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De Moor IV:14: The Ancient Anthropomorphites

The Anthropomorphites state the contrary, called Anthropomorphites after their error, because the attribute to the highest God μορφὴν ἀνθρώπου, the form of a man; of which sort were the Ancient Audian Monks, followers of Audius or Audæus; they lived in the fourth Century, originating in Mesopotamia.[1] AUGUSTINE, in his de Hæresibus, chapter L, relates concerning them: “Those that they called Audians (and Epiphanius maintains that they appeared to be schismatics, not heretics), others call Anthropomorphites, since by a carnal reflection they feign for themselves a God after the similitude of the image of corruptible man: which Epiphanius attributed to their lack of sophistication, forbearing them, that they should not be called heretics.”

Yet our AUTHOR advises that TERTULLIAN is not to be reckoned among the Ancient Anthropomorphites, when he attributed to God a Shapeless Body. Indeed, TERTULLIAN, in adversus Praxeam, chapter VII at the end, writes: “For who will deny that God is a Body, although God is Spirit? For Spirit is a body of its own sort in its own image.” He argues the same in his libro de Anima. But, in his libro de Trinitate, he denies that God has members, as DANÆUS[2] observes ad Augustinum de Hæresibus, chapter LXXXVI, page 1012 a near the end. And so AUGUSTINE, acknowledging the error of Tertullian in this, that he asserted a corporeal body, excuses his expression concerning God, as one who appears by Body to understand Substance, Hæresibus LXXXVI, “Therefore, Tertullian, as his writings indicate, says that the Soul is immortal, but contends that it is a shaped/formed Body. Not only this, but he also says that God Himself is corporeal, although shapeless. Yet, he is not believed to have been made a heretic by this. For he could in some way be thought to call the very divine nature and substance Body: not such a body of which some parts are able and ought to be thought greater, and others lesser, which sort are all those that we properly call Bodies, although he thinks such a thing concerning the Soul: but he was able, as I said, to be thought to say that God is a Body, because He is not nothing, He is not emptiness, He is not a quality of body or soul; but He everywhere, whole, and not distributed through spaces of locations, immutably remains in His own nature and substance.” Compare the same AUGUSTINE in his Epistolis CLXVI, or in his libro de Origine Animæ Hominis, chapter II, § 4, opera, tome 2, column 444, 445; and WALCH’S[3] Miscellanea Sacra, book III, Exercitation VIII, § 3, pages 734, 735.

[1] The Audians were a fourth century sect in Syria and Scythia. They were followers of Audius, who took Genesis 1:27, about God creating man in His own image, literally and physically.

[2] Lambert Danæus (c. 1530-1596) was a French minister and theologian. He labored as a pastor and Professor of Divinity at Geneva, and then at Leiden.

[3] Johann Georg Walch (1693-1775) was a German Lutheran theologian, serving as Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry (1719-1724), and then as Professor of Theology (1724-1775), at Jena.

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