In his discussion of the controversy between Athanasius and Arius over the nature of God, Arthur McGill makes a rather delightful observation:
“[For Arius], to apply the notion of ‘begetting’ to God’s own substance is to take a notion from Greek mythology and apply it illegitimately to the Biblical God. According to the entire Hebrew tradition, and therefore also according to the New Testament, the model for understanding God in his activity is not the model of generation and sexual reproduction, so dear to Greek mythology, but the model of the artisan who makes and the king who governs. The Arian party therefore looked upon this theological use of the model of begetting by Athanasius and his supporters as one of the most corrupt paganizations of Christianity.” (Suffering, p. 71)
We are generally trained to view Arius as the one who was assimilating Christian theology to the metaphysical millieu of antiquity. He is case as a sort of revisionist Hellenizer of the Christian faith. However, as McGill points out, Arius thought he was doing exactly the opposite. He was protesting against what he thought of as a mythologization of God which entangled God’s otherness in the categories of a non-Christian metaphysic.
Thus, Athanasius is actually the Hellenist and Arius is the Hebraist (albeit, perhaps one of the exteremely Philonic variety). If anything this shows that the revelation of God as Triune is just as subversive of an allegedly pure “Hebraic” notion of God’s being as it is of the “Hellenic” theology that is so often decried. It is, in the parlance of Scripture, both a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.