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Trinity on Trial An in-depth examination of Trinitarian doctrine

A Historical Timeline of Key Dates
in the Development of Trinitarian Doctrine

ca. 32 Jerusalem Judas, one of the Twelve, and the Jewish Sanhedrin, conspire to have Jesus of Nazareth killed.
ca. 32 Jerusalem The Sanhedrin order Peter to refrain from preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter refuses and is subsequently imprisoned.
ca. 35 Jerusalem Saul initiates a national persecution of Christians. Stephen becomes the first martyr of the faith when he is stoned by Jews.
ca. 36 Jerusalem Saul is converted on the road to Damascus.
ca. 40 Palestine Peter converts the first the household of Cornelius, the first Gentiles.
ca. 44 Jerusalem James, brother of John and one of the Twelve is martyred by the sword by Herod.
ca. 50 Jerusalem Jerusalem Council. Paul and Barnabas address the Judaizer problem with Peter and James. Peter and James counsel the Gentiles to abide only by the Noahic laws.
64 Palestine The great fire of Rome. Nero blames the Christians.
70 Palestine Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalm by Roman armies. The center of Christianity shifts to Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria. The Sanhedrin move headquarters to Jamnia.
73 Palestine The Fall of Masada.
79 Italy Vesuvius erupts and destroys Pompey and Herculaneum.
ca. 90 Palestine Christians are banned from Jewish synagogues, those who confess Jesus as Messiah.
ca. 93 Asia Minor John is exiled to Patmos under Emperor Domitian.
ca. 95 Palestine Josephus writes antiquities.
ca. 100 Palestine Justin Martyr born at Flavia Neapolis in Samaritan Palestine near Mount Gerazim.
ca. 110 Rome Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch is martyred.
ca. 110 Palestine Marcion born, son of the Bishop of Sinope in Pontus.
ca. 144 Rome Marcionism sect begins.
ca. 154 Rome Polycarp encounters Marcion in Rome and refers to him as "the firstborn of Satan."
ca. 155 Rome Justin Martyr writes his Apology.
ca. 155   Polycarp martyred.
ca. 157 Asia Minor Montanism. The beginning of Montanist sect by the prophet Montanus of Ardabau in Phrygia and the prophetesses Maximilla and Priscilla (Prisca) headquartered at Pepuza.
ca. 157 Rome Justin Martyr writes his Second Apology.
ca. 160 Africa Tertullian is born Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus.
ca. 161 Rome Justin Martyr writes Dialogue with Trypho.
ca. 165 Rome Justin Martyr martyred (beheaded).
ca. 180 Gaul Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons writes Against Heresies, a refutation of Gnostic belief systems.
185 Egypt Origen born in Alexandria.
ca. 190 Rome Monarchians. Theodotus, a Byzantine leather merchant, preaches his Christology. He is excommunicated by Bishop Victor of Rome. They form a sect which is known today as Dynamic Monarchians.
ca. 197 Africa Tertullian writes To the Martyrs, To the Nations, and Apologeticus.
200 Egypt Rise of Monasticism. Persecution of Christians in Egypt.
ca. 200 Africa Tertullian writes On the presecription of the heretics.
ca. 200   Noetus is excommunicated for teaching Modalism.
ca. 201   First known church building constructed in Syria.
ca. 200-206 Africa Tertullian writes De spectaculis, On Idolatry, On Prayer, On Baptism, Scorpiace, To My Wife, Against the Jews, and Against Hermogenem.
ca. 206 Africa Tertullian becomes a Montanist.
ca. 206 Africa Tertullian writes On Virgin Veils.
ca. 206 Africa Tertullian writes Against Marcion.
ca. 209-211 Africa Tertullian writes On the Philosopher's Cloak, On the Soul, On the Flesh of Christ,On the Resurrection of the Flesh, On an Exhortation to Chastity, On the Garland, Scorpiace, To Scapula.
ca. 212 Africa Tertullian separates from the Catholic church (Harnack) and terms the status quo church as "Psychici" and opposed to the spiritual Montanists.
ca. 209-212 Africa Tertullian writes On Fleeing Persecution, On Monogamy, De jejunio, Against Praxeas, and On Modesty.
212 Africa Tertullian writes "there was a time when the Son was not" one hundred years before Arius is persecuted for the same.
ca. 215 Babylonia Mani, founder of Manicheanism, born in the village of Mardinu and later lives among the Mandeans after the religion of his father.
220 Rome Sabellius is excommunicated by the Callistus, Bishop of Rome for his Modalist teachings.
232 Palestine Origen finishes his Commentary on the Gospel of John at Caesarea.
Mar 20, 242 Babylonia Mani begins preaching his gospel. Many of his beliefs are similar to Gnosticism.
245 Palestine Origen writes Contra Celsum and Commentary on Matthew at Caesarea.
250-251   Decian persecution.
257-260   Valerian persecution.
258 Africa Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage martyred.
268 Palestine Lucian of Antioch teaches Jesus was only a man.
269 Palestine Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, is excommunicated for his Dynamic Monarchian teachings.
276   Mani is crucified by the Sassanids for tring to incorporate Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism into one religion.
292   Roman Empire split into East and West by Diocletian.
303 Roman Empire Diocletian Persecution. This is the worst persecution in Christian history. Christians were killed, and their churches and writings were to be destroyed.
311 Roman Empire Donatist Schism. Bishops and presbyters who had given up the sacred writings, or abandoned the faith, or had exposed brethren, were considered traitors. The Donatists considered this to be total apostasy and disallowed these people to be restored to ecclesiatical positions of authority.
311 Egypt Arius is ordained presbyter of the Baucalis church at Alexandria by bishop Achillas of Alexandria, successor to Peter, who was martyred in 311.
312 Egypt Alexander becomes bishop of Alexandria
312 Rome On the basis of a vision, Constantine attacks and defeats Maxentius near the Milvian bridge over the Tiber near Rome and becomes leader of the Western Roman Empire.
312 Rome On the basis of a vision, Constantine attacks and defeats Maxentius near the Milvian bridge over the Tiber near Rome and becomes leader of the Western Roman Empire.
313 Italy Edict of Milan by Constantine in the West and agreed to by Licinius in the East legalized the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Constantine's sister is wed to Licinius on this occasion.
314   Donatism condemned as heresy
317 Asia Minor Eusebius, a follower of Lucian of Antioch, becomes bishop of Nicomedia
318 Palestine Eusebius of Caesarea becomes bishop of Caesarea sometime between 311 and 318.
319 Egypt In a public synod, Arius accuses Alexander of Sabellianism and the controversy erupts. Arius explains his views following Lucian of Antioch. Alexander excommunicates Arius in an assembly. Political or party motives begin to embitter the strife on both sides
319 Egypt Arius writes a letter to Eusebius of Nicodemia in which he protests his unjust persecution and briefly outlines opposing theological opinons indicating why he and others are persecuted for believing the Son had a beginning. He notes that several men from the East have been condemned and Eusebius of Caesarea is among them. Eusebius writes several letters to bishops of Asia Minor supporting Arius.
319 Egypt Alexander responds by writing his Catholic Epistle condemning the teachings of the Arius and his colleagues.
319 Egypt Athanasius writes On the Incarnation of the Word.
320 Asia Minor Arius writes his Letter to Alexander in Alexandria summarizing his beliefs. In his letter he makes is plainly clear the Son is not among the created things of creation but was begotten before creation.
321 Rome Constantine decrees Sunday as the official day of rest in the Empire.
323 Rome Constantine builds a church to Peter on the site of his cemetary.
324 Egypt Alexander writes the Letter to Alexander in Constantiople, copies to other bishops, warning him of the Arian teaching.
324 Roman Empire Constantine defeats Licinius, executes him, and becomes sole Emperor of the Roman Empire.
325 Palestine Hosius, representative of Constantine, presides over an anti-Arian council in Antioch. Eusebius of Caesarea is condemned for being an Arian sympathizer and a creed is formulated favoring Alexander's theology.
325 Nicea Constantine presides over the first ecumenical church council. Athanasius attends as an attendant of Alexander. The Nicene Creed is drafted and Arius is exiled to Illyria along with other Arians. Arian writings are ordered to be destroyed.
327  Arius and Euzoius write the Letter to the Emperor Constantine. This letter includes a creed that attempts to show the orthodoxy of Arius' position and a petition to be restored to the Church which contains the phrase, "His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten from Him before all ages, God the Word, by whom all things were made."
328   Constantine recalls Arius from exile.
328 Egypt Alexander dies and is succeed by Athanasius
330 Greece Constantine moves his capital to Byzantium (Constantinople).
330 Greece Constantine writes to Athanasius. saying that the Arian view presented by Eusebius of Nicodemia had been distorted and was persuaded that those willing to submit to the Nicaean definitions should be readmitted into the Church. Athanasius refused this saying that no fellowship could exist between the Church and "the one who denied the divinity of Christ."
333   Christian Jews ordered by Constantine to abandon all ties to Judaism or be killed
335 Palestine Led by Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius of Nicomedia, the Pronouncement of the Synod of Tyre and Jerusalem restores Arius and his colleagues into communion with the Church. Athanasius is deposed and appeals to Constantine who agrees to hear his complaint. The Emperor then writes his Letter to the Bishops Assembled at Tyre requesting to meet over the matter and meets with Eusebius of Nicomedia.
336   Constantine agrees with Eusebius and the council's findings and exiles Athanasius to Trier. He is in exile for two and a half years.
336   Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, is deposed by a council at Constantinople for Sabellianism after writing a treatise in 335 defending the Nicene theology.
336 Greece On his way to a formal ceremony to be restored as presbyter in Constantinople, Arius suddenly dies suspiciously. His friends claim he was poisoned. The account of his death matches their claims.
337 Roman Empire Constantine is baptized shortly before his death by Eusebius of Nicodemia, an Arian. His eulogy is delivered by Eusebius of Caesarea.
337 Roman Empire The Roman Empire is divided among Constantine's three sons, Constantius in the east, Constantine II takes Britain and Gaul, and Constans is over Italy and Illyricum.
337 Roman Empire Constantius, orders the return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
338 Constantinople Eusebius of Nicomedia is installed as bishop of Constantinople.
338 Palestine A council at Antioch deposes Athanasius and orders him exiled. Athanasius flees Alexandria and is replaced by Gregory of Cappodocia.
339   Eusebius of Caesarea dies.
339 Rome Julius I, bishop of Rome, receives Marcellus and Athanasius into communion with the Roman church where Athanasius appeals to the Nicene position.
340 Germania Ulfilas converted to Arian Christianity. He takes it to the Germanic tribes, gives them an alphabet, and translates the Bible into their language. Most of the Germanic tribes became Arian Christians.
340 Roman Empire Constantine II dies and his brother Constans becomes sole ruler of the West. Constans supports Athanasius while his Eastern brother opposes him. The Church of Rome is in the West.
340 Italy Constans summons Athanasius to Milan.
341 Palestine Two Arian councils are held in Antioch. Of the ninety-seven bishops present, none are from the West and most are hostile to Athanasius. During this council, the First, Second and Third Arian Confessions are written, thereby beginning the attempt to produce a formal doctrine of faith to oppose the Nicene Creed. (The Second Arian Confession is also known as the Creed of the Dedication.) The Fourth Arian Confession is written at the second council of the year. The bishops of the east deny being "Arians" because the name insinuates they follow a priest and are teaching new innovations.
342   Eusebius of Nicodemia dies.
343 Sardicia Constans, ruler of the West, convenes a council in Sardica in an attempt to restore unity to the Church. The council is a fiasco. The western bishops and eastern bishops separate and denounce each other. The west release a statement claiming to be an attack on Arianism, the East retire to Philippopolis and release a statement, dated from Sardica, which justifies the deposition of Athanasius and Marcellus and condemns Julius I and others. To this is appended the 4th creed of Antioch with additional anathemas directed at Marcellus.
344 Palestine Arian council is held in Antioch. the council writes the Fifth Arian Confession (or Macrostich), which is notably longer than the confessions written at Antioch in 341. The Macrostich is the Eastern creed of Sardica plus eight paragraphs addressed to the western bishops
345 Italy A council is held in Milan and the Fifth Arian confession is reviewed.
345   Gregory dies and Athanasius is restored as bishop of Alexandria.
347 Italy A second council is held in Milan.
350   The rebel Magnentius murders Constans.
351   Second council is convened at Sirmium under the supervision of Basil of Ancyra. The Sixth Arian (or First Sirmium) Confession is written.
353   A council is held at Arles that is directed against Athanasius
353   Constantius defeats Magnentius and becomes sole ruler of the Roman Empire and works to elimate Nicene theology.
355 Italy When told that it was the church’s policy that someone could not be condemned without a formal hearing, Constantius responded, “My will also is a canon of the church.” Afraid, many bishops signed the condemnation of Athanasius. Those who refused were banished from the church
356 Italy Constantius sent a letter to Athanasius granting him an audience. He answered that there must have been an error, for he did not request one. The Emperor then ordered troops to be sent to Alexandria.
356 Egypt Athanasius is forcefully removed and replaced by George who was influenced by Aetius who taught the Son is unlike (anomoios) the Father and cannot be the same or similar essence as the Father. Athanasius spends his exile among desert monks where he writes Apology to Constantius, Apology for his Flight, Letter to the Monks, and the History of the Arians.
357 Palestine Eudoxius, another theologian influenced by Aetius, becomes bishop of Antioch.
357   Third Council of Sirmium. The Seventh Arian (or Second Sirmium) Confession is written. The Western bishops move as close as they will to finding a compromise with the Arians. Both homoousios (of the same essence) and homoiousios (of similar/like essence) are avoided as unbiblical, and it is agreed that the Father is greater than his subordinate son.
358   Council at Ancyra. under the leadership of its bishop, Basil, releases a statement using the term homoiousios.
359   Fourth council of Sirmium. The Fourth Sirmium Confession is written which proposes a compromise formula
359   Constantius summons two councils to develop a unifying creed for Christianity. The Synod of Ariminum (Rimini) is held during springtime in the West and is attended by more than 400 bishops. The Synod of Seleucia is held in the East during autumn and is attended by about 160 bishops. The Ninth Arian Confession is written, affirming that Christ is "like the Father" while, at the same time, anathematizing the Anomoeans. In the end, both councils agree to this "semi-Arian" statement of faith, even though it does not specify how the Son is like the Father
360 Greece A council is convened in January to review the conclusions of Ariminum and Seleucia. The Tenth Arian Confession is written. Commenting on this council twenty years later, Jerome writes that the world "awoke with a groan to find itself Arian."
361   Constantius' rule weakens, he dies, and is replaced by his pagan cousin Julian as emperor. Julian is an Apostate from Christianity and indifferently allows Athanasius to return from exile but was exiled again a short time later.
361 Palestine A council is held in Antioch during the installation of Euzonius as bishop of Antioch. During this council, the Eleventh Arian Confession is written. This creed is strongly Anomoean (the Son is not like the Father), leading Athanasius to remark that the Arians have reverted back to the first doctrines framed by Arius.
363   Athanasius quietly returns from exile and is welcomed by Emperor Jovian.
364   Council of Laodicea anathematizes Christians who keep a 7th day Sabbath.
365   Valens, an Arian, exiles Athanasius but returns a short time later unchallenged. He was exiled a total of five times.
367   Athansius' Festal Letter lists the 27 books in our New Testament.
373   Athanasius dies.
376   Visigoths convert to Arian Christianity.
378   Gratian issues an edict of religious toleration.
379   Young Emperor Gratian proclaims Theodosius as "Augustus" and grants him the Eastern dominion.
379   Illyricum was detached from the Western Empire and Damasus, Bishop of Rome, hastens to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see.
380 Roman Empire From Thessalonica, and published at Constantinople, Emperor Theodosius declares Christianity to be the state religion in his edict, "The Catholic Faith" advising that all subjects of the Empire should profess the faith of the Bishops of Rome and Alexandria, and the conventicles of the heretics were not to be called churches. He decreed that the title of “Catholic Church” should be exclusively confined to those who rendered equal homage to the three persons of the Trinity, and that those individuals who entertained opposite opinions should be treated as heretics, regarded with contempt, and delivered over to punishment. Theodosius began expelling Arians from his dominion beginning at his capital Constantinople with the Arian bishop Demophilus of Constantinople who is replaced with Gregory of Nazianzus, a Nicean. Athanasian Trinitarianism becomes the official teaching of the church by order of the state.
381 Roman Empire Theodosius orders all churches should be surrendered to Nicene bishops and banned Arianism by law. He issued 18 edicts in all against various dissenting Christian sects including a prohibition against building new churches to replace those taken from them. Nicene-Athanasian bishops were granted full control of the church in the Roman empire.
381 Constantinople The Second Ecumenical Council is convened by Theodosius to review the controversy since Nicaea and affirm Nicene formulation. Under the direction of Gregory of Nazianzus, the Nicene Creed is re-evaluated and accepted with the addition of clauses on the Holy Spirit and other matters.
385 Spain Priscillian is condemned by civil authorities for heresy and/or magic and becomes the first man executed for heresy.
381-700 Germania Arianism continues to flourish, mostly in Germanic territories outside the boundaries of the Roman Empire.
ca. 405   Jerome completes Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible.
428   Nestorius preaches his Christology.
431 Asia Minor Council of Ephesus. Affirms "Mary Mother of God" in against Nestorius.
440-461 Rome Reign of Pope Leo.
450   Marcian becomes first Emperor to be crowned by a religious leader, Patriarch of Constantinople.
451   Council of Chalcedon.