34. Ἐπεὶ (καλὸν γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἐρέσθαι τοῦτο) εἴπατε, τίνες εἰσὶν οὓς προφασίζεσθε σκανδαλίζεσθαι καὶ θορυβεῖσθαι ἐπὶ τούτοις [ενν. τοῖς ῥήμασι]; Τῶν μὲν γὰρ εὐσεβούντων εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν οὐδείς, αὐτὰ γὰρ πρεσβεύουσι καὶ ἐκδικοῦσιν. Εἰ δὲ τῶν Ἀρειανῶν εἰσιν οἱ τοῦτο πάσχοντες, τί θαυμαστόν, εἰ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀναιροῦσιν αὐτῶν τὴν αἵρεσιν ἄχθονται; Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν αὐτοῖς σκάνδαλον τὰ ῥήματα, ἀλλὰ λύπη ὅτι στηλογραφία κατὰ τῆς ἀσεβείας αὐτῶν ἐστιν. Οὐκοῦν παύσασθε γογγύζοντες κατὰ τῶν πατέρων καὶ τοιαῦτα προφασιζόμενοι, ἐπεὶ ὥρα ὑμᾶς καταμέμφεσθαι καὶ τῷ κυριακῷ σταυρῷ ὅτι «Ἰουδαίοις μὲν σκάνδαλόν ἐστιν, ἔθνεσι δὲ μωρία», ὡς εἶπεν ὁ ἀπόστολος. Ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ οὐ φαῦλος ὁ σταυρός· ἡμῖν γὰρ τοῖς πιστεύουσίν ἐστι «Χριστὸς θεοῦ δύναμις καὶ θεοῦ σοφία», κἂν Ἰουδαῖοι μαίνωνται, οὕτως οὐ φαῦλα τὰ τῶν πατέρων ῥήματα, ἀλλ’ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς γνησίως ἐντυγχάνουσι καὶ ἀναιρετικὰ πάσης ἀσεβείας ἐστί, κἂν οἱ Ἀρειανοὶ πολλάκις διαρρηγνύωνται κατακρινόμενοι παρ’ αὐτῶν.
Ὅτε τοίνυν ἡ περὶ τῶν σκανδαλιζομένων ἀπίθανος δέδεικται πρόφασις, εἴπατε λοιπὸν ὑμεῖς, πῶς οὐκ ἀρέσκεσθε τῷ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας ὀνόματι; Τοῦτο γὰρ πρῶτον ἀναγκαῖον ἀνακρῖναι, καίτοι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐγράψατε ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς γεγεννῆσθαι τὸν υἱόν. Εἰ μὲν οὖν τὸν πατέρα ὀνομάζοντες ἢ τὸ θεὸς ὄνομα λέγοντες οὐκ οὐσίαν σημαίνετε οὐδὲ αὐτὸν τὸν ὄντα ὅπερ ἐστὶ κατ’ οὐσίαν νοεῖτε, ἀλλ’ ἕτερόν τι περὶ αὐτὸν ἢ τὸ γοῦν χεῖρον, ἵνα μὴ παρ’ ἐμοῦ λέγηται, διὰ τούτων σημαίνετε, ἔδει μὴ γράφειν ὑμᾶς ‘ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς’ τὸν υἱόν, ἀλλ’ ‘ἐκ τῶν περὶ αὐτὸν ἢ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ’, ἵνα φεύγοντες λέγειν ἀληθῶς πατέρα τὸν θεὸν σύνθετον δὲ τὸν ἁπλοῦν καὶ σωματικῶς αὐτὸν ἐπινοοῦντες καινοτέρας βλασφημίας ἐφευρεταὶ γένησθε. Οὕτω δὲ νοοῦντες ἐξ ἀνάγκης καὶ τὸν λόγον καὶ τὸ υἱὸς οὐκ οὐσίαν, ἀλλ’ ὄνομα μόνον νομίζετε καὶ λοιπὸν ἄχρις ὀνομάτων ἔχετε τὴν ἑαυτῶν φαντασίαν· καὶ ἃ λέγετε οὐκ εἶναι πιστεύετε, ἀλλὰ μὴ εἶναι φρονεῖτε.
35. Τοῦτο δὲ Σαδδουκαίων μᾶλλον καὶ τῶν παρ’ Ἕλλησι λεχθέντων ἀθέων ἐστὶ τὸ τόλμημα. Διὸ οὐδὲ τὴν κτίσιν αὐτοῦ τοῦ ὄντος θεοῦ δημιούργημα εἶναι φήσετε, εἴ γε τὸ πατὴρ καὶ τὸ θεὸς οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν τοῦ ὄντος οὐσίαν σημαίνουσιν, ἀλλ’ ἕτερόν τι ὅπερ ὑμεῖς ἀναπλάττετε. Ἀλλὰ τοῦτο δυσσεβὲς καὶ λίαν ἀπρεπές ἐστι καὶ μόνον ἐνθυμεῖσθαι. Εἰ δὲ ὅταν ἀκούωμεν «ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὢν» καὶ «ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν» καὶ «ἄκουε Ἰσραήλ, κύριος ὁ θεός σου κύριος εἷς ἐστι» καὶ «τάδε λέγει κύριος παντοκράτωρ», οὐχ ἕτερόν τι ἀλλ’ αὐτὴν τὴν ἁπλῆν καὶ μακαρίαν καὶ ἀκατάληπτον τοῦ ὄντος οὐσίαν νοοῦμεν, κἂν γὰρ ἀδυνάτως ἔχωμεν καταλαβεῖν, ὅ τι ποτέ ἐστιν, ἀλλ’ ἀκούοντες τὸ πατὴρ καὶ τὸ θεὸς καὶ τὸ παντοκράτωρ οὐχ ἕτερόν τι, ἀλλ’ αὐτὴν τὴν τοῦ ὄντος οὐσίαν σημαινομένην νοοῦμεν. Εἰρήκατε δὲ καὶ ὑμεῖς ‘ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν υἱόν’, δηλονότι ‘ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς’ αὐτὸν εἰρήκατε. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ πρὸ ὑμῶν λέγουσιν αἱ γραφαὶ τὸν κύριον υἱὸν τοῦ πατρός, καὶ πρὸ αὐτῶν αὐτὸς ὁ πατὴρ εἴρηκεν «οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός», υἱὸς δὲ οὐδὲν ἕτερόν ἐστιν ἢ τὸ ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς γέννημα· πῶς οὐ φαίνονται καλῶς εἰρηκότες οἱ πατέρες ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς τὸν υἱὸν λογισάμενοι ταυτὸν εἶναι τὸ εἰπεῖν ὀρθῶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὸ εἰπεῖν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας; Τὰ μὲν γὰρ κτίσματα πάντα, κἂν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ λέγηται γεγενῆσθαι, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὡς ὁ υἱός εἰσιν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ· οὐ γὰρ γεννήματα, ἀλλὰ ποιήματά εἰσι τὴν φύσιν. «Ἐν ἀρχῇ γοῦν ὁ θεὸς» οὐκ ‘ἐγέννησεν’ ἀλλ’ «ἐποίησε τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς» εἴρηται. Καὶ οὐχ ‘ὁ γεννῶν’ ἀλλ’ «ὁ ποιῶν τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ πνεύματα καὶ τοὺς λειτουργοὺς αὐτοῦ πυρὸς φλόγα». Εἰ δὲ ὁ ἀπόστολος εἴρηκεν· «εἷς θεός, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα», ἀλλ’ οὐ τὸν υἱὸν συναριθμῶν τοῖς πᾶσι τοῦτό φησιν. Ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ τῶν Ἑλλήνων οἱ μὲν νομίζουσι κατὰ τύχην καὶ ἐξ ἀτόμων συμπλοκῆς καὶ ὁμοιομερῶς ἐκ ταυτομάτου συνεστάναι τὴν κτίσιν καὶ μὴ ἔχειν τὸν αἴτιον, οἱ δὲ ἐξ αἰτίου μὲν αὐτὴν γεγονέναι, οὐ μὴν καὶ διὰ τοῦ λόγου, τῶν δὲ αἱρετικῶν ἕκαστος ὡς ἠθέλησεν ἀνεπλάσατο καὶ περὶ τῆς κτίσεως μυθολογεῖ, τούτου χάριν ὁ ἀπόστολος ἀναγκαίως συνείρηκε τὸ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ· ἵνα καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν γνωρίσῃ καὶ τὴν ἐκ τοῦ βουλήματος αὐτοῦ τῶν πάντων δημιουργίαν ἀποδείξῃ, εὐθὺς δ’ οὖν ἐπιφέρει «καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα», ἵνα τῶν πάντων ἐξάρῃ τὸν υἱόν. Τὰ γὰρ ‘ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ’ λεγόμενα πάντα ταῦτα δι’ υἱοῦ γέγονε καὶ οὐχ οἷόν τε ὁμοίαν ἔχειν τὰ δημιουργούμενα τῷ δημιουργοῦντι τὴν γένεσιν, καὶ ἵνα τὸ ‘ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ’ λεγόμενον ὧδε ἄλλως ἐπὶ τῶν ποιημάτων αὐτὸ σημαίνεσθαι διδάξῃ, ἢ ὡς ἐπὶ υἱοῦ λεγόμενον νοεῖται. ὁ μὲν γὰρ γέννημα, τὰ δὲ ποιήματά ἐστι. Διὸ καὶ ὁ μὲν υἱὸς ἴδιον τῆς οὐσίας γέννημα, τὰ δὲ τοῦ βουλήματος δημιουργήματα.
34. For answer, what is much to the purpose, Who are they whom you pretend are offended and troubled at these terms? Of those who are religious towards Christ not one; on the contrary they defend and maintain them. But if they are Arians who thus feel, what wonder they should be distressed at words which destroy their heresy? For it is not the terms which offend them, but the proscription of their irreligion which afflicts them. Therefore let us have no more murmuring against the Fathers, nor pretence of this kind; or next you will be making complaints of the Lord's Cross, because it is 'to Jews an offense and to Gentiles foolishness,' as said the Apostle (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). But as the Cross is not faulty, for to us who believe it is 'Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,' though Jews rave, so neither are the terms of the Fathers faulty, but profitable to those who honestly read, and subversive of all irreligion, though the Arians so often burst with rage as being condemned by them.
Since then the pretence that persons are offended does not hold, tell us yourselves, why is it you are not pleased with the phrase 'of the essence' (this must first be enquired about), when you yourselves have written that the Son is generated from the Father? If when you name the Father, or use the word 'God,' you do not signify essence, or understand Him according to essence, who is that He is, but signify something else about Him, not to say inferior, then you should not have written that the Son was from the Father, but from what is about Him or in Him; and so, shrinking from saying that God is truly Father, and making Him compound who is simple, in a material way, you will be authors of a newer blasphemy. And, with such ideas, you must needs consider the Word, and the title 'Son,' not as an essence but as a name only, and in consequence hold your own views as far as names only, and be talking, not of what you believe to exist, but of what you think not to exist.
35. But this is more like the crime of the Sadducees, and of those among the Greeks who had the name of Atheists. It follows that you will deny that even creation is the handy-work of God Himself that is; at least, if 'Father' and 'God' do not signify the very essence of Him that is, but something else, which you imagine: which is irreligious, and most shocking even to think of. But if, when we hear it said, 'I am that I am,' and, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,' and, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,' and, 'Thus says the Lord Almighty' (Exodus 3:14; Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4), we understand nothing else than the very simple, and blessed, and incomprehensible essence itself of Him that is, (for though we be unable to master what He is, yet hearing 'Father,' and 'God,' and 'Almighty,' we understand nothing else to be meant than the very essence of Him that is); and if you too have said, that the Son is from God, it follows that you have said that He is from the 'essence' of the Father. And since the Scriptures precede you which say, that the Lord is Son of the Father, and the Father Himself precedes them, who says, 'This is My beloved Son?' (Matthew 3:17), and a son is no other than the offspring from his father, is it not evident that the Fathers have suitably said that the Son is from the Father's essence? Considering that it is all one to say rightly 'from God,' and to say 'from the essence.' For all the creatures, though they be said to have come into being from God, yet are not from God as the Son is; for they are not offsprings in their nature, but works. Thus, it is said, 'in the beginning God,' not 'generated,' but 'made the heaven and the earth, and all that is in them' (Genesis 1:1). And not, 'who generates,' but 'who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire' (Psalm 104:4). And though the Apostle has said, 'One God, from whom all things' (1 Corinthians 8:6), yet he says not this, as reckoning the Son with other things; but, whereas some of the Greeks consider that the creation was held together by chance, and from the combination of atoms; and spontaneously from elements of similar structure, and has no cause; and others consider that it came from a cause, but not through the Word; and each heretic has imagined things at his will, and tells his fables about the creation; on this account the Apostle was obliged to introduce 'from God,' that he might thereby certify the Maker, and show that the universe was framed at His will. And accordingly he straightway proceeds: 'And one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things' (1 Corinthians 8:6), by way of excepting the Son from that 'all' (for what is called God's work, is all done through the Son; and it is not possible that the things framed should have one origin with their Framer), and by way of teaching that the phrase 'of God,' which occurs in the passage, has a different sense in the case of the works, from what it bears when used of the Son; for He is offspring, and they are works: and therefore He, the Son, is the proper offspring of His essence, but they are the handywork of his will.
* Αθανάσιος Αλεξανδρείας / Athanasius of Alexandria,
Ἐπιστολὴ περὶ τῶν γενομένων ἐν τῇ Ἀριμίνῳ τῆς Ἰταλίας καὶ ἐν Σελευκείᾳ τῆς Ἰσαυρίας συνόδων / De synodis Arimini in Italia et Seleuciae in Isauria 34, 35.
[PG 26, 753]