Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: We see nothing remarkable in logical force in the treatise of Eunomius, and so embark on our Answer with a just confidence.
§3. We see nothing remarkable in logical force in the treatise of Eunomius, and so embark on our Answer with a just confidence.
Let no one think, that in saying this I exaggerate and make an idle boast of doing something which is beyond my strength. I shall not be led by any boyish ambition to descend to his vulgar level in a contest of mere arguments and phrases. Where victory is a useless and profitless thing, we yield it readily to those who wish to win; besides, we have only to look at this mans long practice in controversy, to conclude that he is quite a word-practitioner, and, in addition, at the fact that he has spent no small portion of his life on the composition of this treatise, and at the supreme joy of his intimates over these labours, to conclude that he has taken particular trouble with this work. It was not improbable that one who had laboured at it for so many Olympiads would produce something better than the work of extempore scribblers. Even the vulgar profusion of the figures he uses in concocting his work is a further indication of this laborious care in writing 63 . He has got a great mass of newly assorted terms, for which he has put certain other books under contribution, and he piles this immense congeries of words on a very slender nucleus of thought; and so he has elaborated this highly-wrought production, which his pupils in error are lost in the admiration of;—no doubt, because their deadness on the vital points deprives them of the power of feeling the distinction between beauty and the reverse:—but which is ridiculous, and of no value at all in the judgment of those, whose hearts insight is not dimmed with any soil of unbelief. How in the world can it contribute to the proof (as he hopes) of what he says and the establishment of the truth of his speculations, to adopt these absurd devices in his forms of speech, this new-fangled and peculiar arrangep. XXXVII ment, this fussy conceit, and this conceited fussiness, which works with no enthusiasm for any previous model? For it would be indeed difficult to discover who amongst all those who have been celebrated for their eloquence he has had his eye on, in bringing himself to this pitch; for he is like those who produce effects upon the stage, adapting his argument to the tune of his rhythmical phrases, as they their song to their castenets, by means of parallel sentences of equal length, of similar sound and similar ending. Such, amongst many other faults, are the nerveless quaverings and the meretricious tricks of his Introduction; and one might fancy him bringing them all out, not with an unimpassioned action, but with stamping of the feet and sharp snapping of the fingers declaiming to the time thus beaten, and then remarking that there was no need of other arguments and a second performance after that.
Photius reports very much the same as to his style, i.e. he shows a prodigious ostentation: uses words difficult to pronounce, and abounding in many consonants, and that in a poetic, or rather a dithyrambic style: he has periods inordinately long: he is obscure, and seeks to hide by this very obscurity whatever is weak in his perceptions and conceptions, which indeed is often. He attacks others for their logic, and is very fond of using logic himself: but as he had taken up this science late in life, and had not gone very deeply into it, he is often found making mistakes.
The book of Eunomius which Photius had read is still extant: it is his Apologeticus in 28 sections, and has been published by Canisius (Lectiones Antiquæ, I. 172 ff.). His ἔκθεοις τῆς τίστεως, presented to the emperor Theodosius in the year 383, is also extant. This last is found in the Codex Theodosius and in the mss. which Livineius of Ghent used for his Greek and Latin edition of Gregory, 1574: it follows the Books against Eunomius. His Apologia Apologiæ, which he wrote in answer to Basils 5 (or 3) books against him, is not extant: nor the δευτερὸς λόγος which Gregory answered in his second 12th Book.
Most of the quotations, then, from Eunomius, in these books of Gregory cannot be verified, in the case of a doubtful reading, &c.
Next: Eunomius displays much folly and fine writing, but very little seriousness about vital points.
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