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

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

29 The Seeds of Reaction

The terms of the Nicene creed and appended anathema were not altogether familiar vocabulary to numerous Greek bishops. Alexander of Alexandria (accompanied at Nicaea by his young deacon Athanasius who succeeded as bishop in 328), Eustathius bishop of Antioch, and Marcellus of Ankyra were wholehearted supporters, but were therefore likely to be the target of a backlash from bishops who (correctly, as must be conceded) did not see in the creed any defence against their bogey, Sabellianism. That last question engendered decades of controversy. Eustathius and Marcellus both regarded the Nicene formula as insufficient to exclude heresy in that the creed could be accepted by men such as Eusebius of Caesarea. Constantine did not remove their difficulties when, in pursuit of his policy of maximal inclusion, Arius himself signed the creed (probably not the anathema) and Athanasius was asked to receive him back to communion—which was out of the question. In about 334 Arius, living with friends in Libya, submitted an emotional appeal to Constantine for restoration. His old friends, like Eusebius of Nicomedia, had found him an embarrassment and dropped his cause. The emperor answered in a high theatrical style with no encouragement. The Alexandrian presbyter was now hardly even marginal. Nevertheless, Athanasius relates that Arius made his way to Constantinople and, on his way to being readmitted to communion by the then bishop there, died in disgusting circumstances in a public lavatory. Gibbon thought the story left the historian a choice between miracle and poison. Athanasius thought it providential.


Eustathius, Athanasius

In the decade following the council the first prominent anti-Arian to fall was Eustathius of Antioch, an overt critic of Origen's exegesis, who gave vent to sharp criticism of the emperor's mother Helena on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 326-7, during which it was later said that she recovered the True Cross. His exile left behind a small intransigent congregation firm for the Nicene creed and especially the anathema with its 'one hypostasis'. A proposal that Eusebius be translated to Antioch from Caesarea was vetoed

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

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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