Most of what is known about the early development of what is called “Arianism” comes from the sources given below. These texts were collected in the original languages by H.-G. Opitz in the third volume of his edition of Athanasius’ Werke. We have collected for the first time a complete set of English translations of these early writings.
Patristic scholars today warn against lumping together as “Arians” all the early theologians who had reservations about granting the Son full equality with the Father. They argue that it was the opponents of Arius who created this persona of Arius as the leader and arch-heretic of this theological tendency. Even his role as originator of the open controversy has been questioned, with men such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Asterius the Sophist and Lucian of Antioch offered as the true instigators. Instead Arius and those with similar ideas are seen as continuing a much earlier tradition of emphasizing the Son as being “substantially” other from the Father. On the other hand, the key role of Arius in both the theological and public debate is clearly seen in the writings below.

Our abbreviations page A map of early sympathizers with Arius Arius’ writings page.

The difficulty in dating these documents arises from the fact that their order must be determined almost completely on internal evidence, and the dates of the events immediately surrounding these letters are uncertain (for instance, the exact date of Licinius’ prohibition on Christian synods, and later, the date of Eustathius’ deposition). Several chronological theories have been advanced in recent years, and we encourage you to compare various dating systems:

R. P. C. Hanson (1988) Rowan Williams (2002) Sarah Parvis (2006) Athanasius Werke – Urkunden vol. 3.3 (2007)

Columns 1 and 2 provide the document number (Urk.) and date in Opitz’s Early Arian Documents, Athanasius Werke, band 3.1-2 (1934).
Column 4 gives the location in the sources from which we have taken the document.
Column 5 gives the location of translations. Clicking on the FCC (Fourth-Century Christianity) link in the last column will open our translation of the document.
Column 6 provides the document number (Doc.) in the recently published edition of Athanasius Werke, band 3, teil, 1, lieferung 3 (Berlin and New York 2007).
Column 7 gives the Clavis Patrum Graecorum reference number.

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