Thursday, August 31, 2023

C.K. Barrett on John 14:28 (Christology)

It is well known that some fourth-century members of the Church applied John 14:28 to the preexistent Son of God: B.F. Westcott painstakingly supplies details respecting the verse's history of interpretation. However, as one traces Dogmengeschichte from Athanasius of Alexandria onwards, one finds that the post-Nicenes eventually applied John 14:28 to the enfleshed Son since talk of the preexistent Son's inferiority or lesser dignity made them uncomfortable. As Maurice Wiles relates, texts such as John 14:28 are applied to the Son qua the incarnate one and not to the second Person of the Trinity properly speaking. Below are some notes from my thesis on Tertullian. At the time I wrote them, I had not actually incorporated the notes into the final chapter of my M.Th. thesis; this material is taken from C.K. Barrett's Essays on John, page 27.

While some church fathers prefer to interpret John 14:28 as a reference to the human nature of Christ, Barrett contends that this understanding is neither the earliest interpretation nor the predominant one of the time. Yet both the Tome of Leo (Ad Flavianum, Epistola 4) and Augustine’s Tractate on John 78.2 apply John 14:28 to the human ousia of Christ. On the other hand, most pre-Nicene writers think that Jesus' words are to be explained "independently of the circumstances of the incarnation." Barrett lists Tertullian's Adversus Praxean 9 as one example of this understanding (i.e., the text is applied to the preexistent Son of God). Another is Adversus Praxean 14, and in Adversus Praxean 22, Tertullian also refers John 10:30 to the heavenly Logos (Barrett, 27).

Finally, Origen thinks John 14:28 teaches that the Father is greater than the Son according to "their proper being and intrinsic relationship" (28).


Nincsnevem said...

Some notes on John 14:28:

Yes, most interpreters relate this verse to the human nature of Jesus, and connecting to his 'kenosis' (Phil 2:7), but this is not necessary, there is also the explanation that he is "greater" in the sense that the Logos received his existence and deity of the Father, and thus in his fatherhood greater than the Son. This does not mean being less in the Godhead, nor an ontological inferiority. This is also the explanation of Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus. The difference between the Father and the Son is not in the degree of deity, but the Father is greater in the relations of the divine persons, since he is the Father, not the Son. Jesus had no beginning in time, in terms of causality, he has a beginning: the Father. Jesus exists in eternity, but he derives his existence from the Father.

By the way, there is also biblical evidence that the term 'meizon' used here does not mean ontological superiority, since the Scriptures use this term also in the relation of persons who are obviously ontologically equal, see: John 14:12, Matthew 11:11.

Ontological superiority is expressed in Scripture by the word 'kreitton', see Hebrews 1:4

Edgar Foster said...

I think it can be shown that the pre-Nicenes usually read inferiority into meizon: See;%20John%2010:30;%20John%2014:9

Duncan said...

Nincsnevem said...

First of all, I'm glad you found the website useful, where you can search by Bible verse to see what the church fathers said about this.

I do not agree, e.g. as we have seen, Tertullian professed that Jesus was God almighty, so he could not think that he was less than the Father in his deity. For example, he writes:

"the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, *inasmuch* as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another".

This is a completely orthodox view, it is exactly the same as what Hilary of Poitiers said.
For the Father is not greater than the Son in power, eternity, and greatness, but in the dignity of a giver or source, of origin. For the Father receives nothing from another, but the Son receives His nature from the Father by eternal generation. Therefore, the Father is greater because He gives; but the Son is not less but equal because He receives everything that is the Father's (Matthew 11:27).

As Jesus said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Acts 20:35)

The Father is not "greater" because the Son does not possess the fullness of deity (cf. Colossians 2:9), but because he receives his deity from the Father, and the Father is the one who gives it.

In terms of Trinitarian origin, that is, the Son is begotten of the Father, the Son is conceptually dependent on the Father, providing a sufficient logical basis for the *speech mode* that the Son logically follows the Father and in this sense is dependent on Him, and since the Father is the source of Godhead, He can be 'par excellence' attributed (but not appropriated against the Son and the Holy Spirit) the name God.

Nincsnevem said...

If Arianism had any precedent in church history, why did the Arian party never refer to any church father? Athanasius in his book on the Decrees of the Nicene Synod,

"Behold, we have indeed shown that this opinion has been handed down by hand from the Fathers to the Fathers. But you, O new Jews and sons of Caiaphas, what ancestors of your names can you show?”

Edgar Foster said...

Nincsnevem, I will just say that I don't find the eternal generation idea in Tertullian or Novatian of Rome. It's likely not in Justin either.

It still gets me that Tertullian thought the Son of God in his preexistence was made lower than the angels. Against Marcion 2.27.

Edgar Foster said...

Here's another thing about the Arian party: most of what we know about them comes from their enemies.

Roman said...

How do you know the "Arian party" didn't refer to any Church Father?

What writings do we have? As Foster said it's largely their enemies that preserve them.

The heteroousians mostly said they followed Origen, and if you read Origen you'll see they were clearly correct.

Athanasius's claims about the Arians should be taken with a mountain of salt.

Tertullian literally said there was a time before the Son, i.e. before God was the Father (This goes beyond most of the later heteroousians, including Origen, most of whom did not actually claim, following Origen, that Christ was created "in time," or at least not in created time).

The scholarship on the first few centuries of Christianity is pretty clear, what is no called orthodoxy was largely a fourth century innovation, the vast majority of Christians before that were ontological subordinationists, many following Logos theology (Melito of Sardis represents a different strand, but that would be more modalist). Arius was here a theological conservative defending the received tradition against innovation (that in and of itself doesn't make him correct, but the claim that he was an innovator is just false).

The only way you can read back orthodoxy to Tertullian or Origen is to interpret them through categories they did not have or use, and to ignore half the stuff they said.

Nincsnevem said... I already wrote here that some of the church fathers' writings that can be misinterpreted or wrong speculation are not relevant in this regard, since the church fathers are relevant as witnesses of the faith, not infallible. Some quotes from Tertullian from his work Against Praxeas:

* "When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him. Thus does He make Him equal to Him: for by proceeding from Himself He became His first-begotten Son, because begotten before all things; Colossians 1:15 and His only-begotten also, because alone begotten of God, in a way peculiar to Himself, from the womb of His own heart — even as the Father Himself testifies: My heart, says He, has emitted my most excellent Word."

* "Now what Divine Person was born in it? The Word, and the Spirit which became incarnate with the Word by the will of the Father. The Word, therefore, is incarnate; and this must be the point of our inquiry: How the Word became flesh — whether it was by having been transfigured, as it were, in the flesh, or by having really clothed Himself in flesh. Certainly it was by a real clothing of Himself in flesh. For the rest, we must needs believe God to be unchangeable, and incapable of form, as being eternal."

* "By thus attaching the Son to Himself, He becomes His own interpreter in what sense He stretched out the heavens alone, meaning alone with His Son, even as He is one with His Son. The utterance, therefore, will be in like manner the Son's, I have stretched out the heavens alone, Isaiah 44:24 because by the Word were the heavens established. Inasmuch, then, as the heaven was prepared when Wisdom was present in the Word, and since all things were made by the Word, it is quite correct to say that even the Son stretched out the heaven alone, because He alone ministered to the Father's work. It must also be He who says, I am the First, and to all futurity I AM. The Word, no doubt, was before all things. In the beginning was the Word; John 1:1 and in that beginning He was sent forth by the Father."

Justin Martyr likewise:

"The Father of the universe has a Son, who also being the first begotten Word of God, is even God." (First Apology, ch. 63)

* "this Christ existed as God before the ages, and that He submitted to be born and become man" (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 48.)

* "God begot before all creatures a Beginning, who was a certain rational power from himself and whom the Holy Spirit calls . . . sometimes the Son, . . . sometimes Lord and Word ... We see things happen similarly among ourselves, for whenever we utter some word, we beget a word, yet not by any cutting off, which would diminish the word in us when we utter it. We see a similar occurrence when one fire enkindles another. It is not diminished through the enkindling of the other, but remains as it was" (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 61)

* "But this Offspring who was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with him" (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 62).


"the Son of God in his preexistence was made lower than the angels"

That would be a pretty interesting idea, I don't think it's wrong even from a JW perspective. And Tertullian professed the Son to be almighty God, how could he really think that he was below the angels?

Nincsnevem said...

In the WTS pamphet 'Should You Believe in the Trinity?', they quote Tertullian ("There was a time when the Son did not exist") out of context. In this section, Tertullian elaborates that while the persons are one in essence, they exist as separate persons in relation to each other: "[the Father] could not have been a Father before the Son, nor a judge before sin"; this was not an orthodox view, in fact, Tertullian contradicted himself, as in another writing he professed the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to be "eternal." [The Ante-Nicene Fathers, - Vol..3 (p. 478) Against Hermogenes 3]

The next quote ("God was alone when no other beings existed.") comes from another work, and in an accurate translation, it reads: "Before all things, God was alone". The statement can again be misunderstood without context; on the one hand, Tertullian argues against the modalist (according to modalism, God is only one person, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are only three successive appearances of the one God, but they are not real persons) Praxeas, who did not consider the Logos (the Son) eternal, only a temporary, second appearance form of the one-person God. Arguing against him, Tertullian identified the Word (logos) with God's Intelligence (nous) to more easily prove the eternity of the Logos: the eternal God's Intelligence must also be eternal, so God was never alone. Of course, this speculative argument is highly debatable: if the Logos were only God's intelligence, it would not always have been an independent person, and if it had come into existence over time – within God – how could it be eternal and uncreated?

"Therefore, we do not dare to assert boldly that God was not alone even before the creation of the universe, for his intelligence [nous] and his speech [logos] which he made second within himself were in him."
[The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3 (p. 600-601) Against Praxeas 5]

Despite the WTS' suggestion and Tertullian's occasionally speculative argumentation, the Church Father indeed professed the deity of Jesus, he is the origin of the "three persons – one essence" formula, so his faith contradicts that of the JWs.

Anyway, a number of contemporary Arian sources are available:

Nincsnevem said...

" I don't think it's wrong even from a JW perspective."

I mean: "I think it's wrong..."

To avoid repeating myself, please read my comments about subordinationism in this topic:
And here you can read quotes from Ante-Nicene fathers:

The fact that Arianism does not have antecedents in the 4th century is a historical fact. I know there are some Christian-basher liberal secularist authors, who, if not openly speaking, want to suggest that the Orthodox/Catholic Christian Church and its theology is a 4th century creation created by the Roman Emperor for political gain. Well, they must have read too much Dan Brown...
The emperors of the 4th century were more inclined towards Arianism.

There are self-proclaimed JW apologists on the internet who, based on the writings of these liberal authors, look up and cherry pick those 2-3 sentences given from the works of the church fathers (without reading through a single work of the given church father themself) and want to present that their theology was the original, and Nicene one is the innovation ("the great apostasy").

Here is a protestent author's article “Scripture and Tradition in the Early Church”:

The fact that the early Christians revered Jesus as their god can also be seen from external sources:

Pliny the Younger (c. 61 – c. 113), the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, wrote to Emperor Trajan c. 112 concerning how to deal with Christians, who refused to worship the emperor, and instead worshiped "Christus".

Tacitus wrote about during the Eucharist rituals Christians ate the body and drank the blood of their God, interpreting the ritual as cannibalism. I note that the latter proves that the early Christians professed the deity of Jesus and also in his real presence in the Eucharist.

Alexamenos graffito: "Alexamenos worships [his] God", this also disproves the JWs' "torture stake" theory.

These are just several examples of testimony from "hostile witnesses" - considered excellent proof in a court of law.

Roman said...

Tertullian's use of essence is not the same as the later trinitarian concept, he also believes angels have the same essence as God, remember he's a stoic.

Tertullian's notion of the Logos was NOT that of later trinitarian conceptions, the Logos was God's intelligence and then it became the Son, i.e. the Logos qua reason was eternal, but the Logos qua Son was brought into being, (this is standard Logos theology).

One thing to remember is that in the ancient world "God" is not univocal.

Nincsnevem said...

"And we, in like manner, hold that the Word, and Reason, and Power, by which we have said God made all, have spirit as their proper and essential substratum, in which the Word has in being to give forth utterances, and reason abides to dispose and arrange, and power is over all to execute. We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun — there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence— in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth."
(Tertullian: The Apology, Chapter 21)

"If Christ had been only man, He would have been spoken of as in the image of God, not in the form of God. For we know that man was made after the image or likeness, not after the form, of God. Who then is that angel who, as we have said, was made in the form of God? But neither do we read of the form of God in angels, except because this one is chief and royal above all — the Son of God, the Word of God, the imitator of all His Father's works, in that He Himself works even as His Father. He is — as we have declared — in the form of God the Father. And He is reasonably affirmed to be in the form of God, in that He Himself, being above all things, and having the divine power over every creature, is also God after the example of the Father. Yet He obtained, this from His own Father, that He should be both God of all and should be Lord, and be begotten and made known from Himself as God in the form of God the Father."
(Novatian: On the Trinity)

"None of these testimonies, however, sets forth distinctly the Saviour’s exalted birth; but when the words are addressed to Him, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,” this is spoken to Him by God, with whom all time is to-day, for there is no evening with God, as I consider, and there is no morning, nothing but time that stretches out, along with His unbeginning and unseen life. The day is to-day with Him in which the Son was begotten, and thus the beginning of His birth is not found, as neither is the day of it."
(Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.)

Anonymous said...

Nincsnevem you are wasting your breath.

Roman Montero's collection of quotations
from ante-Nicene Church Fathers
& their (non-)orthodoxy

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Nincsnevem said...

Yes, another silly conspiracy theory, Jehovah was "erased" from the NT, now the works of the church fathers were also falsified systematically... but what kind of paranoid tin foil hat mentality does this require?

Most of your quotes are not from the church fathers themselves, but rather what someone thinks the church father thought.
Most of the real quotes are characterized by the infamous "dung beetle" strategy, this cherry-picking "let's hunt for quotes!" method, we are sure to find something "tasty" from hundreds of pages, aren't we? What does it matter if the author's oeuvre itself, or even just a single work, e.g. 'Adversus Praxean' or 'De Principiis' were read through, then we would draw a completely different conclusion about that given person's views.

Your references do not take into account that the authors' use of words does not mean the same thing either. "Ktisma", "ktizo" does not mean the same thing in the LXX, the NT, Origen and Arius, hundreds of years have passed between them. This issue is addressed in this article:

Many times even the translation is wrong, ehh..

What remains (approx. 1%) is what I wrote in the other topic about the confused speculation of some early authors.

Check this:

Edgar Foster said...

It's not just speculation or conspiratorial thinking: we know for a fact that some redaction took place with the ANF writings. See

Also, what about the recensions of Ignatius of Antioch?

Nincsnevem said...

"Much has been made of the fact that large portions of Origen's writing is preserved only in Latin translations by Rufinus and Jerome. Rufinus, in his preface to the Treatise of First Principles, states that he suppressed some passages on the Trinity which he judged to be inserted by heretics. Jehovah's Witness apologists, when confronted by the quotations I have provided here often reply that we cannot be certain that they reflect Origen's beliefs, but rather are interpolations by Rufinus. First, this objection cannot be raised with regard to the Commentary on the Gospel of John or the Homily 9 on Jeremiah, since we possess the Greek text of the books quoted. The passages quoted from First Principles exist both in Rufinus' Latin and Athanasius' Greek. There is no evidence that these two witnesses are related; therefore, we have two independent sources suggesting that these quotes accurately reflect Origen's original words. As Henri Crouzel notes, Rufinus' translation suffers primarily from omissions, often arising from a desire to abridge or avoid repetition: "Comparisons of the texts in the Philocalia [containing about 1/7 of the Greek text of First Principles] with Rufinus' work yields on the whole a favorable result" (Crouzel, pp. 46-47). Any discrepancies between Rufinus' Latin and Origen's Greek would, then, seem to be in the area of omissions rather than interpolations, and the extent to which Rufinus altered the text has, perhaps, been exaggerated by some. Thus, we have several works, some preserved in Greek, others in Latin but corroborated by independent Greek witnesses, which demonstrate that Origen held the belief that the Son was of the same essence as the Father, co-eternal and uncreated."


Nincsnevem said...

The question concerning the relation of the Son's birth to creation in Origen's doctrine is among the most important ones. Those writers, who were unfavorable towards Origen, claim that he acknowledges the Son of God as "created". However, the way they pose this question is not of high merit: their point of view is purely formal; their judgment is based on individual expressions of Origen. Indeed, he called the Son a "creation" (κτίσμα), "having come into being" (γενητός), and apparently placed Him among creatures (δημουργήματα).

The only place s. Cels. 5, 37 p. 606; 1240. πρεσβύτατον γὰρ αὐτὸν πάντων τῶν δημιουργημάτων ἴσασι οἱ θεῖοι λόγοι καὶ αὐτῷ τὸν Θεὸν περὶ δημιουργίας εἰρηκέναι˙ Ποιήσωμεν ἂνθρωπον. From this it is clear that the Son exists not as a result of creation in the usual sense (δημιουργίας), that He is the oldest of all creatures (πρεσβύτατον, not πρεσβύτερον); therefore, if the first expression excludes the Son from the order of creatures, the latter only elevates Him above them, not singling Him out from their number.

De Princ. 1, 2, 2. 3 p. 54; 131. In hac ipsa ergo Sapientiae subsistentia [in the original, probably, ­ ἐν ταύτῃ οὖν τῇ τῆς Σοφίας ὑποστάσει. Cfr. in Joh. t. 1, 39 p. 39], etc. From the very structure, it is clear that Rufinus, in this place, had a Greek text in front of him - he actually only gives a raw literal translation, rather than "explains". Compare the teachings of Tatian (paragraph of footnote № 174 and further) and Tertullian

However, it is undeniable that when Origen calls the Son κτίσμα, he always has in mind the known expression of Wisdom: "The Lord created Me (ἐκτισέ με instead of ἐκτήσατο) at the beginning of His ways." Origen interprets the meaning of this text as: "Since in this hypostasis of Wisdom all the possibility and image of the future creature was already enclosed and by the power of foresight everything was preordained and distributed - both what exists in the proper sense and what relates to the first as its property: then for the sake of these creatures, which were as if outlined and prefigured in Wisdom itself, She calls Herself created at the beginning of God's ways, because She contains and prefigures in Herself the beginnings, forms or species of all creatures". Thus, the plan of creation, outlined in its entirety and in detail in Wisdom, the world, potentially and ideally existing in Her, is the aspect by which the Son is called a creature. Clearly, such a basis, as naming the Son κτίσμα, is not enough to say that Origen recognizes the Son as a creature in the sense this word acquired after the Arian disputes. But even weaker is the basis that Origen calls the Son γενητός and other similar expressions. The word "γενητός" means, properly, "having come into being," "having its being from another", and the use of its root "γίνομαι" in Origen proves that it not only did not stand in opposition to the word "γεννητός", but even was not distinguished from the latter.

Jerome (de pr. praef. 4 р. 48; 117) translates with the words "utrum factus sit an infectus" what Rufinus conveyed as "utrum natus an innatus", – obviously, "γενητὸν ἢ ἀγένητον" of the Greek text. Gué (Origen. 1. 2 с. 2. qu. 2 n. 23 col. 777) translates "γενητός" as: "who has from another that he exists", "who has the beginning of himself, and the beginning of existence".

Nincsnevem said...

It is clear that the words κτίζω and κτίσμα in antiquity were not used uniformly by everyone, and that none of the earliest church fathers used them in the sense that the Arians later attributed to them. Therefore, it is only fair to note the following remark by Henry Valesius: "Ancient theologians, and especially those who wrote before the Council of Nicaea, understood by the word κτίζειν not only the creation which occurs ex nihilo, but every kind of production in general, both that which is from eternity and that which is in time"392. True, such use of κτίσμα and κτίζω in patristic literature cannot serve as definitive proof that Origen could not have used the aforementioned expressions in the Arian sense - but in any case, patristic literature provides a very strong basis for the assumption that he might not have used these expressions in the Arian sense. As for the fact that he actually attributed to them a different meaning than the Arians, we can ascertain this from his works. For instance, in one place he says the following: "According to this [notion] of genesis implied, we will be able to accept the beginning and what is said by Wisdom in Proverbs: 'For God created me at the beginning of His ways for His works' (In Ioan. 1, 17. Mign. 4, 53.)", and he further explains that being "in the beginning" means being in the Father. "In the expression: 'In the beginning was the Word,' the Word refers to the Son, Who is called 'in the beginning' precisely because He is in the Father." In this case, the expression κτίζω, used in the Holy Scriptures about the Son, is explained by Origen in terms of the Son's general origin from the Father, or his proceeding to creation, but such an origin in which the Son proceeds or goes forth to creation from the Father, in Whom He was as in His beginning. Thus, the expression "created" is understood by Origen as an expression used in the Holy Scriptures to indicate the uncreated nature of the Son, by virtue of which He remains consubstantial with the Father. Elsewhere, Origen discusses the bestowing of existence to Wisdom and the creation of the entire world through Her in the following way: "As life was in the Word, so the Word was in the beginning. Consider whether we can understand the words 'In the beginning was the Word' in such a way that everything came into being through Wisdom and through the images consisting of the sum of the ideas contained in Her. For I think that just as a house or a ship are built according to architectural drawings (τύπους), according to the images and principles (τύπους καὶ λόγους) possessed by the artist, constituting the beginning of a house or ship, in the same way everything was created according to the principles of things that are to be – principles that were preconceived by God in Wisdom (κατὰ τοὶς ἐν τῆ σοφία προτρανωθέντας ύπὸ Θεοῦ, τπων ἐσομένων λόγους). For He made everything in Wisdom (Ps. 48, 13, 21), and it is necessary to say that He created, so to speak, a living Wisdom (κτίσας ίν οὔτως ἐίπω, ἒμψυχον σοφίαν), and entrusted to it, from the types existing within it (ὰπὸ τῶν αὐτῆ τύπων), the task to bestow existence, formation, and forms to creatures and matter. And I wonder, can it not also be said that the beginning of all that exists is the Son of God, Who says: I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13)" [In Ioan. 1, 22. Mign. 4, 56–57.].

Nincsnevem said...

Thus, from Origen's perspective, the Son is the "living Wisdom", containing within Himself the ideas and prototypes of all things, created by God, but created specifically in the sense of only Wisdom, as the archetype of the world – an archetype in which He created everything. Clearly, the creation of everything in Wisdom and the creation of Wisdom itself from Origen's viewpoint are not the same. It is also remarkable that, when speaking further about Wisdom, Origen uses the expression "created" with the addition of "so to speak", while speaking about those forms and ideas that were in Wisdom, he uses the word ἐποίησε. The former, apparently, has a general meaning, similar to what is given in the previously mentioned passage (In. Ioan. 1:17), while the latter denotes something created in the proper sense, finite.

What we said about the use of the words κτίζω, κτίσμα, we should also say about Origen's use of other similar expressions. Thus, saying that the Son is μεταξύ τῆς ἀγενήτου καὶ τῆς τῶν γενητῶν πἀντων φύσεως (C. Cels. 3, 34), he does not want to say that the nature of the Son is something intermediate between the nature of created and uncreated beings, but only that the Son is a Mediator between God and men, the Great High Priest, who raises our prayers to His Father. As for the expressions γενητῶν and ἀγενήτος, the former sometimes applied to the Son, the latter to the Father, it is known that in Origen's time and even after him, they were not strictly differentiated. Similar to οὐσία and ίπόστασις, they were often mixed up, sometimes unintentionally, like in some church writers, and sometimes intentionally, like the Arians, who tried to cover up their falsehood with a deliberate distortion of words. However, calling the Father ἀγενήτος and ἀγέννητος, and the Son – γενητὸς and γεννητὸς, Origen was correct. Ἀγέννητος and ἀγενήτος are applied to the Father because only He is unbegotten and has no cause of his existence, while it is more appropriate to call the Son γεννητὸς and γενητὸς, because He is born from the Father and, therefore, has the Father as the source of His existence. Thus, when Origen is accused of calling the Son "γενητὸς Θεὸν" or admitting "ἀγένηον μηδὲν ἒτερον τοῦ Πατρὸς" (ln. Iоаn. 2, 6), such accusations are unjust, because these words only express the idea that apart from the Father, he recognizes no one as beginningless.

"We bring our prayers to Him, as being in between the nature of the uncreated and the nature of all created things, and while He brings us blessings from the Father, He also, in some priestly manner, conveys our prayers to the God above all (C. Cels. 3, 34)."
396 The expressions: ἀρχὴ δημιουργημάτων (In Ioan. 1: 19), πρεσβύτατος πάντων τῶν δημιουργημάτων (C. Cels. 5, 37), and πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, which Redepenning (Origenes. B. 2, S. 309 Anm.) draws attention to, wanting to see in them an indication of the Son's created nature, can even less serve as the basis for such a thought; since ἀρχὴ in the mentioned place means not the initial member in a certain order of beings, but the cause, the beginning; while the expressions, πρεσβύτατος and πρωτότοκος, indicate the beginningless existence of the Son in comparison to the temporal existence of creatures — which can be seen from the context of the mentioned places. For example, in the mentioned passage from the "Books against Celsus" (5, 37) it is directly said: "He is not young for this reason, for the divine words know Him as older than all the works of God. And πρωτότοκος is a biblical expression.

Nincsnevem said...

Certainly, γενητὸς is used to denote the creatureliness of a known being, but this is the narrowest meaning of the word; its general meaning is "originating from someone". Athanasius the Great says that the fathers of the pre-Nicene period, using the expression ἀγενήτος and γενητὸς, attributed to them a very broad meaning: "Ο’θκ ἀγνοοῦμεν δε ὄτι καὶ οί εἰρηκότες ἒν τὂ ἀγένητον τὸν Πατέρα λέγοντες, ὐχ ώς γενητοῦ καὶ ποιήματος ὄντος τοῦ Λόγου, οὔτως ἔγράψαν, ἀλλ ὄτιμὴ ὲχει αἴτιον (de Syn. Arim. Et Scleuc. 47); proving this, Athanasius refers to the words of St. Ignatius Theophorus: "Εἴς ίατρὸς ἐστὶ, σαρκικὸς καὶ πνευματικὸς, γενητὸς καὶ ἀγένητος", indicating that he "ὀρθῶς ἔγραψε". Thus, if church writers applied the word ἀγένητος only to the Father on the basis that the Father has no cause of being, then γενητὸς applied to the Son can only mean that He has a cause of His being, i.e., He originates from the Father. That Origen, calling the Son γενητὸς, uses this expression in the general sense is proven, among other things, by the fact that understanding this word as "created", he calls the Son "ἀγένητον" (C. Cels. 6, 17), i.e., uncreated, not originating as all creatures do. The use of one word in two different senses easily resolves that accusation against Origen, mentioned by St. Pamphilus in his apology, saying: "The first charge brought against Origen is that he called the Son unbegotten; obviously, Origen did not say "ἀγέννητον", but "ἀγένητον", i.e., uncreated (See in more detail – Huetil Origeniana, 1. 2, qu. 11, с. 23, Mign. 7, 776–778; Petavii – de Trinitate, 1, 5, с. 1, p. 261–266).

Nincsnevem said...

He doesn't just talk about "some redaction", he threw in a conspiracy theory about a conscious, tendentious and systematic falsification. As usual.. the wicked apostate church almost managed to commit the perfect, traceless crime, BUT then he finally managed to expose it well on his poorly designed apologist blog!

"what about the recensions of Ignatius of Antioch?"

You mean this?

"Pseudo-Ignatius opposed asceticism and he had Arian leanings."

"This is the view of Harnack, who, “by a critical analysis and comparison, comes to the conclusion that pseudo-Clement, alias pseudo-Ignatius, was a Eusebian, a semi-Arian, and rather worldly-minded anti-ascetic Bishop of Syria, a friend of the Emperor Constantius between 340 and 360; that he enlarged and adapted the Didascalia of the third and the Didache of the second century, as well as the Ignatian Epistles, to his own view of morals, worship, and discipline, and clothed them with Apostolic authority.”"

Edgar Foster said...

Edgar Foster said...

I have a different view of his blog, but insulting its design does nothing to refute its content.

Edgar Foster said...

Dissertation on Ignatian texts

Anonymous said...

Even this professor acknowledges the ante-Nicene Church Fathers did not believe in the trinity.

Duncan said...

I did not think that the trinity evan became a thing at nicea. Wasn't later than that?

Nincsnevem said...

"Even this professor acknowledges..."

"Even", "acknowledges".. a Unitarian argues in favor of Unitarianism, wow, that obviously justifies this jubilant triumphalist rhetoric, which is mostly reminiscent of the language of the Soviet press, like "the rotten Western capitalism has only years left"....

Nincsnevem said...


"Trinity" is a theological term, it is not part of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (even in the liturgical text of the Catholic Mass, the word "Trinity" is not mentioned), that's why I usually suggest that instead of discussing the Trinity, we should rather discuss the Nicene Christology , so that the Son

1) is born/begotten, or created?
2) from the essence/substance of the Father, or from nothing (ex nihilo)?
3) exists from a specific point in time, or born before all ages?
4) is true/real God, or just partially divine, like an archangel?
5) is alterable or immutable?

This is how the questions were posed at the Council of Nicaea too.

Nincsnevem said...

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Interesting conclusion reached by the author.

Nincsnevem said...


A. From the New Testament to the Council of Nicaea

1. The theologians who in our time raise doubts about the divinity of Christ often argue that this dogma cannot have emerged from genuine biblical revelation; its origins are traceable to Hellenism. Deeper historical inquiries show, on the contrary, that the thought pattern of the Greeks was totally alien to this dogma and that they rejected it with the utmost vigor. To the faith of Christians who proclaimed the divinity of Christ, Hellenism opposed its own dogma of the divine transcendence, which it regarded as irreconcilable with the contingency inherent to the human history of Jesus of Nazareth. Greek philosophers experienced the particular difficulty entailed in accepting the notion of a divine incarnation. In the name of their teaching on the godhead, Platonist philosophers regarded this notion as unthinkable. The Stoics, in turn, could not manage to reconcile the Christological dogma with their cosmological doctrine.

2. It was in order to respond to these difficulties that, more or less openly, many Christian theologians borrowed from Hellenism the notion of a secondary god (deuteros theos), or of an intermediate god, or even of a demiurge. Obviously, this was tantamount to clearing the way to the threat of subordinationism. This subordinationism was already latent in some of the Apologists and in Origen. Arius made a formal heresy of it. He maintained that the Son occupies an intermediate position between the Father and the creatures. The Arian heresy offers a good illustration of how the dogma of Christ’s divinity would have looked had it truly emerged from the philosophy of Hellenism and not from God’s own revelation. At the Council of Nicaea in a.d. 325, the Church defined that the Son is consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father. In so doing, the Church both repudiated the Arian compromise with Hellenism and deeply altered the shape of Greek, especially Platonist and neo-Platonist, metaphysics. In a manner of speaking, it demythicized Hellenism and effected a Christian purification of it. In the act of dismissing the notion of an intermediate being, the Church recognized only two modes of being: uncreated (nonmade) and created.

To be sure, "homoousios", the term used by the Council of Nicaea, is a philosophical and nonbiblical term. It is evident all the same that, ultimately, the Fathers of the Council only intended to express the authentic meaning of the New Testament assertions concerning Christ, and to do this in a way that would be univocal and free from all ambiguity.