161–168.

[14] See Stead (2001), 39–40.

[15] The first who speak of such skills and he is quite uncertain is: Socrates, Hist. eccl. I, 5: ἀνὴρ οὐκ ἄμοιρος τῆς διαλεκτικῆς λέσχης... и Sozomenus, Hist. eccl. I, 15: διαλεκτικώτατος δὲ γενόμενος, ἐλέγετο γὰρ μηδὲ τῶν τοιούτων ἀμοιρεῖν μαθημάτων, εἰς ἀτόπους ἐξεκυλίσθη λόγους... In the Bulgarian theological literature, Коев (2011), 110–111, accepts that Arianism has purely rationalistic and philosophical roots. However, this is hardly the case. On the terminological and philosophical confusion of Arius and his supporters see: Риболов (2014a), 107–123; Tuilier (1961), 424–430. The philosophical knowledge of Arius is also challenged in detail in: Gregg & Groh (1977), 260–278.

[16] See the analysis of Arius’s dependencies on Origen: Pollard (1958), 103–111. See also: Болотов (19992), 379 sq.

[17] On Origen’s subordinationism: Болотов (19992), 266–272; Crouzel (1989), 181–204; Lowry (1936), 225–239.

[18] Concerning St. Methodius we have almost no biographical information, but what is known about him is that he was the bishop of Olympia in Lycia and died probably as a martyr in Tyre (Phoenicia). We should not underestimate his theological criticism, since according to Saint Jerome he was one of the most educated men of his time with a deep nowledge of tradition. (De viris illustribus 83).

[19] Maybe this is why Eusebius of Cesarea – our main source for the events of that era, does not mention anything in his writings about him.

[20] Although his biography cannot be reconstructed, Eusebius of Caesarea gives interesting information about Dionysius of Alexandria (Hist. eccl. VI, 29–40; VII, 7–28). In this case, it is important to say that St. Dionysius works as a successor of Heraclas, the principal teacher of the Alexandrian school between 231 and 232 AD, and was a bishop of the city in 247/248 until his death in 265/268.

[21] St. Athanasius gives in formation for him (Ep. 4 ad Serapionem 9) and Photius (Biblioth. codd. 118 et 119).

[22] See Barnard (1970), 176–181.

[23] See Behr (2004), Vol.2, Part 1, 38, 44–48.

[24] See Boularand (1964), 187; Pollard (1958), 103–104.

[25] Behr (2004), Vol.2, Part 1, 48.

[26] Флоровски (2000), 25–26.

[27] See Stead (1964), 19.

[28]Arguments in favor of this claim: Stead (1964), 20–21.

[29] See also Origenes, In Joannem ІІ, 2-3; както и ΙΙ, 10.

[30] See the rest of the text of the essay Θάλεια of Arius quoted from Athanasius, Epistola de synodis 15. Сf. The critically examined fragments and paraphrases in Bardy (1927), 211–233.

[31] The letter is preserved in Socrates, Hist. eccl. I, 26; Sozomenus, Hist. eccl. II, 27.

[32] This heresy takes the name of one of its late representatives. This is Sabellius (approx. 215–260) a figure that we do not know much about it. He probably descends from North Africa (Libya), but teaches in Rome and seems to have been ordained there a presbyter. He taught that God is invisible, but revealed Himself to men successively as a Father in creation, as a Son in the work of redemption and as Holy Spirit during the sanctification and the regenaration of the Church. In this way, Sabellius presumably assumed that there is an alteration in the deity by presenting one God who manifests as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in different “modes” (modi) of existence, different “aspects” or external manifestations of “persons” (personae), in which God is presented successively in the world.God the Father is the only God in the true sense of the word. For this reason, the christian authors believed that Sabellius by accepting an alteration in God’s nature and considering that the Son was merely an outward manifestation of the Father also taught that the Father suffered. (see Pelikan (1975), 179–181; Seeberg (1922), 573–576; cf. Болотов (1999), 366–375).

[33] See Barnard (1970), 176.

[34] Cf. Lossky (1983), 69.

[35] See Behr (2004), Vol. 2, Part 1, 23.

[36] Cf. Коев (2011), 112–116, gives a rather prejudiced picture of the council, assuming that it is absolutely Orthodox and that the four formulas issued by it have no doctrinal problems, except the fact that their terminology is outdated. In fact, he does not consider the term ὑπόστασις in these formulas as problematic. However, in this context, it points out the extreme subordinationnism. Moreover, the relationship between the Father and the Son here is based entirely in the Pro-Origenist line of the two Eusebians, presenting the son as ἀπαράλλακτον εἰκόνα τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός (unchanged image of the Father’s essence). In addition to this, the Council condemns Marcellus of Ancyra, with whom St. Athanasius has communion, on the grounds on which the orthodox St. Eustathius of Antioch had been previously condemned. All of this renderrs this Council not heretical, but strongly attacked by other orthodox committed to the defense of Nicaea. This is also what Athanasius does. However, althought they did not accept Nicaea, the bishops of the Council condemned also Arius and his teaching.

[37] See Telfer (1936), 60–63.

[38] Telfer (1936), 62.

[39]Among the so-called “con-lucianists” the church historian Philostorgius lists: Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris of Chalcedon, Theognis of Nicaea, Leontius of Antioch, Antonius of Tarsus, Numenius, Eudoxius, Alexander and Asterius of Cappadocia (Philostorgius, Hist. eccl. II, 14). About the martyr Lucian and his followers see: Сидоров (2007), 36–50; 2 (49), 38–57; Bardy (1936), 33–81; Лебедев (1912), ІІ, 4, 722–737; ІІ, 5, 180–189.

[40] A detailed study of this Symbol is made:  Buonaiuti (1908), 830–837; 909–923; (1909), 104–118.

[41] Almost the same text with very small differences is preserved by Athanasius, Ep. de Synodis 23; there is also a latin translation of Hilarius Pict. Lib. de Synodis seu de fide orientalium 29. Doubts about the authorship of martyr Lucian are expressed by Sozomenus, Hist. eccl. III, 5.

[42] See Behr (2004), Vol. 2, Part 1, 26 sq.; Williams (1987), 166 sq.; Vaggione (2000), 39 sq.

[43] Behr (2004), Vol 2, Part 1, 27, for the use of the term semi-arianism see: Behr (2004), Vol. 2, Part 1, 26, n. 23. However, once such an identification is accepted, it remains to be seen to what extent are close to the opinions, expressed by Arius himself in the second decade of 4th c. AD in order to be condemned together with the other representatievs of this whole tradition, which became strong in the sixth decade of the 4th c. AD. As father John Behr points out, “there certainly are similarities, but not enough to substantiate the claim that later non-Nicene theology descended from Arius himself, a later stage, as it were, in the development of “Arian theology.” Arius was, without doubt, the catalyst in a doctrinal crisis which had been slowly fermenting, and Nicaea marks the point at which the dividing lines became explicit, even if the chasm it forces open is only gradually recognized later on“. So it is rather a matter of two traditions, not an outbreak of a temporary conflict.

[44] An attempt to restore Paul’s authentic orations is made by Lawlor (1917), 20–45; 115–120.

[45] Burke (1975), 8.

[46] These are the most important sources about him: Eusebius, Hist. eccl. VII, 30. An attempt to restore the whole text of the fragmented letter that is preserved in various church writers from V, VІ and VІІ c., is made by Bardy (1929), 9–79. The six bishops are the following: Hymen, Theophilus, Theotecnus, Maximus, Proclus and Bolanus; apart from them, several presbyters and deacons who attended the council are also mentioned. Even though at the beginning of the 20th c. the letter was considered to be apollinarian or anti-marcellian forgery by some scholars such as  Gustave Bardy (ibid.), Henri de Riedmatten (Riedmatten, de (1952), 52 sq.) and Robert Sample (Sample (1979), 18–26) convincingly proved that the text was authentic. The same opinion is shared in the study of Marcel Richard (Richard (1959), 325–330), without giving a definitive opinion.

[47] The western anti-Arian church writer Hilary of Poitiers claimed that Paul taught that God is “one and unique” – solitarium atque unicum“ (Hilarius, De synodis 82).

[48] See Galtier (1922), 30–45.

[49] Galtier (1922), 39–40.

[50] See the fragments of the council letter, preserved in: Eusebius, Hist. eccl. VII, 30, as well as the text of the fragments in Bardy (1929), 9–79.

[51] See Loofs (1924); Diekamp (1925), 201–210; Burke (1975), 19–20.

[52] See in detail in Τσελεγγίδης (1999).

[53] Behr (2001), 220–224.

[54] The only detail is that in order to establish the unity in Christ, they perceive that the Logos/Word has resided in His soul. It can also be said that they modified Origen’s idea. In the first book of On the First Principles Origen states that the only one that has not fallen in the beginning was the soul of Christ, and that the Word united or even merged with it in a particular way before the incarnation.

[55] See the text of the letter (par. 2) in Bardy (1929), 14. The main argument of the six bishops is that since the Scriptures are inspired by God, and they reveal that the Son of God is God, therefore he is truly God.(Ep. 3; 9. – in: Bardy (1929), 14, 18).  

[56] Behr (2001), 221. What they fear all those who refuse to use the terms of relation and corelativity between Father and Son in the late 3rd and in the 4th c. is the excessive reliance on the Aristotelian category of “relatives” (see Аristotle, Categories, VІІ), which leads them to a confusion in the sphere of Triadology.

[57] See in detail: Sample (1979), 24 sq.        

[58] See the comment of Behr (2001), 223, who cites the same text. The Anti-nicene Council of Antioch (341) turns to this understanding of the incarnation (bypassing the Arian one) and on the other hand, describes the relationship between the Father and the Son in terms of clear subordinationism. Thus he tries to balance between the disputing groups, but by following clearly the Council of 268/269, which seems to have a powerful authority during that era (сf. Sample (1979), 24).

[59] See particularly „Commentary of John’s Gospel“ and the recently discovered „Conversation with Heraclid“: In Joannem commentarii; Dialogue avec Heracl., where Origen develops fully his pluralistic Triadology, which goes to the extreme in emphasizing the personal being of each of the three hypostases; it was for this teaching that he was accused of subordinationism.

[60] See Флоровски (2000), 20 sq.

[61] For the first time this text was cited as indicative of Arian Christology by Richard (1947), 5–54.

[62]  It can be assumed that this is a part of the work of Asterius Συνταγμάτιον who was close to Arius – the only Arian work repeatedly quoted by Athanasius in his “Third Oration against the Arians” (Oratio III adv. аrianos 26). This text is not included in the compilation of the “con-lucianists,” created by G. Bardy, because it is not repeated anywhere else, otherwise is particularly relevant on the matter under consideration (Bardy (1936), 261 sq.; 341 sq.).

[63] However, it can be assumed that the Arian tradition speculated also upon the bodily sufferings and the death of the incarnated Word. For example we can refer to the words of Eudoxius of Constantinople – one of the most prominent followers of Arius during the next generation: “Let [the Nicaeans[ answer how He, who subjected himself to suffering and death can be consubstnatial to God, Who is stronger than these things, Who is beyond suffering and death?” (ἀποκρινέσθωσαν οὖν, πῶς ὁ παθητὸς καὶ θνητὸς τῷ κρείττονι τούτων θεῷ, πάθους τε καὶ θανάτου ἐπέκεινα, δύναται εἶναι ὁμοούσιος). – Hahn (1897), 262.      

[64] The same thing is discussed in Epiphanius of Cyprus – Ancoratus 33.

[65] See the words of Arius in Athanasius, Oratio III adv. arianos 26; what Eudoxius has said in Hahn (1897), 262. Сf. The letter of bishop Alexander of Alexandria to the bishop Alexander of Constantinople, preserved in Theodoretus, Hist. eccl. I, 4, as the testimony o Athanasius: Oratio I adv. аrianos 8.

[66] The same opinion has and Haugaard (1960), 253.

[67] In this regard they explain the Arian doctrine of salvationWiles (1962), 339–347; Gregg&Groh (1977), 260–278; Gregg&Groh (1981); Gregg (1985), 85–109; Kannengiesser (1983), 456–475; Lorenz (1979); Lorenz (1983), 1–51; Sample (1979), 25 sq. Although not seriously concerned with Arius’s understanding of salvation, Rowan Williams notes, contrary to the above, that his soteriology shared important features with that of St.Athanasius the Great (!?) – Williams (1987), 86–91, 231. The same opinion shares Hall (1985), 51. The main argument of both of them in order to deny the paradigmatic soteriology of Arius is that in the ancient thought of the church does not legitimize orthodoxy but is linked to adoptionist tendencies (!?).

[68] See Seeberg (1920), 350–351; Loofs (1906), 116–129; Harnack (1909b), 530–547.

[69] See Ἀγουρίδης (1969), 37–64.

[70] See Трайчев (1999), 1–5.

[71] See Michaelis (1942); in bulgarian this issue is examined by Тенекеджиев (2008), 154–160.

[72] Those whose attention was only distracted have become angels. Others who have turned away from God completely have become demons. The human being is somewhere in the middle. In other words, the human being has blemished what the Scripture calls « in the image of God » and he distanced himself from communion with God. (see Tzamalikos (1991), 40 sq.).

[73] See Behr (2001), 184 sq.

[74] Lossky (1983), 57.

[75] See Crouzel (1989), 205–218; сf. Флоровский (1929), 107–115; Флоровский (2006), 115–140.

[76] Behr (2001), 218. The critics of the Alexandrian teacher claimed that he was preaching about “two sons”, and this accusation appears to have been raised on the grounds that Origen was apparently teaching about the existence of a human soul in Christ. Thus, according to Origen’s accusers, the logic of such a claim leads to the conclusion that there is one Logos and one Jesus Christ as two separate beings. Apparently with this is also related the accusation against Origen that he shares the heresy of Artemas and Paul of Samosata – i.e., that Jesus Christ is an “ordinary man” who represents a “teacher of virtue.” It is likely that the reason for these accusations is due to Origen’s pedagogical mysticism and lack of understanding of the ontological meaning of the incarnation. See Pamphilus, Apologia Orig.

[77]  Bardy (1929), 289–290.

[78]  Layman (1989), 497 sq.

[79] Crouzel (1989), 205–207.

[80] There is a critical edition of this small text by Gustave Bardy who studed Lucian’s school: Bardy (1936), 134–149.

[81] Gregg&Groh (1977), 270.

[82] See Haas (1993), 234–245. Christopher Haas even things that the meeting between St. Athanasius and St. Antonius and later with Abba Pambo in Alexandria consists a denouncement against the false Arian ascetics in the context of the dispute on the consubstantiality. (see in detail ibid. 237–239).



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Epistola ad Epictetum (PG 26, 1049-1069);

Epistola 1 ad Serapionem (PG 26, 529-608);

Epistola 4 ad Serapionem (PG 26, 637-676);

Epistola de synodis Arimini in Italia, et Seleuciae in Isauria, celebratis (PG 26, 681-793);

Orationes III adversus Arianos (PG 26, 11-525);

Tomus ad Antiochenos (PG 26, 796-809);

Expositiones in Psalmos (PG 27, 60-545);

De vita Sancti Antonii (PG 26, 835-977);


Epistolae de Ariana haeresi deque Arii depositione (PG 18, 548-572);

“Fragmenta epistolae encyclicae Alexandri alexandrini”. – In: Analecta sacra spicilegio solesmensi, parata 4, Parisiis 1883, 453–460;

Sermo de anima et corpore deque passione Domini (PG 18, 585-608);

Basilius Caesariensis,

Epistula 52 (PG 32, 392-396);

Epistola 69 (PG 32, 432-433);

Corderius (ed.), Catena Patrum Graecorum in S. Johannem, Antwerp 630;


Adversus haereses (PG 42, 9-755);

Ancoratus (PG 43, 11-236).

Eusebius Caesariensis,

Contra Marcellum (PG 24, 707-825);

De vita Constantini (PG 20, 909-1232);

De Ecclesiastica theologia (PG 24, 825-1045);

Demonstratio evangelica (PG 22, 13-793);

Eclogae Propheticae (PG 22, 1017-1273);

Eustathius Antiochenus,

De engastrimytho contra Origenem (PG 18, 613-673);

Fragmenta varia (PG 18, 676-704);

Hermias Sozomenus, Historia ecclesiastica (PG 67, 844-1629);


Epistola 124 ad Avitum (PL 22, 1059-1072);

De viris illustribus (PL 23, 602-720);

Hilarius Pictaviensis, Liber de synodis seu de fide orientalium (PL 10, 471-546);

Fragmenta historica, ed. A. Feder (CSEL 65, 1916);

Hippolytus, Contra haersin Noeti cuiusdam (PG 10, 803-829);

Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (PG 7, 433-1524);

Joannes Chrysostomus, Homilia in S. Eustathium (PG 50, 597-606);

Justinus Martyr,

Apologia II pro Christianis (PG 6, 441-469);

Dialogus cum Tryphone (PG 6, 472-800);

Leontius Byzantinus,

De sectis (PG 86, 1193-1268);

Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos (PG 86, 1273-1396);

Marcellus, “Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthymus), On the Holy Church. Text, Translation and Commentary by A. Logan”, Journal of Theological Studies 51 (2000), 89–93;

Klosrtermann, E. (ed.), Eusebius Werke. 4-er Band: Gegen Marcell, Über die kirchliche Theologie, Die Fragmente Marcells, Zweite Auflage (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 1972), 187–215;

Methodius, De creatis excerpta (PG 18, 333B-344B);


De principiis (PG 11, 111-414);

Dialogue avec Heraclide (SC 67; Paris: Cerf 1960);

In Joannem commentarii (PG 14, 21-830);

In epistola ad Hebraeos (PG 14, 1307-1309);

In Leviticum homilia XII: De mango sacerdote (PG 12, 405-574);

Contra Celsum (PG 11, 641-1710);

Pamphilus, Apologia Origenis (PG 17, 541-616);

Petrus Alexandrinus, Epistola canonica (PG 18, 467-508);

Philostorgius, Historia ecclesiastica (PG 65, 460-624);

Photius, Bibliotheca (PG 103-104);

Socrates Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica (PG 67, 30-841);

Theodoretus Cyrensis, Historia ecclesiastica (PG 82, 881-1278);

Hahn, G.L. Bibliothek der Symbole und Glaubensregeln der alten Kirche (Berslau, 1897).


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