S. Alexander's Deposition of Arius and his companions,
and Encyclical Letter on the subject


[As Montfaucon has introduced the two documents which follow into his Edition, it has been thought that, though not Athanasius's, they might occupy a place in a volume, like the present, which already contains so large a collection of the ecclesiastical tracts and papers of the day in which it belongs. Should the internal character of the Encyclical Letter lead to the suspicion that it is probably Athan.'s own composition, in his situation of Deacon to St. Alexander, or at least as being in his intimate confidence, there will be a further reason for introducing it here. The grounds of this conjecture are such as the following. 1. it is written in a style altogether unlike S. Alexander's, which, (as we see in his Epistle to S. Alexander of Constantinople contained in Theod. Hist. i. 3.) is elaborate and involved and abounding in compound words, with nothing of the simplicity and vigor of St. Athan.'s; with which, 2. the style of this document is identical, using the very same words and terms of expression for which Athan. is so remarkable. 3. The theological terms, nay the theological view, of St. Alex., is proper to himself, and could not suitably be ascribed to S. Athan., who, to say no more, has far fewer technical phrases than his predecessor; and here the Encyclical Epistle answers to S. Athan.'s writings, not to St. Alex.'s. 4. Certain texts quoted in the course of it, are used as Athan. quotes and uses them in his acknowledged works. Some of these points of resemblance and dissimilarity shall be mentioned in the notes. The date of St. Alexander's document is 321.]


Alexander, being assembled [Note 1] with his beloved brethren, the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, and the Mareotis, greets them in the Lord.

Although you have already subscribed to the letter I addressed to the followers of Arius, exhorting them to renounce his impiety, and to submit themselves to the sound Catholic Faith, and have shewn your right-mindedness [Note 2] and agreement in the doctrines of the Catholic Church; yet forasmuch as I have written also to our fellow-ministers in every place concerning the Arians, and especially since some of you, as the Presbyters Chares and Pistus [Note 3], and the Deacons Serapion, {298} Parammon, Zozimus, and Irenæus, have joined the Arian party, and been content to suffer deposition with them, I thought it needful to assemble together you, the Clergy of the city, and to send for you the Clergy of the Mareotis, in order that you may understand what I have now written, and may testify your agreement thereto, and give your concurrence in the deposition of the followers of Arius and Pistus. For it is desirable that you should be made acquainted with the sentiments I have expressed, and that each of you should heartily embrace them, as though he had written them himself. {299}

A Copy

To his dearly beloved and most honoured fellow-ministers [Note 4] of the Catholic Church in every place, Alexander sends health in the Lord.

§. 1.

1. AS there is one body [Note A] of the Catholic Church, and a command is given us in the sacred Scriptures to preserve the bond of unity and peace [Eph. iv. 3.], it is agreeable thereto, that we should write and signify to one another whatever is done by each of us individually; so that whether one member suffer or rejoice, we may either suffer or rejoice with one another. Now there are gone forth in this diocese, at this time, certain lawless [Note B] men, enemies of Christ, teaching an apostasy, which one may justly suspect and designate as the forerunner [Note C] of Antichrist. I was desirous [Note D] to pass such a matter by without notice, in the hope that perhaps the evil would spend itself among its supporters, and not extend to other places to defile [Note E] the ears [Note F] of the simple [Note G]. But seeing that Eusebius now of Nicomedia, who thinks that the government of the Church rests with him, because retribution has not come upon him for his desertion of Berytus, when he had cast an eye [Note H] of desire on the Church of the Nicomedians, begins to support these apostates, and has taken upon him to write letters every where in their behalf, if by any means he may draw in certain ignorant persons to this most base and antichristian heresy; I am therefore constrained, knowing what is written in the law, no longer to hold my peace, but to make it known to you all; that you may understand who the apostates are, and the unhappy terms [Note I] which their heresy has adopted, and that, should Eusebius write to you, you may pay no attention to him, for he now desires by means of these men to exhibit anew his old {300} malevolence [Note K], which has so long been concealed, pretending to write in their favour, while in truth it clearly appears, that he does it to forward his own interests.

§. 2.

2. Now the apostates are these, Arius, Achilles, Anthales, Carpones, another Arius, and Sarmates, sometime Presbyters; Euzoïus, Lucius, Julius, Menas, Helladus, and Gaius, sometime Deacons; and with them Secundus and Theonas, sometime called Bishops. And the novelties they have invented and put forth contrary to the Scriptures are these following:—God was not always a Father [Note L], but there was a time when God was not a Father. The Word of God was not always, but was made of things that were not: for God that is, made Him that was not, of things that were not; wherefore there was a time when He was not; for the Son is a creature and a work. Neither is He like in substance to the Father; neither is He the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is He His true Wisdom; but He is one of the things made and created, and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms, since He Himself was made by the proper Word of God, and by the Wisdom that is in God, by which God made not only all other things but Him also. Wherefore He is by nature subject to change and variation, as are all rational creatures. And the Word is foreign from the substance [Note M] of the Father, and is alien and separate therefrom. And the Father cannot be described by the Son, for the Word does not know the Father perfectly and accurately, neither can He see Him perfectly. Moreover, the Son knows not His own substance as it really is; for He was created for us, that God might create us by Him, as by an instrument; and He would not have existed, had not God wished to create us. Accordingly, when some one asked them, whether the Word of God can possibly change as the devil changed, they were not afraid to say that He can; for being something made and created, His nature is subject to change.

§. 3.

3. Now when the Arians made these assertions, and shamelessly avowed them, we being assembled with the Bishops of Egypt and Libya, nearly a hundred in number, anathematized both them and {301} their followers. But the Eusebians admitted them to communion, being desirous to mingle falsehood with the truth, and impiety with piety. But they will not be able to do so, for the truth must prevail; neither is there any communion of light with darkness [2 Cor. vi. 14.], nor any concord of Christ with Belial [Note N]. For who ever heard such assertions before [Note O]? or who that hears them now is not astonished and does not stop his ears lest their filthy language should touch them? Who that has heard the words of John, In the beginning was the Word [John i. 1.], will not denounce the saying of these men, that "there was a time when He was not?" Or who that has heard in the Gospel, the Only-begotten Son, and by Him were all things made [Ib. xiv. and xviii. 3.], will not detest their declaration that He is "one of the things that were made." For how can He be one of those things which were made by Himself? or how can He be the Only-begotten, when, according to them, He is counted as one among the rest, since He is Himself a creature and a work? And how can He be "made of things that were not," when the Father saith, My heart hath brought forth a good Word, and, Out of the womb I have begotten Thee before the morning star [Ps. xlv. 1. Ib. cx. 3.]? Or again, how is He "unlike in substance to the Father," seeing He is the perfect image and brightness of the Father [Heb. i. 3.], and that He saith, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father [John xiv. 9.] [Note P]? And if the Son is the Word and Wisdom of God, how was there "a time when He was not?" It is the same as if they should say that God was once without Word and without Wisdom [Note Q]. And how is He "subject to change and variation," who says, by Himself, I am in the Father, and the Father in Me [Note P], and, I and the Father are one [v. 10. Ib. x. 30.] [Note P], and by the Prophet, Behold Me, for I am, and I change not [Mal. iii. 6.] [Note R]? For although one may refer this expression to the Father, yet it may now be more aptly spoken of the Word, viz. that though He has been made man, He has not changed; but as the Apostle has said, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever [Heb. xiii. 8.]. And who can have persuaded them to say, that He was made for us, whereas Paul writes, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things [Ib. ii. 10.]? §. 4. As to their blasphemous position that "the {302} Son knows not the Father perfectly," we ought not to wonder at it; for having once set themselves to fight against Christ, they contradict even His express words, since He says, As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father [John x. 15.]. Now if the Father knows the Son but in part, then it is evident that the Son does not know the Father perfectly; but if it is not lawful to say this, but the Father does know the Son perfectly, then it is evident that as the Father knows His own Word, so also the Word knows His own Father whose Word He is.

§. 5.

4. By these arguments and appeals to the sacred Scriptures we frequently overthrew them; but they changed like chameleons [Note S], and again shifted their ground, striving to bring upon themselves that sentence, when the impious falleth into the depth of evils, he is filled with contempt [Prov. xviii. 3.]. There have been many heresies before them, which, venturing further than they ought, have fallen into folly; but these men by endeavouring in all their positions to overthrow the Divinity of the Word, have justified the other in comparison of themselves, as approaching nearer to Antichrist. Wherefore they have been excommunicated and anathematized by the Church. We grieve for their destruction, and especially because, having once been instructed in the doctrines of the Church, they have now fallen away. Yet we are not greatly surprised; for Hymeneus and Philetus did the same, and before them Judas, who followed our Saviour, but afterwards became a traitor and an apostate [2 Tim. ii. 17.]. And concerning these same persons, we have not been left without instruction; for our Lord has forewarned us; Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draweth near, and they shall deceive many; go ye not after them [Luke xxi. 8.]. And Paul, who was taught these things by our Saviour, wrote, that in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, which reject the truth [1 Tim. iv. 1.] [Note T].

§. 6.

5. Since then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ hath instructed us by His own mouth, and also hath signified to us concerning such men by the Apostle, we accordingly being personal witnesses of their impiety, have anathematized, as we said, all such, and declared them to be alien from the Catholic Faith and Church. And we have made this known to your piety, dearly beloved and most honoured fellow- ministers, in order that should any of them have the boldness [Note U] to come {303} unto you, you may not receive them, nor comply with the desires of Eusebius, or any other person writing in their behalf. For it becomes us who are Christians to turn away from all who speak or think any thing against Christ, as being enemies of God, and destroyers [Note X] of souls; and not even to bid such God speed, lest we become partakers of their sins, as the blessed John hath charged us. Salute the brethren that are with you. They that are with me salute you.

Presbyters of Alexandria

§. 7.

6. I, Colluthus, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.

Alexander [Note 5], Presbyter, likewise   Nemesius, Presbyter
Dioscorus [Note 5], Presbyter, likewise Longus [Note 5], Presbyter
Dionysius [Note 5], Presbyter, likewise Silvanus, Presbyter
Eusebius, Presbyter, likewise Perous, Presbyter
Alexander, Presbyter, likewise Apis, Presbyter
Nilanus [Note 6], Presbyter, likewise Proterius, Presbyter
Arpocration, Presbyter, likewise Paulus, Presbyter
Agathus, Presbyter Cyrus, Presbyter, likewise


Ammonius [Note 7], Deacon, likewise   Ambytianus, Deacon
Macarius, Deacon Gaius [Note 7], Deacon, likewise
Pistus [Note 7], Deacon, likewise Alexander, Deacon
Athanasius [Note 7], Deacon Dionysius, Deacon
Eumenes, Deacon Agathon, Deacon
Apollonius [Note 7], Deacon Polybius, Deacon, likewise
Olympius, Deacon Theonas, Deacon
Aphthonius [Note 7], Deacon Marcus, Deacon
Athanasius, Deacon Comodus, Deacon
Macarius, Deacon, likewise Serapion [Note 7], Deacon
Paulus, Deacon Nilus, Deacon
Petrus, Deacon Romanus, Deacon, likewise


Presbyters of the Mareotis

I, Apollonius, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.

Ingenius [Note 8], Presbyter, likewise   Serenus, Presbyter
Ammonius, Presbyter Didymus, Presbyter
Dioscorus [Note 8], Presbyter Heracles [Note 9], Presbyter
Sostras, Presbyter Boccon [Note 8], Presbyter
Theon [Note 8], Presbyter Agathus, Presbyter
Tyrannus, Presbyter Achillas, Presbyter
Copres, Presbyter Paulus, Presbyter
Ammonas [Note 8], Presbyter Thalelæus, Presbyter
Orion, Presbyter Dionysius, Presbyter, likewise


Serapion [Note 10], Deacon, likewise   Didymus, Deacon
Justus, Deacon, likewise Ptollarion [Note 10], Deacon
Didymus, Deacon Seras, Deacon
Demetrius [Note 10], Deacon Gaius [Note 10], Deacon
Maurus [Note 11], Deacon Hierax [Note 10], Deacon
Alexander, Deacon Marcus, Deacon
Marcus [Note 10], Deacon Theonas, Deacon
Comon, Deacon Sarmaton, Deacon
Tryphon [Note 10], Deacon Carpon, Deacon
Ammonius [Note 11], Deacon Zoilus, Deacon. likewise

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A. St. Alexander in Theod. begins his Epistle to his namesake of Constantinople with some moral reflections, concerning ambition and avarice. Athan. indeed uses a similar introduction to his Ep. Æg. but it is not addressed to an individual.
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B. [paranomoi] vid. Hist. Ar. §. 71 init. §. 75 fin. 79. A.
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C. [prodromon Antichristou]. vid. Orat. i. 7. B. Vit. Ant. 69. A. vol. 8. p. 79, note q.
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D. [kai eboulomen men siote … epeide de … anagken eschon]. vid. Apol. contr. Ar. §. 1 init. de Decr. §. 2. F. Orat. i. 23 init. Orat. ii init. Orat. iii. 1. A. ad Serap. i. 1. C. 16. C. ii. 1 init. iii init. iv. 8 init. Ep. ad Mon. §. 2. E. ad Epict. 3 fin, ad Max. §. 1. contr. Apollin. i. 1 init.
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E. [rhuposei] and infr. [rhupon]. vid. Hist. Ar. §. 3. C. §. 80. B. de Decr. §. 2. C. Ep. Æg. 11 fin. Orat. i. 10. C.
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F. [akoas], and infr. [akoas buei]. vid. Ep. Æg. §. 13. A. Orat. i. §. 7. A. Hist. Ar. § 56. B.
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G. [akeraion] Apol. contr. Ar. §. 1. A. Ep. Æg. §. 18. E. ad Epict. §. 1. fin. ad Adelph. §. 2. fin. Orat. i. 8. E.
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H. [epophthalmisas] also used of Eusebius. Apol. contr. Ar. §. 6. D. Hist. Ar. §. 7. A.
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I. [rhematia]. vid. de Decr. §. 8. A. 18. E. Orat. i. 10. D. de Sent. D. §. 23. init. S. Dionysius also uses it. ibid. §. 18. A.
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K. [kakonoian]. vid. Hist. Ar. §. 75. E. de Decr. §. 1. D. et al.
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L. [ouk aei pater]. This enumeration of Arius's tenets, and particularly the mention of the first, corresponds to de Decr. §. 6. Ep. Æg. t. 12. as being taken from the Thalia. Orat. i. §. 5. and far less with Alex. ap. Theod. p. 731, 2. vid. also Sent. D. §. 16. [katachrestikos], which is found here, occurs de Decr. §. 6. B.
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M. [ousian; ousia tou logou] or [tou huiou] is a familiar expression with Athan. e.g. Orat. i. 45. ii. 7. B. 9. B. 11. B. 12. A. 13. B. C. 18 init. 22. E. 47 init. 56 init. &c. for which Alex. Theod. uses the word [hypostasis], e.g. [ten idiotropon autou hypostasin; tes hypostaseos autou aperiepgastou; neoteran tes hypostaseos genesin; he tou monogenous anakdiegetos hypostasis; ten tou logou hypostasin].
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N. [koinonia photi]. This is quoted Alex. ap. Theod. Hist. i. 3. p. 738; by S. Athan. in the Letter published by Maffei, ed. Patav. t. 3. p. 87. It seems to have been a received text in the controversy, as the Sardican Council uses it supr. p. 76. and S. Athan. seems to put it into the mouth of St. Anthony, Vit. Ant. 69. A.
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O. [tis gar ekouse]. Ep. Æg. §. 7 init. ad Epict. §. 2 init. Orat. i. 8. B. C. Apol. contr. Ar. 85 init. Hist. Ar. §. 46 init. §. 73 init. §. 74 init. ad Serap. iv. 2 init.
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P. On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them,) vid. vol. 8. p. 208, note b.
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Q. [alogon kai asophon ton theon]. de Decr. §. 15. Orat. i. §. 19. vid. vol. 8. p. 25, note c. p. 208, note b.
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R. This text is thus applied by Athan. Orat. i. 36. D. ii. 10. A. In the first of these passages he uses the same apology, nearly in the same words, which is contained in the text.
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S. [chamaileontes]. vid. de Decr. §. 1. D. Hist. Ar. §. 79.
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T. Into this text which Athan. also applies to the Arians, (vid. vol. 8. p. 191, note e.) Athan. also introduces, like Alexander here, the word [hygiainouse], e.g. Ep. Æg. §. 20. Orat. i. 8 fin. de Decr. 3. E. Hist. Arian. §. 78 init. &c. It is quoted without the word by Origen contr. Cels. v. 64. but with [hygious] in Matth. t. xiv. 16. Epiphan. has [hygiainouses didaskalias], Hær. 78. 2. [hygious did]. ibid. 23. p. 1055.
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U. [propeteusainto]. vid. de Decr. §. 2. B.
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X. [phthoreas ton psuchon], but S. Alex. in Theod. uses the compound word [phthoropoios]. p. 731. Other compound or recondite words (to say nothing of the construction of sentences) found in S. Alexander's Letter in Theod., and unlike the style of the Circular under review, are such as [he philarchos kai philarguros prothesis; christemporian phrenoblabous idiotropon; homostoichois syllabais; theegorous apostolous antidiastolen tes patrikes maieuseos melancholiken philotheos sapheneia anosiourgias; phlenaphon mython]. Instances of theological language in S. Alex. to which the Letter in the text contains no resemblance are [achorista pragmata duo; ho huios ten kata panta homoioteta autou ex physeos apomaxamenos; di esoptrou akelidotou kai empsuchou theias eikonos; mesiteuouoa physis monogenes; tas tei hypostasei duo physeis].
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Margin Notes

1. [paron parousin].
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2. [orthen].
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3. pp. 37, 44.
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4. [sulleitouzgois], colleagues.
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5. vid. Presbyters p. 105.
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6. Nilaras? p. 105
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7. vid. Presbyters p. 105.
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8. p. 107.
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9. Heraclius? p. 107.
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10. p. 107.
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11. p. 107.
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