Athanasius of Alexandria also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, He was known as Athanasius Contra Mundum (Latin for Athanasius Against the World). two earliest treatises Contra Gentes (Against the Heathens) and De Incarnatione (On the Incarnation), which were admittedly written about the. LibriVox recording of Contra Gentes, by Athanasius of Alexandria. Read by Jonathan Lange. Contra Gentes is the first of a two volume work. ATHANASIUS: CONTRA GENTES. TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY CONTENTS OF THE ‘CONTRA GENTES’ Introduction (1). I. The origin of evil: man’s.

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His on-again-off-again episcopate spanned 45 years c. Athanasius was a Christian theologiana Church Fatherthe chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianismand a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century. Conflict with Arius and Arianism as well as successive Roman emperors shaped Athanasius’ career. Inat the age of 27, Athanasius began his leading role against the Arians as a deacon and assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria during the First Council of Nicaea.

Roman emperor Constantine the Great had convened the council in May—August to address the Arian position that the Son of GodJesus of Nazarethis of a distinct substance from the Father. In addition to the conflict with the Arians including powerful and influential Arian churchmen led by Eusebius of Nicomediahe struggled against the Emperors Constantine, Constantius IIJulian the Apostate and Valens. Nonetheless, within a few years after his death, Gregory of Nazianzus called him the “Pillar of the Church”.

His writings were well regarded by all following Church fathers in the West and the East, who noted their rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern and profound interest in monasticism.

The Council Nice”passed twenty disciplinary canons for the better government of the Church. Athanasius was born to a Christian family in the city of Alexandria [6] or possibly the nearby Nile Delta town of Damanhur sometime between the years and The earlier date is sometimes assigned due to the maturity revealed in his two earliest treatises Contra Gentes Against the Heathens and De Incarnatione On the Incarnationwhich were admittedly written about the year before Arianism had begun to make itself felt, as those writings do not show an awareness of Arianism.

However Cornelius Clifford places his birth no earlier than and no later thanbased on the fact that Athanasius indicates no first hand recollection of the Maximian persecution ofwhich he suggests Athanasius would have remembered if he had been ten years old at the time. Secondly, the Festal Epistles state that the Arians had accused Athanasius, among other charges, of not having yet attained the canonical age 30 and thus could not have been properly ordained ahtanasius Patriarch hentes Alexandria in The accusation must have seemed plausible.

His parents were wealthy enough to afford giving him a fine secular education. Historical evidence, however, indicates that he was fluent in Coptic as well given the regions of Egypt where he preached. Rufinus relates genges story that as Bishop Alexander stood by a window, he watched boys playing on the seashore below, imitating the ritual of Christian baptism.

Athanasius of Alexandria – Wikipedia

He sent for the children and discovered that one of the boys Athanasius had acted as bishop. After questioning Athanasijs, Bishop Alexander informed him that the baptisms were genuine, as both the form and matter of the sacrament had been performed through the recitation of contga correct words and the administration of water, and that he must not continue to do this as those baptized had not been properly catechized.

He invited Athanasius and his playfellows to prepare for clerical careers. Alexandria was the most important trade center in the whole empire during Athanasius’s boyhood. Intellectually, morally, and politically—it epitomized the ethnically diverse Graeco-Roman world, even more than Athanasiux or Constantinople, Antioch or Marseilles. Peter of Alexandriathe 17th archbishop of Alexandria, was martyred in in the closing days of the persecution, and may have been one of those teachers.

His successor as bishop of Alexandria, Alexander of Alexandria — was an Origenist as well as a documented mentor of Athanasius. According to Sozomen ; “the Bishop Alexander ‘invited Athanasius to be his commensal and secretary. He had been well educated, and was versed in cobtra and rhetoric, and had already, while still a young man, and before reaching the episcopate, given proof to those who dwelt with him of his wisdom and acumen’ “.

Athanasius’ earliest work, Against the Heathen — On the Incarnation written beforebears traces of Origenist Alexandrian thought such cohtra repeatedly quoting Plato and conyra a definition from Aristotle ‘s Organon but in an orthodox way. Athanasius was also familiar with the theories of various philosophical schools, and genyes particular with the developments of Neo-Platonism. Ultimately, Athanasius would modify the philosophical thought of the School of Alexandria away from the Origenist principles such as the “entirely allegorical interpretation of the text”.


Still, in later works, Athanasius quotes Homer more than once Hist. In his letter to Emperor Constantiushe presents a defense of himself bearing unmistakable traces of a study of Demosthenes de Corona. Athanasius knew Greek and admitted not knowing Hebrew [see, e. The Old Testament passages he quotes frequently come from the Septuagint Greek translation.

Contra Gentes

Only rarely did he use other Greek versions to Aquila once in the Ecthesisto other versions once or twice on the Psalmsand his knowledge of the Old Testament was limited to the Septuagint. Bishop or Patriarch, the highest ecclesial rank in the Centre of the Church, in Alexandria Alexander ordained Athanasius a deacon in Already a recognized theologian and ascetiche was the obvious choice to replace his aging mentor Alexander as the Patriarch of Alexandria[13] despite the opposition of the followers of Arius and Meletius of Lycopolis.

From this time to the end of the Arian controversies the word “consubstantial” continued to be the test of Catholic orthodoxy. The formulary of faith drawn up by Hosius is known as the Nicene Creed. The term had been proposed in a non-obvious and illegitimate sense by Paul of Samosata to the Fathers at Antioch, and had been rejected by them as savouring of materialistic conceptions of the Godhead.

While still a deacon under Alexander’s care or early in his patriarchate as discussed below Athanasius may have also become acquainted with some of the solitaries of the Egyptian desert, and in particular Anthony the Greatwhose life he is said to have written.

In aboutwhen Athanasius was a deacona presbyter named Arius came into a direct conflict with Alexander of Alexandria. It appears that Arius reproached Alexander for what he felt were misguided or heretical teachings being taught by the bishop.

Arius was subsequently excommunicated by Alexander, and he would begin to elicit the support of many bishops who agreed with his position. Forbes writes that when the Patriarch Alexander was on his death-bed he called Athanasius, who fled fearing he would be constrained to be made Bishop. Athanasius was thus elected, as Gregory tells us He was most unwilling to accept the dignity, for he clearly foresaw the difficulties in which it would involve him.

The clergy and people were determined to have him as their bishop, Patriarch of Alexandria, and refused to accept any excuses. He at length consented to accept a responsibility that he sought in vain to escape, and was consecrated inwhen he was about thirty years of age. Athanasius’ episcopate began on 9 May as the Alexandrian Council elected Athanasius to succeed after the death of Alexander, which took place “five months from the end of the Council of Nice. Athanasius was unanimously elected to fill the vacant see.

The clergy and people were determined to have him as their bishop, and refused to accept any excuse. At length consented to accept a responsibility that he sought in vain to escape; and was consecrated in A.

Patriarch Athanasius spent over 17 years in five exiles ordered by four different Roman Emperors, not counting approximately six more incidents in which Athanasius fled Alexandria to escape people seeking to take his life.

During his first years as bishop, Athanasius visited the churches of his territory, which at that time included all of Egypt and Libya. He established contacts with the hermits and athanasiuss of the desert, including Pachomiuswhich proved very athanazius to him over the years.

We have seen that when Arius was allowed to return from exile inAthanasius refused to remove the sentence of excommunication. Athanasius’ first problem lay with Meletius of Lycopolis and his followers, who had failed to abide by the First Council of Nicaea. That council also anathematized Arius. Accused of mistreating Arians and Meletians, Athanasius answered those charges at a gathering of bishops in Tyrethe First Synod of Tyrein There, Eusebius of Nicomedia and other supporters of Arius deposed Athanasius.

When Athanasius reached his destination in exile inMaximinus of Trier received him, but not as a disgraced person. Athanasius stayed with him for two years. Paul I of Constantinoplewho was banished by the Emperor Constantius, also stayed with him.

Maximinus cautioned the Emperor Constans against the Arians, revealing their plots. Shortly thereafter, however, Constantine’s son, the new Roman Emperor Constantius IIrenewed the order for Athanasius’s banishment in He had made his appeal to Pope Julius, who took up his cause with whole-heartedness that never wavered down to the day of that holy pontiff’s death. The pope summoned a synod of bishops to meet in Rome. After a careful and detailed examination of the entire case, the primate’s innocence was proclaimed to the Christian world.


Athanasius of Alexandria

During this time, Gregory of Cappadocia was installed as the Patriarch of Alexandria, usurping the absent Athanasius. Athanasius did, however, remain in contact with his people through his annual Festal Lettersin which he also announced on which date Easter would be celebrated that year. In ornearly one hundred bishops met at Alexandria, declared in favor of Athanasius, [23] and vigorously rejected the criticisms of the Eusebian faction at Tyre.

Plus, Pope Julius I wrote to the supporters of Arius strongly urging Athanasius’s reinstatement, but that effort proved in vain. Pope Julius I called a synod in Rome in to address the matter, which proclaimed Athanasius the rightful bishop of Alexandria. Together they set out for Sardica, Sofia.

The travel was a mammoth task in itself. At this great gathering of prelates, leaders of the Church, the case of Athanasius was taken up once more, that is, Athanasius was formally questioned over misdemeanours and even murder, a man called Arsenius and using his body for magic — an absurd charge.

They even produced Arsenius’ severed hand. The Council was convoked for the purpose of inquiring into the charges against Athanasius and other bishops, on account of which they were deposed from their sees by the Semi-Arian Synod of Antiochand went into exile.

It was called according to Socrates, E. One hundred and seventy six attended. Eusebian bishops objected to the admission of Athanasius and other deposed bishops to the Council, except as accused persons to answer the charges brought against them.

Their objections were overridden by the orthodox bishops, about a hundred were orthodox, who were the majority. The Eusebians, seeing they had no chance of having their views carried, retired to Philoppopolis in Thrace, Philippopolis Thraciawhere they held an opposition council, under the presidency of the Patriarch of Antioch, and confirmed the decrees of the Synod of Antioch.

His innocence was reaffirmed at the Council of Sardica. Two conciliar letters were prepared, one to the clergy and faithful of Alexandria, the other to the bishops of Egypt and Libya, in which the will of the Council was made known. Meanwhile, the Eusebian party had gone to Philippopolis, where they issued an anathema against Athanasius and his supporters.

The persecution against the orthodox party broke out with renewed vigour, and Atjanasius was induced to prepare drastic measures against Athanasius and the priests who were devoted to him. Orders were given that if the Saint attempt to re-enter his see, he should be put to death. Athanasius, accordingly, withdrew from Sardica to Naissus in Mysia, where he celebrated the Easter festival of the year Eastern Bishop Gregory of Cappadocia died, probably of violence in June of Gregory, an Arian bishop, had taken over the See bentes Alexandria.

The emissary to the Emperor Constantius sent by the bishops of the Sardica Council to report the finding of the Council, who had been met at first with most insulting treatment, now received a favourable hearing. Constantius was forced to reconsider his decision, owing to a threatening letter from his brother Constans and the uncertain conditions of affairs on the Persian border, and he accordingly made up his mind to yield. But three separate letters were needed to overcome the natural hesitation of Athanasius.

He was accorded gsntes gracious interview by the Emperor, and sent back to his See in triumph, and began his memorable ten years of peace, which lasted to the third exile, Pope Julius died in Apriland was succeeded by Liberius. For two years Liberius had been favourable to the cause of Athanasius; but driven at last into exile, he was induced to sign an ambiguous formula, from which the great Nicene text, the “homoousion”, had been studiously omitted.

In a clntra was held at Milan, where in spite of the vigorous opposition of a handful of loyal prelates among the Western bishops, a fourth condemnation of Athanasius was announced to the world.

With his friends scattered, the saintly Hosius in exile, and Pope Liberius denounced as acquiescing in Arian formularies, Athanasius could hardly hope to escape.