In 325, Constantine, the sole emperor, convened a general council in Nicaea in order to put an end to the dissensions that had split the Eastern Church for several years, and establish religious unity. Against Arius, a priest of Alexandria, who declared that the Son had been made by Father’s will and was subordinate to Him, the council declared the Son “begotten, not made”, that is “consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father”. The unanimity obtained by imperial pressure hid a deep discomfort because this non-scriptural term was understood as a monarchian term by the great majority of the bishops. Very soon, the struggle began again, and the monarchians were pushed aside, though the Creed of Nicaea was respected as long as Constantine lived. The disagreements continued under Constantius on the basis of a theology of conciliation, anti-homoousian and anti-arian. The “second Creed” of Antioch (341), founded on Scriptures, would be the point of reference in matters of creed for over ten years. But, with the Neo-Arians, the stance became more unbending as far as to declare that the Son be of a different substance (heteroousios) from the Father, resulting in a break of the consensus and the reaction of the homoioousians. A new current, denying all relation with ousia, gathered around the formula of “the Son like the Father (homoios) in everything”, formula adopted by the Council of Constantinople (360) in presence of Constantius, as the official Creed more suited to achieve unity. After his death, several homoians and homoioousians gathered to face radical Arianism. These Neo-Niceans succeeded in the Council of Constantinople (381), convened by emperor Theodosius, adopting a final Creed interpreted the Nicean homoousios in a new sense.

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Antiquité Tardive

Antiquité Tardive

Revue Internationale d'Histoire et d'Archéologie (IVe-VIIe siècle)

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Print ISSN: 1250-7334 Online ISSN: 2295-9718

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