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How Did Arius Learn from Asterius? On the Relationship between the Thalia and the Syntagmation


In the De decretis Athanasius claims that Arius ‘copied’ and ‘learned’ from Asterius. This study explores how this could have happened by arguing that in the writing of his Thalia Arius was influenced by Asterius’ Syntagmation. Besides complicating the literary and theological relationship between Arius and Asterius, this reconstruction provides the clearest evidence for the new perspective on Arius which has emerged in recent revisionist scholarship, and which argues that he is best understood as embedded within a theological tradition and as a catalysing participant in its efforts to articulate a theological vision. By dating the Syntagmation to about 322 and the Thalia to about 323 this study also gives qualified support to Rowan Williams's dating of some pre-Nicene events and discredits a recent attempt to position Asterius as having had a formative influence on Arius.

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Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies at Oxford University in August 2015, and at a meeting of the Minnesota Association for Patristic Studies (MAPS) in February 2016. I am grateful for the comments that I received on these occasions, as well as for the feedback on later drafts offered by Lewis Ayres, Matthew Crawford, Rebecca Lyman, Adam Ployd and Andrew Radde-Gallwitz.

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1 On recent historiographical trends in the study of Arius see Hanson, R. P. C., The search for the Christian doctrine of God: the Arian controversy, 318–381 AD, Edinburgh 1988, pp. xviixxi, 123–8; Williams, Rowan, Arius: heresy and tradition, rev. edn, Grand Rapids, Mi 2001, 125 ; Ayres, Lewis, Nicaea and its legacy: an approach to fourth-century Trinitarian theology, Oxford 2004, 1120, 56–7; Behr, John, The Nicene faith, Crestwood 2004, 816, 21–36; and Lyman, Rebecca, ‘Arius and Arians’, in Harvey, Susan Ashbrook and Hunter, David G. (eds), The Oxford handbook of early Christian studies, Oxford 2008, 237–57. On trends through the mid-twentieth century see Lorenz, Rudolf, Arius judaizans? Untersuchungen zur dogmengeschichtlichen Einordung des Arius, Göttingen 1980, 2336 ; Slusser, Michael, ‘Traditional views of late Arianism’, in Barnes, Michel R. and Williams, Daniel H. (eds), Arianism after Arius: essays on the development of the fourth century Trinitarian conflicts, Edinburgh 1993, 330 ; and Wiles, Maurice, Archetypal heresy: Arianism through the centuries, Oxford 1996 .

2 Ayres, Nicaea and its legacy, 12 n. 3. Maurice Wiles ends his classic essay (‘Attitudes to Arius in the Arian Controversy’, in Barnes and Williams, Arianism After Arius, 31–43) with these memorable lines: ‘the figure of Arius was not perhaps, in fact, very important to any of those known by one of the various expansions of his name [for example, semi-Arians and neo-Arians]. And to Athanasius he was not so much a person to be refuted, as a discredited name with which to undermine others … Arius was dead before Athanasius embarked on any large scale theological debate of the issues that Arius had raised. And then his real quarrel was with the living. The dead Arius was not even a whipping boy, but a whip’.

3 Of course, what these concerns were remains highly debated. For example, in Arius judaizans? Lorenz posited Christological concerns, whereas in Early Arianism: a view of salvation, Philadelphia 1981 , Robert C. Gregg and Dennis E. Groh argued that soteriological concerns chiefly motivated Arius. In contrast, in Arius, Williams placed more emphasis on Arius’ cosmological concerns.

4 For example, Arius is surely to be included among those who espoused what Joseph T. Lienhard, calls a tradition of ‘dyohypostatic’ theology: Contra Marcellum: Marcellus of Ancyra and fourth-century theology, Washington, DC 1999, 2846 . Ayres places Arius in the ‘theological trajectory’ that he labels ‘Eusebians’, along with Eusebius of Nicomedia, Asterius and Eusebius of Caesarea: Nicaea and its legacy, 52–61. Khaled Anatolios catagorises Arius as one of the ‘Trinitarian theologians of the unity of the will’, along with Asterius, Eusebius of Caesarea and Eunomius of Cyzicus: Retrieving Nicaea: the development and meaning of Trinitarian doctrine, Grand Rapids, Mi 2011, 4179 .

5 The chronology of Eduard Schwartz was foundational in the early twentieth century: ‘Die Dokumente des arianischen Streits bis 325’, in his Gesammelte Schriften, III: Zur Geschichte des Athanasius (1905), Berlin 1959, 117–68. However, it was gradually supplanted by the chronology of Hans-Georg Opitz: Die Zeitfolge des arianischen Streites von den Anfängen bis zum Jahr 328’, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft xxxiii (1934), 131–59; it was adopted, for example, in Hanson, The search, 129–38. Rowan Williams put forward a drastically revised chronology that has become the touchstone of all further debates: Arius, 48–81. Other notable chronologies include Manlio Simonetti, La crisi ariana nel IV secolo, Rome 1975, 2541 , and Löhr, Winrich, ‘Arius reconsidered (part 1)’, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum ix (2006), 524–60. The relevant documents from before about 345 are helpfully collected in Urk and Dok.

6 I use ‘Eusebian’ in contrast to the Athanasian usage deconstructed by Gwynn, David in The Eusebians: the polemic of Athanasius of Alexandria and the construction of the ‘Arian Controversy’, Oxford 2007 , and in line with Lienhard, Contra Marcellum, 34–5, and Ayres, Nicaea and its legacy, 52, to name the ad hoc alliance of eastern bishops and theologians initially formed around the figures of Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea. The alliance emerged when several eastern bishops rallied around Arius in common cause against what they deemed to be Alexander of Alexandria's doctrinal innovations and his mistreatment of Arius. But they did not agree with Arius’ theology in every detail, and there were theological differences among them. See also n. 8 below.

7 The verbatim fragments of the Thalia are one of the most reliable sources for retrieving the theology of Arius, in addition to his three extant letters. The Thalia fragments are preserved mainly in Athanasius, De synodis 15.3, but also at the beginning of Contra Arianos 1.5, and there are also two otherwise unattested lines in Contra Arianos 1.6. See Stead, G. C., ‘The Thalia of Arius and the testimony of Athanasius’, JTS n.s. xxix (1978), 2052 ; West, M. L., ‘The metre of AriusThalia’, JTS n.s. xxxiii (1982), 98105 ; Williams, Arius, 95–9; and Löhr, Winrich, ‘Arius reconsidered (part 2)’, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum x (2006), 121–57. See also n. 38 below.

8 I have explored the concept of an ‘ecclesiastical alliance’ in general and the traits of the ‘Eusebian alliance’ in particular in a number of articles: DelCogliano, Mark, ‘Eusebian theologies of the Son as image of God before 341’, Journal of Early Christian Studies xiv (2006), 459–84; The Eusebian alliance: the case of Theodotus of Laodicea’, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum xii (2008), 250–66; George of Laodicea: a historical reassessment’, this Journal lxii (2011), 667–92; and Eusebius of Caesarea's defense of Asterius of Cappadocia in the anti-Marcellan writings: a case study of mutual defense within the Eusebian alliance’, in Johnson, Aaron and Schott, Jeremy (eds), Eusebius of Caesarea: traditions and innovations, Washington, DC 2013, 263–87.

9 Athanasius, Contra Arianos 1.30; 1.32; 3.2; 3.60; De synodis 20.1. The texts of Athanasius are cited according to the Athanasius Werke editions: Orationes contra Arianos was edited by Karin Metzler and Kyriakos Savvidis, in Athanasius Werke, I/1: Die dogmatischen Schriften, ed. Tetz, Martin, Berlin 1996–2000, 109381 . De decretis can be found in Hans-Georg Opitz, Athanasius Werke, II/1: Die Apologien, Berlin–Leipzig 1940, 145 , and in De synodis in Opitz, Die Apologien, 231–78.

10 For example, after discussing five original contributions of Asterius in the Syntagmation (pp. 29–34), Thomas A. Kopecek writes that ‘So we see that the Cappadocian layman, sophist, and Lucianist was determined both to refine Arius’ position wherever he thought it required refinement and to develop its exegetical underpinnings wherever possible’: A history of neo-Arianism, Cambridge 1979, 34. Anatolios presents Asterius as both a ‘continuator’ and a ‘reviser’ of Arius: Retrieving Nicaea, 53–9.

11 On this point, see below.

12 For example, De decretis 8 is cited in discussions of the dating of the Syntagmation and its influence on the Thalia is suggested without further exploration of the relationship between these two texts by Louis-Sébastien Le Nain de Tillemont, Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire ecclésiastique des six premiers siècles, vi, Venice 1732, 292, 751 n. 21, and by Bardy, Gustave, Recherches sur saint Lucien d'Antioche et son école, Paris 1936, 320–1. Others cite De decretis 8, stating without much further comment that Arius made use of the work of Asterius; for example, Zahn, Theodor, Marcellus von Ancyra, Gotha 1867, 39; Köllig, Wilhlem, Geschichte der arianischen Häresie, i, Gütersloh 1874, 99; Harnack, Adolph, History of dogma, iv, Boston 1907, 20 n. 2; and Barnes, Timothy D., Constantine and Eusebius, Cambridge, Ma 1981, 241. With a few exceptions, recent scholarship does not even cite, let alone discuss, De decretis 8 and 20; in contrast, older scholarship at least cited these passages.

13 Markus Vinzent cites De decretis 8 and 20, and writes that Asterius is ‘perhaps … the precursor for Arius … Athanasius twice emphasizes that Arius “transcribed” Asterius, or rather that Arius learned from him; in contrast, he never claims of Asterius that he borrowed from Arius’ ( ‘ist … veilleicht … der Vordenker für Arius. … Athanasius nennt ihn stereotyp den “Anwalt der Häresie” und ihm, so betont er zweimal, habe Arius “nachgeschreiben” bzw. von ihm habe Arius gelernt; ungekehrt behauptet er von Asterius nie, er habe bei Arius Anleihen genommen’): Asterius von Kappadokien: die theologischen Fragmente, Leiden 1993, 22. See also p. 256.

14 For example, Vinzent, Asterius, 31–2. Vinzent's claim has been noted by others, but has not generated any substantial comment. Sara Parvis writes without further comment, Vinzent sees Asterius as the main theologian and teacher of all the Eusebians, including Arius’: Marcellus of Ancyra and the lost years of the Arian Controversy, 325–345, Oxford 2006, 115. Winrich Löhr states that ‘Vinzent's claim that Arius was a disciple of Asterius cannot be discussed in this paper’: ‘Arius reconsidered (part 2)’, 133 n. 38.

15 It would be methodologically problematic to dismiss De decretis 8.1 and 20.2 as polemical or rhetorical fabrications when other similar passages – such as De synodis 15.2 (whose significance is discussed below) – have been largely accepted as credible. As a matter of procedure, the precious bits of historical evidence in De decretis, De synodis and elsewhere in ancient sources must be accepted as reliable unless there is good reason for not doing so, such as patent contradictions with other more compelling evidence, if there it to be any hope of recovering the history of the early controversy over Arius.

16 In his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia (Urk 1 [Opitz edn, 3]), Arius calls him ‘my fellow Lucianist’ (‘συλλουκιανιστά’). Philostorgius reports that Asterius was one of the disciples of Lucian: Historia ecclesiastica 2.14.

17 The classic study of the Lucianists is Bardy, Recherches. See also Williams, Arius, 162–7; Hanson, The search, 79–83; and Brennecke, Hanns Christof, ‘Lukian von Antiochien in der Geschichte arianischen Streites’, in Brennecke, Hanns Christof, Grasmück, Ernst Ludwig and Markschies, Christoph (eds), Logos: Festschrift für Luise Abramowski zum 8. Juli 1993, Berlin–New York 1993, 170–92. It is not clear precisely what connected all those called Lucianists. The general conclusion is that Lucian's teaching is largely enigmatic and that the doctrinal connections between his disciples are sufficiently diffuse, such that we cannot detect a cohesive theological tradition to which all Lucianists belonged. Rather, ‘Lucianist’ describes a group loosely connected by reverence for Lucian, however differently each Lucianist may have viewed or appropriated his master.

18 Athanasius, De decretis 7.1 (Opitz edn, 6.26–7).

19 Εἰ δὲ ὅτι μὴ ἐδύνατο τὰ λοιπὰ κτίσματα τῆς ἀκράτου χειρὸς τοῦ ἀγενήτου τὴν ἐργασίαν βαστάξαι, μόνος ὁ υἱὸς ὑπὸ μόνου τοῦ θεοῦ γέγονε, τὰ δ’ ἄλλα ὡς δι’ ὑπουργοῦ καὶ βοηθοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ γέγονε· καὶ τοῦτο γὰρ Ἀστέριος ὁ θύσας ἔγραψεν, ὁ δὲ Ἄρειος μεταγράψας δέδωκε τοῖς ἰδίοις καὶ λοιπὸν ὡς καλάμῳ τεθραυσμένῳ χρῶνται τῷ ῥηματίῳ τούτῳ ἀγνοοῦντες τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ σαθρὸν οἱ παράφρονες.: ibid. 8.1 (Opitz edn, 7.18–22).

20 Ibid. (Opitz edn, 7.20–1). In a note Optiz says that ‘Es fällt auf, daß Asterius als der Vorgänger des Arius bezeichnet wird’ and cross-references De decretis 20.2.

21 Epistula ad Serapionem de morte Arii 5.1; Epistula ad monachos 3.3.

22 John Henry Newman published two different translations of Athanasius' anti-Arian works. In the present case, in both his original and revised translations, he translated this verb as ‘has transcribed’. See his Select treatises of s. Athanasius in controversy with the Arians, translated with notes and indices, Oxford 1842, 13, and Select treatises of s. Athanasius in controversy with the Arians, freely translated, 4th edn, London 1887, 22. The well-known translation of De decretis in NPNF 2nd ser. iv is but Archibald Robertson's slight revision of Newman's.

23 For example, De decretis 18.1; 18.2; De synodis 36.4; 39.4; Epistulae ad Serapionem 1.21.2; 1.21.4.

24 ‘ταῦτα δὲ οὐχ ἕως λόγων μόνον αὐτοῖς ἔφθασεν, ἀλλὰ Ἄρειος μὲν ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ Θαλίᾳ συνέθηκεν,ὁ δὲ σοφιστὴς Ἀστέριος ἔγραψεν, ἅπερ καὶ ἐν τοῖς προτέροις εἴπομεν, οὕτως’: Orationes contra Arianos 2.37, 7–9 (Metzler/Savvidis edn, 214).

25 Orationes contra Arianos 1.32; De synodis 18.

26 ‘These things they have not only said, but also dared to write, namely, Eusebius and Arius and Asterius who sacrificed’: Orationes contra Arianos 2.24, 28–9 (Metzler/Savvidis edn, 20).

27 See the range of usage in Liddell, Henry George, Scott, Robert, Jones, Henry Stuart and McKenzie, Roderick, A Greek-English lexicon, 9th edn with a revised supplement, Oxford 1996 , and Lampe, G. W. H., A patristic Greek lexicon, Oxford 1961 .

28 ‘Τῶν δὲ ἐπισκόπων πάλιν λεγόντων δεῖν γραφῆναι δύναμιν ἀληθινὴν καὶ εἰκόνα τοῦ πατρὸς τὸν λόγον ὅμοιόν τε καὶ ἀπαράλλακτον αὐτὸν κατὰ πάντα τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ἄτρεπτον καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ εἶναι ἀδιαιρέτως – οὐδέποτε γὰρ οὐκ ἦν, ἀλλὰ ἦν ὁ λόγος ἀεὶ ὑπάρχων ἀιδίως παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὡς ἀπαύγασμα φωτός – οἱ περὶ Εὐσέβιον ἠνείχοντο μὲν μὴ τολμῶντες ἀντιλέγειν διὰ τὴν αἰσχύνην, ἣν εἶχον ἐφ’ οἷς ἠλέγχθησαν, κατελήφθησαν δὲ πάλιν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς τονθορύζοντες καὶ διανεύοντες τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, ὅτι καὶ τὸ ὅμοιον καὶ τὸ ἀεὶ καὶ τὸ τῆς δυνάμεως ὄνομα καὶ τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ κοινὰ πάλιν ἐστὶ πρὸς ἡμᾶς καὶ τὸν υἱόν, καὶ οὐδὲν λυπεῖ τούτοις ἡμᾶς συνθέσθαι. τὸ μὲν ὅμοιον, ὅτι καὶ περὶ ἡμῶν ἐγράφη· “εἰκών ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ δόξα θεοῦ ὑπάρχει”, τὸ δὲ ἀεί, ὅτι γέγραπται· “ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες”, τὸ δὲ ἐν αὐτῷ, ὅτι ‘ἐν αὐτῷ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν’, καὶ τὸ ἄτρεπτον δέ, ὅτι γέγραπται· “οὐδὲν ἡμᾶς χωρίσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Χριστοῦ”, περὶ δὲ τῆς δυνάμεως, ὅτι καὶ ἡ κάμπη καὶ ὁ βροῦχος μὲν λέγονται δύναμις καὶ δύναμις μεγάλη, πολλάκις δὲ καὶ περὶ τοῦ λαοῦ γέγραπται, ὥσπερ· “ἐξῆλθε πᾶσα ἡ δύναμις κυρίου ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου”, καὶ ἄλλαι δὲ οὐρανίαι δυνάμεις εἰσί· “κύριος γάρ”, φησί, “τῶν δυνάμεων μεθ’ ἡμῶν· ἀντιλήπτωρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς Ἰακώβ”’: De decretis 20.1–2 (Opitz edn, 16.27–17.3). Italics in the translation indicate scriptural citations.

29 Ibid.  20.2 (Opitz edn, 17.3–5).

30 PG xxv. 452.

31 NPNF ii.4. 163; Newman, Select treatises … freely translated, 38. Newman's original translation had ‘having taken’ instead of ‘having learned’ in both instances: Select treatises … translated with notes and indices, 35.

32 Tillemont, Mémoires, vi. 751 n. 21. Bardy endorsed the emendation too: Recherches, 321.

33 Scheidweiler, F., ‘Zur neuen Ausgabe des Athanasios’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift xlvii (1954), 7394 ; Cattaneo, E., ‘Alcune proposte di correzione al testo del “De decretis” di Atanasio’, Adamantius viii (2002), 2432 ; Athanasius Werke, II/1: Die Apologien, Lieferung 8, ed. Brennecke, H. C., Heil, U. and von Stockhausen, A., Berlin–New York 2006, pp. xcixcvii .

34 Anatolios, Khaled, Athanasius, London 2004, 197.

35 Vinzent, Asterius, 256.

36 Lorenz, Arius judaizans?, 191; Tillemont, Mémoires, vi. 751 n. 21; Opitz, Die Apologien, 17 (note on line 4).

37 According to the Thesaurus linguae Graecorum database, the phrase is used thirty-two times in his works.

38 I am not persuaded by Charles Kannengiesser’s proposal that the ‘blasphemies of Arius’ in De synodis 15 are a neo-Arian updating of Arius from the 350s. He first advanced this thesis in his Holy Scripture and hellenistic hermeneutics in Alexandrian Christology, Berkeley 1982, 15–7, but his most extensive attempt to prove it is his The blasphemies of Arius: Athanasius of Alexandria, De synodis 15’, in Gregg, Robert C. (ed.), Arianism: historical and theological reassessments, Philadelphia 1985, 5983 . For the case against Kannengiesser see the objections of Thomas A. Kopecek, ‘Professor Charles Kannengiesser's view of the Arian crisis: a critique and counter-proposal’, in Kannengiesser, Holy Scripture and hellenistic hermeneutics, 51–68 at 53–7, as well as Rowan Williams, ‘The quest of the historical Thalia’, in Gregg, Arianism, 1–35 at pp. 2–19. Kannengiesser's thesis has not found acceptance among scholars.

39 De synodis 15.1 (Opitz edn, 242.1–4).

40 Ibid. 15.2 (Opitz edn, 242.4–5).

41 NPNF ii, 4. 457.

42 ‘However, after his expulsion, when he was with the Eusebians, he drew up his heresy upon paper’: Newman, Select treatises … translated with notes and indices, 94. This translation was published in 1842. Newman's later ‘free translation’ from 1887 retains the same interpretation but with a revised translation: ‘However, Arius after his expulsion, when he was living near the party of Eusebius, drew up his heresy upon paper’: Select treatises … freely translated, 82.

43 Nannius: ‘Ariumque ita ab Ecclesia summotum, dum apud Eusebium commoraretur’; Maurists: ‘Ejectus autem Arius dum apud Eusebium versaretur.’ On the history of this misinterpretation see Telfer, William, ‘Arius takes refuge at Nicomedia’, JTS n.s. xxxvii (1936), 5963 at p. 61, and Kannengiesser, Charles, ‘Où et quand Arius composa-t-il la Thalie? ’, in Granfield, P. and Jungmann, J. A. (eds), Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten, Münster 1970, 346–51 at pp. 346–7. The Latin texts are cited from Kannengiesser, ‘Où et quand’, 346.

44 For example, Bardy, Recherches, 246; Young, Frances M. with Teal, Andrew, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: a guide to the literature and its background, 2nd edn, Grand Rapids, Mi 2010, 44. Epiphanius, Panarion 68.4.4; 69.5.3; and 69.7.1 also posit a residence in Nicomedia.

45 Telfer, ‘Arius takes refuge’, 61.

46 The phrase ‘bring to a head’ is from Williams, ‘The quest’, 19.

47 Ibid. 19–20.

48 Ibid. 20–3, and Arius, 63–5. Other scholars also interpret Athanasius' comments in De synodis 15.2 as evidence that Arius composed his Thalia as a theological clarification for those Eusebians still uncertain whether to support him in his conflict with Alexander: Stuart Hall, ‘The Thalia of Arius in Athanasius’ accounts’, in Gregg and Groh, Arianism, 37–58 at p. 40.

49 In fact, we do not even know its original title. Athanasius calls Asterius' work a συνταγμάτιον, a little treatise or handbook: Orationes contra Arianos 1.30, and De synodis 18.2, as well as Bardy, Recherches, 335–6. Even though this label probably indicates its genre, not its title, among scholars it is generally the custom to refer to it as the Syntagmation: Vinzent, Asterius, 33.

50 ‘καὶ τὸ συνταγμάτιον διὰ πολλῶν ἐστι γεγραμμένον’: Athanasius, De synodis 18.3 (Opitz edn, 245.31).

51 Athanasius, De synodis 18.2. See also Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 1.36.2, who describes it as commending the doctrine of Arius.

52 For example, Bardy, Recherches, 320–2. Joseph Lienhard has tentatively suggested a more precise date of 320–1: Contra Marcellum, 91. That in De synodis 18–19 Athanasius is narrating pre-Nicene events is clear. In De synodis 17 he quotes from several letters written by members of the Eusebian alliance before the Nicene Council took place. De synodis 18–19 is thus devoted to quotations from the pre-Nicene writing of Asterius. In De synodis 20, Athanasius suggests that the views expressed by Asterius and the other Eusebians before the Council of Nicaea explain their resistance to it afterwards. He adds further that Asterius was put forward by the Eusebians as the advocate of their cause. In De synodis 21 Athanasius turns to the councils convened by the Eusebians after Nicaea. Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 1.36.3 is almost certainly dependent upon De synodis 18.2 (see Bardy, Recherches, 318), but he sees the ‘book tour’ as in support of his letter in defence of Eusebius of Nicomedia.

53 De synodis 18.2. Athanasius uses the same phrase in Apologia contra Arianos 60.2.

54 De synodis 18.2.

55 A few fragments implicitly suggest that the Syntagmation was polemical, because in them Asterius seems to reject interpretations of Scripture and theological ideas of unspecified opponents. The clearest examples include Orationes contra Arianos 1.32 (also cited in 2.37 and De synodis 18); 2.40; 3.2; and 3.60, as well as De synodis 19.3.

56 Urk 8, 9. The letter to Paulinus was the first in a series of documents that most convincingly demonstrate the activity of mutual defence among the Eusebians. Aside from Paulinus’ letter to Alexander, at some point after the Council of Nicaea Asterius penned his Apologia in defence of Eusebius’ letter to Paulinus. In response Marcellus of Ancyra attacked not only Asterius, but also Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Paulinus of Tyre and Narcissus of Neronias – all key members of the Eusebian alliance. In turn, Eusebius of Caesaera wrote two works against Marcellus: Contra Marcellum and De ecclesiastica theologia.

57 Urk 1.

58 Williams, Arius, 57.

59 Ibid.

60 For example, Lorenz dismisses the evidence of De synodis 15 as sheer polemic (‘bloße Polemik’) because it contradicts his early date for the Thalia: Arius judaizans, 52.

Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies at Oxford University in August 2015, and at a meeting of the Minnesota Association for Patristic Studies (MAPS) in February 2016. I am grateful for the comments that I received on these occasions, as well as for the feedback on later drafts offered by Lewis Ayres, Matthew Crawford, Rebecca Lyman, Adam Ployd and Andrew Radde-Gallwitz.

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