Letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus of Tyre
Reference numbers: Urk. 8
Incipit: Οὔτε ἡ τοῦ δεσπότου
Date: c. 320/1
Ancient source: Theodoret, Church History 1.6
Modern edition used: L. Parmentier and F. Scheidweiler, Theodoret. Kirchengeschichte, 2nd edition, GCS 44 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1954)
To my lord Paulinus, Eusebius sends his greetings in the Lord.
(1.) The zeal of my lord Eusebius [of Caesarea] in the cause of the truth, and likewise your silence concerning it, has not failed to reach our ears. Accordingly, if, on the one hand, we rejoiced on account of the zeal of my lord Eusebius; on the other we are grieved at you, because the mere silence of man like you appears like a defeat of our cause.
(2.) Hence, as it is not proper for a wise man to be of a different opinion from others, and to be silent concerning the truth, stir up, I exhort you, within yourself the spirit of wisdom to write, and at length begin what may be profitable to yourself and to others, especially if you consent to write in accordance with Scripture, and tread in the tracks of its words and will.
(3.) We have never heard that there are two unbegotten beings, nor that one has been divided into two, nor have we learned or believed that the unbegotten has ever undergone any change of a corporeal nature. On the contrary, we affirm that the unbegotten is one. One also is that which exists in truth by him, yet was not made out of his substance, and does not at all participate in the nature or substance of the unbegotten, entirely distinct in nature and in power, and made after perfect likeness both of character and power to the maker. We believe that the mode of His beginning not only cannot be expressed by words but even in thought, and is incomprehensible not only to man, but also to all beings superior to man.
(4.) These opinions we advance not as having derived them from our own imagination, but as having deduced them from Scripture, whence we learn that the Son was created, established, and begotten with respect to his essence and his unchanging, inexpressible nature, in the likeness of the one for whom he has been made. The Lord himself tells us this: ‘God created me the beginning of his ways; Before the ages he established me; he begat me before all the hills” [Prov. 8.22-23,25, LXX]
(5.) If the Son had been from him or of him, as a portion of him, or by an emanation of his substance, it could not be said that the Son was created or established; and of this you, my lord, are certainly not ignorant. For that which is from the unbegotten could not be said to have been created or founded, either by him or by another, since it is unbegotten from the beginning.
(6.) But if the fact of his being called “the begotten” gives any ground for the belief that, having come into being of the Father’s substance, he also has from the Father likeness of nature, we reply that it is not of the Son alone that the Scriptures have spoken as begotten, but that they also thus speak of those who are entirely dissimilar to God by nature.
(7.) For of men it is said, ‘I have begotten and brought up sons, and they have rebelled against me;’ [Is. 1:2]; and in another place, ‘You have forsaken God who begat you” [Deut. 32:18]; and again it is said, ‘Who begat the drops of dew” [Job 38:28]? This expression does not imply that the dew partakes of the nature of God, but simply that all things were formed according to his will. There is, indeed, nothing which shares his substance, yet every thing which exists has been called into being by his will.
(8.) For there is God on the one hand, and then there are the things towards (pros) his likeness which will be similar to the Word, and these things which have come into being by [his] free will. All things were made by God by means of the Word. All things are from God. When you have received my letter, and have revised it according to the knowledge and grace given you by God, I beg you will write as soon as possible to my lord Alexander. I feel confident that if you would write to him, you would succeed in bringing him over to your opinion. Salute all the brethren in the Lord. May you, my lord, be preserved by the grace of God, and be led to pray for us.
Translation from NPNF2 vol. 3, p. 42, adapted by GLT