The trinitarian theology of Marius Victorinus: Polemic and exegesis

John T Voelker, Marquette University


In this thesis I will show that Marius Victorinus was a Nicene Christian theologian engaged with the theology and events of the fourth century's Trinitarian Controversy. I will challenge the traditional notion of Marius Victorinus as a brilliant but isolated scholarly figure in the Latin West of the late 350s and early 360s who, following his conversion, spent his last years writing incomprehensible trinitarian-Neoplatonist theological treatises, read by virtually no one. On the contrary, I will show that Marius Victorinus was very familiar with the original Arianism of Arius, and that he understood later-stage Anti-Nicene theology of the last decade of his life, from his conversion circa 355 to the approximate date of his death in 365. Victorinus wrote treatises and Pauline commentaries that engaged Anti-Nicene theology with a Latin Neo-Nicene polemic, using a tradition of Latin exegesis of Scripture that he had quickly integrated after his conversion. This exegetical-polemical style has close parallels with Victorinus' Latin Neo-Nicene contemporaries. Victorinus fully engages Anti-Nicene opponents, coming up with some of the most original Nicene polemic of the controversy to speak about themes of divine substance, visibility and unity of the Father and the Son. I will examine these themes in Victorinus' trinitarian treatises that are integral to understanding the Arian-Nicene conflicts of the Trinitarian controversy, involving Victorinus' interpretation of Scripture and Latin theology to speak of divine substance, divine visibility, and divine unity on behalf of the Neo-Nicenes. I will show how Victorinus best speaks of the case for divine substance, and how he is the earliest witness to a 381-era trinitarian formula; how Victorinus uses essential visibility texts of Scripture to argue for the Son's consubstantiality; and Victorinus' best efforts on behalf on Neo-Nicene orthodoxy, making statements about shared nature, substance and power of the Father and the Son to prove their unity. Finally, I will point out and discuss the One Substance/One Power statements in Victorinus' treatises, along with his sophisticated arguments that the Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father as evidence of the unity of between the Father, Son and Spirit.

Recommended Citation

Voelker, John T, "The trinitarian theology of Marius Victorinus: Polemic and exegesis" (2006). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3231314.