Christianity / Orientations / Heresy / Arianism /
(256?-336) Christian priest and founder of Arianism, an orientation that rejected the undivided unity of Jesus and God as well as a divine nature of Jesus.
Arius appears to have been a strong and charismatic leader, attracting a large following in Alexandria. He is described as thin and tall. It seems likely that he lived an ascetic life, and was a man of pure morals and decided convictions.
It can be argued that he was in tension with mainstream Christianity concerning the true nature of Jesus, long before his official definition of Arianism in 318.
His most important work, Thalia, "The Banquet", is not extant. And so is the rest of his work. Our present knowledge of the content, is from Arius' critics. It is therefore coloured, but in general scholars think they can trace his real ideology and biography.
Arius is also said to have composed songs for sailors, millers and travellers, where his creed was effectively promoted to a large audience.
Arius is often referred to as Arius of Alexandria. He is sometimes called a heretic, but this term should be avoided, since his understanding of Christianity is only an interpretation, just like the Catholic Church' is an interpretation.
256?: Born in Libya, and named Ammonius.
270's?: Is educated at the theological school of Antioch under the Greek scholar Lucian. The school was known for its investigations into the Holy Trinity and questions whether Jesus was a created being.
306: Takes sides with Meletius in theological debates with the Bishop of Alexandria, Peter. Arius accuses Peter of Sabellian sympathies.
A period of reconciliation between Arius and Peter, where Arius is appointed deacon, before Arius was excommunicated by the bishop again.
313: Is appointed presbyter of the district of Baucalis in Alexandria by the new bishop, Achillas.
318: Comes into disagreement with the new bishop of Alexandria, Alexander, concerning the nature of Jesus. He claimed that Jesus was God's creation, actually God's first, but that Jesus had the same substance as God.
320 or 321: Arius and his followers are banned by a council of almost 100 Egyptian and Libyan bishops, and forced to leave Alexandria, and settles in Palestine. Two other important Christian leaders, Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius of Nicomedia declares their agreement with the creed of Arius.
323: Arius writes Thalia, wherein he declares that the oneness of God did not include Jesus, and that Jesus was not of a divine nature. The content of Thalia becomes widespread through songs written for sailors, millers and travellers.
325 May: In order to settle the heated controversy over the true nature of Jesus, Council of Nicaea is called by Emperor Constantine. Arius attends. He is asked to sign a creed formulation stating that Jesus was of the same nature as God, but refuses. He is then declared a heretic, and banished into Illyricum. Constantine declares that all copies of Thalia shall be burned.
331: Arius is permitted to return to Alexandria.
334: Arius is promised the readmission to the church after he presents a compromise formulation to the emperor.
336: Dies in Constantinople before having been officially readmitted to the church. Some contemporaries claimed that his death was miraculous, others that Arius was poisoned by his enemies among the supporters of the Nicene Creed.