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    Auxentius of Milan: From Orthodoxy to Heresy

    Williams, Michael Stuart (2011) Auxentius of Milan: From Orthodoxy to Heresy. Studia Patristica, 66. pp. 263-272.

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    Auxentius of Milan, the predecessor of Ambrose, is still frequently seen through the eyes of Hilary of Poitiers and Athanasius of Alexandria, as a leading member of a minority faction which used the Council of Rimini (359) to impose an unpopular subordinationist doctrine on the west. Much about this picture may be disputed, however. Serious doubts can and have been raised regarding Auxentius’ prominence and indeed presence at Rimini, and regarding the closeness of his association with the Illyrian bishops Valens of Mursa and Ursacius of Singidinum. Similarly, the one statement that survives from Auxentius is misleadingly framed by Hilary as part of his polemic Contra Auxentium. If we set aside unwarranted speculations, by Hilary and by modern scholars, regarding the private beliefs of Auxentius, we are left with a bishop who publicly adhered to the decisions of the Council of Rimini – not as a challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy in the west but precisely in accordance with it. The compromise which Rimini represented was rejected by Athanasius and Hilary and their allies; but it was accepted as the prevailing orthodoxy not only by Auxentius but also by those who judged Hilary’s challenge to his position – including the emperor Valentinian I. That this position would later be overthrown in favour of Hilary’s Nicene fundamentalism should not lead us to condemn Auxentius as dishonest, malign, or out of touch with his Christian congregation. We should recognise instead that it was only after his death that his open orthodoxy was officially redefined as surreptitious heresy.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article was first published in 2013 in Studia Patristica Vol.66(2011) Papers presented at the Sixteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2011; Edited by Markus Vinzent; Volume 14: Clement of Alexandria The Fourth-Century Debates
    Keywords: Auxentius of Milan; Council of Rimini; early Christian literature; Theology; History; Fathers of the church;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Ancient Classics
    Item ID: 4601
    Depositing User: Dr. Michael Williams
    Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 15:19
    Journal or Publication Title: Studia Patristica
    Publisher: Peeters
    Refereed: Yes

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