Friday, May 13, 2011


TRINITARIAN CLAIM: That a pagan writer Lucian of Samosata bore witness to Christians believing in the Trinity in the middle of the Second Century in his book “PHILOPATRIS.”

As one author put it:  

“...( IF ) the dialogue was written by Lucian, who lived in the latter part of the second century, it would be one of the strongest testimonies remaining to the doctrine of the Trinity...”

Once again on this Blog, I ask:

Is this claim true?

Is it genuine?

Lets see what Tri{3}nitarians actually calim first, then examine the evidence and how Scholars view this passage and work of Lucian.

TRINITARIAN CLAIM: “...The first formal adoption of the word to designate the Three in One, One in Three, dates a.d. 317, at a synod held at Alexandria. That the holy Mystery was long before this a common article of Christian confession appears from e.g. a passage in Lucian, the Voltaire of antiquity, (floruit probably about a.d. 160). In his Philopatris the Christian is made to confess "The exalted God, ... Son of the Father, Spirit proceeding from the Father, One of Three, and Three of One."...” - (The Word "Trinity" (Trias, Triad): I. Theism. II. The Holy Trinity. The Doctrine of God. CHAPTER II. “OUTLINES OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE” by the Rev. H. C. G. Moule, M.A., Principal of Ridley Hall, and formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Revised edition [third edition, Feb., 1890] The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.)
[FOOTNOTE]: "Trinity" properly means "Threefoldness." It is not, as it is sometimes said to be, a shortened form of Triunity.

TRINITARIAN CLAIM: “...The Trinity of God was the universal belief of the church from the very beginning of the Christian era. For example, the secular Greek writer Lucian, in his book Philopatris, written in a.d. 160, confirmed the well-known belief of the Christians in the Trinity. Lucian described the first generations of Christians confessing their faith in God in the following words: "The exalted God . . . Son of the Father, Spirit proceeding from the Father, One of Three, and Three of One."[2]...” - (Chapter 6 - The Handwriting of God, “The Sacred Mystery of the Trinity,” by Grant Jeffrey.)
[FOOTNOTE 2]: Lucian, Philopatris (a.d. 160).

 TRINITARIAN CLAIM: “...At the same time flourished Lucian, the celebrated writer of Dialogues, and a philosopher of the same sect. In the Philopatris, a dialogue frequently attributed to him, Triphon represents the Christians as 'swearing by the Most High God; the Great, Immortal, Celestial Son of the Father; the Spirit, proceeding from the Father; ONE of three, and three of ONE.'...” - (Vol. 2, p. 386:4. The representation of heathen nations concerning the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. LECTURE XVII. TRINITY OR TRI-UNITY OF GOD. SKELETONS OF A COURSE OF THEOLOGICAL LECTURES.

Now lets look at the text itself.

Here is what I can find of the Greek & Latin text for this work:

GREEK TEXT: "...Ὑψιμέδοντα θεὸν, μέγαν, ἄμβροτον, ούρανίωνα, ϒίὸν πατρὸς, πνεν̂μα ἑκ πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον Ἓν ἐκ τριω̂ν, καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς τρία … Άριθμέειν με διδάσκεις [Critias answers]: καὶ δρκος ὴ ὰριθμητική οὐκ ο[?]δα γὰρ τί λέγεις· ἒν τρία, τρία ἒν!...” - (Chapter XVI Edward Gibbon, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” [1776] ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky,
New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906, in 12 vols. Vol. 3.)
[FOOTNOTE ?]: Text illegable in some places.

LATIN TEXT: "...Per magnum Regem caelestia regna tenentem, Morte carentem omni, patrum patris, inde profectum Ex patri flamen, tria de uno, atuqe ex tribnas unum. Iupiter haee tibi sint, solum hoc pro numine habeto..." - (Page 330-331 CORPUS SCRIPTORIUM HISTORIAE BYZANTINAE.)
[PERSONAL FOOTNOTE]: The print is very bad, and hard to read so the Latin may not be exact.

English translations as quoted in various Tri{3}nitarian works:

LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA (circa. 120 to 180 C.E.): “...Upon the Heathen asking the Christian: "By Whom then shall I swear?" Triephon, who sustains the part of the Christian, replies: "By the God who riegns on high, great, immortal, celestial, the Son of the Father, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father, One of Three, and Three of One: believe these to be Jove, and esteem Him God." To which the Heathen after some matters thus retorts: "I not what thou sayest; One Three, Three One!"...” - (Page 156, Subheading: Inderect testimony to the Catholic doctrine out of Lucian, Bishop Bulls Defense of the Nicene Creed.)
[FOOTNOTE]: Lucians Philopatris Book II. IV. 10,11.

PSUEDO LUCIAN - PHILOPATRIS: “...The speakers in this dialogue are Critias and Triephon; the former an heathen, the latter a Christian; and when Critias has offered to swear by different heathen deities, each of which is objected to by - Triephon, he asks: “...By whom then shall I swear?...” To which Triephon makes the following reply, the first words of which are a quotation from Homer: “...By the great God, immortal, in the heavens; "The Son of the Father, the Spirit proceeding from the Father, one out of three, and three out of one, "Consider these thy Jove, be this thy God...” Critias then ridicules this: "arithmetical oath," and says: “...I cannot tell what you mean by saying that "one is three, and three are one...” - (Page 81, Subheading: Athenagoras. A. D. 170. TESTIMONIES OF THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY AND OF THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY GHOST. BY THE REV. EDWARD BURTON, D. D. REOIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY AND CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH. OXFORD, AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS. MDCCCXXXI.)

Now this last writer is significant as being what I would describe as one of the most capable and respected Tri{3}nitarian scholars of his age.

Mr. Burton continues and in the same context and gives his personal opinion as to the genuiness or not of this work:

EDWARD BURTON: “...I ought, perhaps, in this place to introduce the testimony of a heathen writer, who was a contemporary of Athenagoras : and the passage which has often been adduced from the Philopatris of Lucian, must certainly be considered as confirming in a remarkable manner the belief of a Trinity in Unity. ... There can be no doubt, that when this dialogue was written, it was commonly known to the heathen, that the Christians believed the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, though in one sense three, in another sense to be one : and ( if ) the dialogue was written by Lucian, who lived in the latter part of the second century, it would be one of the strongest testimonies remaining to the doctrine of the Trinity. This was acknowledged by Socinus, who says in one of his works, that he had “never read any thing which gave greater proof of a worship of the Trinity being then received among Christians, than the passage which is brought from the dialogue entitled Philopatris, and which is reckoned among the works of Lucian.” He then observes, that the dialogue is generally supposed by the learned to be falsely ascribed to Lucian; and he adds some arguments which might make the passage of less weight, in proving that all Christians of that day believed a Trinity in Unity. I have no inclination to notice these arguments : but Sociniis was correct in saying, that the learned had generally decided against the genuineness of this dialogue as a work of Lucian. Bishop Bull^ believed it to be genuine, and Fabricius^ was inclined to do the same. Some have ascribed it to a writer older than the time of Lucian; others, to one of the same age; and others, to much later periods. I need only refer the reader to discussions of the subject by Dodwell Blondell, Lardner, &c. : but J. M. Gesner has considered the question in a long and able Disserta-tiony, the object of which is to prove that the Philopatris was written in the reign of Julian the apostate. His arguments appear to me to deserve much attention ; and though the learned do not seem in general to have adopted his conclusion, I feel so far convinced by them, that I - ( CAN-NOT ) - BRING FORWARD THIS REMARKABLE PASSAGE, AS THE TESTIMONY OF A WRITER OF THE SECOND CENTURY...” - (Page 81, Subheading: Athenagoras. A. D. 170. TESTIMONIES OF THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY AND OF THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY GHOST. BY THE REV. EDWARD BURTON, D. D. REOIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY AND CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH. OXFORD, AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS. MDCCCXXXI.)

He conclusion is significant and should serve as a warning to the Modern Tri{3}nitarians who have been duped into believing it or evens perhaps, devious enough to use it knowing it's dubious credibility.

Others agree that it is nothing more than a ( forgery ) and was written in the Fourth century.

Note the following:

A.M. HARMON: "...Among the eighty-two pieces that have come down to us under the name of Lucian, there are not a few of which his authorship has been disputed. Certainly spurious are Halcyon, Nero, PHILOPATRIS, and Astrology; and to these, it seems to me, the Consonants at Law should be added. Furthermore. Deinostitenes, Gharidemus, Cynic, Love, Octogenarians, Hippias, Ungrammatical Man, Swiftfoot, amid the epigrams are generally considered spurious, and there are several others (Disowned and My Country in particular) which, to say the least, are of doubtful authenticity..." - (Lucian of Samosata: Introduction and Manuscripts by A.M. Harmon, 1913, Published in Loeb Classical Library, 9 volumes, Greek texts and facing English translation: Harvard University Press. This extract transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2001.)

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN: “...In the Philopatris, which is the work of an Author of the fourth century,[51] Critias is introduced pale and wild. His friend asks him if he has seen Cerberus or Hecate; and he answers that he has heard a rigmarole from certain "thrice-cursed sophists;"...” - (Page 28, Chapter 6. Application of the First Note of a True Development—Preservation of Type. Application of the Seven Notes to the Existing Developments of Christian Doctrine. NEWMAN READER — WORKS OF JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. Copyright © 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.)
[FOOTNOTE 51]: Niebuhr ascribes it to the beginning of the tenth.

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: “...The dialogue Philopatris, or The Patriot, is ascribed indeed to the ready scoffer and satirist Lucian (died about 200), and joined to his works; but it is vastly inferior in style and probably belongs to the reign of Julian, or a still later period;[117] since it combats the church doctrine of the Trinity and of the procession of the Spirit from the Father, though not by argument, but only by ridicule. It is a frivolous derision of the character and doctrines of the Christians in the form of a dialogue between Critias, a professed heathen, and Triephon, an Epicurean, personating a Christian. It represents the Christians as disaffected to the government, dangerous to civil society, and delighting in public calamities. It calls St. Paul a half bald, long-nosed Galilean, who travelled through the air to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12, 1–4)...” - (§ 8. Heathen Polemics. New Objections. Chapter II. The literary triumph of Christianity over Greek and Roman Heathenism – In the “HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.”)
[FOOTNOTE 117]: According to Niebuhr’s view it must have been composed under the emperor Phocas, 968 or 969. Moyle places it in the year 302, Dodwell in the year 261, others in the year 272.

OXFORD DICTIONARY: “...Lucian of Samosata (c.115–c.200), pagan satirist. ... The Philopatris, which purports to be his work, is much later...” - ("Lucian of Samosata." By E. A. Livingstone.THE CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. 2000.) 28 Feb. 2010 .

CLASSIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: "...LUCIAN (c. A.D. 120-180), Greek satirist of the Silver Age of Greek literature, was born at Samosata on the Euphrates in northern Syria. ... Of Christianity he shows some knowledge, and it must have been somewhat largely professed in Syria at the close of the 2nd century.' In the; Philopatris, though the dialogue so called is generally regarded as spurious, there is a statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, ... More than 80 pieces have come down to us under his name (including three collections of 71 shorter dialogues), of which about 20 are spurious or of 'Philopatris' 13...” - (This LoveToKnow Classic Encyclopedia project works to bring to you the renowned 1911 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

CONCLUSION: This work is another example of forgery and the desperate lengths that ( some ) Tri{3}nitarian believers will go to support this doctrine of the Tri{3}nity, which was NOT part of the Christian:

"...ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς..."

1st John 3:11
"...MESSAGE that was heard from the beginning..."