Arius (c.260 - 336) and Arianism


ARIUS () one of the most famous heretics; b. about 256, in Libya (according to others, in Alexandria); d. 336, at Constantinople. He was educated by Lucian, presbyter in Antioch, and held a prominent position as presbyter in the Church of Alexandria when the Arian controversy with Bishop Alexander began (about 318) concerning the eternal deity of Christ and his equality with the Father (homoousia), which he denied, holding that Christ was of a different essence, and a creature of the Father, though created before the world. He is described as a tall, lean man, with a downcast brow, very austere habits, considerable learning, and a smooth, winning address, but quarrelsome disposition. The Silence of his enemies conclusively proves that his general moral character was irreproachable (like that of Nestorius and Pelagius); and, if it had not been for his heresy, he would have been highly esteemed. His enemies said that the real cause of his opposition to Alexander was a personal grudge, because he was not himself elected bishop; but the subordination views which he had imbibed in the Antiochian school are sufficient to explain the direction of his development and the course of his life. Condemned by the synod of Alexandria (320), he left the city; but he was kindly received both by Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius of Nicomedia, and it was evident that not a few of the Asiatic churches favored his ideas. A reconciliation was brought about between him and Alexander; but hardly had he returned to Alexandria before the strife broke out again, and with still greater violence. A letter from Constantine, addressed to Alexander and Arius, and carried to Alexandria by Hosius of Cordova, availed nothing: the whole Christian world rang with the contest. But, in spite of his many and powerful friends, Arius was defeated at the Council of Nicaea (325), and banished to Illyria. Soon, however, a reaction in his favor set in. The Eusebian party espoused his cause more openly, and through Constantia, the sister of the emperor, he got access to the court. He was formally recalled from banishment; and all the chiefs of the Eusebian party were assembled in Constantinople to receive him back into the bosom of the church, when he suddenly died the day before the solemnity (336), at the age of over eighty years, at a time and in a manner that seemed to the orthodox party to be a direct interposition of Providence, and a condemnation of his doctrine; while his friends attributed the death to poison. Athanasius relates the fact in a letter to Serapion, on the authority of a priest, Macarius of Constantinople (De Morte Arii, Opera, ed. Bened. torn. I., pp. 1., 340), and ventures to interpret Providence in the uncharitable style of his age, yet not without some reluctance of his better Christian feeling Epiphanius (Haer. 68, c. 7) compares his death to that of Judas the traitor. Socrates (Hist. Eccl. I., 38) gives the following account: "Going out of the imperial palace, attended by a crowd of Eusebian partisans like guards, Arius paraded proudly through the midst of the city, attracting the notice of all the people. On approaching the place called Constantine’s Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror, arising from the consciousness of his wickedness, seized him, accompanied by a violent relaxation of the bowels. He therefore inquired whether there was a convenient place near, and, being directed to the back of Constantine’s Forum, he hastened thither. Soon after, a faintness came over him, and, together with the evacuations, his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines. More over, portions of his spleen and liver were carried off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died." Sozomen (H. E., II., 30) gives a similar account, and adds, that, for a long period, everybody avoided with horror the spot on which Arias died, until a rich Arian bought the place of the public, and built a house on the site, that there might be no perpetual memorial of his death.

His principal work, called ... The Banquet, which he wrote during his stay with Eusebius at Nicomedia, was a defence of his doctrine in an entertaining popular form, half poetry, half prose; but, with the exception of a few frag ments in the tracts of Athanasius, it is lost. A letter of his to Eusebius of Nicomedia, and one to Alexander of Alexandria, are still extant. (See Fabricius, Biblioth. Gr., VIII., p. 309.) His doctrine on the divinity of Christ and his rela tion to the Father has given him a notoriety far outstripping his talents and learning. Nean der (Ch. H., IV., 685) ascribes to him an acute but contracted intellect without the intuitive faculty.

"ARIUS," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.139.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph Athanasius, Deposition of Arius.
Book or monograph Athanasius, Discources Against the Arians, 1.1.3; 1.37; 2.17.
Book or monograph Athanasius, On the Councils, 2.15-16.
Book or monograph Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt, 2.12.19.
Book or monograph Athanasius, Defence of the Nicene Tradition, 4.16.
Book or monograph Athanasius, Letter 54.
Book or monograph St Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies. New City Press, 1996. Hbk. ISBN: 1565480384.
Book or monograph Epiphanius, Panarion 68-69.
Book or monograph Socrates, Church History 1.5-38.
Book or monograph Sozomes, Church History 1.15-21; 2.27-30.
Book or monograph Theodoret, Church History 1.1-6, 13.

Secondary Sources

On-line Resource Arius of Alexandria and his Heretical Christology
Article in Journal or Book L.W. Barnard, "The Antecedents of Arius," Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 24 (1970): 172-188.
Article in Journal or Book L.W. Barnard, "What was Arius' Philosophy?" Theologische Zeitschrift 28 (1972): 110-17.
Book or monograph Michel Rene Barnes & Daniel H. Williams, editors. Arianism After Arius. Continuum International Publishing Group - T & T Clark, 1193. Hbk. ISBN: 0567096416. pp.280. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book M.J. Edwards, "The Arian Heresy and the Oration to the Saints," Vigiliae Christianae 49.4 (1995): 379-387.
Article in Journal or Book Thomas G. Elliott, "Constantine and `the Arian Reaction after Nicaea'," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 43.2 (1992): 169-194.
Book or monograph Robert C. Gregg, ed. Arianism: Historical and Theological Reassessments. Cambridge, MA: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1985.
Article in Journal or Book Robert C. Gregg, & Dennis E. Groh, "The centrality of soteriology in Early Arianism," Anglican Theological Review 59.3 (1977): 260-278.View in PDF format pdf [Reproduced by permission of the current copyright holder]
Book or monograph Robert C. Gregg & Dennis E. Groh, Early Arianism: A View of Salvation. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981.
On-line Resource H.M. Gwatkin, "Arianism and Modern Thought," Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 42 (1910): 145-154.View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain and can be freely distributed and copied]
On-line Resource H.M. Gwatkin, The Arian Controversy. London: Longman's Green & Co., 1908. Hbk. pp.176. [This material is in the Public Domain]
Article in Journal or Book Christopher Haas, "The Arians of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 47.3 (1993): 234-245.
Book or monograph Hanson: The Search for the Christian Doctrine of GodR.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy 318-381. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988. ISBN: 0567094855. pp.954.{Amazon.com}
On-line Resource Larry R. Helyer, "Arius revisited: the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15)," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31.1 (March 1988): 59-67.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book J. Angus B. Holland," Athanasius Versus Arius: What Now?" Reformed Theological Review 28.1 (1969): 16-28.
Article in Journal or Book J. Angus B. Holland, "Athanasius and Arius II: Why the Impulse to Reduce?" Reformed Theological Review 30.2 (1971): 33-47.
Book or monograph Charles Kannengeiser, Holy Scripture and Hellenistic Hermeneutics in Alexandrian Christology: The Arian Crisis. Berkeley: Centre for Hermeneutical Studies, 1982.
Article in Journal or Book Charles Kannengeiser, "Arius and the Arians," Theological Studies, 44.3 (1983): 456-475.
Book or monograph Charles Kannengeiser, Arius and Athanasius: Two Alexandrian Theologians. London: Variorum, 1991. pp. xiv + 330.
Book or monograph Kopecek: History of Neo-ArianismThomas A Kopecek, History of Neo-Arianism. North American Patristic Society, 1979. Pbk .ISBN: 0915646072. pp.553. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book Samuel Laeuchli, "The Case of Athanasius Against Arius," Concordia Theological Monthly 30 (1959): 403-420.
Article in Journal or Book Colm Luibheid, "Finding Arius," Irish Theological Quarterly 45.2 (1978): 81-100.
Article in Journal or Book Rebecca Lyman, "Arians and Manichees on Christ," Journal of Theological Studies 40.2 (1989): 493-503.
On-line Resource H. Dermot McDonald, "Development and Christology," Vox Evangelica 9 (1975): 5-27.View in PDF format pdf
On-line Resource Anthony McRoy, “The Theology of Arius,” Foundations 59 (May 2008): 17-28.View in PDF format pdf
On-line Resource Donald Macleod, "God or god? Arianism, Ancient and Modern," The Evangelical Quarterly 68.2 (Apr.-June 1996): 121-138. View in PDF format pdf [Reproduced by kind permission of the copyright holder]
On-line Resource What Happened After Arius? (Vincent McCann, Spotlight Ministries)
On-line Resource Arius: A Theological Conservative Persecuted? (Dr. John C. McDowell)
Book or monograph Newman: The Arians of the Fourth CenturyJohn Henry Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century, 1833. Reprinted: Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers; ISBN: 0965351726. pp.254. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book Oyvind Norderval, "The Emperor Constantine and Arius: Unity in the Church and Unity in the Empire," Studia Theologica 42.2 (1988): 113-150.
Article in Journal or Book Alvyn Pettersen, "Truth in a Heresy? 2. Arianism," Expository Times 112.5 (2001): 150-154.
Article in Journal or Book T.E. Pollard, "The Origin of Arianism (Antiochete doctrinal and exegetical influence on Arius)," Journal of Theological Studies 9 (1958): 103-11.
Article in Journal or Book The Exegesis of Scripture and the Arian Controversy," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 41 (1959): 414-429.
On-line Resource Philip Schaff, "ARIANISM," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.134-137.
Article in Journal or Book G.C. Stead, "The Platonism of Arius," Journal of Theological Studies 15 (1964): 16-31.
Book or monograph G.C. Stead, Divine Substance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. Hbk. ISBN: 0198266308. pp.328. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book G.C. Stead, "The Thalia of Arius and the Testimony of Athanasius," Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 29.1 (1978): 20-52.
Article in Journal or Book Christopher Stead, "Arius in Modern Research," Journal of Theological Studies 45.1 (1994): 24-36.
Article in Journal or Book Maurice Wiles, "In Defence of Arius," Journal of Theological Studies 13 (1962): 339-347.
Book or monograph Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the CenturiesMaurice Wiles, Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Hbk. ISBN: 0198269277. pp.214. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book Rowan Williams, "The Logic of Arianism," Journal of Theological Studies 34 (1983): 56-81.
Book or monograph Arius: Heresy and TraditionRowan Williams, Arius: Heresy and Tradition. 2001. Pbk. ISBN: 0334028507. {CBD} {Amazon.com}

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