Andre De Halleux Hypostase Personne

as long as both the unity and distinction were safeguarded and neither an 'Arian' subordinationism nor a 'Sabellian' modalism was intended. The Alexandrian council thus based its terminological tolerance on an admission from both sides of the validity of the other's emphasis, whether that be the unity of the substance or the irreducible reality ofthe three divine subsistents. However, the lack of terminological consensus continued to undermine the commitment to tolerance, which was further tested by attempts to integrate hypostasis-language with that ofprosopon (or, in Latin, persona).

Indications of the tense history that followed upon the seeming resolution of the Alexandrian council are found in the epistles of Basil of Caesarea and Jerome.14 Basil had originally exhibited some discomfort with the Nicene homoousios, as vulnerable to modalistic interpretations. His acceptance of this term was conditioned by his construction of an accompanying set of terminology to designate the threeness of God: Father, Son and Spirit are each a distinct hypostasis, with a unique manner of subsistence (tropos hyparxeos). Basil, a supporter of Melitius, pressed the followers of Paulinus to adopt the language of 'three hypostases' in order to safeguard Nicene theology from a Sabellian interpretation. The ' Paulinians' were not insensible to that concern but considered that it was sufficiently addressed by acknowledging that each of the Trinity is a distinct person, or prosopon. But this stratagem was deemed inadequate by Basil, since the term prosopon could mean simply 'role' or 'manifestation', and thus even a Sabellian could subscribe to such a confession:

It is not enough to count differences in the Persons (prosopa). It is necessary also to confess that each Person (prosopon) exists in a true hypostasis. The mirage of persons (prosopa) without hypostases is not denied even by Sabellius, who said that the same God, though he is one subject, is transformed according to the need of each occasion and is thus spoken of now as Father, now as Son, and now as Holy Spirit.15

Meanwhile, Jerome became embroiled in the controversy, expressing his shocked disapproval of the language of 'three hypostases' to Pope Damasus, and articulating the triunity as ' one substance, three persons (una substantia, trespersonae)'. Jerome's discomfort with the 'three hypostases' language of Basil and Meletius is readily explicable inasmuch as the Greek term, hypostasis, can be literally calqued in Latin as substantia. It was under such pressures that Basil came to insist on a distinction between the significations of the terms

14 On the following, see André de Halleux, '"Hypostase" et "personne"'.

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