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The Ecole

The Ecole Glossary

The Eunomians

The Eunomians were a small Neo-Arian sect thriving in and around Constantinople during the late fourth century. They were named after Eunomius of Cyzicus (d 394), a dialectician made bishop, who was run out of town because of his long-winded and empty speech and later exiled by the Emperor Theodosius. The Eunomians taught that the name "Ungenerated" was the only proper name for God the Father; all other beings were generated, including the Son, who was adopted. This doctrine led to a radical form of Arianism in which the Son is not only unequal to, but also unlike, the Father. The Eunomians also taught that the Being of God was wholly comprehensible by logical definition, thereby inviting a pointed polemic against them by John Chrysostom, his On the Incomprehensible Nature of God. Gregory of Nazianzus' Five Theological Orations were also directed (in part) against the Eunomians who were using Christian doctrine as the starting point for idle theological speculation. In the First Theological Oration, Gregory suggests that the Eunomians reduced religion from a practice involving worship and submission to God to a mode of theorectical inquiry. Other Fathers who reacted against the Eunomians include Didymus the Blind, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Apollinaris of Laodicea and Theodore of Mopsuestia.

Anthony F. Beavers

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