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§38. Several ways of controverting his quibbling syllogisms.

Let us, if you please, examine his irrefragable syllogisms, and his subtle transpositions 197 of the terms in his own false premisses, by which he hopes to shake that argument; though, indeed, I fear lest the miserable quibbling in what he says may in a measure raise a prejudice also against the remarks that would correct it. When striplings challenge to a fight, men get more blame for pugnaciousness in closing with such foes, than honour for their show of victory. Nevertheless, what we want to say is this. We think, indeed, that the things said by him, with that well-known elocution now familiar to us, only for the sake of being insolent, are better buried in silence and oblivion; they may suit him; but to us they afford only an exercise for much-enduring patience. Nor would it be proper, I think, to insert his ridiculous expressions in the midst of our own serious controversy, and so to make this zeal for the truth evaporate in coarse, vulgar laughter; for indeed to be within hearing, and to remain unmoved, is an impossibility, when he says with such sublime and magnificient verbosity, “Where additional words amount to additional blasphemy, it is by half as much more tranquillizing to be silent than to speak.” Let those laugh at these expressions who know which of them are fit to be believed, and which only to be laughed at; while we scrutinize the keenness of those syllogisms with which he tries to tear our system to pieces.

He says, “If ‘Father’ is the same in meaning as ‘Ungenerate,’ and words which have the same meaning naturally have in every respect the same force, and Ungenerate signifies by their confession that God comes from nothing, it follows necessarily that Father signifies the fact of God being of none, and not the having generated the Son.” Now what is this logical necessity which prevents the having generated a Son being signified by the title “Father,” if so be that that same title does in itself express to us as well the absence of beginning in the Father? If, indeed, the one idea was totally destructive of the other, it would certainly follow, from the very nature of contradictories 198 , that the affirming of the one would involve the denial of the other. But if there is nothing in the world to prevent the p. LXXXVII same Existence from being Father and also Ungenerate, when we try to think, under this title of Father, of the quality of not having been generated as one of the ideas implied in it, what necessity prevents the relation to a Son being any longer marked by the word Father? Other names which express mutual relationship are not always confined to those ideas of relationship; for instance, we call the emperor 199 autocrat and masterless, and we call the same the ruler of his subjects; and, while it is quite true that the word emperor signifies also the being masterless, it is not therefore necessary that this word, because signifying autocratic and unruled, must cease to imply the having power over inferiors; the word emperor, in fact, is midway between these two conceptions, and at one time indicates masterlessness, at another the ruling over lower orders. In the case before us, then, if there is some other Father conceivable besides the Father of Our Lord, let these men who boast of their profound wisdom show him to us, and then we will agree with him that the idea of the Ungenerate cannot be represented by the title “Father.” But if the First Father has no cause transcending His own state, and the subsistence of the Son is invariably implied in the title of Father, why do they try to scare us, as if we were children, with these professional twistings of premisses, endeavouring to persuade or rather to decoy us into the belief that, if the property of not having been generated is acknowledged in the title of Father, we must sever from the Father any relation with the Son.

Despising, then, this silly superficial attempt of theirs, let us manfully own our belief in that which they adduce as a monstrous absurdity, viz., that not only does the ‘Father’ mean the same as Ungenerate and that this last property establishes the Father as being of none, but also that the word ‘Father’ introduces with itself the notion of the Only-begotten, as a relative bound to it. Now the following passage, which is to be found in the treatise of our Teacher, has been removed from the context by this clever and invincible controversialist; for, by suppressing that part which was added by Basil by way of safeguard, he thought he would make his own reply a much easier task. The passage runs thus verbatim. “For my part I should be inclined to say that this title of the Ungenerate, however readily it may seem to fall in with our own ideas, yet, as nowhere found in Scripture, and as forming the alphabet of Eunomius’ blasphemy, may very well be suppressed, when we have the word Father meaning the same thing, in addition to 200 its introducing with itself, as a relative bound to it, the notion of the Son.” This generous champion of the truth, with innate good feeling 201 , has suppressed this sentence which was added by way of safeguard, I mean, “in addition to introducing with itself, as a relative bound to it, the notion of the Son;” after this garbling, he comes to close quarters with what remains, and having severed the connection of the living whole 202 , and thus made it, as he thinks, a more yielding and assailable victim of his logic, he misleads his own party with the frigid and feeble paralogism, that “that which has a common meaning, in one single point, with something else retains that community of meaning in every possible point;” and with this he takes their shallow intelligences by storm. For while we have only affirmed that the word Father in a certain signification yields the same meaning as Ungenerate, this man makes the coincidence of meanings complete in every point, quite at variance therein with the common acceptation of either word; and so he reduces the matter to an absurdity, pretending that this word Father can no longer denote any relation to the Son, if the idea of not having been generated is conveyed by it. It is just as if some one, after having acquired two ideas about a loaf,—one, that it is made of flour, the other, that it is food to the consumer—were to contend with the person who told him this, using against him the same kind of fallacy as Eunomius does, viz., that ‘the being made of flour is one thing, but the being food is another; if, then, it is granted that the loaf is made of flour, this quality in it can no longer strictly be called food.’ Such is the thought in Eunomius’ syllogism; “if the not having been generated is implied by the word Father, this word can no longer convey the idea of having generated the Son.” But I think it is time that we, in our turn, applied to this argument of his that magnificently rounded period of his own (already quoted). In reply to such words, it would be suitable to say that he would have more claim to be considered in his sober senses, if he had put the limit to such argumentative safeguards at absolute silence. For “where additional words amount to additional blasphemy,” or, rather, indicate that he has utterly lost his reason, it is not only “by half as much more,” but by the whole as much more “tranquillizing to be silent than to speak.”

p. LXXXVIII But perhaps a man would be more easily led into the true view by personal illustrations; so let us leave this looking backwards and forwards and this twisting of false premisses 203 , and discuss the matter in a less learned and more popular way. Your father, Eunomius, was certainly a human being; but the same person was also the author of your being. Did you, then, ever use in his case too this clever quibble which you have employed; so that your own ‘father,’ when once he receives the true definition of his being, can no longer mean, because of being a ‘man,’ any relationship to yourself; ‘for he must be one of two things, either a man, or Eunomius’ father?’—Well, then, you must not use the names of intimate relationship otherwise than in accordance with that intimate meaning. Yet, though you would indict for libel any one who contemptuously scoffed against yourself, by means of such an alteration of meanings, are you not afraid to scoff against God; and are you safe when you laugh at these mysteries of our faith? As ‘your father’ indicates relationship to yourself, and at the same time humanity is not excluded by that term, and as no one in his sober senses instead of styling him who begat you ‘your father’ would render his description by the word ‘man,’ or, reversely, if asked for his genus and answering ‘man,’ would assert that that answer prevented him from being your father; so in the contemplation of the Almighty a reverent mind would not deny that by the title of Father is meant that He is without generation, as well as that in another meaning it represents His relationship to the Son. Nevertheless Eunomius, in open contempt of truth, does assert that the title cannot mean the ‘having begotten a son’ any longer, when once the word has conveyed to us the idea of ‘never having been generated.’

Let us add the following illustration of the absurdity of his assertions. It is one that all must be familiar with, even mere children who are being introduced under a grammar-tutor to the study of words. Who, I say, does not know that some nouns are absolute and out of all relation, others express some relationship. Of these last, again, there are some which incline, according to the speaker’s wish, either way; they have a simple intention in themselves, but can be turned so as to become nouns of relation. I will not linger amongst examples foreign to our subject. I will explain from the words of our Faith itself.

God is called Father and King and other names innumerable in Scripture. Of these names one part can be pronounced absolutely, i.e. simply as they are, and no more: viz.. “imperishable,” “everlasting,” “immortal,” and so on. Each of these, without our bringing in another thought, contains in itself a complete thought about the Deity. Others express only relative usefulness; thus, Helper, Champion, Rescuer, and other words of that meaning; if you remove thence the idea of one in need of the help, all the force expressed by the word is gone. Some, on the other hand, as we have said, are both absolute, and are also amongst the words of relation; ‘God,’ for instance, and ‘good,’ and many other such. In these the thought does not continue always within the absolute. The Universal God often becomes the property of him who calls upon Him; as the Saints teach us, when they make that independent Being their own. ‘The Lord God is Holy;’ so far there is no relation; but when one adds the Lord Our God, and so appropriates the meaning in a relation towards oneself, then one causes the word to be no longer thought of absolutely. Again; “Abba, Father” is the cry of the Spirit; it is an utterance free from any partial reference. But we are bidden to call the Father in heaven, ‘Our Father;’ this is the relative use of the word. A man who makes the Universal Deity his own, does not dim His supreme dignity; and in the same way there is nothing to prevent us, when we point out the Father and Him who comes from Him, the Firstborn before all creation, from signifying by that title of Father at one and the same time the having begotten that Son, and also the not being from any more transcendent Cause. For he who speaks of the First Father means Him who is presupposed before all existence, Whose is the beyond 204 . This is He, Who has nothing previous to Himself to behold, no end in which He shall cease. Whichever way we look, He is equally existing there for ever; He transcends the limit of any end, the idea of any beginning, by the infinitude of His life; whatever be His title, eternity must be implied with it.

But Eunomius, versed as he is in the contemplation of that which eludes thought, rejects this view of unscientific minds; he will not admit a double meaning in the word ‘Father,’ the one, that from Him are all things and in the front of all things the Only-begotten Son, the other, that He Himself has no superior Cause. He p. LXXXIX may scorn the statement; but we will brave his mocking laugh, and repeat what we have said already, that the ‘Father’ is the same as that Ungenerate One, and both signifies the having begotten the Son, and represents the being from nothing.

But Eunomius, contending with this statement of ours, says (the very contrary now of what he said before), “If God is Father because He has begotten the Son, and ‘Father’ has the same meaning as Ungenerate, God is Ungenerate because He has begotten the Son, but before He begat Him He was not Ungenerate.” Observe his method of turning round; how he pulls his first quibble to pieces, and turns it into the very opposite, thinking even so to entrap us in a conclusion from which there is no escape. His first syllogism presented the following absurdity, “If ‘Father’ means the coming from nothing, then necessarily it will no longer indicate the having begotten the Son.” But this last syllogism, by turning (a premiss) into its contrary, threatens our faith with another absurdity. How, then, does he pull to pieces his former conclusion 205 ? “If He is ‘Father’ because He has begotten a Son.” His first syllogism gave us nothing like that; on the contrary, its logical inference purported to show that if the Father’s not having been generated was meant by the word Father, that word could not mean as well the having begotten a Son 206 . Thus his first syllogism contained no intimation whatever that God was Father because He had begotten a Son. I fail to understand what this argumentative and shrewdly professional reversal means.

But let us look to the thought in it below the words. ‘If God is Ungenerate because He has begotten a Son, He was not Ungenerate before He begat Him.’ The answer to that is plain; it consists in the simple statement of the Truth that ‘the word Father means both the having begotten a Son, and also that the Begetter is not to be thought of as Himself coming from any cause.’ If you look at the effect, the Person of the Son is revealed in the word Father; if you look for a previous Cause, the absence of any beginning in the Begetter is shown by that word. In saying that ‘Before He begat a Son, the Almighty was not Ungenerate,’ this pamphleteer lays himself open to a double charge; i.e. of misrepresentation of us, and of insult to the Faith. He attacks, as if there was no mistake about it, something which our Teacher never said, neither do we now assert, viz., that the Almighty became in process of time a Father, having been something else before. Moreover in ridiculing the absurdity of this fancied doctrine of ours, he proclaims his own wildness as to doctrine. Assuming that the Almighty was once something else, and then by an advance became entitled to be called Father, he would have it that before this He was not Ungenerate either, since Ungeneracy is implied in the idea of Father. The folly of this hardly needs to be pointed out; it will be abundantly clear to anyone who reflects. If the Almighty was something else before He became Father, what will the champions of this theory say, if they were asked in what state they propose to contemplate Him? What name are they going to give Him in that stage of existence; child, infant, babe, or youth? Will they blush at such flagrant absurdity, and say nothing like that, and concede that He was perfect from the first? Then how can He be perfect, while as yet unable to become Father? Or will they not deprive Him of this power, but say only that it was not fitting that there should be Fatherhood simultaneously with His existence. But if it was not good nor fitting that He should be from the very beginning Father of such a Son, how did He go on to acquire that which was not good?

But, as it is, it is good and fitting to God’s majesty that He should become Father of such a Son. So they will make out that at the beginning He had no share in this good thing, and as long as He did not have this Son they must assert (may God forgive me for saying it!) that He had no Wisdom, nor Power, nor Truth, nor any of the other glories which from various points of view the Only-begotten Son is and is called.

But let all this fall on the heads of those who started it. We will return whence we digressed. He says, “if God is Father because of having begotten a Son, and if Father means the being Ungenerate, then God was not this last, before He begat.” Now if he could speak here as it is customary to speak about human life, where it is inconceivable that any should acquire possession of many accomplishments all at once, instead of winning each of the objects sought after in a certain order and sequence p. XC of time—if I say we could reason like that in the case of the Almighty, so that we could say He possessed His Ungeneracy at one time, and after that acquired His power, and then His imperishability, and then His Wisdom, and advancing so became Father, and after that Just and then Everlasting, and so came into all that enters into the philosophical conception of Him, in a certain sequence—then it would not be so manifestly absurd to think that one of His names has precedence of another name, and to talk of His being first Ungenerate, and after that having become Father.

As it is, however, no one is so earth-bound in imagination, so uninitiated in the sublimities of our Faith, as to fail, when once he has apprehended the Cause of the universe, to embrace in one collective and compact whole all the attributes which piety can give to God; and to conceive instead of a primal and a later attribute, and of another in between, supervening in a certain sequence. It is not possible, in fact, to traverse in thought one amongst those attributes and then reach another, be it a reality or a conception, which is to transcend the first in antiquity. Every name of God, every sublime conception of Him, every utterance or idea that harmonizes with our general ideas with regard to Him, is linked in closest union with its fellow; all such conceptions are massed together in our understanding into one collective and compact whole namely, His Fatherhood, and Ungeneracy, and Power, and Imperishability, and Goodness, and Authority, and everything else. You cannot take one of these and separate it in thought from the rest by any interval of time, as if it preceded or followed something else; no sublime or adorable attribute in Him can be discovered, which is not simultaneously expressed in His everlastingness. Just, then, as we cannot say that God was ever not good, or powerful, or imperishable, or immortal, in the same way it is a blasphemy not to attribute to Him Fatherhood always, and to say that that came later. He Who is truly Father is always Father; if eternity was not included in this confession, and if a foolishly preconceived idea curtailed and checked retrospectively our conception of the Father, true Fatherhood could no longer be properly predicated of Him, because that preconceived idea about the Son would cancel the continuity and eternity of His Fatherhood. How could that which He is now called be thought of something which came into existence subsequent to these other attributes? If being first Ungenerate He then became Father, and received that name, He was not always altogether what He is now called. But that which the God now existing is He always is; He does not become worse or better by any addition, He does not become altered by taking something from another source. He is always identical with Himself. If, then, He was not Father at first, He was not Father afterwards. But if He is confessed to be Father (now), I will recur to the same argument, that, if He is so now, He always was so; and that if He always was, He always will be. The Father therefore is always Father; and seeing that the Son must always be thought of along with the Father (for the title of father cannot be justified unless there is a son to make it true), all that we contemplate in the Father is to be observed also in the Son. “All that the Father hath is the Son’s; and all that is the Son’s the Father hath.” The words are, ‘The Father hath that which is the Son’s 207 ,’ and so a carping critic will have no authority for finding in the contents of the word “all” the ungeneracy of the Son, when it is said that the Son has all that the Father has, nor on the other hand the generation of the Father, when all that is the Son’s is to be observed in the Father. For the Son has all the things of the Father; but He is not Father: and again, all the things of the Son are to be observed in the Father, but He is not a Son.

If, then, all that is the Father’s is in the Only-begotten, and He is in the Father, and the Fatherhood is not dissociated from the ‘not having been generated,’ I for my part cannot see what there is to think of in connexion with the Father, by Himself, that is parted by any interval so as to precede our apprehension of the Son. Therefore we may boldly encounter the difficulties started in that quibbling syllogism; we may despise it as a mere scare to frighten children, and still assert that God is Holy, and Immortal, and Father, and Ungenerate, and Everlasting, and everything all at once; and that, if it could be supposed possible that you could withhold one of these attributes which devotion assigns to Him, all would be destroyed along with that one. Nothing, therefore, in Him is older or younger; else He would be found to be older or younger than Himself. If God is not all His attributes always, but something in Him is, and something else only becoming, following some order of sequence (we must remember God is not a compound; whatever He is is the whole of Him), and if according to this heresy He is first Ungenerate and afterwards becomes Father, then, seeing that we cannot think of Him in connexion with a heaping together of qualities, p. XCI there is no alternative but that the whole of Him must be both older and younger than the whole of Him, the former by virtue of His Ungeneracy, the latter by virtue of His Fatherhood. But if, as the prophet says of God 208 , He “is the same,” it is idle to say that before He begat He was not Himself Ungenerate; we cannot find either of these names, the Father and the Ungenerate One, parted from the other; the two ideas rise together, suggested by each other, in the thoughts of the devout reasoner. God is Father from everlasting, and everlasting Father, and every other term that devotion assigns to Him is given in a like sense, the mensuration and the flow of time having no place, as we have said, in the Eternal.

Let us now see the remaining results of his expertness in dealing with words; results, which he himself truly says, are at once ridiculous and lamentable. Truly one must laugh outright at what he says, if a deep lament for the error that steeps his soul were not more fitting. Whereas Father, as we teach, includes, according to one of its meanings, the idea of the Ungenerate, he transfers the full signification of the word Father to that of the Ungenerate, and declares “If Father is the same as Ungenerate, it is allowable for us to drop it, and use Ungenerate instead; thus, the Ungenerate of the Son is Ungenerate; for as the Ungenerate is Father of the Son, so reversely the Father is Ungenerate of the Son.” After this a feeling of admiration for our friend’s adroitness steals over me, with the conviction that the many-sided subtlety of his theological training is quite beyond the capacity of most. What our Teacher said was embraced in one short sentence, to the effect that it was possible that by the title ‘Father’ the Ungeneracy could be signified; but Eunomius’ words depend for their number not on the variety of the thoughts, but on the way that anything within the circuit of similar names can be turned about 209 . As the cattle that run blindfold round to turn the mill remain with all their travel in the same spot, so does he go round and round the same topic, and never leaves it. Once he said, ridiculing us, that ‘Father’ does not signify the having begotten, but the being from nothing. Again he wove a similar dilemma, “If Father signifies Ungeneracy, before He begat He was not ungenerate.” Then a third time he resorts to the same trick. “It is allowable for us to drop Father, and to use Ungenerate instead;” and then directly he repeats the logic so often vomited. “For as the Ungenerate is Father of the Son, so reversely the Father is Ungenerate of the Son.” How often he returns to his vomit; how often he blurts it out again! Shall we not, then, annoy most people, if we drag about our argument in company with this foolish display of words? It would be perhaps more decent to be silent in a case like this; still, lest any one should think that we decline discussion because we are weak in pleas, we will answer thus to what he has said. ‘You have no authority, Eunomius, for calling the Father the Ungenerate of the Son, even though the title Father does signify that the Begetter was from no cause Himself. For as, to take the example already cited, when we hear the word ‘Emperor’ we understand two things, both that the one who is pre-eminent in authority is subject to none, and also that he controls his inferiors, so the title Father supplies us with two ideas about the Deity, one relating to His Son, the other to His being dependent on no preconceivable cause. As, then, in the case of ‘Emperor’ we cannot say that because the two things are signified by that term, viz., the ruling over subjects and the not having any to take precedence of him, there is any justification for speaking of the ‘Unruled of subjects,’ instead of the ‘Ruler of the nation,’ or allowing so much, that we may use such a juxtaposition of words, in imitation of king of a nation, as kingless of a nation, in the same way when ‘Father’ indicates a Son, and also represents the idea of the Ungenerate, we may not unduly transfer this latter meaning, so as to attach this idea of the Ungenerate fast to a paternal relationship, and absurdly say ‘the Ungenerate is Ungenerate of the Son.’

He treads on the ground of truth, he thinks, after such utterances; he has exposed the absurdity of his adversaries’ position; how boastfully he cries, “And what sane thinker, pray, ever yet wanted the natural thought to be suppressed, and welcomed the paradoxical?” No sane thinker, most accomplished sir; and therefore our argument neither, which teaches that while the term Ungenerate does suit our thoughts, and we ought to guard it in our hearts intact, yet the term Father is an adequate substitute for the one which you have perverted, and leads the mind in that direction. Remember the words which you yourself quoted; Basil did not ‘want the natural thought to be suppressed, and welcome the paradoxical,’ as you phrase it; but he advised us to avoid all danger by suppressing the mere word Ungenerate, that is, the expression in so many syllables, as one which had been evilly interpreted, and besides was not to be found in Scripture; as for its meaning he declares that it does most completely suit our thoughts.

p. XCII Thus far for our statement. But this reviler of all quibblers, who completely arms his own argument with the truth, and arraigns our sins in logic, does not blush in any of his arguing on doctrines to indulge in very pretty quibbles; on a par with those exquisite jokes which are cracked to make people laugh at dessert. Reflect on the weight of reasoning displayed in that complicated syllogism; which I will now again repeat. “If ‘Father’ is the same as Ungenerate, it is allowable for us to drop it, and use Ungenerate instead; thus, the Ungenerate is Ungenerate of the Son; for as the Ungenerate is Father of the Son, so, reversely, the Father is Ungenerate of the Son.” Well, this is very like another case such as the following. Suppose some one were to state the right and sound view about Adam; namely, that it mattered not whether we called him “father of mankind” or “the first man formed by God” (for both mean the same thing), and then some one else, belonging to Eunomius’ school of reasoners, were to pounce upon this statement, and make the same complication out of it, viz.: If “first man formed by God” and “father of mankind” are the same things, it is allowable for us to drop the word “father” and use “first formed” instead; and say that Adam was the “first formed,” instead of the “father,” of Abel; for as the first formed was the father of a son, so, reversely, that father is the first formed of that son. If this had been said in a tavern, what laughter and applause would have broken from the tippling circle over so fine and exquisite a joke! These are the arguments on which our learned theologian leans; when he assails our doctrine, he really needs himself a tutor and a stick to teach him that all the things which are predicated of some one do not necessarily, in their meaning, have respect to one single object; as is plain from the aforesaid instance of Abel and Adam. That one and the same Adam is Abel’s father and also God’s handiwork is a truth; nevertheless it does not follow that, because he is both, he is both with respect to Abel. So the designation of the Almighty as Father has both the special meaning of that word, i.e., the having begotten a son, and also that of there being no preconceivable cause of the Very Father; nevertheless it does not follow that when we mention the Son we must speak of the Ungenerate, instead of the Father, of that Son; nor, on the other hand, if the absence of beginning remains unexpressed in reference to the Son, that we must banish from our thoughts about God that attribute of Ungeneracy. But he discards the usual acceptations, and like an actor in comedy, makes a joke of the whole subject, and by dint of the oddity of his quibbles makes the questions of our faith ridiculous. Again I must repeat his words: “If Father is the same as Ungenerate, it is allowable for us to drop it, and use Ungenerate instead; thus, the Ungenerate is Ungenerate of the Son; for as the Ungenerate is Father of the Son, so, reversely, the Father is Ungenerate of the Son.” But let us turn the laugh against him, by reversing his quibble; thus: If Father is not the same as Ungenerate, the Son of the Father will not be Son of the Ungenerate; for having relation to the Father only, he will be altogether alien in nature to that which is other than Father, and does not suit that idea; so that, if the Father is something other than the Ungenerate, and the title Father does not comprehend that meaning, the Son, being One, cannot be distributed between these two relationships, and be at the same time Son both of the Father and of the Ungenerate; and, as before it was an acknowledged absurdity to speak of the Deity as Ungenerate of the Son, so in this converse proposition it will be found an absurdity just as great to call the Only-begotten Son of the Ungenerate. So that he must choose one of two things; either the Father is the same as the Ungenerate (which is necessary in order that the Son of the Father may be Son of the Ungenerate as well); and then our doctrine has been ridiculed by him without reason; or, the Father is something different to the Ungenerate, and the Son of the Father is alienated from all relationship to the Ungenerate. But then, if it is thus to hold that the Only-begotten is not the Son of the Ungenerate, logic inevitably points to a “generated Father;” for that which exists, but does not exist without generation, must have a generated substance. If, then, the Father, being according to these men other than Ungenerate, is therefore generated, where is their much talked of Ungeneracy? Where is that basis and foundation of their heretical castle-building? The Ungenerate, which they thought just now that they grasped, has eluded them, and vanished quite beneath the action of a few barren syllogisms; their would-be demonstration of the Unlikeness, like a mere dream about something, slips away at the touch of criticism, and takes its flight along with this Ungenerate.

Thus it is that whenever a falsehood is welcomed in preference to the truth, it may indeed flourish for a little through the illusion which it creates, but it will soon collapse; its own methods of proof will dissolve it. But we bring this forward only to raise a smile at the very pretty revenge we might take on their Unlikeness. We must now resume the main thread of our discourse.



Transpositions of the terms in his own false premises; τῶν σοφισμάτων ἀντιστροφὰς. The same as “the professional twisting of premisses,” and “the hooking backward and forward and twisting of premisses” below. The terms Father and Αγέννητος are transposed or twisted into each other’s place in this ‘irrefragable syllogism.’ It is ‘a reductio ad absurdum’ thus:—

Father means Αγέννητος (Basil’s premiss),

Αγέννητος means Father.

The fallacy of Eunomius consists in making ‘Father’ universal in his own premiss, when it was only particular in Basil’s. “Αγέννητος means the whole contents of the word Father,” which therefore cannot mean having generated a son. It is a False Conversion.

This Conversion or ντιοτροφὴ is illustrated in Aristotle’s Analytics, Prior. I. iii. 3. It is legitimate thus:—

Some B is A

∴ Some A is (some) B.


κατὰ τὴν τῶν ἀντικειμένων φύσιν. If Αγέννητος means not having a son, then to affirm ‘God is always Αγέννητος’ is even to deny (its logical contradictory) ‘God once had a Son.’


τὸν βασιλέα.


πρὸς τῷ. Cod. Ven., surely better than the common πρὸς τὸ, which Oehler has in his text.


λευθερία; late Greek, for λευθεριότης


the living whole.” σώματος: this is the radical meaning of σῶμα, and also the classical. Viger. (Idiom. p. 143 note) distinguishes four meanings under this. 1. Safety. 2. Individuality. 3. Living presence. 4. Life: and adduces instances of each from the Attic orators.


τὸ κατηγκυλωμένον τῆς τῶν συφισμάτων πλοκῆς. See c. 38, note 7. The false premisses in the syllogisms have been—

1. Father (partly) means Αγέννητος

Things which mean the same in part, mean the same in all (false premiss).

∴ Father means Αγέννητος (false).

2. Father means Αγέννητος (false).

Αγέννητος does not mean ‘having a Son.’

∴ Father does not mean ‘having a Son’ (false).


νεδείξατο, οὗ τὸ ἐπέκεινα. This is the reading of the Turin Cod., and preferable to that of the Paris edition.


The first syllogism was—

‘Father’ means the ‘coming from nothing;’

(‘Coming from nothing’ does not mean ‘begetting a Son’)

∴ Father does not mean begetting a Son.

He “pulls to pieces” this conclusion by taking its logical ‘contrary’ as the first premiss of his second syllogism; thus—

Father means begetting a Son;

(Father means Αγέννητος)

Αγέννητος means begetting a Son.

From which it follows that before that begetting the Almighty was not Αγέννητος

The conclusion of the last syllogism also involves the contrary of the 2nd premiss of the first.

It is to be noticed that both syllogisms are aimed at Basil’s doctrine, ‘Father’ means ‘coming from nothing.’ Eunomius strives to show that, in both, such a premiss leads to an absurdity. But Gregory ridicules both for contradicting each other.


τὸ μὲν μὴ δύνασθαι. The negative, absent in Oehler, is recovered from the Turin Cod.


John xvi. 15. Oehler conjectures these words (Εχει ὁ πατὴρ) are to be repeated; and thus obtains a good sense, which the common reading, πατὴρ εἶπον, does not give.


Psalm cii. 27.


ν τῇ περιόδῳ καὶ ἀναστροφῇ τῶν ὁμοίων ῥημάτων.

Next: Answer to the question he is always asking, “Can He who is be begotten?”