History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop a few years after the Council of Nicaea. His sons were Arians. At least the leadership of the Visigoths that sacked Rome where Arians. That was in 410, only 85 years after Nicea (325).

Yet there were only 2 Arians of 300 Bishops in the Council of Nicea that was convinced enough of Arianism to refuse to sign the Nicene creed.

So why there were so few Arians on the First Council of Nicaea?

In quora people said that the majority of "Arians" are in the west of the empire and hence too far from Nicea. So very few of Arians were in Nicea. Another theory is that Arians were a new idea. I want to know which one is true.

Here are similar questions in quora: http://www.quora.com/Why-were-Arians-underrepresented-at-the-First-Council-of-Nicaea http://www.quora.com/How-was-the-representation-of-bishops-at-the-Council-of-Nicea-determined

Note: I've heard a theory that most arian supporters are in the west and Nicea is way in the east. Also, most christians at that time, do not consider trinity/homoousion a "big thing". They do not think it'll concern them. I forget the source.

That is why very few western bishop coming in and that explain why Arians were outnumbered. Still I want to know more about this aspect of history.

share|improve this question
This may get a better answer at Christianity.se – Samuel Russell Oct 8 '13 at 1:29
I think answers from Christianity.se would be biased in favor of trinitarians. It'll be something along, because God has decree that the right doctrines win. – Jim Thio Oct 8 '13 at 1:58
I want pure secular historical answer. I can ask both. – Jim Thio Oct 8 '13 at 2:12
Why is it terrible at all? In quora people said that the majority of "Arians" are in the west of the empire and hence too far from Nicea. Also the fact that the number of Arians are so large shows that it may not be a new thing. – Jim Thio Oct 8 '13 at 4:46
Edited and added tags. I tried to remove the specious conjectures and guesstimates and to keep the good kernel of the question. – Felix Goldberg Oct 8 '13 at 7:18

Arians were not underrepresented at the council of Nicaea

Arius started saying that the Son was distinct from the father under Alexander of Alexandria, so it's probably in 313 or so. So Arianism was less than twelve years old at the Council. So the reason there were so few Arians on this council was that Arianism was a very new thing, not that they were underrepresented.

At the council of Nicaea there were a few bishops who supported Arius position (Warren Carroll claims 22). But they didn't prevail, and the two you mention are the only ones who preferred to be thrown out of the church than to sign the Nicean creed. (Source: Carroll again)

Your further comments and claims about there being many Arians are first of all not evidence that Arianism was widespread. It's just points out some notable Arians, but it says nothing about how widespread it was.

share|improve this answer
That the idea that Jesus may not be God is new. I mean obviously non christians believe that. But to have most Jesus' followers not thinking he is a God but mere prophets, for example. Is that really a new idea? – Jim Thio Oct 8 '13 at 4:45
Your answer said that Arians are underrepresented in Nicea because they are new doctrines. However, there are many Arians around. Your answer is they are new but spread quickly – Jim Thio Oct 8 '13 at 4:50
let us continue this discussion in chat – Lennart Regebro Oct 8 '13 at 4:55

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.