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NOETUS, AND OTHERS, CALLED HERETICS, IN THE FORMER
PART OF THE THIRD CENTURY, OR SOON AFTER.
1. Noetus. II. Valesians. III. Angelics. IV. Apostolics.
I. BASNAGE supposeth that Noetus arose about the year 240. Fabricius b about 245. And, indeed, as Epiphanius composed his work against heresies in 375 or 376, and he there says that Noetus lived about 130 years before that time, we are carried up to the year 245: but Epiphanius does not pretend to be exact; and since we have supposed Hippolytus, who wrote against the Noetians, to have flourished about the year 220, we cannot place Noetus much later. Beausobre d has argued after a like manner. He says, that Noetus must have published his notion sooner than is intimated by Epiphanius; because Hippolytus, who flourished about the year 222, speaks of Noetus as dead some time before he wrote against him. However, this argument of that learned man depends in part upon the supposition that the work ascribed to Hippolytus is genuine. Huete observes, that Noetus was contemporary with Origen, which I presurne will not be denied by any.
The piece referred to by Beausobre, sometimes called a homily against Noetus, by others supposed to be the concluding article of Hippolytus's work against heresies, begins in this manner: - Others there are who advance • another opinion, being disciples of one Noetus, of Smyrna, • who lived not long ago. He, elated with pride, said that • Christ was the Father himself, and that the Father was begotten, and suffered and died. He likewise said, that 6. he himself was Moses, and his brother Aaron. When the a Vid. Basnag. ann. 256. n. 14.
b Vid. Philastr. de Hær. 53. not. a p. 105. Ed. Fabr. χρονο των τ8των εκατον τριακοντα, πλειω η ελασσω. Epiph. H. 57. p. 479. C.
Vid. Hist. de Manich. P. ii. 1. 3. chap. vi. p, 533. not. (7.) T. i. • Vid. Huet. Origenian. 1. 2. c. ii. qu. 2. n. xi. p. 37. c.
Ετεροι τινες-γενομενοι τινος Νοητε μαθηται, ος το μεν γενος ην Σμυρναιος, και προ πολλα χρονο γενομενος.-Εφη τον Χρισον αυτον ειναι τον πατερα, και αυτον τον πατερα γεγενησθαι και πεπονθεναι και αποτεθνηκεναι. Hippol. contr. Hær. Noet. n. i. p. 5,6. T. ii
. Ed. Fabric.
ο Αλλ' ως προ
blessed presbyters had heard of these things, they called him before the church, and examined him. At first he • denied that he held such doctrine; but at length, after
having concealed bimself for a while, when he had got ? some few to be of the same erroneous opinion with him,
he ? became more ready to defend it publicly. The blessed
presbyters then called him before them again ; when he said, " What 8 harm do I do in honouring Christ ?". To whom the presbyters answered, “ We also know there is
, ( one God, we own Christ, and kņow that the Son suffered,
died, and rose again the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead." Thus, having convicted him, they cast him out of " the church. This writer adds soon after, that h Noetus argued in this manner : · The scriptures declare one God, even the Father. This being manifest, and it being acknowledged that there is but one God, it follows of necessity that he suffered; for i Christ was God, and he suffered for us, being the Father, that he might be able ļ to save us.'
This is in short the history of Noetus, which is contained in that Homily, or else a fragment of some larger work. But here ought to be remembered the account formerly given k of the works ascribed to Hippolytus, and that few or none of them can be relied upon as genuine and uncorrupted. If this piece be his, yet it is to be feared that there are in it some interpolations. Tillemont's observation upon this piece was, that the sentiments concerning the Trinity are agreeable to those of the third century. And undoubtedly many things are here expressed after the manner of the ancients. But there are also some expressions which seem to have prevailed chiefly after the Nicene council. Another thing may be fit to be observed. It is allowed that Hippolytus did not receive the epistle to the Hebrews as the apostle Paul's. But here is an expression, which some may think to be taken from thence, where the writer speaks of Christ being m “ without sin;" see Heb. iv. 15. However this piece, for the main part, must be reckoned ancient, for the sake of several internal characters of anti8 Τι εν κακον ποιω δοξαζων τον Χρισον και
ibid. Ibid. n. ii. p. 7.
Χρισος γαρ ην θεος, και επασχεν δι ήμας, αυτος ων πατηρ, ένα και σωσαι ημας δυνασθη. ibid.
See chap. xxxv. p. 424, &c. And be pleased likewise to consult Beausobre, as above, p. 553. not. (7.) and p. 534. See chap. xxxv. p. 427.
2 Γεγονως παντα όσα esiv av portos, EKTOS apapriac. Hippol. contr. Noet. n. xvii. p. 18. Conf. Ηeb. iv. 15. χωρις αμαρτιας.
quity; and because much the same account is given of Noetus by. Epiphanius, though he does not say that he borrows from any other writer.
He is to be produced in the next place. In his work against heresies he says, that " Noetus was of Ephesus in Asia. In bis Summary, or Recapitulation, he says, he was
, of Smyrna, as the above quoted fragment of Hippolytus does. In the large work against heresies, Epiphanius says,
that p Noetus taught a doctrine not held by the prophets, or apostles, or the church after them : For such was bis ! pride, that be dared to say, that the Father suffered. And
with a like arrogance he said, that he bimself was Moses, o and his brother Aaron. In the mean time the blessed ' presbyters of the church called him before them, and • examined him about these things, and whether he had • uttered such a blasphemy against the Father. At first • he denied it, being ashamed to own a borrible and per• nicious doctrine, never taught by any before him. After! wards, having propagated his mad opinion, and gained • himself a few followers, about ten in number, he became 'more bold and open. Whereupon the presbyters call him • and his adherents before them, and examine bim again, as • formerly: then he said, “ What harm have I done? I • worship one God, I acknowledge one God, and no other
beside him: who was born, suffered, died.” As he per• sisted in that doctrine, they expelled him out of the
church, together with those who were of the same opinion • with him. Soon after which he and his brother died ;
andr they were left as apostates and outcasts, for none of • the pious would bury them. After this his followers * endeavoured to uphold the same doctrine, induced thereto by the like considerations with their master; for when, • being examined by the presbytery, he answered, I worship
one God, they replied, " Truly, that is well said, for we • also worship one God, but as he ought to be worsbipped. . And we have also one Christ, as we know him to be, the
Son of God, who suffered, died, rose again, ascended to • heaven and is at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead. This we say,
Epiph. H. v. 57. n. i. p. 479. c.
• Anaceph. n. xi. p. 145. T. 2.
P Adv. Hær. 57. num. 1. και ες ταυτην βλασφημιαν περι πατρος προηγαγετο, ο δε τα πρωτα μεν ηρνειτο, επι τε πρεσβυτηρια αγομενος, δια το μηδένα προ αυτ8 εξεμεσαι ταυτην την δεινην και ολετηριον πιεριαν. Ιbid. p. 480. Α.
Ερριφησαν γαρ, ως παραβαται, και εδεις αυτες των θεοσεβων περιεςειλε.
according as we have been taught by the divine scriptures. In his summary, Epiphanius says, “ that Noetus, with a few that followed bim, taught Christ to be Father and • Son; that the same was Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. [Or, • that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the same.]' He said, likewise, that he himself was Moses, and his brother • Aaron. Afterwards, in the same work, in the article of the Sabellians, Epiphanius says, they held the same doctrine with the Noetians, except that they denied the Father to have suffered.
Philaster writes, that u Noetus sajd, • The Almighty Father • biinself was Christ, and that he was born, and suffered,
and died. This person likewise said, that he was Moses, 6 and his brother Elias the prophet.'
St. Augustine, who had read Philaster, and Epiphanius's Recapitulation or Summary, but not bis Panarium, or large work against heresies, writes in his book of Heresies, that • the Noetians were so called from one Noetus, who said • that Christ was also the Father himself and the Holy • Ghost. This is Augustine's whole article of the Noetians. But afterwards he enlarges in the article of the Sabellians; who,' he w says, are reckoned to have bor'
. * rowed their opinion from Noetus. Nor does he know any 'good reason why Epiphanius should make two heresies of • them, for their opinions seem to be the same; only Sabel• lius was better known than Noetus: for very few, at that time, knew any thing of the Noetians; but Sabellians were often mentioned. He adds, that some call them • Praxeans, from Praxeas; and they might also be called * Hermogenians, from Hermogenes, for they were both of
* Υιοπατορα τον Χριςον εδιδαξε, τον αυτον ειναι πατερα, και υιον, και άγιον FvEvpa.. Epiph. Anaceph. p. 145. n. xi.
& Ib. p. 146. n. xvi. Alii autem Noëtiani, insensati cujusdam nomine Noëti, qui dicebat Patrem omnipotentem ipsum esse Christum, et ipsum natum, et ipsum passum fuisse in corpore. Hic etiam dicebat se_Mosen esse, et fratrem suum Heliam prophetam. Philast. H. 53. p. 107. Ed. Fabric.
Noëtiani a quodam Noëto, qui dicebat Christum eundem ipsum esse Patrem et Spiritum Sanctum. Aug. de Hær. n. xxxvi.
» Sabelliani ab illo Noëto, quem supra memoravimus, defluxisse dicuntur. Nam et discipulum ejus quidam perhibent fuisse Sabellium. caussâ duas hæreses eas Epiphanius computet, nescio; cum fieri potuisse videamus, ut fuerit Sabellius iste famosior, et ideo ex illo celebrius hæc hæresis nomen acceperit. Noëtiani enim difficile ab aliquo sciuntur ; Sabelliani autem sunt in ore multorum. Nam et Praxeanos eos a Praxeâ quidam vocant; et Hermogeniani ab Hermogene vocari potuerunt; qui Praxeas et Hermogenes eadem sentientes, in Africâ fuisse dicuntur. Nec tamen istæ plures sectæ
sed unius sectæ plura nomina, ex his hominibus qui in eâ maxime innotuerunt. Aug. ibid. c. 41. VOL. II.
o the same opinion. Augustine farther * blames Epiphanius • for making any difference in opinion between the Noetians. and Sabellians. For instance, where he says, that the • Sabellians agreed with the Noetians, except that they • denied the Father to have suffered ; Augustine thinks that * not rightly said ; and affirms, it was so well known that * the Sabellians taught the Father to have suffered, that
they were oftener called Patripassians than Sabellians :' so Augustine in his book of Heresies. He does also y elsewhere treat the Sabellians as Patripassians. Rufinus," upon the Creed, likewise says, that the Sabellians were called Patripassians. Moreover, Augustine blames Pbilaster also for making two several heresies, or sects, of the Noetians and Sabellians, though he was sensible of their great agreement together, and with the others above named by Augustine, and allows the Sabellians to be Patripassians as well as the Noetians.
And certainly it is fit to be observed by us, that Philaster, as well as Augustine, computes Praxeas, Hermogenes, Noetus, and Sabellius, to have all had the same doctrine concerning the Deity. Theodoret writes to this purpose: Noetus was of Smyrna.
• • He revived the heresy which one Epigonus first published, . and Cleomenes maintained after him. The sum of their heresy is this: they say, that there is one God and Father,
* Unde ergo sit factum, ut Noëtianos et Sabellianos, non unius hæresis duo nomina, sed tanquam duas hæreses supradictus Epiphanius poneret; liquido invenire non potui.-Loco quippe isto,-Sabelliani, inquit, similia Noëto dogmatizantes, præter hoc quod dicunt Patrem non esse passum. Quomodo de Sabellianis intelligi potest, cum sic inpotuerint dicere Patrem passum, ut Patripassiani quam Sabelliani crebrius nuncupentur ? Vel quo. modo possunt intelligi quilibet eorum Patrem passum fuisse non dicere, cum dicant eundem ipsum Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum ? Id. ibid.
y Nam Sabelliani dicti sunt quidam hæretici, qui vocantur Patripassiani, qui dicunt ipsum Patrem passum. Aug. Tr. 36. in Joh. Ev. p. 548. A. T. 3. P. 2. Bened. Breviter ergo hesterno die insinuavimus caritati vestræ esse hæreticos qui vocantur Patripassiani, vel a suo auctore Sabelliani. In Joh. Tr. 37. p. 552. F. ibid.
hæreseos caussâ Sabellij, illius profecto quæ a nostris Patripassiani appellatur ; id est, quæ Patrem ipsum vel ex virgine natum dicit, et visibilem factum, vel passum affirmat in earné. Rufin. in Symb. ad Artic. Credo in Deum Patrem.
a Philaster autem Brixianus episcopus-Sabellianos continuo post Noëtianos ponens, Sabellius inquit, discipulus ejus, qui similitudinem sui doctoris itidem secutus est, unde et Sabelliani postea sunt appellati, qui et Patripassiani, et Praxeani a Praxeâ, et Hermogeniani ab Hermogene, &c. Et tamen Noëtianos et Sabellianos sub duobus numeris tanquam duas hæreses posuit ; qua caussâ, ipse viderit. Aug. de Hær. cap. 41.
5 ο δε Νοητος Σμυρναίος μεν ην το γενος ανανεωσατο δε την αίρεσιν, ήν Επιγονος μεν τις ούτω καλεμενος απεκυησε πρωτος, Κλεομενης δε παραλαβων εβεβαιωσε. κ. λ. Theodor. H. F. 1. 3. c. 3. p. 227, 228.