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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Of the Council at Sardica.

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Chapter XX.—Of the Council at Sardica. 305

The Western prelates on account of their being of another language, and not understanding this exposition, would not admit of it; saying that the Nicene Creed was sufficient, and that they would not waste time on anything beyond it. But when the emperor had again written to insist on the restoration to Paul and Athanasius of their respective sees, but without effect in consequence of the continual agitation of the people—these two bishops demanded that another Synod should be convened, so that p. 47 their case, as well as other questions in relation to the faith might be settled by an ecumenical council, for they made it obvious that their deposition arose from no other cause than that the faith might be the more easily perverted. Another general council was therefore summoned to meet at Sardica,—a city of Illyricum,—by the joint authority of the two emperors; the one requesting by letter that it might be so, and the other, of the East, readily acquiescing in it. It was the eleventh year after the death of the father of the two Augusti, during the consulship of Rufinus and Eusebius, 306 that the Synod of Sardica met. According to the statement of Athanasius 307 about 300 bishops from the western parts of the empire were present; but Sabinus says there came only seventy from the eastern parts, among whom was Ischyras of Mareotes, 308 who had been ordained bishop of that country by those who deposed Athanasius. Of the rest, some pretended infirmity of body; others complained of the shortness of the notice given, casting the blame of it on Julius, bishop of Rome, although a year and a half had elapsed from the time of its having been summoned: in which interval Athanasius remained at Rome awaiting the assembling of the Synod. When at last they were convened at Sardica, the Eastern prelates refused either to meet or to enter into any conference with those of the West, unless they first excluded Athanasius and Paul from the convention. But as Protogenes, bishop of Sardica, and Hosius, bishop of Cordova, a city in Spain, would by no means permit them to be absent, the Eastern bishops immediately withdrew, and returning to Philippopolis in Thrace, held a separate council, wherein they openly anathematized the term homoousios; and having introduced the Anomoian 309 opinion into their epistles, they sent them in all directions. On the other hand those who remained at Sardica, condemning in the first place their departure, afterwards divested the accusers of Athanasius of their dignity; then confirming the Nicene Creed, and rejecting the term anomoion, they more distinctly recognized the doctrine of consubstantiality, which they also inserted in epistles addressed to all the churches. Both parties believed they had acted rightly: those of the East, because the Western bishops had countenanced those whom they had deposed; and these again, in consequence not only of the retirement of those who had deposed them before the matter had been examined into, but also because they themselves were the defenders of the Nicene faith, which the other party had dared to adulterate. They therefore restored to Paul and Athanasius their sees, and also Marcellus of Ancyra in Lesser Galatia, who had been deposed long before, as we have stated in the former book. 310 At that time indeed he exerted himself to the utmost to procure the revocation of the sentence pronounced against him, declaring that his being suspected of entertaining the error of Paul of Samosata arose from a misunderstanding of some expressions in his book. It must, however, be noticed that Eusebius Pamphilus wrote three entire books against Marcellus, 311 in which he quotes that author’s own words to prove that he asserts with Sabellius the Libyan, and Paul of Samosata, that the Lord [Jesus] was a mere man.



Cf. Sozom. III. 11; Theodoret, H. E. II. 7; also Hefele, Hist. of the Church Councils, Vol. II. p. 87–176.


347 a.d.


Athanasius’ statement is that those who were present at the Council of Sardica, together with those who afterwards subscribed the Synodical Epistle sent to them and those who before the council had written in his behalf out of Phrygia, Asia, and Isauria, were in all about three hundred and forty. So in his Apol. contra Arianos, c. 50. In his Ep. ad Solitar. c. 15, he gives the number of those who met at Sardica as about one hundred and seventy,—no more.


Cf. I. 27.


νομοίου, ‘different,’ ‘unlike.’


I. 36.


There are two works of Eusebius extant against Marcellus. The one described here is de Ecclesiastica Theologia adversus Marcellum, in three books; the other is entitled contra Marcellum, and consists of two books. As there is no mention of the latter, it is doubtful whether Socrates had ever seen them. At the end of the second book, Eusebius asserts that he had written at the request of the bishops who had excommunicated Marcellus.

Next: Defense of Eusebius Pamphilus.

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