Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Nicene-Arian Conflicts

By Daniel H. Williams | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III
Eusebian Authorship of De trinitate, I-VII

With the publication of the CCSL ix edition ( Turnhout, 1957), Bulhart revived the idea, as advanced in the beginning of the seventeenth century by Jean Étienne Ferreri and later expounded by Morin ( "'Les Douze Livres sur la Trinité'", RB 15 ( 1898), 1-10), of Eusebian authorship for the first seven books of De trinitate. This has evoked criticism, specifically from M. Simonetti ( "'Qualche osservazione sul De trinitate attribuito a Eusebio di Vercelli'", Rivista di cultura classica e medioevale, 5 ( 1963), 386-93), who expressed his surprise at Bulhart's lack of acknowledgement that the manuscript evidence was too weak to establish Eusebian authorship on this basis alone with any certainty. There is the further problem that no precise means exists to compare the De trinitate with Eusebius' other writings, since his literary remains consist only of three letters in which doctrinal matters were not discussed ( 'Qualche osservazione', 388). Any external verification of a Eusebian style is thus made very difficult. It is significant to Simonetti that Jerome never mentions in De viris illustribus 96 that Eusebius wrote such a work. Of course the strength of this argument is only as good as the general accuracy of Jerome's notices, which is itself a questionable assumption, and must not be given undue weight.

Simonetti's real concerns are with Bulhart's acceptance of P. Schepens's controversial dating of the shorter or first recension of De trmitate to AD 345-7 (in "'L'Ambrosiastre et saint Eusebe de Verceil'", RSR 37 ( I9 50)), 295-9). From purely internal considerations, Simonetti argues that the De trinitate can hardly be dated to these years, which were just following the council of Serdica (343). The work is characterized by the continual insistence on the absolute equality of the three divine persons in the unity of nature; and especially the Holy Spirit is treated by the De trinitate with qualifying terms that once were used of the Son only. Such interest in the nature of the Holy Spirit with respect to Trinitarian polemics is not seen until much later, well beyond Hilary De trinitate, such as in Athanasius' letter to Serapion or Ambrose De spiritu sancto of 381. This too is a major point in L. Dattrino's arguments against Bulhart's chronology. And, according to Dattrino, the Christology of De trinitate exhibits a certain theological maturity. The third book of De trinitate, for example, which addresses 'De adsumptione hominis', is devoted to establishing the presence of two natures in Christ by means of explaining that what is attributed to one is to be attributed to the other. Indeed, the preoccupation of the writer is to safeguard in Christ his divinity,

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