Athanasius

(Athanasius of Alexandria)

298–373

Saint Athanasius was one of the most important saints in the early years of the church. He is best known for his tireless work of resisting the Arian Heresy, but he is also credited with collecting the 27 books that eventually became the New Testament. He was bishop of Alexandria from 328 until his death in 373, but he was exiled many times due to the ongoing Arian controversy, and underwent many hardships and oppressions. Nevertheless, his treatise Against the Gentiles—On the Incarnation  was very influential in defining the orthodox position against the Arians, and the heresy was eventually abolished.


Key events during the life of Saint Athanasius:


Year
Event
319
Arius,a presbyter from Alexandria begins preaching the doctrine that later became the Arian heresy.
325
Athanasius accompanies Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, to the First Council of Nicaea.
328
Succeeded Alexander as bishop of Alexandria.
335
Exiled to Trier.
  Wrote treaties Against the Gentiles—On the Incarnation, rebutting the claims of Arianism.
367
Wrote a letter defining the canon of New Testament Books.
  Spent time with hermits and monks during numerous exiles from Alexandria.
382
Athanasius's New Testament canon officially promulgated by Pope Damasus.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Arian Debate  in  The Early Church, from Ignatius to Augustine  by  George Hodges
Athanasius, 296-373  in  Saints and Heroes to the End of the Middle Ages  by  George Hodges


Contemporary
Short Biography
Alexander of Alexandria Bishop of Alexandria that preceded Athanasius.
Constantine First Christian emperor. Unified empire. Moved capital to Constantinople near Black Sea.
Arius Founder of the Arian Heresy, which insisted that the Son was not eternal, but created by the Father.