Hieromonk Atanasije Jevtić

St. Athanasius the Great and the Council of Alexandria in 362

pages: 7-44

Abstract

Having presented a Serbian translation of the resolutions of the Council of Alexandria of 362 A. D. (Tomos ad Antiochenos), the author, before commenting on the same, reviews the life and work of St. Athanasius in the context of the ecclesiastical-theological events during the period between the First Ecumenical Council and the year 362.

Besides objectively presenting the events, the article attempts to grasp and precisely evaluate the post-Nicean theological trends in the East, avoiding the usual stereotypes of most Western historians, to whom the whole East was simply »Arian« or »semi-Arian«. It seeks to fully clarify the reasons of Eastern opposition towards the Niceans and the Nicean term »homoousios«. All the complexities of the Eastern bishops' fight not only against Nicea, but also against Arianism and Sabelianism, are shown. The complexities of this dispute of Eastern theology were not understood in the West, and that was the reason they gave support to the Sabelianizing Marcel of Ancyra. The greatness of St. Athanasius was in that he was the first to find understanding for the East, even though it had persecuted him so much, and was the first to extend his hand to hte healthiest group of Eastern bishops centered around Basil of Ancyra and St. Meletius of Antioch.

The article contains a short analysis of Eastern creeds (from the II of Antioch to the V of Syrmium) and particularly analyzes the homoiousian theology and its attempts to remain faithful to the healthiest tradition of Eastern Trinitarian theology.

In this part of his study, the author analyzes the theological writings of the leading Homoiousian theologian Basil of Ancyra, as well as tffct of St. Meletios of Antioch. The special attention directed to the latter reflects the regard given the Orthodox group gathered -about him in both Antioch and the East by the — Athanasian Council in Alexandria in 362 A. D.

After having described the composition, work and circumstances surrounding this Atblanasian Council, the author presents a detailed analysis of the Tomos ad Antiochenos, i. e. of the resolutions concerning the acceptance of the Eastern theological terminology („treis hypos taseis”), concerning faith in the Holy Spirit (against Pneumatomachoi), and concerning the correct Christological confession (against the Apollinarian heresies which had (appeared at that time).

In the conclusion, the author offers an evaluation of the significance of this Alexandrian Council, which he views as the most important event between the First and Second Ecumenical Councils- It was precisely this Athanasian Council which opened the door to the Neo-Nicene theology of the great Cappadocian Fathers, who would then, following Athanasius, prepaire the way ecclesiastically and theologically for the ultimate triumph of the Orthodox faith dn the Holy Trinity at the Second Ecumeniqal Council.

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