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ACACIA
ACACIANS
79

The monks in their numerous convents receive an education somewhat more complete, and occasionally there are found among them men versed in sacred hermenuetics, who can recite by heart the entire Bible.

Piolet, Missions catholiques françaises au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1900), I, 1–44; Ludolf, Historia Ætheopiæ (Frankfurt, 1681); Arnaud d'Abbadie, Douze ans en Ethiope (1838–50) (Paris); Massaia, I miei trenta cinque anni nel l'alta Etiopia (Rome, Propaganda, 1895); Holland and Hozier, Record of the Expedition to Abyssinia (London, 1870); Tellez, Historia de Ethiopia alta (Coimbra, 1660); Wansleb, Biographie de Pierre Heyling, missionnaire protestant en Abyssinie, 1635; Etudes historiques sur l'Ethiopie [Text of the imperial chronicles (incomplete) and translation with notes by Basset (Paris)].

Acacia (in Hebrew shíṭṭah, plural shíṭṭîm; Theod. πύξος; Vulgate, spina, thorn). The Hebrew shíṭṭah is probably a contraction of Shintṭāh, and thus identical with the Egyptian shent; the Coptic shonte, thorn; the Arabic sunṭ. Hence the Greek name ἄκανθα, thorn, the Latin, acanthus for the Egyptian acacia. Acacia wood is designated, ξύλον ἄσεππον "incorruptible wood", in the Septuagint, and lignum setim, "setim-wood" in the Vulgate. The Biblical Acacia belongs to the genus Mimosa, and is no doubt identical with the Acacia seyal (Del.) or the Acacia tortilis (Hayne); both are called seyyal, or torrent trees, sayl meaning torrent. They grow in the desert wadis, or torrent valleys, of Sinai. The wood is light, hard, and durable, and grows almost as black as ebony with age. The ark of the covenant, the table of the loaves of proposition, the altar of holocausts, the altar of incense, the wooden parts of the tabernacle, were made of setim-wood (Ex. xxv, 5). (See Plants of the Bible.)

Vigouroux, in Dict. de la Bible (Paris, 1895); Chapman in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, art. Shittah Tree (New York, 1902).

Acacians, The, known also as the Homœans, an Arian sect which first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the convocation of the joint Synods of Ariminum (Rimini) and Seleucia in 359. The sect owed its name as well as its political importance to Acacius, Bishop of Cæsarea, οἱ περὶ Ἀκάκιον, whose theory of adherence to scriptural phraseology it adopted and endeavoured to summarize in its various catch words: ὅμοιος, ὅμοιος κατὰ πάντα, κ. τ. λ.

In order to understand the theological significance of Acacianism as a critical episode, if only an episode, in the logical, as well as in the historical progress of Arianism, it is needful to recall that the great definition of the Homoöusion, promulgated at Nicæa in 325, so far from putting an end to further discussion, became rather the occasion for keener debate and for still more distressing confusion of statement in the formulation of theories on the relationship of Our Lord to His Father, in so far as that relationship constituted a distinct tenet of orthodox belief. Events had already begun to ripen towards a fresh crisis shortly after the advent of Constantius to sole power, on the death of his brother Constans in the year 350. The new Augustus was a man of vacillating character with an unfortunate susceptibility to flattery and a turn for theological debate (Ammianus, XXI, xvi) that soon made him a mere puppet in the hands of the Eusebian faction. Roughly speaking there were at this period but three parties in the Church: the Orthodox or Nicæan party, who sympathized for the most part with Athanasius and his supporters and who insisted on making his cause their own; the Eusebian or Court party and their bewildered Semi-Arian followers; and, last of all, and not least logical in their demands, the Anomœan party which owed its origin to Aetius. In the summer of 357, Ursaeius and Valens, the astute, but not always consistent advocates of this latter group of dissidents in the West, through the influence which they were enabled to bring to bear upon the Emperor by means of his second wife, Aurelia Eusebia (Panegyr. Jul. Orat., iii; Ammianus, XX, vi, 4), succeeded in bringing about a conference of bishops at Sirmium.

In the Latin creed put forth at this meeting there was inserted a statement of views drawn up by Potamius of Lisbon and the venerable Hosius of Cordova, which, under the name of the Sirmian Manifesto, as it afterwards came to be known, roused the whole of the Western Church and threw the temporizers of the East into disorder. In this statement the assembled prelates, while declaring their confession in "One God, the Father Almighty, and in His only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, generated from Him before the ages," recommended the disuse of the terms οὑσία (essence or substance), ὁμοούσιον (identical in essence, or substance), and ὁμοιούσιον (similar in essence, or substance), "by which the minds of many are perturbed"; and they held that there "ought to be no mention of any of them at all, nor any exposition of them in the Church, and for this reason and for this consideration that there is nothing written about them in divine Scripture and that they are above men's knowledge and above men's understanding" (Athan., De Syn., xxviii; Soz., ii, xxx; Hil., De Syn., xi). The effect of these propositions upon conservative opinion was like that of the proverbial spark in a barrel of gunpowder. As we look back from the standpoint of modern Catholicism upon the circumstances of this publication, it is impossible not to see that they occasioned the crisis upon which the whole subsequent history of Arianism turned. In spite of the scriptural disclaimer against the employment of inscrutable terms, nearly all parties instinctively perceived that the Manifesto was nothing else but a subtly Anomœan document.

The situation was assuredly rich in possibilities. Men began to group themselves along new lines. In the East, the Anomœans turned almost as a matter of course to Acacius of Cæsarea, whose influence was growing stronger at court and who was felt to be a shrewd and not too scrupulous temporizer. In the West, bishops like Ursacius and Valens began to carry on a like policy; and everywhere it was felt that the time called once more for concerted action on the part of the Church. This was precisely. what the party in favour with the Emperor Constantius were eager to bring about; but not in the way in which the Nicæans and Moderates expected. A single council might not be easily controlled; but two separate synods, sitting, one in the East and the other in the West, could be kept better in hand. After a number of preliminary conferences accompanying an inevitable campaign of pamphleteering in which Hilary of Poitiers took part, the bishops of the Western portion of the Empire met at Ariminum towards the end of May, and those of the East at Seleucia in the month of September, 359. The theological complexion of both Synods was identical, at least in this, that the party of compromise, represented at Seleucia by Acacius and at Ariminum by Ursacius and Valens, was politically, though not numerically, in the ascendant and could exercise a subtle influence which depended almost as much on the argumentative ability of their leaders as on their curial prestige. In both councils, as the result of dishonest intrigue and an unscrupulous use of intimidation, the Homœan formula associated with the name of Acacius ultimately prevailed. The Homoöusion, for which so much had been endured by saintly champions of orthodoxy for over half a century was given up and the Son was declared to be merely similar to—no longer identical in essence with—the Father. St. Jerome's characterization of the issue still affords the best commentary, not only