Thalia literally means “abundance,” “good cheer,” or “banquet”. It was written in verse, in order to aid memorization and popular distribution of Arius’s ideas. Fragments of this work survive in two writings of his opponent Athanasius. The first is in a report of Arius’ teaching in Orations Against the Arians, 1.5-6. This paraphrase has negative comments interspersed, so it is difficult to decide what are Arius’s words and what are comments of Athanasius (Williams 99). The second is a more direct quotation in On the Councils of Arminum and Seleucia, 15. Someone other than Athanasius, perhaps even someone sympathetic to Arius, may have compiled the quotations (Hanson 10-15, esp. 12). We used this quotation as the basis of our translation.
A recent and thorough discussion of the text, meaning, and significance of Thalia is found in Rowan Williams’ Arius: Heresy and Tradition, Revised Edition, 62-66 and 98-116. Both the translation found there, as well as that found in Hanson’s Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, 12-15, were consulted for this translation (see bibliography).
…And so God Himself, as he really is, is inexpressible to all.
He alone has no equal, no one similar (homoios), and no one of the same glory.
We call him unbegotten, in contrast to him who by nature is begotten.
We praise him as without beginning in contrast to him who has a beginning.
We worship him as timeless, in contrast to him who in time has come to exist.
He who is without beginning made the Son a beginning of created things.
He produced him as a son for himself by begetting him.
He [the son] has none of the distinct characteristics of God’s own being (kat’ hypostasis)
For he is not equal to, nor is he of the same being (homoousios) as him.
God is wise, for he himself is the teacher of Wisdom –
Sufficient proof that God is invisible to all:
He is is invisible both to things which were made through the Son, and also to the Son himself.
I will say specifically how the invisible is seen by the Son:
by that power by which God is able to see, each according to his own measure,
the Son can bear to see the Father, as is determined
So there is a Triad, not in equal glories.
Their beings (hypostaseis) are not mixed together among themselves.
As far as their glories, one infinitely more glorious than the other.
The Father in his essence (ousia) is a foreigner to the Son, because he exists without beginning.
Understand that the Monad [eternally] was; but the Dyad was not before it came into existence.
It immediately follows that, although the Son did not exist, the Father was still God.
Hence the Son, not being [eternal] came into existence by the Father’s will,
He is the Only-begotten God, and this one is alien from [all] others
[Williams suggests a section on the Holy Spirit may have been omitted here (p. 310).]
Wisdom came to be Wisdom by the will of the Wise God.
Hence he is conceived in innumerable aspects. He is Spirit,
Power, Wisdom, God’s glory, Truth, Image, and Word.
Understand that he is also conceived of as Radiance and Light.
The one who is superior is able to beget one equal to the Son,
But not someone more important, or superior, or greater.
At God’s will the Son has the greatness and qualities that he has.
His existence from when and from whom and from then — are all from God.
He, though strong God, praises in part (ek merous) his superior .
In brief, God is inexpressible to the Son.
For he is in himself what he is, that is, indescribable,
So that the son does not comprehend any of these things or have the understanding to explain them.
For it is impossible for him to fathom the Father, who is by himself.
For the Son himself does not even know his own essence (ousia),
For being Son, his existence is most certainly at the will of the Father.
What reasoning allows, that he who is from the Father should comprehend and know his own parent?
For clearly that which has a beginning is not able to conceive of or grasp the existence of that which has no beginning.
Translation and introduction by AJW
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