Chapter 2: The Innascible Father 73
Chapter 2: The Innascible Father St. Thomas Aquinas maintains that “the person of the Father cannot be known by the fact that he is from another but by the fact that he is from no one, and for this reason ‘innascibility’ is a notion of his.”1 For Aquinas and his contemporaries, two great figures, Ss. Augustine and Hilary, define the field concerning innascibility.2 Each wrote a treatise De Trinitate to address Arian problems. Hilary, who picks up the term innascibilitas (innascibility) from Tertullian and develops a more scriptural argument than Augustine, suggests that “authority,” and thus the Father’s principiality, is included in the notion of innascibility.3 Augustine, by contrast, deploying more complex speculative arguments dealing with relation and negation, uses the term ingenitus (unbegotten) as a strictly negative term.4 Augustine argues that since ingenitus is the negation of a relative term, it does not imply that the unbegotten Father is of diverse substance from the begotten Son. Lombard and Aquinas follow this line of reasoning, seizing upon Augustine’s assertion that ingenitus does not signify what the Father is but rather what he is not.5 In his Sentences (bk. 1, dd. 27-28), Peter Lombard distills the thought of Hilary and Augustine (and Fulgentius of Ruspe, taken to be Augustine), reading the two as convergent, though subordinating Hilary to Augustine. He bequeaths to his medieval successors a synthesis of Augustine and Hilary that invites original contribution. By the time Bonaventure and Aquinas are writing, the two camps have largely become aligned...
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