Harry A. WoLFson

fourth century. Arianism may be described as a leftist heresy: it denied the divinity of the pre-existent Christ, the Logos; it also denied a divine nature in the born Christ, Jesus. Apollinarianism may be called a rightist heresy: it denied a human nature in the born Christ. Of the various phases of these controversies we have selected for discussion here one single phase, that of their philosophic implications.

Patristic opponents of Arianism as well as Patristic Church historians and heresiographers trace the Arian heresy to Aristotle. Thus Aristotle is mentioned as the source of the teaching of the various Arians by Basil,” Gregory of Nyssa,” Socrates Scholasticus,® and Epiphanius.* But when we study the passages in which Aristotle is mentioned as the source of this heresy, we are surprised to discover that the reference is not to any par- ticular theory with which the name of Aristotle is generally associated, such, for instance, as his denial of Platonic ideas, his belief in the eternity of the world, his conception of God as only a prime mover, or his view that the soul is only a form of the body, but only to the Aristotelian method of reasoning. Thus they always speak in this connection of Aristotle’s “syllo- gisms, or of Aristotle’s “dialectics,” ° or of Aristotle’s “systematic treatment of the art of reasoning” (rexyvodoyia),” or of Aristotle’s work on the Cate- gories.* And when we examine these references to the Aristotelian method of reasoning as being the cause of the Arian heresy, we are further surprised to discover that they do not mean reasoning by the Aristotelian method from premises which are also Aristotelian, but rather the application of the Aristotelian method of reasoning to generally accepted Christian prem- ises.

A good example of this is to be found in Socrates, who in his history of the Church tries to show how the Arian Aetius, under the influence of Aris- totle’s logic, and by his clumsy use of it, framed a fallacious argument against the orthodox Christian belief in the eternal generation of the Son,

\ RIANISM and Apollinarianism are two contrasting heresies of the

* Adversus Eunomium I, 5 (PG 29, 516B).

* Contra Eunomium I (PG 45, 261D).

* Historia Ecclesiastica I1, 35 (PG 67, 297).

* Adversus Haereses Panarium LXIX, 69. (PG 42, 316B). * Basil, loc. cit; Gregory of Nyssa, loc. cit.

* Epiphanius, loc. cit.

“Gregory of Nyssa, Cont. Eunom. VII (PG 45, 741A).

* Socrates, loc. cit.


and how by the fallaciousness of his argument he proved himself to be “unable to comprehend how there could be an ingenerable generation and how that which is unbegotten can be co-eternal with him that begot.” ° The expression “ingenerable generation (dyévvyros yévvnows), the meaning of which Socrates charges Aetius with not having comprehended, is reminis- cent of the expression “ingenerably generated” (éyevvnroyevyjs ) in Alexan- der of Alexandria.” This expression is used by the latter in the same sense as the expression “eternally generated” (devyevjs), likewise used by him in the same context, and also in the same sense as the expression “begotten [or generated] of the Father without beginning (dvdpxws) and eternally (diStws),” which is used by Athanasius." The argument framed by Aetius may, therefore, have been directed either against the expression “ingener- ably generated,” or against the expression “eternally generated [or be- gotten], or against the expression “generated [or begotten] without be- ginning.” We are not told, however, by Socrates how the argument was framed by Aetius, nor does he tell us why he branded the argument as fallacious. Let us then try to reconstruct the argument as well as the refuta- tion by which it was shown to be fallacious.

Aetius, we may assume, started with the New Testament description of the preexistent Christ as the “only begotten (yovoyeris) Son” (John 1:18) and, having in mind the use of the expression “begotten [or gen- erated] without beginning” as the equivalent of the expression “ingenerably generated,” he framed his argument against it in the following syllogistic form:

Everything begotten has a beginning (dpy7); The son is begotten; Therefore, the Son has a beginning (apy7).

The reason why Socrates branded this argument as fallacious was, we may assume, that he discovered in it some fallacy. The fallacy we may further assume, was that of equivocation; for the term “beginning” (dpyx7), he must have known, is used by Aristotle in many senses, of which two are that of “cause” and that of “not-eternal,”’? and Aetius, he must have noticed, uses the term “beginning” in his syllogism in these two different senses. When, in his proposition in the major premise, he says that “every- thing begotten has a beginning,” he could have meant only that “everything

° Ibid.

* In Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Eccl. Hist. 1, 4 (PG 82, 912A); Epiphanius, Adv. Haer. Panar. LXIX, 6 (PG 42, 209D-212A).

Expositio F idei 1 (PG 25, 200-201A).

* Cf., for instance, the two uses of the term in Metaph. I, 2, 982b, 9, and Phys. VI, 5, 2386a, 14.


begotten has a cause,” for the proposition in the sense of “everything begotten is not-eternal” is yet to be proved. But when, in his conclusion, he says that “therefore, the Son has a beginning,” he meant thereby that “therefore, the Son is not-eternal.” Socrates’ own contention that “that which was begotten can be coéternal with him who begot” is a restatement of the view generally accepted in catholic Christianity, namely, that the Son was eternally generated, which means that, though he was begotten and has a cause, he is still eternal.

Thus it is the syllogistic method of reasoning from generally approved Christian premises that, according to the Fathers, has led to the Arian heresy.

When we study further those passages in which the Fathers trace the Arian heresy to the Aristotelian method of syllogistic reasoning, we note several other things.

First, the Fathers do not mean that only the Arian heresy, and no other, arises from the use of Aristotelian syllogistic reasoning. For we find that Kusebius quotes the non-extant The Little Labyrinth, now taken to be the work of Hippolytus, as saying in effect that some other heresies, such as those of Artemus or Artemon and of the Theodotians, were traceable to the fact that they apply syllogistic reasoning to scriptural beliefs.

Second, the Fathers do not mean that only Aristotle, and no other phi- losopher, is responsible for the Arian heresy. For we find that Gregory of Nyssa himself, who so often blames Aristotle for the rise of Arianism, once at least blames Plato also.“

Third, they do not mean that if the Arians had not used the Aristotelian method of syllogism, but had used the Platonic method of division, they would not have arrived at their heretical and fallacious conclusion. For the Platonic method of division, as stated by Aristotle, is nothing but a weak syllogism,’ its weakness being that, without the use of a middle term, it aims to arrive at the same conclusion as that at which the syllogism tries to arrive with the use of a middle term. So the Platonic method of division would not have prevented the Arians from arriving at the same heretical and fallacious conclusion.

Fourth, the Fathers do not mean that the syllogistic method is entirely fallacious and should never be employed in discussion of matters religious. For we sometimes find that the very same Fathers, such, for instance, as Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, who blame the Aristotelian method of syllo-

* Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. V, 28, 18. * Cont. Eunom. IX (PG 45, 8138C). * Anal. Pr. I, 31, 46a, 38.


gistic reasoning for the rise of the Arian heresy, do themselves make use of this kind of reasoning in such investigations as those of the proofs of the existence of God and the creation of the world. In fact, Gregory of Nyssa openly admits that “subtle dialectic possesses a force that may be turned both ways, as well for the overthrow of truth as for the detection of false- hood,” ** and consequently, though on the whole he prefers “a discussion which is in a naked unsyllogistic form,” still he asks, “With what, then, must we begin, so as to conduct our thinking by logical sequence to the proposed conclusion?,” ** and insists upon following what is philosophically considered to be good, logical reasoning.” In this their cautious use of the syllogistic method, the Fathers merely followed the example of Aristotle himself, who constantly warns those who use syllogistic reasoning to use it properly and to guard against certain fallacies, among them the fallacy of equivocation.”

From all this we may gather that, by their statements that the Arian heresy arose from the Aristotelian method of syllogistic reasoning, the Fathers did not mean that only the Arian heresy was traceable to the Aristotelian syllogism, nor did they mean that only Aristotle was responsible for the Arian heresy, nor did they mean that the Platonic method of logical division could not have led to the Arian heresy, nor finally did they mean that all syllogistic reasoning was wrong and fallacious. What they meant was that the Arians, like all other heretics, were led astray by their wrong use of philosophy, especially of the Aristotelian method of syllogistic reasoning, which, as indicated by Aristotle's own warning, easily lends itself to misuse.

This, I believe, is a fair and accurate account of what the Fathers meant when they blamed Aristotle for the heresy of Arianism.

But let us see what has been made out of the Fathers’ statements by some historians. On the basis of these statements they try to make the struggle between Arianism and orthodoxy a battle between Aristotelianism and Platonism. This is how the controversy is presented by Baur.” And if we want to find out exactly what was the battle between Aristotelianism and Platonism, upon which the controversy between Arianism and orthodoxy is assumed to be based, we hear a great deal about how Aristotle derives

* De Anima et Resurrectione (PG 46, 52B).

" Tbid.

*8 Oratio Catechetica Magna 19 (PG 45, 56C).

Cont. Eunom. 18 (PG 45, 316D).

De Sophisticis Elenchus 4, 165b, 23-166b, 19.

1, Ch. Baur, Die christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und Menschenwerdung Gottes I (Tiibingen, 1841), pp. 389 ff.


concepts from concrete individual things in an empirical manner, referring always to experience, and how Plato, on the contrary, disregarding con- crete things and empirical observation, deals with pure ideas. Out of such and similar contrasts, we are expected to derive all the theological contro- versies between Arianism and orthodoxy. Milman treats the controversy between Arianism and orthodoxy as a sort of War of the Roses, telling us how Aetius attached himself to the Aristotelian philosophy, and how “with him appears to have begun the long strife between Aristotelianism and Platonism in the Church.” * Cardinal Newman, on the ground that Arian- ism had a “close connexion with the existing Aristotelic school,” ** sees in it a sort of Oxford Movement in reverse, and, because the Arians had a close connexion with the Aristotelic school, calls them “The School of Sophists.” **

But historians, as we know, do not always merely repeat one another; they are sometimes at variance with one another. So, while one school of historians identified Aristotle as the source of infection of the Arian heresy, another school identified Plato as the source of that infection. Chief ex- ponent of this latter view is Ritter,” though before him a similar view had been expressed in a milder form by Baumgarten-Crusius.** Here is how Ritter finds a connection between Plato and Arius: Representing Arius as having transformed the eternally generated Logos of the orthodox Chris- tians into a created being in order to provide God with an intermediary for the creation of the world, which He himself could not create directly, Ritter suggests that this view of Arius originated in Plato’s Timaeus, where the Demiurge, after having created the “heavenly gods,” addresses these traditional deities of mythology and delegates to them the creation of the mortal creatures, which he himself could not create directly.”

This representation of the view of Arius, as well as the explanation of its origin, is, to our mind, wrong on several grounds.

First, all that we know of the original teachings of Arius is that he reduced the Logos, who is described in John as he through whom all things were made by God and who in the orthodoxy of his time was considered an eternally generated being, to a created being. Among the reasons reported, in Arius’ name, for his having introduced that change in the origin

“H. H. Milman, History of Christianity III (London, 1840), p. 43, n.

* J. H. Newman, Arians of the Fourth Century (4th ed., London, 1876), p. 29.

Ibid. p. 25.

* Heinrich Ritter, Geschichte der Philosophie VI (Hamburg, 1841), pp. 21-22.

“L. F. O. Baumgarten-Crusius, Lehrbuch der christlichen Dogmengeschichte I (Jena, 1823), p. 262.

* Timaeus 40D-41D.


of the Logos there is no mention of the fact that it was out of a desire to provide God with an intermediary for the creation of the world, necessitated by reason of some inability on the part of God to create it directly. The view that the Logos was used as an intermediary in the creation of the world because of some inability on the part of God to create it directly was intro- duced by Asterius and adopted by Arius after the Logos had already been transformed by them into a created being, and it was introduced only in answer to the question that, if the Logos was created by God ex nihilo in the same way as the world, “why then were not all things brought into being by God alone at the same command, at which the Son came into being?” **

Second, the Demiurge’s address to the traditional gods in the Timaeus could not have been the source of Arius’ transforming the Logos into a created being, for that address is couched by Plato in mythological language and the traditional gods are represented as “generated” rather than “cre- ated.” Thus these traditional gods are described as “children (aaitées) . . . born (éyevéoOnv),” and in that passage the Demiurge describes himself as “he who begot (yervyoas) this universe” and as “Father.” * For be it re- membered that Arius rejected not only the eternity of the generation of Logos out of the essence of God the orthodox view of his time but also the very concept of a generation out of the essence of God, even without its being eternal the view held previously by the Apologists —, substitut- ing for it a creation out of nothing.

Third, this address of the Demiurge to the traditional deities in the Timaeus again could not have been the source of the Arians’ explanation for the need of an intermediary in the creation of the world. In the Timaeus, the reason why mortal beings had to be created by an intermediary and not directly by the Demiurge was, in the words of the Demiurge himself, as follows: “If through me these came into existence and receive life, they would be equal to gods” * and immortal like them. The explanation as quoted in the name of the Arians reads that the created nature “could not participate (peracxety) in the unmixed (dxpdrov) hand of the Father and in His workmanship” or that “the other creatures could not endure (Baord£ar) the work of the unmixed hand of the Ingenerate.” * Neither in phraseology nor in content is there any similarity between the statement in

Cf. Athanasius, Orationes contra Arianos II, 24 (PG, 26, 200A); “This they not only have said, but they have dare to put in writing, namely, Eusebius, Arius, and Asterius who sacrificed”; De Decretis 8 (PG, 25, 437A): “This is what Asterius the Sacrificer has written, and Arius has transcribed and bequeathed to his friends.”

°” Timaeus 40E-41A.

Tbid. 41C.

Orat. cont. Arian. II, 24 (PG 26, 200A).

® De Decretis 8 (PG 25, 437A).


the Timaeus and the Arian statements. With regard to phraseology, what is striking in the Arian statements is the expression which literally means “to participate in the ... hand” and “to endure the... hand,” and the description of the term “hand” by a term which literally means “unmixed.” No suggestion of this phraseology is to be found in the statement in the Timaeus. With regard to content, the explanation implied in the Arian state- ments is that there was a certain unfitness or impropriety for the created natures, which are not unmixed or pure, to be, figuratively speaking, touched by the unmixed or pure hand of God, whereas the explanation given in the Timaeus is that the Demiurge did not want the created beings to be immortal like himself.

There is, however, a resemblance, both in phraseology and in content, between these Arian statements and a statement by Philo, in which the latter tries to explain why God had chosen to use ideas or powers or instru- ments in the creation or, rather, according to my own interpretation of the statement, in the preservation of the world.** The Philonic statement reads as follows: “When out of that [shapeless and qualityless matter] God pro- duced all things, He did so without touching (éfaréyevos) it himself, since it was not lawful for His nature, happy and blessed as it was, to touch (ave ) indefinite and mixed up (zeduppévys ) matter, but instead He made full use of the incorporeal powers, well denoted by their name of ideas, to enable each genus to take its appropriate shape.” **

The resemblance between Philo’s not “to touch” and the Arians’ not “to participate in the . . . hand” or not “to endure . . . the hand” is quite obvious. Moreover, in the light of this passage of Philo, it may be suggested that the term Baoraééa: in the second quotation from Athanasius, which is usually translated by “endure: (Latin: ferre), was used in the sense of “touch,” which is one of the common senses of that verb. Perhaps also the term yerac xely in the first quotation from Athanasius, which usually means “participate in,” was also used in the sense of “to touch,” even though no such use of the term is recorded in lexicons, for if the term zpocéyew is some- times used in the sense of “to touch,” why should not also the term peracxetv? There is, too, a resemblance between the statement that it would be unfit and improper for the impure created natures to be touched by the pure hand of God, which is implied in the Arian passages, and the statement that it would be unlawful that God should touch impure matter, which is explicitly expressed in the Philonic passage. Both these statements, that of Philo directly and that of the Arians indirectly, through Philo, reflect the

Cf. H. A. Wolfson, Philo I (Cambridge, Mass., 1947), pp. 274 ff. * De Specialibus Legibus I, 60, 329.


many passages in the Old Testament that make it unlawful for the clean and the holy to touch the unclean and for the unclean to touch the clean and the holy.”

As for the meaning of these statements about the unfitness or impro- priety or unlawfulness that God should do certain things, we have shown how Philo, with his known conception of God as a free agent and as all- powerful, for whom nothing is impossible, could not have meant by his term “unlawful” that God was unable to create the world directly, and how he could only have meant that God, who to him was not only the creator of the world, but the pedagogue of mankind, by not touching gross matter, wished to set an example before men and to teach them not to defile them- selves by anything gross and unclean.” This, also, we may assume, is the meaning of the Arian statements.

There are some historians who, indeed, object to these methods of treat- ing the controversy between Arianism and orthodoxy as having its origin in Aristotle or Plato. Thus Dorner objects to aligning Arians and their opponents as Aristotelians against strict Platonists, He does so, he says, only on the ground that “amongst the teachers of the Church also there were some who received an Aristotelian training.” He admits, however, that “the Arians were trained in the Aristotelian dialectic,” and that, “on the ground of the empirical feature common to both [Aristotelianism and Arianism], he recognizes a relationship between them.” ** Hefele, without discussing whether Arianism had its origin in Aristotle or in Plato, volunteers the opinion that “Philonism . . . seems to have exercised some influence over the development of Arianism,” but the Philonic influence which he finds in Arianism is the same as that which Ritter discovered in Plato’s Timaeus, for he represents Philo as having an exaggerated notion of “the distinction between God and the world,” and as considering “the supreme God much too sublime to enter into direct relation with the world and the world . . . too low to bear any direct action of God” and as having, therefore, intro- duced the Logos for the purpose of serving, “like the created gods of Plato,” as an intermediary in the creation of the world.*

On the whole, it is not historically correct to arrange the Fathers into groups, to dress them in the uniform of the Academy or Lyceum or the Porch, to make them march under the banner of Plato or of Aristotle or of

* Cf. Philo I, pp. 280-281.

* Cf. ibid., pp. 280-286, 271-274; II, p. 128.

71 A. Dorner, The Person of Christ I, 2 (Edinburgh, 1859), note 50, pp. 499-500; (German, I [Stuttgart, 1845], 859). Cf. Heinrich Voigt, Die Lehre des Athanasius von Alexandrien (Bremen-Leipzig, 1861), p. 198, n.

*K. J. von Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, § 19.


the Stoics and sing the songs of those schools. The Fathers did not regard themselves as followers of the various schools of Greek thought. They did not think in terms of contrasts between the different systems within phil- osophy; they thought only in terms of a contrast between Scripture and philosophy. Within philosophy itself there were to them only right doc- trines, which were in agreement with Scripture, and wrong doctrines, which were in disagreement with Scripture, though on certain doctrines they found some philosophers were more often in agreement with Scripture than others. In battling with each other, the Fathers did not battle as partisans of certain opposing schools of Greek philosophy; they battled only as advo- cates of opposing interpretations of Scripture. Their opposing interpre- tations of Scripture, however, were sometimes influenced by philosophic considerations or supported by philosophic arguments, and in this way, therefore, it happens that the Fathers are found occasionally to have aligned themselves with certain philosophic attitudes on certain particular prob- lems. In the case of the Arian controversy, the difference of opinion, in so far as it indirectly reflects philosophic considerations, reflects not the con- troversy between Plato and Aristotle, but a difference in the interpretation of the Platonic theory of ideas. Directly and primarily it is a difference in the interpretation of texts in the New Testament.”

The main New Testament texts involved in this controversy are the open- ing verses in the Gospel According to John, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God... All things were made through him.” It is not necessary for us to re-open here the discussion of whether or not John follows Philo, or of whether or not he understood Philo properly, or of whether or not, if he understood him properly, he deliberately differed with him. Suffice it to say that beginning with the Apologists, in the middle of the second century, the Fathers began to fill out the skeleton-like outline of the Logos as found in the Prologue of John with details borrowed from the writings of Philo.

Two main points characterize this interpretation. First, the Logos, as in Philo, became the place of an intelligible world, consisting of ideas and constituting a plan by which the world was created, and, accordingly, John’s statement that “all things were made through him” assumed that meaning or that additional meaning. In the New Testament itself there is no indication that the Logos or the pre-existent Christ, which is meant by the

* Certain parts of the discussion which follows have been dealt with by me more fully in The Philosophy of the Church Fathers 1 (Cambridge, Mass., 1956), to which references will be occasionally made in the footnotes.

John I:1-8.


Logos, reflected, even remotely, the Platonic ideas. Second, the Logos had two stages of existence, first from eternity as a thought of God; then be- ginning with the creation of the world, and prior to it, prior, of course, not in a temporal sense, as a real personal being existing with God and by the side of God, as it were. This twofold-stage theory may be considered as an attempt on the part of Philo to harmonize in Plato those statements where the ideas are spoken of as eternal with those where the ideas are spoken of as having been made by God.

But, while following Philo on these two points, the Fathers from the very beginning differed with him on two other points. First, the Logos to them came into being not, as in Philo, by an act of creation out of nothing, but rather by a process of generation out of the essence of God. He was begotten, not made or created. Second, the Logos was not, as in Philo, merely divine, but he was God, equal with God in divinity. This latter belief followed as a corollary from the conception of the Logos as begotten of God, and is based on the philosophical principle that in natural genera- tion the progeny is of the same species as the begetter, which is expressed by Aristotle in his statement that “man begets man.” This explanation, which may already have been in the mind of the philosophically trained Apologists, is explicitly advanced later by Augustine in a passage where, arguing against the Arian Maximinus in support of the traditional belief in the divinity of the Logos, he quotes Aristotle’s statement that “man begets man,” adding thereto his own words, “and dog dog.” But these Apologists, though they all believed in the twofold-stage theory of the Logos, still differed among themselves as to the interpretation of John’s words, “In the beginning was the Logos . . . and the Logos was with God.” Some took it to refer to the first stage of existence, and interpreted the verse to mean that from eternity the Logos was in the thought of God and then was generated and hence was with God. Others interpreted it to mean that in the beginning, when God was about to create heaven and earth, the Logos came into being and was with God. Incidentally, it means that in this latter interpretation the Greek term 7v in John was taken not in the sense of “was,” but rather in the sense of “became” (éyévero) or “came to be,” a sense which could be justified as a Hebraized term.” In the Septuagint the Greek word “to be” (eivar) also means “to become,” “to be made” (fier7).

This conception of the Logos was held consistently and uniformly by all the Fathers until Irenaeus and Origen. Those two Fathers rejected the two-

Metaph. VII, 7, 1032a, 23-24; cf. IX, 8, 1049b, 27-29. Contra Maximinium Arianum II, 6. * Cf. The Philosophy of the Church Fathers 1, pp. 197-198.


fold stage theory and substituted for it a single-stage theory. The Logos was eternally generated by God. Irenaeus introduced it out of pure opposition to the Gnostics. Origen introduced it on philosophic grounds. It happened that Origen was a disciple of Ammonius Saccas, whose teachings we may presume are those we find in the work of another of his disciples, Plotinus. Now Ammonius was born a Christian. We may therefore assume that originally, like all Christians of his time, he followed Philo’s interpretation of Platonic ideas, and believed in a twofold-stage theory. Then, when he gave up Christianity, he abandoned the twofold-stage theory of the Logos as well as the use of the term Logos, substituting for it the conception of an eternally generated Nous. Neoplatonism, as we find it in the Enneads, is thus to be regarded as a paganized version of Philonic philosophy. As in this new version of Philonism, Nous, which takes the place of the Logos in Philo, was eternally generated from God, the Logos, which, being a Christian term, was retained by Origen, was made by him eternally gen- erated from God, for an eternally generated Logos appealed to him as being more compatible with the Christian conception of the Logos as God. The transition from the Apologists to Origen in Christianity thus corresponds to the transition from the Philonic to the Plotinian interpretation of Plato in the general history of philosophy. But though Irenaeus and Origen had introduced the single-stage theory, certain Fathers still continued to believe for some time in the twofold-stage theory. In the fourth century these two theories still existed side by side.

This is the status of the doctrine of the Trinity, among the orthodox Fathers by the time of Arius. Two theories, the single-stage and twofold- stage theories, existed side by side. Both recognized the principle of generation. To both theories the Logos was generated out of the essence of God, though to only the single-stage theory was it eternally generated, and to both theories the Logos was God.

It is here that Arius comes in with his new view. The starting point is his adoption of Philo’s twofold-stage theory of the Logos. The manner in which he expresses himself in favor of the twofold-stage theory is strongly reminiscent of the language of Philo and the Apologists. He begins by saying: “God was alone (yévos), and the Word as yet was not.” “* This reflects two sources. First, it reflects Philo’s comment upon the verse, “It is not good that man should be alone,” * as meaning that it is good that God should be alone, thus establishing the principle of the unity of God.”

Athanasius, Orat. cont. Arian. I, 5 (PG 26, 21A). * Gen. 2:18. Legum Allegoria II, I, 1-2.


Second, it reflects Hippolytus’ further interpretation of the same verse as meaning that, before the generation of the Logos, God was alone, thus establishing the twofold-stage theory.”

Then Arius continues: “When wishing (Oedxjoas) to create (Sypsoup- yjoa.) us, He made a certain one, and named him Word and Wisdom and Son, that he might form us by means of Him.” ** This reflects Philo’s state- ment that “When God willed (Bovdnfeis ) to create this visible world, he first modelled (mpoeérvov) the intelligible world,” ® which has “no other place than the divine Logos,” * and by the Logos he created the world. The Logos thus to Arius, as to Philo, entered upon its second stage of existence.

These two stages of existence are described by Arius as two Wisdoms or Logoi. The Logos or Wisdom of the first stage is further described by him as “a property (i8tav) coexistent with God;” the Logos or Wisdom in the second stage is described by him primarily as “the Son” and is said to be named “Wisdom and Logos” only because of its participation in the Wisdom or the Logos of the first stage.** This corresponds exactly to the Philonic view, according to which the Logos, and the powers or ideas it contains, is, in its first stage, only a property of God, and becomes a real being, called “the first-born Son of God,” only upon its entrance into its second stage.” Then, of course, following both Philo and John, who des- cribed the Logos as an instrument by which God created the world, Arius says that “the Unoriginate made the Son an origin of the things gen- erated.” °°

The terms used by Arius as a description of the Logos’ coming into existence are, as quoted by Athanasius from his Thalia, various forms of the term yivopuat, “to become,” “to be born,” and rosé, “to make.” * Arius him- self in his letter to Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, describes his conception of the Son’s coming into existence indiscriminately by such terms as “he was begotten (yevvn67), or created (xrwr4), or singled out (épi0y), or estab- lished (Oeuehtw64).” And the Logos himself, because he is he through whom all things were made, is described by Arius as “under-worker (doup- yos) and assistant (Bonds),”°* or as “co-worker (cuvepyds) or under-

Contra Haeresim Noeti 10.

“8 Athanasius, loc. cit.

* De Opificio Mundi 2, 16.

© [bid. 5, 20.

1 Athanasius, Orat. cont. Arian. 1, 5 (PG 26, 21A,B).

Cf. Wolfson, Philo I, pp. 231, 234; Il, pp. 126 ff.

Athanasius, De Synodis 15 (PG 26, 705D).

* Athanasius, Orat. cont. Arian. 1. 5.

Theodoret, Hist. Eccl. I, 4 (PG 82, 912B); ed. L. Parmentier: I, 5, 4. °° De Decretis 8 (PG, 25, 487A).


worker.” *’ This reflects Philo’s use of the term ovvepyot, “co-workers,” as a description of the powers, contained in the Logos, in their capacity of agents commissioned by God to create the body and the irrational soul of man.”®

In the description of Arianism so far there is nothing with which fault could be found on the ground of orthodoxy. By itself the twofold-stage theory of the Logos, which was adopted by Arius, would not have been re- garded by his contemporaries as heretical. The Apologists held the twofold- stage theory and were never attacked for it.°® Zeno of Verona, toward the end of the fourth century, reasserted the twofold-stage theory, without ever being declared unorthodox.” In fact, while the twofold-stage theory some- how disappeared, it was never anathematized.“ Neither would Arius’ failure to use the term “generated” or “begotten” exclusively as a descrip- tion of the Logos’ coming into existence have been, by itself, heretical, for the orthodox Fathers, too, at that time had not used the term “generated” or “begotten” exclusively.” Nor, again, was there in Arius’ statement that, when God was alone, “the Word as yet was not,” if taken by itself, anything that could have aroused opposition, for a similar statement was made also by Tertullian,” and it aroused no opposition.

Similarly Arius’ use of the term doupyds, “under-worker,” or Bonés, “assistant,” or ovvepyds, “co-worker,” as a description of the Logos, would not by itself have been considered by his contemporaries as heretical. The term vzoupyés has been used by Theophilus as a description of the Logos, without causing any damage to his reputation. Then there is a term similar to those three terms used by Arius, namely, the term o¥puovdos, “coun- sellor,” which was used by both T heophilus * and Clement of Alexandria,” without, again, causing any damage to their reputations. Even Athanasius himself, who attacks the Arians for the use of these terms,” describes the Logos as a “living counsel (é0a Bovdy),” * though it would seem to be in direct opposition to the verse, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord,

*' Athanasius, Orat. cont. Arian. II, 29 (PG, 26, 208B).

* De Opificio Mundi 24, 75; De Confusione Linguarum 35, 179; De Fuga 18, 68-70, cf. Philo I, pp. 269-270, 272-274.

Cf. The Philosophy of the Church Fathers I, pp. 192-198.

" Ibid. p. 197.

* Ibid. pp. 217-219.

Ibid. pp. 252-253.

Ibid. pp. 195, 217, 586, n. 53.

* Ad. Autol. II, 10.

© Ibid. II, 22.

Strom. VII, 2” (PG 9, 412A).

"Cf. De Decretis 8; Orat. cont. Arian. I, 29.

* Orat. cont. Arian. II, 64 (PG 26, 457B).


or who hath been his counsellor?” ® But, as we have suggested,” the Logos or the pre-existent Christ was called “co-worker” or “under-worker” or “assistant” or “counsellor” or “counsel” not in the sense that God was in need of his help or counsel, but in the sense that he was initiated in the knowledge of God and was called by God to cooperate with Him in His work of creation. Philo himself, who describes the powers as “co-workers,” found in his use of this term no opposition to his statement that God created the world “without any helper (aapd«dyros).

It is, therefore, not his adoption of the twofold-stage theory, nor his use of the term “created” by the side of the term “generated,” nor his use of the expression “the Word as yet was not,” nor his description of the Logos as “under-worker” or “assistant” or “co-worker,” but rather what he meant by all this, that has brought about his anathematization. What he meant by all this is quite explicitly expressed by him in his statement that the Logos came into existence “out of things that were not ovx évrwy).”” This was the gravamen of his theory: the Logos was not generated from the essence of God, but was created ex nihilo. As a corollary of this view, the Son or Logos was no longer God; he was only divine. This is what roused opposi- tion. And the opposition expressed itself in the statements in the Nicene creed that maintain that the pre-existent Christ was “begotten (yevvnGévre ) of the Father”; “of the substance (oicias) of the Father”; “begotten (yevvnbévra.), not made (zounbévra).” It also expresses itself in the anathe- matism of those who say “Before He was begotten (yevvnOjvar) He was not” and “He came into existence (éyévero) out of things that were not (é€ otx dvrwv).” Note the indiscriminate use of the terms yerynOjva. and éyévero, by which it describes the view of those who say that the Son was created out of nothing. Note also that, in its positive statement, the Creed insists only that the generation was out of the essence of God; it does not insist, that is to say, openly, that the generation itself was an eternal process. There is no anathema here, as there never was afterwards, of the twofold-stage theory of the Apologists, though the conception of eternal generation was tacitly adopted as the general Christian view.”

But what was the motive behind this Arian adoption of the Philonic conception of the Logos?

Primarily it was a religious motive. It was an attempt to preserve two principles which Arius thought were fundamental to Christianity.

° Rom. 11:34, quoting Isa, 40:18 (LXX).

Cf. The Philosophy of the Church Fathers I, p. 198, n. 12. De Opificio Mundi 6, 23.

7 Athanasius, Orat. cont. Arian. I, 5 (PG 26, 21A).

Cf. The Philosophy of the Church Fathers I, pp. 217-218.


First, it was the principle of the unity of God in its absolute sense as defined by Philo on behalf of Judaism. This principle of the unity of God, as proclaimed in the Old Testament in the verse, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” is reaffirmed by Jesus, when he said that it con- stituted the first of all commandments.” It is reaffirmed also by Paul in his oft-repeated statements that “there is no God but one.” Now in the Old Testament the unity of God means only an external, numerical unity. It is in opposition to polytheism. There is no speculation there about what philosophers would call internal unity, logical or metaphysical unity. But Philo extended and deepened the scriptural meaning of the unity of God; it was to exclude any kind of logical or metaphysical divisibility, such as divisibility into two substances, even when inseparable from each other, or divisibility into matter and form, or divisibility into genus and species. The unity of God meant absolute unity.

Christianity rejected this Philonic conception of the unity of God. God indeed is one, but one only in an external or numerical unity. Internally God consisted of three inseparable individual substances, called hypostases or persons. And the philosophers among the Fathers tried to justify this in- terpretation of the unity of God on philosophic grounds. The entire problem of the Trinity was a search to find a philosophic interpretation of this relative conception of the unity of God. Arius, like many other Christians before him, was dissatisfied with this revised conception of the unity of God. He, therefore, readopted the Philonic conception.

This is the first religious principle which led him to his heresy.

The second religious principle is the Old Testamental, as well as the post- biblical, Jewish conception of God in his relation to the world, and the fulness thereof, as an artisan and not as a begetter. Early Semitic mythol- ogy, like Greek mythology and all other mythologies, conceived of God as begetter, bringing other gods and men, and the world as a whole, into existence after the manner of animal procreation. Traces of this myth- ological conception of God as begetter have survived in the Hebrew Scrip- ture. But the entire history of the religion of Israel as depicted in Scripture itself is an attempt to eradicate all mythological conceptions of God. God is a creator of things; He is not a begetter of things. The few references in the Old Testament to angels as “the sons of God” may be survivals of this old Semitic mythology. But in the Old Testament they came to be used in the

* Mark 12:19.

* I Cor. 8:4; cf. 8:5; Eph. 4:3-6. Gen. 6:2,4; Job 1:6, 38:7; Dan. 3:25 (Son of God).


sense of “heavenly” or “unearthly” or “supernal” beings, and in post-biblical Jewish literature, Apocalyptic as well as rabbinic, angels are explicitly de- scribed as created by God, like anything else. And in Philo the Logos, ideas, intelligible world, and powers are all described as made and created, not begotten by God.

Christianity restored the conception of God as begetter. This is empha- sized with great clearness by every one of the F athers, beginning with Justin. One of the Fathers, Theophilus, even uses the expression “within His own bowels” as a description of the Logos before its generation.

What Arius did was to return to the original Scriptural and _post- Scriptural Jewish conception of God as artisan.

But there is also a philosophic aspect to the problem. This controversy between Arianism and catholic Christianity as to whether God is an artisan or a begetter has its parallel in two contrasting conceptions of God in Greek philosophy. The four theistic systems in Greek philosophy, the Platonic, the Aristotelian, the Stoic, and the Neoplatonic, fall into two groups. The Pla- tonic and Aristotelian theism is anti-mythological, considering God as arti- san, for Plato, whenever he expresses himself in his own language, speaks of God as handicraftsman (Sypsovpyés),” as a maker (ors), Or as a maker of something natural (@vroupyés),*° and Aristotle speaks of God only as the cause of the motion of the world.*’ The Stoic and the Neoplatonic theism is mythological, that is to say, a rationalization of mythology, con- ceiving of God as a begetter. Philosophically, therefore, the Arian theism is of the Platonico-Aristotelian type, whereas the orthodox theism is of the Stoico-Neoplatonic type.

This is as much as we have to say on the pre-existent Christ or Logos of Arius.

Let us now take up the Christology of Arius.

With his denial of the divinity of the Logos, it was only logical for Arius to deny that in Jesus there w