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Did Origen apply the word 'homoousios' to the Son?

This essay takes its title from one by Richard Hanson, which gives as its answer a `decisive no'.(1) Mine will be a qualified yes -- the more confident, however -- in that I argue for an indirect and transient application of the term, which will explain why it does not appear elsewhere in Origen's works and was not adopted by his pupils. The question is an important one, since Origen was, by common consent, the most profound and versatile theologian of the Church before the Council of Nicaea in 325. After this date the homoousion gradually prevailed as the orthodox symbol for the unity of the Godhead,(2) but Origen had given the Church its complementary formula of `three Hypostases'.(3) As the homoousion came to signify, not merely a community of attributes or nature, but an equality of status between the persons of the Trinity, Origen's theology was denounced by those who believed that he subordinated the other two Hypostases to the First. For this reason and others he was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.(4)

Since no one doubts that Origen believed in a single Godhead, I shall spend no time on passages which merely illustrate this without recourse to the word homoousios. On the other hand, I shall not attempt to exemplify his use of it from such dubious remains as Pitra's Analecta in Psalmos or the Catena on Matthew's gospel.(5) Instead I shall confine the discussion here, as Hanson does, to the Apology which Origen's disciple Pamphilus wrote on his behalf. This text survives now only in the Latin of Rufinus,(6) but I shall argue that no doubts need be occasioned by this third-hand testimony, since if either of our informants had intended fraud, he would have argued differently and made Origen say more.

The Apology replies to ten indictments, refuting each in turn by an appeal to the words of Origen; where these can be verified, they are found to have been accurately quoted. The first charge is that Origen declared the Son of God to be innatus;(7) it is met by three quotations from the Commentaries on Romans and John's gospel, and then there follow three passages from the Commentary on Hebrews, which is now no longer extant. Here the word homoousios occurs three times, and it will be most convenient to begin by quoting all three texts in full, although exact translations will become possible only in the course of this discussion.

In the first passage Pamphilus introduces his citations from the Commentary on Hebrews:

(i) De libris Epistolae ad Hebraeos, quomodo [Omicron][Mu][Omicron[Omicron] [Upsilon][Sigma][Iota][[Omicron][Sigma] est cum Patre Filius, id est, unius cum Patre substantiae, alienus autem a substantiis creaturae.(p. 580C Migne)

The next purports to reproduce Origen's own words, after two excerpts from the Commentary which make it clear that his text is Hebrews 1:3, together with the source of this at Wisdom 7:25-6:

(ii) Oportet autem scire nos per ineffabilia quaedam et secreta et recondita quendam modum sibi faciens Scriptura sancta conatur hominibus indicare et intellectum suggerere subtilem. Vaporis enim nomen inducens hoc ideo de rebus corporalibus assumpsit, ut vel ex parte aliqua intelligere possimus quomodo Christus, qui est Sapientia, secundum similitudinem eius vaporis qui de substantia aliqua corporea procedit, sic etiam ipse ut quidem vapor exoritur de virtute ipsius Dei. Sic et Sapientia ex eo procedens ex ipsa substantia Dei generatur; sic nilominus, et secundum similitudinem corporalis aporrhoeae, esse dicitur aporrhoea gloriae Omnipotentis, pura et sincera. Quac utraeque similitudines manifestissime ostendunt communionem substantiae esse Filio cum Patre. Aporrhoea enim [Omicron][Mu][Omicron][Omicron][Upsilon][Sigma] [Iota][Omicron][Sigma] videtur, id est unius substantiae ex quo est vel aporrhoea vel vapor. (p. 581 B-C Migne)

Finally we have an apologetic peroration:

(iii) Satis manifeste, opinor, et valde evidenter ostensum est, quod Filium Dei de ipsa substantia natum dixerit, id est [Omicron][Mu][Omicron] [Omicron][Upsilon][Sigma][Iota][Omicron][Sigma], quod est eiusdem cum Patre substantiae, et non esse creaturam, neque per adoptionem, sed natura Filium verum ex ipso Patre generatum. (p. 581C Migne)

It is clear that all three passages ascribe some use of the adjective homoousios to Origen. Their testimony has been accepted by distinguished scholars,(8) but Hanson's is the most minute and comprehensive statement of the sceptical position which may now be called the norm. His arguments may be reduced to four: (1) that our only evidence depends on an apologist and a partisan translator, either of whom could easily have made an interpolation; (2) that the use of the term homoousios in these passages is not germane to the argument of Pamphilus; (3) that if passage (ii) were genuine, it would be the only place in Origen's writings where he applies the word homoousios to the Trinity; and (4) that if he did apply it in this way, it is difficult to see why the term was ignored, and indeed avoided, by his most celebrated pupils. In my replies I shall therefore be considering first the sources, then the context, then the content, then the influence of passage (ii) above.

1. Pamphilus at least is hardly likely to have made an interpolation of this kind, since when he wrote (c. 309 AD) the homoousion had not yet become a test of orthodoxy. Indeed it had been disowned in the mid-third century by Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, who continued to be acknowledged as a saint,(9) nor was it common tender in Pamphilus' home town, Caesarea, if we may judge from the letter written by Eusebius to his congregation there after the Nicene Definition of 325.(10) Fifty years after Pamphilus' Apology, it was possible to be unimpeachably orthodox, and yet believe that the term had been condemned by the pious bishops who deposed Paul of Samosata from the see of Antioch in 268-9.(11) The report of this decree surprised the Church when it was published in 358 by Basil of Ancyra, but Hanson shows elsewhere that he finds it credible, and we cannot suppose that Hilary or Athanasius would have accepted it without good cause.(12)

Rufinus is a far more likely suspect, as he began translating Origen after the triumph of the Athanasian party, which upheld the homoousion as an article of faith. Moreover, he himself admits that his method in translating is to omit, expand or simplify those statements which might otherwise be misconstrued as heresies by readers of his day.(13) He had therefore both the motive and the means to decorate Origen with a spurious orthodoxy. Nevertheless, we still have to ask what motive he had to foist this tenet on him. He himself was able to neglect the word homoousios in commenting on the trinitarian passages in the Apostles' Creed and in writing an Apology for his views.(14) He would be aware that even in the fourth century, some bishops were forgiven for having previously eschewed the term, in the light of their recantation at the oecumenical Council of 381.(15) As for Origen's adversaries, we do not find in Methodius, Epiphanius(16) or Jerome, or even in the decrees Of 553,(17) that Origen had spoken against the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son.

It might be said that a circumstantial invention of this kind would help to deflect an accusation couched in other terms -- that Origen held the Son to be a creature, for example, or denied that he knew the Father. If this was the case we can only say that the method of Rufinus was surprisingly transparent. His pamphlet On the Adulteration of Origen's Books reveals that he was acquainted with the most ingenious stratagems of forgery;(18) so why, when he tried it himself, should he confine his interpolation to one treatise, where the apologetic motive would be certain to put the reader on his guard? Once elsewhere, in the pamphlet mentioned above, he ascribes to Origen a use of the term homoousios, alluding to a chapter in the treatise On First Principles, where his own Latin text makes Origen attribute a naturae et substantiae communio to the divine Hypostases.(19) The word substantiae may be epexegetic here, and the word homoousios merely a tendentious gloss upon it in the pamphlet;(20) but if this is so, it indicates that simple interpolation was not Rufinus' practice, even where he might have hoped to escape detection. He would not have been so artless as to graft the Nicene watchword, in its Greek form, on to an ante-nicene text.

2. The second objection is stronger, as it rests on evidence rather than suspicion: most readers have been struck by the apparent incoherence of the argument as it stands in the extant version of the Apology.(21) Pamphilus is rebutting the first allegation against his master, that he thought the Son innatus; this must render the Greek term [Alpha][Gamma][Epsilon][Nu][Nu][Eta][Omicron][Sigma](22) and imply that the Second Hypostasis did not depend for his origin on the Father. This was at least the view of the Council of Sirmium in 351, which anathematized fanatical opponents of subordinationism:(23)

If any should say that the Son is ingenerate and without origin, as though to make two gods by speaking of two without beginning, two ingenerates and two unbegotten (duo innata), let him be anathema.

Origen, however, is more generally accused of the opposite heresy, of saying that the Son not only depends for his existence on the Father, but also that his relation to the Father is that of a creature to its Creator. His own vocabulary seemed to allow both `coming-to-be' and `creation' within the Trinity, and for this he was repeatedly condemned.(24) Furthermore, if there were some ground for a charge of having made the Son innatus, it could not be met by citing the word homoousios, for this implies no more than that the Son and Father share a common nature or common attributes, and says nothing about the order of generation. Hanson therefore suggests that it was Rufinus, rather than Pamphilus, who introduced a word with so little bearing on the case.

This reasoning will convince us if we imagine that the purpose of adducing the word homoousios is simply to prove that Origen accepted it, and thus to demonstrate his orthodoxy. But the words which introduce the three citations from the Commentary on Hebrews -- passage (i) above -- do not suggest that this was the prime objective:

(i) From his books on the Epistle to the Hebrews, in what way (quomodo) the Son is said to be consubstantial with the Father -- that is, of one nature with the Father, but of a different kind from the rest of the creation.

The aim, then, is to show not what was said, but how.(25) Origen's belief in the dependence of the Son upon the Father is immediately confirmed by two quotations from the Commentary, neither of which contains the word homoousios.(26) Could it be that when it does appear in the final excerpt, it is not brought in as an answer to the charge, but as the ground of it, and thus itself in need of a defence? If it were thought to militate against the orthodox teaching that the Son was generated by the Father, we can understand both the source of the accusation that Origen thought the Son innatus and the manner in which that accusation is treated by our text.

We know of three interpretations of the word homoousios, allegedly proposed before the Council of Nicaea, which would make it wrong to call the Second Hypostasis a `son':

(a) Arius, in a letter to Alexander of Alexandria (Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. I. 15), denied that the Second Hypostasis could be a homoousion meros of the Godhead, as `Manichaeus' held. Mani was supposed to teach that the Godhead was material and divisible into parts, and a materialistic sense was still read into the term homoousios by `Homoiousian' Christians in the mid-fourth century.(27)

(b) Hilary of Poitiers (De Synodis 86,) suggests that the Council of Antioch condemned the term homoousios in 268-9 because Paul of Samosata had derived the `Sabellian' inference that there are no distinct hypostases in the Godhead. This position -- attributed in Hilary's time to Photinus and Marcellus of Ancyra(28) excludes the possibility of a familial relation between the Persons, as it reduces them to one.

(c) Athanasius says that it was Paul of Samosata who denied the homoousion, arguing that if the Son and the Father were homoousion, they must both originate from a common essence prior to either (De Synodis 45). The First Hypostasis now would not be the Father, but a congener, of the Second. The persistence of this error in the fourth century is apparent from Apollinarius' letter to Basil of Caesarea,(29) which finds it necessary to deny that the term homoousios connotes either an `overlying genus or an underlying matter' instantiated jointly by the Father and the Son.(30)

Both (a) and (c) would imply that Father and Son came into being as separate entities only after the division of some first principle into parts or species; neither would be begotten of the other, and there would be duo innata as the Council of Sirmium feared. My conjecture would therefore be that the crime ascribed to Origen, that of calling the Son innatus, was not the Sabellian error (b),(31) but either (a) or (c) or a combination. That is, he proposed an undifferentiated Godhead as the substrate of the being now called the Father and the one now called the Son.

Pamphilus' concluding observation may have run in Greek as follows:


I think it now sufficiently demonstrated, and indeed obvious, that he declares him to be the Son of God, born from [so not part of or co-ordinate with] the substance of God -- that is, [to use his own word] homoousios, which means [simply] of the same nature as the Father, not a creature, not adopted, but by nature his true Son, having come to be from the Father himself.

I have translated everything in Rufinus, including the phrase eiusdem substantiae, which is unlikely to be a gloss on the word homoousios, as the usual equivalent of this would have been unius substantiae.(32) I have rendered the first occurrence of substantia as hypostasis, since that, as we shall see, is the unimpeachable term derived in passage (ii) from the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the second instance, since it qualifies homoousios, the original Greek term must have been ousia. In Pamphilus' time trinitarian theology did not distinguish hypostasis and ousia, but the Father and Son were agreed, by the Origenists at least, to be distinct Hypostases. The ousia which the Son possesses cannot be identical with the `substance or hypostasis of God' from which he is born; it can only be the nature or attributes held in common with that hypostasis. The meaning of the whole sentence is that the Father's substance is the ground and origin of that common nature. Whereas the term homoousios in its `Manichaean' or `Samosatene' usage would imply that the Second Hypostasis is not begotten, here it merely indicates the mode of origination from the Father, and in doing so bears witness to the fact.

How does Pamphilus qualify the mode of origination? Since the Latin uses two terms, natum and generatum, the Greek will have contained their two equivalents, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. They seem to be interchangeable here, though later orthodoxy would maintain that the Son alone could be styled [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or `begotten' from the Father, while all other things (except perhaps the Spirit) are [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], or `brought into being'.(33) Pamphilus' master, Origen, shows no knowledge of this distinction, for he hints that the Spirit at least can be called [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII];(34) nor would the distinction later drawn between the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of the Son and the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of the creatures have made much sense to him. The Son himself was a [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], who had said in the person of Wisdom, `The Lord created me in the beginning of his ways'.(35) The Greek behind creatum in passage (iii) will not have been [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] but [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a predicate which Origen denies to the Son because he was not produced like other entities out of formless matter, his only matter being the Father's will.(36)

Thus what is asserted in passage (iii), by Pamphilus but in Origen's vocabulary, is just the unique dependence of the Son upon the Father. An adopted being might owe his existence to something else; one that was [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] would depend in part on matter. As it is (says Pamphilus), the word homoousios indicates simply that he has no properties but those that he derives from the First Hypostasis, and he can therefore have no source but the very `substance of the Father'. Pamphilus' case is logical, though there are two misleading increments: Origen did not write [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ,(37) and, as we shall see, he did not in the strictest sense attach the predicate homoousios to the Son.

3. Origen is a copious and repetitive exegete, says the third objection, and the fact that the word homoousios does not retain the same sense in any of his other writings must throw doubt on its authenticity in passage (ii) above. I have pointed out already that its absence from the large corpus of translations by Rufinus is an index of that author's probity. The uniqueness of passage (ii) can be explained by the fact that Origen attempted only one commentary on Hebrews, and none on the uncanonical Wisdom of Solomon.(38) These were the chief supports for his famous teaching that the Son is coeternal with the Father, but elsewhere it was enough to cite the passages, whereas a commentary required him to examine them in detail. In such a work the learning of the audience called for a more refined vocabulary, and even for a philosophical seasoning that would have been mere poison to uneducated minds.

Yet even when he wrote for those who would understand his `spoiling of the Egyptians',(39) Origen had to be circumspect in using terms that had hitherto been the preserve of pagan schools and Christian heresies.(40) Philosophers had used the term homoousios to subsume corporeals under a common species, or else to express the unity of two substances after mixture;(41) the Valentinians argued that a human being is homoousios partly with the realm of Spirit and partly with that of flesh.(42) The Valentinian notion that the Son was a prolatio or corporeal emanation of the Father was also imputed to Origen by contemporaries of Pamphilus;(43) if we can satisfy ourselves that he used the word homoousios in relation to the Godhead, we shall have an explanation of this otherwise baseless charge.

There is some divergence between the alms of Origen and those of Pamphilus: where one has glossed the Scriptures for the erudite in the language of philosophy, the other must convince suspicious readers that the philosophy does not belie the Scriptures. This is, of course, further evidence that Pamphilus did not insert the word homoousios here. The Scripture addressed in passage (ii) is Wisdom 7:25, where Wisdom is made to style herself the `breath of the Almighty' and the `effluence of his power'. The reason for bringing this into a Commentary on Hebrews is that Hebrews 1:3 alludes to it when extolling the son as the `brightness of God's glory' and the `Impression of his hypostasis'.(44) Origen begins in passage (ii) with a characteristic admonition against too literal a construction of the images that sacred texts vouchsafe to our understanding:

(iia) We must, however, understand that the sacred Scripture, making a particular way for itself through certain ineffable secrets and mysteries, tries to impart them to humanity and suggest a subtle idea.

Next he expounds the metaphor in Wisdom 7:25:

(iib) For when it uses the term `breath', it has borrowed this from the corporeal realm, so that we may be able to understand, albeit partially, how Christ himself, who is Wisdom, by analogy with that vapour which proceeds from some corporeal substance, comes into being from the power of God himself. That is how Wisdom proceeds from him, being generated by the very substance (hypostasis) of God; and so, notwithstanding [its divine origin] and by analogy with a corporeal effluence, it is said to be an `effluence of the glory of the Almighty'.

Hebrews 1:3 (the `impression of his hypostasis)' supplies the Greek original of substantia in this paragraph. Origen proceeds to explain the analogy, and now, since it occurs in association with the compound homoousios, the equivalent of substantia must once again be ousia:

(iic) Both these similes clearly show that the Son enjoys a communion of nature (ousia) with the Father. For an effluence is plainly homoousios, that is of one ousia, with that whose essence or breath it is.

The aim, however, is not to differentiate hypostasis from ousia, but to show how the Scriptures apply corporeal similes to God. The term homoousios merely serves to interpret the analogy: the Father and Son possess a common nature in the same degree, though not of course of the same kind, as a bodily subject and its emanation. Origen thus assumes the derivation of the Son from the Father, only making the caveat that it must be incorporeal. In this he is true to himself and speaks to his time;(45) but once other theologians had transferred the term homoousios to the Godhead, his apologist was forced to quote it here in order to demonstrate from his own words that he did not embrace the `Manichaean' usage or accord a generic unity to the Hypostases that would preclude the origination of the Second from the First.

4. We can now meet the fourth objection, and account for the absence of the term homoousios from the formularies of Origen's disciples. Hanson finds it strange that both Dionysius of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea were so reluctant to apply it to the relation between the Father and the Son, so that one had to be cajoled by Dionysius of Rome, the other coerced by the Council of Nicaea.(46) But in this, as we now perceive, they were being faithful to their master, who had confined himself to metaphor so as not to make the substance of the Trinity appear to have the same attributes as material substances. On the other hand, his endorsement of an analogical usage may explain how the epithet came to have any place at all in the doctrine of the Trinity; on Hanson's view, we must assume that it did so in defiance of the most eminent theologians, not to mention the Council of Antioch.

Origen says no more of either Wisdom or the Son in passage (ii) than that they spring `from the very substance of the Father'. This, as we have seen, implies that the Father is the sole cause of the Son, but it need not preclude our calling the Son a creature in the sense in which that word is applied to Wisdom. Eusebius was not therefore betraying the thought of Origen when he wrote to the Caesareans that the word homoousios in the Nicene formula connoted an identity of attributes which belonged to the Son as the first born and most perfect of the creatures.(47) He was, if anything, more disloyal to his mentor when he endorsed a creed that applied the word directly to the Godhead; but he was acting then, as he tells his congregation, at the emperor's command.(48) He continued to be afraid of a literal reading of the metaphors in Hebrews which would make the Godhead fissible,(49) and to argue that the Septuagintal reading of Proverbs 8:22, which speaks of Wisdom as a creature of God, could be applied to Christ.(50)

Our conclusion, like our argument, must be subtle. In an age when scholarship has abandoned its belief in the `illimitable stupidity of redactors', we shall be glad to find that Pamphilus has not misquoted Origen, and Rufinus has not fathered any wilful illogicalities on Pamphilus. Origen did resort to the word homoousios to elucidate the unity of the two divine Hypostases, but he used it analogically and never proposed it as a dogmatic formula. In his time it was merely a word; in that of his first disciples it was the fuel of controversy. His own use was too tentative to anticipate the later orthodoxy, yet venturesome enough to be thought heretical before the Nicene Council. The analogical usage of the predicate homoousios was forgotten, and its literal application to the Godhead was resisted by his followers in his native Alexandria, no less than in his adopted Caesarea.(51)

(1) R. P. C. Hanson, `Did Origen apply the word homoousios to the Son?', in J. Fontaine and C. Kannengiesser (eds.), Epektasis. Melanges Patristiques offerts au Cardinal Danielou (Paris, 1972), reprinted in his Studies in Christian Antiquity (London, 1983), pp. 53-70, from which the pagination is taken in this paper.

(2) See G. C. Stead, "The Significance of the Homoousios', Studia Patristica 3 1961), 397-412, on the ambiguities and confusions which the use of the word entailed even after Nicaea.

(3) See CommJohn 11.10 (vol. 1, P. 71.7 Brooke) and Abramowski (n. 9 below), pp. 30-35.

(4) For discussion and translation of the decrees of 553 see H. R. Percival, The Seven Ecumenical Councils (Library of the Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers XIV, (Edinburgh, 1899, repr. Grand Rapids, 1991), pp. 316-29 of Grand Rapids edition.

(5) G. W. H. Lampe, A Greek Patristic Lexicon (Oxford, 1961), p. 959 credits Origen with the comment on Psalm 54:3-4 in J. B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra vol. 4 (Venice, 1883), p. 56, but this is not widely accepted. For frs.14 and 257 of the Catena in Matthaeum, see E. Klostermann (ed.), Origenes. Werke XIII-3.1 (Leipzig, 1941), pp. 21 and 118. The adjective pertains on both occasions to the whole Trinity, which was unthinkable in Origen's day.

(6) Text and pagination follow J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca XVII, pp. 580-81.

(7) For the statement of charges see pp. 578-79, Migne.

(8) For examples see those named by Hanson (1983), p. 53, together with G. C. Stead, Divine Substance (Oxford, 1977), p. 211 n. 16. Stead is criticized by M. Simonetti, `Ancora su Homoousios a proposito di due recenti studi', Vetera Christianorum 17 (1980), 85-98.

(9) See Hanson (1983), pp. 55-58; Athanasius, De Sententia Dionysii and De Decretis 26. Like Hanson, p. 56, L. Abramowski doubts whether Dionvsius ever accepted the term: see `Dionysius of Rome and Dionysius of Alexandria', n. XI. in her Formula and Context (Aldershot, 1992).

(10) Socrates. Eccl. Hist. 1.8. Hanson (1983), pp. 57-64 shows that Eusebius spoke of the Father and his Logos as different ousiai (Praeparatio Evangelica VII. 15.5 ff) and had no use for the predicate homoousios before the Nicene Council.

(11) See Epiphanius, Panarion 73.12 on Basil of Ancyra and George of Laodicea.

(12) R. P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh, 1988), p. 195, writes `the one point that is quite clear is that those who condemned Paul also condemned the use of the word homoousion in a trinitarian context'. Cf., Hanson (1983), p. 57. On Athanasius De Synodis 45 and Hilary, De Synodis 86 see below. The failure of Eusebius to mention this decision at Hist. Eccl. VII-27 ff. may indicate that, writing before the Arian troubles, he saw it as an argumentum ad hominem, of no interest to his present readership. He is always sparing of dogmatic formulae in the History; after the Nicene Council it would have been impolitic to remind his sovereign or his local congregation that great churchmen had condemned what he subscribed.

(13) See Preface to De Principiis ch. 2-3, which are pp. 4-5 in P. Koetschau, Origenes. Werke, vol. 5 (Leipzig, 1913).

(14) Yet he avows an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity at (e.g.) Apologia 38. He has no choice but to mention the homoousion in his account of the Council of Rimini (Hist. Eccl. 1.21), but omits it from his account of Nicaea (ibid. 1.2).

(15) Thus Cyril of Jerusalem favoured [Omicron][Mu][Omicron][Iota][Omicron] [Sigma] [Kappa][Alpha][Tau] [Pi][Alpha][Nu][Tau][Alpha] (Catechetical Homily IV.7 etc.) till his `repentance' in 381 (Socrates, Hist. Eccl. V. 8). On the vacillation of Meletius, later president of the Constantinopolitan Council, see Socrates, op. cit. 11.44.

(16) Epiphanius, Panarion 64. 12-62 contains the criticisms of Methodius; his own occur chiefly at op. cit. 64. 1-11. Methodius is sometimes reckoned a subordinationist in the light of De Creatis and Symposium VII. 1.

(17) The eighth anathema in Percival (1899), p. 319, does not name Origen. Even if it is directed against him, it is much later than Rufinus.

(18) See De Adulteratione Librorum Origenis 11-13.

(19) See De Principiis 1.2.6. Rufinus, De Adult. 1 credits Origen with the statement that the Son is [Omicron][Mu][Omicron][Omicron][Upsilon][[Sigma] [Iota][Omicron][Sigma] id est unius substantiae with the Father, placing no weight on the claim itself, but arguing that he would hold the same opinions elsewhere. He was alluding to the numerous allegations of trinitarian heresy in De Principiis, none of which concerned the term homoousios: see Koetschau (1913), pp. 25-26, 35-36, 46, 52.

(20) As Hanson (1983), p. 68, must be assuming when he cites this as an example of Rufinus' propensity to interpolation.

(21) See Hanson (1983), pp. 66-67, exculpating Pamphilus.

(22) See Hanson (1983), p. 66. One might suggest that the original Greek was [Omicron][Upsilon][Gamma][Epsilon][Nu][Tau][Omicron][Nu], not begotten', hence `created', thus imputing a more familiar `heresy' to Origen. But (a) Rufinus would have rendered this by non natum; (b) the term innatus is glossed as ingenitus on p. 582, and occurs in an earlier excerpt from the Commentary on Hebrews (p. 560), to be rejected on the grounds that it implies two co-ordinate principles. This is the argument of Sirmium (below, n. 23).

(23) The 26th anathema: see Hilary, De Synodis 38; Athanasius, De Synodis 27; Socrates, Hist. Eccl. 11-30, where the Greek term is [Alpha][Gamma][Epsilon][Nu] [Nu][Eta][Tau][Omicron][Sigma] at p. 103.4 in the edition of W. Bright (Oxford, 1893). Cf. Theodoret, Hist. Eccl 1.5.4. for Arius' fear of making Christ unbegotten.

(24) See e.g. Justinian, Epistula ad Mennam, cited at De Principiis, p. 349-13, Koetschau. On the significance of the terms [Gamma][Epsilon][Nu][Tau][Omicron] [Sigma] and [Kappa][Tau][Iota][[Sigma][Tau][Omicron][Sigma] see below, nn. 33 and 34.

(25) Thus quomodo Christus at passage (ii) line 5 clearly undertakes to show how a metaphor can be true, not simply that it is scriptural.

(26) Pamphilus, Apology p. 581, Migne.

(27) Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. III.18; cf. Athanasius, De Synodis 41 -42 and 51.

(28) See Socrates, Hist. Eccl. 11.29 on the causes of the First Council of Sirmium (cf. n. 23).

(29) I am grateful to Mr Johannes Zachhuber for drawing this letter (n 362 in the Basilian corpus) to my attention. Apollinarius makes the Father the `genarchic principle' of the Trinity, a view that is also consistently espoused by Athanasius, but not, so far as I can see in Gregory of Nyssa's Ad Ablabium or in [Basil], Epistle 38.

(30) A genus can be treated as the `intelligible matter' of its particulars: see J. M. Rist, "The Unlimited Dyad and Intelligible Matter in Plotinus', Classical Quarterly 12 (1962), 99-107, referring to Aristotle, Cat. 15a and Plotinus, Enn. 11.4.4.

(31) Denounced by Arius without the term homoousios: Epiphanius, Panarion 69.7.5. Jerome, Apologia adversus Rufinum 11.19 attributes (a) to both Origen and Arius when he says that they arrived at subordinationist views through fear of ascribing the properties of divisible matter to the Godhead.

(32) As in passage (ii). The term consubstantialis, frequent in Marius Victorinus, is not favoured by Rufinus or by Hilary, who also preferred unius substantiae: see P. M. Smulders, La Doctrine Trinitaire de S. Hilaire de Poitiers (Rome, 1944), p. 240.

(33) See E. A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy (Princeton, 1992), p. 90 and n. 37. The notion that [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] implies coming to be in time is not involved in the Platonic usage of the term, and the spelling of [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the Timaeus seems to be at the discretion of editors.

(34) See Proverbs 8:22; Koetschau (1913), p. 349.13; Abramowski (n.9), pp. 28-30. Athanasius seems to be the sole witness to the Nicene anathema against the word [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which Eusebius ignores in his subsequent letter: see M. F. Wiles, `A Textual Variant in the Creed of the Council of Nicaea', Studia Patristica 26 (1993), 428-33.


(36) See Apology p. 582, citing De Principiis I.2.6 (pp. 35.7 ff., Koestchau). Cf. n. 43 below.

(37) If Pamphilus means that the Son is born `naturally', I do not suppose that Origen would have understood him. Perhaps he simply means that he has innately all the attributes of God.

(38) For his Hebrew canon see Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. VI.25.2.

(39) For this expression see the letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus at Philocalia 13.

(40) Cf. at Comm Joh II.2-3 the word [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], modelled on Numenius (frs.16 and 20 Des Places) to define the Father's priority to the Son.

(41) It is used by Plotinus, Enn. IV.4.28 of bodily affections and by Iamblichus, De Mysteriis III.4 for the material compound resulting from synthesis. Porphyry, Sententiae 33 implies that it is more applicable to corporeals than to incorporeals.

(42) See e.g. Comm Joh XX.20 (vol. 2, p. 64.3 Brooke), and Stead (n. 8), pp. 208-10.

(43) Apology pp. 582-83, refuting the charge from De Principiis I.2.6 (cf. n. 36 above). The Valentinian term is [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Greek; cf. Arius at Epiphanius, Panarion 69.8.

(44) The reasoning is confirmed by De Principiis I.2.6 (p. 35.1, Koetschau) on the unitas naturae at substantiae between Adam and Seth, analogous to (not identical with) that between Father and Son. Cf. n. 19 above.

(45) Cf. De Principiis I.1.1 on the immateriality of God; on p. 582 Migne, arguing against the Valentinians, Origen declares that Sapientia est, et in sapientia nihil corporeum suspicatum est. Tertullian, De carne Christi 14 feels the need to assert that God's body has no matter but Spirit.

(46) Hanson (1983), pp. 53-64.

(47) See Socrates, Hist. Eccl. I.8, p. 19-10 ff., Bright. He expressly rules out corporeal analogies and the notion of `amputation'.

(48) Socrates, op. cit. I.8, p. 18.6-11 Bright.

(49) See Praeparatio Evangelica V.1. 19-20 and Hanson (1983), p. 61. The metaphors are those of a sweet savour and a ray of light, the latter from Hebrews 1:3, the former a reminiscence of Wisdom 7:25. He may have thought that Origen's doubts as to the Pauline authorship of Hebrews (Hist. Eccl. VI.25.1) made its vocabulary less sacrosanct.

(50) See De Ecclesiastica Theologia I.8 (p. 66, Klostermann), where the creation of all other things is none the less contrasted with the origin of Christ. At Contra Marcellum III.2 (pp. 138-45, Klostermann), he argues, first that `created' need not mean `brought into being', and then that `possessed' may be a better rendering. In both passages he asserts that the pre-existent Son is the foundation of all created things.

(51) I am grateful to the editors of the Journal of Theological Studies, and to an anonymous referee for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
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Author:Edwards, M.J.
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Date:Oct 1, 1998
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