Christ, became the shuttlecock of warring parties, and men who, even if in error on some points, might have served the Church well as quiet scholars or active bishops, being persecuted and made martyrs of, became the objects of separatist veneration. "When the curiosity of men", says the historian, Louis Duchesne,1 "became excited about the mystery of Christ, when the indiscretion of theologians laid upon the dissecting table the gentle Saviour who offers Himself to our love and our imitation rather than to our philosophic investigation, these investigations ought at least to have been conducted quietly by men of acknowledged competence and prudence far from crowds and quarrels. The contrary happened. Religious passions let loose, conflicts of metropolitans, rivalries of ecclesiastical potentates, noisy councils, imperial laws, deprivations, exiles, riots, schisms—these are the conditions under which the Greek theologians studied the dogma of the Incarnation. And if one turns to look at the result of their quarrels one sees at the end of the perspective the Oriental Church irreparably divided, the Christian Empire dismembered, the lieutenants of Muhammad trampling Syria and Egypt underfoot. Such was the price of these metaphysical exercises."

Into the history and meaning of these controversies we need not enter further than to indicate their bearing on the situation at the time of the rise of Muhammad. In the Trinitarian disputes of the fourth century we are not much interested in this connection. They were bitter

1 Duchesne, Histoire de l'Eglise, iii. p. 323 f.

enough while they lasted, and were the occasion of the first manifestation within the Church of the persecuting spirit which ultimately wrought such havoc. But long before the rise of Islam the doctrine of the Trinity had been settled, and the dispute had passed to other subjects. Muhammad certainly misunderstood the doctrine and regarded it as tritheistic. But as I have come to the conclusion that it was late in his career before he came into contact with it, when in any case the die was cast which determined his attitude to Christianity, I do not ascribe to that so much importance as is sometimes assigned to it. The main result of the Trinitarian disputes so far as we are concerned here, was that they led, by the canvassing of the two parties throughout the Empire and on its outskirts, to an extension of the knowledge of Christianity in the south of Arabia and probably also in Abyssinia.

We are more directly interested in the other question which troubled the Church at a later period. In general it may be said that the views of theologians as to the Person of Christ were not irreconcilable. If only there had arisen another Athanasius to guide the thought of the Church, men might have realised that, though using different language, they really meant the same thing. But no such personality arose in the fifth and sixth centuries. The East was conservative in the use of language and viewed with suspicion some of the terms and phrases which came into use in Alexandria and elsewhere. There was, too, a far-reaching difference of