Athanasius - review of heavenly witnesses references

Steven Avery

This would be a good section to include ALL the various Athansius (and supposed Ps-Athanasius, including the Disputation with Arius at Arius) heavenly witnesses reference points.

Three historical scholars stand out:

William Cave
Du Pin
(with some checking of Simon, Newton, Whiston, etc.)

Some of the major secondary sources used or to be checked (which give primary source referencing):

David Martin
Thomas Emlyn

Franz Knittel
John Jones (Ben David)
Charles Forster
Henry Thomas Armfield
Grantley McDonald
Jeroen Beekhuizen
my notes (that augment the Wikipedia refs)


Among the Athanasius scholars:

Annette Stockhausen
Gerald J. Donker
Peter James Leithart (b. 1959)

ADDED 2/3/2020 Hanns Christof Brennecke (b, 1947)

James D. Ernest, The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria (The Bible in Ancient Christianity 2; Boston: Brill, 2004).

Stanley Helton reviews Donker
plus 3 other refs

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Staff member
Athanasius - Disputation Contra Arius at Nicea

Disputation Contra Arium

This is likely a fourth century work either by or about Athanasius at Nicea.

Some scholarship has tried to make it later, and Charles Forster is excellent in correcting that error.

We start with the KJVToday section.


By "Athanasius", it is meant Athanasius (c. 296 – 373 AD) or Pseudo-Athanasius (c. 350 - c. 600 AD). Athanasius quoted the Comma in Disputatio Contra Arium:

"Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»"
"But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, 'and these three are one.'" (Translation by KJV Today)

The quote, "Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν", is likely from the Comma rather than verse 8 because it lacks "εις (in)". This somewhat hesitant tagging of the Comma at the end of the statement is consistent with the Comma being a minority reading in the early Greek church. The Comma, though worth quoting, was not the crux of Athanasius' argument.

KJVToday is a bit too mild here. The baptism has the three-fold designation in Matthew 28:19, which clearly matches verse 7, and has no relation to verse 8. The same can be said about "thrice-blessed name", since there is no name in verse 8.

NT Textual Criticism - May, 2015 (more material added here){"tn"%3A"R"}

...I will share the short section from the doctrinally quirky yet often analytically astute John Jones (Ben David) on the disputation.

(The solid studies on this issue are David Martin, John Jones, and Charles Forster, even though Jones and Forster take very different positions on Athanasius. Frederick Nolan is also helpful. )

Note: Charles Forster is here, and is a superb section, his material is mostly from p. 51-52 and 59-63, with the Synopsis of Scripture in between. (Note that the word 'spurious' when used by contras often give a false impression. Both are excellent Greek writings, and would be powerful evidences whoever the author, we may discuss all this more later. However, Forster decisively shows that both are non-spurious :) anyway.)

New Plea

But does St. Athanasius nowhere directly and distinctly refer to v. 7 ? If the 'Synopsis Scripturae,’ or the ‘Dialogue between an Arian and an Athanasian,’ published in his works, be either of them his, he certainly does. Both documents, however, I am well aware, have been set down as spurious. Editors and critics seem agreed in this judgment. As it rests, however, solely upon grounds of internal evidence, a line of proof where critics and editors have so often proved mistaken, the judgment is open to review and reversal.
Forster superbly points out the corroborative usage in this section of:

1 John 4:13
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,
because he hath given us of his Spirit.

even before - "In addition to all these, John affirms, 'and these three are one.'"

Giving extra context to the clear 1 John usage, and pointing to the heavenly witnesses verse. The powerful section from Forster on p. 59-63 that goes into the style and themes of Athanasius really seals the issue that much more. This writing was either directly by Athanasius, or somebody reporting at the time accurately as to the arguments of Athanasius.


Monthly Repository 1826 Vol 21
Ben David

Athanasius, in the fourth century, quotes the verse, with reference to John as its author. The passage is this:

"Is not that lively and saving baptism, whereby we receive remission of sins, administered in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? And St. John says, And these three are one."

See Porson's Letters, p. 213. This quotation is evaded by saying, that the dialogue between an Athanasian and an Arian, in which this paragraph occurs, is supposed to be spurious. The argument is, that some things are said in it, which are worthy only of a doating monk: ... This, however, is a gratuitous assumption, and the dialogue is as authentic as any other of the works of Athanasius. The piece came down among his works and under his name. It was composed when the Arian controversy was raging, which was in the fourth, not in the seventh century, and there occurs in it an incidental notice of the Joint reign of Constantine and Constantius, A. G. 337, as a period of recent occurrence

SA: In another writing, Letter #3 - Quarterly Review, Ben David adds:

"I believe there is no solid ground whatever for this supposition; nor would it have been countenanced, had it not been for the advantage it gives to the adversaries of the disputed verse. And I request my reader to weigh the following reasons:--- Mention is made in it of the joint reign of Constantine and Constantius in the year A.C. 337. This appears to have been made incidentally, and not by any means with the design of foisting it on the public as a genuine production of Athanasius. It is reasonable to suppose that the Dialogue was composed at the period when the Arian controversy was raging; and this was in the age of Constantine, and not in the seventh century.

Above all, the authority of the verse is quoted with a precaution which the acuteness and vigilance of the Arians required in that age; but which was not necessary in the age of Maximus, when the verse was openly trumpeted forth without fear and without disguise."

Another question: If the writing had been late, where did Maximus or the proposed writer find the verse and construct the arguments?

More importantly, though, the writing looks to be historically and stylistically authentic, with the solid provenance of simply coming down with the writings of Athanasius, and what we would call 4th century doctrinal timing as well.

The attempt to change the authorship and dating is a common contra ploy with historical evidences.

As was attempted with the Vulgate Prologue by Jerome, an attempt that was deep-sixed by the discovery that the earliest Vulgate ms, Codex Fuldensis, produced under the auspices of the learned Victor of Capua, has the Prologue. Refuting the theory that this was a 800 AD foisted forgery. (Even if contras are slow to smell the herb tea.)


And about the historical nature of the disputation, John Henry Newman (learned on the ECW) writes:

The Arians of the Fourth Century (1876)
John Henry Newman

"The discussions of the Council commenced in the middle of June, and were at first private. Arius was introduced and examined; and confessed his impieties with a plainness and vehemence far more respectable than the hypocrisy which was the characteristic of his party, and ultimately was adopted by himself. Then followed his disputation with Athanasius."

Note to check: and 592 - "Sed hi tres unus"

This reference shows that the idea that Nicea did not know of the heavenly witnesses is a myth, thus supporting the usage by Athanasius.

Nicea - heavenly witnesses use by Heraclianus contra the arian Germinius
Gerhard Schmid offers an objection related to a source to check:

Concilium universale Ephesenum anno 431

"the wording of Pseudo-Athanasius is exactly the same as the wording in Concilium universale Ephesenum anno 431, which quotes the passage of 1 John 5 without the Heavenly Witnesses"{"tn":"R"}

Some question whether Athanasius could have debated with Arius at the Council (he was young, not a high enough position, etc.)"

The Arians of the Fourth Century (1876)
John Henry Newman

"The discussions of the Council commenced in the middle of June, and were at first private. Arius was introduced and examined; and confessed his impieties with a plainness and vehemence far more respectable than the hypocrisy which was the characteristic of his party, and ultimately was adopted by himself. Then followed his disputation with Athanasius."

Here is Grantley McDonald, putting aside his one-dimensional Arian contra conjecturing and ongoing allegory speculation, he is good on actual texts. He references this in at least three distinct places. Note, though, as is his style, he simply ignores the very strong work of men like Charles Forster, who delves deeply into the Athanasius issues, and Henry Thomas Armfield.

the spurious Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea, in which the Trinitarian formulation used in the liturgy of baptism is associated with the phrase “and these three are one.”26

Also Grantley notices that this came up by Thomas Emlyn, and thus it is in David Martin as well. Martin argues quite excellently to the arguments of Emlyn on the two references related to Athanasius, however this is not even mentioned by Grantley. Overall, Emlyn has 64 references, Martin has 4!

Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe

In favour of the authenticity of the comma, Mill could adduce the pseudo-Athanasian Disputation against Arius. But as Emlyn stated, it is unclear whether this passage refers to v. 7 or 8, and whether the pseudonymous author was from the eastern or western church.569

569 Emlyn 1715, 10, 22-23; cf. PG 28:50: 'Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.’ Further, see Stockhausen 2010.

Emlyn is the same page in the later editions.

Also he mentions Richard Simon.

Simon also suggested that the Trinitarian interpretation of the words “these three are one” in the spurious Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea may have occasioned the insertion of the comma into the body text in some Greek manuscripts, an explanation he finds more plausible than Erasmus’ suggestion that Greek manuscripts had been corrected against Latin ones. (Simon apparently failed to realise that Erasmus was speaking merely of Montfortianus, not a widespread program of textual reform of the Greek text.)131
131 Simon 1698a, 213-214; cf. ASD lX-2:259,1. 542.
Actually the Erasmus suggestion was far more wide-ranging, and even included the possibilities with Vaticanus, with a discussion of the Council of Florence.

Grantley also messes up Simon on Athanasius, trying to give the false impression that Simon had called the Disputation spurious. Grantley is right that Simon placed Athanasius as a possible "rogues gallery" member of people who may have created the heavenly witnesses, through the margin note speculation. Of course, today, we know that Simon's speculation was quite impossible, and that everybody and their brother has received such speculation.

A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament: Wherein is Firmly Establish'd the Truth of Those Acts on which the Foundation of Christian Religion is Laid (1689)
Richard Simon

Here is Jeroen Beekhuizen. He gives some more context, and it would be helpful to bring in more of the preview to the conclusion sentence.

Athanasius Disputation 1.jpg
Athanasius Disputation 2.jpg

This quote I believe has been in the apparatus, with parenthesis. It really is a clear and extremely salient text. With Athanasius utilizing the verse, the contra argument about the Greeks not using the verse in the Arian controversies goes down the tubes. (And when they make that errant claim, they do not want you to know of the Latin references contra the Arians, such as the Council of Carthage of 484. The contras are so adept at deceptive word-parsing.

The normal way for the contras to try to weaken the evidence was to make it later. A very weak attempt, as shown by Ben David and Charles Forster.

For Isaiah, Moses, Elijah and Paul, we can use Porson as referenced by Forster:

“ Why do the Seraphim, that Isaiah heard cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, neither exceed this number, nor fall short of it? Certainly, because it is not lawful for any beside the Trinity to be thus honoured. Why did Moses teach the people to bend their neck and their knees three times on the earth? but to denote the worship of the Trinity in one Godhead. The divine Elijah raises the dead at the third breathing, to shew that no man can be worthy of eternal life, who shall not first receive with reverential faith a coequal and consubstantial Trinity, which like fire consumes deadly sins. . . . Neither could Paul otherwise have ascended to the third heaven, unless he had possessed in his heart the indelible and consubstantial faith of the Trinity. . . . Likewise is not the remission of sins procured by that quickening and sanctifying ablution, without which no man shall see the kingdom of heaven, an ablution given to the faithful in the thrice-blessed name. And besides all these, John says, And the three are one (or rather are ‘the one’).”’—Letters to Travis, pp. 213-14.
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Staff member
Synopsis of Scripture

Synopsis of Scripture - Athanasius

Forster discusses in general and in specifics, I will give one quote.

"I see the hand of Athanasius in the style .." p. 55

John Henry Newman (quite learned on the ECW) says the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture is "among his works" (Historical Tracts of S. Athanasius, 1843).

The Synopsis page can be spiffed up and these references added.
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Staff member
Quaestiones Aliae

Heavenly Witnesses - "new finds" by KJVToday
Pure Bible Forum - Feb 18, 2016

Thanks KJVToday!

The rock-solid authenticity of the heavenly witnesses becomes continually even more solid in the internet resource age:
(I will generally tweak and add to what is in the KJVToday article, today I am working with this one and Zacharias Rhetor.)

Keep in mind that the references that show a specific sense of taking from John's Gospel and Epistle, like the Ps-Chrysostom Homily, and the Synopsis of Scripture, have an important connection strength that can be lacking in some of these newer references.


Attributed to Athanasius:

Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7)

KJV Today

Athanasius referenced another portion of the Comma in Quaestiones Aliae:

"Ὥσπερ ἡ ψυχή µου µία ἐστὶν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τρισυπόστατος, ψυχὴ, λόγος, καὶ πνοή· οὕτω καὶ ὁ Θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν, ἀλλ' ἔστι καὶ τρισ υπόστατος, Πατὴρ, Λόγος, καὶ Πνεῦµα ἅγιον.... Ὡς γὰρ ψυχὴ, λόγος καὶ πνοὴ τρία πρόσωπα, καὶ μία φύσις ψυχῆς, καὶ οὐ τρεῖς ψυχαί· οὕτω Πατὴρ, Λόγος καὶ Πνεῦμα ἅγιον, τρία πρόσωπα, καὶ εἷς τῇ φύσει Θεὸς, καὶ οὐ τρεῖς θεοί."

"Even as my soul is one, but a triune soul, reason, and breath; so also God is one, but is also triune, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost.... For as soul, reason and breath are three features, and in substance one soul, and not three souls; so Father, Word and Holy Ghost, [are] three persons, and one God in substance, and not three gods." (Translation by KJV Today)

Those who claim that Athanasius did not quote the Comma elsewhere need to consider that Athanasius also did not quote Matthew 28:19 in some of his most pro-Trinitarian writings such as The Deposition of Arius, Apologia Contra Arianos and the Four Discourses Against the Arians. Matthew 28:19 provides the second most clearest declaration of the Trinity after the Comma, yet Athanasius used other scriptures to support his views on the Trinity. Athanasius was not necessarily interested in establishing the Trinity per se, but rather the consubstantial unity of the Father and the Son. Other texts were more appropriate for this goal. The later Latin Fathers are the ones who were influenced by Neo-Platonic thought and sought to formulate the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in a neatly arranged Trinity.

Greek at:

Tabulinum: Documenta Catholica Omnia
Materia: MIGNE JP
Argumentum: Athanasius - Quaestiones aliae [0295-0373] the Great of Alexandria_ PG 25-28/Quaestiones aliae.pdf


1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one.

The above affirms again that the Johannine reference in 1 John 5:7 is distinct from the one in 1 John 5:8.
"Holy Spirit" when referenced with Father and Word (simply spirit with water and blood.)

πρόσωπα - "persons" is a legit translation, however it may not the best translation for
πρόσωπα (prosōpa). This is a big discussion in Greek linguistics. We could check the closest AV uses.

Matthew 6:16
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:
for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Jude 16
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts;
and their mouth speaketh great swelling words,
having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

Revelation 9:7
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle;
and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold,
and their faces were as the faces of men.

Revelation 11:16
And the four and twenty elders,
which sat before God on their seats,
fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

Note: this does not affect the strength of the reference as showing that Athanasius was familiar with 1 John 5:7.
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Staff member
Twelve Books on the Trinity - Latin - (De Trinitate Libr Duodecim)

Caution to unravel: There is a Twelve books on the Trinity and a Ten, I have written this section quickly.

The Ten Books on the Trinity in Latin - one book, Ad Theophilum, is ascribed to Athanasius, which has a heavenly witnesses reference, usually now considered Ps-Athanasius, and put in the 400s around the period right after the Council of Carthage.

Large question about authorship of the books (many will reference Vigilius Tapsensis, which is doubtful), and many references in the books, (likely four is a good count, the solid references) so the details of this will be on another thread.

A decent review of the history of attribution scholarship is by Grantley McDonald, which should be compared to Junghoo Kwon.

68 Despite the attribution, it is clear that Athanasius had no hand in the composition of this work. Instead, it has been attributed variously by Chiffet (1664) to Vigilius of Thapsus (f c. 490); and by Kunstle (1905) to the Spanish bishop Idacius Claras (fl. c. 380), an opponent and accuser of Priscillian, as we learn from Isidore of Seville. Morin (1898) pointed out that his work appears to be a composite of shorter works by a number of different hands. For the first three books Morin at first suggested an attribution to bishop Eusebius of Vercelli (f c. 370), and then suggested Gregory of Elvira as a possible author. Saltet (1906) suggested a connexion with the Luciferians, but his hypotheses were questioned by Simonetti (1949). The last three books are now generally considered of uncertain authorship. See Ficker, 1897, 55-57; Dattrino, 1976, 10-12 (assessment of evidence for the authorship of Eusebius Vercellensis), 118 (on the comma); and Brown, 1982, 782. 68 Whoever wrote this treatise, the estimate made by Lieu, 2008, 215, that “Such expansion of the text can be traced back to the early third century, and perhaps earlier,” seems to push back a little too far.

The complaint about Judith M. Lieu is only because Grantley is always angling for anything to be as late as possible, and because she mentions Thiele's acknowledgement that the Latin may have come from the Greek.

Notice the wide variety of conjectures about the writer. Afaik, none have any great evidence. Thus, any reference to the paper that gives one of the men as an author should be cautious as to how it is presented. The contras have a tacky habit of taking somebody they theorize, and then attacking the somebody, as with Cave's "doating monk" that he conjectured for the Athanasius Disputation.

De Trinitate Libr Duodecim


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Staff member
Expositio fidei catholicae

This is given by Charles Forster, and is more on the level of an allusion.

Brevis Expositio Fidei or "Expositio fidei catholicae"

We should determine if this is covered under another name or author, and have a translation done.

A New Plea
Charles Forster

Evidence for the seventh verse, arising from the peculiar use of St. John's special term, ὁ λόγος, in ancient Creeds.

Forster Athanasius.jpg

Note the other confessions of faith in this section and that this whole chapter needs special attention by defenders.

Remarks upon the 'Expositio' Fidei ’ of St. Athanasius.

This genuine original Creed bears strongest internal marks of derivation from the seventh verse. For

1. it introduces the second Person, not as the Son, but as the Word, ὁ λόγος. ὁ λόγος, occupies the first place, (Grk) takes the second. This precedency assuredly could not obtain without express warrant of Scripture.

2. St. Athanasius, in the context, distinctly cites from 1 John v., thereby showing the source that he was drawing from in this Creed.

3.Its theme being the Trinity in Unity, his λόγος would naturally be taken from the seventh verse. But

4, not only is ὁ λόγος the first title given in this Confession to the second Person of the Godhead, but this title, exclusively given by St. John, recurs in it no less than six times. I subjoin these six recurrences, and leave the inference to the reader:

six more logos.jpg
It is helpful to point out that this is not the Expositio Fidei found by Caspari, not connected to Athanasius, but an incredible 4th century Latin evidence. What I have have handy on this at the moment is from my review of the NT Textual Criticism forum.

The Expositio Fidei will need its own page, using and expanding on Wikipedia.

pater est Ingenitus, filius uero sine Initio genitus a patre est, spiritus autem sanctus processit a patre et accipit de filio, Sicut euangelista testatur quia scriptum est, 'Tres sunt qui dicunt testimonium in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus: ' et haec tria unum sunt in Christo lesu. Non tamen dixit ' Unus est in Christo lesu.'

This translation is by Daniel Buck:"tn"%3A"R"%7D

The Father is unbegotten, and the Son--without beginning--is begotten from the Father. The Holy Spirit receives its proceeding from the Father and the Son, as the evangelist testifies; for it is written, 'There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.' It is not said, however, 'IT is one in Christ Jesus.'

This is the text of the Expositio Fidei, also from the fourth century, mentioned above. Expositio Fidei is from the Ambrosian ms. the one famous for the Muratorian Canon.

The myth of the 4th century non-usage in the period of the Arian controversies should be abandoned.

Plus, these various references are corroborative to each other, supporting 4th century use and awareness of the heavenly witnesses.

Here is a bit more from that discussion:

> Westcott
> It was not unnatural that in the stress of the Arian persecution words which were held to give the plain meaning of St John’s words as they were read should find their way from the margin into the text, or if they had already obtained a place in the text of any copies should gain wider currency. But still the form is fluent:

The stress of the Arian persecution! Yet doesn't Metzger and the Parrots tell us that the verse was not used in the Arian controversies? On top of these evdiences we have the Disputation of Athanasius with Arius! How many do we need? ( Charles Forster gives more.) Wake up!

> the margin into the text

The scholastic hand-wave, without a scintilla of evidence.
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Steven Avery

Epistle against the Arians

One reference from this work was given as: Athanasius, Epistle against the Arians, 1,54 (PG 26,125).

My view so far is that this should be added to his references, your feedback welcome!

Historical Tracts of S. Athanasius

For the Translation, the Editors have to express their acknowledgments to the Rev. Miles Atkinson, M.A. late Fellow of Lincoln College.
Preface by J.H.N. - Dec. 4, 1843.

(note the chronology on xvii.)


[The Circular Epistle which follows was addressed by S. Athanasius to the Bishops of his Patriarchate in the beginning of 356, immediately after his flight from Egypt on the outrages committed against the Church by Syrianus. Some indeed have referred it to the year 361, with some plausibility, on the ground of a passage in §. 22, where he speaks of the Arians being “ declared heretics 36 years ago and cast out of the Church by decree of the whole Ecumenical Council; i. e. 325. However, if a stop is placed after “ago,” the former clause may be made to refer to S. Alexander’s condemnation of them, as Montfaucon observes. On the other hand it is plainly proved from §. 7, that it was written just as the Arians were sending George of Cappadocia to Alexandria, i. e. before Easter 356, and after Feb. 9, the date of Athanasius’s leaving Alexandria. The stress too which is laid upon maintaining the Nicene Creed, and the notice of the Arian appeal to Scripture, and the respectful language he uses of Constantius, all agree with the date 356, if corroboration is necessary. There is very little in this Epistle which is not contained in his other Treatises, and a considerable portion is of a doctrinal character. It was written on occasion of an attempt made by the Arians to seduce the Bishops addressed into subscribing one of the specious Creeds of which so much is read in the history of the times; but nothing can be gathered of the circumstances from collateral sources. The Treatise was formerly put at the head of the Orations against the Arians, and numbered as the first of them.]

Manifold indeed and beyond human conception are the instructions and gifts of grace which He has laid up in us; as the pattern of heavenly conversation, power against devils, the adoption of sons, and that exceeding great and singular grace, the knowledge of the Father and of the Word Himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.,M1
And it should be added to page 13, that Tillemont dates the Apologia contra Arian. not earlier than A.D. 356. arguing from the mention of the banishment of Liberius and Hosius.

Ad Episcopus Aegypti et Libyae
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Steven Avery

Contra Varimidum - a likely legit Ps-Athanasius

Contra Varimidum is another separate text sometimes put as Ps-Athenasius, from Grantley McDonald. Although I am not sure offhand if there is any indication of his name with the work.

Another early work containing the comma is Against Varimadus. This treatise has been attributed—with varying degrees of plausibility—to Augustine (by Cassiodorus), Athanasius (by Bede), Vigilius of Thapsus and Idacius Clarus; more recently, Schwank (1961) has attributed the work to an uncertain author active in Africa around 445-480.70 The author of Against Varimadus claims to be quoting the comma from John’s Epistle “to the Parthians.” ....

70 Ps.-Athanasius/ps.-Vigilius Thapsensis, Contra Varimadum 1.5, CCSL 90:20-21 (cf. PL 62:359): “Et Iohannes euangelista ait:

In principio erat uerbum, et uerbum erat apud deum, et deus erat uerbum. Item ipse ad parthos: tres sunt, inquit, qui testimonium perhibent in terra: aqua, sanguis, et caro, et tres in nobis sunt; et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in ccclo: pater, uerbum, et spiritus, et hi tres unum sunt.

Nos itaque in natura deitatis, quia unum sunt pater et filius, nec patrem credimus aliquo tempore praecessisse, ut maior sit filio, nec filium postea natum esse, ut deitas patris minoraretur in filio.” On the authorship of this work, see Schwank, 1961; Brown, 1982, 782.
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Steven Avery

9th century Latin variant note includes Athanasius

A Latin ms. from Berger

Histoire de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge (1893)
By Samuel Berger

mentions Athanasius as one of the variants. This is a very important ms. that shows that there was a strong textual awareness of the heavenly witnesses verse, and the sources and variants, in the 9th century, and the scribe includes Greek and Latin authors. This is mentioned (in a funny way) by Grantley on p. 51-52, and I add some formatting.

A late ninth-century Latin manuscript of Acts, the Catholic Epistles and Revelation (Paris, BnF ms Iat. 13174) gives valuable evidence of the way in which a text could be contaminated with foreign material through such arbitrary scribal intervention. The body text of 1 Jn in this manuscript does not contain the comma, but an early reader decided to note it in the margin. But which version of the text was he to give? On one of the flyleaves of the manuscript (I39v), the scribe records four variants of the comma:

first, a reading from ps.-Augustine’s Speculum “Audi Israhel";

second, a reading which he also attributes to Augustine, but which in fact resembles the reading found in the Freising fragments and Cassiodorus;

a third from ps.-Athanasius’ De Trinitate;

and a fourth from Fulgentius’ Against the Arians.

The scribe was quite aware that this verse posed a textual problem. In the event he rejected these four possibilities in favour of a fifth, which conforms closely to that found in the Theodulphian recension, which he duly inserted into the margin of the text.71

The Haymo ms. discussion from p. 45-48 also involves variants, however, I do not think the name of Athanasius is mentioned.


On the Incarnation (look for reference)

In the reformation era, Bellarmine said that Athanasius did cite the verse (more on this later, he may have been unsure of the Disputation authorship). James Sharpe and Francis Cheynell and Jonathan Edwards are given by Grantley as supporting Athanasius usage, more can be added, like John Gill. Richard Simon conjectured that the Disputation placed the verse in Greek mss! (One of the many "rogue gallery" theories.) Newton has his own unique take on Athanasius, especially as he saw him as a great villain in the church history of the time.
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Steven Avery

Discussion on Roger Pearse blog - Charles Forster defense of Athanasius Disputation authenticity

From Roger Pearse on Sept 12, some of the urls are not important here (Porson, Middleton)

Roger Pearse
Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, Information Access and More
1 John 5:7 in the fourth century? Theodore, Diodorus, the Suda, and Byzantine punctuation

Roger Pearse says:
All this seems to relate to a debate between Porson and an Archdeacon Travis. Letter 9 of Porson is here. The works in question supposed to be Athanasian are a “Synopsis Scripturae” and a Dialogue against the Arians. These are very vaguely referred to. A Mr Middleton takes up the story here.

We appear to be dealing with the works of Athanasius as printed at Paris in 1627 (Opera Athanasii) in two volumes (so this. This, of course, is a pre-critical edition. Vol. 1 I could not find; Vol. 2 is here, with its table of contents here. The Synopsis Sacrae Scripturae is listed, on p.55.

The “Synopsis Sacrae Scripturae” is listed in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum as entry 2249 (vol. 3, p.46). The text given is the Patrologia Graeca 28, columns 284-437, reprinted from an edition by Montfaucon. The work is listed as spurious, and derived from Epiphanius, De mensuribus et ponderibus (On weights and measures).

Middleton adds (p346) that the “Dialogue between an Athanasian and an Arian” is in this edition, in 5 parts; but that the passage in dispute does not appear in it. Rather it appears in a “Disputation in the Nicene Council against Arius”.

In the CPG a “Disputatio contra Arium” is given entry 2250, also spurious; text printed in the PG 28, 440-501. An Armenian version also exists.

I would suggest that the first task is to locate whichever passages are involved in the Patrologia Graeca text(s), so that at least we are dealing with something concrete.

Googling, I was able to find a 2010 article on the “Disputation contra Arium” (CPG 2250) by Annette von Stockhausen, “Die pseud-athanasianische Disputatio contra Arium. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit »arianischer« Theologie in Dialogform”, in: Stockhausen &c, Von Arius zum Athanasium, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010, 133-155. It is online here. Also something on the “Synopsis Sacrae Scripturae” (CPG 2249) here.

Good hunting.

Charles Forster does a superb job countering the "spurious" theory. Both in the classical ad hominem sense (even if it were a 7th century writing, it would refute your position) and in the wonderful analysis he does of the actual genuineness question.

"... I proceed at once to show, from collation with his undisputed writings, that the style and imagery here ridiculed is identical with that of St. Athanasius .... what Porson ignorantly ridicules, was a common-place of St. Athanasius: no slight proof of the genuineness of the Dialogue.... The hand of St. Athanasius is further apparent in this Dialogue, in sameness of thought and manner between it and his unquestioned writings. Take the following parallel passages for example.... The theme is peculiarly Athanasian; and its occurrence alike in the Dialogue and in the unquestioned Letter to Serapion, is no ordinary note of one and the same hand. " p. 61-63

In footnote 85, Athanasian scholar Gerald J. Donker discusses Disputio contra Arium as a writing of Athanasius here:

The Text of the Apostolos in Athanasius of Alexandria

85 The Athanasian writings included in the manuscripts vary widely. Codex R contains twenty-nine Athanasian treatises besides other non-Athanasian works, whereas three minor codices, Laura B20, Laura B58 and Laura Gamma 106, contain only three writings, Contra Gentes, De Incarnatione and Disputatio contra Arium. ...

Even back in 1424 Traversari noted this work forcefully:

Humanism and the Church Fathers: Ambrogio Traversari (1386-1439) and the Revival of Patristic Theology in the Early Italian Renaissance (1977)
Charles L. Stinger

More importantly it was the eloquence of the Greek Fathers which inspired Traversari’s translations. In 1424 he wrote to Niccoli of the powerful impression which his reading of the Greek text of Athanasius’ Contra gentiles, De incarnatione, and Disputatio contra Arium had made on him.
I turned to reading Athanasius, and I was so seized by admiration for this exceptional man that 1 could not tear myself away. I read his two books against the heathen. In the first he refutes heathen superstition; in the second he defends the ignominy of the Cross and the Incarnation with such forceful arguments and with such weighty thoughts, that though indeed this matter has been discussed by many, principally by our Lactantius, it does not seem, however, that it could have been done more worthily or divinely. I read next the first three books against Arius, for there are five books in all and large books at that. I was so refreshed by its fragrance of piety, nor can I remember having read anything that can be compared to this work. What is striking is a certain incomparable beauty in this man’s writing, both in thought and words, which deserves everyone’s admiration, veneration, and love. He pleads his case forcefully, as it deserved; and as he discloses, argues, and refutes all the heretical objections, he elucidates so much of Holy Scripture that I could not be sated with reading him. What more? I have decided to devote myself entirely to this fervent and celestial man by translating what is before me (if I can find the time), for I would constantly affirm I could find nothing more salutary, nothing more fervent than his teaching.

Works that have references to the heavenly witnesses are often called spurious on virtually zero real evidence, with the real reason being circular, the reference to the heavenly witnesses. The Vulgate Prologue of Jerome is an excellent example of this dynamic.

For William Cave declaring the work of a later century, you can find that here:

Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum historia literaria
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Steven Avery

Disputatio Contra Arium - Response for Roger Pearse blog

First for the location and text of the Disputatio Contra Arium helpful is:

KJVToday - Athanasius

Disputatio Contra Arium:

"Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»"
"But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, 'and these three are one.'" (Translation by KJV Today)
Which leads to a pirate url where the text is on p. 21 of 22, you can find it with a search like "Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν"

The Migne master page is here:

Patrologia Graeca - Disputatio contra Arium

leading to the PDF, where the section is on p. 45, although more chopped up than in pirate land.

Disputatio contra Arium,_Athanasius,_Disputatio_contra_Arium,_MGR.pdf

Notice that KJVToday also includes Quaestiones Aliae but does not include the Synopsis of Scripture or the Epistle Against the Arians.

My Athanasius page, a WIP, that includes all four writings, and more, is at:

Athanasius – review of heavenly witnesses references


Spurious is a funny word. With the Disputation all it means is that someone judges that it is not really by Athanasius or directly about Athanasius at the Council of Nicea. It would still be a Greek work referencing the heavenly witnesses, thus immediately refuting the idea that we do not have Greek witnesses and the verse was not used contra the Arians.

Yet those judgements of spurious are often quite questionable, and at times appear to be circular, with the reference to the heavenly witnesses being a key part of the judgement (as in the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome.)

You can easily see a strong non-spurious edition by reading Charles Forster on the Disputation. Perhaps some of the Athansius scholars will share their thoughts, and I am making some contact attempts.

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Steven Avery

Annette Stockhausen - 2010 paper on the Disputation

Annette Stockhausen

Apollinaris is more common than Apolinaris

Die pseud-athanasianische Disputatio contra Arium. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit »arianischer« Theologie in Dialogform
Annette von Stockhausen


Bereits kurz nach seinem Tod, vielleicht sogar schon in seinen letzten Lebensjahren, ist Athanasius von Alexandrien als »Säule der Orthdoxie«, als das Symbol nizänischer Orthodoxie gerühmt
1 und als solches im Lauf der Zeit auch vorrangig wahrgenommen worden. Es überrascht daher nicht, daß eine beträchtliche Anzahl an Texten anderer Autoren, von denen zumindest einige im Verdacht standen, häretische Ansichten zu vertreten, im Corpus Athanasianum Zuflucht gefunden haben. Heute, nicht zuletzt dank der Clavis Patrum Graecorum, wissen wir von ungefähr 130 griechisch, lateinisch, koptisch, syrisch, armenisch, georgisch, altkirchenslawisch und arabisch unter dem Namen des Athanasius überlieferten, aber wohl sämtlich nicht von ihm verfaßten Texten, die in ihrer Entstehungszeit von der Lebenszeit des Athanasius bis ins Mittelalter reichen.2

Viele der griechischen Texte, die heute für nicht authentisch gehalten werden, wurden bereits von Bemard de Montfaucon am Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts als Pseud-Athanasiana identifiziert. Für den größeren Teil dieser Texte sind die Edition Bemard de Montfaucons3 (bzw. ihr 1857 publizierter Nachdruck durch Jean-Paul Migne) und seine die Texte jeweils einleitenden Monita sogar bis heute Stand der Forschung. Denn das Verdikt Montfaucons, daß ein unter dem Namen des Athanasius überlieferter Text unecht ist, hat in den meisten Fällen dazu geführt, daß diese überhaupt nicht mehr herangezogen, übersetzt oder untersucht wurden,4 weil sie ja zu unseren Kenntnissen über Athanasius, sein Leben und seine Theologie offensichtlich nichts beitragen könnten.

Nicht beachtet wird hierbei aber, daß auch pseudonyme Schriften sehr wohl unsere Kenntnisse erweitern können, und zwar über Autoren, deren Werke im Allgemeinen nur sehr schlecht überliefert oder die sonst überhaupt nicht mehr in ihren Werken greifbar sind, sowie darüber hinaus auch über die Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte generell. Dies trifft gleichermaßen für die pseud-athanasianischen Schriften zu, die bisher noch nicht untersucht worden sind oder deren ursprünglicher Verfasser sich auch durch eine Untersuchung nicht mehr erheben läßt.

Im folgenden soll dies an einem solchen pseud-athanasianischen Text, der Disputatio contra Arium (CPG 2250), exemplarisch vorgeführt werden.

Hinführung zum Text

Die Synode von Nizäa war nicht nur für die Zeitgenossen im Rückblick das Ereignis der Geschichte der Kirchen im konstantinischen Zeitalter: Sie war die erste »ökumenische« Synode6, auf ihr wurde erstmals ein für die gesamte Kirche auf dem Gebiet des Imperium Romanum (und sogar darüber hinaus) geltendes Bekenntnis formuliert und nicht zuletzt auch die wichtige liturgische Frage der Berechnung des Osterfestes geklärt.7

Waren die Beschlüsse der Synode im engeren Sinn, d.h. der Brief der Synode an die Kirche von Ägypten8, die theologische Erklärung9, die Canones10 und die (Unterschriften-)Liste der Teilnehmer11, noch schriftlich festgehalten worden,12 so galt das nicht für die Verhandlungen selbst.13 In Ermangelung von Protokollen wurden daher immer wieder Berichte von an der Synode Anwesenden bzw. Beteiligten herangezogen: Der Brief Eusebs an seine Kirche14, der sich zwar nicht als offizielles Dokument der Synode gibt, aber vielleicht noch am ehesten als Bericht über den Ablauf der Verhandlungen herangezogen werden könnte, bietet jedoch eine sehr eigenwillige Interpretation des Verhandlungsverlaufes und ist keinesfalls als wie auch immer geartetes »Protokoll« der Verhandlungen anzusehen, sondern ist eine Apologie Eusebs für seine Zustimmung zur theologischen Erklärung der Synode.15 Ebenso sind die immer wieder einmal für die Rekonstruktion des Verlaufs der Synode herangezogenen Abschnitte aus der athanasianischen Epistula ad Afros zum einen auf jeden Fall um einiges, nämlich an die 40 Jahre, später anzusetzen, vor allem aber bieten sie zum anderen überhaupt keine Schilderung der Verhandlungen auf der nizänischen Synode, sondern verdanken sich einer nachträglichen Interpretation des Nizänums von Seiten des Athanasius.16

Zusammenfassend läßt sich feststellen, daß auf der Synode von Nizäa allem Anschein nach keine Protokolle angefertigt worden waren, an Hand derer sich der Verlauf der Diskussionen und Verhandlungen später hätte ablesen lassen können. Angesichts der im Laufe des 4. Jahrhunderts anwachsenden Bedeutung, die der Synode von Nizäa zugemessen wurde,17 verwundert es daher nicht, daß ein Bedürfnis entstand, mehr über die Verhandlungen und Diskussionen zwischen »Orthodoxen« und »Arianern« auf der Synode von Nizäa zu erfahren, und daß daher bald Legenden über den Verlauf der Synode aufkamen und über die Disputationen, die auf ihr stattgefunden hatten.

(skip to p. 138)

Die Disputatio contra Arium Die Überlieferung des Textes

Da die Disputatio contra Arium33 bisher in keiner kritischen Edition vorliegt, aber auch aus inhaltlichen Gründen, für die die Überlieferungszusammenhänge wichtig sind, soll zunächst einiges zur Überlieferung der Disputatio contra Arium vorangeschickt werden:

Die Disputatio contra Arium ist im Rahmen der sogenannten x-Sammlung, außerhalb des Kontextes der großen Athanasius-Sammlungen auch in einigen weiteren, meist späten (Sammel-)Handschriften34, in einer lateinischen35 und (allerdings nicht ganz vollständig) in einer armenischen Übersetzung36 überliefert. Eine kurze Passage, das Bekenntnis des Athanasius in Kap. 537, ist außerdem noch als singuläres Stück in einem Codex der Pariser Nationalbibliothek überliefert.38

Über die direkte Überlieferung hinausgehend lassen sich auch geringe Spuren einer Sekundärüberlieferung der Disputatio contra Arium feststellen.39

Bei der x-Sammlung40 handelt es sich um eine eigenständige, fest umrissene Zusammenstellung von Schriften des Athanasius, deren besonderes Kennzeichen es ist, daß ihr ein Inhaltsverzeichnis und Exzerpte aus einem Brief des Photios an seinen Bruder Tarasios über die Schriften des Athanasius vorangehen41 und daß sie außerdem in ihrer Zusammenstellung (im Gegensatz vor allem zur y-Sammlung, aber auch zur b-Tradition)42 sehr homogen überliefert ist.

Sie enthält die folgenden 21 athanasianischen und pseud-athanasianischen43 Schriften: Oratio contra gentes (CPG 2090), Oratio de incarnatione verbi (CPG (2091), fDisputatio contra Arium (CPG 2250), Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae (CPG 2092), Orationes contra Arianos I-III (CPG 2093), fDe incarnatione et contra Arianos (CPG 2806), Epistula encyclica (CPG 2124), Epistulae ad Serapionem /-// (CPG 2094), +Epistula catholica (CPG 2241), tRefutatio hypocriseos Meletii et Eusebii (CPG 2242), Epistula ad Epictetum (CPG 2095), tContra Apolinarem II-I (CPG 2231), In illud: qui dixerit verbum in filium (CPG 2096), fDe passione et cruce domini (CPG 2247), Epistula ad Marcellinum (CPG 2097), De virginitate (CPG 2248) und fTestimonia e scriptura (CPG 2240).

Wie an dieser Aufzählung ersichtlich ist, steht die Disputatio contra Arium zwar nicht ganz zu Beginn der Sammlung. Indem sie aber nach (den die aria-nische Frage nicht behandelnden) Schriften Contra gentes und De incarnatione zu stehen kommt, fungiert sie gewissermaßen als Einleitung zu den »anti-arianischen« Schriften des Athanasius, die in dieser Sammlung zusammengefaßt sind,44 insofern die Dispntatio contra Arianos dadurch, daß sie eine Diskussion zwischen Athanasius und Arius auf der Synode von Nizäa selbst wiedergibt, die thematisch und chronologisch nach der Synode von Nizäa einzuordnenden Schriften des Athanasius an diese zurückbindet und die Hintergründe des Streites erhellt.

Nun ist die Zusammenstellung des Schriftenkorpus der Ar-Sammlung wegen der Inklusion des Photios-Briefes frühestens im späten 9. Jahrhundert anzusetzen. Allerdings könnte gerade der Photios-Brief selbst eine Zeuge für eine ältere und weniger umfangreiche Sammlung antiarianischer Schriften des Athanasius sein:

Im Brief an Tarasios und in cod. 140 der Bibliothek schreibt Photios nämlich von einer Sammlung von Werken des Athanasius, der xoctci Äpefou xcu tgäv ocutou SoYpdTcov 7revTdßißXo<;.45 Üblicherweise wird dieses »Fünfbuch gegen Arius und seine Lehren« auf die Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, die drei Arianerreden und die pseud-athanasianische vierte Arianerrede bezogen,46 weil in den Handschriften der y-Sammlung47 die Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, die drei Arianerreden und die pseud-athanasianische vierte Arianerrede als xcctoc Apctavwv Xöyoc; a-e' gezählt werden.48 Demgegenüber werden in der Ar-Sammlung nun gerade nur die drei echten Arianerreden durchnummeriert, nicht aber die Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae in diese Zählung einbezogen.49

4 Eine Ausnahme bilden hier die heute Markell oder Apolinaris (und seinen Schülern ) zugeschriebenen Schriften.
The writings attributed to Markell or Apolinaris (and his students) are an exception here.

The pseudo-Ashanasian disputatio contra arium. A confrontation with »Arian« theology in dialogue form
Annette von Stockhausen

Preliminary note

Already shortly after his death, perhaps even in his last years, Athanasius was praised by Alexandria as a "pillar of orthodoxy," as the symbol of Nicene orthodoxy, and as such, was also given priority over time. It is therefore not surprising that a considerable number of texts by other authors, at least some of which were suspected of representing heretical views, found refuge in the Corpus Athanasianum. Today, not least thanks to the Clavis Patrum Graecorum, we know of approximately 130 Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Old Church Slavonic and Arabic under the name of Athanasius, but probably all the texts not written by him, those in their time of origin ranging from the lifetime of Athanasius to the Middle Ages.2

Many of the Greek texts that are not considered authentic today were identified by Bemard de Montfaucon at the end of the 17th century as Pseudo-Athanasiana. For the greater part of these texts are the Edition Bemard de Montfaucons3 (or the 1857 published reprint by Jean-Paul Migne) and his introductory each Monita even to this day state of research. For the assertion of Montfaucon that a text transmitted under the name of Athanasius is unreal, has in most cases led to their being no longer used, translated, or examined, 4 because they contribute to our knowledge of Athanasius, his life, and his his theology obviously could not contribute.

However, it does not take into account that even pseudonymous writings can very well broaden our knowledge through authors whose works are generally handed down very poorly or which are otherwise no longer tangible in their works, as well as beyond the churches. and the history of theology in general. This applies equally to the pseudo-Athanasian writings, which have not yet been examined or whose original author can no longer be raised by an investigation.

In the following, this will be exemplarily demonstrated on such a pseudo-Athanasian text, the Disputatio contra Arium (CPG 2250).

Introduction to the text

In retrospect, the Synod of Nicaea was the event of the history of the churches in the Constantinian age: it was the first "ecumenical" synod6, and it was the first ever on the Roman Empire (and even above In addition, the accepted confession was formulated and, not least, the important liturgical question of the calculation of Easter was clarified.7

Were the resolutions of the synod in the narrower sense, i. the letter from the synod to the Church of Egypt, 8 the theological statement, the canons10 and the (signature) list of the participants11, were still written down12 so that was not the case for the negotiations themselves.13 In the absence of protocols, therefore, there were repeated However, Euseb's letter to his church14, which does not exist as an official document of the Synod but could perhaps best be used as an account of the conduct of the negotiations, offers a very idiosyncratic one Interpretation of the course of the negotiations and is not to be regarded as a kind of "protocol" of the negotiations, but is an apology of Eusebs for its approval of the theological explanation of the Synod.15 Similarly, the sections used again and again for the reconstruction of the course of the Synod are from the Athanasian Epistula ad Afros for one In any case, they do not provide any description of the negotiations at the Nicene Synod, but rather owe their existence to a subsequent interpretation of the Nicene by Athanasius.16

In summary, it can be stated that at the Synod of Nicaea, it appeared that no minutes had been drawn up by which the course of the discussions and negotiations could later be deduced. In view of the growing importance of the Synod of Nicaea in the course of the fourth century, 17 it is not surprising that there was a need to learn more about the negotiations and discussions between "Orthodox" and "Arians" at the Nizea Synod and that, therefore, legends soon arose about the course of the Synod, and about the disputations that had taken place on it.

(skip to p. 138)

The Disputatio contra Arium The transmission of the text

Since the Disputatio contra Arium33 has not yet been published in a critical edition, but also for reasons of content, for which the context of tradition is important, let us begin with some information on the tradition of the Disputation against Arium:

The Disputatio contra Arium has survived within the framework of the so-called x-collection, outside the context of the great Athanasius collections, in a few other, mostly late (collective) manuscripts, 34 in a Latin35 and (though not entirely) in an Armenian translation36. A short passage, the confession of Athanasius in Ch. 537, is still preserved as a singular piece in a Codex of the National Library of Paris.38

Beyond the direct tradition, even small traces of a secondary tradition of the Disputatio contra Arium can be found.39

The x-collection40 is an independent, well-defined compilation of writings of Athanasius, the distinguishing feature of which is that it precedes a table of contents and excerpts from a letter of Photius to his brother Tarasios on the writings of Athanasius, 41 and that they Moreover, in their composition (in contrast to the y-collection in particular, but also to the b-tradition) 42 is handed down very homogeneously.

It contains the following 21 Athanasian and pseudo-Athanasian texts: Oratio contra gentes (CPG 2090), Oratio de incarnatione verbi (CPG (2091), fDisputatio contra Arium (CPG 2250), Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libya (CPG 2092), Orationes contra Arianos I-III (CPG 2093), the incarnatione et contra Arianos (CPG 2806), Epistula encyclica (CPG 2124), Epistulae ad serapionem / - // (CPG 2094), + Epistula catholica (CPG 2241), tRefutatio hypocriseos Meletii et Eusebii (CPG 2242), Epistula ad Epictetum (CPG 2095), tContra Apolinarem II-I (CPG 2231), In illud: quixixerit verbum in filium (CPG 2096), the Passione et cruce domini (CPG 2247), Epistula ad Marcellinum (CPG 2097), De virginitate (CPG 2248) and fTestimonia e scriptura (CPG 2240).

As can be seen in this list, the disputatio contra arium is not at the very beginning of the collection. But as it comes to stand in accordance with the writings of Contra gentes and De incarnatione (which does not deal with the Arian question), it functions as an introduction to the "anti-Arian" writings of Athanasius, which are summarized in this collection Dispntatio contra Arianos, in that it reproduces a discussion between Athanasius and Arius at the Synod of Nicaea itself, which binds the writings of Athanasius to be arranged thematically and chronologically according to the Synod of Nicaea, and illuminates the background of the dispute.

Now the compilation of the corpus of the Ar collection is due to the inclusion of the Photios letter at the earliest in the late 9th Century begin. However, the Photios letter itself may be a witness to an older and less extensive collection of anti-Ananic writings by Athanasius:

In the letter to Tarasios and cod. For in the library, Photios writes of a collection of works by Athanasius, the xoctci Apefoucu tengv ocutou SoYpdTcov 7revTssissXo <;.45 This "five-book against Arius and his doctrines" is usually applied to the epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, the three Aryan speeches and the pseudo-Athanasian fourth Arianerrede, 46 because in the manuscripts of the y-collection47 the Epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, the three Arianerreden and the pseudo-Ashanasian fourth Arianerrede as xcctoc Apctavwv Xöyoc; On the other hand, in the Ar collection, only the three real Aryan speeches are numbered consecutively, but the epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae is not included in this census.49

Dear Steven, I'm quite sure about it not being written by Athanasius (the style is too different; the creed in Disp. 5 is not fitting to Athanasius; the whole topic of a disputation between Athanasius and Arius in Nicaea to apocryphic, cf. the problematic passages p. 148 sqq. – also regarding the difference between the mentioning of Arius in the title and the person Athanasius is discussing with being one of his followers). My idea was that it's a writing probably meant and composed as an introductory text of an early collection of works of Athanasius (ep.Aeg.Lib. and Ar I-III) that was maybe compiled in Alexandria. It's more 5th century than 4th century (but I have no "real" indications for that, I must admit) and I tentatively proposed the young Cyrill of Alexandria as author (also: no hard evidence, but the feeling that Cyrill and Alexandria could be fitting for the text). But for sure it's pseudo-athanasian...
Best Annette

Montfaucon and Lopin - 1698
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Steven Avery

Disputation - Thomas Smith, Cheynell, Du Pin

While Annette Stockhausen so far would actually seem to de facto support authenticity, there is this note from Louis Ellies Du Pin :

The other Works attributed to St. Athanasius, are yet more manifestly Supposititious, and no body almost has acknowledg'd them for Genuine. The Dispute against Arius ff which is in the First Volume, is a Dialogue compos’d under the Names of St. Athanasius and Arius, by some body that liv'd long after. This is plain, and all the World is agreed in't; but ’tis not known who is the Author of it. Some have attributed it to Vigilius Tapsensis; but for my part, I rather believe that tis the Work of a Greek, than a Latin Author, and that it may well be attributed to Maximus.

ff The Dispute against Arius.
’Tis evident that ’tis not a Conference-made in the Council, but only a fictitious Dialoguc made by somebody, under the Names of St. Athanasius and an Arian, and not of Arius for the Catholick says, That his Adversary is a Monster come out of the Sect of Arius. The Author of this Dialogue is so ignorant, that he thinks the Council of Nice was held in the Year 310.

A New History of Ecclesiastical Writers (1693)
Louis Ellies Du Pin
Du Pin and the Synopsis of Scrpture - the Style is Athanasius

As David Martin points out about Louis Ellies Du Pin supports the authenticity of the Synopsis of Scripture:

A Critical Dissertation Upon the Seventh Verse of the Fifth
By David Martin
Mr. Du Pin thinks it is, and defends it in his Bibliotheque of Ecclesiastical Writers; however all agree that ’tis very ancient.
This would be good to find in Du Pin. However, so far there is only this reference:
"the Author of the Synopsis, attributed to St. Athanasius..."
and on p. 31
"and the Author of the Abridgement of Scripture, attributed to St. Athanasius"
this type of reference is there 3x on the discussion of the Authors of the Bible

Here on a later p. 36

A Book of the Abridgment of the Holy Scripture, p. 55. All these Works, whereof some are cited by the Ancients, agree well enough with the Style of St. Athanasius, and they contain nothing in my Opinion, which gives just caule to suspect them of forgery.

Next we go to Thomas Smith.

A sermon of the credibility of the mysteries of the Christian religion preached before a learned audience (1675)
Thomas Smith;size=125;vid=101752;view=text

... two Writings, which pass under the name of Athanasius, where this Verse is cited, because it is not to be met with in those larger works of his, which are acknow∣ledged genuine, the one is an account of a disputation, according to the title, had with Arius in the Council of Nice; but the title is faulty, as appears from the Discourse it self; nor was A∣rius the Person disputed with there, but one of his followers; and the reason of the mistake of the title may be ascrib'd to an ignorant Libra∣rius, putting down Arius for Arianus, and the Dialogue not real, but supposed, as was usual a∣mongst the Fathers, introducing the Hereticks pleading their Cause, and the Orthodox refuting their Cavils and defending the Truth. And if this may pass for likely, there can be no great reason to suspect the Authenticalness of it, the Deitate Trinitatis ad Theophilum, dicente Joanne Evangelistâ in Epistolà sua, tres sunt, qui testimoni∣um dicunt in Coelo, Pater, & Verbum, & Spiritus. But this piece, I confess, is very justly rejected as none of his, though perchance wrote not ma∣ny years after his time.

Francis Cheynell

Interpretationes paradoxae quatuor Evangeliorum
Christopher Sand

Sand references the Disputation being Athanasius from Baronio, Sculteto, Riveto. And "Dubia eft Bellarraino", and adds a quote from Thomas Cajetanus

Here we learn about doubts about the Disputation in the 1500s. This also means, perhaps, that it should have been available to Erasmus, and some checking could be done in his works.

Thomas Cajetan - (1469-1534) - unclear
Caesar Baronius - (1538–1607) - spurious
Bartolomeo Sculteto (1540-1614) - spurious
Robert Bellarmine - (1542-1621) - undecided
André Rivet (1572-1651) - spurious

Sand p. 381

Deinde Disputatio cum Ario in Concilio Nicaeno (quae sub Athanasii etiam nomine circumsertur) supposititia probatur a Baronio, Sculteto, Riveto. Dubia est Bellarmino.

Thomas de Vio Cajetanus : Si haec, inquit , verba sunt de textu asseruntur ad manifestandurm, quod dictum est, quoniam Spiritus est veritas. Dixi autem si sunt de textu , quoniam non invenientur in omnibus codicibus, sed in aliquibus.

Vide Lorinum ? ...
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Steven Avery

Cave and Montfaucon

Since Cave and Monfaucon are often the base for future judgements, it is good to go back to both of them on any of these Athanasius writings, to see if they give reasons.

For William Cave declaring the work of a later century, you can find that here:

Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum historia literaria

Montfaucon and Lopin - 1698

(more to add)

Montfaucon - 1777 edition - Synopsis of Scripture - Disputation

Plus we have seen that Du Pin gives a solid English followup. His support of the Synopsis while questioning the Disputation seems to give a solid perspective.

Montfaucon quote from Robinson (rough)

Ne omittamus ea quae de codice, unde haec Synopsis prodiit, habet Felckmannus. Usae sunt operae, inquit, textu huius Synopseos Graces descripto ex uetusto et miris ductibus constante codice, quem ex Bibliotheca uiri clarissimi Petri Neueleti Doschii curauit uir Ampliss. D. Bongarsius, quern, cum non in omnibus descriptor assequutus sit, quidquid erit discrepantiae notandum duxi. Quamquam essent non pauca, quae de interpretation moneri poterant: imo locorum quoque nonnullorum in ipso ueteri codice coniecturae possent afferri, qxiae tamen omnia breuitatis causa, et quod docti per se ipsi in hoc longe optimi monitores sibi erunt omitto. Quorsum autem euaserit codex ille memoratus a Felkmanno ignoratur. Codicem Synopseos aliquem nec uidi, nec alicubi exstare didici 1.
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Steven Avery

The various possibilities for the Disputation.

If the internal words say that this is to an Arian supporter, then #1 and #3 can be removed.

A writing of Athanasius about the disputation with Arius.
A writing of Athanasius about a disputation with an Arian supporter.

A 4th century contemporaneous report of the disputation with Arius.
A 4th century contemporaneous report of the disputation with an Arian supporter.

None of these should be called spurious. The work does not say "written by Athanasius." The scholars do not seem to have a good way to handle #3 and #4. A historical report about an Athanasius event should be a highly respected writing. Negative connotations like "spurious" and "Pseudo-" should be avoided, unless a clear explanation is given.

A "doating monk", much later, 7th century
Maximus the Confessor, much later

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Steven Avery

Contra Macedonianos Dialogus I

Check Witness of God (and all refs for Athanasius) and Charles Forster
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Steven Avery

Epistula ad episcopum Persarum (350-550 AD)
[Forster] Now the following passage is his [Athanasius] definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, addressed to the heathen Persians: and drawn up, he tells them,”according to Scripture”(κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον).
(Forster, A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witness, 1867, p. 89)

● [Letter to the Bishop of the Persians] Therefore, to us there is one God, from whom are all things; A perfect Trinity [Three persons], consubstantial, of equal power, of equal glory; The Father [who is the source] of all good things, from whom the Son has been begotten, from whom the Holy Spirit is proceeding according to scriptures [that which has been written]; One Godhead making himself known in three hypostasis.
(Athanasius, Letter to the Bishop of the Persians; Translated by Pavlos D. Vasileiadis.)

○ Greek: Εἷς γὰρ Θεὸς ἡμῖν, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα· Τριὰς τελεία, ὁμοούσιος, ἰσοδύναμος, ἰσοκλεής· Πατὴρ ἡ πάντων τῶν ἀγαθῶν πηγὴ, ἐξ οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς ἐγεννήθη, ἐξ οὗ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐκπορεύεται κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον· Μία θεότης ἐν τρισὶν ὑποστάσεσι γνωριζομένη.
(Athanasius, Epistula ad episcopum Persarum; Migne Graeca, PG 28.1568B)

[Forster] By his own words,”according to the Scripture” (κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον), St. Athanasius here tells us
that he is copying Scripture. And the Scripture copied from, in his concluding words, is, self-evidently, 1
John v. 7, where alone the three-one doctrine is so stated.

(Forster, A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witness, 1867, p. 89)