Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations

  Johnson, Aaron, and Jeremy Schott, eds. 2013. Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations. Hellenic Studies Series 60. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

13. Eusebius of Caesarea on Asterius of Cappadocia in the Anti-Marcellan Writings: A Case Study of Mutual Defense within the Eusebian Alliance

Mark DelCogliano

The theological contributions of Eusebius of Caesarea have long been overshadowed by his achievements as a historian, apologist, and biblical scholar. But in recent scholarship on the fourth-century Trinitarian controversies, he has been identified as one of the leading lights in the articulation of the theology of the “Eusebian alliance.” One of the features of an ecclesiastical alliance is mutual defense. This essay explores this activity within the Eusebian alliance, particularly by examining to what extent Eusebius defended the views of another leading member of the Eusebian alliance, Asterius of Cappadocia, in his anti-Marcellan works (Contra Marcellum and De ecclesiastica theologia). [1] Asterius was one of the principle targets of Marcellus, and so the question investigated here is whether Eusebius’ anti-Marcellan works can in some sense be construed as writings pro Asterio. By determining the contours of the theological relationship between Asterius and Eusebius, not only do we see evidence for development within the theological tradition of the Eusebian alliance, but also we come away with a new appreciation for the crucial role played by Eusebius himself in the transmission of an influential theological culture.

The Eusebian Alliance

I use “Eusebian” in contrast to the Athanasian usage deconstructed by Gwynn and in line with other recent usage to name the ad hoc alliance of eastern bishops and theologians initially formed around the figures of Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea that lasted from ca. 320 to ca. 355. [5] The alliance emerged when several eastern bishops rallied around Arius in common cause against what they deemed to be Alexander of Alexandria’s doctrinal innovations and his mistreatment of Arius. But they did not agree with Arius’ theology in every detail, and there were theological differences among them. In the ensuing years, the Eusebian alliance was animated by a common set of values and a shared agenda in the ecclesiastical sphere, but displayed considerable diversity in theology. [6] The chief architects of Eusebian theology are recognized to have been Asterius of Cappadocia [7] and Eusebius of Caesarea. [8] The theology of the Eusebian alliance came to be decisively shaped by its emerging debate with Marcellus of Ancyra. [9] The Eusebians positioned themselves as advocates of a middle way between the extremes of Arius’ theology and the purported neo-Sabellianism of Marcellus of Ancyra. From the early 340s through the late 350s, the Eusebians orchestrated various councils that sought to achieve theological consensus by eliminating what they considered extreme views, those of Arius, Athanasius, Marcellus, and Photinus. Tensions inherent to Eusebian theology caused the alliance to splinter in the late 350s, giving rise to new alliances, the Homoiousians, the Homoians, and the Heteroousians.

A Eusebian Tradition of Mutual Defense: The Two Eusebii and Asterius

The members of the Eusebian alliance engaged in mutual defense from the beginning. Indeed, the alliance emerged when several eastern bishops rose to the defense of Arius when he sought refuge with them after being expelled from Alexandria. There is, however, no evidence for personal interaction between Eusebius and Asterius. Yet, as they moved in the same ecclesiastical circles, it is hard to imagine that they did not know each other. But this is unimportant for our purposes since this study focuses on their literary relationship, even if it is somewhat complicated to delineate. In the early 320s, Eusebius of Nicomedia wrote to Paulinus of Tyre urging him to write to Alexander of Alexandria to protest his excommunication of Arius. [10] Paulinus did so. [11] These letters are instances of how members of the Eusebian alliance struggled with a common enemy. The theological language used by Eusebius in his widely circulated letter became in the years following the Council of Nicaea so outdated that it was a cause of embarrassment among his Eusebian associates. [12] Presumably sharing this embarrassment, Asterius wrote in defense of it. [13] I shall refer to this writing as the Apologia. [14] It is an excellent example of mutual defense among the Eusebian alliance, and it will be examined below. Opinions vary on its exact date. [15] It was probably written around the time Eusebius of Nicomedia returned from exile (he was deposed and exiled at the Council of Nicaea in 325), either just before or just after, that is, around 327 or 328. [16]

Asterius’ Apologia for Eusebius of Nicomedia

Before investigating Eusebius’ defense of Asterius, it will be helpful to examine the Apologia for comparative purposes. Unfortunately the fragmentary state of the Apologia makes the project of reconstructing Asterius’ defense of Eusebius difficult. Simply put, no extant fragment of the Apologia contains Asterius’ explicit defense of specific doctrines of Eusebius. But other fragments reveal some of the tactics used by Asterius to defend Eusebius. Furthermore, Asterius agrees with some of the teachings of Eusebius, but modifies, rejects, and improves upon others. These doctrinal relationships between the two theologians provide further evidence for Asterius’ defense of Eusebius in the Apologia.

Some fragments preserved by Marcellus indicate that Asterius attempted to stem criticism of Eusebius’ letter by articulating a framework in which the letter should be interpreted. First, Asterius formulated the “main point of the letter” as “ascribing the generation of the Son to the will of the Father and denying that this birth involves change on the part of God. This is the very thing,” continues Asterius, “that the wisest of the fathers declared in their own treatises, guarding against the impiety of heretics, who falsely alleged that God’s childbearing was in some way corporeal and involved change by teaching the issuings (probolas).” [30] While ascribing the generation of the Son to the Father’s will was controversial, denying that the divine birth involved suffering and change on the part of God was not. This statement thus defends Eusebius by connecting his main ideas (or at least his second idea) with long-standing anti-heretical traditions. [31] Another intention of this statement was presumably to draw attention away from other more problematic and controversial aspects of the letter, as well as to enable Asterius to interpret its unclear or poorly expressed portions in the light of these main points. Second, he claimed that Eusebius did not intend to offer authoritative, “official” teaching in his episcopal capacity; rather, it was a private letter to Paulinus. [32] Thus, Asterius is suggesting that the theology of the letter was provisional and subject to revision. Indeed, there are good grounds for this perspective, since at the conclusion of his letter Eusebius asked Paulinus to revise it (ἐξερασάμενος), that is, work out its contents in greater detail and bring it to completion, before writing to Alexander. [33] Third, Asterius spoke of “the depth of the thought of Eusebius that lies hidden in his brief words.” [34] Presumably, in his Apologia, Asterius attempted to extract and enunciate the deep thoughts of Eusebius in a way that corresponded to current theological sensibilities. Hence the revision of Eusebius’ theology is rhetorically constructed as an expansion of obfuscating terseness. And so, these texts demonstrate that Asterius undertook an explicit defense of Eusebius. This is corroborated by certain comments of Marcellus, who speaks of Asterius as “recommending (συνιστάμενος) the evil writings of Eusebius,” [35] and “intending to advocate (συνηγορῆσαι βουλόμενος) for Eusebius.” [36]

In contrast, for Asterius, “Father-Son” language is primary. [39] He repeatedly speaks of the Father begetting the Son and even affirms that the Father begot the Son “from himself” (ἐξ αὐτοῦ). [40] Joseph Lienhard claims that “from him” is tantamount to “from his substance,” and so concludes that Asterius is more or less rejecting Eusebius’ teaching on this point. [41] While no extant fragment of Asterius preserved by Marcellus contains explicit comments on the phrase “from his substance,” either for or against it, I submit that by using the phrase “from him” Asterius is purposely backing away from the controversial “from his substance” in favor of a less controversial, yet more ambiguous, scriptural expression. The idea that the Son was begotten from the Father, that is, from his substance, was central to Alexander of Alexandria’s theology (and a line to this effect was included in the Nicene Creed), but was suspicious to the Eusebians for the reasons articulated by Eusebius of Nicomedia. [42] Other Eusebians before Asterius such as George of Laodicea had attempted to find common ground between the disputing parties on this very point by using scriptural language that was similarly less controversial but more ambiguous. [43] Hence Asterius backs away from the more precise and radical language of Eusebius in order to defend him against his detractors and make his theology more acceptable. Finally, nowhere in the extant fragments preserved by Marcellus does Asterius deal with the issue of whether “begotten” is unique to the Son. He does, however, describe the main point of Eusebius’ letter as “ascribing the generation of the Son to the will of the Father,” but this topic does not appear in any other of the Marcellan fragments. Thus, it remains unclear if Asterius endorsed this idea in the Apologia. [44]

In other areas, Eusebius and Asterius more or less agree, with differences of emphasis. Eusebius taught that the Father and Son were completely different in nature (φύσις) and substance (οὐσία), the one unbegotten, the other begotten. Yet the Son has perfect likeness (τελείαν ὁμοιότητα) to the Father in other ways such as in disposition (διάθεσις) and power (δύναμις). [45] Like Eusebius, Asterius speaks of the Father and Son as having two distinct natures and otherwise stresses their ontological distinctiveness. [46] But no text of his preserved by Marcellus speaks of the Father and Son as two substances. For Asterius too the Son is like the Father, particularly in terms of substance, will, power, and glory, so much so that the one is indistinguishable from the other and they agree in everything. [47] While Eusebius emphasized the difference between the substances of the Father and Son, Asterius stressed the likeness of their substances. Nonetheless, both Eusebius and Asterius subscribe to the idea that the Father and Son are different at the level of nature and substance, but very similar at other levels. One departure between the two in this regard is that Asterius speaks of the Father and Son as different hypostases and persons (πρόσωπα), terms which never appear in Eusebius’ letter. In the same vein, the Son’s status as image of God has no place in the theology of Eusebius, whereas it is a major component of Asterius’, supporting his doctrine of the Father and Son’s simultaneous difference and likeness. [48]

In sum, Asterius clearly defends Eusebius and agrees with much of his theology. Yet at the same time, Asterius does not shy away from distancing himself from some of Eusebius’ more controversial and archaic formulations, affirming them in more ambiguous terms, or simply passing over them in silence, in order to focus on the main points of the Nicomedian’s teaching. Note that Asterius’ disagreement with Eusebius is never explicitly expressed. His critiques are always implicit as he interprets the bishop’s theology in the light of his own, putting his own stamp upon it and placing the emphases elsewhere. And so, Asterius’ Apologia is an example of Eusebian mutual defense in which the defense is coupled with revisionist critiques.

Eusebius’ Defense and Critique of the Other Eusebians

Eusebius’ Defense and Critique of Asterius

The case is different for Asterius, to whom Eusebius gives far more attention than he does to Eusebius of Nicomedia, Paulinus, and Narcissus. And he really defends Asterius, with very little criticism, if any, even implicit. Note that in the passage quoted above, Asterius, who was not a bishop, is apparently omitted from Eusebius’ defense, perhaps on purpose, but more likely the Caesarean bishop meant to include him and spoke imprecisely. But in fact several scholars have claimed that Eusebius did not defend Asterius in the anti-Marcellan writings. Eduard Schwartz suggests this was because Eusebius wanted to distance himself from the too “Arian” Asterius. [59] Both Gustave Bardy and Joseph Lienhard rightly doubt Schwartz’s explanation, but still affirm that Eusebius never attempted to defend Asterius. [60] Both are struck by the praise that Eusebius lavished upon Paulinus of Tyre and the absence of anything comparable for Asterius. [61] Yet Eusebius’ esteem for Paulinus should not be taken as disparagement of Asterius. Eusebius had known Paulinus since at least 315, a good twenty years before writing his anti-Marcellan works, when Eusebius delivered an oration for the dedication of the basilica at Tyre, in which he also acclaimed Paulinus. [62] Furthermore, Paulinus had died around 326, [63] so Eusebius is also probably honoring the memory of his dead friend. If the “omission” of praise of Asterius needs to be explained, it could be due to the fact that Asterius was still alive. Also still alive were Eusebius of Nicomedia and Narcissus of Neronias, whom Eusebius of Caesarea similarly did not extol. [64] Thus the praise accorded to Paulinus does not preclude Eusebius defending Asterius. In contrast to these scholars, Markus Vinzent claims that Eusebius both defended and critiqued Asterius. [65] However, Vinzent offers no specific evidence to substantiate Eusebius’ defense of Asterius and only points to Eusebius’ rejection of Asterius’ opinion on the question of the creatureliness of Christ. But as I will argue below, there is no evidence in the fragments of the Apologia that Asterius held that the Son was a creature. Accordingly, Eusebius did not “reject” this opinion of Asterius.

In what follows I proceed more or less sequentially through the anti-Marcellan works of Eusebius examining his engagement with Asterius. No fragment of Asterius is omitted from investigation in what is intended to be an exhaustive analysis. Two distinct kinds of defense emerge, both of which we have already encountered in Asterius’ Apologia: first, an explicit defense where Eusebius specifically rejects Marcellus’ view of Asterius and voices his support for Asterius; and second, an implicit defense where Eusebius does not specifically mention the views of Asterius reported by Marcellus, but in the course of his discussion reveals his tacit agreement with Asterius. In this latter case, usually Eusebius agrees with the doctrinal principles and terminology of Asterius, but sometimes explains these with a somewhat different theology, either expanding upon Asterius’ views or taking them in another direction. Never in the anti-Marcellan writings does Eusebius explicitly reject Asterius or his theology.

On numerous occasions, Marcellus attacks Asterius’ doctrine of the image of God. Perhaps Asterius’ most famous statement on this subject is his identification of the only-begotten Word (Jn 1:18) and the firstborn of all creation (Col 1:15) as the indistinguishable (ἀπαράλλακτος) image of the Father’s substance, will, power, and glory. [83] Elsewhere Asterius calls the Word the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). [84] Marcellus critiques Asterius’ doctrine of the image of God in several ways. First, he claims that Asterius uses it “to teach that God is as different from the Word as a man seems to differ from his image,” that is, that there is an ontological gulf between God and his Word. [85] Second, by definition, according to Marcellus, an image manifests what is absent, makes visible what is invisible. Thus, Marcellus identifies the image of God as Christ the incarnate Word, who is visible. [86] Accordingly, Marcellus accuses Asterius of faulty logic when he teaches that the pre-incarnate Word is an invisible image of the invisible God. It simply makes no sense given his belief in the essential visibility of images. [87] A third critique also suggests that Asterius’ logic is flawed. Since Asterius identifies the Word as God, how can he also be the image of God? “For an image of God,” writes Marcellus, “is one thing and God is another. Hence if he is an image, he is neither Lord nor God, but rather the image of the Lord and God. But if he really is Lord and God, the Lord and God can no longer be the image of the Lord and God.” [88]

It is in De ecclesiastica theologia, however, that Eusebius develops his theology of the image of God in detail. According to Eusebius, the various “image” titles given to the Son (in Col 1:15; Phil 2:6; Heb 1:3) reveal his “relationship (σχέσις) to the Father’s divinity, a relationship which is proper to him alone, as if to an only-begotten Son.” [93] Furthermore, though being the image of God means that the Son has independent existence, [94] this does not result in there being two gods, because the Son’s existence as the image of God insures the unity of God. [95] According to John 1:1, the Word is not the God (which to Eusebius would indicate a Sabellian identity of the Father and the Son), but rather the Word is with the God who is over all, being himself God “as an image of God, and an image not as in lifeless matter but as in a living son, who has also, with the greatest degree of exactness possible (ἀκριβέστατα), been constituted like (ἀφωμοιωμένῳ) the archetypal Godhead of the Father.” [96] The Father is the only true God, but the Son is also true God, in the sense that he “possesses this as in an image.” [97] While the Father is properly the only true God because he is the archetype of the image, the Son is true God because he is the image of God. And so, the Son’s existence as the image of God secures both his independent existence and the unity of God. Furthermore, the one God is “made known through the Son as through an image. For that reason, the Son is also God, because, in him, as in an image, there is an expression (μόρφωσιν) of the Father.” [98] Thus, the Son as image mediates knowledge of the Father. Eusebius explains how this invisible, interior mediation of the knowledge of God through the image of God operates (in contrast to Marcellus’ notion of the visible incarnate Word’s mediation as image of God):

Surely it is not by accident this is the final paragraph of De ecclesiastica theologia, save Eusebius’ concluding admonition to his readers, and it serves as a fitting summary of Eusebius’ theology of the image of God.

On two occasions, Marcellus quotes two snippets from Asterius on the incarnation (“that which came down in the last days” and “that which was born from the Virgin”) in the context of affirming that it is only the Word who takes on flesh. [111] Unfortunately, he does not record who Asterius said was incarnated or his precise teaching on the matter. But, as we have seen, Asterius did not limit the title of the pre-incarnate Word to only “Word” as Marcellus did, but used titles such as “Son,” “Only-Begotten,” “image,” and so forth. So it is most likely that Asterius spoke of the Son or even Jesus Christ as being incarnated. [112] This interpretation is corroborated when it is realized that the first phrase alludes to Hebrews 1:2: “but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son . . .” [113] The fact that Asterius is citing Hebrews 1:2 may suggest that he said it was the Son who was incarnated. Eusebius’ own doctrine of the incarnation in this regard agrees with Asterius. In fact, the second half of the second book of De ecclesiastica theologia is devoted to discussing the countless names by which scripture refers to the pre-incarnate Word. After running through the Johannine evidence, Eusebius quotes three Marcellan fragments on the topic, in one of which Marcellus quotes both Asterian snippets. [114] After this, Eusebius ransacks the Pauline epistles and other parts of scripture in his continuing quest to demonstrate the myriad names that scripture used for pre-incarnate Word. [115] Though he never alludes to Asterius himself or his expressions, Eusebius does affirm that scripture calls the pre-incarnate Word both “Son” and “Jesus Christ.” [116] And so, while Eusebius does not explicitly defend Asterius in this matter, he agrees with his theology.

Joseph Lienhard said that he did make such a claim based on a report of Marcellus preserved by Eusebius: “So then, how do those men full of deceit and villainy [see Acts 13:10], to speak as the Apostle does, transfer the passage [i.e. Ps 109:3] to what they think is his first creation, even though David clearly said this about his fleshly generation?” [126] It is true, as we saw, that Asterius interpreted Psalm 109:3 as a reference to the Father’s eternal begetting of the Son, not the incarnation. But in this fragment, Marcellus speaks of unspecified Eusebian opponents in the plural. He could be including Asterius in the number of those who held this opinion, but this is not necessarily the correct interpretation. It seems more likely that this is a position that Marcellus believed to be held also by the other Eusebians whom he attacked, perhaps Eusebius of Nicomedia and Narcissus. Finally, the phrase “his first creation” may not even be the words used by the Eusebians. When Marcellus says that the Eusebians apply the verse to “what they think is his first creation” (τὴν πρώτην αὐτοῦ, ὡς οἴονται, κτίσιν), he seems to be giving his own polemical interpretation of their views, not their exact language. [127] For all these reasons, this fragment of Marcellus should not be considered to report a viewpoint of Asterius. Indeed, it is not considered as such in the two editions of Asterius fragments by Gustave Bardy and Markus Vinzent. [128]


Of the three instances of mutual defense within the Eusebian alliance examined in this study, Eusebius’ defense of Asterius is not only the most extensive but also the most genuinely a defense. Asterius’ defense of the Nicomedian Eusebius engaged in a good deal of updating and revision, even as he defended him. The Caesarean Eusebius essentially rejected the theology of Paulinus and Narcissus while still claiming to defend them. In contrast, the same Eusebius defended or at least agreed with everything Asterius taught (at least as reported by Marcellus). In no case can we detect an explicit or even an implicit critique. It is true that at times Eusebius developed his theology in different directions than Asterius, but this fact should not obscure their fundamental agreement in doctrinal matters. And so, it may be concluded that, even if the main purpose of Eusebius in his anti-Marcellan writings was to refute the theology of Marcellus, they can also be construed as writings in favor of Asterius. If Contra Marcellum were the title of both works, then the subtitle could certainly be Pro Asterio.

The anti-Marcellan writings of Eusebius played a key role in the development and transmission of Eusebian theology. He is first of all responsible for preserving precious fragments of the writings of Paulinus, Narcissus, and Asterius, much as he saved many texts, Christian, Jewish, and Greco-Roman alike, in his Historia Ecclesiastica, Praeparatio Evangelica, and Demonstratio Evangelica. But, just as in those works, so in the anti-Marcellan treatises, he is not merely a conserver. He engages with the theology of his fellow Eusebians, sometimes jettisoning it (as with Paulinus and Narcissus), sometimes developing it in new directions (as with Asterius), but in every case drawing upon his previous theological work and updating it to respond to contemporary concerns and challenges. And thus he achieved a classic expression of Eusebian theology that incorporated and expanded upon the views of Asterius, a theology that was enormously influential in the following decades.

Works Cited

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[ back ] 1. Edition: Klostermann and Hansen 1991 (hereafter Kl/H).

[ back ] 2. See my research on the theological and ecclesio-political cohesiveness of the Eusebians: DelCogliano 2006; 2008; 2011b.

[ back ] 3. See Ayres 2004:13; DelCogliano 2006:480–483.

[ back ] 4. Gwynn 2007.

[ back ] 5. For a definition of the category, see Ayres 2004:52, and Lienhard 1999:34–35.

[ back ] 6. E.g. DelCogliano 2006.

[ back ] 7. For accounts of Asterius’ theology, see: Kopecek 1979:28–34 and 55–57; Hanson 1988:32–38; Kinzig 1990:125–132; Vinzent 1993:38–71; Lienhard 1999:92–101; Ayres 2004:53–54; Gwynn 2007:205–211; and Anatolios 2011:53–59.

[ back ] 8. For accounts of Eusebius’ theology, see Ayres 2004:58–60; Hanson 1988:46–59; Lienhard 1999:104–135; Strutwolf 1999; and Anatolios 2011:59–69.

[ back ] 9. On Marcellus’ theology, see Ayres 2004:62–69; Hanson 1988:217–235; Lienhard 1999:49–68; Vinzent 1997; and Anatolios 2011:86–92. On Marcellus’ career, see Parvis 2006.

[ back ] 10. The whole letter is extant; see Urk. 8 (Urk. = Opitz 1934–1935, cited by document number). Opitz dates the letter to 320–321; ca. 323 is the proposal of Williams 2001:58. For analyses of this letter, see Stead 1973; Luibhéid 1976; Lienhard 1999:78–82; and DelCogliano 2010:111–119. Stead argues that the letter was condemned at the Council of Nicaea.

[ back ] 11. Only fragments of the letter are extant; see Urk. 9. For an analysis of this letter, see Lienhard 1999:84–87.

[ back ] 12. Lienhard 1999:92.

[ back ] 13. Kopecek 1979:55, suggests that Asterius was also protesting the letter’s condemnation at Nicaea (see note 10 above).

[ back ] 14. On the Apologia, see Bardy 1936:336–338; Kopecek 1979:55–57; Lienhard 1999:95–98. The only other extant work of Asterius is his Syntagmation, fragments of which are preserved by Athanasius.

[ back ] 15. The various opinions are discussed by Bardy 1936:323–324; Vinzent 1993:34; and Parvis 2006:100–101 and 111–116.

[ back ] 16. Lienhard 1999:92.

[ back ] 17. On this writing, see Lienhard 1999:47–68.

[ back ] 18. Eusebius, C. Marc. 1.4.48 (GCS 14:28,3–4 Kl/H); Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 1.36.3.

[ back ] 19. See Eusebius, C. Marc. 1.4.1–3 (17,30–18,12 Kl/H): “I will first present the passages in which he [Marcellus] tries to contradict the things that were written correctly and in accordance with ecclesiastical teaching, attacking their authors and engaging in a battle that all but demanded everything he had. For now he directs the refutation against Asterius, now against Eusebius the Great [Eusebius of Nicomedia]. And then he turns to the man of God, the so truly thrice-blessed Paulinus, a man who was honored with the sovereignty of the Antiochene Church, but who served as bishop of the Tyrians and shined so brightly in the episcopacy there that the Antiochene Church shared in its goodness as their own. But even this man, who lived blessedly and died blessedly, who not long ago fell asleep and is now disturbed by nothing, this astonishing author mocks. And passing on from this man he makes war on Origen, who passed from this life very long ago. Then he marches against Narcissus and persecutes the other Eusebius [Eusebius of Caesarea], and at the same time rejects all the church fathers, satisfied with none whatsoever except only himself.” Origen of course is not associated with the Eusebian alliance. In this anti-Asterian writing Marcellus polemically depicts the Eusebians as nothing more than slavish adherents of Origen.

[ back ] 20. The title of the work is not preserved and scholars have referred to it by many names, most commonly Contra Asterium.

[ back ] 21. Parvis 2006:118–123, lays out the evidence and the various scholarly opinions for dating the work. I find the case for a composition before rather than after the Council of Jerusalem in 335 more compelling. Parvis argues for an early date of 329–330, which is not outside the realm of possibility, but also contributes to her “heroic” narrative of Marcellus, in that it makes the Eusebians “unable to depose Marcellus on the basis of it for a further six years” (2006:123).

[ back ] 22. Lienhard 1999:104–209.

[ back ] 23. Parvis 2006:123–132.

[ back ] 24. Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 1.36.5. See Bardy 1936:325–326; and Kinzig 1990:18.

[ back ] 25. Two editions of the fragments of Asterius have been published, each with their limitations. See Bardy 1936:341–353; and Vinzent 1993:82–141. In this study I have for the most part elected not to refer to the fragments according to the enumeration of these editions to avoid complicating the references.

[ back ] 26. Inowlocki 2006.

[ back ] 27. Bardy 1936:340 asserts that Marcellus cited his sources more precisely than Athanasius, but does not give reasons for this judgment.

[ back ] 28. On ancient citation practices, see Inowlocki 2006:35–47; Most 1997:vii; and Kidd 1997:226.

[ back ] 29. Bardy 1936:341 commenting on Marcellus’ habit of citing only a few words of Asterius out of context: “Il est assez curieux qu’Eusèbe n’ait pas cherché, sur ce point, à compléter ou à préciser sa documentation.

[ back ] 30. C. Marc. 1.4.9–10 (19,11–20 Kl/H).

[ back ] 31. Lienhard 1999:98n148 claims that the “wisest fathers” to whom Asterius refers are Paulinus and the two Eusebii, but it seems rather that Asterius intends more remote figures like Origen. On this point, see also DelCogliano 2011a:49n19.

[ back ] 32. C. Marc. 1.4.17–18 (20,32–21,6 Kl/H).

[ back ] 33. See Urk. 8.8 (17,8–9 Opitz).

[ back ] 34. C. Marc. 1.4.11 (19,26–27 Kl/H).

[ back ] 35. C. Marc. 1.4.9 (19,11–12 Kl/H).

[ back ] 36. C. Marc. 1.4.11 (19,23–24 Kl/H); 1.4.17 (20,32–33 Kl/H).

[ back ] 37. Urk. 8.3 (16,2–3 Opitz).

[ back ] 38. Urk. 8.6–7 (16,15–17,5 Kl/H).

[ back ] 39. E.g. C. Marc. 1.4.4–7 (18,12–32 Kl/H).

[ back ] 40. C. Marc. 1.4.12 (19,31–20,1 Kl/H); 1.4.30 (24,12 Kl/H); 1.4.33 (25,4 Kl/H).

[ back ] 41. Lienhard 1999:97.

[ back ] 42. For more details, see DelCogliano 2010:115–119.

[ back ] 43. Urk. 13 (19 Opitz): “Why do you find fault with Alexander the Pope when he says that the Son is from the Father? For you should not fear to say that the Son is from God. For if the Apostle wrote: ‘All things are from God’ [1 Cor 11:12], and it is clear that all things are made from nothing, and the Son too is a created thing and one of things that have been made, then it can be said that the Son is from God just as all things are said to be from God.” See also DelCogliano 2011b:671–672.

[ back ] 44. In the fragments of the Syntagmation preserved by Athanasius, however, Asterius does seem to subscribe to the idea; see Orationes contra Arianos 3.60.

[ back ] 45. Urk. 8.3.

[ back ] 46. C. Marc. 1.4.11 (19,24 Kl/H).

[ back ] 47. C. Marc. 1.4.33–34 (24,35–25,17 Kl/H); C. Marc. 1.4.55 (29,7–12 Kl/H); C. Marc. 2.2.15–19 (37,29–38 Kl/H); C. Marc. 2.2.20–22 (38,25–39,10 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.4.2 (102,27–30 Kl/H).

[ back ] 48. On this, see below p. 277.

[ back ] 49. On these texts, see Lienhard 1999:70–89.

[ back ] 50. C. Marc. 1.4.51–52 and 1.4.63–66.

[ back ] 51. Marcellus does not accuse Eusebius of Nicomedia of specific teachings; he only refers to him in the context of responding to Asterius’ comments on his letter to Paulinus. But he does repeatedly say that Eusebius wrote badly (κακῶς); see C. Marc. 1.4.9 (19,11–12 Kl/H); 1.4.11 (19,23 Kl/H); 1.4.17 (20,32–33 Kl/H). On this expression, see Lienhard 1999:82.

[ back ] 52. C. Marc. 1.4.49 (28,8–12; 28,14; 28,20 Kl/H) = Urk. 9.2–4.

[ back ] 53. C. Marc. 1.4.39 (26,10 Kl/H); 1.4.53 (28,33–34 Kl/H).

[ back ] 54. Marcellus also accused Eusebius himself of this; see C. Marc. 1.4.46 (27,24–25 Kl/H) and 1.4.46 (27,28 Kl/H). Marcellus tended to see no difference between a theology of two divine realities, hypostases, powers, or even substances and a theology of two gods. On Eusebius’ belief in the unity of God, see Eccl. Theol. 2.23.1 (133,11–17 Kl/H) and below p. 280. He does, however, refer to the Son as a “second God” throughout Praeparatio Evangelica. But this usage seems to arise only in cases where he is seeking to find references to the Son in non-Christian literature, where the phrase originally occurs.

[ back ] 55. Eccl. Theol. 1.9.

[ back ] 56. On the denial of two substances, see Eccl. Theol. 2.23.1 (133,9–17 Kl/H). On hypostases, see below pp. 279–280.

[ back ] 57. C. Marc. 1.4.63 (30,25–32 Kl/H).

[ back ] 58. Thus, the judgment of Wallace-Hadrill 1960:37 seems correct. He describes the anti-Marcellan works of Eusebius as “repeating considerable portions of the work of Marcellus without providing much defense of Paulinus, Narcissus, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Origen and the others whom Marcellus had attacked.” But if he meant to include Asterius in this judgment, as he seems to have done, below I argue the opposite.

[ back ] 59. Schwartz 1911:367–368.

[ back ] 60. Bardy 1936:341; Lienhard 1999:100.

[ back ] 61. See Eusebius, C. Marc. 1.4.1–3 (cited above at note 19). See also C. Marc. 1.4.48 where Eusebius again calls Paulinus “the man of God” (28,5–6 Kl/H).

[ back ] 62. Historia ecclesiastica 10.4. See also Schott 2011:189–96.

[ back ] 63. Lienhard 1999:83–84.

[ back ] 64. Eusebius of Caesarea, however, does refer to his namesake of Nicomedia as “Eusebius the Great” (C. Marc. 1.4.1 (17,33–18,1 Kl/H); 1.4.9 (19,8–9 Kl/H)).

[ back ] 65. Vinzent 1993:23 and 26.

[ back ] 66. C. Marc. 1.2.20–22 (12,8–21 Kl/H). See C. Marc. 1.4.55 (24,31–34 Kl/H) for Marcellus’ interpretation of this verse.

[ back ] 67. Textual criticism has vindicated Marcellus. The majority of manuscripts read ἐξεγέννησα instead of ἐγέννησα. Lienhard 1999:98 mistakenly ascribes the Marcellan reading to Asterius and vice versa.

[ back ] 68. C. Marc. 2.3.30 (50,5–6 Kl/H). See also DE 5.1.19, as well as PE 7.12 and DE 4.15; 4.16; 5.3. The local “Caesarean” creed that Eusebius quotes in his letter to his church after the Council of Nicaea contains the line: “begotten from the Father before all ages” (Urk. 22.4 (43,11–12 Opitz)).

[ back ] 69. C. Marc. 1.4.27–29 (23,25–21 Kl/H); see also C. Marc. 2.2.7–8 (36,2–8 Kl/H).

[ back ] 70. “Before the age he established me in the beginning; before he made the earth and before he made the depths, before he brought forth the springs of the waters, before the mountains were set in place, before all the hills, he begets me.” Eusebius of Nicomedia had cited an abbreviated version of Prov 8:22–25, which excludes “in the beginning . . . set in place” (see Urk. 8.4). Perhaps Asterius’ words were inspired by Eusebius’.

[ back ] 71. Eccl. Theol. 1.2.1 (63,20–21 Kl/H).

[ back ] 72. Eccl. Theol. 1.11.6 (70,22–25 Kl/H); 3.3.27–42 (150,18–153,7 Kl/H).

[ back ] 73. C. Marc. 1.4.4–6 (18,14–29 Kl/H).

[ back ] 74. C. Marc. 1.4.6 (18,28–29 Kl/H).

[ back ] 75. C. Marc. 1.4.7–9 (18,30–19,10 Kl/H).

[ back ] 76. C. Marc. 1.4.12 (19,31–20,2 Kl/H).

[ back ] 77. C. Marc. 1.4.13 (20,4–7 Kl/H).

[ back ] 78. C. Marc. 1.4.13 (20,8–10 Kl/H).

[ back ] 79. C. Marc. 1.4.14 (20,13 Kl/H), referring to C. Marc. 1.4.4 (18,18–20 Kl/H). See also C. Marc. 2.2.34 (41,6–10 Kl/H) and Eccl. Theol. 2.19.2 (125,12–17 Kl/H), where Marcellus sarcastically comments that Asterius claims “to follow the scriptures simply and scrupulously,” before suggesting that he is ignorant of a certain biblical passage.

[ back ] 80. C. Marc. 1.4.14 (20,15–16 Kl/H) referring to C. Marc. 1.4.10 (19,16–18 Kl/H). More precisely, Asterius maintained that ascribing the generation of the Son to the will of the Father and denying that this birth involved suffering on the part of God was the very teaching declared by the wisest fathers in their own treatises. But Marcellus seems to have taken this passage as a general statement of the sources of his thought.

[ back ] 81. C. Marc. 1.4.15–16 (20,16–24 Kl/H).

[ back ] 82. C. Marc. 1.4.16–17 (20,24–29 Kl/H).

[ back ] 83. C. Marc. 1.4.33–34 (24,35–25,17 Kl/H). The same fragment is preserved by Acacius of Caesarea apud Epiphanius, Panarion 72.6.2–3.

[ back ] 84. C. Marc. 1.4.30 (24,11–16 Kl/H); 1.4.31–32 (24,23–29 Kl/H); 2.3.24 (48,33–49,5 Kl/H).

[ back ] 85. C. Marc. 1.4.30 (24,13–16 Kl/H).

[ back ] 86. C. Marc. 1.4.31 (24,18–21 Kl/H).

[ back ] 87. C. Marc. 1.4.31–32 (24,24–29 Kl/H); 2.3.24 (48,34–49,5 Kl/H).

[ back ] 88. C. Marc. 1.4.33–34 (25,8–14 Kl/H).

[ back ] 89. C. Marc. 1.4.35–37 (25,15–29 Kl/H).

[ back ] 90. C. Marc. 1.4.35 (25,15–17 Kl/H).

[ back ] 91. C. Marc. 1.4.36 (25,21–26 Kl/H). These were among the favorite passages of Eusebius when reflecting on the Word as the image of God; see also Eccl. Theol. 1.20.67–71 and 1.20.94. Incidentally, in Eccl. Theol. 1.20.71 Eusebius comments that Marcellus’ interpretation of such titles as those in Heb 1:3 and Col 1:15–17 as referring to the flesh “is silly and incomprehensible in addition to being an incoherent interpretation” (93,3–4 Kl/H).

[ back ] 92. C. Marc. 1.4.37 (25,26–29 Kl/H).

[ back ] 93. Eccl. Theol. 1.9.3 (67,23–25 Kl/H). Examples of this are found elsewhere when Eusebius states that, because the Son is the image of God, he possesses immortality (Eccl. Theol. 1.20.33) and the first-person passages in the Old Testament, such as Ex 3:14, “I am who am,” are valid of him as well as the Father (Eccl. Theol. 2.20.15).

[ back ] 94. Eccl. Theol. 3.3.57 and 3.6.5.

[ back ] 95. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.72–74.

[ back ] 96. Eccl. Theol. 2.17.3 (120,30–33 Kl/H).

[ back ] 97. Eccl. Theol. 2.23.2 (133,28 Kl/H).

[ back ] 98. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.73–74 (93,16–18 Kl/H).

[ back ] 99. Eccl. Theol. 3.21.1 (181,13–30 Kl/H).

[ back ] 100. DelCogliano 2006:463–465 and 471–476.

[ back ] 101. On the significance of this adjective, see DelCogliano 2006:465–471.

[ back ] 102. Eccl. Theol. 2.19.1 (123,7–12 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.19.15–21 (126,1–127,6 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.21.5 (130,30–31 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 3.4.5 (158,33–34 Kl/H).

[ back ] 103. See Lienhard 1999:53–54.

[ back ] 104. E.g. Eccl. Theol. 1.1.2 (62,34–63,4 Kl/H); 1.17.2 (77,22–24 Kl/H).

[ back ] 105. E.g. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.77 (94,16–18 Kl/H).

[ back ] 106. Eccl. Theol. 1.10.4 (69,6 Kl/H); 1.20.40–41 (87,25-29 Kl/H); 2.7.1–3 (104,3–14 Kl/H). Eccl. Theol. 2.7 is Eusebius’ most detailed account of the two hypostases.

[ back ] 107. Eccl. Theol. 2.19.15–21 (126,1–127,6 Kl/H).

[ back ] 108. C. Marc. 1.4.55 (29,7–12 Kl/H); C. Marc. 2.2.15–19 (37,29–38 Kl/H); C. Marc. 2.2.20–22 (38,25–39,10 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.4.2 (102,27–30 Kl/H).

[ back ] 109. Eccl. Theol. 3.19 (180 Kl/H). Marcellus records that Asterius called the authority given to the Word “glory” and “pre-cosmic glory” (C. Marc. 2.2.28 (40,5–7 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.1.5 (100,11–14 Kl/H)).

[ back ] 110. Eccl. Theol. 2.6.

[ back ] 111. The first fragment of Marcellus is found at C. Marc. 2.2.1 (35,1–5 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 1.18.2 (79,16–20 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 1.20.50 (89,13–17 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.10.3 (111,11–15 Kl/H); the second at C. Marc. 2.2.4 (35,21–25 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.1.1 (99,17–21 Kl/H). For Marcellus’ teaching on the incarnation of the Word, see Lienhard 1999:59–61.

[ back ] 112. Lienhard 1999:97 writes: “In Asterius’ letter [i.e. the Apologia], as in the writings of many of his allies, the distinction between the preincarnate Son and the incarnate Christ is not crucial.” In the next sentence Lienhard claims that Asterius said that the Son was “Spirit” before he came down. But this is a misinterpretation of the fragment of Marcellus on which this claim is based (C. Marc. 2.2.4 [35,21–25 Kl/H]; Eccl. Theol. 2.1.1 [99,17–21 Kl/H]): “So, what was ‘that which came down’ before the incarnation? Surely he [i.e. Asterius] would say, ‘Spirit.’ For if he should wish to say anything contrary to this, the angel who said to the Virgin, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you,’ [Luke 1:35] would not agree with him. But if he says that he is Spirit, listen to the Savior who says ‘God is Spirit’ [John 4:24].” In Greek the relevant portion is: τί τοίνυν ἦν τὸ κατελθὸν πρὸ τοῦ ἐνανθρωπῆσαι; πάντως πού φησιν· πνευμα. εἰ γάρ τι παρὰ τοῦτο λέγειν ἐθέλοι, οὐ συγχωρήσει αὐτῷ ὁ πρὸς τὴν παρθένον εἰρηκὼς ἄγγελος . . . Here Marcellus is trying to back Asterius into his own position. If he can get Asterius to admit, based on Luke 1:35, that it was the Spirit who came down in the incarnation, then based on John 4:24 he can convince Asterius that it was God, who is one with and the same as the Word, who was incarnated. So it seems unlikely that Asterius ever considered that it was the Spirit who came down in the last days and was born of the Virgin.

[ back ] 113. The verse is of course followed by Heb 1:3, which had been central in explaining the doctrine of the image of God since Origen. In the Marcellan fragments, however, Asterius does not cite or appeal to this verse.

[ back ] 114. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.50.

[ back ] 115. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.51–87.

[ back ] 116. E.g. Eccl. Theol. 1.20.58 (90,21–22 Kl/H); 1.20.60 (90,34–91,3 Kl/H).

[ back ] 117. C. Marc. 2.2.26 (39,30–34 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.3.1 (101,28–32 Kl/H).

[ back ] 118. E.g. Eccl. Theol. 2.14.16 (117,11–12 Kl/H).

[ back ] 119. Eccl. Theol. 2.1.3 (99,30–31 Kl/H); Eccl. Theol. 2.19.14 (125,27–28 Kl/H).

[ back ] 120. Eccl. Theol. 2.1.2–3 (99,21–29 Kl/H). It seems that Marcellus appealed to John 10:38 for this teaching; see Eccl. Theol. 2.11.4–5 (113,11–18 Kl/H).

[ back ] 121. Eccl. Theol. 3.4.2–4 (158,2–26 Kl/H).

[ back ] 122. Marcellus reports that Asterius said that there was three hypostases (of Father, Son, and Spirit) not once, but twice; see Eccl. Theol. 3.4.5 (158,33–34 Kl/H).

[ back ] 123. Eccl. Theol. 3.5.6–8 (160,31–161,11 Kl/H).

[ back ] 124. Vinzent 1993:26.

[ back ] 125. See note 55 above.

[ back ] 126. C. Marc. 1.4.32 (24,31–34 Kl/H). See Lienhard 1999:97.

[ back ] 127. See the comments above on ancient citation techniques at p. 268. When quoting what are most likely the exact words of Asterius, Marcellus uses phrases such as “he wrote” (γέγραφεν) or “he said” (ἔφη, εἰρηκότος).

[ back ] 128. Bardy 1936:351 does include it as text to be compared with C. Marc. 1.2.21, in which Marcellus faults Asterius for misquoting Ps 109:3. But it is not considered as a fragment.

[ back ] 129. See particularly fragments 27 and 34 in Vinzent’s collection (the latter is 9 in Bardy’s).

[ back ] 130. C. Marc. 1.4.52–53 (28,27–29 Kl/H). This is fragment 12 in Vinzent’s collection.

[ back ] 131. Vinzent’s arguments for authenticity are based on parallels with genuine Asterian texts; see Vinzent 1993:175–176. I do not contest that the thought here is Asterian. But since it is not exclusive to Asterius and there are no indications that Marcellus intended to report a view of Asterius here, it seems best to agree with Bardy and not consider it a fragment of Asterius.

[ back ] 132. On Asterius’ use of begetting language, see p. 270 above.

[ back ] 133. See note 55 above. Note that Eusebian conciliar documents of the 340s still affirmed that the Son was a creature, though in highly qualified language. The fact that such language is found in the Second Dedication Creed of 341, which otherwise strongly reflected Asterian theology, problematizes the suggestion that Asterius distanced himself from belief in the creatureliness of the Son.