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PA U L I N U S of Antioch's importance in the church history of the
fourth century has occasioned interest in his theological views,
and hence in his subscription to the Tomus ad Antiochenos.1 But
it has been debated whether his language there is really what he
himself would have chosen, or whether it was formulated for
him.2 This article, then, will examine the style of the subscription,
and in particular that of its rst part containing the Trinitarian
terms. It will not deal with the history of the particular theological
terms, but rather with the conventions of the ancient subscription
which it exhibits, conventions which, as we shall see, were refashioned in the long duel between Valens of Mursa and Athanasius
of Alexandria. The study of the use of these conventions will
suggest that the Trinitarian language used by Paulinus in his
subscription was hardly the sort which he himself preferred.
But clarity in this matter can only be attained by distinguishing sharply between the ancient subscription and the modern
signature, and that is where we shall begin.
The subscription in the Greco-Roman world was always a
complete sentence or sentences (even if only of a single word, such
as valete or sesgmeivmai); it was never simply a bare name, as with
our `signature'. This was always true in the Greco-Roman world,
where our modern style of signature was quite unknown.3 The
kinds of conciliar documents we nd being subscribed are letters,
creeds, minutes, and decrees (including canons, condemnations,
The subscription is in Tomus 11 (PG 26.809), and the Trinitarian part runs
as follows: `I Paulinus hold as true what I received from the fathers: that the Father
exists and subsists as perfect, the Son subsists as perfect, and the Holy Spirit
subsists as perfect. Hence I accept the foregoing interpretation concerning the
three hypostases, and the one hypostasis or ousia, and those who hold to it. For it is
orthodox to hold and confess the Holy Trinity in one divinity.'
It is also found in Epiphanius, Panarion 77.21 (with insignicant variations in
the Trinitarian section).
ber nikaische Orthodoxie', ZNW 66 (1975), p. 221.
E.g. M. Tetz, `U
For opinions about when the modern signature rst made its appearance
in history, cf. C. Bruns, `Die Unterschriften in den romischen Rechtsurkunden',
Abhandlungen der kgl. Ak. d. Wissensch. z. Ber. (Phil./Hist. Kl.), 1876, p. 87;
H. Levy-Bruhl, Le temoignage instrumentaire en droit romain (Paris, 1910),
p. 167, n. 1.
# Oxford University Press 2002

[ Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Vol. 53, Pt. 1, April 2002]

and depositions). A set of subscriptions may be found detached
from its context, as with Socrates' subscription-list for the
Council of Nicaea.4
Five styles of subscription may be observed in the ecclesiastical
documents of the period, the rst three of which are found in
other kinds of documents as well. The most laconic, and by
far the rarest, is the simple subscripsi/upecraya/sesgmeivmai, etc.,
with or without mention of the document being subscribed.5
The second style may be called `epistolary'; it is used to close letters (including those documents cast in the epistolary mold, such
as certain kinds of tenders, receipts, and o"cial orders): a conventional farewell or something more singular. The third may be
called `contractual': that used in subscribing agreements and
contracts. Then there is the specically Christian `credal' style;
it incorporates the formula `thus I believe' (or something similar)
used occasionally to round o^ Christian creeds from the time
at least of 1 Corinthians onward.6 There is nally the
`condemnatory' style, which contains words such as anathema sit
or anahematifv.7 The di^erent styles are quite promiscuous,
happily combining with one another in various ways in the
particular subscriptions of the period. A synodical document
such as a letter always had multiple subscriptions (often but
not always in the same form) put both by those attending the
council and those subscribing later, and the subscriptions
might include elements of more than one style (if, for instance,
a synodical letter included a creed, some subscriptions might
draw from both the epistolary and the credal models).
About the subscription of minutes and decrees (as distinct from
the subscription of the synodicals in which they might be
embedded), there is little to be said, as we have no examples of
HE 1.13.12. The style of the rst subscription, however, shows that it had
been attached either to the creed or to the synodical enclosing it.
E.g. Hunt and Edgar, Select Papyri (Loeb, 1932), 2.128 (~P. Oxy. 1411, AD
260; o"cial order); 2.130 (~P. Oxy. 65, third-fourth century AD; o"cial order);
2.438 (~P. Oxy. 1025, third century AD; tender); Hilary, Collectanea Antiariana
Parisina B II 6.2 (subscription to declaration); Athanasius, Apol. c. Arian. 47.6
(subscription to synodical).
Cf. 1 Cor. 15:11. Cf. also J. Scherer, Entretien d'Origene avec Heraclide (Paris,
1960), p. 54; Epiphan., Panarion 72.12.5; Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole und
Glaubensregeln der alten Kirche (Breslau, 18973), pp. 148f. This does not mean that
documents containing creeds were always subscribed in the `credal' style. Any
document, ecclesiastical or otherwise, when framed as a letter, might be subscribed
in the fashion usual with any letter. Thus for instance Marcellus of Ancyra
concludes his credal letter to Pope Julius with a simple errvshe (Pan. 72.3.5).
E.g. Mansi 3.4612; Tomus ad Antiochenos 11.

the subscriptions themselves from the fourth century or earlier.
There is one reference to the subscription of canons, those of
the Council of Carthage of 34548, but the subscriptions themselves are not preserved.8 Of the subscriptions of minutes there
is su"cient direct evidence from the fth century,9 and one may
assume that the custom goes back to the fourth century, at least;
but the direct evidence from that time is of the subscription of
the decrees originating from the minutes of council meetings
rather than that of the minutes themselves.10 The same goes for
the subscriptions to condemnations and depositions.
The conventional epistolary subscription was a word or two
of farewell, or something more extended. Such is the case with the
letters in the classical collections, and papyrus originals are no
di^erent.11 When a letter had been written by someone other
than the sender, such as a scribe, it was the custom that it
should be subscribed in the former's hand.12 The subscription
would run something like et manu domini subscriptio: opto multos
annos bene valere. Or the farewell would be followed by the
name of the sender, and that in turn by subscripsi. The same
principle extended to other sorts of documents, such as contracts, declarations, and o"cial orders which had not been written
out in the hand of the principal party. Some of these were in
the epistolary form. In any case, it was the custom that the
responsible party should subscribe them. Bruns summarizes
the types of o"cial subscriptions found in the Roman empire
as those placed under one's own letters or documents and
those attached to others' writings; the latter kind might be
endorsements, or attestations or certications, such as those
of witnesses.13

Concilia Africae, ed. C. Munier (CCSL 149, 1974), p. 10.

It is noted at the Council of Ephesus of 431 that the minutes (upomngmata) are
subscribed by those in attendance as a matter of course (kata to sunghez: Schwartz,
ACO Ephesus 1.3, p. 62 [106.34]; p. 60 [106.30]). The Gesta Antiochiae read
out at the Council of Chalcedon (451) close with a like note (ACO Chalcedon 1.3,
p. 81 [147]).
E.g. Hilary, A V 3.2(6).2; A IX 2; A IX 3.2.
Cf. Hunt and Edgar, 1.268^.
Bruns, p. 68.
Ibid., p. 66. Cf. also H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 8380 (155 AD);
P. Lond. 1157 verso (246 AD); P. Tebt. 285~Mitteis, Chrestomathie no. 379
(subscriptio given in 239 by Gordian III). On imperial subscriptions generally,
cf. F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World (London, 1977), pp. 240^.;
H. F. Jolowicz, Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law (Cambridge,
19652), pp. 376^.

The contractual style of subscription, like the epistolary,
always formed a complete sentence or sentences. The great mass
of contracts, wills, deeds, receipts, and so forth (mostly available
in the papyri) bears this out.14 We shall nd this to be as true
of private documents as of the public sort. Contracts and
declarations were originally made orally, with a written record
of the transaction drawn up as proof (but not as the juridical
act itself ). The older form presupposes the oral statement:
it is in the third person, and includes a phrase such as dixit se
(e.g. habere).15 The younger form is the `chirograph', which was
composed in the rst person, and was required to be subscribed
when the principal party had not written it out in his own
hand.16 The Donatio Statiae Irenes (Rome, AD 252), for instance,
is subscribed by the donor:
Isdem coss. eadem die Statia Irene i(us) lib(erorum) h(abens), donationi
monumenti s(upra) s(cripti) sicut scriptum est, consensi, subscripsi _ et

The subscription in this case is an abbreviated chirograph,

written in the rst person in the donor's hand, beginning with the
date, summarizing in a few words the object of the donation,
and closing with the consent. Such is the usual form in documents
of this sort. In a marriage contract of the year AD 260, Aurelia
Thaesis gives her daughter in marriage; the document starts o^:
_ ejedeto Aurglia Hagsiz _ tgn eautgz hucateran Aurglian Tauseirin proz
camon andri Aurgliv Arsinov _

and continues with a description of the dowry. Towards the end

there are found, in a second hand, the words:
Aurglia Hagsiz ejedomgn tgn hucatera mou proz camon tJ protetacmenv
Arsinov kai prosgnecka autJ tgn prokeimengn werngn v
z prokeitai kai
epervtgheisa vmolocgsa.18

The subscription sums up the contents of the document to

which it is attached, using even the same words and phrases as are
found in it.

A convenient selection is again that of Hunt and Edgar (cf. n. 5), 1.13261
passim. Latin material is available in J.-O. Tjader, Die nichtliterarischen lateinischen
Papyri Italiens aus der Zeit 445700 (Lund, 1955).
For an example, cf. C. G. Bruns, Fontes Iuris Romani Antiqui (Tubingen,
1909 ), vol. 1, p. 329.
Levy-Bruhl, p. 166.
Bruns, Fontes, vol. 1, p. 336.
Hunt and Edgar, 1.1622 (~P. Oxy. 1273).

At times the summary would be reduced to a bare reference
to the wording of the main body of the text: `I agree to the above',
or something similar.19 At other times a subscription would
reproduce, rather mechanically and at considerable length,
the exact wording of the document. Such is P. Tebt. 392 (AD
1345), an agreement of indemnity, where the subscription is
very nearly as long as the main body of the document and
almost an exact copy of it. The same tendency is evident in the
Ravenna Papyri, where the subscriptions are long paragraphs
which repeat clause after clause of the main body of the documents.20 The subscriptions of witnesses tend themselves to
lengthen in imitation of that of the chief party, and likewise
resume in more or less summary fashion the provisions of the
document. Those belonging to an individual document tend
to fall into exactly the same wording, without abbreviations, so
that at the very end, after such a long series of paragraphs, there
is often found the notitia testium, a bare listing of the witnesses'
names made by the scribe for convenience' sake.21
There were two kinds of synodical letters: those addressed to a
particular person or church and those designed to be circulated
among a group. Christian circulars, when expounding creeds or
contesting heresies, seem to have invited the subscriptions of
those to whom they were sent. Serapion of Antioch (199211)
wrote to Caricus and Pontius (presumably his colleagues)
against the Montanists, joining to his own letter the writings of
Apolinarius of Hierapolis against the same sect. It evidently
enjoyed wide circulation; Eusebius of Caesarea was able to read
the subscriptions of many bishops attached to it. One at least was
the perfectly ordinary errvshai umaz euxomai, while another took a
most peculiar turn.22 But even the usual epistolary subscription
was understood as an endorsement of the contents of letters.23

E.g., Hunt and Edgar, 1.44 (~P. Oxy. 725, AD 183): `Graklaz
Sarap(ivnoz) _ teheimai to omolocgma kai eudokv
pasi toiz prok(eimenoiz). 1.48
(~BGU 1107, 13 BC): 'Isidv
ra sunxvrv
kata ta proce[crammena].
E.g., Tjader, 1.332f. On the expansive tendencies of such chirographsubscriptions, cf. Levy-Bruhl, p. 189.
Levy-Bruhl, p. 189.
Eusebius, HE 5.19.
Cf. Hilary, A IV 3.

To subscribe an Arian letter was to signify one's communion with
the Arians.24
Councils might also solicit subscriptions. An early example is
the letter `sent to Paul of Samosata by the orthodox bishops before
he was excommunicated' (Mansi, 1.1033). It begins:
Hymenaeus, Theophilus, Theotecnus, Maximus and Bolanus to Paul,
greetings in Christ. In our discussions together we have already shown
what we believe; but in order that what each of us holds may be clearer,
and the arguments brought to an end, we have decided to set out in
writing the faith which _ we received in the beginning.

Then comes the exposition, at the end of which (Mansi, 1.1040)

we read:
Having summarized these matters briey, we wish to know if you hold
and teach the same things as we, or not, and to have you subscribe if you
agree with the above.

Councils seem often to have sent their decrees to bishops who had
been called to attend them but had not done so, or to those holding important sees when the matters treated were of general
concern. Cornelius of Rome sent Fabius of Antioch the documents of the Roman Synod of 251, including a list of the participating bishops. The list had also the names and sees of those not
at the synod who had stated their agreement to its decisions in
writing. Apparently copies of its letter were sent throughout Italy
for the bishops' subscriptions, from which a list was made to be
included with the synodical meant especially for the Eastern
churches.25 Mention of the list indicates that the subscriptions
themselves were not included.
Subscribing a synodical sent round as a circular letter after the
synod was apparently looked upon as the same sort of juridical act
as subscribing it at the synod itself. At the end of the Council of
Carthage of 34548, Gratus says, Superest iam ut placita omnium
nostrum, quae ad consensum vestrum sunt scripta, vestra quoque
subscriptione rmetis.26 Now a similar expression occurs in the
synodical of Sardica in Hilary's version:
Curate autem vos, dilectissimi fratres et consacerdotes, quasi praesentes
spiritu huic interfueritis synodo, omnia, quae a nobis instituta sunt,

H.-G. Opitz, Urkunde zur Geschichte des arianischen Streites 318328

(Berlin, 1934), 14.9.
Eusebius, HE 6.43.2122.
CCSL 149 (1974), p. 10.



conrmare per litteras vestras, ut ab omnibus episcopis idem sentire

atque unam esse omnium voluntatem ex litterarum consensione sit

Athanasius' version of per litteras vestras is di'upocrawgz umeteraz:28

the subscriptions of the absentees ratied the decisions of the
Council in the same way as those of its members, and made it
look as though they had taken part in it.29
Bishops represented by others at councils were bound by their
legates' subscriptions as rmly as if they had subscribed with their
own hands. Thus Lucifer of Calaris did not wish to accept the
decisions of the Synod of Alexandria of 362, sed constringebatur
legati sui vinculo, qui in concilio ipsius auctoritate subscripserat.
abicere namque eum non poterat, qui auctoritatem eius tenebat.30
Pope Liberius likewise came under heavy pressure to subscribe
Athanasius' deposition once his legate to the Synod of Arles of
353 had done so.31
Subscriptions to synodicals might be long or short, but however
short they were, they always, following the custom explained
above, made complete sentences. This custom has not always been
followed by modern editors; thus the list of names of the bishops
present at the Synod of Arles of 314 found in the di^erent
codices following the canons has been entitled subscriptiones in
CCSL 148 (1963), p. 14, even though only the bare names are
given, with no verbs attached. The title comes from the modern
editor; in Turner's edition (EOMIA 1.396) the ancient introduction to the name-list reads: Incipit nomina episcoporum cum clericis
suis vel quanti vel ex quibus provinciis ad arelatense synhodo convenerint _ It seems to have been the custom to attach such
name-lists to synodicals in addition to the subscriptions, perhaps
on the model of the notitia testium. The synodical of Orange (441)
shows this quite neatly: here we see the bishops' subscriptions in
one list, and their bare names (together with their accompanying clergy) in another.32 Sometimes only the name-list is
preserved, without the subscriptions, as with the Synod of


Hilary, B II 1.8.4.
Apol. c. Arian. 47.6.
For other examples, cf. Hilary, A IV 1.28.3 and Epiphan., Pan. 73.2.11.
Runus, HE 10.31. The legate in the ancient world fully represented his
principal; cf. J. F. Matthews, `Gesandschaft', RAC 77 (1977), p. 654.
Hilary, B VII 36; Athan., Hist. Arian. 3537; Ammianus Marcellinus,
Concilia Galliae, ed. C. Munier (CCSL 148 (1963)), pp. 87 and 88^.

Arles (314) or the Council of Sardica (from the subscriptions to
which Athanasius retains the rst: Osioz episkopoz upecraya).33
The variety and occasional mixture of styles can be easily
exemplied in fourth-century synodicals. At the Synod of
Antioch of 372, Meletius subscribed a synodical from Rome thus:
Meletius episcopus Antiochenus consentio omnibus suprascriptis,
ita credens et sentiens, et si quis praeter haec sentit anathema sit.
The same bishop subscribed his own synodical of 363 (which
contained the Nicene Creed) to the emperor Jovian as follows:
Meletioz episkopoz 'Antioxeiaz edvka sunainvn toiz procecrammenoiz.
Asterius of Petra subscribed the Tomus ad Antiochenos (362)
with: 'Ecv
'Asterioz suneudokv toiz procecrammenoiz, kai errvshai
umaz en Kuriv euxomai. George of Alexandria subscribed the
`Acacian Creed' at Seleucia (359) thus: Cevrcioz episkopoz
'Alejandreiaz ejehemgn tgn pistin. outvz omolocv wronein v
The contractual style we have already seen in the subscriptions
to agreements and declarations, where the formula consensi
et subscripsi is usual. The Greek equivalents are so common in
the papyri that the reader may most easily be referred to the
collection already mentioned in note 5, with two or three
examples selected at random. A contract from AD 325 is subscribed: Au[rglioi 'Alo]iz kai 'Graklgz [eu]dokoumen pasi
toiz prok(eimenoiz) kai epervtghentez vmol(ocgsamen). At the end
of one from 348, we read: 'Aurglia Oualeria _ suneudokv toiz
encecrammenoiz vz prokitai. Finally, George's subscription above
is perhaps most closely paralleled by one from the 6th century
AD (to a public contract):
Wl(auioz) Palladioz kom(gz) o procecrammenoz ehemgn tautgn tgn omolocian epi
pasgn toiz pr[o]cecr[am]menoiz sumwvnoiz kai . re __ upecraya xeiri emg.35

CCSL 148, p. 14; EOMIA 1.546^.; Apol. c. Arian. 47.6. Although
subscription-lists and name-lists were originally distinct, the later work of scribes
and copyists could whittle down the former until they became virtually
indistinguishable from the latter. An example is the subscription-list of the
Council of Nicaea in Soc. 1.13.12, where only the rst entry shows what sort of list
this was originally, before the inevitable process of abbreviation set in. The critical
apparatus ad loc. (G. C. Hansen, Sokrates. Kirchengeschichte [Berlin, 1995], p. 46),
reveals the process at work.
Mansi, 3.461 and 372; PG 26.809A; Epiphan., Pan. 73.26.2. For other
examples, cf. Pan. 73.11.11; 73.22.5.
P. Oxy. 1626 (~Hunt and Edgar, 2.443; the same formula is found in P. Oxy.
1627, AD 342~Hunt and Edgar, 2.445); BGU 405 (~Hunt and Edgar, 1.170);
P. Cairo Masp. 67032, AD 551 (~Hunt and Edgar, 2.453).


I I I . C O N S T A N T I U S , VA L E N S ,



Whichever formula was used in subscribing synodicals, the result

was, as usual, a complete sentence, however short. But when
the religious policy of the emperor Constantius forced some
bishops to subscribe documents to which they could not easily
assent, the exibility of the conventions of subscription was
put to the test. His determination to have the Western bishops
condemn Athanasius appears at the Synod of Arles of 353, where
a letter was handed round to be subscribed in which Photinus,
Marcellus, and Athanasius were condemned together. Paulinus
of Trier in subscribing tried to distinguish among them: Oblata
sibi epistola ita subscripsisse traditur, se in Photini atque Marcelli
damnationem praebere consensum, de Athanasio non probare.36
It did not save him from exile.
The papal legates at the same synod tried to tie the case of
Athanasius to the `Arian question': they agreed to subscribe his
deposition if the `Orientals' (the court bishops) would condemn
Arius. The latter at rst agreed, but at the following session
changed their minds and called the deal o^.37 The same sort of
proposal appeared two years later at the Synod of Milan, which
sent its deposition of Athanasius to Eusebius of Vercelli for his
subscription. He refused to give it and came himself to Milan,
where the court bishops, wary of his resolve, forbade him access
to the synod for ten days.38 Finally admitted, he tried to strike
the same bargain as the papal legates at Arles:
When [Eusebius] was brought in to subscribe against Athanasius, he said
that rst the faith of the bishops should be established _ The creed
published at Nicaea _ he placed in their midst, promising that he would
do all they requested, if they subscribed the creed. Dionysius, bishop
of Milan, was the rst to take the paper. When he began to write his
declaration [ubi protenda scribere coepit], Valens [of Mursa] snatched
the pen and paper from his hands, shouting that nothing was going to
be accomplished by such a procedure.39

Sulpicius Severus, Chron. 2.37.7.

Hilary, A VII 5.
Cf. Mansi, 3.236f.; Hilary, Liber I ad Const. 3(8).1.
Hilary, op. cit. 3(8).2. The parallel account in Sulp. Sev., Chron. 2.39.4
(Dionysius, Mediolanensium sacerdos, in Athanasii damnationem se consentire
subscripsit, dummodo de de inter episcopos quaereretur) is not quite clear, and says
nothing of Eusebius' part at the synod. Dionysius in its rst sessions certainly
subscribed Athanasius' deposition (cf. Lucifer of Calaris, De sancto Athanasio 2.8),
but later, alerted by Eusebius to the real issues at play, he repudiated the assembly
and was exiled (Chron. 2.39.6).

Valens was to proceed more adroitly at the Council of Ariminum
four years later, at a time when the extended subscription was
appearing in some interesting new forms; perhaps his experiences
at the earlier councils gave him occasion to reect upon the possibilities lurking in the conventions. Subscriptions to contracts
and declarations aimed in principle, as we have seen, to reproduce
or resume in more or less summary fashion the contents of
the documents. Occasionally they did so without abbreviation,
although usually they summarized them drastically, so that the
entire body of the agreement was referred to as `the above', and
the subscription would read something like, `I agree to the above',
rather than `I agree to _ ' followed by a word-for-word copy of
the contents of the agreement. Under pressure of dire necessity,
some bishops' subscriptions showed a new air for remarkably
creative `summations'. The homoeousian essay known as the
`Letter of George' (Panarion 73.1222) describes the subscribing
of the `Fourth Creed of Sirmium' at the imperial court in 359; the
creed confessed that the Son is like the Father `in every way (kata
panta), as the holy Scriptures say', but forbade further use of
the word ousia to describe the relationship between Father
and Son, since such usage was foreign to Scripture and caused
scandal.40 After the words `they subscribed as follows' (73.22.5)
comes the unexceptional subscription of the drafter of the creed,
Mark of Arethusa: outv pisteuv kai wronv nkai suneudokvo toiz
procecrammenoiz. But Valens of Mursa, when his turn came,
began with some words suggesting his reservations about the
formula, and then, our source continues,
Valens subscribed in his own fashion and added to his subscription ``the
Son is like the Father'', but did not add ``in every way''; and he did nnoto
show how he agreed with the words preceding or how he understood
``consubstantial''. The devout emperor noticed this and forced him to add
``in every way'', which he then added. Basil, suspecting that he had given
his own interpretation to the words `in every way' which he had added to
the copies _ subscribed as follows:
Basil, bishop of Ancyra: nThuso I believe and agree with what is written
above, confessing the Son to be like the Father in every way. ``In every
way'' means not just in his will, but in substance and in existence and
in being [kata tgn upostasin kai kata tgn uparjin kai kata to einai], as
Son according to the sacred Scriptures, spirit from spirit, life from life,
light from light, God from God, true Son from true nFathero, Son as
Athan., De synodis 8.7. The meeting at which this creed was subscribed was
not a synod, it is true, but it o^ers an instructive example of what could be meant
by subscription.



Wisdom from the wise God and Father; the Son is absolutely and completely like the Father, as Son in relation to Father. Whoever says that
he is similar [only] in some respect, as is said above, is foreign to the
Catholic Church as not acknowledging the Son to be like the Father
according to the sacred Scriptures.41

The emperor evidently did not regard Valens' subscription as

being a true summary of the creed, but he did accept Basil's, since
our source says that after it had been read out, the document was
handed over to be delivered to the Council of Ariminum. Basil's
language shows that as long as the outlawed word was avoided,
the summary could use terms not found in the main body of the
creed. The result was a sort of `split-level' creed accommodating
a variety of theological expressions.
The events at the court meeting make one wonder if there was
any customary way of deciding who should subscribe in what
way at councils, whether briey or with some elaboration. The
evidence from the meeting, which was hardly a typical council,
must of course be treated with caution. The only other council
of the period for which there is evidence that the wording of the
subscriptions was dictated is that of Nicaea, about which we are
told that the `Arians' subscribed using the word homoousios42
(doubtless not their choice). But not all the members of the Council of Nicaea subscribed thus. Hosius of Cordova wrote simply
outvz pisteuv vz procecraptai.43 Likewise Mark of Arethusa,
the author of the creed ratied at court in 359, subscribed without
elaboration, as we have just seen.44 Perhaps there was a custom
that the authors or sponsors of creeds were exempt from elaborated subscriptions of it. But they were not the only ones so
exempted, for we nd Asterius of Petra subscribing the Tomus
Epiphan., Panarion 73.22.68. A comparison of the language of Basil's
subscription with the text of the creed to which it was subjoined (cf. Athan., De
synodis 8) will show how far the convention of the contractual style was stretched
on this occasion.
Jerome, Dialogus contra Luciferianos 20 (PL 23.174). On the pressure put on
the `Arians' at Nicaea to subscribe the creed and the condemnation of Arius, cf.
Runus, HE 10.5; Soc. 1.14.3; Soz. 3.19.34. In Philostorg. 1.9a it should be noted
that Constantine's decree o^ering a choice of subscription or exile touched only
presbyters, deacons, and other clergy (in the usage of the time, the alloi tou klgrou
can hardly mean the bishops), although the bishops who refused to subscribe the
creed were exiled as well (Philostorg. 1.10). The story about Eusebius of
Nicomedia smuggling in the word homoiousios in place of homoousios in his
subscription (Philostorg. 1.9c), although obviously false, can only have acquired
credibility if it had been known that he and his party had been required to use
homoousios in subscribing.
Soc. 1.13.12.
On Mark as author of the creed, cf. Hilary, Collectanea B VI 3.1.

ad Antiochenos briey and without doctrinal elaboration.45 Was
there in fact a custom that council presidents decided which members might or should subscribe in which way? If so, it obviously
formed a considerable part of their power. And what happened
at the Council of Ariminum suggests that this was indeed the case.
At the Council of Ariminum Valens repaid the emperor in kind
for his humiliation at court. When the majority of the bishops
at the Council rejected the creed and excommunicated his party,
he presented it once again to their delegates a few months later
at Nike in a revised form (from which he had stricken the very
words Constantius had made him add). Pressed by the court,
they subscribed, and were in their turn duly excommunicated
by their principals at Ariminum when they returned. But as the
autumn wore on (and no one was allowed to go home), the resistance of the majority to the `Creed of Nike' wore down.46 Those
remaining obstinate dwindled to twenty, under the leadership
of Phoebadius of Agen and Servation of Tongres, whose stubbornness was nally overcome when the `Homoeans' proposed
that they might add to the creed whatever they liked to silence
their scruples:
If the creed as it stood seemed to lack anything, they might add what they
thought they should, and they promised to agree to what was added. This
conciliatory proposal won everyone over, worn out as they were _
[Now when] the professiones drafted by Phoebadius and Servation began
to be declared, they rst condemned Arius and all of his perdy, and then
a"rmed that the Son of God was equal to the Father and without beginning and without time. Then Valens, as though helping our party, added
a sentence which was a trick: it said that the Son of God was not a creature like other creatures. The deceit in this professio escaped the listeners,
for the words which denied that the Son was like other creatures a"rmed
that he was nonetheless a creature, however superior he might be to the
others. Thus neither side could regard itself as having won or lost everything, since the creed itself [ des ipsa] favored the Arians, while the
professiones added later favored our side, except for the one put in by
Valens _47

Sulpicius says that with the addition of the subscriptions, the

Council came to an end. Another account of its nal days is
provided by Jerome in his Dialogus contra Luciferianos 18f.48

Tomus 10.
Sulpicius Severus, Chron. 2.43.4. On Valens' authorship of the `Creed of
Nike', cf. Jerome, Dialogus 18.
Sulpicius, 2.44.58.
PL 23.171f.



It was at the time when the people were spreading the rumour that the
creed contained something deceitful, that Valens, bishop of Mursa, who
had composed it _ declared that he was not an Arian and in fact quite
abhorred their blasphemies. The proceedings, held in private, did not
quiet the people's suspicions.
On a subsequent day therefore in the church in Ariminum, which was
crowded with bishops and laity alike, Muzonius, a bishop from the
province of Byzacium, to whom all yielded precedence on account of his
age, spoke thus:
`With regard to those matters which have been aired in public and
brought to our attention as well, we order that they be read by one of
us to your holiness, that those which are evil and deservedly abhorrent
to our ears and our heart may be unanimously condemned.'
All the bishops replied: So be it. Thus when Claudius, a bishop from the
province of Picenum, began to read the blasphemies reputed to be those
of Valens, as they had all ordered, Valens denied that they were his,
exclaiming, `If anyone denies that Christ the Lord, the Son of God, was
begotten of the Father before the ages, let him be anathema!' Everyone
cried, `Let him be anathema!' `If anyone denies that the Son is like the
Father according to the Scriptures, let him be anathema!' All replied, `Let
him be anathema.' `If anyone does not say that Son of God is eternal with
the Father, let him be anathema!' Everyone cried, `Let him be anathema!'
`If anyone says that the Son of God is a creature, as are other creatures, let
him be anathema!' The reply came likewise, `Let him be anathema.' `If
anyone says that the Son is from what is not [ex nullis extantibus] and
not from God the Father, let him be anathema!' All shouted, `Let him
be anathema!' `If anyone says that there was a time when the Son was
not, let him be anathema!' By this time all the bishops and the rest of
the church together were echoing Valens, clapping and stamping _
While everyone, then, was praising Valens to the skies and regretting
and condemning their suspicions of him, Claudius, the same one who had
begun reading before, said,
`There are still some items which have escaped my lord and brother
Valens; if it please, let us condemn them together, lest any scruple
remain. If anyone says that the Son of God is before all the ages, but not
before all time whatsoever, so that there is something which precedes
Him, let him be anathema.' Everyone said, `Let him be anathema.'
And there were many other formulations regarded as suspicious which
Claudius read out and Valens condemned _ And when these things had
been done, the council broke up.49

In order to understand what happened at the Council, it is useful

to observe the close connection between professio, the declaration


Dialogus 1819.

of one's view or decision, and subscription. At the session where
the Homoeans were excommunicated, for instance, Grecianus of
Calles, in calling for the vote, had said, Nunc iterum quid vobis
placet, iterum dicite, ut singulorum suscriptione rmetur.50 At the
meeting of the council delegates at Nike, Restitutus of Carthage,
after proposing that communion with the Homoeans should be
restored, had added, [Unusquisque] debet dicere, an rectum sit,
quod prosecutus sum, et manu sua suscribere.51 Hilary in 358
had noted that because of the situation of his time, when heresy
and schism were prevalent, [hinc] illud est, ut ad professionem subscribendae dei aliqui eorum, qui ante aliud scripserant, cogerentur.52
The connection is evidenced in the custom of reading subscriptions aloud. This is mentioned explicitly in Panarion
73.22.8, and is implied in Hilary's words further on in the passage
just quoted, where, in addressing his colleagues, he cries,
Sed inter haec, O beatos vos in Domino et gloriosos, qui perfectam atque
apostolicam dem conscientiae professione retinentes, conscriptas des
huc usque nescitis! Non enim eguistis littera, qui spiritu abundabatis.
Neque o"cium manus ad scribendum desiderastis, qui quod corde
a vobis credebatur, ore ad salutem protebamini. Nec necessarium
habuistis episcopi legere, quod regenerati neophyti tenebatis. Sed
necessitas consuetudinem intulit, exponi des, et expositis subscribi _

Now when Valens proposed that something might be added to

the Creed of Nike, one might at rst suppose he meant something
like the additions made to the `Dedication Creed' which resulted
in the `Macrostich' and the `First Sirmian' Creeds,53 especially
since the addition in question may, it seems, have been a series
of anathemas, such as we nd in the First Sirmian Creed or the
`Semiarian' Confession in Panarion 73.311. But there are several
reasons for thinking that this is not so. In the rst place, Sulpicius
distinguishes between the des ipsa and the professiones, a strange

Hilary, A IX 3.2.
A V 3.2(6).2.
De synodis 63. Professio in the language of law can mean the subscription to
a libellus or written accusation, of which the Digest 48.2.3pr. o^ers an example:

Consul et dies. Apud illum praetorem vel proconsulem Lucius Titius professus est se
Maeviam lege Iulia de adulteriis ream deferre, quod dicat eam cum Gaio Seio in civitate illa,
domo illius, mense illo, consulibus illis adulterium commisisse.

D. says, Subscribere debebit is qui dat libellos se professum esse, vel alius pro
eo, si litteras nescit. The exact form of such a professio is not preserved, but it must
have resumed, however briey, the content of the libellus and accepted
responsibility for it. The reason was that the libellus was prepared by an expert,
while the accuser appropriated it by his subscription. Cf. Bruns, Abhdlg., p. 58.
Cf. Athan., De synodis 2527.

thing to do if he meant to refer simply to an expanded creed.
Then, too, the plural noun professiones would not seem to mean
a block of additional material subjoined to the original text.
Also, professio smacks strongly of subscription, as we have seen.
And nally, the professio that `the Son of God is not a creature
like other creatures'54 could later be identied as that of Valens
and his party: as Jerome says, `Later Valens and Ursacius
began _ to crow about their victory, claiming that they had not
denied that the Son was a creature, but only that He was like
other creatures.'55 Evidently this professio was marked in the
Council records as belonging to Valens, and that cannot have happened if it had stood there as one of a number of anonymous articles subjoined to the original text; it could only have happened if
it was in his subscription. And here we begin to see how astutely
he managed the closing days of the Council.
The emperor wanted the court-appointed creed subscribed by
the bishops at Ariminum: praefecto mandatum, ut synodum not ante
laxaret, quam conscriptae dei consentire se omnes subscriptionibus
proterentur.56 When Valens told the Nicene loyalists that he
would agree to whatever they added to it, he should be understood
as meaning that they might subscribe with whatever doctrinal elaboration they liked (always with the understanding that the
dreaded word ousia, or its Latin translation, should be allowed
no entrance, as Basil also had understood when he subscribed at
court). The subscriptions themselves have not been preserved,
but Sulpicius, as we have seen, summarizes the professiones they
contained as follows: _ primum damnatus Arrius totaque eius
perdia ceterum etiam patri aequalis et sine initio, sine tempore Dei
lius pronuntiatur. To which Valens added: lium Dei non esse
creaturam sicut ceteras creaturas.57 Now a comparison of this
summary with Jerome's list of the doctrines professed by Valens
at the nal sessions of the Council will show that they have the
same basis. Valens, says Jerome, professus est se Arianum non
esse, et penitus ab eorum blasphemiis abhorrere. Then at the following session he acknowledged God's Son as ante saecula ex Patre
genitum, similem Patri secundum Scripturas, and aeternum cum
Patre, and condemned the statements that He was creaturam _ ut
sunt caeterae creaturae or de nullis exstantibus _ et non de Deo
Patre; and that erat tempus, quando non erat Filius.

Sulpicius, 2.44.7.
Dialogus 19.
Sulpicius, 2.43.3.

It is, of course, impossible to tell in any detail what happened
at the Council of Ariminum in its closing days, even by comparing Sulpicius and Jerome; apart from the sketchiness of their
accounts, we know nothing about the conventions surrounding
the recitation of subscriptions or about the powers of council
presidents to permit or order doctrinal elaboration within subscriptions. And in any case the usual conventions might not have
held full sway at a council closely supervised by a civil o"cial.
What is, however, evident is that Valens and his associates were
able to nd a way to win the subscriptions of the Nicene loyalists
and to allow them to express, as an addition to the creed, such
doctrines as would, they thought, supply for its deciencies
(barring the explicitly outlawed word ousia). When Sulpicius,
then, says that Valens and company agreed to their additions
([armant] praebituros se in his quae essent adiecta consensum58)
this will mean that he allowed them these doctrinal clarications
in their subscriptions. Whether or not the recitation, at the
public session, of the professiones contained in the subscriptions
was in any way like the usual reading of subscriptions at other
councils, is quite unclear. The public session was especially
designed to calm the suspicious public, and Valens (who, as we
have noticed, seems to have had no scruples about taking sensitive documents from the hands of his colleagues in council)
assumed the task of reading in a dramatic gesture. His homoean
spectacles, however, did not perhaps allow as faithful a rendition
of the text as might have been wished: we see how Claudius had to
read the rst item again, and how the words this time correspond
rather more closely to Sulpicius' sine initio, sine tempore Dei lius


It seems clear, then, that at Ariminum, as at other councils, the

recitation was connected with the nal approval of the subscriptions. Valens' own ambiguous subscription was designed to
appear at rst sight to favour the pro-Nicene party. But his trick
was to prove fatal to his own interests in the end. Rarely has any
ctional villain received his recompense as elegantly as did Valens
of Mursa at the hands of Athanasius, who appears to have
followed his old foe's manoevres with keen appreciation from his


place of hiding. It is one of the ironies of the theological history of
the time that it seems to have been Valens who showed Athanasius
how to use the technique of what might be called reciprocity of
subscription to forge just the doctrinal alliance which he had most
dreaded and worked against while he enjoyed patronage at court.
And when he lost that patronage, Athanasius turned his trick
against him at the Synod of Alexandria in 362.
During Julian's general amnesty of exiled bishops, Athanasius
was able to return to Alexandria in February of 362 and to call
a council to deal with the church schisms, potential or actual,
resulting from the pressure exerted by Constantius to conform
to the court-appointed creed. The rst part of its general letter
to that end has now been identied with the so-called Epistula
Catholica, traditionally relegated to the spurious Athanasian
works.59 In addition to that general purpose, Athanasius also
hoped to compose the divisions among the `anti-Arians' in the
church in Antioch, and thus after the Council he had a special
commission stay on to draft the so-called Tomus ad Antiochenos60
to the bishops who were to visit that church.
E. Schwartz called into question the textual integrity of the
Tomus, pointing out that Paulinus did not style himself `bishop'
in his subscription, as was usual, even though he had already
been consecrated by the time he received the document.61
But then, neither did the other bishops designate their rank in
their subscriptions, except Eusebius of Vercelli.62 Perhaps this
was a show of humility to encourage the rival pretenders to
the throne of Antioch to sacrice their claims to the quest for
unity. Athanasius subscribed rst in this fashion, and the Greekspeaking bishops, at any rate, seem to have followed his example.
Eusebius, says Tomus 10, subscribed in Latin, the Greek translation of which it gives. If he read or understood Greek poorly,
he might not have caught the hint, as the Eastern bishops who
followed him did.

Cf. M. Tetz, `Ein enzyklisches Schreiben der Synode von Alexandrien (362)',
ZNW 79 (1988), pp. 26281.
ber nikaische Orthodoxie', ZNW 66 (1975),
On the Tomus, cf. M. Tetz, `U
pp. 194222; R. P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God
(Edinburgh, 1988), pp. 64252; A. Pettersen, `The Arian Context of Athanasius
of Alexandria's Tomus ad Antiochenos VII', JEH 41.2 (1990), pp. 18398;
M. Simonetti, `Il concilio di Alessandria del 362 e l'origine della formula
trinitaria', Augustinianum 30 (1990), pp. 35360.
Gesammelte Schriften 4.46 (Berlin, 1960), n. 1.
Cf. Tomus 911. Tetz (1975), p. 219, n. 77, noted this.

Paulinus' subscription is also preserved by Epiphanius
(Panarion 77.21); here he does style himself `bishop'. He presented it to Epiphanius as a certicate of his orthodoxy when in
376 the latter travelled to Antioch to try to reconcile him with
the Apollinarians. We may conjecture that Paulinus, in subscribing the copy he gave to Athanasius when he visited Antioch in
the autumn of 363, followed the peculiar style he found there;
but in the copy which he retained for his own archive, he did
not neglect to establish his claim in the dispute which the Tomus
was intended to settle. The words kai en tg xeiri tou episkopou
'Ahanasiou, which occur in the middle of the Christological
section of the Panarion version of his subscription, have been
plausibly explained by Tetz as a mistaken insertion made by Epiphanius from a note Paulinus had attached to his subscription to
say that he had drawn his wording from what Athanasius himself had put in the Tomus; Epiphanius assumed he meant that
Athanasius had actually written this part of the subscription.63
The version of the Tomus found in the Athanasian corpus
shows the hand of the later editor; it is abridged from the original,
lacking some of the subscriptions of those listed in section 9 as
having subscribed, and contains glosses in section 11. There is,
however, no reason to doubt the authenticity of Paulinus' subscription, whatever may be the textual di"culties with the one
which follows.64
It has not proved easy to identify in each case the parties at
variance mentioned by the Tomus, which speaks of di^erences
of opinion about the propriety of speaking of the Trinity as
one hypostasis or as three, and about the language suited to speaking of the incarnation (57). The identity of those divided over
the Christological language is unclear, since the denial of a
human soul in Christ has been ascribed to both `Arians' and
Apollinarians. The latter were also represented at the synod, but
their teachings were apparently not perceived as deviant until
after 362, and they are not listed among the subscribers of the
Tomus. Hence some have wondered if the Christological dispute
was between those suspected of `Arian' leanings in this matter
(perhaps Tomus 3 suggests that some former `Arians' attended
the synod) and the party of Paulinus, the leader of the Antiochene
minority loyal to the teachings of the former bishop Eustathius,
who preferred LogosAnthropos language.

Tetz (1975), pp. 21921.

Tetz (1975), pp. 221f.

Of those di^ering over Trinitarian terms, it is also unclear who
represented the confession of the three hypostases, since Meletius,
the rival claimant to the leadership of the `anti-Arians' in Antioch,
was only one of many, `Arians' and `anti-Arians' alike, who
professed this language. Some have wondered if he even sent
representatives to the synod (he is not mentioned in the Tomus),
or if rather the willingness expressed by the Tomus to accept
into communion those confessing the three hypostases was not
perhaps an attempt to detach from him those of his ock seeking
union with Paulinus.
Of the identity of those favoring the one-hypostasis language,
however, there is no doubt: Paulinus and his associates followed
Eustathius' pro-Nicene doctrine here as well,65 and they were
represented at the synod, as Tomus 9 explicitly says. And this
lets us understand Athanasius' method of reconciling those at variance over the Trinitarian language. Tomus 5 says that a declaration of loyalty to the Creed of Nicaea should have su"ced to
reunite the di^ering sides, but that since an argument had
arisen over the use of the term `three hypostases' in speaking of
the Trinity, those who preferred this language were asked
`whether, like the Arians, they meant hypostases alien to one
another.' They of course replied that they did not, and explained
how they meant the term. Next the Paulinians were asked if they
used the term `one hypostasis' in a Sabellian sense, to deny the
inner reality of the Trinity (Tomus 6). They in turn could only
deny that this was so, and o^ered their own account of their position. As a result, says the Tomus, `those who had been criticized
for speaking of three hypostases agreed with the others; and
those who had spoken of one ousia confessed what the rst
group did as they had explained their language', and both sides
anathematized Arius, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, and several
other notable heresiarchs.
A closer look at the text suggests how the agreement was formulated. Those who spoke of three hypostases, rst of all, when
asked why they did so, replied,
Because we believe in the Holy Trinity, not a Trinity in name only, but
one which really exists and subsists. We recognize the Father as really
existing and subsisting, the Son as really and substantially existing and
subsisting, and the Holy Spirit as subsisting and existing (Patera te
alghvz onta kai uwestvta, kai Uion alghvz enousion onta kai uwestvta, kai
Pneuma acion uwestvz kai uparxon). Nor do we speak of three Gods or
glise (Paris,
Cf. Basil, Ep. 263.5; Palanque, Bardy, de Labriolle, Histoire de l'E
1936), 3.242, n. 3.



three principles or tolerate in any way those who speak or think so. But we
acknowledge the Holy Trinity, one divinity, and one principle, the Son
consubstantial to the Father, as the fathers say, and the Holy Spirit not
a creature or alien, but proper to and undivided from the ousia of the
Son and the Father (Tomus 5).

The Paulinians' account of their use of `hypostasis' was as follows:

When we use the word `hypostasis', we consider that `hypostasis' and
`ousia' mean the same thing. We hold that there is one [hypostasis]
because the Son is from the Father's ousia, and because of the identity
of nature. We believe that there is one divinity having one nature, not
that there is one which belongs to the Father and another foreign to it
belonging to the Son, and another to the Holy Spirit (Tomus 6).

And nally, the rst part of Paulinus' own subscription reads:

I Paulinus hold as true what I received from the fathers: that the Father
exists and subsists as perfect, the Son subsists as perfect, and the Holy
Spirit subsists as perfect ( Onta kai uwestvta Patera teleion kai uwestv
Uion teleion kai uwestgkoz to Pneuma to acion teleion). Hence I accept the
foregoing interpretation concerning the three hypostases, and the one
hypostasis or ousia, and those who hold to it. For it is orthodox to hold
and confess the Holy Trinity in one divinity _ (Tomus 11).

In comparing the three citations, we see at once that Paulinus'

subscription contains the substance of his opponents' confession.
The only allusion to his own party's formula is the phrase `hypostasis or ousia'; the profession of the one divinity was common to
them both, and about the identity of nature there is not a word.
This is doubtless not simply a generous gesture on Paulinus' part,
but stems from the procedure used at the synod: when the Tomus
speaks of the agreement between his opponents and him, it must
mean that each side incorporated in its subscription the central
terms of the other. We do not have the other party's subscription,
which apparently did not survive the later editorial abridgment.
But the reciprocity of profession appears clearly in Tomus 6: oi
aitiahentez vz eirgkotez treiz upostaseiz sunetihento toutoiz. kai
autoi de oi eirgkotez mian ousian ta ekeinvn v
sper grmgneusan kai
molocoun. And the fragmentary information we have about the
other subscriptions suggests that they breathed compromise,
like Paulinus'; Eusebius of Vercelli disowned the creed of the
Council of Sardica (Tomus 10), and the subscriptions of Lucifer's
delegates, whatever they contained, were not at all to his liking.66
So much can be said about the composition of the Trinitarian
part of Paulinus' subscription; the origin of its Christological part

See n. 30.

is less clear, both because one is even less sure of the parties at
odds in this matter, and because Tomus 7 is vaguer about the procedure used to reconcile them. It should be evident by now, however, that what Paulinus wrote about the Trinity and the
incarnation is hardly some sort of additional paragraph to the
Tomus expressing his own views or creed; what he wrote is, in
style and extent, perfectly understandable within the conventions
of the ancient subscription as those had been reshaped in the heat
of the theological battles of the last years of Constantius' reign.
His words cannot be taken as an example of his own preference
in theological expression; like Lucifer of Calaris, he was bound
by the actions of his legates, who subscribed for him according
to the technique of reciprocity taken over by Athanasius from
Valens and used to propose a new theological alliance.

We do not know when, in the course of church history, the
custom arose of subscribing creeds (and letters containing them)
with elements of the contractual style of subscription (together
with elements of other styles, as we have seen). But once it was
established, and the convention of the contractual subscription
was joined to the traditional credal form, then the way was open
for trying new methods of uniting di^erent parties within the
church; it only wanted the right minds to understand the possibilities. Reciprocity of subscription, the procedure by which each of
two parties at variance validates or endorses the other's position
by subscription, had probably rst been suggested at the Synod
of Arles of 353, although the references to that council are too
brief for one to be sure (cf. nn. 36 and 37); it certainly was at
the Synod of Milan two years later, where it was proposed that
the two parties should each subscribe the other's document as
well as its own (the Creed of Nicaea with its condemnation of
Arius on the one hand, and the condemnation of Athanasius
on the other). Valens, we have seen, vehemently refused, and so
ended the rst phase, the `two-document' phase, of reciprocal
But he himself revived it at the Council of Ariminum in a di^erent form when he induced the pro-Nicene party to subscribe the
homoean creed by formulating his own subscription along apparently pro-Nicene lines, a fresh evolution in reciprocity. In this,
the `single-document' phase, the two parties at variance both
subscribed the creed of one of them, with the leader of the party
who sponsored the creed using language representing the doctrine

of his opponents (or so they thought). Athanasius, apparently as
well-informed as usual even in his place of concealment, seems
to have been able to follow Valens' adventures closely as that
astute prelate learned to wield ever more deftly the pen of
subscription which he had snatched from Dionysius at the Synod
of Milan. And at the Synod of Alexandria, where each of the
parties at odds over Trinitarian language subscribed with the
other's terms, he brought the single-document phase of the technique into better balance: the two parties at variance used each the
other's preferred language to subscribe a document which
endorsed the language of both as compatible within the doctrinal
framework of the creed of one of them.
The method, however, had no chance of developing further in
the time of the emperors Valentinian and Valens, in whose church
policy the subscription of creeds lost its importance.67
Cf. C. H. Turner, The History and Use of Creeds and Anathemas in the Early
Centuries of the Church (Oxford, 19102), p. 31.