podcast 169 – Athanasius’s On the Nicene Council – Part 1
At this point in our story, the early 350s, we meet the man who is usually cast is the singular hero of the story: the famous Athanasius of Alexandria, aka St. Athanasius. We hear about his background and his troubled early tenure as bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, and what led to his officially declared (but not enforced) deposition and excommunication.
Then we hear the man himself, the first three chapters of his On the Nicene Council, also called Defence of the Nicene Definition, or by its Latin title De Decretis. This is the first known work of his in which he aggressively defends the new creedal language introduced at the famous council in 325, namely the term homoousion (“same essence” or “same substance” or “same being”), as describing the metaphysical relationship between the Father and the Son. This is a detailed letter to someone who has been arguing with “Eusebians,” catholics who were inclined to think that Nicea’s new language was unhelpful, and who apparently objected that it was unscriptural. Probably too they thought that Father and Son were united more by will than by “nature” or “essence;” at any rate, Athanasius labels them “Arians” and lumps them together with others and attempts to school them in proper theology. We get to hear the first three chapters of his lesson.
Links for this episode:
- Defence of the Nicene Definition
- Khaled Anatolios, Retrieving Nicea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
- Khaled Anatolios, Athanasius
- R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God
- Frances Young, From Nicea to Chalcedon, 2nd ed.
- podcast 115 – the aborted council at Serdica in 343
- podcast 114 – the recycled creed (342-359)
- podcast 113 – the council at Antioch in 341
- podcast 31 – Dr. William Hasker on the “Arian” Controversy
- podcast 30 – The Council of Nicea
- podcast 29 – Arius
- This week’s thinking music is “Cityscape Backdrop” by Jesse Spillane.