Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Objections Continued. Whether is the Unoriginate one or two? Inconsistent in Arians to use an unscriptural word; necessary to define its meaning. Different senses of the word. If it means 'without Father,' there is but One Unoriginate; if 'without beginning or creation,' there are two. Inconsistency of Asterius. 'Unoriginate' a title of God, not in contrast with the Son, but with creatures, as is 'Almighty,' or 'Lord of powers.' 'Father' is the truer title, as not only Scriptural, but implying a Son, and our adoption as sons.
Chapter IX.—Objections Continued. Whether is the Unoriginate one or two? Inconsistent in Arians to use an unscriptural word; necessary to define its meaning. Different senses of the word. If it means without Father, there is but One Unoriginate; if without beginning or creation, there are two. Inconsistency of Asterius. Unoriginate a title of God, not in contrast with the Son, but with creatures, as is Almighty, or Lord of powers. Father is the truer title, as not only Scriptural, but implying a Son, and our adoption as sons.
30. These considerations encourage the faithful, and distress the heretical, perceiving, as they do, their heresy overthrown thereby. Moreover, their further question, whether the Unoriginate be one or two 1993 , shews how false are their views, how treacherous and full of guile. Not for the Fathers honour ask they this, but for the dishonour of the Word. Accordingly, should any one, not aware of their craft, answer, the Unoriginated is one, forthwith they spirit out their own venom, saying, Therefore the Son is among things originated, and well have we said, He was not before His generation. Thus they make any kind of disturbance and confusion, provided they can but separate the Son from the Father, and reckon the Framer of all among His works. Now first they may be convicted on this score, that, while blaming the Nicene Bishops for their use of phrases not in Scripture, though these not injurious, but subversive of their irreligion, they themselves went off upon the same fault, that is, using words not in Scripture 1994 , and those in contumely of the Lord, knowing neither what they say nor whereof they affirm 1995 . For instance, let them ask the Greeks, who have been their instructors (for it is a word of their invention, not Scripture), and when they have been instructed in its various significations, then they will discover that they cannot even question properly, on the subject which they have undertaken. For they have led me to ascertain 1996 that by unoriginate is meant what has not yet come to be, but is possible to be, as wood which is not yet become, but is capable of becoming, a vessel; and again what neither has nor ever can come to be, as a triangle quadrangular, and an even number odd. For a triangle neither has nor ever can become quadrangular; nor has even ever, nor can ever, become odd. Moreover, by unoriginate is meant, what exists, but has not come into being from any, nor having a father at all. Further, Asterius, the unprincipled sophist, the patron too of this heresy, has added in his own treatise, that what is not made, but is ever, is unoriginate 1997 . They ought then, when they ask the question, to add in what sense they take the word unoriginate, and then the parties questioned would be able to answer to the point.
31. But if they still are satisfied with merely asking, Is the Unoriginate one or two? they must be told first of all, as ill-educated men, that many are such and nothing is such, many, which are capable of origination, and nothing, which is not capable, as has been said. But if they ask according as Asterius ruled it, as if what is not a work but was always were unoriginate, then they must constantly be told that the Son as well as the Father must in this sense be called unoriginate. For He is neither in the number of things originated, nor a work, but has ever been with the Father, as has already been shewn, in spite of their many variations for the sole sake of speaking against the Lord, p. 325 He is of nothing and He was not before His generation. When then, after failing at every turn, they betake themselves to the other sense of the question, existing but not generated of any nor having a father, we shall tell them that the unoriginate in this sense is only one, namely the Father; and they will gain nothing by their question 1998 . For to say that God is in this sense Unoriginate, does not shew that the Son is a thing originated, it being evident from the above proofs that the Word is such as He is who begat Him. Therefore if God be unoriginate, His Image is not originated, but an Offspring 1999 , which is His Word and His Wisdom. For what likeness has the originated to the unoriginate? (one must not weary of using repetition;) for if they will have it that the one is like the other, so that he who sees the one beholds the other, they are like to say that the Unoriginate is the image of creatures; the end of which is a confusion of the whole subject, an equalling of things originated with the Unoriginate, and a denial of the Unoriginate by measuring Him with the works; and all to reduce the Son into their number.
32. However, I suppose even they will be unwilling to proceed to such lengths, if they follow Asterius the sophist. For he, earnest as he is in his advocacy of the Arian heresy, and maintaining that the Unoriginate is one, runs counter to them in saying, that the Wisdom of God is unoriginate and without beginning also. The following is a passage out of his work 2000 : The Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ the power of God or the wisdom of God, but, without the article, Gods power and Gods wisdom 2001 ; thus preaching that the proper power of God Himself, which is natural to Him and co-existent with Him unoriginatedly, is something besides. And again, soon after: However, His eternal power and wisdom, which truth argues to be without beginning and unoriginate; this must surely be one. For though, misunderstanding the Apostles words, he considered that there were two wisdoms; yet, by speaking still of a wisdom coexistent with Him, he declares that the Unoriginate is not simply one, but that there is another Unoriginate with Him. For what is coexistent, coexists not with itself, but with another. If then they agree with Asterius, let them never ask again, Is the Unoriginate one or two, or they will have to contest the point with him; if, on the other hand, they differ even from him, let them not rely upon his treatise, lest, biting one another, they be consumed one of another 2002 . So much on the point of their ignorance; but who can say enough on their crafty character? who but would justly hate them while possessed by such a madness? for when they were no longer allowed to say out of nothing and He was not before His generation, they hit upon this word unoriginate, that, by saying among the simple that the Son was originate, they might imply the very same phrases out of nothing, and He once was not; for in such phrases things originated and creatures are implied.
33. If they have confidence in their own positions, they should stand to them, and not change about so variously 2003 ; but this they will not, from an idea that success is easy, if they do but shelter their heresy under colour of the word unoriginate. Yet after all, this term is not used in contrast with the Son, clamour as they may, but with things originated; and the like may be found in the words Almighty, and Lord of the Powers 2004 . For if we say that the Father has power and mastery over all things by the Word, and the Son rules the Fathers kingdom, and has the power of all, as His Word, and as the Image of the Father, it is quite plain that neither here is the Son reckoned among that all, nor is God called Almighty and Lord with reference to Him, but to those things which through the Son come to be, and over which He exercises power and mastery through the Word. And therefore the Unoriginate is specified not by contrast to the Son, but to the things which through the Son come to be. And excellently: since God is not as things originated, but is their Creator and Framer through the Son. And as the word Unoriginate is specified relatively to things originated, so the word Father is indicative of the Son. And he who names God Maker and Framer and Unoriginate, regards and apprehends things created and made; and he who calls God Father, thereby conceives and contemplates the Son. And hence one might marvel at the obstinacy which is added to their irreligion, that, whereas the term unoriginate has the aforesaid good sense, and admits of being used religiously 2005 , they, in their own heresy, bring it forth for the dishonour of the Son, not having read that he who honoureth the Son honoureth the Father, p. 326 and he who dishonoureth the Son, dishonoureth the Father 2006 . If they had any concern at all 2007 for reverent speaking and the honour due to the Father, it became them rather, and this were better and higher, to acknowledge and call God Father, than to give Him this name. For, in calling God unoriginate, they are, as I said before, calling Him from His works, and as Maker only and Framer, supposing that hence they may signify that the Word is a work after their own pleasure. But that he who calls God Father, signifies Him from the Son being well aware that if there be a Son, of necessity through that Son all things originate were created. And they, when they call Him Unoriginate, name Him only from His works, and know not the Son any more than the Greeks; but he who calls God Father, names Him from the Word; and knowing the Word, he acknowledges Him to be Framer of all, and understands that through Him all things have been made.
34. Therefore it is more pious and more accurate to signify God from the Son and call Him Father, than to name Him from His works only and call Him Unoriginate 2008 . For the latter title, as I have said, does nothing more than signify all the works, individually and collectively, which have come to be at the will of God through the Word; but the title Father has its significance and its bearing only from the Son. And, whereas the Word surpasses things originated, by so much and more doth calling God Father surpass the calling Him Unoriginate. For the latter is unscriptural and suspicious, because it has various senses; so that, when a man is asked concerning it, his mind is carried about to many ideas; but the word Father is simple and scriptural, and more accurate, and only implies the Son. And Unoriginate is a word of the Greeks, who know not the Son; but Father has been acknowledged and vouchsafed by our Lord. For He, knowing Himself whose Son He was, said, I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me; and, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, and I and the Father are One 2009 ; but nowhere is He found to call the Father Unoriginate. Moreover, when He teaches us to pray, He says not, When ye pray, say, O God Unoriginate, but rather, When ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven 2010 . And it was His will that the Summary 2011 of our faith should have the same bearing, in bidding us be baptized, not into the name of Unoriginate and originate, nor into the name of Creator and creature, but into the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For with such an initiation we too, being numbered among works, are made sons, and using the name of the Father, acknowledge from that name the Word also in the Father Himself 2012 . A vain thing then is their argument about the term Unoriginate, as is now proved, and nothing more than a fantasy.
The word ἀγγέν[ν]ητον was in the philosophical schools synonymous with God; hence by asking whether there were two Unoriginates, the Arians implied that there were two Gods, if Christ was God in the sense in which the Father was. Hence Athan. retorts, φάσκοντες, οὐ λέγομεν δύο ἀγένητα, λέγουσι δύο θεούς. Orat. iii. 16, also ii. 38. Plato used ἀγέννητον of the Supreme God [not so; he used ἀγένητον, see note 2 on de Decr. 28]; the Valentinians, Tertull. contr. Val. 7; and Basilides, Epiph. Hær. 31. 10. S. Clement uses it, see de Syn. 47, note 7. [The earlier Arians apparently argued mainly, like Asterius, from ἀγένητος (cf. Epiph. 64. 8), the later (καινοί, Epiph. Hær. 73. 19) Anomœans rather from ἀγέννητος]; viz. that ἡ ἀγεννησία is the very οὐσία of God, not an attribute. So Aetius in Epiph. Hær. 76. S. Athanasius does not go into this question, but rather confines himself to the more popular form of it, viz. the Son is by His very name not ἀγένητος, but γενητὸς, but all γενητὰ are creatures; which he answers, as de Decr. §28, by saying that Christianity had brought in a new idea into theology, viz. the sacred doctrine of a true Son, ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας. This was what the Arians had originally denied ἓν τὸ ἀγέννητον ἓν δὲ τὸ ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἀληθῶς, καὶ οὐκ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας αὐτοῦ γεγονός. Euseb. Nic. ap. Theod. H. E. i. 6. When they were urged what according to them was the middle idea to which the Son answered, if they would not accept the Catholic, they would not define but merely said, γέννημα, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ὡς ἓν τῶν γεννημάτων. [See pp. 149, 169, and the reference there to Lightfoot.]324:1994
De Decr. 18.324:1995
1 Tim. i. 7.324:1996
De Decr. 28, note 4.324:1997
The two first senses here given answer to the two first mentioned, de Decr. §28. and, as he there says, are plainly irrelevant. The third in the de Decr. which, as he there observes, is ambiguous and used for a sophistical purpose, is here divided into third and fourth, answering to the two senses which alone are assigned in the de Syn. §46 [where see note 5], and on them the question turns. This is an instance, of which many occur, how Athan. used his former writings and worked over again his former ground, and simplified or cleared what he had said. In the de Decr. after 350, we have three senses of ἀγένητον, two irrelevant and the third ambiguous; here in Orat. i. (358), he divides the third into two; in the de Syn. (359), he rejects and omits the two first, leaving the two last, which are the critical senses.325:1998
These two senses of ἀγέννητον unbegotten and unmade were afterwards [but see notes on de Decr. 28] expressed by the distinction of νν and ν, ἀγέννητον and ἀγένητον. vid. Damasc. F. O. i. 8. p. 135. and Le Quiens note.325:1999
§20, note 5.325:2000
De Syn. §18, infr. ii. 37.325:2001
1 Cor. i. 24.325:2002
Gal. v. 15.325:2003
De Syn. 9, note 2.325:2004
The passage which follows is written with his de Decr. before him. At first he but uses the same topics, but presently he incorporates into this Discourse an actual portion of his former work, with only such alterations as an author commonly makes in transcribing. This, which is not unfrequent with Athan., shews us the care with which he made his doctrinal statements, though they seem at first sight written off. It also accounts for the diffuseness and repetition which might be imputed to his composition, what seems superfluous being often only the insertion of an extract from a former work.325:2005
De Syn. §47.326:2006
John v. 23.326:2007
Here he begins a close transcript of the de Decr. §30, the last sentence, however, of the paragraph being an addition.326:2008
For analogous arguments against the word ἀγέννητον, see Basil, contr. Eunom. i. 5. p. 215. Greg. Naz. Orat. 31. 23. Epiph. Hær. 76. p. 941. Greg. Nyss. contr. Eunom. vi. p. 192, &c. Cyril. Dial. ii. Pseudo-Basil. contr. Eunom. iv. p. 283.326:2009
John xiv. 11; xiv. 9; x. 30. These three texts are found together frequently in Athan. particularly in Orat. iii. where he considers the doctrines of the Image and the περιχώρησις. vid. Index of Texts, also Epiph. Hær. 64. 9. Basil. Hexaem. ix. fin. Cyr. Thes. xii. p. 111. [add in S. Joan, 168, 847] Potam. Ep. ap. Dacher. t. 3. p. 299. Hil. Trin. vii. 41. et supr.326:2010
Luke xi. 2.326:2011
De Syn. 28, note 5.326:2012
Here ends the extract from the de Decretis. The sentence following is added as a close.
Next: Objections Continued. How the Word has free will, yet without being alterable. He is unalterable because the Image of the Father, proved from texts.
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