Abstract

This paper explores the nature of ecclesiastical parties in the fourth century by considering how different members of the "Eusebian" alliance understood the Son as the image of God. This study argues that in the years between the Council of Nicaea in 325 and the Dedication Council held at Antioch in 341 the Eusebians developed two fundamentally different and competing accounts. Arius and Asterius advocated a "participative" understanding of the Son as the image of God. As a created essence external to the Father, the Son nonetheless was God through his pre-eminent participation by grace in the divine attributes of the Father. Eusebius of Caesarea and Acacius of Caesarea took a "constitutive" approach to the question. They avoided speaking of the Son as created in any way and understood the Son as "made like" or "constituted in likeness to" the Father without participating in the divine attributes. Such fundamental differences indicate that, rather than by a single monolithic theology, ecclesiastical parties were defined mainly by expectations and the activity of mutual defense and correction, by common opposition to enemies considered as such for reasons not necessarily theological, and by a minimal set of shared doctrinal principles and formulas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3184
Print ISSN
1067-6341
Pages
pp. 459-484
Launched on MUSE
2007-01-11
Open Access
No
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