Michael Anthony Novak
25 January 2006
THEO 383: Augustine’s De Trinitate
Professor Michel René Barnes
Latin Homoian Theology
Today’s Readings: Primary— Various, “Latin Homoian Theology”
Secondary—Williams, D.H., “Anti-Nicenes in the West”
Suggested Strongly—Hanson, R.P.C., “Theology of the Homoian Arians”
Next Reading: Primary—Augustine “Letters to Nebridius (Epistles 11&14)”
Secondary—Barnes, “Rereading Augustine’s Trinitarian Theology” pp145-165 ; Ayres, “Remember That You Are Catholic” pp.39-55
Also in bin: Olivier du Roy, L'Intelligence de la Foi en la Trinité selon saint Augustin
Genèse de sa Théologie Trinitaire Jusqu'en 391 (Paris: Études
Augustiniennes, 1966) only modern scholarly treatment before Barnes and
Ayres of the Letters to Nebridius. 391-401.
Barnes: We begin by finishing off the Hilary from our last
meeting and look closely at his argument on common natures. We
looked at the end of class on Monday in the “adventureous” way in which
the Latin is registered in the English in the NPNF and that terminology
and clarity lacking in the Latin is helpfully
provided in the English.
If anyone has a NT with you, get that out, preferably the
Douay-Rheims. BTW, there’s a store in town that sells the
Stuttgart Vulgate, which you need if you’re doing Patristic or Medieval
work. It’s the Jerome Vulgate used until Trent.
Looking at John 5; what’s going on in this passage is Hilary working through John 5:16-27+ in his De Trinitate
VII.17. Now we are looking at the Latin and English
translation. “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus for working
these things on the Sabbath….” Looking at the equality of Christ
with the Father.
The “working” language is variations on opera
John 5:19 (NIV) “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth,
the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his
Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’”
The Son sees the Father. Therefore there is a difference between them.
“Order” is ordo
; Greek taxis
. “Power” potestam
“the operations of his Father’s power…”
Okay. So the language he’s using—the ontology, the metaphysics—those words are kind of clumsy, but….
Okay, so what’s the argument? Render it into a normal English:
Briggman: “Because of his nature he is aware of the power of his
Father, which he also shares, therefore he can do the same things,
acts, works, as his Father. Because he can do the same acts, he
has the same nature.”
Concannon: It’s interesting that Hilary needs to assert this “birth”
stuff about the Son from the Father right in the middle.
Barnes: Yes. Does this mean everyone is in agreement with Mr. Briggman?
Harris: Do we need “can-do,” or what about “does?” Is the importance that Christ is able
to do as the Father, or that he is actually doing
what the Father does?
[More on the Concannon point.]
B: The ordo which we have received is that of:
- Father and Son, first and second.
- -->the birth language signifies “Father first begets Son.”
- -->“The Power is his by virtue of his knowledge [of the Father’s Power?]”
- -->because of the Son’s knowledge of Father’s ∆ dunamis (virtus, potest(as)),
the Son can say he can do nothing alone. [Sight of, or knowledge
of, seems to be possible because of common/same nature. “The Son
can see the Father because they have the same nature.”]
- Therefore: the Only-Begotten God works through the operations of the Father’s ∆ dunamis.
Harris: (in answer to discussion about the use of “birth” language in
this passage, and whether it was worth noting) It was a recurring point
starting earlier in Book VII.
Concannon: Restating, “The Son through the power and the nature of the
Father in himself has the awareness that he can do no other than what
he sees the Father doing.”
Barnes attempts to restate: The presence of the power and nature of the
Father in Him gives Him the awareness that he can do nothing but (nihil nisi
) what he sees the Father doing.
This is a stronger statement of unity
of nature than the draft offered earlier. The nature and the
power are in the Son, and this is the basis of this knowledge.
Vail: Is the Son’s self-awareness an awareness of the nature of the Father?
Barnes: I’m hesitant to identify the entirety
of the Son’s self-knowledge with his knowledge of the Father, or of the Father’s power in him. I don’t think that’s wrong
but I don’t want to go that far without a text from Hilary.
Augustine says in the endtime we will see through to the divinity in
[Move on to reading section 18 from Hilary, still from last week’s Latin/English handout.]
Barnes: When we say “through his birth, his nature is revealed” we want
to fill in what “nature” means. I want to hold off on that,
because of Phil. 2:5-7, where what God is, is revealed as not ontology,
but as “love” and so forth. So let’s leave this open for
development and put a bracket around “nature” for the moment. Let
us not assume it is an ontological term like substantia
. That sort of thing.
Okay. Latin Homoianism. The Hanson is confused: it uses
“homoian” for Greek and Latin over a lot of time. Be
careful. But he does give a kind of summary of what you can
find. Go to page 3 of Dr. Patricia Sullivan’s notes from the 1998
semester. A mistake was made twice. Hanson actually
thinks homoianism is scriptural and unphilosophical.
Really what I want to talk about is the blasphemy of Sirmium
357 and page 5 of the translation of the Scholia
. Daniel Williams tells you about the authors of Sirmium
Valens and Ursacius. This document is the first explicit attack
on Nicaea. Everything before was content to state a different
perspective, some of which acknowledged the authority of Nicaea.
This is the first time the vocabulary
of Nicaea is attacked. Out of this comes Homoianism, from which will split off Eunomianism in the East. Who knows
in the West?
- “For it is plain that only the Father… ” Alexander of Alexandria would take this line, and support Nicaea.
- The Son cannot be immortal because he came to be.
Homoian theology will emphasize suffering. Son being visible will
be important. Parts of this go back to Latin anti-modalist
argument from Novatian that “the pure in heart seeing God” must refer
to someone other
than Jesus because Jesus was right there.
[Looking at the Bishop Palladius material]
Barnes: By this time it is the standard Nicene “take” that weakness is
always attributed to the flesh of Christ, the glory is attributed to
Gregory of Nyssa avoids “mission” language as essentially
subordinationist. In the West, such language is stronger.
Palladius is here drawing on a tradition going back 24-some years here
when he asks the really good question: “Who or what did God the Father
send?” Ambrose did not answer him.
All Ambrose was prepared to reply with was the old Neo-Nicene “Whatever
is said that attributes weakness to Christ is said of the flesh of
Christ” (Athanasius, Hilary, Greg of Naz, Ambrose, Augustine—this
exegetical rule is consistent. It’s the rule developed to defeat
or deflect Arian or non- or anti-Nicene theologies.)
Palladius hoists Ambrose on his own petard when he says “if you say
weakness is according to the flesh, ‘He is sent’—the one who sends is
greater than one sent.”
So if you put these together, that
which is sent is the flesh? Nicenes don’t want to say this, but
that’s where the exegetical rule is vulnerable.
So Palladius can say, “ I believe that the Son—not the flesh—was sent—and Phil. 2:5-7 in fact seems to support me
Dowell: Is Ambrose right when he says that that “sent” is not in Scripture?
Harris: The logic works for Palladius but Ambrose is right on the
text. Is is scriptural, it’s just not here. “Sent” in this
sense of the Father sending the Son is actually used in John 14:24.
Barnes: Could this be a textual problem? Ambrose will be quoting
the Milanese and Palladius will be quoting a Central European
[Palladius was from Ratiaria, now Arcar, western Bulgaria along the
Danube border] textual tradition. This isn’t dead certain, but it
could be another possible source for the difference.
Last thing: Remember that when this thing is floating around—it’s
381. Apollinarianism is also happening: in Christology, the
current question is the character of the relationship between the
divinity and humanity. Palladius' question is also a timely
Christological one. This is a good example of how Trinitarian and
Christological theologies cannot be easily separated.
Final Note: Palladius, with whom Ambrose is in conflict, is also his
opponent as part of the Homoians who take over the basilica in Milan,
where Monica will be trapped, singing songs with Ambrose.
Augustine is in town, not yet a Christian, but certainly able to have
impressions made upon him by this situation, impressions which may have
a bearing on later development.