between Father and Son. Both theposition presented as 'Arian' and Augustine's own response are couched in the Aristotelian categories of substance' and ' accident', and both depend on an account of divine simplicity that precludes the attribution of accidents to the divine essence.

Augustine presents the Arian' argument that if everything that is truly predicated of God is predicated with reference to substance (secundum substantiam) and not to accidents, then the titles of 'unbegotten' and 'begotten' must be taken as referring to different substances. Like Gregory of Nazianzus before him, Augustine maintains that the titles of'unbegotten' and 'begotten' signify neither the divine substance nor accidents, but rather relation. But Augustine seems more aware of the logical difficulty of this position, inasmuch as ' relation' belongs to the category of accidents in the Aristotelian schema. Without explicitly stating this objection, Augustine articulates a rationale that overcomes it. He explains that' accidents' pertain to the changeable properties of substances. Among creatures, whatever is not predicated of a substance must be attributed to it as an accident. In reference to God, however, nothing can be predicated by way of accident, since there is nothing changeable in God. Relation is not predicated of God accidentally because the divine relations are eternal and unchangeable.

In this way, Augustine adjusts the logic of the Aristotelian categories and subordinates it to biblical language. This language speaks of God as Father and Son, which are relational terms, and also indicates the eternality and immutability of both Father and Son such that they cannot be understood as accidents:

But since the Father is only called so because he has a Son, and the Son is only called so because he has a Father, these things are not said with reference to substance, as neither is said with reference to itself but only with reference to the other. Nor are they said with reference to accidents, because what is signified by calling them Father and Son belongs to them eternally and unchangeably. Therefore, although being Father is different from being Son, there is no difference of substance, because they are not called these things by way of substance but by way of relation, and yet this relation is not an accident, because it is not changeable.33

Augustine is also aware of the terminological distinctions drawn by the Cap-padocians between language that refers to what is common and that which refers to the distinctions among Father, Son and Spirit. In his own terminology, he speaks of what is shared among the persons as applicable to each 'of itself

33 Augustine, Trin. 5.6.7; trans. Hill, 192 (modified).

0 0

Post a comment