Appended to the end of Zanchi’s De religione Christiana fides are a series of Observationes (“Observations”) in the form of aphorismi (“distinctions, definitions, pithy sentences”). Luca Baschera and Christian Moser point out in their introduction that these basically function as footnotes to the dogmatic statements in the confession itself. Not every subsection–indeed, not every chapter–has one of these. Caput 2, on the Trinity, has two, one for the first subsection (discussed yesterday) and one for the third. This post, which includes the first, is an addendum to yesterday’s. In that post, I alluded to the thorniness of the term ὑφιστάμενοι/hypostases; this “footnote” deals with precisely the same thing.
Etsi proprium ὑφισταμένων est ὑφιστάναι ἐν τῇ οὐσίᾳ, de Deo tamen loquentes altera uti locutione eaque etiam usitata certis de caussis maluimus, nempe ut, cum primis adversus Arianorum nostri temporis calumnias et sarcasmos, essentiam illam divinam non nisi in personis reperiri doceremus, non igitur a nobis essentiam seorsum a personis subsistentem constitui, in qua porro tres personae subsistant, quasi quatuor in Deo ὑφιστάμενα a catholica ecclesia fingantur.
Additional discussion for Section I.
Although the proper meaning of “things subsisting” is “to subsist in an essence,” nevertheless when speaking about God we prefer to use a different way of speaking, and one that is also customary, for sure reasons: namely, so that we might teach (particularly against the chicanery and taunts of the Arians of our day) that the divine essence is not found except in the Persons, [and] therefore that we do not establish that the essence–in which, then, the three persons subsist–subsists apart from the Persons, as if the catholic church should invent four subsistences in God. 1
“Secondly, since the existence of God is His essence, if God were in any genus, He would be the genus “being”, because, since genus is predicated as an essential it refers to the essence of a thing. But the Philosopher has shown (Metaph. iii) that being cannot be a genus, for every genus has differences distinct from its generic essence. Now no difference can exist distinct from being; for non-being cannot be a difference. It follows then that God is not in a genus.
“Thirdly, because all in one genus agree in the quiddity or essence of the genus which is predicated of them as an essential, but they differ in their existence. For the existence of man and of horse is not the same; as also of this man and that man: thus in every member of a genus,existence and quiddity–i.e. essence–must differ. But in God they do not differ, as shown in the preceding article. Therefore it is plain thatGod is not in a genus as if He were a species. From this it is also plain that He has no genus nor difference, nor can there be any definition of Him; nor, save through His effects, a demonstration of Him: for a definition is from genus and difference; and the mean of a demonstration is a definition. That God is not in a genus, as reducible to it as its principle, is clear from this, that a principle reducible to any genus does not extend beyond that genus; as, a point is the principle of continuous quantity alone; and unity, of discontinuous quantity. But God is the principle of all being. Therefore He is not contained in any genus as its principle.” (ST Ia, Q.3, Art. 5)