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Appendix.—Sketch of the History of the Genesis of the Orthodox System.

Origen had drawn up a system of Christian theology based on the four principles, God, the world, freedom, and Holy Scripture, and depending on the old Catholic Church doctrine. It is the only original scientific system ever produced by the Greek Church. The conception of a scientific system of truth is in itself philosophical; it has not come from religion which consists rather in faith in revelation. But the science of the time had conceded a lofty place within itself to this very belief in revelation, and, on the other hand, it was an innate instinct of the Christian faith to give an account of itself.

Origen’s undertaking and the manner in which he carried it out contained as many repellent as attractive features for his Christian contemporaries and the future. As a whole it held its ground only in the narrow circle of friends and followers;601601Theognostus, Origen’s disciple, made a new attempt at constructing a system, see Vol. III., p. 96. but its effects were nevertheless incalculable. If Origen had recast the whole faith (Pistis) into a science (Gnosis) the immediate consequence, by no means intended by him, was that some of his gnostic (theological) propositions were introduced into the faith, and that conversely others were amended in accordance with the language of the antignostic Catholic Kerygma. The system was thus dislocated, and with good reason; for it was a system, simply because in spite of its scrupulous regard for the Bible, history, and freedom, it had transformed history into a natural process. In opposing the notoriously heterodox points of the system—the pre-existence of souls, pre-temporal 332fall of souls, eternal creation of the world, the doctrine of the transfigured body, and Apokatastasis—an attack was made, if not always consciously, on its principles which became conspicuous in these points. For the above doctrines were not appendages which could be deleted; they rather expressed most clearly the fundamental thought of the system, that God is all in all, and that the doctrine of the Church was dealing with wholly inadequate symbols in concerning itself with the conceptions of the creation of the world in time, the historical fall and redemption, the judgment, and a twofold final destiny. Men desired science, and there was, as in all ages, only one science; then it was simply that which Origen had represented. But at the same time none would abandon the traditional tenets as absolutely valid truths, partly in the interest of conservatism, partly because it was vaguely felt that scientific theology did not do justice to the distinctive character of Christian faith. That was the dilemma; but in one point all thinkers were agreed with Origen, viz., that the final aim of faith and of the theology accompanied by asceticism, was participation in the knowledge and consequently the life of the Deity. They were all intellectualists, even, so far as we are acquainted with them, the earliest opponents of Origen, including Methodius.602602Besides him the earliest opponents—after Demetrius—were Peter of Alexandria and Eustathius of Antioch. Pamphilus and Eusebius wrote against Origen’s enemies. And theology brought about in the case of nearly all of them a loss to faith incalculable in its consequences—the fading of moral responsibility and of the conception of the judgment. No doubt the “Judgment” was maintained as before, and that against Origen; but the thought had lost and continued more and more to lose its all-commanding position in doctrine.

At the beginning of the fourth century,603603See the details in Vol. III., pp. 121-162. Christianity was, again in consequence of the theology, on the point of disruption. Eusebius has himself admitted the danger in the outward organisation, and it was a result of the cleavage in thought. Bishops spoke authoritatively in the East who had learned from Origen all sorts of ideas that put the doctrine of the Church in danger of running to seed. A compact school was in the 333field that, while it considered itself very scientific and genuinely biblical, yet without knowing or intending it, secularised Christianity. Constantine on the one hand, and Athanasius on the other, saved Christendom. Athanasius was no follower of Origen; he was more akin to Irenæus. In giving the central place to the thought of Christ’s essential unity with God, and in carrying it out, he also set the theology of the future, as it seems, on a new, or rather on the old Irenæan basis. But he was no theologian, or, better, he ceased to be one from the moment when he perceived the central significance of the above conception of faith. He hardly touched, let alone solved, the problem of correlating it with all the other results of contemporary knowledge, with the whole of natural theology. He had enough to do in showing that a conception still alien, at any rate to the majority, and clothed in an unfamiliar word, was scriptural, traditional, and fundamental, and in obviating objections. A kind of system was rather constructed by the strict Arians—Aëtius and Eunomius—by means of Aristotelian philosophy. Every professed system up till past the middle of the fourth century was heterodox, with the sole exception of that of Marcellus; but while he made a bold front against the whole doctrine of Origen, he seemed to fall into long refuted errors. His fate itself proves that one thing, in whose assertion orthodox and Arians were agreed, was already inseparably bound up with the Christianity of the cultured, viz., the Neo-platonic doctrine of God and his revelation. The one party—the Arians—might supplement it with Aristotelianism, the other might give the widest scope to the conception of salvation embodied in Jesus Christ, but in the above fundamental thought both were agreed, and the common veneration of Origen is proof of this.604604On Arians and orthodox, see Chap. I. Cyril’s catechisms show the procedure followed in the catechetic instruction of the cultured. They are based on the Symbol, and its separate points are proved from Scripture. Agreement with Scripture is sufficient; it also guarantees, so to speak, the unity, or, better, it suppresses the craving for strict unity. Revelation, as contained in the oracles of Scripture, was to satisfy all wants. The catechist did not indeed renounce rational argument in 334support of separate points of doctrine, but he did not offer anything like a system. On the other hand, traditionalism and the mysticism of the cultus were already strongly marked. Nor was the latter unconnected with Origen; on the contrary, no theologian of early times did so much to further it as he.

The transference of Athanasius’ thought into the scientific theology, i.e., into Origenism, was the work of the Cappadocians. Among them Gregory of Nyssa was the most thorough adherent of Origen. Though not without some reservations, yet it can be said that he represented the fundamental conception of Origen.605605The reservations are, certainly, not unimportant. If Gregory also shared Origen’s starting-point, viz., the antithesis of the spiritually divine and the sensuous, yet he had a more distinct grasp of the notion of creation, and attempted to understand the sensuous as a necessary side of human nature. Finally, however, he also regards the whole development explored by Christian theology as a cosmical process; only the process does not appear so manifest as in Origen, who besides had also, judging from Clement of Alex., introduced ideas alien to it. His “Great Catechism” is the only writing of the fourth century which can be compared to the work “De principiis”; but it contains a much narrower range of ideas, and is by no means, even in Gregory’s own view, a complete work on dogma.606606Everything in the “Great Catechism” is rational. The author begins by expounding the doctrine of the Trinity as the just mean between Jewish monotheism and heathen polytheism. He also shows that it occurs in the Old Testament (c. 1-4). Then follows the account of the doctrine of the Incarnation (c. 5-32), which forms the subject proper of the Catechism. It is treated from the most varied sides; the reason, nature, and result of the incarnation are discussed. It is proved from the essential attributes of God as well as the state of men; and it is shown that on the one hand it corresponds to the goodness, justice, wisdom, and power of God, and on the other presupposes the condition of evil, death, and freedom in man. Christ became man for all, but he is the physician only for the virtuous. The old question why he appeared so late is also (c. 29) discussed. The conclusion is taken up with expositions of Baptism, the Last Supper, and faith, which constitute the new birth, i.e., virtuous life (c. 33-40). Origen’s conceptions, though grouped round a new centre in that of Athanasius, run through the whole; this is still more conspicuous in some of the other writings by the same author. Next to the Cappadocians, Didymus of Alexandria is to be named as a disciple of Origen. It was of immense importance that, just before complete traditionalism settled on the Church, these men took up the cause of theological science in Origen’s sense, further, that at this very time men were found in the West to communicate the views of the Cappadocians 335and Didymus to their native land, and, finally, that the Byzantine Church never ventured to condemn the works of the Cappadocians—of Gregory of Nyssa. The last is especially a fact which cannot fail to excite astonishment; but what would have been left to the Greek Church from the sixth century down, if to the condemned doctors of the Church and their writings we had further to add the main works of Gregory of Nyssa. Since, however, the Church has steadily acknowledged the orthodoxy of the Cappadocians,607607The Cappadocians were always held to be the foremost among theologians. Thus Theodore of Studion says (Antirrhet II. adv. Iconom., p. 123, edit. Sirmond.): καὶ δὴ ἀκουσόμεθα τῶν κορυφαιοτάτων πατέρων, Γρηγορίου μὲν τοῦ θεολόγου . . . Βασιλείου δὲ τοῦ μεγάλου, and of the former (Iamb. 67, p. 766): Βρονθῶν τὰ θεῖα τῇ βοῇ τῶν δογμάτων, Ἠχήσας ὄντως τὴν ὑπουράνιον, μάκαρ· Καὶ πάσας ἀπρὶξ μωράνας τὰς αἱρέσεις, Τον κόσμον ἐστήριξας ἐν τοῖς σοῖς λόγοῖς. From the sixth century Gregory of Nyssa put his admirers in a precarious position by his manifestly heterodox doctrines. They were hushed up; yet their author is not placed by the Greeks of to-day on quite the same high level as Basilius and Gregory of Nazianzus. Origen himself has after all been always looked at as only half a heretic. Up to the present day the members of the two Catholic Churches do not know exactly how they ought really to regard him. He has remained a thorn in the flesh of the Church.

At the close of the fourth century it was settled that the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation constituted the faith; for they were most intimately connected, and the former was fixed in terms of the Incarnation. The great Apollinaris, a systematic theologian and besides an opponent of Origen’s method, and the Cappadocians established this conviction. By this means an immense gain was made on the one hand, but on the other not much; for what good did it do to confess these doctrines, as long as it was possible by means of philosophy to furnish very different versions of them, or while the infinite number of other tenets, which fell within the range of theology and required absolutely to be discussed in terms of the Symbol or of Holy Scripture, were destitute of any fixed form? We must again, or, rather still conceive the state of matters during the whole of the fourth century on to its close as being mutatis mutandis the same as when Gnosticism flourished, though a consensus of opinion was not wanting in the Church. 336There was no recognised conception of the nature of the Incarnation, after the bold and sanguine attempt of Apollinaris had been rejected as heretical, and the hundred and one “doctrines” which floated round the Trinitarian and Christological dogma were as fickle and uncertain as the waves of the sea. It was not known what belonged to the “faith”, whether to include psychology, or natural science. Everything offered itself, and nothing could be declared indifferent without danger; it was uncertain, too, in what form it did belong to faith. No one knew how the Bible was to be interpreted, whether literally, or typically, or spiritually; no form of interpretation could be wholly accepted or wholly rejected. It was not known what was to be expected in a future state; and as much doubt prevailed about the beginning as about the end of things. Conceptions still existed of God, the earth, heaven, Christ, the glories of Paradise and the horrors of the judgment, like those prevalent among the old “Saints” of the second century, and they were firmly held with less sanctity, but the same fanaticism, by the new saints, the monks.

On the other hand, both among monks and others, conceptions existed such as Origen cherished from which the many-coloured pictures and dramatic scenes had disappeared: men believed in eternal worlds, the original affinity of the human spirit with God, in the one unfolding itself into the many, and the many necessarily returning into the one. And in the fourth century Christians, and even clerics, went beyond Origen. To them the coverings and masks into which he had transformed the realistic doctrines of the Church were still more transparent. A man was now a Christian because every one was or was becoming one; but he would not cease being a philosopher. It was hardly necessary to come to terms with the doctrine of the Trinity, for, one or two points being set aside, it was held to be correct, rational, and Platonic. The Incarnation caused greater difficulty, but the Cappadocians themselves had shown how it could be under-stood rationally. A still further step was taken; the humanity assumed by God was dealt with in a free and easy manner. Speculation found plenty of expedients by which to pare down the paradox and to reduce it to the level of the intelligible. 337But once one had formulated, somehow or other, his assent to the Trinity and Incarnation he was really free and could apply Greek learning (Ἑλληνικὴ παιδεία) as much as he pleased to Christian truth, interpreting its myths.608608Nothing is more instructive here than the study of the noble Synesius. Thousands must have held the same views as he at the transition from the fourth to the fifth century; but few possessed the honesty of this Bishop or the clearness of his mind; see above all his letter to his brother Euoptius, when confronted by the question whether he should or should not accept the bishopric offered him. He was then still a Neoplatonist, and, though he afterwards modified his views to some extent, he never ceased to be one. But he openly declared that while he would not give up science, he would accept outwardly the mythical wrapping (τὰ δ᾽ ἔξω φιλομυθῶν), since the people did not endure the clear light.—Even at the end of the fourth century, Church Fathers found it necessary to oppose the idea first broached by Celsus, that Christ had borrowed from Plato. Moreover, there were Christianised philosophers who succeeded by an artifice in uniting the sublimest spiritualism with superstition; they inculcated a ritualistic immanence of the pneumatic in material, if consecrated, things, and transformed the whole world and history into a descending series of types and symbols, which appeared at the same time as effective vehicles of the divine. Creation was the evolution of the one into a world of ideas, symbols and types—every potency being the copy of a higher, and the pattern for a lower one; and redemption was completed in the mysteries of thought and the cultus, which led from type to type, from potency to potency, up to the all-embracing One. Thus Iamblichus had taught; Neoplatonic philosophers of the fourth and fifth centuries followed him, and as they were in a position to conserve heathen mythologies and cults by this view, Christians transferred the conception and method to Christianity. To them the Incarnation no longer appeared as an isolated paradox; it was a special instance, or the verification, or necessary result, of the cosmical process. The great Unknown, who probably belonged to Alexandria, and who is called Pseudo-Dionysius, “in an elaborate conception of the world, smuggled into the Greek Church and its theology the Neoplatonism into which the other doctors of the Church had only dipped timidly, (?) and on this foundation he constructed his theory of the heavenly hierarchy, and its copy, the hierarchy of the Church.”609609Steitz, Jahrhb. XI., p. 195. Dionysius 338seems to be a realist in the sense of the Church; he lets everything realistic stand; but it is all in fact simply a wrapping; nothing is and nothing happens which is not self-evolved in the process of the Cosmos. At the same time it is unmistakable that, though the form by which it is expressed is not satisfactory, the nature of the good is perceived—it consists in inner union with God.610610On the system of Dionysius, see Steitz l.c., pp. 197-229. The fundamental thought of Dionysius is the absolute transcendence of God; but God is to him, at the same time, absolute causality; as causality he still stands outside of the world (the many), but yet the forces emanating from him can on the other hand be regarded as a self-reduplication (πολλαπλασίαζεσθαι). Thus the attempt was made to combine the thought of the transcendence of the One with Pantheism. This One is force and movement in virtue of the ἔρως (ἀγάπη) dwelling in it, and thus it issues from itself in order to return to itself. This emanation, however, is identical with the fixing of προορισμοί and παραδείγματα; i.e., the finite conceived as pure forms exists from eternity in God himself, nay, treated and conceived as one, it is himself. In him and belonging to him the forces are always immaterial, undivided, identical. From the standpoint of God, accordingly, the whole process of the world is simply pure self-movement; but viewed from beneath it is one of unfolding, division, and descent, and again of ascent, unification, and return to the One. We must always maintain both, rest and movement, transcendence and immanence, unity and multiplicity. To this correspond the kataphatic and the apophatic theologies. The former descends from God to things in order from the effects to draw conclusions as to the absolute, inexhaustible, nature of the One. The latter rises from things to God, in order to deny regarding him all that may be conceived, and to find him exalted above the antithesis of error and truth, of not-being and being. The latter is to Dionysius the more appropriate, but the two methods ought not to contradict each other; for the Deity is placed even above the antithesis formed by the statements of the apophatic and kataphatic theology. In his fifth Epistle, Dionysius says (I., p. 594, ed. Corder): ὁ θεῖος γνόφος ἐστὶ τὸ ἀπρόσιτον φῶς—how often since that has been repeated by mystics!—ἐν ᾧ κατοικεῖν ὁ Θεὸς λέγεται· καὶ ἀοράτῳ γε ὄντι διὰ τὴν ὑπερέχουσαν φανότητα καὶ ἀπροσίτῳ τῷ αὐτῷ διὰ τὴν ὐπερβολὴν τῆς ὑπερουσίου φωτοχυσίας, ἐν τούτῳ γίγνεται πᾶς ὁ Θεὸν γνῶναι καὶ ἰδεῖν ἀξιούμενος αὐτῷ τῷ μὴ ὁρᾷν μηδὲ γινώσκειν, ἀληθῶς ἐν τῷ ὑπὲρ ὅρασιν καὶ γνῶσιν γιγνόμενος. The thought of God’s transcendence was the decisive point. To the unmoved mover every spirit, nay, everything in its own way strives to rise. “A nameless longing passes through all the veins of nature;” God himself comes not nearer but men can force themselves up to him. Evil consists in being separated from hum; it is a pure negation; it does not exist in relation to God for it is a negative in the sphere of the many, which yet in view of God constitute a non-material unity: it is the unnatural, that which does not correspond to the nature of the various beings and things, each taken in its distinctive character. In so far as these are, they are good; but in so far as they are not what they ought to be, they contain evil in themselves. It remains obscure, however, how they cannot he what they ought. Is it due to the multiplication in itself, or to an unknown hindrance? In any case the good is union with God. At this point begins the most characteristic work of Dionysius, its mystical and scholastic feature. This union, like everything else, has its stages; it is consummated by purification, illumination, and perfecting. As the sun dispels darkness, then fills everything with light, and brings it to perfection, so also does the Deity. And everything in the Cosmos contributes to this process; it is the object and agent of redemption; it is a universe of symbols which lead to God, but which cannot be entirely transcended in this world; for we only see through a mirror in a dark saying. The process itself is no pure process of thought; thinking is only its accompaniment; it is a process of the action of being upon being; therefore the symbol and the rite which offer themselves to the feeling of the soul that is passive and yields itself up to them. Accordingly we have, at the close, the passive intuition, in which man no longer participates in anything external, is no longer conscious of anything positive, but negativing all things, loses himself in the inscrutable. Yet there is no negation from which it would not be necessary to separate the Deity by a ὑπέρ; the imagination must cast anchor before the portals of the inscrutable and incomprehensible. The purifying, illuminating, and perfecting rites are imparted to men by the heavenly and ecclesiastical hierarchies. But between these and the Deity Dionysius has placed the Church doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. The former has been outwardly treated orthodoxly on the whole, yet in such a way that it after all merely assumes the form of a Trinity in revelation i i.e., the persons are regarded as the first stages in the multiplication of the Deity which is continued in the heavenly hierarchy; however, this way of looking at the matter is disguised from view. As regards the Incarnation, the system has naturally no room for it; for regard for the transcendence of the Deity prevents it from recognising any incarnation, and in consequence of his immanence the whole process of the Cosmos itself is the materialising and manifestation of the Deity in the world. Yet the Incarnation is maintained; but, since this was impossible, it is not made the central point, but serves as the foundation of various speculations, and the illustration of valuable thoughts. The result of the Incarnation in Jesus is conceived as a raising of human nature to its highest power, and not properly as a fusion of two natures (yet we have the expression: καινὴ θεανδρικὴ ἐνέργεια); for even in the manifestation of Jesus the Deity remains concealed and incomprehensible. Like all symbols and phenomena the Incarnation is in a certain sense a disguising of the Deity. With Jesus Dionysius also connects a few realistic Church doctrines as to redemption, victory over the demons, and θεογενεσία; but the Incarnation really is the representation of God’s unfolding of himself in general. As regards the actual redemption of individuals the main stress is placed in this system on the two hierarchies and the mysteries. These hierarchies are genuinely Neo-platonic. The heavenly was formed by the graded choirs of angels (Triads, see Vol. III., Chap. 4) which themselves consecrated severally by the higher, consecrate severally the lower; the historical Christ even had his place among them. The ecclesiastical hierarchy consisted of the bishops, priests, and deacons; and the means which acted from beneath upwards were the six mysteries (see Chap. IV.). In the work on the ecclesiastical hierarchy these mysteries are minutely explained. Every openly heterodox opinion is, as generally, once more avoided. “The Areopagite has given the Church an exposition of all the mystic rites, such as it had not possessed till then, in which every act of the cultus has its peculiar, deeper reference and secret meaning. His exposition attaches itself in form to Christian dogma, and could therefore serve as a pattern to the Church theologians of the following centuries. As regards the matter, indeed, the case is different; for the Christian dogmas themselves merely appear as the dress of Neo-platonic ideas, to which the inflexible form offers a stubborn resistance.” It was of inexpressible importance that 339from and after the sixth century the writings of the Unknown, which also betrayed the influence of Aristotle, were held to be the works of an Apostolic personage. Neoplatonism and the mysticism of the Cultus were thus declared to be part of classic Christianity.

The representatives of the “common sense” of the Church at the end of the fourth century were quite aware of the 340heterodoxies which existed in spite of, and side by side with, the confession of the Trinity and Incarnation; some of them indeed were themselves not content with the generally received doctrine. They desired a God with eyes, ears and limbs, a resurrection of the identical body, and a visible glorious kingdom of Christ at the end of the world. Even an exceedingly cultured exegete like Apollinaris made common cause with them in the last point. A founder was sought for heterodoxies; it was impossible to blame Manichæism for everything. Ἑλληνικὴ παιδεία was held to be the culprit, and therefore also Origen, the man who was said, not without reason, to have introduced it into Christian theology. A passionate opposition was raised in Egypt among the Scetian monks, and in Palestine where Origen had many admirers. It was, above all, the narrow but honest Epiphanius who saw in Origen the father of Arianism and many other heresies. The comprehensive chapter against him in the former’s Panarion (H. 64) is the first polemical writing we possess of ecclesiastical traditionalism against Origen; it is by no means unskilful; it does not confine itself to details, but disputes e fundamento the title to a place in the Church of a theology such as Origen offered.611611H. 64 c. 73; Σύ, Ὠριγένη, ἀπὸ τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς παιδείας τυφλωθεὶς τὸν νοῦν ἐξήμεσας τὸν ἰὸν τοῖς πειθεῖσί σοι, καὶ γέγονας αὐτοῖς εἰς βρῶμα δηλητηρίου, δι᾽ ὧν αὐτὸς ἡδίκησαι ἀδικήσας τοὺς πλείους. The “Expositio fidei catholicæ ecclesiæ” appended to the Panarion shows, indeed, the complete inability of Epiphanius to give an account of the faith; it loses itself as usual in irrelevant discussions, and the positive contents are extraordinarily scanty. But the attack on Origen (compare also the somewhat earlier “Ancorates”) 341opened the first great controversy over the question whether scientific theology as understood by Origen was legitimate or not. Walch has described the history of this controversy with his usual thoroughness. It is acknowledged how disagreeably the action of Epiphanius disturbed the circle of Origen’s monkish admirers, who were congregated in Palestine under the protection of the like-minded John, Bishop of Jerusalem. The dream that one might be both a pillar of the Church and a theologian like Origen was dissipated. Jerome preferred to remain a pillar and to abandon Origen. After his desertion and his betrayal of his friend Rufinus, he became the father of the “science of the Church.” To some extent he is a type of this “science” up to the present day. It lives on fragments of the men whom it declares to be heretics. It accepts just as much from them as circumstances permit, and retains of the old what it can maintain with decency. It cultivates a little literalness, a little allegory, and a little typology. It attacks all questions with a parade of freedom from prejudice; but anything inconvenient it surrounds with a thousand invented difficulties. It is proud of its free-thought in matters of no importance, and hides itself finally, when hot pressed, behind a brazen stare. It characterises its friends as “well-disposed”, homines boni, and slanders its opponents. Where evasion is no longer possible, it states the inexorable historical fact as a major premise; to this it adds a minor taken from its prejudices, and then it solves the syllogistic problem by the aid of piquant conceits.612612For a parallel to this characterisation compare Luther, Vom Papstthum zu Rom wider den hochberühmten Romanisten zu Leipzig (Weimarer Ausgabe, Vol. VI. 304): Lieber Romanist, wer hat daran gezweiffelt, dass das alt Gesetz and seine Figuren mussen ym Neuen erfullet werden? man durfft deiner Meisterschaft hirynnen nichts Aber hie soltestu dich lassen sehen and beweysen deine hohe Kunst, das die selb Erfulling durch Petrum odder denn Bapst gescheh: Da schweygestu wie eiu Stock, da zu reden ist, and schwetzist da nit not zu redenn ist. Hastu dein logica nit bass gelernet? Du probirst die minores, die niemant anficht, and nympst fur gewiss die minores, die ydermann anficht, and schleussist was Du wilt. It can be incredibly frivolous and again pedantically learned, just as it suits. Only one question does not occur in its catechism, and it is always hard to drive it home, viz., what is historical truth? That is the science of—Jerome.


Epiphanius’ breach with John led to the intervention of the Alexandrian Bishop Theophilus, who, at the time, still refused to yield to the “anthropomorphists”, and adhered to Origen’s party. Rome also took part in the dispute which, settled as between the bishops, broke out anew between the two scholars. Rufinus was only able to defend Origen’s orthodoxy by the doubtful assumption that “heretics” had corrupted his works But that helped neither him nor Origen. Origen was condemned and Rufinus censured in Rome in A.D. 399 by the ignorant Anastasius. The errors charged against Origen (see Hieron. ad Pammach.) were, a subordinationist doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the preexistence of souls and their condemnation to enter into bodies, the view of the future conversion of the devil and the demons, the interpretation of the skins in Gen. III. to mean the body, the spiritualising of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, the explanation of Paradise as spiritual, and the too extensive use of the allegorical method, etc. Not only, however, did Rome renounce Origen, but Alexandria also. Theophilus saw that his power in Egypt would be shaken if he did not rely upon the masses of stupid and fanatical Coptic monks, the anthropomorphists, in whose circles a material God was defended in doggerel rhymes, and the ancient apocalyptic literature was greedily read. Theophilus wheeled round, abandoned, and that with strong personal feeling, the admirers of Origen among the monks, and, with the approval of Rome, hurled his anathemas against him. Jerome, ever on the alert to blot out the stain that attached to him from having once venerated the great theologian, translated into Latin Theophilus’ slanderous Easter epistle against Origenism, although he must have seen through its calumnies. In Constantinople, however, the fight waged by Theophilus against his former friends, the Nitrian monks, was followed by that agitation of which Chrysostom was a victim. It was the first violent attempt of the Alexandrian Patriarch, who by his alliance with the masses had won a secure position in his own diocese, to get possession of the Constantinopolitan patriarchate, the capital, and whole Church of the East.

Meanwhile it was only in the West that the influence of 343Origen was really deeply shaken by these endeavours. Jerome persuaded the Western Church that Origen was the father of Pelagianism; Vincentius of Lerinum held him up as an example along with Apollinaris and other heretics; Leo I. considered him a heretic, and Gelasius insisted that Jerome’s criticism should be maintained in dealing with his works.613613The so-called decree of Gelasius, which obtained a far-reaching importance in the West is also otherwise important from the condemnation it passed on the whole of earlier Christian literature. The orthodox Church was determined to vilify and then to bury its own past in order to maintain undisputed the fiction that it had always remained the same. Orthodoxy held its ground unshaken as regards all the points of doctrine touching on the dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation, which in the West were hardly ever subjects of controversy. Jerome now became the standard theologian and exegete. Everything ancient and distinctive, even where it did not lie in the direction of Origenism, disappeared more and more in the West. The Western Church became the Church of Jerome; but it became also—to its lasting benefit—the Church of Augustine (see Vol. V.).

It was different in the East. The transformation of the controversy about Origen into a conflict between two great Patriarchs, in which Origen was soon lost sight of, and the rehabilitation, belated indeed, of Chrysostom, favoured the impugned reputation of the great theologian. But even apart from this, his influence was too deeply rooted to be upset by a single bishop, no matter how powerful. His individuality represented the Ἑλληνική παιδεία, with which men would not dispense. They were willing to recognise the dogma of the Church, i.e., the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation; but they sought besides freedom to interest themselves in (theological) science. The Church History of Socrates shows the undiminished influence of Origen—see above Vol. III., p. 146 and elsewhere; even before Socrates, the celebrated Evagrius of Pontus had sturdily defended him, and Sozomen himself, monkish and narrow as he was, was no opponent of Origen. The outbreak of the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies as to the nature of the Incarnation soon thrust everything else into the background, and procured for Origen’s cause a temporary peace.

It is fitting that we should here take a glance at the Patriarchate 344of Antioch and its neighbouring territories. The circumstances there were wholly peculiar. The East swarmed with old and new sects. All sorts betook themselves thither, and,. beside the official Christianity only to be met with in Greek cities, there existed an assortment of the most varied Christian communions. Even in the fifth century the Bishops had to face conflicts there which had almost died out in Rome, Byzantium, and Alexandria, as early as the third century. Therefore the Bishops living in or sprung from that quarter still possessed the lofty conviction that they were constantly fighting the battles of the Lord, and hastening from victory to victory. Nestorius, Theodoret, and others plume themselves in their correspondence with their Western brethren on their merits as antagonists of heretics;614614The later antignostic writings and compendiums, those of Ephraem, Epiphanies, Theodoret, Esnik, etc., are all, in so far as they are not mere extracts from. older works, from the East. Mohammedans, besides the later Nestorian and Jacobite scholars, confessedly turned their attention to the Christian sects still existing in the East, to one of which Islam owes the best of its teaching. Theodoret is full of self-praise over his actions, and sports them over and over again to prop up his imperilled orthodoxy. In Ep. 81 (IV., p. 1141, ed. Schulze) he writes: κώμας ὄκτω τῆς Μαρκίωνος καὶ τὰς πέριξ κειμένας, ἀσμένας πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐφοδήγησα· ἄλλην κώμην Εὐνομιανῶν—we see that the sects are tabulated according to their origin—πεπληρωμένην καὶ ἄλλην Ἀρειανῶν τῷ φωτὶ τῆς θεογνωσίας προσήγαγον. καὶ διὰ τὴν θείαν χάριν οὐδὲ ἓν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αἱρετικῶν ὑπελείφθη ζιζάνιον. Ep. 145 (IV., p. 1246) he tells how he fought steadily against Greeks, Jews, Arians, Eunomians, Apollinarians, and Marcionites ibid, p. 1252: πλείους ἢ μυρίους τῶν τοῦ Μαρκίωνος πείσας προσήγαγον τῷ παναγίῳ βαπτίσματι. In Hæret. fab. I. 20 he records that he had confiscated more than 200 copies of the Diatessaron. even Chrysostom was their inexorable enemy. As a matter of fact, the continuance of these conflicts was of vast consequence to the whole Church. Gnosticism and Manicheism dogged the steps of the Eastern Bishops, and compelled them to adhere strictly to the ancient regula fidei with its antignostic impress. They could not, as in Alexandria and Constantinople, confine their interest to the Incarnation. They had to defend the doctrine, point by point, in its whole extent,. and were thus prevented from casting themselves into the arms of one transcendent idea. They were pious after the monkish fashion, like the Egyptians; nay, their Bishops outdid those of Egypt in asceticism; they were not less realistic in what belonged to the Cultus than the rest; they were as much to the 345front when it was necessary to defend an old doctrine. But their scientific theologians—Palestine stands by itself—were not followers of Origen, and in their fights with heretics they could not use his teaching. They used a more liberal and, again, a more rational, a less flighty, exegesis, and a sober philosophy. Both these were given them by Lucian, and it was, lastly, one and the same school which extended from Lucian to Theodoret, and stretched far beyond the latter into the Christian schools of the Persian kingdom.

The character and significance of this school have been discussed above in various chapters—see especially Vol. III., ch. 3. It sharply contested Origen’s hermeneutics, but did not vilify the great man. Its own exegetical and biblical-theological method, with some admirable features, indeed, omitted, and a little of the literal and allegorical added, gradually became, in consequence of its appropriateness and thanks to the influence of Chrysostom, the ruling one. And the use of Aristotelian philosophy in the Antiochene school was an indication for the future. But the ablest of the Antiochenes finally came under censure on account of his Christology, and, over and above his Christology, he was charged with various heresies, especially Pelagianism. In fact, his whole system, and he possessed a system to a greater extent than any other after Origen, was a rational one; it was natural theology without any transcendentalism. He is therefore a source of great difficulty to the Church up to the present time; it declines to go further in condemning him than the fifth Council, indeed it only recognises conditionally the censure of the “chapters”. Theodoret’s work is without the boldness of Theodore, his anthropology and his doctrine of grace as well as his Christology approximating to the traditional teaching. Among other things, he appended to his compendium of heretical fables a fifth book, “θείων δογμάτων ἐπιτμή” (an epitome of divine dogmas), which must be described as the first attempt at a system after Origen, and which apparently exercised great influence on John of Damascus. This “epitome” has a lofty significance. It combines the Trinitarian and Christological dogma with the whole circle of the doctrines connected with the symbol. It reveals an attitude 346as markedly biblical as it is ecclesiastical and rational. It throughout observes the “just mean”. It is almost complete, the Last Supper being omitted, and it especially takes realistic Eschatology once more into account.615615Theodoret discusses (1) the First Principle and the Father, (2) the Son, (3) the Holy Spirit and the divine names, (4-9) creation, matter, ions, angels, demons, and man, (10) providence, (11-15) the Incarnation, and that in general as well as in reference to separate points of doctrine, e.g., the assumption of a real body of a soul, and generally of the complete human nature, and the resuscitation of this nature, (16) the identity of the just and beneficent God, (17) God is the author of both Testaments, (18) Baptism, (19) the resurrection, (20) the judgment, (21) the promises, (22) the second advent of Christ, (23) Antichrist, (24) virginity, (25) marriage, (26) second marriage, (27-29) fornication, penitence and continence. It has adopted none of the obnoxious doctrines of Origen, and yet he himself is not treated as a heretic.616616Theodoret has not introduced him into his catalogue of heretics. An actual system this epitome is not; but the consistent sobriety and lucidity in the discussion of details, and the careful biblical proof lend to the whole a stamp of unity. It could not yet indeed give satisfaction, firstly, because of the personality of its author, and, secondly, because there was an entire absence of mysticism and Neoplatonism from his doctrinal conception.

In the second half of the fifth century everyone was occupied with the decree of Chalcedon. Cyril of Alexandria, the Christologian whom bishops and monks had understood best, had to reconquer his whole influence side by side with the creed of Chalcedon. The only two great theologians whom the Eastern Church has possessed—Origen and Theodore, the former a follower of Plato, the latter of Aristotle, both biblicists though in very different ways,—were discredited, but not condemned. It was on the soil of Palestine, and among the monks there, that admiration for Origen came into collision with that for Theodore. We are well informed as to the living spiritual movements in the cloisters of Palestine at the beginning of the sixth century. Origenism experienced a regular renaissance, although it had never died out.617617Walch l.c., p. 618 ff.; Möller in the R.-Encykl. XI., p. 512 f.; Loofs, Leontius, p. 274 ff.; Bigg, l.c. Its “peculiar doctrines”, which had sprung from rational mysticism, were in particular taken up again, or at least declared to be arguable. The Cappadocians were 347appealed to in support of their validity. Origenism was defended under very different shades. There was an extreme right, and even pillars of orthodoxy were found on this side,618618Leontius, as Loofs has shown. and there was a left, which surpassed even Origen in daring. He led some of his admirers over to the Areopagite and the Neo-Platonists. The works of the Unknown were brought out, studied, and, as it appears, edited. Some went the length of undisguised Pantheism, like Stephen bar Sudaili, or the author of the book of Hierotheus, “On the hidden mysteries of the Deity.”619619See the analysis of this extraordinarily interesting work, not yet printed, in Frothingham’s Stephen bar Sudaili, 1886, p. 92 f.; the writer ably calls attention also to the connection with the renaissance of Origenism. No Gnostic of the second century had erected a nihilistic philosophy on the ground of Christianity so boldly as this writer.620620Frothingham rightly says, p. 49 f.: “His system was openly pantheistic, or, to speak more philosophically, Pan-nihilistic; for, according to him, all nature even to the lowest forms of animal creation, being simply an emanation from the Divinity-Chaos, finally returns to it; and, when the consummation has taken place, God himself passes away and everything is swallowed up in the indefinite chaos, which he conceives to be the first principle and the end of being and which admits of no distinction.” The contents of the five books are according to Fr. as follows: I.—On God, the Universal Essence and distinct existences. II.—The various species of motion, the ascent of the mind towards God, during which it must endure the sufferings of Christ. III.—The resurrection of the mind, the vicissitudes of its conflict with the powers of evil, and its final identification with Christ. IV.—The mind becomes one, first with Christ, then with the Spirit and the Father, and finally becomes absorbed. V.—All nature becomes confounded with the Father; all distinct existence and God himself passes away; Essence alone remains.

But the admirers of Origen met with opponents in Palestine, not only among the dull herd of monks and the traditionalists, but also among the adherents of the sober science and Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia. And, in addition, there was rising up a new power, Aristotelian scholasticism, which took possession of the monophysite as well as the orthodox dogma, but only concluded a firm alliance with the latter, through Leontius, the great opponent of Nestorianism and of Theodore—see above, p. 232 f. The Antiochene school was smitten with its own weapons. The great dogmas of the Church, hallowed by age, seemed to receive their sanction from the re-invigorated 348rated Aristotelianism, because they were peculiarly adapted for dialectical treatment. Thus the age of Justinian shows the Church of the East in a state of the liveliest spiritual agitation. All the great powers of the past, Neoplatonist and Aristotelianism, Origen and Theodore, were again living forces; a new combination was drawing near, and all efforts to stifle by conciliar decrees the living spirit in the Church seemed to have been vain. But the movements were but limited in extent and energy; the “new combination” was in truth the death of real science—a thinking which started in the middle of its subject, and for which that which was alone worth reflection was held to be beyond the range of discussion. Trifling monks, who excommunicated and denounced each other, talked big; and there sat at Constantinople an emperor who, himself a theologian, thirsted for the fame of creating a uniform science as well as a uniform belief. The dispute of the Palestinian monks and the scholasticism of a theologian like Leontius gave him his chance. The Emperor did not need to publish an edict requiring the followers of Origen and Theodore to annihilate one another; they took care of that for themselves. The spectacle of the two “sciences”, of Origen and the Antiochenes, tearing each other to pieces, in the age of Justinian, has something tragi-comical about it, recalling the tale of the two lions. The fifth Council confirmed this, after the Emperor had himself, in his epistle to Mennas, declared, and Vigilius—with other Patriarchs—had repeated, the condemnation of Origen. The fifteen anathemas against Origen,621621Compare with this the ten anathemas in the epistle to Mennas and the Vitæ Sabæ, Euthymii and Cyriaci, Loofs l.c., p, 290 f. on which his condemnation at the Council was based, contained the following points. (1) The preexistence of souls and Apokatastasis; (2) the doctrine of the upper world of spirits, their original equality, and their fall; (3) the view that sun, moon, and stars belonged to this world of spirits, and had also fallen; (4) the doctrine that the differences in the bodies of the spirits was a consequence of this fall; (5) the opinion that the higher spirits become lower ones, or men, and vice versâ; (6) Origen’s doctrine of creation, and that it was not accomplished by the Trinity; (7) the Christology 349which taught that Christ became for all grades of spirits—each in its own form—that which he had become for men through the Incarnation, so that he assumed different bodies and received different names; (8) the contention that the Logos was only to be called Christ by a misuse of language (καταχριστικῶς), that accordingly a distinction was to be drawn between them; (9) the opinion that not the Logos, but a creaturely mind (νοῦς) which he had assumed became man; (10) the assertion of the spherical and ethereal form of the resurrection-body, and of the annihilation of the material body; (11) the interpreting of the judgment to mean this annihilation, and the view that at the end of the world there would only exist non-material nature (spirit); (12) the view that the Logos united with every man and spirit as he had done with the vouc he had assumed: heresy of the Isochristians who appealed to Origen, see, besides, Methodius; (13) the assertion of the similarity of the νοῦς, called Christ, to all other rational beings; (14) the view of the ultimate cessation of all plurality of persons and of multiplicity of knowledge (gnosis), the doctrine of reversion to unity and of apokatastasis; (15) the view of the identity of the pretemporal with the final life of spirits.

Since the “Three Chapters” were condemned at the same time, Origen and Theodore were both got rid of.622622The religious policy of Justinian and the fifth Council had accordingly the same significance for the (orthodox) East as the so-called Gelasian decree for the West. In the former as in the latter history was extinguished and theology fettered. The latter found more energetic defenders than the former; but the majority of his admirers held aloof. The fact that the Augustinian West took up his cause best shows that we must not over-value this championship. The condemnation of the “peculiar doctrines” of Origenism meant much more. Henceforth buoys were laid down, which marked off the Neo-platonic channel in which men moved under the guidance of the “apostolic” Dionysius. Origen’s doctrines of the consummation, and of spirits and matter might no longer be maintained. The judgment was restored to its place, and got back even its literal meaning. The mysticism of the Cultus was carried continually further; it received a new impetus; but it adhered much more closely to 350tradition. The anti-gnostic regula fidei was finally restored, and the great cultus-mystic of the seventh century not only respected it, but worked within its lines. Maximus Confessor held the same relation to the Areopagite, as did the Cappadocians to Origen, and Theodoret to Theodore.623623See on him the Art. of Wagenmann in the R.-Encykl. and Steitz XI., p. 209; on the Cultus-mystics Sophronius of Jerusalem and Germanus of Constantinople, see Steitz XI., pp. 238 f. and 246 f. But he was not only a mystic; he was also a scholastic and dialectician. There were no longer any theologians who reflected independently “de principiis.” God, the world, freedom, Christ, and Scripture were no longer the first principles, but, instead, the fixed doctrines regarding them drawn from tradition. Science took for granted the foundations guarded by the Church, and passing to the upper story went on building there. A latent free thought, indeed, still remained. If everything was symbolical and figurative, then, no matter how closely the spiritual might be combined with the material, the idea could not perish that the theologian who was in a position to grasp the subject matter did not require figures. While mysticism and scholasticism might not shrink from a figurative philosophy in the most daring sense of the term, they could not stifle the view that took every sort of figure and all history as a covering, nor could they blame the self-criticism of the Christian who was ashamed of being confined in this body.624624The saying is due to Porphyry who has used it of Plotinus (Vita I.): Πλωτῖνος ὁ φιλόσοφος ἐῴκει μὲν αἰσχυνομένῳ ὅτι ἐν σώματι εἴη.

For learning (μαθήσις) the Cappadocians (the two Gregorys, next to them Athanasius and Cyril) were regarded as the principal authorities; for mystagogy (μυσταγωγία), the Areopagite and Maximus; for philosophy, Aristotle; and for homiletics (ὁμιλία), Chrysostom. The man, however, who embraced all that, who had transferred the scholastic dialectic method, which had been brought by Leontius to bear on the dogma of the Incarnation, to the whole sphere of the “divine dogma” as that had been fixed by Theodoret, was John of Damascus. Through him the Greek Church gained the orthodox system, but not the Greek Church alone. John’s work was no less 351important to the West.625625See Bach, Dogmengesch. des Mittelalters I., p. 49 ff. Bach begins with good reason, pp. 6-49, with Dionysius and Maximus. “He was the cope-stone of antiquity and the transition to a new age, because his writings, translated into Latin, became confessedly a foundation of the mediæval theology of the West.” He was above all a scholastic. To him each difficulty was but an incitement to split up notions artificially, and to find a new one to which nothing in the world corresponds except that very difficulty which the new notion was meant to remove. John even put the fundamental question of mediæval science, that as to nominalism and realism; and he solved it by a modified Aristotelianism. All doctrines were in his view given already; he took them from findings of the Councils and the works of recognised Fathers. He held it to be the task of science to edit them. In this way the two chief dogmas were introduced into the circle of the doctrines of the old antignostically interpreted Symbol. A very modest use was made of the allegorical explanation of Holy Scripture. The letter ruled wholesale, at any rate much more thoroughly than in the case of the Cappadocians. In consequence of this, natural theology was shut out from sight; it was hedged round by extremely realistic Bible narratives confidingly accepted.626626Yet the rational method was by no means given up; on the contrary, it was retained; see, e.g., the rational arguments for the Trinity, I. 6, 7. But the most serious fact was that the close connection which in Athanasius, Apollinaris, and Cyril of Alexandria had united the Trinity and Incarnation, or dogma in general, with the thought of salvation, was completely loosened. This process had begun with the Council of Chalcedon, and John had a mass of dogmas which it was necessary to believe; but they had ceased to be clearly subordinate to a uniform conception of their purpose. The object which dogma once served as the means remained; but the means had changed. Instead of dogma, we have the Cultus, the mysteries, into which Book IV. enters (IV. 17-25 are to be regarded as appendices). In consequence of this the system is destitute of inner vital unity.627627The plan of the work is as follows: Book I. discusses the Deity, the Trinity and the attributes of God; Book II. the creation, angels, paradise, and man, giving an elaborate psychology; Book III. the Incarnation, the two natures, and Christology—see above, Chap. 3, conclusion; Book IV. continues the Christology up to Chap. 8 and then discusses—very characteristically—baptism, including the μῦρον, faith, the sign of the cross and faith, adoration towards the East, the mysteries (the Eucharists), Mary the mother of God and the genealogy of Christ, the veneration of the saints and their relics, pictures and, only then, Scripture. To the chapter on Scripture a series of chapters are appended containing hermeneutical rules for the exposition of Scripture, dealing with the statements regarding Christ—where we have a precise distinction made between the τρόποι of the hypostatic union—those concerning God in his relation to evil, the apparent existence of two principles, the law of God, and the law of sin and the Sabbath. The conclusion consists of chapters on virginity, circumcision—the position of these headings is reversed—on Anti-Christ and the resurrection. It is really 352not an account of faith, but of its presuppositions, and its unity depends on the form of treatment, the high antiquity of its doctrine, and Holy Scripture. The dogmas had become the sacred inheritance from the classic antiquity of the Church, but they had, as it were, fallen to the ground. The worship of images, mysticism, and scholasticism ruled the Church. The two latter bore much fair fruit in after times; for the spirit which strives towards God cannot be stifled by anything, and is capable even of constructing a restricted science. But the history of dogma came to an end in the Greek Church a thousand years ago, and its reanimation cannot easily be conceived. A reformation could only set in in the cultus. The adoption of a few Catholic or Protestant theologumena in later catechisms and books of doctrine has hitherto been without effect, and will in the future hardly obtain any.

Independent theology had been extinguished in the churches of the East; but alongside these churches there arose all the more energetically, from the seventh century, the sects, old enemies in new forms, Marcionites (as Paulicians) and Manichæans, and in addition many other curious bodies, the necessary products of religious movements among tribes falling into barbarism, and but little trained by the Church. On the shaping of the dogmas of the Church these sects exerted not the slightest influence; and for that very reason they do not belong to the history of dogma.628628Besides the old researches of Engelhardt (1827), Gieseler (1829, 1846, 1849), see now Döllinger, Beitr. z. Sectengesch. des Mittelalters (1890) and Karapet Ter Mkrttschian, Die Paulikianer (1893).


Again, this history has nothing to say about the scientific life of the Byzantine Church, or the many theories and disputes which arose out of it, and, on the other hand, from mystical speculations; for all that had little or no effect on dogma. No doubt an isolated theological question was decided at this or that Synod; or individual theologians elaborated in a praise-worthy fashion theological conceptions, as e.g., in reference to the crucifixion of Christ, atonement, and substitution; no doubt another rather important dispute—the Hesychastic controversy—agitated the Church in the fourteenth century; but dogma, and to some extent the Church itself, remained ultimately unaffected. For centuries the intellectual work of the Church consisted in the development of Church legislation, and its theologians either wrote on exegesis, history, and biography, following traditional patterns, or composed ascetic books.

Finally, to the history of dogma belongs neither the development of the schism with the West, nor the silent process, in which the Eastern Church has taken over, since the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a great deal from the ecclesiastically more vigorous West. Apart from the “filioque” discussed above, the development of the schism was not determined by dogmatic factors, and the silent process629629Compare as to this Kattenbusch, Vergleichende Confessionskunde I. passim. The general intellectual life in Eastern Rome is best discussed in the excellent work of Krumbacher, Gesch. d. Byzant. Litteratur, München, 1891. which lasted up to the end of the seventeenth century, and to which the Church owes, e.g., the settling of its Canon of the Bible, the doctrine of the seven sacraments, a kind of doctrine of transubstantiation, a more certain doctrine of purgatory, development of the doctrines of sin and grace, a more sharply defined theory and practice of the sacrament of penance etc., has come to an end at a time when we have accurate knowledge, and will perhaps never be fully explained. The only definite dogmatic interests shown in it are anti-protestant.

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