Topic - Private Judgment Private Judgment on Scripture
(Vid. art. Rule of Faith.)

{247} THE two phrases by which Athan. denotes private judgment on religious matters, and his estimate of it, are [ta idia] and [ha ethelon], e.g. "Laying down their private ([ten idian]) impiety as some sort of rule ([hos kanona tina], i.e. as a Rule of Faith), they wrest all the divine oracles into accordance with it." Orat. i. § 52. And so [idion kakonoion], Orat. ii. § 18. [tais idiais muthoplastiais]. Orat. iii. § 10, and, "they make the language of Scripture their pretence; but, instead of the true sense, sowing upon it (Matt. xiii. 25, vid. art. [epispeiras]) the private ([ton idion]) poison of their heresy." Orat. i. § 53. And so, [kata ton idion noun]. Orat. i. § 37. [ten idian asebeian]. iii. § 55. And, "He who speaketh of his own, [ek ton idion], speaketh a lie." contr. Apoll. i. fin.

And so other writers: "They used to call the Church a virgin," says Hegesippus, "for it was not yet defiled by profane doctrines ... the Simonists, Dositheans, &c. ... each privately ([idios]) and separately has brought in a private opinion." ap. Euseb. Hist. iv. 22. Ruffinus says of S. Basil and S. Gregory, "Putting aside all Greek literature, they are said to have passed thirteen years together in studying the Scriptures alone, and followed out {248} their sense, not from their private opinion, but by the writings and authority of the Fathers," &c. Hist. ii. 9. Sophronius at Seleucia cried out, "If to publish day after day our own private ([idian]) will, be a profession of faith, accuracy of truth will fail us." Socr. ii. 40.

"We must not make an appeal to the Scriptures, nor take up a position for the fight, in which victory cannot be, or is doubtful, or next to doubtful. For though this conflict of Scripture with Scripture did not end in a drawn battle, yet the true order of the subject required that that should be laid down first, which now becomes but a point of debate, viz. who have a claim to the faith itself, whose are the Scriptures." Tertull. de Præscr. 19. "Seeing the Canon of Scripture is perfect, &c., why need we join unto it the authority of the Church's understanding and interpretation? because the Scripture being of itself so deep and profound, all men do not understand it in one and the same sense, but so many men, so many opinions almost may be gathered out of it; for Novatian expounds it one way, Photinus another, Sabellius," &c., Vincent. Comm. 2. Hippolytus has a passage very much to the same purpose, contr. Noet. 9 fin.

As to the phrase [hos houtoi thelousi], vid. [legontes me houtos ... hos he ekklesia kerussei, all' hos autoi thelousi]. Orat. iii. § 10, words which follow [idiais muthoplastiais], quoted just above. Vid. also iii. § 8 and 17. This is a common phrase with Athan. [hos ethelesen, haper ethelesan, hotan thelosi, hous ethelesan], &c., &c., the proceedings of the heretics being self-willed from first to {249} last. Vid. Sent. Dion. 4 and 16. Mort. Ar. fin. Apoll. ii. 5 init. in contrast with the [euaggelikos horos]. Also Decr. § 3. Syn. § 13. Ep. Æg. § 5, 19, 22. Apol. Arian. § 2, 14, 35, 36, 73, 74, 77. Apol. Const. § 1. de Fug. § 2, 3, 7. Hist. Arian. § 2, 7, 47, 52, 54, 59, 60.

In like manner [ha boulontai], &c. Ep. Enc. 7. Ap. Arian. § 82, 83. Ep. Æg. § 6. Apol. Const. § 32. de Fug. § 1. Hist. Ar. 15, 18. {250}

Topic - Private Judgment The Rule of Faith

THE recognition of this rule is the basis of St. Athanasius's method of arguing against Arianism. Vid. art. Private Judgment. It is not his aim ordinarily to prove doctrine by Scripture, nor does he appeal to the private judgment of the individual Christian in order to determine what Scripture means; but he assumes that there is a tradition, substantive, independent, and authoritative, such as to supply for us the true sense of Scripture in doctrinal matters—a tradition carried on from generation to generation by the practice of catechising, and by the other ministrations of Holy Church. He does not care to contend that no other meaning of certain passages of Scripture besides this traditional Catholic sense is possible or is plausible, whether true or not, but simply that any sense inconsistent with the Catholic is untrue, untrue because the traditional sense is apostolic and decisive. What he was instructed in at school and in church, the voice of the Christian people, the analogy of faith, the ecclesiastical [phronema], the writings of saints; these are enough for him. He is in no sense an inquirer, nor a mere disputant; he has received, and he transmits. Such is his position, though the expressions and turn of sentences which indicate it are so delicate and indirect, and so scattered about his {251} pages, that it is difficult to collect them and to analyse what they imply. Perhaps the most obvious proof that what I have stated is substantially true, is that on any other supposition he seems to argue illogically. Thus he says: "The Arians, looking at what is human in the Saviour, have judged Him to be a creature ... But let them learn, however tardily, that the Word became flesh;" and then he goes on to show that he does not rely simply on the inherent, unequivocal force of St. John's words, satisfactory as that is, for he adds, "Let us, as possessing [ton skopon tes pisteos], acknowledge that this is the right ([orthen], orthodox) understanding of what they understand wrongly." Orat. iii. § 35.

Again: "What they now allege from the Gospels they explain in an unsound sense, as we may easily see if we will but avail ourselves of [ton skopon tes kath' hemas pisteos], and using this [hosper kanoni], apply ourselves, as the Apostle says, to the reading of inspired Scripture." Orat. iii. 28.

And again: "Since they pervert divine Scripture in accordance with their own private ([idion]) opinion, we must so far ([tosouton]) answer them as ([hoson]) to justify its word, and to show that its sense is orthodox, [orthen]." Orat. i. 37.

For other instances, vid. art. [orthos]; also vid. supr. vol. i. pp. 36, 237 note, 392, fin. 409; also Serap. iv. § 15, Gent. § 6, 7, and 33.

In Orat. ii. § 5, after showing that "made" is used in Scripture for "begotten," in other instances besides that of our Lord, he says, "Nature and truth {252} draw the meaning to themselves" of the sacred text—that is, while the style of Scripture justifies us in thus interpreting the word "made," doctrinal truth obliges us to do so. He considers the Regula Fidei the principle of interpretation, and accordingly he goes on at once to apply it.

It is his way to start with some general exposition of the Catholic doctrine which the Arian sense of the text in dispute opposes, and thus to create a præjudicium or proof against the latter; vid. Orat. i. 10, 38, 40 init. 53, ii. § 12 init. 32-34, 35, 44 init., which refers to the whole discussion, (18-43,) 73, 77, iii. 18 init. 36 init. 42, 51 init. &c. On the other hand he makes the ecclesiastical sense the rule of interpretation, [toutoi] ([toi skopoi], the general drift of Scripture doctrine) [hosper kanoni chresamenoi], as quoted just above. This illustrates what he means when he says that certain texts have a "good," "pious," "orthodox" sense, i.e. they can be interpreted (in spite, if so be, of appearances) in harmony with the Regula Fidei.

It is with a reference to this great principle that he begins and ends his series of Scripture passages, which he defends from the misinterpretation of the Arians. When he begins, he refers to the necessity of interpreting them according to that sense which is not the result of private judgment, but is orthodox. "This," he says, "I conceive is the meaning of this passage, and that a meaning especially ecclesiastical." Orat. i. § 44. And he ends with: "Had they dwelt on these thoughts, and recognised the ecclesiastical scope as an {253} anchor for the faith, they would not of the faith have made shipwreck." Orat. iii. § 58.

It is hardly a paradox to say that in patristical works of controversy the conclusion in a certain sense proves the premisses. As then he here speaks of the ecclesiastical scope "as an anchor for the faith;" so when the discussion of texts began, Orat. i. § 37, he introduces it as already quoted by saying, "Since they allege the divine oracles and force on them a misinterpretation according to their private sense, it becomes necessary to meet them so far as to do justice to these passages, and to show that they bear an orthodox sense, and that our opponents are in error." Again, Orat. iii. 7, he says, "What is the difficulty, that one must need take such a view of such passages?" He speaks of the [skopos] as a [kanon] or rule of interpretation, supr. iii. § 28. vid. also § 29 init. 35 Serap. ii. 7. Hence too he speaks of the "ecclesiastical sense," e.g. Orat. i. 44, Serap. iv. 15, and of the [phronema], Orat. ii. 31 init. Decr. 17 fin. In ii. § 32, 3, he makes the general or Church view of Scripture supersede inquiry into the force of particular illustrations. {254}


EUSEBIUS, Eccles. Theol. i. 20, p. 91, as well as the Macrostich Confession, supr. vol. i. p. 106, says that Sabellius held the Patripassian doctrine. Epiph. however, Hær. p. 398, denies it, and imputes the doctrine to Noetus. Whatever Sabellius taught, it should be noticed, that, in the reason which the Arian Macrostich alleges against his doctrine, it is almost implied that the divine nature of the Son suffered on the Cross. The Arians would naturally fall into this notion directly they gave up their belief in our Lord's absolute divinity. It would as naturally follow to hold that our Lord had no human soul, but that His pre-existent nature stood in the place of it:—also that His Priesthood was not dependent on His Incarnation.

It is difficult to decide what Sabellius's doctrine really was; nor is this wonderful, considering the perplexity and vacillation which is the ordinary consequence of abandoning Catholic truth. Also we must distinguish between him and his disciples. He is considered by Eusebius, Eccl. Theol. i. p. 91, Patripassian, i.e. as holding that the Father was the Son; also by Athan. Orat. iii. 36 init. de Sent. Dion. 5 and 9. By the Eusebians of the Macrostich Creed ap. Athan. de Syn. 26 vol. i. supr. By Basil. Ep. 210, 5. By Ruffin in {255} Symb. 5. By Augustine de Hær. 41. By Theodor. Hær. ii. 9. And apparently by Origen. ad Tit. t. 4, p. 695. And by Cyprian. Ep. 73. On the other hand, Epiphanius seems to deny it, ap. August. l. c. and Alexander, by comparing Sabellianism to the emanation doctrine of Valentinus, ap. Theod. Hist. i. 3, p. 743.

Sabellians, as Arians, denied that the Word was a substance, and as the Samosatenes, who, according to Epiphanius, considered our Lord the internal, [endiathetos], Word and Thought, Hær. 65.

All Sabellians, except Patripassians, mainly differed from Arians only at this point, viz. when it was that our Lord came into being. Both parties considered Him a creature, and the true Word and Wisdom but attributes or energies of the Almighty. This Lucifer well observes to Constantius, with the substitution of Paulus and Photinus for Sabellius, "Quid interesse arbitraris inter te et Paulum Samosatenum, vel eum tum ejus discipulum tuum conscotinum, nisi quia tu 'ante omnia' dicas, ille vero 'post omnia'"? p. 203, 4. A subordinate difference was that the Samosatenes, Photinians, &c., considered our Lord to be really gifted with the true Word, whereas Arians did scarcely more than admit Him to be formed after its pattern.

The Sabellians agreed with the Arians, as far as words went, in considering the Logos as a creative attribute, vid. Sent D. 25. Ep. Ægypt. 14 fin. Epiph. Hær. 72, p. 835; but such of them as held that the Logos actually took flesh, escaped the mystery of God subsisting in Two Persons, only by {256} falling into the heterodox notion that His nature was compounded of substance and attribute or quality, [suntheton ton theon ek poiotetos kai ousias]. They virtually denied, with many Trinitarians outside the Church in this day, that the Son and again the Spirit is [holos theos]; but, if Each is not [holos theos], God is [sunthetos]. {257}


ATHANASIUS insists earnestly on the merciful dispensation of God, who has not barely given us through Christ justification, but has made our sanctification to be included in the gift, and santification through the personal presence in us of the Son. After saying, Incarn. § 7, that to accept mere repentance from sinners would not have been fitting, [eulogon], he continues, "Nor does repentance recover us from our state of nature, it does but arrest the course of sin. Had there been but a fault committed, and not a subsequent corruption, repentance had been well, but if," &c. vid. Incarnation and Freedom.

"While it is mere man who receives the gift, he is liable to lose it again (as was shown in the case of Adam, for he received and he lost), but that the grace may be irrevocable, and may be kept sure by men, therefore it is the Son who Himself appropriates the gift." Orat. iii. § 38.

He received gifts in order "that for His sake ([di' auton]) men might henceforward upon earth have power against devils, as 'having become partakers of a divine nature,' and in heaven might, as 'being delivered from corruption,' reign everlastingly; ... and, whereas the flesh received the gift in Him, henceforth by It for us also that gift might abide secure." Orat. iii. § 40. {258}

"The Word of God, who loves man, put on Himself created flesh, at the Father's will, that, whereas the first man had made the flesh dead through the transgression, He Himself might quicken it in the Blood of His own body." Orat. ii. § 65. Vid. also Orat. i. § 48, 51, ii. § 56.

"How could we be partakers of the adoption of sons, unless through the Son we had received from Him that communion with Him,—unless His Word had been made flesh, and had communicated that Flesh to us?" Iren. Hær. iii. 19. "He took part of flesh and blood, that is, He became man, whereas He was Life by nature, ... that, uniting Himself to the corruptible flesh according to the measure of its own nature, ineffably and inexpressibly, and as He alone knows, He might bring it to His own life, and render it partaker through Himself of God and the Father ... For He bore our nature, re-fashioning it into His own life ... He is in us through the Spirit, turning our natural corruption into incorruption, and changing death to its contrary." Cyril. in Joan. ix. cir. fin.

"The Word having appropriated the affections of the flesh, no longer do those affections touch the body, because of the Word who has come in it, but they are destroyed by Him, and henceforth men ... abide ever immortal and incorruptible." Orat. iii. § 33. vid. also Incarn. c. Ar. § 12. contr. Apoll. i. § 17. ii. § 6. "Since God the Word willed to annul the passions, whose end is death, and His deathless nature was not capable of them, ... He is made flesh of the Virgin in the way He knoweth," &c. Procl. ad. Armen. p. 616. {259} Also Leon. Serm. 22, pp. 69, 71. Serm. 26, p. 88. Nyssen. contr. Apoll. t. 2, p. 696. Cyril. Epp. p. 138, 9. in Joan. p. 95. Chrysol. Serm. 148.

"His body is none other than His, and is a natural recipient of grace; for He received grace as far as man's nature was exalted, which exaltation was its being deified." Orat. i. § 45. vid. arts. Indwelling and Deification. {260}

Scripture Canon

ATHAN. will not allow that the Pastor is canonical, Decr. § 18. "In the Shepherd it is written, since they [the Arians] allege this book also, though it is not in the Canon;" yet he uses the formula, "It is written."

And so in Ep. Fest. fin. he enumerates it with Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, Tobit, and others, "not canonised, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by recent converts and persons under teaching." He calls it elsewhere a most profitable book. Incarn. 3.

As to the phrase, "it is written," or "he says," [tade legei], the Douay renders such phrases by "he," [dio legei], "wherefore he saith," Eph. v. 14; [eireke peri tes hebdomes houto], "he spoke," Heb. iv. 4; and 7, "he limiteth." And we may take in explanation, "As the Holy Ghost saith, Today," &c. Heb. iii. 7. Or understand with Athan. [dielenxei legon ho Paulos]. Orat. i. § 57. [hos heipen ho Ioannes]. Orat. iii. § 30. vid. also iv. § 31. On the other hand, "doth not the Scripture say," John vii. 42; "what saith the Scripture?" Rom. iv. 3; "do you think that the Scripture saith in vain?" &c. James iv. 5. And so Athan. [hoiden he theia graphe legousa]. Orat. i. § 56. [ethos tei theiei graphei ... phesi]. Orat. iv. § 27. [legei he graphe], Decr. § 22. [phesin he graphe], Syn. § 52. {261}

Authority of Scripture

ATHANASIUS considers Scripture sufficient for the proof of such fundamental doctrines as came into controversy during the Arian troubles; but, while in consequence he ever appeals to Scripture, (and indeed has scarcely any other authoritative document to quote,) he ever speaks against interpreting it by a private rule instead of adhering to ecclesiastical tradition. Tradition is with him of supreme authority, including therein catechetical instruction, the teaching of the schola, ecumenical belief, the [phronema] of Catholics, the ecclesiastical scope, the analogy of faith, &c.

"The holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the truth; yet there are also many treatises of our blessed teachers composed for this purpose." contr. Gent. init. "For studying and mastering the Scriptures, there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and virtue according to Christ," Incarn. 57. "Since divine Scripture is sufficient more than anything else, I recommend persons who wish to know fully concerning these things," (the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity,) "to read the divine oracles," ad Ep. Æg. 4. "The Scriptures are sufficient for teaching; but it is good for us to exhort each other in the faith, and to refresh each other with discourses." Vit. S. Ant. 16. "We must seek before {262} all things whether He is Son, and on this point specially search the Scriptures, for this it was, when the Apostles were questioned, that Peter answered," &c. Orat. ii. § 73. And passim in Athan. Vid. Serap. i. 32 init. iv. fin. contr. Apoll. i. 6, 8, 9, 11, 22. ii. 8, 9, 13, 14, 17-19.

"The doctrine of the Church should be proved, not announced, [apodeiktikos ouk apophantikos];) therefore show that Scripture thus teaches." Theod. Eran. p. 199. "We have learned the rule of doctrine ([kanona]) out of divine Scripture." ibid. p. 213. "Do not believe me, let Scripture be recited. I do not say of myself, 'In the beginning was the Word,' but I hear it; I do not invent, but I read; what we all read, but not all understand." Ambros. de Incarn. 14. "Non recipio quod extra Scripturam de tuo infers." Tertull. Carn. Christ. 7. vid. also 6. "You departed from inspired Scripture, and therefore did fall from grace." Max. de Trin. Dial. v. 29. "The Children of the Church have received from their holy Fathers, that is, the holy Apostles, to guard the faith; and withal to deliver and preach it to their own children ... Cease not, faithful and orthodox men, thus to speak, and to teach the like from the divine Scriptures, and to walk, and to catechise, to the confirmation of yourselves and those who hear you; namely, that holy faith of the Catholic Church, as the holy and only Virgin of God received its custody from the holy Apostles of the Lord; and thus, in the case of each of those who are under catechising, who are to approach the Holy Bath, ye ought not only to preach {263} faith to your children in the Lord, but also to teach them expressly, as your common mother teaches, to say: 'We believe in One God,'" &c. Epiph. Ancor. 119, fin. who thereupon proceeds to give at length the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. And so Athan. speaks of the orthodox faith, as "issuing from Apostolical teaching and the Fathers' tradition, and confirmed by New and Old Testament." ad Adelph. 6, init. Cyril Hier. too, as "declared by the Church and established from all Scripture." Cat. v. 12. "Let us guard with vigilance what we have received ... What then have we received from the Scriptures but altogether this? that God made the world by the Word," &c. &c. Procl. ad Armen. Ep. 2, p. 612. "That God the Word, after the union, remained such as He was, &c., so clearly hath divine Scripture, and moreover the doctors of the Churches, and the lights of the world taught us." Theodor. Eran. p. 175, init. "That it is the tradition of the Fathers is not the whole of our case; for they too followed the meaning of Scripture, starting from the testimonies, which just now we laid before you from Scripture." Basil de Sp. S. n. 16. vid. also a remarkable passage in Athan. Synod. § 6, fin.

S. Gregory says in a well-known passage, "Why art thou such a slave to the letter, and takest up with Jewish wisdom, and pursuest syllables to the loss of things? For if thou wert to say, 'twice five,' or 'twice seven,' and I concluded 'ten' or 'fourteen' from your words, or from 'a reasonable mortal animal' I concluded 'man,' should I seem to you absurd? how so, if I did but give your {264} meaning? for words belong as much to him who demands them as to him who utters." Orat. 31. 24. vid. also Hil. contr. Constant. 16. August. Ep. 238, n. 4-6. Cyril. Dial. i. p. 391. Petavius refers to other passages, de Trin. iv. 5, § 6.

In interpreting Scripture, Athan. always assumes that the Catholic teaching is true, and the Scripture must be explained by it, vid. art. Rule of Faith. Thus he says, Orat. ii. 3, "If He be Son, as indeed He is, let them not question about the terms which the sacred writers use of Him ... For terms do not disparage His Nature, but rather that Nature draws to itself those terms and changes them." And presently, "Nature and truth draw the meaning to themselves; this being so, why ask, is He a work? it is proper to ask of them first, is He a Son?" ii. 5.

The great and essential difference between Catholics and non-Catholics was that Catholics interpreted Scripture by Tradition, and non-Catholics by their own private judgment.

That not only Arians, but heretics generally, professed to be guided by Scripture, we know from many witnesses.

Heretics in particular professed to be guided by Scripture. Tertull. Præscr. 8. For Gnostics, vid. Tertullian's grave sarcasm, "Utantur hæretici omnes scripturis ejus, cujus utuntur etiam mundo." Carn. Christ. 6. For Arians, vid. supr. Arian tenets. And so Marcellus, "We consider it unsafe to lay down doctrine concerning things which we have not learned with exactness from the divine Scriptures." (leg. {265} [peri hon ... para ton].) Euseb. Eccl. Theol. p. 177. And Macedonians, vid. Leont. de Sect. iv. init. And Monophysites, "I have not learned this from Scripture; and I have a great fear of saying what it is silent about." Theod. Eran. p. 215. S. Hilary brings a number of these instances together with their respective texts, Marcellus, Photinus, Sabellius, Montanus, Manes; then he continues, "Omnes Scripturas sine Scripturæ sensu loquuntur, et fidem sine fide prætendunt. Scripturæ enim non in legendo sunt, sed in intelligendo, neque in prævaricatione sunt sed in caritate." ad Const. ii. 9. vid. also Hieron. c. Lucif. 27. August. Ep. 120, 13. {266}

Scripture Passages

1. GEN. i. 26.—"Let us make man," &c.

The Catholic Fathers, as is well known, interpret such texts as this in the general sense which we find taken above (vol. i. de Syn. § 27, p. 112) by the first Sirmian Council convened against Photinus, Marcellus, &c. It is scarcely necessary to refer to instances; Petavius, however, cites the following: First, those in which the Eternal Father is considered in Gen. i. 26 to speak to the Son. Theophilus, ad Autol. ii. 18. Novatian, de Trin. 26. Tertullian, Prax. 12. Synod. Antioch. contr. Paul. Samos. ap. Routh, Reliqu. t. 2, p. 468. Basil. Hexaem. fin. Cyr. Hieros. Cat. x. 6. Cyril. Alex. Dial. iv. p. 516. Athan. contr. Gentes, 46. Orat. iii. § 29 fin. Chrysost. in Genes. Hom. viii. 3. Hilar. Trin. iv. 17, v. 8. Ambros. Hexaëm. vi. 7. Augustin. c. Maxim. ii. 26, n. 2. Next those in which Son and Spirit are considered as addressed. Theoph. ad Autol. ii. 18. Basil. contr. Eunom. v. 4, p. 315. Pseudo-Chrysost. de Trin. t. i. p. 832. Cyril. Thesaur. p. 12. Theodor. in Genes. 19. Hær. v. 3, and 9. But even here, where the Arians agree with Catholics, they differ in this remarkable respect, that in the Canons they pass in their Councils, they place certain interpretations of Scripture under the sanction of an anathema, showing how far {267} less free the system of heretics is than that of the Church.

2. Gen. xviii. 1.—"The Lord appeared to Abraham," &c.

The same Sirmian Council anathematises those who say that Abraham saw "not the Son, but the Ingenerate God."

This again, in spite of the wording, which is directed against the Catholic doctrine, and is of an heretical implication, is a Catholic interpretation. vid. (besides Philo de Somniis, i. 12, p. 1139,) Justin. Tryph. 56, and 126. Iren. Hær. iv. 10, n. 1. Tertull. de Carn. Christ. 6. adv. Marc. iii. 9. adv. Prax. 16. Novat. de Trin. 18. Origen. in Gen. Hom. iv. 5. Cyprian. adv. Jud. ii. 5. Antioch. Syn. contr. Paul. apud Routh, Rell. t. 2, p. 469. Athan. Orat. ii. 13. Epiph. Ancor. 29 and 39. Hær. 71, 5. Chrysost. in Gen. Hom. 41, 6 and 7. These references are principally from Petavius; also from Dorscheus, who has written an elaborate commentary on this Council. The implication alluded to above is, that the Son is of a visible substance, and thus is naturally the manifestation of the Invisible God. Bull (Def. F. N. iv. 3) denies what Petavius maintains, that this doctrine is found in Justin, Origen, &c. The Catholic doctrine is that the Son manifests Himself (and thereby His Father) by means of material representations. Augustine seems to have been the first who changed the mode of viewing the texts in question, and considered the divine appearance, not God the Son, but a created Angel. vid. de Trin. {268} ii. passim. Jansenius considers that he did so from a suggestion of S. Ambrose, that the hitherto received view had been the "origo hæresis Arianæ," vid. his Augustinus, lib. proœm. c. 12, t. 2, p. 12.

3. Exodus xxxiii. 23.—"Thou shalt see My back, but My face," &c [ta opiso mou] and not [to prosopon]. Gregory Naz. interprets [to opiso ([opisthia])] to mean God's works in contrast with His [eidos].

4. Deut. xxviii. 66.—"Why Life shall be hanging before thee."

Athanasius says, "His crucifixion is denoted by 'Ye shall see your Life hanging.'" Orat. ii. 16, supr. vol. i. p. 270.

Vid. Iren. Hær. iv. 10, 2. Tertull. in Jud. 11. Cyprian. Testim. ii. 20. Lactant. Instit. iv. 18. Cyril. Catech. xiii. 19. August. contr. Faust. xvi. 22, which are referred to in loc. Cypr. (Oxf. Tr.) To which add Leon. Serm. 59, 6. Isidor. Hisp. contr. Jud. i. 35, ii. 6. Origen. in Cels. ii. 75. Epiph. Hær. 24, p. 75. Damasc. F. O. iv. 11. fin. This interpretation I am told by a great authority is recommended even by the letter, which has [Hebrew-1], [apenanti ton ophthalmon sou], in Sept. "Pendebit tibi a regione," vid. Gesenius, who also says, "Since things which are à regione of a place, are necessarily a little removed from it, it follows that [Hebrew-2] signifies at the same time to be at a small distance," referring to the case of Hagar, who was but a bow-shot from her child. Also, though the word here is [Hebrew-3], yet [Hebrew-4] which is the same root, {269} is used for hanging on a stake, or crucifixion, e.g. Gen. xl. 19. Deut. xxi. 22. Esth. v. 14; vii. 10.

5. Psalm xliv. 9.—"Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee," &c.

"Wherefore," says Athan. "does not imply reward of virtue or conduct in the Word, but the reason why He came down to us, and of the Spirit's anointing which took place in Him for our sakes. For he says not, 'Wherefore He anointed Thee in order to Thy being God or King or Son or Word;' for so He was before and is for ever, as has been shown; but rather, 'Since Thou art God and King, therefore Thou wast anointed, since none but Thou couldest unite man to the Holy Ghost, Thou the Image of the Father, in which we were made in the beginning; for Thine also is the Spirit.' ... That as through Him we have come to be, so also in Him all men might be redeemed from their sins, and by Him all things might be ruled." Orat. i. § 49, supr. vol. i. p. 230.

The word "wherefore" denotes the fitness why the Son of God should become the Son of man. His Throne, as God, is for ever; He has loved righteousness; therefore He is equal to the anointing of the Spirit, as man. And so S. Cyril in Joan. lib. v. 2. "In this ineffable unity," says St. Leo, "of the Trinity, whose words and judgments are common in all, the Person of the Son has fitly undertaken to repair the race of man, that since He it is by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing is made, and who breathed the truth of rational life into {270} men fashioned of the dust of the earth, so He too should restore to its lost dignity our nature thus fallen from the citadel of eternity, and should be the reformer of that of which He had been the maker." Leon. Serm. 64, 2. vid. Athan. de Incarn. 7 fin. 10. In illud Omn. 2. Cyril. in Gen. i. p. 13.

6. Prov. viii. 22.—"The Lord created Me in the beginning of His ways, for His works."

The long and beautiful discourse left us by Athanasius on the First-born and His condescension, may be said to have grown out of what must be considered a wrong reading of this verse, created for possessed, [ektise] for [ektesato] being the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew [Hebrew], as also in Gen. xiv. 19, 22. Such too is the sense of the word given in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and the greater number of primitive writers. In consequence we find that it was one of the passages relied upon by the forerunners of the Arians in the 3rd century, vid. supr. vol. i. pp. 45-47. On the rise of Arianism, Eusebius of Nicomedia appealed to it against Alexander; also the other Eusebius in Demonstr. Evan v. p. 212, &c. It was still insisted on in A.D. 350.

On the other hand, Aquila translates [ektesato], and so read Basil c. Eunom. ii. 20, Nyssen c. Eunom i. p. 34, Jerome in Is. xxvi. 13; and the Vulgate translates possedit, vid. also Gen. iv. 1, and Deut. xxxii. 8. The Hebrew sense is also recognised by Eusebius, Eccl. Theol. iii. 2, p. 153, and Epiph. Hær. 69, 24. {271}

Athanasius, assuming the word created to be correct, interprets it of our Lord's human nature, as do Epiph. Hær. 69, 20-25. Basil. Ep. viii. 8. Naz. Orat. 30. 2. Nyss. contr. Eunom. ut. supr. et al. Cyril. Thesaur. p. 155. Hilar. de Trin. xii. 36-49. Ambros. de Fid. i. 15. August. de Fid. et Symb. 6.

Our Lord is [arche hodon], says Athan. Orat. ii. 47, fin. in contrast with His proper Sonship; and so Justin understands the phrase, according to the Benedictine Ed. vid. supr. art. Indwelling.

7. Isa. liii. 7.—"He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter."

Athan. says, Orat. i. § 54, supr. vol. i. p. 234, as elsewhere, that the error of heretics in their interpretation of Scripture arises from their missing the person, time, circumstances, &c., which Scripture has in view, and which (as I understand him to imply) Tradition (that is, the continuous teaching of the Church,) supplies; just as the Jews, as regards Isa. liii. instead of learning from Philip, as he says, the meaning of the chapter, conjecture its words to be spoken of Jeremias or some other of the Prophets.

The more common evasion on the part of the Jews was to interpret the prophecy of their own sufferings in captivity. It was an idea of Grotius that the prophecy received a first fulfilment in Jeremiah. vid. Justin. Tryph. 72 et al. Iren. Hær. iv. 33. Tertull. in Jud. 9. Cyprian Testim. in Jud. ii. 13. Euseb. Dem. iii. 2, &c. {272}

8. Jerem. xxxi. 22.—"The Lord hath created a new salvation," &c.

This is the Septuagint version, as Athan. notices Expos. F. § 3, Aquila's being "The Lord hath created a new thing in the woman." The Vulgate ("a new thing upon the earth, a woman shall compass a man,") is with the Hebrew. Athan. has preserved Aquila's version in three other places, Ps. xxx. 12, lix. 5, and lxv. 18.

9. Matt. i. 25.—"And he knew her not, until," &c., that is, until then when it became impossible, and need not be denied.

Supposing it was said, "He knew her not till her death," would not that mean, "He never knew her"? and in like manner, if she was "the Mother of God," it was an impossible idea, and the Evangelist would feel it to be so. They only can entertain the idea who in truth do not believe our Lord's divinity, who do not believe literally that the Son of Mary is God. Vid. art. Mary.

10. Matt. iii. 17.—"This is My well-beloved Son," [agapetos], &c. "Only-begotten and Well-beloved are the same," says Athan. ... "hence the Word, with a view of conveying to Abraham the idea 'Only begotten,' says, 'Offer thy Son, thy Well-beloved.'" Orat. iv. § 24. He adds, ibid. iv. § 29, "The word 'Well-beloved' even the Greeks, who are skilful in grammar, know to be equivalent with 'Only-begotten.' For Homer speaks thus of Telemachus, {273} who was the only-begotten of Ulysses, in the second book of the Odyssey:—

O'er the wide earth, dear youth, why seek to run,
An only child, a well-beloved son? ([mounos eon agapetos].)
He whom you mourn, divine Ulysses, fell,
Far from his country, where the strangers dwell.

Therefore he who is the only son of his father is called well-beloved."

[Agapetos] is explained by [monogenes] by Hesychius, Suidas, and Pollux; it is the version in the Sept. equally with [monogenes] of the Hebrew [Hebrew]. Homer calls Astyanax [Hektoriden agapeton]; Plutarch notices the instance of Telemachus, [Homeros agapeton onomazei mounon telugeton, toutesti me echousi heteron goneusi mete hexousi gegennemenon], as quoted by Wetstein in Matt. iii. 17. Vid. also Suicer in voc.

11. Matt. xii. 32.—"Whosoever shall speak a word," &c.

This passage, which is commented on at Orat. i. § 50, Athan. explains at some length in Serap. iv. 8, &c., supr. vol. i. p. 231. Origen, he says, and Theognostus understand the sin against the Holy Ghost to be apostasy from the grace of Baptism, referring to Heb. vi. 4. So far the two agree; but Origen went on to say, that the proper power or virtue of the Son extends over rational natures alone, e.g. heathens, but that of the Spirit only over Christians; those then who sin against the Son or their reason, have a remedy in Christianity and its baptism, but nothing remains for {274} those who sin against the Spirit. But Theognostus, referring to the text, "I have many things to say, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth," &c., argued that to sin against the Son was to sin against inferior light, but against the Spirit was to reject the full truth of the Gospel.

12. Matt. xiii. 25.—"His enemy came and over-sowed cockle," &c. [epispeiras], Decr. § 2. Orat. i. § 1, &c., &c. supr. vol. i. pp. 14, 155.

An allusion to this parable is very frequent in Athan., chiefly with a reference to Arianism. He draws it out at length, Orat. ii. § 34. "What is sown in every soul from the beginning is that God has a Son, the Word, the Wisdom, the Power, that is, His Image and Radiance; from which it at once follows that He is always; that He is from the Father; that He is like; that he is the eternal offspring of His substance; and there is no idea involved in these of creature or work. But when the man who is an enemy, while men slept, made a second sowing, of 'He is a creature,' and 'There was once when He was not,' and 'How can it be?' thenceforth the wicked heresy of Christ's enemies rose." Elsewhere, he uses the parable for the evil influences introduced into the soul upon Adam's fall, contr. Apoll. i. § 15, as does S. Irenæus Hær. iv. 40, n. 3, using it of such as lead to backsliding in Christians, ibid. v. 10, n. 1. Gregory Nyssen, of the natural passions and of false reason misleading them, de An. et Resurr. t. ii. p. 640. vid. also Leon. Ep. 156, c. 2. {275}

Tertullian uses the image in a similar but higher sense, when he applies it to Eve's temptation, and goes on to contrast it with Christ's birth from a Virgin: "In virginem adhuc Evam irrepserat verbum ædificatorium mortis; in Virginem æque introducendum erat Dei Verbum exstructorium vitæ ... Ut in doloribus pareret, verbum diaboli semen illi fuit; contra Maria," &c. de Carn. Christ. 17. S. Leo, as Athan., makes "seed" in the parable apply peculiarly to faith in contrast with obedience, Serm. 69, 5, init.

13. John i. 1.—"In the beginning," &c. vid. Orat. i. § 11, supr. vol. i. p. 167.

If "beginning" in this verse be taken, not to imply time, but origination, then the first verse of St. John's Gospel may be interpreted "In the Beginning," or Origin, i.e. in the Father, "was the Word." Thus Athan. himself understands the text. Orat. ii. 57. Orat. iv. § 1. vid. also Orat. iii. § 9. Origen. in Joan. tom. 1, 17. Method. ap. Phot. cod. 235, p. 940. Nyssen. contr. Eunom. iii. p. 106. Cyril. Thesaur. 32, p. 312. Euseb. Eccl. Theol. ii. 11 and 14, pp. 118, 123, and Jerome in Calmet on Ps. 109.

14. John i. 3.—"Without Him was nothing made that was made." Vid. Orat. i. § 19. supr. p. 179.

The words "that was made" which end this verse were omitted by the ancient citers of it, as Irenæus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Tertullian, nay, Augustine; but because it was abused by the Eunomians, Macedonians, {276} &c., as if derogatory to the divinity of the Holy Spirit, it was quoted in full, as by Epiphanius, Ancor. 75, who goes so far as to speak severely of the ancient mode of citation. vid. Fabric. and Routh, ad Hippol. contr. Noet. 12.

Also vid. Simon. Hist. Crit. Comment. pp. 7, 32, 52. Lampe in loc. Joann. Fabric. in Apocryph. N. T. t. 1, p. 384. Petav. de Trin. ii. 6, § 6. Ed. Ben. in Ambros. de Fid. iii. 6. Wetstein in loc. Wolf. Cur. Phil. in loc. The verse was not ended as we at present read it, especially in the East, till the time of S. Chrysostom, according to Simon, (vid. Ben. Præf. in Joann. § iv.) though, as has been said above, S. Epiphanius had spoken strongly against the ancient reading. S. Ambrose loc. cit. refers it to the Arians, Lampe refers it to the Valentinians on the strength of Iren. Hær. i. 8, n. 5. Theophilus in loc. (if the Commentary on the Gospels is his) understands by [ouden] "an idol," referring to 1 Cor. viii. 4. Augustine, even at so late a date, adopts the old reading, vid. de Gen. ad lit. v. 29-31. It was the reading of the Vulgate, even at the time it was ruled by the Council of Trent to be authentic, and of the Roman Missal. The verse is made to end after "in Him," (thus, [oud' hen ho gegonen en autoi]) by Epiph. Ancor. 75. Hil. in Psalm. 148, 4. Ambros. de Fid. iii. 6. Nyssen in Eunom. i. p. 84, app., which favours the Arians. The counterpart of the ancient reading, which is very awkward, ("What was made in Him was life,") is found in August. loc. cit. and Ambrose in Psalm xxxvi. 35, but he also notices "What was made, was in Him," de Fid. loc. cit. It is remarkable that {277} St. Ambrose attributes the present punctuation to the Alexandrians (in loc. Psalm.) in spite of Athan.'s and Alexander's (Theod. Hist. i. 3, p. 733), nay, Cyril's (in loc. Joann.) adoption of the ancient.

15. John ii. 4.—"Woman," &c. "He chid His Mother," says Athan.

[Epeplette]; and so [epetimese], Chrysost. in loc. Joann. Hom. 21, 3, and Theophyl. [hos despotes epitimai], Theodor. Eran. ii. p. 106. [entrepei], Anon. ap. Corder. Cat. in loc. [memphetai], Alter Anon. ibid. [epitima ouk atimazon alla diorthoumenos], Euthym. in loc. [ouk epeplexen], Pseudo-Justin. Quæst. ad Orthod. 136. It is remarkable that Athan. dwells on these words as implying our Lord's humanity, (i.e. because Christ appeared to decline a miracle,) when one reason assigned for them by the Fathers is that He wished, in the words [ti moi kai soi], to remind our Lady that He was the Son of God and must be "in His Father's house." "Repellens ejus intempestivam festinationem," Iren. Hær. iii. 16, n. 7, who thinks she desired to drink of His cup; others that their entertainer was poor, and that she wished to befriend him. Nothing can be argued from S. Athan.'s particular word here commented on, how he would have taken the passage. That the tone of our Lord's words is indeed (judging humanly and speaking humanly) cold and distant, is a simple fact, but it may be explained variously. It is observable that [epiplettei] and [epitimai] are the words used by Theophylact (in Joan. xi. 34, vid. infra, art. Specialties,) for our Lord's treatment of His own sacred body. {278} But they are very vague words, and have a strong meaning or not, as the case may be.

16. John x. 30.—"I and My Father are one."

"They contend," says Athan., Orat. iii. § 10, supr. vol. i. p. 369, "that the Son and the Father are not in such wise one as the Church preaches ... but that, since what the Father wills, the Son wills also, and ... is in all respects concordant ([symphonos]) with Him ... therefore it is that He and the Father are one. And some of them have dared to write as well as to say this," viz. Asterius; vid. Orat. iii. § 2, supr. vol. i. p. 360.

We find the same doctrine in the Creed ascribed to Lucian, as translated above, Syn. § 23, supr. vol. i. p. 97, where vid. note 2; vid. also infra. art. [homoion]. Besides Origen, Novatian, the Creed of Lucian, and (if so) Hilary, (as mentioned in the note at vol. i. p. 97,) "one" is explained as oneness of will by S. Hippolytus, contr. Noet. 7, where he explains John x. 30, by xvii. 22, like the Arians; and, as might be expected, by Eusebius, Eccl. Theol. iii. 19, p. 193, and by Asterius ap. Euseb. contr. Marc. pp. 28, 37. The passages of the Fathers in which this text is adduced are collected by Maldonat. in loc.

17. John x. 30, 38. xiv. 9.—"I and the Father are One." "The Father is in Me, and," &c. "He that seeth Me," &c.

These three texts are found together frequently in Athan., particularly in Orat. iii., where he considers the doctrines of the "Image" and the [perichoresis]; vid, {279} de Decr. § 21, § 31. de Syn. § 45. Orat. iii. 3, 5, 6, 10, 16 fin. 17. Ep. Æg. 13. Sent D. 26. ad Afr. 7, 8, 9. vid. also Epiph. Hær. 64, 9. Basil. Hexaem. ix. fin. Cyr. Thes. xii. p. 111. Potam. Ep. ap. Dacher. t. 3, p. 299. Hil. Trin. vii. 41. Vid. also Animadv. in Eustath. Ep. ad Apoll. Rom. 1796, p. 58.

In Orat. iii. § 5, these three texts, which so often occur together, are recognised as "three;" so are they by Eusebius, Eccl. Theol. iii. 19, and he says that Marcellus and "those who Sabellianise with him," among whom he included Catholics, were in the practice of adducing them, [thrullountes]; which bears incidental testimony to the fact that the doctrine of the [perichoresis] was the great criterion between orthodox and Arian. To the many instances of the joint use of the three which are given supr. may be added Orat. ii. 54 init. 67 fin. iv. 17, Serap. ii. 9, Serm. Maj. de fid. 29. Cyril. de Trin. p. 554, in Joann. p. 168. Origen, Periarch. p. 56. Hil. Trin. ix. 1. Ambros. Hexaem. vi. 7. August. de Cons. Ev. i. 7.

18. John xiv. 28.—"The Father is greater than I."

Athan. explains these words by comparing them with "Made so much better than the Angels," Hebr. i. 1. "He says not 'the Father is better than I,' lest we should conceive Him to be foreign to His Nature," as Angels are foreign in nature to the Son; "but greater, not indeed in greatness nor in time, but because of His generation from the Father Himself," Orat. i. § 58, that is, on account of the principatus of the Father, as the and [arche] and [pege theotetos], and of His own filietas. {280}

19. Acts x. 36.—"God sent the word to the children of Israel ... You know the word," &c.

So the Vulgate, but the received Greek runs with Athan. Orat. iv. § 30. [ton logon, hon apesteile ... houtos esti ... humeis oidate to genomenon rhema]. The followers of Paul of Samosata, with a view to their heresy, interpreted these words, as Hippolytus before them, as if [ton logon] were either governed by [kata] or attracted by [hon, houtos] agreeing with [ho logos] understood. Dr. Routh in loc. Hipp. (vid. Noët 13) who at one time so construed it, refers to 1 Pet. ii. 7, John iii. 34, as parallel, also Matt. xxi. 42. And so 'Urbem quam statuo,' &c. vid. Raphel. in Luc. xxi. 6. vid. also [ten archen hoti kai lalo humin], John viii. 25, with J. C. Wolf's remarks, who would understand by [archen] omnino, which Lennep however in Phalar. Ep. says it can only mean with a negative. The Vulgate is harsh in understanding [logos] and [rhema] as synonymous, and the latter as used merely to connect the clauses. Moreover, if [logos] be taken for [rhema, ton logon apesteile] is a harsh phrase; however, it occurs Acts xiii. 26. If [lolos] on the other hand has a theological sense, a primâ facie countenance is given to the distinction between "the Word" and "Jesus Christ," which the Samosatenes wished to deduce from the passage.

20. Rom. i. 20.—"His Eternal Power and Divinity."

Athanasius understands this of our Lord. Orat. i. § 11. Syn. § 49. vid. Justinian's Comment. in Paul. {281} Epp. for its various interpretations. It was either a received interpretation, or had been adduced at Nicæa, for Asterius had some years before these Discourses replied to it, vid. Syn. § 18, supr. vol. i. p. 88, and Orat. ii. § 37, p. 297.

[Contributed by Dan Meardon, Cary, NC, USA]


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