Early Church Fathers
87 For the best treatment of the document, see Zahn, p, 95. I am quite unable to follow the theory advanced in D. C. B. iii 812; least of all the writer's suggestion that Athanasius was `egregiously duped' (!) by Marcellus.
88 Fest. Ind. xlv. The Hist. Aceph. give May 3; probably he died after midnight; but May 2 is kept as his feast by the Copts and by the Western Church.
89 Of his personal appearance little is known. Gregory Naz. praises his beauty of expression, Julian sneers at his small stature. Later tradition adds a slight stoop, a hooked nose and small mouth, short beard spreading into large whiskers, and light auburn hair, (See Stanley ubi supr).
90 To begin with, we have the interesting fact that Alexander studied the writings of Melito of Sardis, and even worked up his tract peri yuxhj kai swmatoj eij to paqoj into a homiletical discourse of his own, omitting such passages as seemed to savour of `modalism,' (see Krüger in Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1888, p. 434, sqq.: his grounds are convincing). Secondly, the expressions attributed to him by Arius (in his letter to Euseb. Nic.), and his letter to his namesake of Byzantium, bear out the above statement.
91 The reader is requested to supplement the necessarily very slender treatment of the Athanasian theology in this chapter by referring to the General Index to this volume, as well as to the Index of Texts, for guidance to the passages of Athanasius which are needed to check, fill out, and qualify what is here presented only in broad outline.
92 The above is strikingly illustrated by the discussion (pp. 381-383) of prwtotokoj pashj ktisewj (Col. i. 15). At first sight Ath. appears to contradict himself, explaining prwtotokoj as he does first solely of the Saviour as Incarnate, and then of the cosmic and creative function of the Word. But closer examination brings out his view of creation itself (p. 383) as an act of Grace, demanding not (as the current Eastern theology held, in common with Arius) the mediation of a subordinate Creator, but an act of absolutely Divine condescension analogous to, and anticipatory of, the Incarnation. The apparently disturbing persistence in the argument of the cosmological explanation of prwtotokoj is really therefore due to a subtle change in it, by virtue of which it comes into relation with the Soteriological idea,-which is the pivot of the entire anti-Arian position of Athanasius on this question,-and with the ultimate scheme in which (cf. Rom. viii.) the effects of the Incarnation are to embrace the whole creation. Because creation as such involves the promise of adoption, and tends to deification as its goal, the Son is prwtotokoj in the region of Grace and of Creation alike.
93 On the subject of §2, see also Pell. Lehre des h. Athan. and Shedd ii. pp. 37, sqq., 237, sqq. The former demonstrates his full accord with modern Roman Catholic teaching, the latter, his exact harmony with the modern Protestant view of the doctrine. It is at least a tribute to the greatness of Athan. that advocates of all sides are so eager to claim him.
94 Athanasius is not always innocent of the method of which he complains; e.g. when he uses Isa. i. 11, plhrhj eimi, as a proof of the Divine Perfection.
95 The idea, of a mysterious unwritten tradition is a legacy ot Gnosticism to the Church. Irenaeus, in order to meet the Gnostic appeal to a supposed unwritten Apostolic tradition, confronts it with the consistency of the public and normal teaching of the Churches everywhere, of which the Roman Church is a convenient microcosm or compendium. The idea of a paradosij agrafoj is adopted by Clement and Origen, and passes from the latter to Eusebius, and to the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil de Sp. S. 27, applies it only to practical details), Epiphanius, and later writers. Details in Harnack ii. 90, note, cf. Salmon, Infallibility, Lect. ix. On the somewhat different subject of the `Disciplina Arcani,' see Herzog-Plitt. s.v. `Arkan-Disciplia'