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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE

EARLY HISTORY OF

CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

AN INTRODUCTION

TO THE

EARLY HISTORY OF

CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

TO THE TIME OF THE

COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON

J. F. BETHUNE-BAKER, B.D,

FELLOW AND DEAN OF PEMBROKE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

METHUEN & CO.

36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON

1903

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PREFACE

IN the preparation of this volume the writer has been guided by

the general purpose of the Series of Theological Handbooks of

which it is a part.

A continuous narrative is given in the text,

with as much freedom from technical treatment as the subject

allows ; details and authorities are relegated to footnotes, and some special questions and difficulties are dealt with in notes

appended to the several chapters.

The chief aim which has been kept in view throughout has

been to offer to the student of the history of Christian Doctrine during the first four centuries of the life of the Church such

information with regard to the facts and the sources as will

enable him to prosecute his study for himself.

It is only a limited period with which the book deals, but a period in which the Christian theory of life of the relations

between God, the World, and Man was worked out in its chief aspects, and all the doctrines to which the Church of Christ

as a whole is pledged were framed.

The authority of these

doctrines is only to be understood by study of their history.

Their permanent value can only be appreciated by knowledge of the circumstances in which they came to be expressed, knowledge

which must certainly precede any restatement of the doctrines,

such as is from time to time demanded in the interests of a

growing or a wider faith.

That Christian thinkers have been guided at various times,

in later ages, towards fuller apprehension of various aspects

of human life, and fuller knowledge of the divine economy,

must be thankfully acknowledged.

But whatever reason there

is to hope for further elucidation from the growth of human

knowledge in general, and the translation of old doctrines into

the terms of the new knowledge, it seems certain that the work

of the great leaders of Christian thought in the interpretation of

vii

Vlll

PREFACE

the Gospel during the earlier ages can never be superseded.

They

were called upon, in

turn, to meet and to consider in

relation to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ nearly all the theories

of the world and God which human speculation and experience

have framed in explanation of the mystery of human life ; and

the conclusions which they reached must still be at least the

starting-point for any further advance towards mere complete

solution of the problems with which they had to deal.

Chris

tians, whether conservative or progressive, will find in the study

of the course through which doctrines were evolved their

strongest stay and safeguard.

On the one hand, if defence of Christian doctrines be needed,

it is found at its best in the bare history of the process by which

they came into existence.

On the other hand, in an age when

other than the Catholic interpretations of the Gospel and of the

Person of Christ are put forward and find favour in unexpected

quarters, much heart-searching and laborious enquiry may be saved by the knowledge that similar or identical explanations were

offered and ably advocated centuries ago; that they were tried, not

only by intellectual but also by moral tests, and that the experi

ence of life rejected them as inadequate or positively false.

The

semi-conscious Ebionism and the semi-conscious Docetism, for

example, of much professedly Christian thought to-day may recognize itself in many an ancient heresy , and reconsider its

position.

The mass of materials available for the study of even the

limited part of the subject of Christian Doctrine which is dealt

with in this book is so great that it has been necessary to exer

cise a strict economy in references to books and writers, ancient

and modern, both English and German, from which much might

be learned.

I have only aimed at giving guidance to young

students, leaving them to turn for fuller information to the

larger well-known histories of Doctrine in general and the many

special studies of particular doctrines.

And as the book is

designed to meet the needs of English students, I have seldom

cited works that are not accessible to those who read no other

language than their own. I wish that every student of Christian Doctrine could have

had the privilege of hearing the short course of lectures which

Professor Westcott used to give in Cambridge.

For my own

part, I thankfully trace back to them the first intelligible con-

PREFACE

ix

ception of the subject which came before me. Some of these lectures were afterwards incorporated in the volume entitled The

Gospel of Life.

Dr. Harnack s History of Doctrines occupies a position of

eminence all its own, and will remain a monument of industry

and learning, and an almost inexhaustible treasury of materials.

To the English translation of this great work frequent references

will be found in the following pages.

But the student who is

not able to examine the evidence and the conclusions, and to make allowances for Dr. Harnack s peculiar point of view, will

still, in my judgement, find Hagenbach s History of Doctrines his

best guide to his own work on the subject, although he will need

sometimes to supplement the materials which were available

He will learn a great deal also from

when Hagenbach wrote. 1

Dorner s Doctrine of the Person of Christ, from Neander s History

of Christian Dogmas and Church History, and from the works of

the older English divines, such as Bull s Defence of the Nicene

Creed and Pearson s Exposition of the Creed.

these are in no way superseded by the many excellent books

Works such as

and treatises of later scholars, some of which are cited hereafter

Many of the articles in the

in regard to particular points. 2

Dictionary of Christian Biography (ed. Smith and Wace), the

Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (ed. Smith and Cheetham),

and Hastings Dictionary of the Bible are of great value, while

for the Creeds the collection of Hahn (Bibliothek der Symbole

und G-laubensregeln der alien Kirche) is indispensable. To two friends, who have special knowledge of different

parts of the subject, I am much indebted for help in the revision

of the proof-sheets

the Rev. A. E. Burn, rector of Kynnersley,

and the Eev. J. H. Srawley, of Selwyn College, the latter in

particular having generously devoted much time and care to the

Their criticisms and suggestions have led in many cases

to clearer statement of a point and to the insertion of notes and

work.

additional references which will make the book, I hope, in spite

1 If he reads German he will do well to turn to Loofs Leitfaden zum Studium

der Dogmengeschichte 3 (Ritschlian), Seeberg s Lehrbuch (Protestant), and Schwane s

For introduction to the chief patristic

Dogmengeschichte* (Roman Catholic).

writings he may consult Bardenhewer s Patrologie, or Swete s Patristic Study in the

Series Handbooks for the Clergy .

2 Special attention may be directed to two volumes of this series Mr. Ottley s Doctrine of the Incarnation and Mr. Burn s Introduction to the History of the Greeds, and to Dr. Swete s The Apostles Creed.

x

PREFACE

of all the imperfections that remain, more useful for its purpose

than it would otherwise have been.

In the earlier part of the book I had also the advantage of

the criticism of Dr. Robertson, the Editor of this Series, who,

even when the pressure of preparation for his removal from

London to Exeter left him no leisure, most kindly made time for

the purpose.

Finally, I have to thank the Syndics of the Cambridge

University Press, and the Dean of Westminster, as Editor of the

Series Texts and Studies, for permission to make use of various

notes

Homoousios in the Constantinopolitan Creed, which I contributed

and in some cases whole pages

from The Meaning of

to that Series (vol. vii no. 1).

I have not thought it necessary

to include within inverted commas such passages as

I have

taken straight over, but when I have merely summarized con

clusions, for which the evidence is more fully stated there, I have

appended a reference to the volume.

The book, as I have indicated, makes no claim to originality.

It only aims at being a sketch of the main lines of the historical

developement of doctrine down to the time of the Council of

Chalcedon. 1 But I am, of course, conscious that even history must be written from some c point of view , and I have expressed,

as clearly as I can, the point of view from which I have ap

proached the subject in the introduction which follows.

Christian

doctrines are seen as human attempts to interpret human ex

periences the unique personality of Jesus of Nazareth supreme among those human experiences, is a more satisfying one than

some standpoints from which the origin of Christian doctrines

may appear to be invested with more commanding power of

As such I have been accustomed to offer it to the

appeal. attention of students at an age when the constraint is often felt

for the first time to find some standpoint in these matters for

oneself.

any kind of real personal conviction

and appropriation

I

believe that this

point of view, from which

But any point of view

is better than none :

and one which we

1 Though much independent work over old ground has been bestowed upon it,

and no previous writer has been followed without an attempt to form an inde

pendent judgement, yet the nature of the case precludes real independence, except to some extent in treatment.

PREFACE

xi

cannot accept may serve to make clearer and more definite, or

Salvo

jure communionis diversa sentire different opinions without

even

to create, the point of view which is true for us.

loss of the rights of communion

opposite

points of

view

without disloyalty to the Catholic Creeds and the Church

these words, which embody the conception of one of the earliest

and keenest of Christian controversialists and staunchest of

Catholics, 1 express a thought more widely honoured now than it was in Cyprian s day.

It is in the hope that this sketch of some parts of the early

history of Christian doctrines may be useful in some such way

that it is published now.

PEMBROKE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,

1st May 1903.

J. F. BETHUNE-BAKER.

1 They are the words in which Augustine (de Baptismo 17 Migue P.L. xliii

p. 202) describes the principles of Cyprian.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

The scope of the book What Christian Doctrines are . . The part played by
The scope of the book What Christian Doctrines are
.
.
The part played by heresies
Gradual progress and developement .
.
.
NOTES : Dogma
aipiCTLS
deoXoyia dfoXoyelv
CHAPTER II
THE BEGINNINGS OF DOCTRINES IN THE
NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament gives the earliest interpretations
.
.
The doctrine of GOD
The doctrine of Man of Sin
The doctrine of Atonement
The doctrine of the Church and of the Sacraments .
.
.
Baptism
the Eucharist
.
CHAPTER III
THE DEVELOPEMENT OF DOCTRINE
Different theories in explanation of the developement of doctrine
(1) Corruption and degeneration (the Deists)
(2)
Disciplina arcani (Trent)
- -(3)
Developement (Newman)
In what sense developement occurred
Influence of Greek thought on the expression of doctrine .
.

NOTE: OtKovopia, Accommodation , Reserve

.

PAGE

1, 2

(note) 2

3-5

5

6

7

9-11

11-15

16-18

19-21

22-23

23-27

27-32

33

34

36

36

38

39

xiv

CONTENTS

CHAPTER IV

THE SOUBCES OF DOCTRINE : OKAL TRADITION-

HOLY SCRIPTURE

Earliest idea of Christian inspiration

of tradition Inspiration of Scripture : different conceptions

Jewish

Gentile

.

.

.

.

.

.

Philo

The Apostolic Fathers

Muratorian Fragment of the Canon

The Apologists

Irenaeus

Clement and Origen

.

PAGE

41

42

43

44

44

45

45

46

47

48

Interpretation of Scripture. The written word

Homer

Philo

Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement .

.

Origen s theory . The Cappadocians Antioch

.

.

.

Tyconius, Augustine

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The School of

The place of tradition in interpretation

Irenaeus

Tertullian

Vincent

.

49

51

52, 53

53

55

55

57

59

CHAPTER V

JEWISH ATTEMPTS AT INTERPRETATION. EBIONISM

Characteristic Jewish conceptions

Ebionism

Different degrees

Cerinthus

The Clementines NOTE : Chiliasm

CHAPTER VI

62

63-65

65 f

66 f.

68 ff

GENTILE ATTEMPTS AT INTERPRETATION.

GNOSTICISM

Characteristics of Oriental religious

The problem of evil .

.

thought

.

.

Oriental ideas applied to the Christian revelation

72

73-75

75

CONTENTS

xv

The Gnostics their aims and classification of the various schools . The earlier representatives of Gnostic conceptions

Marcion and his followers

Carpocrates and his followers The Cainites and Ophites . The School of Basilides

The Valentinians

The influence of Gnosticism on the developement of Christian

.

.

doctrine

NOTE : Manicheism

76-79

79-81

81-84

84-86

86-88

88-91

91-92

93-95

CHAPTER VII

THE REACTION AGAINST GNOSTICISM.

MONARCHIANISM

The * Monarchian School of interpreters prompted, by orthodox

intention

96

Attempts at explanation which should maintain alike the oneness

of God and the divinity of Christ

Two main Schools

(a) Dynamic or Rationalistic

(b) Modalistic or { Patripassian

.

.

The Alogi the point of departure for both Schools The Theodotians

(a)

Artemon

Paul of Samosata

(b) Praxeas and Noetus

Sabellius and his followers

.

Sympathy with Sabellianism at Rome

NOTES : Novatian

.

.

.

Hippolytus

Beryllus

Monarchian exegesis

 

.

.

Lucian

Paul of Samosata and 6p.oov<nos

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

97

97

97

98

98

99

100-102

102-104

104-106

106

107

108

109

110

110

Ill

CHAPTER VIII

THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN DIONYSIUS OF ROME

AND DIONYSIUS OF ALEXANDRIA

Significance of this correspondence .

The points at issue

Diverse uses of the equivocal terms ova-ia and {/7r6aTa<ris and con

.

.

.

fusion due to Latin rendering of ova-ia by substantia

.

b

.

.

113

114-115

116-118

xvi

CONTENTS

CHAPTEE IX

THE LOGOS DOCTRINE

PAGK

The Doctrine fully expressed in outline in the prologue to the Gospel according to St. John, but not fully appreciated ;

different aspects and relations of the doctrine represented by different early Christian writers these to be regarded as

typical and complementary rather than as mutually ex

clusive .

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

The Epistles of Ignatius

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

dytvrjTos and dyfvvrjros

 

The Letter to Diognetus

.

Justin Martyr

.

.

The Human Soul in Christ .

 

Tatian

 

.

Theophilus

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

119, 120

121

(note) 122

123

124-126

(note) 125

126

127

In all three the distinction recognized is cosmic rather than hypo-

static

Athenagoras his fuller recognition of the problem . Irenaeus important contributions to the doctrine .

Clement of Alexandria

The Logos Doctrine superseded by the Doctrine of the Sonship

.

.

.

128

128, 129

. 129-132

133-136

136-137

.

CHAPTER X

TERTULLIAN S DOCTRINE OF THE GODHEAD

Tertullian s use of terms and analogies

Doctrine of the Sonship and the Trinity

The full Nicene and Chalcedonian doctrine .

.

.

.

133

140-144

144

CHAPTER XI

ORIGEN S DOCTRINE OF THE GODHEAD

The great importance and influence of Origen

.

.

The basis of his doctrine

The eternal generation of the Son

.

.

 

.

The Trinity

.

Apparently contradictory teaching .

.

.

.

.

.

.

145

146

147

148

148 149

CONTENTS

xvii

The fitness of the Incarnation

His teaching Nicene

.

.

.

NOTE : Origenistic theology and controversies .

CHAPTER XII

.

.

.

.

PAQB

150

151

152-154

THE ARIAN CONTROVERSY

Introductory the previous course of the doctrine and the causes

of the controversy Arius and his teaching

The sources of knowledge of Arian theories

The developement of the doctrine of the Person of Christ

155,156

156-160

157, 158

before Arius

 

(note) 157

The sources of knowledge of Arian theories

 

.

(note) 157-158

Arian interpretation of Scripture

 

161-163

Outbreak of controversy and history up to Council of Nicaea

.

.

163, 164

The Council of Nicaea and its Creed

165-170

The Reaction after Nicaea personal and doctrinal .

 

.

171

Attempts to supersede the Nicene Creed Council of Antioch 341 .

172

Its second Creed

173-175

Its other Creeds .

.

.

.

.

.

.

175

Opposition of the West to any new Creed Council of Sardica 343

 

176

Renewed attempt to secure a non-Nicene Creed the panpoorixos

fK0<ns

176

Condemnation of Photinus and tranquillization of the * moderates :

subsidence of fears of Sabellianism

.

.

.

.

177

Developement of extreme form of Arianism after death of Constans

178

The Council of Sirmium 357

.

.

.

.

.

179

Arianism in the West

The Sirmian manifesto

Protests of the * moderates in the East

The * Homoean compromise

Gradual conversion of Semi-Arians and convergence of parties

to the Nicene definition

(note) 179

(note) 180

181

182-185

185-187

Final victory of the Nicene interpretation at the Council of Con

stantinople

The Constantinopolitan Creed

.

.

.

Arianism outside the Empire, and the causes of

failure of Arianism

NOTES : Marcellus

Homoiousios and the Homoeans

.

.

187-189

.(note) 188

the

.

(note) 189

190-192

192-193

The meaning of Homoousios in the Constantino

politan Creed

< By the Will of the Father

Movoycvw Unigenitus Unicus

.

.

.

193

194

195

xviii

CONTENTS

CHAPTEE XIII

THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND

THE TRINITY

PAOK

The course through which the doctrine went

.

.

.

197

The Old Testament and the New Testament doctrine The early Church

.

.

.

.199

198,

199

The full doctrine expressed by Tertullian .

 

200

Origen s exposition of the doctrine the first systematic attempt

 

at a scientific expression of it in view of difficulties suggested

 

201-204

Teaching in the Church just before the outbreak of Arianism

 

Gregory Thaumaturgus .

.

.

204

Dionysius of Alexandria

205

Eusebius of Caesarea

205

The Arian theories not emphasized and for a time ignored

.

206

The teaching that was given in the Church in the middle of the

 

fourth century shewn by Cyril of Jerusalem s lectures

.

 

206-209

Need for authoritative guidance as to the doctrine .

 

.

.

209

The teaching of Athanasius (the Letters to Sarapion)

 

.

.

209-212

and of Hilary (the dt Trinitate)

 

.

.

.

212

The new theories of Macedonius . The doctrine declared at Alexandria in 362 and at subsequent

.

.

.

.

212

synods in the East and in the West

.

.

.

213, 214

The Epiphanian Creed

.

.

.

.

.

.214-217

The procession of the Spirit

relation to Father and Son . (note) 215

Basil s treatise on the Holy Spirit

Gregory of Nyssa, that there are not three Gods The prevailing uncertainty reflected in the sermons of Gregory of

.

.

.

Nazianzus

The Council of Constantinople

217-219

220-222

222-224

224

Augustine s statement of the doctrine

The

Tr<ptx>pr)<ris

.

Niceta on the doctrine of the Spirit

NOTES: Substantia