The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

32 A Fiasco at Serdica

Tension Between East and West

Some months after the Dedication Council of Antioch the Eusebians sent a delegation of four bishops to Constans at Trier bringing a statement of faith carefully disowning any touch of Arianism and at the same time insisting, against Marcellus, that Christ's kingdom will have no end (Luke 1. 33). The concluding anathema condemns 'any who say that the Son is out of nothing or of a different hypostasis and not of God, and that there was once a time or an aeon when he was not'. One could not find more careful words to distance the Eusebians from the doctrines associated with Arius, and to rebut the accusations of Julius of Rome. The pro-Athanasian bishop of Trier, Maximin, refused to receive them. The legates were Narcissus of Neronias, Maris of Chalcedon, Theodorus of Heraclea, and Mark of Arethusa (Syria). Unsurprisingly they did not include Rome in their itinerary. The first three names were known for their opposition to Athanasius on the ground of his violence in Egypt. Their creed was labelled by Athanasius the fourth creed of Antioch, which is evidently the title he had received for it. Since the eastern bishops were very conscious of authority lying in synodical decisions, it is probable that this document was considered at the Dedication Council as a text more likely to be amenable to the West while still safeguarding themes dear to the Eusebians. It said nothing about three hypostases, slew Marcellus with an unchallengeable biblical text, and had anathemas reinforcing the disowning of Arian propositions. The document was to become programmatic and much repeated.

Eusebius of Constantinople, master-mind and leader of the group, took no part. Probably late in 341 he died. The portrait of him in Athanasius is deeply unsympathetic; he was certainly a formidable opponent of the bishop of Alexandria. His successive translations from the see of Berytos (Beirut) to Nicomedia and thence to Constantinople seemed ambitious hunger for influence. At Constantinople Bishop Paul, expelled by Constantius, returned from exile in the west, but found himself competing for the see with a friend of Eusebius named Macedonius. After a riot in which the army chief Hermogenes, magister militum, lost his life, Macedonius was preferred by the

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