Athanasius of Alexandria

Athanasius I of Alexandria[note 1] (c. 296–298 – 2 May 373), also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor, or, among Coptic Christians, Athanasius the Apostolic, was a Greek church father[4] and the 20th pope of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian Christian (Egyptian) leader of the fourth century.

Athanasius of Alexandria
Pope of Alexandria
Icon of St Athanasius
ChurchNicene Christianity
SuccessorPeter II
Personal details
Bornc. 296–298[1]
Died2 May 373 (aged 75–78)
Alexandria, Roman Egypt
Philosophy career
OccupationPope of Alexandria
Notable work
  • First Letters to Serapion
  • Life of Antony
EraPatristic Age
LanguageCoptic, Greek
Main interests
Notable ideas
Consubstantiality, Trinity, divinity of Jesus, Theotokos[2]
Feast day
Venerated in
Title as SaintSaint and Doctor of the Church
AttributesBishop arguing with a pagan; bishop holding an open book; bishop standing over a defeated heretic
ShrinesChurch of San Zaccaria in Venice, Italy

Conflict with Arius and Arianism as well as successive Roman emperors shaped Athanasius' career. In 325, at 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 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father.[5] Three years after that council, Athanasius succeeded his mentor as pope of Alexandria. In addition to the conflict with the Arians (including powerful and influential Arian churchmen led by Eusebius of Nicomedia), he struggled against the Emperors Constantine, Constantius II, Julian the Apostate and Valens. He was known as Athanasius Contra Mundum (Latin for Athanasius Against the World).

Nonetheless, within a few years of his death, Gregory of Nazianzus called him the "Pillar of the Church". His writings were well regarded by subsequent Church fathers in the West and the East, who noted their devotion to the Word-become-man, pastoral concern and interest in monasticism. Athanasius is considered one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Catholic Church.[6] In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius was the first person to list the 27 books of the New Testament canon that are in use today.[7] He is venerated as a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church,[8] the Catholic Church,[9] the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism.


A statue of Athanasius in Catania, Sicily.

Athanasius was born to a Christian family in the city of Alexandria[10] or possibly the nearby Nile Delta town of Damanhur sometime between the years 293 and 298. 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 Incarnation), which were admittedly written about the year 318 before Arianism had begun to make itself felt, as those writings do not show an awareness of Arianism.[1]

However Cornelius Clifford places his birth no earlier than 296 and no later than 298, based on the fact that Athanasius indicates no first hand recollection of the Maximian persecution of 303, which 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 (35) and thus could not have been properly ordained as Patriarch of Alexandria in 328. The accusation must have seemed plausible.[1] The Orthodox Church places his year of birth around 297.[10]


His parents were wealthy enough to give him a fine secular education.[1] He was, nevertheless, clearly not a member of the Egyptian aristocracy.[11] Some Western scholars consider his command of Greek, in which he wrote most (if not all) of his surviving works, evidence that he may have been a Greek born in Alexandria. Historical evidence, however, indicates that he was fluent in Coptic as well given the regions of Egypt where he preached.[11] Some surviving copies of his writings are in fact in Coptic, though scholars differ as to whether he himself wrote them in Coptic originally (which would make him the first patriarch to do so), or whether these were translations of writings originally in Greek.[12][11]

Rufinus relates a story that as Bishop Alexander stood by a window, he watched boys playing on the seashore below, imitating the ritual of Christian baptism. He sent for the children and discovered that one of the boys (Athanasius) had acted as bishop. After questioning Athanasius, 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 the 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.[13]

Alexandria was the most important trade centre in the whole empire during Athanasius's boyhood. Intellectually, morally, and politically—it epitomized the ethnically diverse Graeco-Roman world, even more than Rome or Constantinople, Antioch or Marseilles.[13] Its famous catechetical school, while sacrificing none of its famous passion for orthodoxy since the days of Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Dionysius and Theognostus, had begun to take on an almost secular character in the comprehensiveness of its interests, and had counted influential pagans among its serious auditors.[14]

Peter of Alexandria, the 17th archbishop of Alexandria, was martyred in 311 in the closing days of the persecution, and may have been one of those teachers. His successor as bishop of Alexandria was Alexander of Alexandria (312–328). According to Sozomen; "the Bishop Alexander 'invited Athanasius to be his commensal and secretary. He had been well educated, and was versed in grammar 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' ".(Soz., II, xvii) [1]

Athanasius' earliest work, Against the Heathen – On the Incarnation (written before 319), bears traces of Origenist Alexandrian thought (such as repeatedly quoting Plato and using a definition from Aristotle's Organon) but in an orthodox way. Athanasius was also familiar with the theories of various philosophical schools, and in 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. Ar. 68, Orat. iv. 29).

St. Athanasius (1883–84), by Carl Rohl-Smith, Frederik's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Athanasius knew Greek and admitted not knowing Hebrew [see, e.g., the 39th Festal Letter of St. Athan.]. The Old Testament passages he quotes frequently come from the Septuagint Greek translation. Only rarely did he use other Greek versions (to Aquila once in the Ecthesis, to other versions once or twice on the Psalms), and his knowledge of the Old Testament was limited to the Septuagint.[15][full citation needed] The combination of Scriptural study and of Greek learning was characteristic of the famous Alexandrian School.[citation needed]

Bishop (or Patriarch, the highest ecclesial rank in the Centre of the Church, in Alexandria) Alexander ordained Athanasius a deacon in 319.[16][page needed] In 325, Athanasius served as Alexander's secretary at the First Council of Nicaea. Already a recognized theologian and ascetic, he was the obvious choice to replace his ageing mentor Alexander as the Patriarch of Alexandria,[17] despite the opposition of the followers of Arius and Meletius of Lycopolis.[16]

At length, in the Council of Nicaea, the term "consubstantial" (homoousion) was adopted, and a formulary of faith embodying it was drawn up by Hosius of Córdoba. From this time to the end of the Arian controversies the word "consubstantial" continued to be the test of orthodoxy. The formulary of faith drawn up by Hosius is known as the Nicene Creed.[18]: 232  However, "he was not the originator of the famous 'homoousion' (ACC of homoousios). 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."[1]

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 Great, whose life he is said to have written.[13]

Opposition to ArianismEdit

In about 319, when Athanasius was a deacon, a 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.[19] Arius' theological views appear to have been firmly rooted in Alexandrian Christianity.[20] He embraced a subordinationist Christology which taught that Christ was the divine Son (Logos) of God, made, not begotten, heavily influenced by Alexandrian thinkers like Origen,[21] and which was a common Christological view in Alexandria at the time.[22] Arius had support from a powerful bishop named Eusebius of Nicomedia (not to be confused with Eusebius of Caesarea),[23] illustrating how Arius's subordinationist Christology was shared by other Christians in the Empire. Arius was subsequently excommunicated by Alexander, and he would begin to elicit the support of many bishops who agreed with his position.[16]: 297 


Papal styles of
Pope Athanasius I
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious stylePope and Patriarch
Posthumous styleSaint

Frances A. M. 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. "When the Bishops of the Church assembled to elect their new Patriarch, the whole Catholic population surrounded the church, holding up their hands to Heaven and crying; "Give us Athanasius!" The Bishops had nothing better. Athanasius was thus elected, as Gregory tells us..." (Pope Gregory I, would have full access to the Vatican Archives).[24]: Chapter 4 

T. Gilmartin, (Professor of History, Maynooth, 1890), writes in Church History, Vol. 1, Ch XVII: "On the death of Alexander, five months after the termination of the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius was unanimously elected to fill the vacant see. 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 in 326, when he was about thirty years of age."[18]: 244–248 

Athanasius' episcopate began on 9 May 328 as the Alexandrian Council elected Athanasius to succeed after the death of Alexander, and was consecrated in A.D. 326."[18]: 245  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.[17]

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 monks of the desert, including Pachomius, which proved very valuable to him over the years.[17]

"During the forty-eight years of his episcopate, his history is told in the history of the controversies in which he was constantly engaged with the Arians, and of the sufferings he had to endure in defence of the Nicene faith. We have seen that when Arius was allowed to return from exile in 328, Athanasius refused to remove the sentence of excommunication."[18]: 245 

First exileEdit

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 Tyre, the First Synod of Tyre, in 335. There, Eusebius of Nicomedia and other supporters of Arius deposed Athanasius.[16][page needed] On 6 November, both sides of the dispute met with Emperor Constantine I in Constantinople.[25] At that meeting, the Arians claimed Athanasius would try to cut off essential Egyptian grain supplies to Constantinople. He was found guilty, and sent into exile to Augusta Treverorum in Gaul (now Trier in Germany).[16][page needed][17][26][full citation needed]

When Athanasius reached his destination in exile in 336, Maximin of Trier received him, but not as a disgraced person. Athanasius stayed with him for two years.[27] Constantine died in 337 and was succeeded by his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius, and Constans. Paul I of Constantinople, who had also been banished by Constantius, also found shelter with Maximin, who cautioned the Emperor Constans against the Arians, revealing their plots.[28]

Second exileEdit

Fresco at Hosios Loukas, Greece (11th century)
Statue of the saint in St Athanasius's Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois

When Emperor Constantine I died, Athanasius was allowed to return to his See of Alexandria. Shortly thereafter, however, Constantine's son, the new Roman Emperor Constantius II, renewed the order for Athanasius's banishment in 338. 'Within a few weeks he set out for Rome to lay his case before the Church at large. 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.'.[1] During this time, Gregory of Cappadocia, an Arian bishop, was installed as the Patriarch of Alexandria, usurping the absent Athanasius. Athanasius did, however, remain in contact with his people through his annual Festal Letters, in which he also announced on which date Easter would be celebrated that year.[17]

In 339 or 340, nearly one hundred bishops met at Alexandria, declared in favour of Athanasius,[29] 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 340 to address the matter, which proclaimed Athanasius the rightful bishop of Alexandria.[30]

Early in the year 343 we find Athanasius had travelled, via Rome, from Alexandria, North Africa, to Gaul; nowadays Belgium / Holland and surrounding areas, where Hosius of Córdoba was bishop, the great champion of orthodoxy in the West. Together they set out for Serdica. A full Council of the Church was convened / summoned there in deference to the Roman pontiff's wishes. 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.)[31]

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 Antioch (341), and went into exile. It was called according to Socrates, (E. H. ii. 20) by the two Emperors, Constans and Constantius; but, according to Baronius by Pope Julius (337–352), (Ad an. 343). 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, where they held an opposition council, under the presidency of the Patriarch of Antioch, and confirmed the decrees of the Synod of Antioch.[18]: 233–234 

Athanasius' innocence was reaffirmed at the Council of Serdica. 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 Constantius was induced to prepare drastic measures against Athanasius and the priests who were devoted to him. Orders were given that if Athanasius attempted to re-enter his see, he should be put to death. Athanasius, accordingly, withdrew from Serdica to Naissus in Mysia, where he celebrated the Easter festival of the year 344.[1] It was Hosius who presided over the Council of Serdica, as he did for the First Council of Nicaea, which like the 341 synod, found Athanasius innocent.[32] He celebrated his last Easter in exile in Aquileia in April 345, received by bishop Fortunatianus.[33]

Eastern Bishop Gregory of Cappadocia died, probably of violence in June of 345. The emissary to the Emperor Constantius sent by the bishops of the Council of Serdica 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 passed rapidly from Aquileia to Treves, from Treves to Rome and from Rome by way of the northern route to Adrianople, Edirne, and Antioch, Ankara, where he met Constantius. He was accorded a 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, 356.[1]

Pope Julius died in April 352, and 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 355 a council 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, Hosius in exile, and Pope Liberius denounced as acquiescing in Arian formularies, Athanasius could hardly hope to escape. On the night of 8 February 356, while engaged in services in the Church of St. Thomas, a band of armed men burst in to secure his arrest. It was the beginning of his third exile.[1]

T. Gilmartin, (Professor of History, Maynooth, 1890), writes in Church History, Vol. 1, Ch XVII: By Constantius' order, the sole ruler of The Roman Empire at the death of his brother Constans, the Council of Arles in 353, was held, which was presided over by Vincent, Bishop of Capua, in the name of Pope Liberius. The fathers terrified of the threats of the Emperor, an avowed Arian, they consented to the condemnation of Athanasius. The Pope refused to accept their decision, and requested the Emperor to hold another Council, in which the charges against Athanasius could be freely investigated. To this Constantius consented, for he felt able to control the Council in Milan.[18]: 234 

Three hundred bishops assembled in Milan, most from the West, only a few from the East, in 355. They met in the Church of Milan. Shortly, the Emperor ordered them to a hall in the Imperial Palace, thus ending any free debate. He presented an Arian formula of faith for their acceptance. He threatened any who refused with exile and death. All, with the exception of Dionysius (bishop of Milan), and the two Papal Legates, viz., Eusebius of Vercelli and Lucifer of Cagliari, consented to the Arian Creed and the condemnation of Athanasius. Those who refused were sent into exile. The decrees were forwarded to the Pope for approval, but were rejected, because of the violence to which the bishops were subjected.[18]: 235 

Third exileEdit

Athanasius at the Council of Nicea, William of Tyre manuscripts.

Through the influence of the Eusebian faction at Constantinople, an Arian bishop, George of Cappadocia, was now appointed to rule the see of Alexandria. Athanasius, after remaining some days in the neighbourhood of the city, finally withdrew into the desert of Upper Egypt, where he remained for a period of six years, living the life of the monks, devoting himself to the composition of a group of writings; "Apology to Constantius", the "Apology for his Flight", the "Letter to the Monks", and the "History of the Arians".[1]

Constantius, renewing his previous policies favouring the Arians, banished Athanasius from Alexandria once again. This was followed, in 356, by an attempt to arrest Athanasius during a vigil service.[34] Athanasius fled to Upper Egypt, where he stayed in several monasteries and other houses. During this period, Athanasius completed his work Four Orations against the Arians and defended his own recent conduct in the Apology to Constantius and Apology for His Flight. Constantius' persistence in his opposition to Athanasius, combined with reports Athanasius received about the persecution of non-Arians by the new Arian bishop George of Laodicea, prompted Athanasius to write his more emotional History of the Arians, in which he described Constantius as a precursor of the Antichrist.[17]

Constantius ordered Liberius into exile in 356 giving him three days to comply. He was ordered into banishment to Beroea, in Thrace. He sent expensive presents if he were to accept the Arian position, which Liberius refused. He sent him five hundred pieces of gold "to bear his charges" which Liberius refused, saying he might bestow them on his flatterers; as he did also a like present from the empress, bidding the messenger learn to believe in Christ, and not to persecute the Church of God. Attempts were made to leave the presents in The Church, but Liberius threw them out. Constantius hereupon sent for him under a strict guard to Milan, where in a conference recorded by Theodore, he boldly told Constantius that Athanasius had been acquitted at Serdica, and his enemies proved calumniators (see: "calumny") and impostors, and that it was unjust to condemn a person who could not be legally convicted of any crime. The emperor was reduced to silence on every article, but being the more out of patience, ordered him into banishment.[18]: 235–236 

Liberius went into exile. Constantius, after two years went to Rome to celebrate the twentieth year of his reign. The ladies joined in a petition to him that he would restore Liberius. He assented, upon condition that he should comply with the bishops, then, at court. He subscribed the condemnation of Athanasius, and a confession or creed which had been framed by the Arians at Sirmium. And he no sooner had recovered his see that he declared himself for the Creed of Niceae, as Theodoret testifies. (Theodoret, Hist. lib. ii. c. 17.).[27] The Emperor knew what he wanted people to believe. So did the bishops at his court. Athanasius stuck by the orthodox creed.[26] Constantius was an avowed Arian, became sole ruler in 350, at the death of his brother, Constans.[18]: 236 

T. Gilmartin, (Professor of History, Maynooth, 1890), writes in Church History, Vol. 1, Ch XVII:

The Arians sought the approval of an Ecumenical Council. They sought to hold two councils. Constantius, summoned the bishops of the East to meet at Seleucia in Isauria, and those of the West to Rimini in Italy. A preliminary conference was held by the Arians at Sirmium, to agree a formula of faith. A "Homoeon" creed was adopted, declaring The Son to be "like the Father". The two met in autumn of 359. At Seleucia, one hundred and fifty bishops, of which one hundred and five were semi-Arian. The semi-Arians refused to accept anything less than the "Homoiousion", (see: Homoiousian), formulary of faith. The Imperial Prefect was obliged to disband, without agreeing on any creed.[18]

Acacius, the leader of the "Homoean" party went to Constantinople, where the Sirmian formulary of faith was approved by the "Home Synod", (consisted of those bishops who happened to be present at the Court for the time), and a decree of deposition issued against the leaders of the semi-Arians. At Rimini were over four hundred of which eighty were Arian, the rest were orthodox. The orthodox fathers refused to accept any creed but the Nicene, while the others were equally in favour of the Sirmian. Each party sent a deputation to the Emperor to say there was no probability to agreement, and asked for the bishops to return to their dioceses. For the purpose of wearing-down the orthodox bishops; (Sulpitius Severius says), Constantius delayed his answer for several months, and finally prevailed on them to accept the Sirmian creed. It was after this Council that Jerome said: " ...the whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian."[18]: 239 

The Arians no longer presented an unbroken front to their orthodox opponents. The Emperor Constantius, who had been the cause of so much trouble, died on 4 November 361 and was succeeded by Julian. The proclamation of the new prince's accession was the signal for a pagan outbreak against the still dominant Arian faction in Alexandria. George, the usurping bishop, was flung into prison and murdered. An obscure presbyter of the name of Pistus was immediately chosen by the Arians to succeed him, when fresh news arrived that filled the orthodox party with hope. An edict had been put forth by Julian permitting the exiled bishops of the "Galileans" to return to their "towns and provinces". Athanasius received a summons from his own flock, and he accordingly re-entered his episcopal capitol on 22 February 362.[1]

In 362 he convened a council at Alexandria, and presided over it with Eusebius of Vercelli. Athanasius appealed for unity among all those who had faith in Christianity, even if they differed on matters of terminology. This prepared the groundwork for his definition of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. However, the council also was directed against those who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, the human soul of Christ, and Christ's divinity. Mild measures were agreed on for those heretic bishops who repented, but severe penance was decreed for the chief leaders of the major heresies.[35]

With characteristic energy he set to work to re-establish the somewhat shattered fortunes of the orthodox party and to purge the theological atmosphere of uncertainty. To clear up the misunderstandings that had arisen in the course of the previous years, an attempt was made to determine still further the significance of the Nicene formularies. In the meanwhile, Julian, who seems to have become suddenly jealous of the influence that Athanasius was exercising at Alexandria, addressed an order to Ecdicius, the Prefect of Egypt, peremptorily commanding the expulsion of the restored primate, on the ground that he had never been included in the imperial act of clemency. The edict was communicated to the bishop by Pythicodorus Trico, who, though described in the "Chronicon Athanasianum" (XXXV) as a "philosopher", seems to have behaved with brutal insolence. On 23 October the people gathered about the proscribed bishop to protest against the emperor's decree; but Athanasius urged them to submit, consoling them with the promise that his absence would be of short duration.[1]

Fourth exileEdit

In 362, the new Emperor Julian, noted for his opposition to Christianity, ordered Athanasius to leave Alexandria once again. Athanasius left for Upper Egypt, remaining there with the Desert Fathers until Julian's death on 26 June 363. Athanasius returned in secret to Alexandria, where he soon received a document from the new emperor, Jovian, reinstating him once more in his episcopal functions.[1]

His first act was to convene a council which reaffirmed the terms of the Nicene Creed. Early in September 363 he set out for Antioch on the Orontes, bearing a synodal letter, in which the pronouncements of this council had been embodied. At Antioch he had an interview with the new emperor, who received him graciously and even asked him to prepare an exposition of the orthodox faith. The following February Jovian died; and in October 364, Athanasius was once more an exile.[1]

Fifth exileEdit

Two years later, the Emperor Valens, who favoured the Arian position, in his turn exiled Athanasius. This time Athanasius simply left for the outskirts of Alexandria, where he stayed for only a few months before the local authorities convinced Valens to retract his order of exile.[17] Some early reports state that Athanasius spent this period of exile at his family's ancestral tomb[16] in a Christian cemetery. It was during this period, the final exile, that he is said to have spent four months in hiding in his father's tomb. (Soz., "Hist. Eccl.", VI, xii; Soc., "Hist. Eccl.", IV, xii).[1]

The accession of Valens gave a fresh lease of life to the Arian party. He issued a decree banishing the bishops who had been deposed by Constantius, but who had been permitted by Jovian to return to their sees. The news created the greatest consternation in the city of Alexandria itself, and the prefect, in order to prevent a serious outbreak, gave public assurance that the very special case of Athanasius would be laid before the emperor. But Athanasius seems to have divined what was preparing in secret against him. He quietly withdrew from Alexandria, 5 October, and took up his abode in a country house outside the city. Valens, who seems to have sincerely dreaded the possible consequences of another popular outbreak, within a few weeks issued orders allowing Athanasius to return to his episcopal see.[1]

In 366 Pope Liberius died and was succeeded by Pope Damasus, a man of strong character and holy life. Two years later, in a council of the Church, it was decreed that no Bishop should be consecrated unless he held the Creed of Nicea.[24]: Chapter 11 

Final years and deathEdit

After returning to Alexandria in early 366, Athanasius spent his final years repairing all the damage done during the earlier years of violence, dissent, and exile. He resumed writing and preaching undisturbed, and characteristically re-emphasized the view of the Incarnation which had been defined at Nicaea. On 2 May 373, having consecrated Peter II, one of his presbyters as his successor, Athanasius died peacefully in his own bed, surrounded by his clergy and faithful supporters.[13]


In Coptic literature, Athanasius is the first patriarch of Alexandria to use Coptic as well as Greek in his writings.[12]

Polemical and theological worksEdit

Athanasius was not a speculative theologian. As he stated in his First Letters to Serapion, he held on to "the tradition, teaching, and faith proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers."[16] He held that not only was the Son of God consubstantial with the Father, but so was the Holy Spirit, which had a great deal of influence in the development of later doctrines regarding the Trinity.[16]

Athanasius' "Letter Concerning the Decrees of the Council of Nicaea" (De Decretis), is an important historical as well as theological account of the proceedings of that council, and another letter from 367 is the first known listing of all those books now accepted as the New Testament.[16] (Earlier similar lists vary by the omission or addition of a few books.)[citation needed]

Examples of Athanasius' polemical writings against his theological opponents include Orations Against the Arians, his defence of the divinity of the Holy Spirit (Letters to Serapion in the 360s, and On the Holy Spirit), against Macedonianism and On the Incarnation.[17]

Athanasius also authored a two-part work, Against the Heathen and The Incarnation of the Word of God. Completed probably early in his life, before the Arian controversy,[36] they constitute the first classic work of developed Orthodox theology. In the first part, Athanasius attacks several pagan practices and beliefs. The second part presents teachings on the redemption.[16] Also in these books, Athanasius put forward the belief, referencing John 1:1–4, that the Son of God, the eternal Word (Logos) through whom God created the world, entered that world in human form to lead men back into the harmony from which they had earlier fallen away.[37]

His other important works include his Letters to Serapion, which defends the divinity of the Holy Spirit. In a letter to Epictetus of Corinth, Athanasius anticipates future controversies in his defence of the humanity of Christ. Another of his letters, to Dracontius, urges that monk to leave the desert for the more active duties of a bishop.[17]

Athanasius also wrote several works of Biblical exegesis, primarily on Old Testament materials. The most important of these is his Epistle to Marcellinus (PG 27:12–45) on how to incorporate Psalm saying into one's spiritual practice. Excerpts remain of his discussions concerning the Book of Genesis, the Song of Solomon, and Psalms.[citation needed]

Perhaps his most notable letter was his Festal Letter, written to his Church in Alexandria when he was in exile, as he could not be in their presence. This letter clearly shows his stand that accepting Jesus as the Divine Son of God is not optional but necessary:

I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith?[38]

Biographical and asceticEdit

His biography of Anthony the Great entitled Life of Antony[39](Βίος καὶ Πολιτεία Πατρὸς Ἀντωνίου, Vita Antonii) became his most widely read work. Translated into several languages, it became something of a best seller in its day and played an important role in the spreading of the ascetic ideal in Eastern and Western Christianity.[17] It depicted Anthony as an illiterate yet holy man who continuously engaged in spiritual exercises in the Egyptian desert and struggled against demonic powers. It later served as an inspiration to Christian monastics in both the East and the West.[40]

Athanasius' works on asceticism also include a Discourse on Virginity, a short work on Love and Self-Control, and a treatise On Sickness and Health (of which only fragments remain).[citation needed]

Misattributed worksEdit

There are several other works ascribed to him, although not necessarily generally accepted as being his own. These include the so-called Athanasian creed (which is today generally seen as being of 5th-century Galician origin), and a complete Expositions on the Psalms (PG 27: 60–545).[16]


Based on his understanding of the prophecies of Daniel and Book of Revelation, Athanasius described Jesus’ second coming in the clouds of heaven and pleads with his readers to be ready for that day, at which time Jesus would judge the earth, raise the dead, cast out the wicked, and establish his kingdom. Athanasius also argued that the exact date of Jesus’ earthly sojourn was divinely foretold beyond refutation by the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9.[41]


Athanasius was originally buried in Alexandria, Egypt, but his remains were later transferred to the Chiesa di San Zaccaria in Venice, Italy. During Pope Shenouda III's visit to Rome (4–10 May 1973), Pope Paul VI gave the Coptic Patriarch a relic of Athanasius,[42] which he brought back to Egypt on 15 May.[43][self-published source] The relic is currently preserved under the new Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. However, the majority of Athanasius's corpse remains in the Venetian church.[44][self-published source]

All major Christian denominations which officially recognize saints venerate Athanasius. Western Christians observe his feast day on 2 May, the anniversary of his death. The Catholic Church considers Athanasius a Doctor of the Church.[6] For Coptic Christians, his feast day is Pashons 7 (now circa 15 May). Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendars remember Athanasius on 18 January.[45]

Gregory of Nazianzus (330–390, also a Doctor of the Church), said: "When I praise Athanasius, virtue itself is my theme: for I name every virtue as often as I mention him who was possessed of all virtues. He was the true pillar of the Church. His life and conduct were the rule of bishops, and his doctrine the rule of the orthodox faith."[13]

Athanasius is honored on the liturgical calendars of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church on 2 May.[46][47]


Historian Cornelius Clifford said in his account: "Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of 'Father of Orthodoxy', by which he has been distinguished ever since."[1]

St. John Henry Newman described him as a "principal instrument, after the Apostles, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world".[48]

Historian Cornelius Clifford says: "His career almost personifies a crisis in the history of Christianity; and he may be said rather to have shaped the events in which he took part than to have been shaped by them."[1]

The greater majority of Church leaders and the emperors fell into support for Arianism, so much so that Jerome, 340–420, wrote of the period: "The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian".[18] He, Athanasius, even suffered an unjust excommunication from Pope Liberius (352–366) who was exiled and leant towards compromise, until he was allowed back to the See of Rome. Athanasius stood virtually alone against the world.[27]

Historical significance and controversiesEdit

New Testament canonEdit

It was the custom of the bishops of Alexandria to circulate a letter after Epiphany each year confirming the date of Easter, and therefore other moveable feasts. They also took the occasion to discuss other matters. Athanasius wrote forty-five festal letters.[49] Athanasius' 39th Festal Letter, written in 367, is widely regarded as a milestone in the evolution of the canon of New Testament books.[50]

Athanasius is the first person to identify the same 27 books of the New Testament that are in use today. Up until then, various similar lists of works to be read in churches were in use. Athanasius compiled the list to resolve questions about such texts as The Epistle of Barnabas. Athanasius includes the Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah and places the Book of Esther among the "7 books not in the canon but to be read" along with the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Judith, Tobit, the Didache, and the Shepherd of Hermas.[51]

Athanasius' list is similar to the Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican Library, probably written in Rome, in 340 by Alexandrian scribes for Emperor Constans, during the period of Athanasius' seven-year exile in the city. The establishment of the canon was not a unilateral decision by a bishop in Alexandria, but the result of a process of careful investigation and deliberation, as documented in a codex of the Greek Bible and, twenty-seven years later, in his festal letter.[49]

Pope Damasus I, the Bishop of Rome in 382, promulgated a list of books which contained a New Testament canon identical to that of Athanasius. A synod in Hippo in 393 repeated Athanasius' and Damasus' New Testament list (without the Epistle to the Hebrews), and the Council of Carthage (397) repeated Athanasius' and Damasus' complete New Testament list.[52]

Scholars debate whether Athanasius' list in 367 formed the basis for later lists. Because Athanasius' Canon is the closest canon of any of the Church Fathers to the one used by Protestant churches today, many Protestants point to Athanasius as the Father of the Canon.[51][53]

Episcopal consecrationEdit

In the light of Francis A. M. Forbes' research and reference to Pope Gregory I's writings, it would appear that Athanasius was constrained to be bishop: She 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. "When the Bishops of the Church assembled to elect their new Patriarch, the whole Catholic population surrounded the church, holding up their hands to Heaven and crying; "Give us Athanasius!" The Bishops had nothing better. Athanasius was thus elected, as Gregory tells us..." (Pope Gregory I, would have full access to the Vatican Archives).[24]: Chapter 4 

Alban Butler writes on the subject: "Five months after this great Council, Nicae, St Alexander lying on his deathbed, recommended to his clergy and people the choice of Athanasius for his successor, thrice repeating his name. In consequence of his recommendation, the bishops of all Egypt assembled at Alexandria, and finding the people and clergy unanimous in their choice of Athanasius for patriarch, they confirmed the election about the middle of year 326. He seems, then, to have been about thirty years of age."[27]


Athanasius (left) and his supporter Cyril of Alexandria. 17th century depiction.

Christian denominations worldwide revere Athanasius as a saint and teacher. They cite his defence of the Christology described in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John[1:1–4] and his significant theological works (C. S. Lewis calls On the Incarnation of the Word of God a "masterpiece")[54] as evidence of his righteousness. They also emphasize his close relationship with Anthony the Great, the ancient monk who was one of the founders of the Christian monastic movement.

The Gospel of St. John and particularly the first chapter demonstrates the Divinity of Jesus. This Gospel in itself is the greatest support of Athanasius' stand. The Gospel of St. John's first chapter began to be said at the end of Mass, we believe as a result of Athanasius, and his life's stand, but quietly, and was later – together with some other originally private devotions – absorbed by the liturgical service proper as so-called Last Gospel[1:1–14]. The beginning of John's Gospel was much used as an object of special devotion throughout the Middle Ages; the practice of saying it at the altar grew, and eventually Pius V made this practice universal for the Roman Rite in his edition of the Missal (1570).[55] It became a firm custom with exceptions in using another Gospel in use from 1920.[56][57]

Gregory of Nazianzus (330–390) begins Or. 21 with: "When I praise Athanasius, virtue itself is my theme: for I name every virtue as often as I mention him who was possessed of all virtues. He was the true pillar of the church. His life and conduct were the rule of bishops, and his doctrine the rule of the orthodox faith."[13]

Cyril of Alexandria (370–444) in the first letter says: "Athanasius is one who can be trusted: he would not say anything that is not in accord with sacred scripture." (Ep 1).

Many modern historians point out that such a hostile attitude towards Athanasius is based on an unfair judgment of historical sources.[58]

Pope Pius X said in a letter to philosopher-friend and correspondent in the closing years of his life, (Epist. lxxi, ad Max.): "Let what was confessed by the fathers of Nicaea prevail".[13]


Throughout most of his career, Athanasius had many detractors. Classics scholar Timothy Barnes recounts ancient allegations against Athanasius: from defiling an altar, to selling Church grain that had been meant to feed the poor for his own personal gain, and even violence and murder to suppress dissent.[59] Athanasius used "Arian" to describe both followers of Arius, and as a derogatory polemical term for Christians who disagreed with his formulation of the Trinity.[60] Athanasius called many of his opponents "Arian", except for Meletius (Miletus).[61]

Scholars now believe that the Arian Party was not monolithic,[62] but held drastically different theological views that spanned the early Christian theological spectrum.[63][64][65] They supported the tenets of Origenist thought and subordinationist theology,[66] but had little else in common. Moreover, many labelled "Arian" did not consider themselves followers of Arius.[67] In addition, non-Homoousian bishops disagreed with being labeled as followers of Arius, since Arius was merely a presbyter, while they were fully ordained bishops.[68][page needed]

The old allegations continue to be made against Athanasius however many centuries later. For example, Richard E. Rubenstein suggests that Athanasius ascended to the rank of bishop in Alexandria under questionable circumstances because some questioned whether he had reached the minimum age of 30 years, and further that Athanasius employed force when it suited his cause or personal interests. Thus, he argues that a small number of bishops who supported Athanasius held a private consecration to make him bishop.[69]

Selected worksEdit

See alsoEdit

Explanatory notesEdit

  1. ^ /ˌæθəˈnʃəs/; Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías; Coptic: ⲡⲓⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲑⲁⲛⲁⲥⲓⲟⲩ ⲡⲓⲁⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲓⲕⲟⲥ or Ⲡⲁⲡⲁ ⲁⲑⲁⲛⲁⲥⲓⲟⲩ ⲁ̅;[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s   Clifford, Cornelius (1907). "St. Athanasius". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ "The rejection of the term Theotokos by Nestorius Constantinople and the refutation of his teaching by Cyril of Alexandria". 24 June 2012. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  3. ^ "St. Takla Haymanout Coptic Orthodox Website".
  4. ^ Laos, Nicolas (2016). Methexiology: Philosophical Theology and Theological Philosophy for the Deification of Humanity. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-4982-3385-9.
  5. ^ "First Council of Nicaea". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  6. ^ a b   Chapman, John (1909). "Doctors of the Church". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. ^ Livingstone, E. A.; Sparkes, M. W. D.; Peacocke, R. W., eds. (2013). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0-19965962-3. OCLC 1023248322.
  8. ^ "Online Chapel – Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America".
  9. ^ Online, Catholic. "St. Athanasius – Saints & Angels". Catholic Online.
  10. ^ a b "St. Athanasius the Great the Patriarch of Alexandria". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Barnes, Timothy David (2001). Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire. Harvard University Press. p. 13.
  12. ^ a b "Coptic literature". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Clifford, Cornelius, Catholic Encyclopedia 1930, Volume 2, pp. 35–40 "Athanasius".
  14. ^ Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., VI, xix
  15. ^ Ἀλεξανδρεὺς τῷ γένει, ἀνὴρ λόγιος, δυνατὸς ὢν ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 2 Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1997. ISBN 0-7172-0129-5.[page needed]
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hardy, Edward R. "Saint Athanasius". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l T. Gilmartin, Manual of Church History, Vol. 1. Ch XVII, 1890.
  19. ^ Kannengiesser, Charles, "Alexander and Arius of Alexandria: The last Ante-Nicene theologians", Miscelanea En Homenaje Al P. Antonio Orbe Compostellanum Vol. XXXV, no. 1–2. (Santiago de Compostela, 1990), 398
  20. ^ Williams, Rowan, Arius: Heresy and Tradition (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1987), 175
  21. ^ Williams, 175
  22. ^ Williams 154–155
  23. ^ Alexander of Alexandria's Catholic Epistle
  24. ^ a b c Forbes, F. A. (1919). Saint Athanasius: The Father of Orthodoxy. Standard-bearers of the Faith: A Series of Lives of the Saints for Young and Old. London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd.
  25. ^ Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993), 23
  26. ^ a b Christianity, Daily Telegraph 1999[full citation needed]
  27. ^ a b c d Butler, Alban (1894). Lives of the Saints. Benziger Bros., Inc. pp. 164–165.
  28. ^   Ott, Michael (1911). "St. Maximinus". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  29. ^ Clark, William R. (2007). A History of the Councils of the Church: from the Original Documents, to the close of the Second Council of Nicaea A.D. 787. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 47. ISBN 9781556352478.
  30. ^ Davis, Leo Donald (1983). The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787): Their History and Theology. Liturgical Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780814656167.
  31. ^ Milman, Henry Hart (1881). The History of Christianity, from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire. T. Y. Crowell. p. 382.
  32. ^ "St. Athanasius – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  33. ^ Barnes, Timothy David, Athanasius and Constantius, Harvard 2001, p. 66
  34. ^ Graves, Dan. Athanasius Exiled Again Web. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  35. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Councils of Alexandria" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  36. ^ Justo L. Gonzalez in A History of Christian Thought notes (p. 292) that E. Schwartz places this work later, around 335, but "his arguments have not been generally accepted". The introduction to the CSMV translation of On the Incarnation places the work in 318, around the time Athanasius was ordained to the diaconate (St Athanasius On the Incarnation, Mowbray, England 1953)
  37. ^ "Church Fathers: On the Incarnation of the Word (Athanasius)". Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  38. ^ "fragment conjectured to belong to a festal letter".
  39. ^ "Athanasius of Alexandria: Vita S. Antoni [Life of St. Antony] (written bwtween 356 and 362)". Fordham University. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  40. ^ "Athanasius". Christian History. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  41. ^ Froom 1950, p. 393.
  42. ^ "Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette". Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  43. ^ "Saint Athanasius". Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2012.[self-published source]
  44. ^ "The Incorrupt Relics of Saint Athanasios the Great". Retrieved 2 May 2014.[self-published source]
  45. ^ January 18/January 31. Orthodox Calendar (
  46. ^ "The Calendar". The Church of England. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  47. ^ Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018. Church Publishing, Inc. 2019. ISBN 978-1-64065-234-7.
  48. ^ "Letter of St. Athanasius". Society of Saint Pius X. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  49. ^ a b "367 Athanasius Defines the New Testament". Christian History. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  50. ^ Gwynn, David M. (16 February 2012). Athanasius of Alexandria: Bishop, Theologian, Ascetic, Father. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-921095-4 – via Google Books.
  51. ^ a b Bediako, Gillian Mary; Quarshie, Bernhardt; Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena (14 January 2015). Seeing New Facets of the Diamond: Christianity as a Universal Faith - Essays in Honor of Kwame Bediako. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498217293 – via Google Books.
  52. ^ Von Dehsen, Christian. "St. Athanasius", Philosophers and Religious Leaders, Routledge, 2013 ISBN 9781135951023
  53. ^ "Excerpt from Letter 39". 13 July 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  54. ^ Introduction to St. Athanasius on the Incarnation. Translated and edited by Sister Penelope Lawson, published by Mowbray 1944. p. 9
  55. ^ Fortescue, Adrian, Catholic Encyclopedia 1907, Volume 6, pp. 662–663 "Gospel"
  56. ^ Pope Benedict XV, Missale Romanum, IX Additions & Variations of the Rubrics of The Missal
  57. ^ See also: Jungmann, El Sacrificio de la Misa, No. 659, 660
  58. ^ Arnold, 24–99; Ng, 273–292.
  59. ^ Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993), 37
  60. ^ Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993), 14, 128
  61. ^ Barnes "Athanasius and Constantius", 135
  62. ^ Haas, Christopher, "The Arians of Alexandria", Vigiliae Christianae Vol. 47, no. 3 (1993), 239
  63. ^ Chadwick, Henry, "Faith and Order at the Council of Nicaea", Harvard Theological Review LIII (Cambridge Mass: 1960), 173
  64. ^ Williams, 63
  65. ^ Kannengiesser "Alexander and Arius", 403
  66. ^ Kannengiesser, "Athanasius of Alexandria vs. Arius: The Alexandrian Crisis", in The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity), ed. Birger A. Pearson and James E. Goehring (1986), 208
  67. ^ Williams, 82
  68. ^ Rubinstein, Richard, When Jesus Became God, The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome, 1999[page needed]
  69. ^ Rubenstein, Richard E., When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999), 105–106

General and cited sourcesEdit

  • Alexander of Alexandria, "Catholic Epistle", The Ecole Initiative,
  • Anatolios, Khaled, Athanasius: The Coherence of His Thought (New York: Routledge, 1998).
  • Arnold, Duane W.-H., The Early Episcopal Career of Athanasius of Alexandria (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 1991).
  • Arius, "Arius's letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia", Ecclesiastical History, ed. Theodoret. Ser. 2, Vol. 3, 41, The Ecole Initiative,
  • Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. (New York: Penguin, 1993). ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
  • Barnes, Timothy D., Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993).
  • Barnes, Timothy D., Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1981)
  • Bouter, P.F. (2010). Athanasius (in Dutch). Kampen: Kok.
  • Brakke, David. Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (1995)
  • Clifford, Cornelius, "Athanasius", Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2 (1907), 35–40
  • Chadwick, Henry, "Faith and Order at the Council of Nicaea", Harvard Theological Review LIII (Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press, 1960), 171–195.
  • Ernest, James D., The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria (Leiden: Brill, 2004).
  • Froom, Le Roy Edwin (1950). The prophetic faith of our fathers : the historical development of prophetic interpretation (PDF). Vol. I. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. ISBN 9780828024563.
  • Freeman, Charles, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003).
  • Haas, Christopher. "The Arians of Alexandria", Vigiliae Christianae Vol. 47, no. 3 (1993), 234–245.
  • Hanson, R.P.C., The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318–381 (T.&T. Clark, 1988).
  • Kannengiesser, Charles, "Alexander and Arius of Alexandria: The last Ante-Nicene theologians", Miscelanea En Homenaje Al P. Antonio Orbe Compostellanum Vol. XXXV, no. 1–2. (Santiago de Compostela, 1990), 391–403.
  • Kannengiesser, Charles "Athanasius of Alexandria vs. Arius: The Alexandrian Crisis", in The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity), ed. Birger A. Pearson and James E. Goehring (1986), 204–215.
  • Ng, Nathan K. K., The Spirituality of Athanasius (1991).
  • Pettersen, Alvyn (1995). Athanasius. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Morehouse.
  • Rubenstein, Richard E., When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999).
  • Williams, Rowan, Arius: Heresy and Tradition (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1987).

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria
Succeeded by