Please see my question on Homoousion in the Nicene Creed for an explanation of the critical difference between “one substance” and “same substance.”

The current question arises from the Wikipedia article on the Cappadocian fathers. My question is, did the Cappadocians teach “one substance” or “same substance?”

From that article, one can make a distinction between four views containing the word ousia. I quote from that page:

  1. “The outright Arians … taught that the Son was not like the Father.”
  2. “The semi-Arians taught that the Son is of like substance with the Father (homoiousios).”
  3. “The Council of Nicea had asserted that the Son was of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father.”
  4. “The Cappadocians … in their writings … made extensive use of the (now orthodox) formula "one substance.”

These may be analyzed as follows:

  1. The Arian view (“not like” – hetero-ousian) is neither qualitative nor numerical sameness.
  2. The “like substance” (homoi-ousian)-view is an example of qualitative sameness.
  3. As explained in my previous question, “same substance” (homo-ousian) may mean either qualitative or numerical sameness.
  4. But "one substance” (mono-ousian) sounds like numerical sameness (one and the same).

The Wikipedia article states that the Cappadocians in their writings "made extensive use of the (now orthodox) formula one substance (ousia) in three persons (hypostaseis)". "One substance" implies numerical sameness; one and the same substance.

However, if I read what the Cappadocians wrote, as quoted in that article, it does not sound to me as if they taught "one substance” = numerical sameness because they use human beings to explain the difference between ousia and hypostasis.

If I read them correctly, they said that, just like humans are of the same substance but different hypostaeis, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of the same substance but different hypostaseis. Since human beings are also homoousion, but do not have numerically the same substance because each of us has his or her own substance (body), that comparison implies that the Cappadocians described the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as qualitatively the same. And if the Cappadians did not teach numerical sameness of substance, then the 325 creed most certainly also did not.


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