Thursday, 7 February 2019

Ross Twele: Could Homoeans still be pro-Nicenes? The case of Fortunatian of Aquileia

Fortunatian, a 4th-century bishop of Aquileia, appears to have a mixed voting record concerning the Arian controversy that transpired largely during his tenure. In 343 he voted with the anti-Arian majority at Western Serdica; yet sometime before 357, possibly at the Synod of Milan in 355, he agreed to break off contact and perhaps also communion with Athanasius of Alexandria. Amid Constantius’ campaign of regional synods to endorse Homoean creeds, Fortunatian was long presumed by modern scholarship to have defected to the Homoean doctrine. The rediscovery of Fortunatian’s commentary on the Gospels in 2012, and Lukas Dorfbauer’s subsequent biographical article on the bishop, have exonerated him of this charge: his commitment to the consubstantiality of Father and Son is now beyond question. But Fortunatian’s theology has not yet been examined in the specific creedal context of the imperially-backed Homoean movement in the 350s. This paper uses the rediscovered commentary to revisit the Homoean movement and its long-presumed incompatibility with the trinitarian doctrine of the pro-Nicenes. Fortunatian’s commentary on the Prologue to the Gospel of John reveals a Nicenism perfectly capable of expressing itself within the terminological strictures of the Homoean creeds, professing a clear doctrine of consubstantiality while avoiding Nicaea’s philosophical vocabulary. Scattered trinitarian statements in the commentary on Matthew, on the other hand, do employ the terminology of substantiaand persona, a fact which this paper proposes as evidence of at least
two stages of composition for this set of commentaries across Fortunatian’s

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