Before Photios: Giving philosophical content to Theological terms.

 In the case of the term begotten:

“If then God be as man, let Him become also a parent as man, so that His Son should be father of another, and so in succession one from another, till the series they imagine grows into a multitude of gods.” –St. Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, NPNF II, 4, p. 318-319

In the case of the term proceeds: 

“Furthermore, if the Son is begotten from the Father, and the Spirit (according to this innovation) proceeds from the Father and the Son, then by the same token another person should proceed from the Spirit, and so we should have not three but four persons!  And if the fourth procession be possible, then another procession is possible from that, and so on to an infinite number of processions and persons, until at last this doctrine is transformed into a Greek polytheism!” –St. Photios, Mystagogia 9, PG 103

22 Responses to Before Photios: Giving philosophical content to Theological terms.

  1. acolyte says:


    The love analogy is just that, an analogy and it gives no content to the Trinity. That is, you ask why are there only three? You are looking for a reason and therefore seeking to subsume God under reason. Reason only grasps being-activity, and God is superior to being and ad intra, he is heyond being. Consequently there can be no reason available to us as to why God is only three persons. We would have to know what terms like “Begotten” meant. But we don’t and can’t

    If reason could say why there were three, the activity of reason would not stop, since for every reason given an opposite reason could be given, say for four and five and so one. And then there would be no end to it. This is why the Love analogy falls short, for persons are not relations. If they were, modalism would be true and Trinitarianism false.

    Justin insists on the Father being unseen and the Son seen for two reasons. First it is Christian teaching and second he is trying to use Hellenistic categories to explicate and argue for Christian doctrine. In Hellenism things are distinguished by opposite properties and so he distinguishes the Father and the Son by those opposite properties. The problem is that he is thinking of them more as individual substances rather than as persons. More specifically, the Father is the personal and eternal source of the Son as the Father’s power. This is why all of the powers of God are gathered together in the Son and why the Son reveals the Father.

    As for the Wisdom literature, I am not convinced that they combine Greek and Hebrew thought as opposed to explaining one in terms of another, while correcting the errors. Theology bursts the wineskins of the Greeks.

    The older icons of the visitation and the other ones attempting to depict the Trniity either received an Origenistic gloss or were flat our Origenistic. The former were seen as icons of the Trinity typologically. This means that theology could be governed by reason alone and so history didn’t matter. History was part of the fall-presto-Origenism. Or you had images where the Father is an old man, the Son is a young man on his lap and the Spirit a dove in the center. These depicted not any historical revelation but rather a rationalistic system where each emanated from the preceding. For such a view one didn’t even need persons. Persons were symbols for something else. It shouldn’t be hard to see the implicit Gnosticism here.

    At the Baptism of Christ, it is of course the Father’s voice, which the pharasees had never heard. This is because the Father is only revealed IN the Son. As for the Son revealed, compare Isaiah with Revelation-it is clearly the Son. And the NT makes plain that it was the Son who was with Moses. The Jews were acquainted with the Son but they did not receive him. As for an example of OT theophanies being Christ, Maximus the Confessor is quite clear on the matter.

    As for the need for persons, if all there was were the essence and energies, creation would either never haven taken place or would be eternal and this is why the Greeks always thought of the world being eternal. Persons on the other hand are free and so if there are persons who subsist in an essence and who USE and can bring to actualization the powers of that essence, than creation becomes free, not to mention salvation being gratuitous.

    Being is a verb, not a noun. It is a doing, an act. It is taken from the Latin, esse, which is roughly equivalent to energia. This is why God is beyond being. God is more than his actions.

  2. Lucian says:

    Yes, I think You’ve surely misunderstood me on the point mentioned above … now that I read Your response for the 4th time, this is actually becoming pretty clear to me.
    I also think You indeed meant to write “+”, not “=” in the phrase “BE-ING = Essence = Energies”, since the “+” is right on the same key as the “=” sign.

    Lucian. — this IS the LAST comment.

  3. Lucian says:

    … didn’t You mean by any chance “BE-ING = Esse + Energeia” ???


  4. Lucian says:

    I think You’ve misunderstood one of the dilemmas I had : I wasn’t talking about the essence as being a-personal or non-personal ! God forbid ! I was just asking what the logic behind having MORE THAN ONE Person was … (I think this is already the 3rd time I read Your answer…) Why not have One Person, of Essence and Energies ? This was what has been puzzling me. [i.e., why add another One, and making this One manipulating/monopoling all the energies? Is the Father bereft of these?]


  5. Lucian says:


    [1]. Are there some differences between the Theophanies of the Holy Ghost, and that of Christ ? (Is this what You’ve alluded to in the phrase: “The Spirit only appears *in the form* or *likeness* as a dove or fire” ?) Iraeneus says they are the two hands of the Father, with which He works in the world, so I didn’t get any ‘red flags’ fro him … but I really don’t know for sure, and in exact detail …

    [2]. Can You please tell me more precisely (sorry for being so persuasive) what You’ve meant by ‘the old ones were based on Origenistic principles’ … there are images of the Three Visitors to Abraham be found very early on, namely on a 6th century mosaic in Ravena; not to mention the 4th-5th century Lateran sarcophaguses, showing the Old One Of Days. And how exactly is poor old Andrew Rubliov ‘Origenistic’ or submisssive to ‘Western kitsch’ — remember, he didn’t paint ‘the N.T. Trinity icon’ precisely because he was a traditional man, notwithstanding the fact that this image flourished in his days -inflation, You might call it- (and yet, he never painted it).

    [3]. The voice heard at Christ’s Baptism, saying “This is MY Son” — who’s voice was it? (A certain Angel’s, maybe?) — if Justin interpreted that the ‘I am Who I am’ was said by the Angel of the Lord not only of God, but also about Himself, how do we take this affirmation to be relevant in this specific case ? [Did the Son fathered Himself ??!]

    [4]. The Old One Of Days IN THAT PARTICULAR VISION OF ISAIAH was considered by the Fathers to be the Son ?? — please, if I’m not to ‘pushy’ [but I think I already am 🙂 — please forgive me for that], could You please give me at leats one clear example? (I’ll be very greatful!).

    [5]. I’m very sorry, but I’m unable to understand Your logic on essence/energies being such unsufficient a paradigm (and that we somehow need persons). — I know that this is the main point, and that You tried so hard to explain it, but I really don’t grasp Your point. I’m so sorry. 😦 … Hey! I don’t even understand Your pop-analogy with the Borg (though, I know very well the Star-Trek thing that You’ve alluded to).

    [6]. How exactly is Being & Esse (i.e., substance) the same as Energeia ?? (You almost gave me a heart-attack when I read that!).

    [7]. Persons aren’t, of course, relations! (This is why the number 7 is so important in Scripture, and why it’s all around us in nature: 3 Persons + 3 inter-personal relations + 1 Essence). To explain the Unity, You double it & increment it, and obtain the Trinity. To explain the Trinity in more unfolded a manner, You double it & increment it. [when I use words such as ‘explain’ I really mean nothing more than St. Spiridon’s brick ‘explained’ the Trinity].

    [8]. I didn’t even understand Your example with Corinthians 1:17, though You’ve explained it … sorry. 😦

    [9]. The Arian & Catholic teachings contradict themselves so flagrantly, that we don’t even have to go in there! (ARIANS : “there was a time when He was not” & “ALL has been made through Him” — including time!!) (CATH.: in every way possible: “since the Ghost was sent through the Son, it immediately follows that He proceeds the Ghost from Himself” & Matthew 4:1 & Luke 4:1, where the Son is sent by the Ghost in the wilderness; ALSO: “the Ghost is the relation of mutual love between Father and Son” + coupled with what You’ve mentioned above about confounding persons with relations; etc. etc. etc.). — but I digress …

    P.S. : Why “Filioque” ? Why NOT “Spirituque” ?? (if I’ll be permitted to coin a word). Afterall, Isn’t the Spirit called ‘Mother’ by early Christians? Isn’t He called Sophia (feminine noun) by the Fathers, or at least some Fathers, not devoid of importance? Don’t we say “born anew, from above, by the Holy Spirit” ? (And since we only have one Father, …) — try this perspective the next time an RC “persecutes” You with the ‘Filioque’ … or if You want to “persecute” him >:) — but I’m just beginning to start to be mean … so I think I’ll call it a day, and end this pleasant monologue right here …


  6. Lucian says:

    Ooops, sorry, I’ve forgotten a little equation just a little bit above : Cain = Adam. (So, in the like manner that all of these three distinct persons are but “one flesh”, being all three of them called Adam, without being confounded with the one Adam, so the three distinct Persons of the Trinity are but One God, each of Them being called God , without being confounded with God, i.e. the Father).

    Lucian. — it seems I still can’t limit myself to just one comment, despite my best intentions.

  7. Lucian says:

    Oh, yeah, and another thing, regarding the Trinity (point #2 of my previous comment, and some of the thoughts You’ve expressed in Your answer) : “God created man [Adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male [Adam] and female [Eva] created he them”.

    Adam = Adam + Eva.

    Likewise, when it says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”, this “one flesh” is in no way a vague or abstract idea. Quite on the contrary, after nine months after man and woman become “one flesh”, this “one flesh” will weep, and cry, and demand lots and lots of love and affection. 🙂

    This flesh that Adam and Eva became was called Cain, and Eva said of him : “I have gotten a man [Adam] from the LORD”.

    Adam + Eva = Cain.

    (I have on my computer Easton’s Bible Dictionary and the Hebrew Transliterared Old Testament, so it was easy for me to verify this).

    In the exact same manner, by a remarcable analogy, the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Ghost is God, and the Holy Trinity is God. [both Son and Spirit flowing from God, and all the Three of Them being One (just like Eva was taken from Adam’s rib, and their sons sprung forth from Adam’s loins)]. — Another image that the Fathers frequently used (apart from that of the family, showed above) was that the Sun (along with its Rays and Heat).


  8. Lucian says:

    (0). Thanks! (I have understood only a tiny, if not minuscule portion of what You’ve said, and I think I’ll have to re-re-read Your answer many-many times, but I’m very pleased by Your answer). Thank You!

    (1). Justin uses ‘ineffable’ and the like … but I was simply unable to remember and/or find this word at the time I wrote my concerns.

    (2). Trinity because we can love somebody else … but to see that somebody else loving somebody else (whom we also love), and instead of being envious, or angered, or frustrated, or feeling insecure, or having our egos hurt, we [paradoxically — and ODy is just full of these, and I love Her for that] … so, as I’ve said, instead of doing that, we feel even more love for them and even more joy for their mutual love, then we are perfect. [Usually, the love between husband and wife becomes egoistical when there are no kids involved]. — this is why the Fathers speak of the perfection of Trinitarian love.

    (3). Why did Justin insist that the Father could not be seen, but the Son could ? Why do we need to make another Person Who gathers together all the Energies of God (other than the Father) ? Why do God’s Energies have to be united in a Person different from the Father Himself ? — You speak of Catholics, but I speak of Jews. As I’ve emphasized: HELLENISED Jews. Why did such a great many of them embrace Christianity? While, on the other hand, the non-hellenised Jews remained what they allready were before : Jews. (The apostolic missions started out in the Diaspora, and only then to pagans. — even the Ethiopian famen was a Jew before being converted by Philip the Deacon, one of the Seven). Christ Himself was a Galilean, and Galilee was called “Galilee of the Gentiles”. He begins His ministry by reading from the LXX version of the Holy Scriptures, the one being produced especially for the Diaspora and converts from the ranks of the Gentiles.

    Hellens (i.e., Greeks) — hellenised Jews — Christians. All indebted to Greek thought. The Books of King Solomon, all 5 of them, are speaking about the Greek concept of Philosophy as represented by the word ‘Wisdom’. They combine Greek anf Jewish thought in a most sublime manner. Except the Angel of the Lord (Who’s clearly not the Lord Himself, but sure acts like Him) the other O.T. type is that of Wisdom.

    P.S. : all the affirmations in this comment should be treated as questions. All the questions in this comment should be treated as dilemmas.

    Again, many thanks,


  9. acolyte says:


    Sorry for the delay. Justin is correct that the Father is not the personal subject of Theophanies. I think Jesus makes the same claim in the Gospel of John. The Jews never saw the Father’s form nor heard his voice at any time. As far as that goes, Justin is right.

    For my part, I don’t think legitimate icons of the Trinity can be made. First, the conditions for making an icon require a historical manifestation and the Father has none. The Spirit only appears *in the form* or *likeness* as a dove or flames of fire, but not as a dove or fire. Consequently, the Visitation to Abraham is not an icon of the Trinity. It may be seen as a type of the Trinity, but it is not an icon of it.

    If we divorce iconography from historical and personal manifestations we run into all kinds of problems. The reason why you do find in the past icons of the Trinity is for two reasons. The older ones were formed on the basis of Neoplatonic influence primarily through Origenism. Icons were then symbols based on rational principles. The three were represented as successive emanations, with each previous figure larger than the consequent image. History and persons didn’t matter and persons became rational principles. (This is the connection with Philo, which is why you get a similar analysis between Philo and later Origenists.) The later images come from theological pollution from the West which generally did not fully grasp the theology of 2nd Nicea and so the main purpose for images was aesthetical and pedagogical. Consequently icons were symbols and symbols used to express, usually, though not always distinctive Latin claims, such as the Filioque.

    Consequently, Justin is correct to see it as a manifestation of Christ rather than the Trinity. Where Justin gets into trouble is with the Hellenistic notion of a person or rather substances. This is why he has to not just personally but substantially subordinate the Son to the Father, because he can’t clearly distinguish between person and nature. The Hellenistic content of his theology won’t let him do so, or at least it is not obvious to Justin how it could because it is a persistent problem for Justin.

    I have not read Fr. Bastovoi’s book nor am I familiar with it, which is fine, because I haven’t read everything. In any case, from what you tell me, his interpretation is correct. The Ancient of Days is Christ. I am not committed to getting that interpretation from Clement, though it is explicit in lots of other Fathers. There is not a unanimity among the Fathers on this interpretation for a while and this is because of the rampant Hellenism for a long time. I suppose it depends on what he means by representation of the Trinity. If he means icons of historical events in the life of the Church which can be seen as types of the Trinity, but which aren’t strictly speaking icons of the Trinity, then fine.

    But the minute we make iconography symbolic based on our experience, we then start making God into our image. From there I can’t see much of anything, once we have violated the decisions and canons of 2nd Nicea, to prohibiting female images of God, as the Feminists wish to do. If religious images and specifically language is symbolic, denoting ideas and principles rather than persons on what basis will we exclude these images of the Mother, Child and Womb? The feminists are correct when they raise this point. The more significant point is that in their theology there is consequently no personal source for deity. There is no personal arche or patros or source which is why Feminism, along with other forms of theological liberalism or radicalism end up with a vague Unitarianism. God is everywhere in general but no where in particular. This is also why they are very Gnostic, for persons are reduced to principles and if there is no personal source in God, then we have theological anarchy, no arche, no source or what is the same, polyarchy. God an then be imaged in any number of legitimate ways. Consequently the Church was quite right to require that icons always be tied down to historical and personal sources. Icons then are not symbols for the same reason the sacraments aren’t and for the same reason the Incarnation isn’t a symbol.
    The Son has a personal and energetic visible form. Such is manifested in the OT. A two place theological system of essence and energies is not sufficient for lots of reasons. Here are some of them. We will either need to make all of the energies or acts of God eternal and the energies are consequently emanations or we will have to say that God is not known or knowable, agnosticism, at best, if non-existent, atheism, at worst. This is why there must be persons and this is why Orthodoxy, while utilizing some philosophical categories and terms is not Hellenistic, for Greek philosophy doesn’t have a notion of persons. It is even hard to discover such a notion among modern philosophers that isn’t a throw back to the Greeks or not very helpful, like “consciousness.” Consciousness and agency aren’t the same things. Experiences can occur without agency. Think of a human being co-opted by a machine. Experiences will occur in them, but there will not be any person. (We are the Borg…)

    More explicitly, there is no rational explanation of why there are only three persons. I tried for years as a Van Tillian to give a transcendental proof of the Trinity because I thought if I could demonstrate the Trinity using transcendental reasoning I could prove Christianity, tying it to the necessary conditions on knowledge for example, in one fell swoop, and wipe the board clean by eliminating Judaism and Islam from the conceptual landscape. This was how I started thinking about divine simpicity. That was about 1993/4. The reason why there is no rational proof of the Trinity is because reason only grasps things that be, that have being, BE-ING, it’s a verb, not a noun. BE-ING = Esse = Energia. But Trinity, in and of themselves is beyond being, beyond activity. He is not less than activity or being, but he cannot be grasped by reason. This is why the Cappadocians deny that we can give any meaningful content to the terms that distinguish the persons, like begotten or spiration. This is why there cannot be relations of opposition and why there can’t be a filioque. If persons are relations, why aren’t the relations between the persons, persons as well? If so, then we are right back to Gnosticism with the infinite number of intermediaries between God and the World.

    When we speak of the “Godhead” I only mean by that “deity.” There is no God apart from the divine persons. If we think so, what are we to make of biblical passages like Ephesians 1:17?

    “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him”

    Does “Godhead” refer to the God of Jesus? Is that the essence or the Father? And who’s essence is it? Consequently, the Cappadocian model does far better and work better with the biblical material (because it is biblical) than the Augustinian notion of starting with specific objects that are good and working up to a common notion of “Good.” The Augustinian model has historically, in both Catholicism and Protestantism had a hard time with verses like Eph 1:17. They generally think that it refers to the post-resurrection, because they are thinking that for Jesus have a God implies subordination. But Jesus is equal with the Father qua “Godhead” and so since humanity is subordinated to God, another faulty premise, this must be speaking of the Incarnation. Why? Because the relations are identical with the essence so any subordination implies an inequality of essence. This is why it is absurd to speak of the filioque not compromising the Monarchy of the Father. Well to say that the Father is the Monarch of the Trinity is to say that he is the only personal source. To include the Son is to by definition exclude the Monarchy of the Father and place the source of the Trinity somewhere else beyond persons.

    The Son is the eternal power of God, in which all of the other powers are united. The Arians thought the Son was a power of God too, but he was a contigent power, a power who’s actuality depended on will. This is why Athanasius distinguishes between a man builds a house by will but has a son by nature. If the Son is a power actualized in terms of having a beginning, then there will be an intervening causal relationship between the Son and the Father. Something like Zeno’s paradox or Aristotle’s Third Man argument comes into play-that relation will in turn be the ground for further relations and so on. This is why Arianism will get you on the track to deism and Atheism (which is did in the post-reformation Socinians and Unitarians since the world must be a fluke or to Platonism and Gnosticism, which it did with Vitalism, Romanticism.

    The Son is not A power of the Father, he is THE Power or powerfulness of God, which is why the Son subsists in the Father’s essence and the Father is never without the Son and the Son has no beginning, just as fire is never without the hot. The Son is intrinsic to the Father, which is why John’s Gospel speaks of him as “in the bosom of the Father.”

    I am not clear on how you are using the term immanent. Perhaps you can clarify. But it seems to me that you are thinking, that if the divine essence is never grasped by us, how can any of the theophanies give us knowledge of God? Very simply. The Theophanies are revelations of divine persons. So think of it like this. The Persons are both known and unknown. Uknown as they subsist together in the essence or known as they subsist in their actions. The persons provide the “link” between the two so that the theophanies are true revelations of God in the Person of Jesus. We don’t love an “it” but rather persons.

    So how is that for starting on some help?


  10. photios says:


    The papers are re-linked.


  11. Lucian says:

    And, of course, I’ve read Your comments and the respective links that You so kindly provided. And I want to thank You all for that. I’ll also totally understand if You reply something like : “This questions cannot be asked, it’s wild speculation, meddling in the Mysteries of the Godhead will only make us be striken by madness” — after all OD Theology IS an apophatical Theology.

    Thanks again, an sorry for not been able to make my questions more concise, and for allways putting 2-3 comments to express my mind, in stead of just one [like normal people do 🙂 ], and for being so scatterd and dissipated.


  12. Lucian says:

    PHEW! Glad that one came out , and it’s over!


  13. Lucian says:

    …errr…yes…errr…uh, boy! (Phew!). Oooo-kaaayyy…

    Er, I think it would be better for me to simply state the things which so deeply troubled me : I read St. Justin’s Martyr Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew. (A hellenized Jew, to be more specific). There, St. Justin Martyr insists (and the [hellenized ] Jews don’t contradict him), that it would be utter folly to belief that The Father of the Universe has ever been seen by anyone. From that point on, it is extremely easy for him to make the Christian point : since Theophanies did happen, who was the God that has been seen? Clearly NOT the Father! Therefore, it must have been another One [see above], clearly God [see context of appearences], clearly one with the Father [Jewish monotheism], and clearly NOT the Father [‘Noone has ever seen the Father’]. He makes usage of the O.T. appearences of the Angel of the Lord, and of the 5 Wisdom-Books of King Solomon (the Wisdom-motif). IF I remember correctly, he saw only one of the Angels that have appeared to Abraham at the Tree of Mamvre as being Divine [i.e., he didn’t see there the Trinity — though, curiously enough (amazingly, even), Philo says that ‘the One in the middle is the one who by his proper name is called the Father of the Universe, and the one to the left, and the one to the right are His Power and His Glory’]. He explicitely says that the One who spake with Abraham, after having been delayed a little by His discussion with Abraham, reappeared afterwards at the house of Lot, just as this one was being evacuated by the other 2 Angels, and that He is the One Lot called ‘Master’ or ‘Lord’ [i.e., not One of the other 2 Angels]. To put it simply, our Father maong the Saints St. Justin the Martyr did not see this event as the manifestation of the Trinity as represented and understood by St. Andrew Rubliov’s ‘Hospitality of Abraham’.

    Furthermore (other things which bothered me) : I have a little book by Father Savatie Bastovoi, about icons. In talking about the depictions of God the Father, he gives an extract from St. Clement of Alexandria, in which this one states (about the Old One of Days and the Young Man in front of Him in the vision of the Holy Prophet Daniel) : “What, then, does it mean that He [the Youth] went forth to the Old One Days? Spacial, maybe? This would be an offense to God! {Who, of course, is outside of space, and is uncontained} No!, but He advanced to the glory and the power of this One!”. The thing with this citation is that Fr. Bastovoi understands it to mean that the Old Man of Days and the Youth were both one and the same Person [which, quite frankly, I’m completely unable to extract from the given context, without twisting a little bit Clement’s own words] : namely, the pre-incarnational Jesus Christ. This in the context of “it’s not good to represent the Trinity as Old-Man, Youth, and Dove, because noone has ever seen the Father” and “only Rubliov’s representation is OK”. And here’s another thing which simply puzzled me : after this, Fr. Bastovoi says only a sentence [just a little, yet extremely intriguing sentence], which he doesn’t unfortunately explain in his book, -he just says it , and just leaves it at that- …. this affirmation is as follows : “Of course, this {i.e., the fact that ‘No one has ever seen the Father’} is of no hindrance to the represention of the whole Trinty”. — I was simply stunned!

    But that’s not all! If the Father cannot be seen [the Divine Essence being totally … well , … divine!], then how can the Son be seen? Well, … of course, the answwer is the energies! They can be seen! This is how the immanent Godhead gets in touch with the created order! This is the link between the Created and the Uncreated! BUT THEN the question arises : why, then, do we even need the Logos? Isn’t divine essence and energies ALL we need? (Logically speaking — so why then adding another Person, who, sharing the same essencew, cannot be seen … and uniting this Person with the energies (which can be seen) — makes no sense … unless, of course, we still need the Person Father to remain unseen [for reassons which I cannot guess, nor comprehend — the whole problem there was that the Godhead was immanent and THAT was the sole reason that the ftaher of the Universe could not be seen]). If then we go on to say that the Logos/Son was united to the Energies, it’s not clear how eactly the Father Himself isn’t …

    Furthermore: since the Godhead is immanent and cannot get in touch with us, except through the Son, and since all the Theopahnies of the O.T. are Christophanies, ……. I don’t know how to put this, before making a little parenthesis, by supplying something from Justin-Martyr.
    So, here it goes : LITTLE PARENTHESIS : Justin says to Trypho that the Angel who said ‘I Am Who I Am’ was [as the context shows, when Moses refers to this one as God, and as Justin has implied, with the unanimous consent of the Jews, that the Father does not show Himself] … that this Angel was God, since he does not only say these things about another, but about Himself also. But then, how does this not apply to the Baptism of Christ, where we see This One in waters of the River Jordan, and a voice from the heavens {remember: the Godhead is immanent and does cannot get in touch with us — we cannot see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, etc etc. etc.}, then this Vpoice must’ve been the Logos, or Word (‘voice’) of God! BUT THEN, aplying the same reasoning like the one Justin-martyr used above, does that mean that the Son fathered Himself ?? (Ofcourse NOT, but…)

    OK … Now You’ve seen all my little trobles and misunderstandings, an dconfusdions, now I’ve laid my soul down for You, and have poured my heart out ….. PLEASE EXCUSE my many, many gramatical errors, my very poor English, my torturous and sinous way of speaking, full of paranthesis within other paranthesis, and so-fort.




  14. Lucian,

    Have you read this?

    The Logos is the many logoi, meaning that Christ is the paradigm to understand all the rational principles for both deity and humanity. The implication is simply this, there is no such thing as understanding metaphysical questions about God and man apart from Christ. Christ is the only way to have a “natural theology.”


  15. acolyte says:


    Given your situation, let me see what I can say to help clear things up. In the Arian dispute, especially the later part of it, what was in part at issue was the notion of divine power. Jesus is called the Power of God in the Bible. But there were different conceptions of power floating around and the Arians, specifically the Eunomians thought of Christ as a secondary power. The distinction between primary and secondary power can be roughly grasped with the following example.

    The primary power of fire is the hot. This is why fire always produces the hot. This power essentially characterizes fire and fire is never without it. On the other hand, fire can also produce the quality of the dry. But fire is not the only power can that do so-that is, you don’t need fire to dry something out. The Eunomians therefore thought of the Son as a contingent power of God, something for which it is possible that it might not exist. The Cappadocians saw Christ as a primary power of God, and consequently in which all of the infinite powers of God were *personally* unified.

    The energies are powers that have been actualized by the divine persons. God has infinite power, but the Trinity isn’t always using every one of them. So, in Genesis, God rested. he did not cease to have the power of creation, but it wasn’t actualized as it was in the antecedent state-namely when the Trinity was in the act of creating. This is why Paul says in Colossians, that in Christ is hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, ebcause the plans/predestinations/intentions/logoi of God regarding every creature, are personally united in the one Logos, who is the Son. This is why the Son reveals the Father and makes him known and why the Father is never without the Son for he is never bereft of power.

    How far does that get us in helping you to resolve your difficulty?

  16. Lucian says:

    I know something about the Logos/logoi from Maximos the Confessor [and maybe even Clement (?)], but I can’t right now make something, if anything, out of it …


  17. Lucian says:

    I’m from Romania, so finding anything that Michael Barnes ever wrote is completely impossible … unless, of course, there’s an online version available somewhere on the web.


  18. acolyte says:


    In the one Logos are tha many Logoi. You might find Michel Barnes book, The Power of God helpful in sorting thru the issues. It will become clear in reading Barnes what the different notions of power were at play in the late Arian controversy.

  19. David Richards says:

    Photios, your essays on Sts. Maximos and Gregory are no longer downloadable. Could you work on getting them back up? Thanks.

  20. Lucian says:

    Iraeneus, for instance, speaks of God as being ‘logikos’ and ‘pnematikos’ (because God is, ofcourse, an ‘intelligent Lifeform’ — as we would now-a-days put it), and draws from that the (inerrant) conclusion that He has a ‘Logos’ and a ‘Pneuma’.


  21. Lucian says:

    I have a question to ask: I understand the distinction between Essence and Energies, BUT how do we put this in agreement with the fact that the Son is the Logos (Reason, Logic) of God, and the Holy Ghost His Life(-Giving Spirit) ?

    I’ve been wrestling with that for over a year. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
    I’ve been monitoring this blog for some time now, and I think You’re the person to ask.

    Lucian, —

  22. Fr. Oliver Herbel says:

    Yeah, I have believed, for some time, that one way of looking at the 9th c. dispute would be to see it as a debate over Athanasius. Ratramnus opens and closes his filioque arguments with citations from Athanasius, but Photios also makes comments, including this argument, that have their root in Athanasius. This is a nice post, Photios.

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