Athanasius - Disputation with Arius - two Ps.-Athanasius

Steven Avery

Grantley never gives the full English text for context.

Grantley likes to call it "spurious", but that ignores the fact that it likely was early, e.g. fifth century, and may have been based on actual events.

Very easy to get confused since Ps.-Athanasius is used for 2 totally different writings, one Greek, one Latin.

Grantley has a claim that it is verse 8, which simply does not fit the text.
BCEME - p. 211
In favour of the authenticity of the comma, Mill could adduce the pseudo-Athanasian Disputation against Arius. But as Emlyn stated, it is unclear whether this passage refers to v. 7 or 8, and whether the pseudonymous author was from the eastern or western church.369
369 Emlyn 1715, 10, 22–23; cf. PG 28:50: ‘Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.’ Further, see Stockhausen 2010.

Charles Forster has a defense of this as from Athanasius, 4th century.


BCEME p. 82
Hessels also noted that Erasmus had daringly excluded the prologue to the Catholic Epistles, the most important early witness to the authenticity of the passage, from his edition of Jerome’s works. Hessels listed a number of Latin writers who cited the passage, such as pseudo-Hyginus, the author of Against Varimadus, Fulgentius, and pseudo-Athanasius.

There are TWO pseudo-Athanasius

p. 153
Simon denied John Fell’s assertion (1682) that Cyprian quoted the comma in De unitate ecclesiae.130 If Augustine did not know the comma, it was reasonable to assume that his earlier compatriot was likewise unfamiliar with the text. Simon also suggested that the Trinitarian interpretation of the words ‘these three are one’ in the pseudonymous Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea may have prompted scribes to insert the comma into the body text in some Greek manuscripts, which have since been lost.

p. 160
In particular, Newton identified the doctrine of the Trinity as a corruption of primitive Christianity that arose out of the dispute between Arius and Athanasius.
(apparently this is not the work itself)

Stockhausen, Anette von. ‘Die pseud-athanasianische Disputatio contra Arium. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit “arianischer” Theologie in Dialogform.’ In Von Arius zum Athanasianum. Studien zur Edition der ‘Athanasius Werke’. Ed. Anette von Stockhausen and Hanns Christof Brennecke. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010: 133–155.


Pseudo-Athanasius. Enarratio pseudo-Athanasiana in Symbolum. Ed. Giuseppe Bianchini. Verona: Berno, 1732.


p. 83
Lucas noted that it occurs in many Latin manuscripts, in the Complutensian edition, and is also defended by the prologue to the Catholic Epistles by ‘Jerome’ and the letter by ‘pope Hyginus’. (Lucas was evidently unaware that both documents are forgeries. The latter was a forgery based on pseudo-Athanasius’ Against Varimadus, which first appears in a collection of ninth-century attributed to the fictional ‘Isidorus Mercator’.)50

50 Pseudo-Hyginus, De fide et reliquis causis, included in Isidori Mercatoris collectio decretalium, PL 130:109; Thiele 1956–1969, 365.
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Steven Avery

Lots of diversion and confusion, where is this evidence discussed directly.

p. 24-25

There is also a little evidence that the verse was interpreted in this way by the Greek Fathers, such as in the spurious Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea, in which the Trinitarian formulation used in the liturgy of baptism is associated with the phrase “and these three are one.”26

26 Ps.-Athanasius, Disputatio contra Arium 44.18, PG 28:500: “Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικόν, καὶ ζωοποιόν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρόν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις
πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»”


This Ps.-Athanasius is De Trinitate

69 Ps.-Athanasius/ps.-Eusebius Vercellensis, De Trinitate I, CCSL 9:14 (cf. PL 62:243): “[…] Ergo quamuis in superioribus exemplis scribturarum tacita sint nomina personarum, tamen unitum nomen diuinitatis per omnia est in his demonstratum sicut et in hoc argumento ueritatis, in quo nomina personarum euidenter sunt ostensa et unitum nomen naturale cluse est declaratum, dicente Iohanne euangelista in epistula sua: Tres sunt, qui testimonium dicunt in cælo, pater et uerbum et spiritus, et in Christo Iesu unum sunt, non tamen unus est, quia non est eorum una persona.” Ps.-Athanasius/ps.-Eusebius Vercellensis, De Trinitate I, CCSL 9:19 (cf. PL 62:246): “Iam audisti superius euangelistam Iohannem in epistula sua tam absolute testantem: Tres sunt, qui testimonium dicunt in cælo, pater et uerbum et spiritus, et in Christo Iesu unum sunt.” Ps.-Athanasius, De Trinitate X, CCSL 9:145 (cf. PL 62:297): “Vnde et Iohannes in epistula sua ait: Tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in cælo, pater, uerbum et spiritus: et in Christo Iesu unum sunt; non tamen unus est, quia non est eorum una persona.” This section from book X appears to be a simple borrowing from the first section cited from book I.

p. 56
It seems that the relevant passage in the decretal of ps.-Hyginus is based on one of two other pseudonymous writings: ps.-Athanasius’ Against Varimadus, or a letter claiming to have been addressed by Pope John II to bishop Valerius, but in fact cobbled together from materials taken from Against Varimadus.82

p. 191-192
Simon also suggested that the Trinitarian interpretation of the words “these three are one” in the spurious Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea may have occasioned the insertion of the comma into the body text in some Greek manuscripts, an explanation he finds more plausible than Erasmus’ suggestion that Greek manuscripts had been corrected against Latin ones. (Simon apparently failed to realise that Erasmus was speaking merely of Montfortianus, not a widespread program of textual reform of the Greek text.)102

102 Simon, 1698a, 213-214: “Cela me paroît bien plus probable que le sentiment d’Erasme, quia [214] crû que les Exemplaires Grecs où on lit le témoignage du Père, du Fils & du Saint Esprit, ont été reformés sur les Exemplaires Latins. S’il n’avait parlé que des Exemplaires Grecs qui ont été écrits par des Latins, & qui ont servy à leur usage, sa proposition aurait plus de vraisemblance. Mais il est contre toute apparence de verité, que les Grecs, depuis même leur reünion avec les Latins, ayent reformé leurs Exemplaires du Nouveau Testament sur ceux des Latins. Il paroît au contraire que ceux qu’ils ont décrits depuis ce temps-là ne contiennent point ce témoignage.” The published English translation at this point is misleading. See also de Jonge’s note in ASD IX.2:259, l. 542.

p. 10

A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament

However, Erasmus was concerned about wide-spread Latinization.

Florentine Council, Vaticanus and Latinization - Erasmus, Brugensis and more -

Erasmus says that the Vaticanus omission affected his heavenly witnesses decision - latinization
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Steven Avery

Athanasius - c. AD 330 - Disputatio Contra Arium (circa 400 AD)

[Martin: Early Date] The Orthodox, represented in this Dialogue under the name of Athanasius, demands of the Arian,
represented by the name Arius, whether by saying the Emperor Constatine reigns by Sea and Land, they did not thereby
say that the Son Constantius did not reign there also. The Arian answers, it would be very dangerous to say that
Constantius does not reign with Constantine his Father. It appears plainly from all this, that this Dialogue must have been
composed whilst the Emperor [PAGE 138] Constantine was living,
and at the time Constantius was sent into the East,
where he made himself famous by the victories he gain'd over the enemies of the State, about the year 336 somewhat
before the death of the great Constantine, which fell out on the 22nd of May, 337 which evidently proves that this
Dialogue must have been written about the year of our Lord 336
and wrote withal in the East, where Constantius
was that year. (Martin, The genuineness of the text of the first Epistle of Saint John 5:7, 1722, p. 137-138)


[J. Mill] For only then did the author of the Disputatio in Concilio Nicaeno Habita (“Debate Held at the Council of
Nicaea”), under the name of Athanasius, cite this text [1 John 5:7]. But from where, you will ask, did this writer
know what had remained hidden from the other Greeks for several centuries? From older Greek codices,
uncorrupted and complete
. For just as the scattering of the Christians of Asia seems to have brought it about
that many codices with this comma missing were read in Greece and various other places, so, without any doubt,
did some intact codices, brought to foreign countries during the same period, remain hidden in private people’s
homes. (J. Mill, The New Testament, with the variant readings MSS. copies and version, edition, manuscripts and
writings of the Church Fathers, 1710, p. 585; Translated by Sara Van der Pas, correspondence, August 2020
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Steven Avery

[Stockhausen: Dialogue Dated circa 350] Another interesting text can be found in Chap. 22.94 Athanasius makes
clear in his argument that the Son is also”true God,”and that John 17:3, in this sense, is an example. Arius wanted to
understand the verse in such a way that only God is”true God", but the Son is not, so that”and Jesus Christ whom Thou
has sent”(καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν) is no longer part of the intent of”that they might know thee, the only true
God”(ἵνα γινώσκωσι σε τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεόν), that so the”and”(καί) is not an additive”even"“also”(καί). Athanasius
then tells Arius that it is a συνδεσμός, so that the two parts of the sentence are to be considered together and in no way
separate. And to clarify his argument, he now cites the following comparison:”When someone tells his neighbor about
Constantine, he says: Know the only Augustus and autocrat of the earth and of the sea, the Emperor Constantine and his
son Constantius! Does he confess then the son together with the father? Yes or no?"95 Whereupon Arius answers:”There
is no small danger in saying that Constantius does not rule with his father Constantine, by subsuming him under him."96
And then Athanasius counters:”With Constantine and Constantius you see the greatest danger, but with Jesus Christ and
his father you are not afraid if you are so extreme. You have to apply such worship to the Lord, as well as to the said
Constantine. You do not steal anything from his son Constantius, that is, that he is Augustus, and everything that was
previously said about his father, that nowhere else do you recognize the unity of dignity than through him."97 Bernhard
Voss 98 considered whether it could not be deduced from this that the dialogue arose very early and that there is
thus real contemporary knowledge. [Voss, The dialogue in early Christian literature, 1970, p. 333, fn. 50] This [337 AD]
seems unlikely to me, since here in principle a situation is made clear in which of the three Constantine (d. 327) sons
only Konstantius is left, since only and especially he is led in the father-son comparison, so this comparison at
the earliest after the year 350 can be formulated. It seems to me, therefore, rather scholarly knowledge, which is
The Witness of God is Greater
Mike Ferrando Page 105
attached here by the author: That of the Constantine sons ultimately only the surviving Konstantius has played
an important role in the history of the Church. Such scholarly knowledge of the author can also be observed in
some other places: Thus, in Chap. 20 another comparison with the emperor led, in Ch. 25 f. a very detailed
comparison of the house construction and also in chap. Finally, a comparison of the calendar calculation based
on the lunar cycle. (Stockhausen, Die pseud-athanasianische Disputatio contra Arium, 2010, p. 149-150)

Contemporary Work Referenced : Clementine Homilies (circa 300-320 AD)
The author knew the pseudo-clementines. What version he had in mind is not very sure. 31 (480 C) He refers to
Klemens. (Voss, The dialogue in early Christian literature, 1970, p. 333, fn. 50)

Steven Avery

Disputatio In MSS of Athanasius Works
[Stockhausen: Disputatio part of Earliest MSS Corpus] The Disputatio contra Arium is in the context of the so-called
x-collection... The x-collection is an independent, well-defined compilation of writings of Athanasius, whose special feature
is that it contains a table of contents and excerpts from a letter from Photios to his brother Tarasios on the writings of
Athanasius and that in addition to their composition (in contrast, especially to the y-collection, but also to the b-tradition) is
handed down very homogeneous. It contains the following Athanasian and pseudo-Ashanasian scriptures: Oratio contra
gentes (CPG 2090), Oratio de incarnatione verbi (CPG (2091), †Disputatio contra Arium (CPG 2250), Epistula ad
episcopos Aegypti et Libyae (CPG 2092), Orationes contra Arianos I–III (CPG 2093), †De incarnatione et contra Arianos
(CPG 2806), Epistula encyclica (CPG 2124), Epistulae ad Serapionem I–II (CPG 2094), †Epistula catholica (CPG 2241),
†Refutatio hypocriseos Meletii et Eusebii (CPG 2242), Epistula ad Epictetum (CPG 2095), †Contra Apolinarem II–I (CPG
2231), In illud: qui dixerit verbum in filium (CPG 2096), †De passione et cruce domini (CPG 2247), Epistula ad
Marcellinum (CPG 2097), De virginitate (CPG 2248) und †Testimonia e scriptura (CPG 2240). As can be seen in this list,
the disputatio contra arium is not at the very beginning of the collection. But as it comes to stand in accordance with the
writings of Contra gentes and De incarnatione (which does not deal with the question of Arian), it functions as an
introduction to the”anti-Ananic”writings of Athanasius, which are summarized in this collection, in so far as the disputatio
contra Arianos, that it reproduces a discussion between Athanasius and Arius at the Synod of Nicaea itself, which binds
Athanasius' writings to be classified thematically and chronologically according to the Synod of Nicaea, and illuminates the
background of the dispute. (Stockhausen, Die pseud-athanasianische Disputatio contra Arium, 2010, p. 138-141)
Codex Patmiacus A 4 membr. s. X. [10th century]
contra gentes M 25,69,23 [Refutation of the Gentiles]
de incarnatione M 25,96D [On the incarnation of Christ]
disputatio cum Ario M 28.440.1 [Dialogue with Arius]
ep. ad. episc. Aeg. M 25.537.1 [Letter to the Bishop of Egypt and Libya]
contra gentes M 25.53.40 [Refutation of the Gentiles - continued]
I, II c. Arian. M 26.12 [Against the Arians, Book 1 and 2]
(Opitz, Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung der Schriften des Athanasius, vol 23, 1935, p. 9-10)
Codex Genuensis 5, membr. s. X/XI. [10th 11th century]
de incaratione M 25.197.10 [On the incarnation of Christ]
disputatio cum Ario M 28.440 [Dialogue with Arius]
epistula ad episcopos Aegypti et Lybae; M 25.537 [Letter to the Bishop of Egypt and Libya]
(Opitz, Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung der Schriften des Athanasius, vol 23, 1935, p. 11-12)

Steven Avery

Epistula ad episcopum Persarum (350-550 AD)
[Forster] Now the following passage is his [Athanasius] definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, addressed to the heathen
Persians: and drawn up, he tells them,”according to Scripture”(κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον). (Forster, A New Plea for the
Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witness, 1867, p. 89)
● [Letter to the Bishop of the Persians] Therefore, to us there is one God, from whom are all things; A perfect
Trinity [Three persons], consubstantial, of equal power, of equal glory; The Father [who is the source] of
all good things, from whom the Son has been begotten, from whom the Holy Spirit is proceeding
according to scriptures [that which has been written]; One Godhead making himself known in three
hypostasis. (Athanasius, Letter to the Bishop of the Persians; Translated by Pavlos D. Vasileiadis.)
○ Greek: Εἷς γὰρ Θεὸς ἡμῖν, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα· Τριὰς τελεία, ὁμοούσιος, ἰσοδύναμος, ἰσοκλεής· Πατὴρ ἡ
πάντων τῶν ἀγαθῶν πηγὴ, ἐξ οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς ἐγεννήθη, ἐξ οὗ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐκπορεύεται κατὰ τὸ
γεγραμμένον· Μία θεότης ἐν τρισὶν ὑποστάσεσι γνωριζομένη. (Athanasius, Epistula ad episcopum
Persarum; Migne Graeca, PG 28.1568B)
[Forster] By his own words,”according to the Scripture”(κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον), St. Athanasius here tells us
that he is copying Scripture. And the Scripture copied from, in his concluding words, is, self-evidently, 1
John v. 7, where alone the three-one doctrine is so stated.
(Forster, A New Plea for the Authenticity of the
Text of the Three Heavenly Witness, 1867, p. 89)