Reference Dok. 9; Urk. 7
Incipit Μεθ ̓ ὅσης μὲν ἀγωνίας
Date c. 320
Ancient source 2nd Council of Nicaea, Session (Actio) 6
Modern editions ACO2 3:734-736 (E. Lamberz); AW 3.1:14-1

The Seventh Ecumenical Council was held in Nicaea in AD 787. The main reason for the council was to once and for all deal with the long-running controversy about the use of icons. During the sixth session (actio), Bishop Gregory of Neocaesarea and a certain deacon Epiphanios were appointed to read out loud in turns the various testimonies that had accumulated on the subject. One of those testimonies was a letter of the long-dead Eusebius of Caesarea to Alexander of Alexandria in which Eusebius tries to clarify the teaching of Arius and his party. Except for this fragment, the letter has been lost, but it seems quite clear that it was sent fairly early on in the controversy as a response to an accusatory letter of Alexander. In section 2, Eusebius gives a lengthy quote directly from Arius’s early letter (Dok. 1, §2).

The text below is taken from Lamberz’s edition of the Second Council of Nicaea (ACO, Series 2, 3:734-736). The FCC translation below is by Aaron West. See also the recent translation of R. Price Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea (787), TTH 68, 512-513.

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1. ᾽Ωσαύτως δὲ καὶ ἐν τῇ πρὸς τὸν ἅγιονἈλὲξανδρον ἐπιστολῇ τὸν καθηγητὴν τοῦμεγάλου Ἀθανασίου, ἧς ἡ ἀρχή·  1. Similarly also in his letter to St. Alexander (the instructor of the great Athanasius) which begins: 
Μεθ᾽ ὅσης μὲν ἀγωνίας καὶ μεθ᾽ ὅσηςφροντίδος ἐπὶ ταῦτα ἦλθον τά γράμματα·(τρανότατα βλασφημῶν οὕτω φησὶ περὶ τοῦἈρείου καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ·) Ι came to [write] this letter with great anxiety and concern…  (He clearly is speaking blasphemy when he says the following concerning Arius and his party:)
2. Κατηγορεῖ αὐτῶν τὰ σὰ γράμματα ὡςλεγόντων, ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος γέγονενὡς εἷς τῶν πάντων. οἱ δὲ προήνεγκαν ἑαυτῶνγραμματεῖον, ὃ πρὸς σὲ πεποιήκασιν, ἐν ᾧ τὴνἑαυτῶν πίστιν ἐκθέμενοι αὐτοῖς ῥήμασιν τάδεὡμολόγουν: “Τὸν νόμου καὶ προφητῶν καὶκαινῆς διαθήκης θεὸν γεννήσαντα υἱὸνμονογενῆ πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, δι᾽ οὗ καὶ τοὺςαἰῶνας καὶ τὰ πάντα πεποίηκε, γεννήσαντα δὲοὐ δοκήσει, ἀλλὰ ἀληθείᾳ, ὑποστήσαντα ἰδίῳ θελήματι, ἄτρεπτον καὶἀναλλοίωτον, κτίσμα τοῦ θεοῦ τέλειον, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὡς ἕν τῶν κτισμάτων.”2. Your letters have misrepresented them [the Arians] as though they were saying that since the Son came into being from nothing, he must therefore be just like the rest of creation.  But they have brought forth their own document, which they have written for you, in which they explain their faith, confessing it with these very words:  “The God of the Law and of the Prophets and of the New Testament begat an only begotten son before time began, through whom he also made the ages [Heb1:2] and all things, begetting him not in appearance but in reality, causing him to exist by his own will.  He is unchanging and unchangeable, God’s perfect creation, but not a creation in the same way like one of God’s other creations.”
εἰ δὴ οὖν τὰ παρ᾽ αὐτῶν γράμματα ἀληθεύει, πάντως δὲ καὶ παρὰ σοὶ φέρεται, ἐν ᾧὁμολογοῦσι τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ πρὸ χρόνωναἰωνίων, δι’ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας πεποίηκεν, εἶναι ἄτρεπτον καὶ κτίσμα τοῦ θεοῦ τέλειον, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὡς ἕν τῶν κτισμάτων.And so surely indeed their writings speak the truth, since these opinions are certainly held by you also when they confess that the son of God existed before time began, that God also made the ages through him, that he is unchanging, God’s perfect creation, but not like God’s other creations. 
3. ἡ δὲ σὴ ἐπιστολὴ κατηγορεῖ αὐτῶν ὡς ἂνλεγόντων, ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς γέγονεν ὡς ἕν τῶνκτισμάτων. αὐτῶν τοῦτο μὴ λεγόντων, ἀλλὰσαφῶς διορισαμένων, ὅτι “Οὐχ ὡς ἕν τῶνκτισμάτωνς,” ὅρα εἶ μὴ εὐθὺς πάλιν αὐτοῖςἀφορμὴ δίδοται εἰς τὸ ἐπιλαβέσθαι καὶδιαβάλλειν ὁρμᾶσθαι ὅσα καὶ θέλουσι.

3. But your letter surely misrepresents them as saying that the son is the same as the other created things.  They are not saying this!  But they clearly draw a distinction, saying that he is, “not like one of the created things.” Take care, then, lest immediately again a pretext be found for arresting them and keeping them (from moving about as much as they wish).  

4. πάλιν αὐτοὺς ᾐτιῶ λέγοντας ὅτι “Ὁ ὢ τὸνμὴ ὄντα ἐγέννησε.” θαυμάζω δέ, εἰ δύναταί τιςἄλλως εἰπεῖν. εἰ γὰρ εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ὤν, δῆλον ὅτιἐξ αὐτοῦ γέγονε πᾶν ὅ, τι καὶ ἔστι μετ᾽ αὐτόν·εἰ δὲ μὴ μόνος αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ ὤν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁυἱὸς ἦν ὁ ὤν, καὶ πῶς τὸν ὄντα ὁ ὢνἐγέννησεν; οὕτως γὰρ ἂν δύο εἴη τὰ ὄντα. 4. Again, you accuse them of saying, “He-who-was begat he-who-was-not”?  I would be astonished if someone were able to speak differently.  For if there is only one who exists [eternally], it is clear that everything which exists has come into being from him, whatever indeed exists after him.  If it were not he alone who exists eternally, but the son also exists eternally, how indeed could one who exists beget another who already exists?  It would have to follow that there would actually be two who exist eternally.
5. [καὶ ταῦτα μὲν Εὐσέβιος πρὸς τὸν ἀοίδιμον᾿Αλέξανδρον: ἀλλὰ καὶ ἕτεραι ἐπιστολαὶαὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸν αὐτὸν ἱερὸν ἄνδρα φέρονται, ἐν αἷς εὕρηνται ποικίλαι βλασφημίαι τοὺς περὶἈρειον διεκδικοῦσαι.5. [So wrote Eusebius to the famous Alexander.  But also other letters of his were taken to that holy man, in which were found other various blasphemies, which those of the Arian party defend].

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