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Athanasius of Alexandria (328–373)


Athanasius of Alexandria (328–373) – by Uta Heil

1. Life and Works

Athanasius was bishop of Alexandria for 45 years, interrupted by five periods of exile, and he was one of the most famous figures of his time. The motto of his life as well as the dominant feature of his reception was to preserve the decisions of the first ecumenical council of Nicea 325 – including the deposition of Arius, the decisions about the Egyptian schism of the Melitians and the supremacy of the bishop of Alexandria over Egypt, Libya and the Pentapolis – and to fight for Nicene Orthodoxy. Criticized and attacked on many occasions, he achieved to stage himself as a victim suffering of persecution. Already Rufinus of Aquileia described Athanasius with respect to persecution and martyrdom: “For the whole world conspired to persecute him”, referring to Acts 9:16 “I will show him how much he will have to suffer for my name”, because of his struggle for the integrity of the faith (h.e. X 15). Therefore, it is complicated to describe his life besides his self-staging in his struggle for the legacy of Nicaea. In addition, other aspects of his life tend to eclipse perception, especially his pastoral care and his relationship to ascetic and monastic circles. As well, e.g., his influence in Ethiopia (cf. 1.7) and his church building activities (cf. 1.13) can only be estimated. The legacy of Athanasius grew in importance even after his death which lead to a great number of inauthentic writings attributed to him (almost two hundred texts, cf. CPG 2140-2309) either by accident or deliberately. This influenced of course his later perception as well and is still a research task.

In addition to his own works and further references in the later church histories, important sources of his life are the Syrian introduction to his Festal letters (Index), a chronological grid reporting main events for dating the festal letters, and the Latin Historia Athanasii (or Historia acephala), an excerpt from a short biography of Athanasius (transmitted is the Latin version including the years 346-373; the original Greek version probably covered the years from the Melitian schism up to the death of Theophilos 412).

1.1 Early Years

His exact date of birth is unknown, since nothing reliable is narrated about his youth and education, only his origin from Alexandria seems to be clear. Severus (10th century) talks about his pagan parents in his Arabic History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria (chapt. 8: PO 1/4, p. 407: “For he was the son of a principal woman, a worshipper of idols, who was very rich; and he was an orphan on the father's side”). He also mentions that a magician convinced Athanasius' mother of his Christian destiny (p. 408: “he will be a great man among the Galilaeans”). In contrast, another vita of Athanasius from the same time mentions Christian parents (Vita Athanasii III of the three late Greek vitae of Athanasius in PG 25, CCXXIII-CCILVI, here PG 25, CLXXXVIB). Further, later legends relate, how he became a close follower of Alexander, e.g., according to Rufinus (h.e. X 15; cf. also “Gelasius”, h.e. III 15,10-13), when Athanasius was a child, he played and imitated the Christian baptism ritual so perfectly, that the sacrament was accepted by the bishop Alexander and Athanasius' family accepted a suitable education for a career in church. Besides these legends, it is impossible to describe his educational background. His writings show him quite rhetorically trained (Stead, Rhetorical Method), with some philosophical background (Meijering) but devoid of pagan quotations.

Athanasius appeared first as a deacon of his bishop Alexander, as he subscribed a circular letter of Alexander (AW III Urk. 4b; Dok. 2.2; 319 AD.?), which informs about the condemnation of the presbyter Arius in Alexandria; perhaps this letter was already written by Athanasius himself (Stead, Earliest Work). Undoubtedly, he supported Alexander on the one hand in the theological disputes with Arius, the opening of the Trinitarian debate in the fourth century, and on the other hand also in the church's political dispute with the schismatic group of Egyptian Christians, the Melitians. Perhaps the letter on charity and abstinence (Epistula de caritate et temperantia, kopt.) is an early work of Athanasius, an exhortatory letter to ascetics how to subdue negative affects. Other writings on this theme (cf. 1.13) show that this is constant feature of his engagement as well.

1.2 Nicaea 325

Still being deacon he took part at the synod of Nicaea 325, later received as 1. Ecumenical council (Ruf., h.e. X 15; Socr., h.e. I 15,3; Soz., h.e. I 17,5; “Gelasius”, h.e. II 11,8). Emperor Constantin had invited to (AW III Urk. 20 = Dok. 22) and organized this first general council of the Christian church to celebrate his vincennalia and to solve ecclesiastical problems: the date of the Easter celebrations (AW III Urk. 26 = Dok. 30), the Melitian schism and the “Arian question” (AW III Urk. 23 = Dok. 25). Here, Arius and his closest followers were excommunicated (cf. AW III Urk. 33 = Dok. 28) because they refused to sign a commitment (Nicene Creed), which clearly stated the divinity of the Son and his inherent relationship to the father (AW III Urk. 24 = Dok. 26: γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ, τουτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός, θεὸν ἐκ θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρί / “born from the father as monogenes, i.e. from the essence of the father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, born, not made, one-in-essence with the father”), condemning that the Son was from nothing, changeable and had once not existed. The Melitians, a group of at least 35 bishops in Egypt (Ath., apol.sec. 71,6), were accepted insofar as they were allowed to be clerics next and subordinate to catholic bishops but had to refrain from further elections and ordinations of clerics. Important was can. 6 which stated the domination of the Alexandrian bishop over the church of Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis. These decisions were decisive for Athanasius' further thinking and acting. Therefore, he never accepted a rehabilitation of Arius, which the presbyter had probably received in 327 with the support of emperor Constantine (AW III Urk. 29; 30; 32 = Dok. 33; 34; 37), and of some of his followers.

1.3 Bishop from 328 until his first exile 335

After the death of Alexander (27th April 328), Athanasius was ordained as his preferred candidate (8th June 328) in disputed circumstances and was immediately confronted with the opposition of the Melitians, who had hoped for a bigger role in the decision and promoted an own candidate (Theonas: Soz., h.e. II 21,2; Ath., apol.sec. 65,5; Epiph., haer. 68,7,3f.; 69,11,4). Critics argued that Athanasius was too young (Index 3; but a Coptic tradition states that he became bishop at the age of 33, i.e. he would be born 295 AD. [/Enkomion/ in Testi Copti 25,6-8]), or that he was ordained by unworthy bishops (Socr., h.e. I 23) or, in secret, by only seven or even two bishops (Ath., apol.sec. 6,4; Soz., h.e. II 17,4; Phil., h.e. II 11). It is unlikely, however, that Athanasius would have taken the risk of an uncanonical election.

Thus, he began his career by visitations to monitor the reintegration of Melitians and to ensure his position (Index 2 [329 / 330]: Thebais; Index 4 [331 / 332]: Pentapolis and Ammoniaca; Index 6: lower country = Mareotis; Vita Pachomii prima gr. 30; Ath., apol.sec. 17,1; 75,6). These trips also served the Church's integration of Egyptian monasticism, which not only faced the mundane life, but also the church ministries. Since that time, he had close contact with the several monks who supported him in difficulties. In his Easter festal letter from the year 330 he even promoted the reclusive life of the monks (ep.fest. 24; Brakke, Asceticism, 321: “You see how powerful is this kind of life and the pure conscience, for it makes the person a friend of God, like Abraham.”).

The Melitians, now led by Johannes Archaph, resisted his forceful suppression of the schism and collected many charges against his exercise of episcopal power for an indictment before emperor Constantine: He had taken taxes without permission, had bribed an official and conspired against the Emperor. But Athanasius, visiting Constantine in Psammathia Winter 331/2 (Index 3; apol.sec. 60,4), achieved a successful defense (apol.sec. 68-70; ep.fest. 4 sent from court). Now, further charges were collected by the Melitians – his agent Makarius had broken the cup of Ischyras; he had arranged the murder of the Melitian bishop Arsenius (Ath., apol.sec. 59-65; cf. also Bell, Jews and Christians, p. 53-71 [P. Lond. 1914], esp. p. 60-62) – but again Athanasius was able to rebut these items in front of Constantine 's half-brother Dalmatius, director of the cognitive process, since he brought Arsenius and showed that he was alive. But now the Melitians tried to achieve a synodic condemnation of Athanasius in collaboration with the so-called “Eusebians” (Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea). A synod was convened to Caesarea in 334 (Index 6; P. Lond. 1913), but Athanasius refused to appear. Now, Constantine convened a synod to Tyrus under the supervision of his comes Dionysius, wrote a dunning letter to Athanasius (Eusebius, v.C. IV 42; Thdt., h.e. I 29; Ath., apol.sec. 71,2), and in deed, he appeared (Index 8: July 335) together with 48 bishops (list in apol.sec. 78,7).

The synod decided to send a commission of inquiry to Egypt in order to clarify the charges. Athanasius left in secret, already awaiting a condemnation (apol.sec. 72-80), and traveled to Constantinople (Index 8: October 335). After two months of commission work, during which the bishops traveled to Jerusalem, dedicated the new Church of the Holy Sepulchre and voted for the rehabilitation of the followers of Arius, the synod condemned Athanasius, ordered a new bishop for Alexandria (Pistus) and sent delegates to Constantinople. Confronted with another charge (Athanasius was said to delay the Egyptian corn supply; apol.sec. 9,3; 87,1-2), Constantine finally decided to exile Athanasius to Trier, the residence of his eldest son Constantin II. (Index 8: February 336; apol.sec. 87,2; Soz., h.e. II 28,14), but he also exiled the Melitian bishop; so the see remained vacant (Soz., h.e. II 31,4f.).

1.4 First Exile 335-337 (Trier)

Even during his exile in Trier, Athanasius tried to prevent the return of Melitians to their Egyptian seats after the synod of Tyrus through his letters. He wrote to bishops in Syria and Palestine and he instructed his friend and "middleman" of Egypt, Serapion of Thmuis, to warn his fellow Egyptian bishops of the Melitian clerics dispersed in Palestine and Syria because they never had the communion with the Catholic Church (ep.fest. 12, 336 AD.). He also kept writing the Festal letters to announce the date of Easter, demonstrating that he still was the bishop of the city: “For although I have been hindered … while the enemies of the truth have followed our tracks, laying snares to discover a letter from us, … we have not feared to make known to you our saving Easter-feast even from the ends of the earth.” (ep.fest. 10 from 338; the secret festal letters are not extant). Nothing is known about further activities of Athanasius. He certainly had established contacts to the local Bishop Maximinus.

Mostly, the apologetic double work Contra Gentes / De incarnatione verbi Dei is dated at this time (alternative dating [discussed in Heil, Athanasius als Apologet]: before the “Arian” crisis 315; after Nicaea 325; during the anti-pagan measures of Constantius II. 350-361, caused by the reign of Julian 361-363). Athanasius first (gent. 1-29) presents the idolatry of the Gentiles (gent. 2-11) and refutes their ideas (gent. 11-29), before he demonstrates (gent. 30-47) the true worship of the Christians.

Initially (2-11) Athanasius shows how mankind lost the knowledge and worship of the true God, so that people worshiped false gods: At the beginning, in paradise, there was no evil. As God's images with a pure soul, people were in touch with God and were immortal (2-5). But since the soul was looking for the more comfortable and nearby, they turned to the body. The desires, perverse standards of value and the fear were the results. This upcoming evil as an invention of mankind is actually nothing. The idea that evil had its own existence, or there is a second, evil god is, therefore, the great error of the Greeks and of the heretics (6-7). As people left God and forgot him, they always invented new gods as a substitute (8-11). Subsequently Athanasius shows nine proofs for pagan Gods being just idols (11-29).

It follows the second part (30-47) about the true worship of Christians. This truth is not hard to find, it is not outside of us, but within us (Luke 17:21), namely, the in the human soul (30). Every person has a soul, which is reasonable (31-32). The soul directs the senses, is the inner motive power of man and distinguishes him from brute animals, because the soul of the human being has the opportunity to do good or evil. The idea of immortality is possible only in the soul, since the soul itself is immortal (33). The fall of men has also spoiled the pursuit of the soul and the true self-knowledge and return to God forfeited (34). The soul could actually recognize the invisible, unfathomable one God from his works, the creation (35-39). Who else could cause the good arrangement (= cosmos) and the harmony of opposing elements? The Father of Jesus Christ created everything by His Word, the Logos, creation mediator and redeemer (40-46). He concludes with a call for true veneration of the true God.

In inc. Athanasius describes the reasons and circumstances of the incarnation of the Son of God, his death, and his resurrection.

Because of the fall, people lost immortality and suffer death as a divine punishment. But as God is true and cannot just cancel the death sentence, but on the other hand is good, God the Word became man, sacrificed his body for the death sentence, overcame death and led mankind back to immortality (inc. 4-10). Because of the fall, people have also lost the true knowledge of God. Therefore, the word of God came to mankind to teach the people. As they were mistakenly accustomed to worshiping corporeal things as "gods", the true word of God also came in a human body (inc. 11-16). The following chapters outline, why the death of Christ happened as it did, and presents biblical proofs. In the end, Athanasius rejects pagan criticism against incarnation theology (inc. 41-55).

1.5 Back in Alexandria 337-339

When Constantine died on 22nd May 337, the position of Athanasius changed. The three sons of Constantine, Constantine II., Constans (West) and Constantius (East), reigned the empire, and Constantine II. as Augustus senior probably declared an amnesty for exiled bishops under Constantine (h.Ar. 8,2; apol.sec. 87,4-7). Athanasius returned, but he chose the longer overland journey and also met the three emperors in Viminacium in Moesia Prima in September of the year (apol.Const. 5,2), as the three sons of Constantine met there and divided their dominion among themselves. Finally, Athanasius triumphantly entered Alexandria on 23rd November 337 (Index 10). Nevertheless, his return was an affront to the decisions of the synod of Tyre. The “Eusebians” met again at Antioch in the Winter of 337/8 and sent a letter sent to all three emperors with some further charges against Athanasius (h.Ar. 9,1; apol.sec. 3,5-7). Additionally, they wrote to the Bishop of Rome, Julius, that he should have no contact with the "return-bishops" like Athanasius, and added the report of the enquiry commission of the synod of Tyre (apol.sec. 83,4; h.Ar. 9,1). Athanasius also convened a synod of 80 bishops in Alexandria, sent a circular letter (= apol.sec. 3-19) and some delegates to Rome. He himself probably went to emperor Constantius (apol.Const. 5,2) to refute the allegations. In addition, in 338 a visit of the famous anchorite Antonius in Alexandria strengthened his position (Index 10; cf. Vita Antonii 69-71). But the “Eusebians” met again in Antioch in the Winter of 338, dethroned Athanasius, chose a new bishop for Alexandria, Gregory of Cappadocia (apol.sec. 30,1; ep.encycl.; Sokr., h.e. II 10,1; Soz., h.e. III 5-6) and achieved to get the support of Constantius: His new prefect of Egypt, Philagrius, tried to arrest Athanasius on 18th March 339, who was able to escape and fled on 16th April 339 via ship to Rome (ep.encycl. 2f.; h.Ar. 11,1; Sokr., h.e. II 11; Soz., h.e. III 6; Index 11).

1.6 Second Exile 339-346 (Rome)

In the Autumn of 339, Athanasius reached Rome and was received there without problems in the church community (like Marcellus of Ancyra, cf. AW III Dok. 40, Asclepas of Gaza, Paul of Constantinople). Probably in Rome and not in Alexandria, he wrote the Epistula encyclica, in which he describes the recent dramatic events. He also sought the support of Constantinus, emperor of the West, and other famous Romans (apol.Const. 6,5). In addition to these church political activities, Athanasius also set out his theological position on Trinity on a large scale for the first time, because at least the first two Orationes contra Arianos and, little later, the third Oratio were written in Rome since 340. These speeches are his theological masterpiece and in later writings he took up thoughts and parts of these speeches.

He begins with a reflection on heresy in general and the Arian heresy as their summit in particular, including a brief statement of the Arian doctrine according to the Thalia of Arius (Ar. I 5-6). But the orthodox doctrine is different (I 9-10): It is not true that the Son of God once did not exist (I 11-14), he is also a son not only by name, but truly God's own Son out of God's essence (I 15-20). As God's image, he is also God, with the only difference that the father begets the son and the son was begotten of the father (I 21-22). How could the father later procreate a son who has an eternal being (I 23-29)? Can there be two unbegotten beings (I 30-34)? Is the son immutable as a stone (I 35-52)? After a detailed consideration of these issues, Athanasius deals with controversial passages of the scriptures: "He has become so much better than the angels" (Heb 1:4 in I 54-64); "Jesus, who was faithful to him who made him" (Heb 3:2 in II 6-11); "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God had made this Jesus whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36 in II 11-18) and finally "The Lord created me at the beginning of his way to his works "(Prov 8:22 in II 18-82, actually in 44-82).

In the third speech Athanasius repositions a discussion with the other biblical verses, first passages from the Gospel of John (III 1-25), and second those passages which Athanasius wants to apply to the incarnation (III 26-58): “The Final destination and signature of Scripture is now, as we have often said, her twin doctrine of the Redeemer, who namely always was God and Son as word, effigy and wisdom of the Father, and the other part later adopted for our sake from the Virgin and theotokos Maria a body and became a human being.” (III 29) This basic hermeneutical decision is ignored by the Arians who misunderstand the Scripture: “And this has been done, since the own Word of God Himself, who is from the Father, has put on the flesh, and become man. For if, being a creature, he had become man, man had remained just what he was, not joined to God; for how had a work been joined to the Creator by a work?” (II 67)

Now, Julius of Rome invited the Antiochenes to gather at a synod in Rome, but his legates only received a refusal (Soz., h.e. III 8,4-8 Letter of Eusebius to Julius). Consequently, the Antiochenes met at Antioch (confirming the deposition of Athanasius and writing a theological declaration about Father/Son/Holy Spirit as three hypostases in confrontation to thoughts of Marcellus of Ancyra), parallel to a synod in Rome (341). At the Roman synod the judgment of the synod of Tyre was annihilated and Athanasius was able to convince the bishops to consider the Orientals as “Arians”. The long letter of Julius to the bishops in Antioch was taken up by Athanasius in his apol.sec. 21-35 (cf. AW III Dok. 41.1-8). He also wrote a Festal letter (ep.fest. 13) from Rome to Egypt, describing his afflictions and persecutions.

Emperor Constans, since 340 only ruler in the West and striving for influence also in the East, sought to solve the conflicts with a united synod in Serdica 343 (Index 15; AW III Dok. 42 and 43.1-13). He ordered Athanasius to travel to his court in Milano (end of 342; apol.Const. 4,3), probably to prepare the synod, then sent him further on to Trier to bishop Maximinus, who accompanied him to Serdica (apol.Const. 4,4). But this synod was a fiasco and cemented the schism between East and West (including the exiled Easterners) because each side condemned the other one as heretic. Two theological declarations were written: The Antiochenes iterated their declaration from Antioch in 341; the Western synod wrote a statement about Father/Son/Holy Spirit being one hypostases based on theological ideas of Marcellus which Athanasius will repudiate later on (in 362, see 1.9). Athanasius wrote the Ep. ad ecclesias Alexandriae et Mareotae from Serdica to inform his community.

After the synod, Athanasius stayed at Naissus (apol.Const. 4,5; Index 16), met Constans in Aquileia (apol.Const. 3,7; 4,5; 15,4; apol.sec. 42,1; Index 17) and, finally, was able to travel back to Alexandria with the support of Constans who threatened with a military campaign to the East (Rufin, h.e. X 20; Philost., h.e. III 12; Sokr., h.e. II 22,3; Thdt, h.e. II 8,53-55; Soz., h.e. III 20,1). The death of bishop Gregory of Alexandria (26th June 345; Index 18) made his return possible without further conflicts. Athanasius received invitation letters of Constantius (apol.sec. 51), met Constans again in Treves in Winter 345 (apol.Const. 4,5), went to Julius of Rome (apol.sec. 52,1), who gave him a solidary letter, met Constantius in Antioch (apol.Const. 5,2; h.Ar. 22; apol.sec. 54,1; 55 [letters]), attended a synod in Jerusalem (apol.sec. 57) and reached Alexandria on the 21st of October 346 (Index 18).

1.7 In Alexandria 346-356

These ten years were quite stable and safe for Athanasius. Some monks of Pachomius traveled to Alexandria in 346 to welcome him (Sancti Pachomii Vita Prima 120 [Halkin 77f.]). He convened a synod (Socr., h.e.II 26,4; Soz., h.e. IV 1,3) and got support for his engagement in Serdica-West (cf. the 94 subscriptions in apol.sec. 49,3; AW III Dok. 43.3). Probably in 353 he wrote the important letter to the monk Dracontius (Ep. ad Dracontium), who retreated from the bishop's seat Hermopolis parva. Athanasius urged him to take up his ecclesiastical duties which are not sinful and by no means beneath his dignity. This letter shows Athanasius' aim at integrating monasticism in church structures. Interesting is another letter to a monk, Ep. ad Ammunen (not datable), which again demonstrates his close contact to monastic circles. In the letter, he rejects the sinfulness of ejaculations while sleeping, because evil thoughts are impure but not corporal excretions. He also refuses to reject sexuality in marriage, a quite moderate position in those times.

Probably during these years Athanasius was involved in another matter, the Christianization of the reign of Axum (Ethiopia) under king ‘Ezana. Athanasius ordained Frumentius as bishop of Axum (apol.Const. 31,4) and insofar integrated this church into his episcopate. This incident comes to the fore only accidentally as Constantius later wanted to release this connection of Axum to Athanasius in 357/358 (see below 1.8) and Athanasius quotes the corresponding letter of Constantius (apol.Const. 31).

The situation became critical for Athanasius again, when General Magnentius overthrew emperor Constans in the West in 350 (Index 22). After Constantius had prevailed against the coup (battle in Mursa 351) and became the sole ruler, he eliminated all allies of Magnentius by declaring them guilty of high treason. Again, a synod in Antioch (352) sought to take the chance to accuse Athanasius of unworthy leadership, namely using the new large church (Caesarion) without official consecration by its founder, emperor Constantius (cf. 1.13). They ordained a new bishop for Alexandria, Georg from Cappadocia (Ath., apol.Const. 14-18; h.Ath. 2,2; Soz., h.e. IV 8,4). In order to defend his matter, Athanasius sent a delegation to the West, to Liberius of Rome and to Constantius, led by Serapion of Thmuis (Index 25; Soz., h.e. IV 9,6), which obviously soon returned without success. The new charge was taken up by Constantius, but the actual accusations that lead to his dismissal, were of political nature: Athanasius had incited Constans and Constantius against each other (apol.Const. 2-5), which relates to the years 340-350, and had conspired with the usurper Magnentius against Constantius. Constantius had letters of Athanasius to Magnentius at his disposal, which Athanasius tried to declare as forgeries (apol.Const. 11). He was summoned to a synod in Arles (353; AW III Dok. 50.1), which he refused to attend, knowing of the political charges through his returned delegation.

Finally, after the Roman bishop Liberius had pushed for a large synod to clarify the situation, the judgment against Athanasius was repeated on a Milan synod in the summer of 355 (h.Ar. 31-34; AW III Dok. 50.2-5). Constantius now sought a secular court proceeding against Athanasius. Therefore, in August 355 he sent the notary Diogenes to Alexandria with the corresponding order (h.Ath. 1,9; Index 27; h.Ar. 48,1). On September 4th, Diogenes made an attempt to arrest Athanasius, but failed and left the city in December 355. But on 6th January 356, the notary Hilarius together with the dux Syrianus and new troops arrived in Alexandria. These soldiers tried to arrest Athanasius in the Theonas Church in the night from the 8th to the 9th of February (h.Ath. 1,10f.; Index 28; h.Ar. 81,6), but he escaped under dramatic circumstances (apol.fug. 24; h.Ar. 81).

1.8 Third Exile 356-362 (Egypt)

Until the 10th of June 356, the supporters of Athanasius were able to hold the churches until the new prefect of Egypt, Kataphronius, drove them out and gave the churches to George's followers (h.Ath. 2,1). Then followed a period of persecution and turmoil (Index 29f.; h.Ar. 55; 70,3; 71,4; h.Ath. 2,2; apol.Const. 27f.; apol.fug. 6f.). The fragment of an exhortatory letter of him to the virgins (Ep. exhortatoria ad virgines, 356) consoles those who were not able to bury the tortured corps on Easter 356.

George himself arrived in Alexandria on 24th of February 357. Eighteen months later, the Alexandrians drove him out in 2nd of October 358 (Index 29; h.Ath. 2,4), who then stayed away from Alexandria for three years. He came back on the 26th of November 361 (h.Ath. 2,5f.), but after the death of Constantius, George was eventually imprisoned and even lynched on Christmas Eve 361 (h.Ath. 2,9f.).

During these months, Athanasius was hiding and repeatedly changed his location, traveling across the desert to Cyrenaica (ep.Aeg.Lib. 5,1; apol.Const. 26,6; 27,2), sometimes hiding in monastic circles. He returned to Alexandria and stayed there for a while (Index 30), after the dust had settled. A new search for Athanasius in Alexandria is known to have happened in 360 (Index 32). Until the death of Constantius in 361, this situation had not changed.

Nevertheless, just this time was a period of intense literary creation. First of all, most of his great apologetic writings emerged during this third exile: Apologia ad Constantium (probably 356 first edition with chapt. 1-26, 358 second edition with chapt. 27-35: mainly about the political background of his forced exile, and Athanasius refutes the accusations); Apologia de fuga sua (357: after describing his flight in 356 he generally defends flight as in case necessary and willed by God, an important first theological argumentation pro flight); Epistola ad Episcopos Aegypti et Libyae (357: after warning his community of Georg in Alexandria as Arian heretic, Athanasius links all heresies to the devil, admonishes his addressees that the current homoian heresy is just a continuation of the Arian heresy and was insofar already condemned in Nicaea, further discusses the idea of a double Word [logos] in God, and the interpretation of Prov 8:22); Apologia secunda = Apologia contra Arianos (357 last edition: about the years 328-347 and 353-355); Historia Arianorum (end of 357 or beginning of 358: addressed to monks, dealing with the years 335-357, Athanasius describes himself as a victim of persecution through the Arians and criticized unjustified imperial violence, especially by emperor Constantius); Ep. ad Serapionem de morte Arii (358: a polemical pamphlet on the hideous death of Arius as proof of his heresy).

During this exile he also wrote or composed the famous Vita Antonii, the first monastic biography and prototype for further hagiographic writings.

Probably written between 356 and 362 soon after the death of Antonius, perhaps taking up material provided by Serapion of Thmuis, Athanasius wrote this first and influential hagiographic vita for someone (monastic?) in the West. The genre and the historicity are a matter of debate. Athanasius depicts the ascetic life of Antonius as a historical narrative, including speeches of Antonius, disputations, and several miracle stories: his conversion to anchoretic life, his fighting with his demons, his visions and miracles, his discussion of idolatry and his commitment to the true (non- Arian) faith, his correspondence with emperor Constantine and his sons, and his death. Although, of course, Antonius himself is striving for spiritual progress and defeating the demons, it is not Antonius himself who heals the sick or foresees the truth, but God, who operates through Antonius. As a programmatic text on monasticism – as voluntary martyrdom – and very soon widespread (cf. Augustinus, conf. VIII 6,15), it caused high interest and many conversions to this ascetic way of life. At the same time, it is of course Athanasius' version of monasticism as integrated into the ecclesiastical structure and supporting the bishop.

Another letter to the virgins (Epistula ad virgines, arab.) about fasting and working of virgins also stems from his third exile.

In 358 the literary engagement changed, focusing on new theological developments.

On the one hand, Aetius (cf. AW III Dok. 61) and his pupil Eunomius stirred a new debate because they denied the divinity of the begotten Son, being completely unsimilar in essence to the unbegotten Father. Finding a proper answer to this challenge caused further debates: The former “Eusebians” split into two groups, one aiming to argue on the basis of a better definition of God's essence (so-called “Homoiusians”), the other one aiming to avoid speaking of God's essence or hypostases at all (so-called “Homoians”). This last group of Homoians was favored by emperor Constantius, who even tried to overcome the schism of Serdica 343 on the basis of this theology. He convened three synods to Sirmium (in 357: AW III Dok. 51; in 358: AW III Dok. 56.1-5; in 359: AW III Dok. 57.1-3) to prepare a double synod (359) in Rimini (West: AW Dok. 59.1-9) and Seleucia (East: AW III Dok. 60.1-2) whereof delegates were sent to Constantinople (359/60: AW III Dok. 62.1-6). The final theological declaration defined the Son as similar to the Father according to the scriptures (ὅμοιν τῷ γεννήσαντι αὐτὸν πατρί) and forbade talking about essence (οὐσία) or hypostasis (ὑπόστασις) in the trinitary argumentation.

Athanasius reacted with his first theological apology of the synod of Nicaea De decretis Nicaenae synodi (358/9) to defend its terminology, especially ὁμοούσιος and ἐκ τῆς ουσίας as biblical against Homoians around Acacius of Caesarea.

Someone unknown in the East requested to inform him about the negotiations at the synod of Nicaea 325 because there were people who criticized its theological definitions (alternative datings are discussed in Heil, De sententia). Athanasius identifies them as former Arians and refers to Eusebius of Caesarea as their former spiritual head. He quotes a letter of Eusebius, in which he defended his subscription of the theological declaration of Nicaea, to demonstrate the contradicting behavior of the “Arians”. In addition, Athanasius referred to an Alexandrian tradition of this terminology including Dionys of Alexandria (besides Origen and Theognostus), which caused criticism and provoked another defense: De sententia Dionysii (359). Problematic are the quotations of Dionysius in these writings; they seem to be inauthentic (Abramowski; Heil).

A further important writing of Athanasius was De synodis Rimini et Seleuciae (359? 361? 363?) in which he criticized the many Arian (and Homoian) synods besides Nicaea 325 and tried to convince the Homoiusians of the correct meaning of the Nicene terminology.

After recalling the events of the double synod of Rimini/Seleucia (syn. 1-14), Athanasius links its theology with Arius (syn. 15-20). He presents the earlier development up to the 350s (syn. 21- 32), as if they have again and again attempted to replace the Nicene Creed with a new symbol. On this basis, Athanasius explains (syn. 33-55) the significance of the Nicene terms ὁμοούσιος and ἐκ τῆς ουσίας against homoian and homoiusian criticism and aims at winning the Homoiousians for his theological line.

Furthermore, a new debate about the Holy Spirit arose because some stated that he is just a minister of Christ, created and better understood as a gift to mankind. Serapion of Thmuis asked Athanasius to support his argumentation against those so-called “tropikoi” in Egypt. He answered with Ep. IV ad Serapionem (358; wherein IV, 8-23 form an independent treatise In illud: Qui Dixerit verbum in filium [Lk 12,10] and Serap. II-III originally were one letter) and defended the equal divinity of the Holy Spirit.

1.9 Back again 362

After the death of Constantius (3rd November 361), the new emperor Julian (361-363), favoring a non-Christian, pagan policy, allowed all exiled bishops to return to their seats (Index 33; Julian, ep. 46; Amm. XXII 5,3; Rufin, h.e. X 28; Socr., h.e. III 1,48; Soz., h.e. V 5,1), probably in order to provoke disturbances in the Christian communities. The order for Egypt is dated on the 9th of February 362 and Athanasius came back to Alexandria on the 21st of February 362 (h.Ath. 3,2f.; Index 34). He, together with other exiled bishops who stayed in Egypt, seized the opportunity to convene a synod in Alexandria (spring 362) to discuss anew the possibility of a Christian unity on the basis of the creed of Nicaea. The main task was to define on what terms the Homoians or others may be reconciled to communion. The outcome can be read in the important Tomus ad Antiochenos (cf. AW III Dok. 69.1-6) which declared the sufficiency of Nicaea, rejected the western creed of Serdica (343), defined the meaning of essence (οὐσία) and substistence (ὑπόστασις), the role of the Holy Spirit as well as the mode of the incarnation of the Son. It is the first synodal document which deals with these new themes. The attempt to differentiate between essence and subsistence gives the direction for the later “neo-nicene” definition of trinity as one essence in three subsistences.

Actually, this Tomus (AW III Dok. 69.2) was the letter of the synod to the Christians in Antioch who were divided in two groups: the “Eustathians” supported Eustathius of Antioch, and the “Meletians” who followed Meletius of Antioch (cf. AW III Dok. 65). But this letter did not overcome the schism of Antioch which would last for decades and hinder the theological agreement, even after the council of Constantinople 381. The “Eustathians”, led by Paulinus of Antioch since 362, were hesitant to accept the Meletians even after they accepted the creed of Nicaea (in 363); personal discord aggravated the schism. A letter from Athanasius to Diodor of Tyrus, who was ordained by Paulinus of Antioch, shows Athanasius' strong relationship with the circle around Paulinus of Antioch (Ep. ad Diodorum fr.).

1.10 Fourth Exile under Julian 362-363

In 23rd of October 363, Athanasius left the city again go hide in Egypt because emperor Julian gave the order that Athanasius should retire (Index 35; h.Ath. 3,5; Julian, ep. 110-112 [Bidez/Cumont]; cf. the bonmot of him in Ruf., h.e. X 35 that this “small cloud” will soon pass away). Perhaps, pagans in Alexandria had sought the chance to get rid of this famous mighty bishop (Socr., h.e. III 13,14; Soz., h.e. V 15; Thdt., h.e. III 9; Ruf., h.e. X 33f.).

While he was hiding, Athanasius still pursued the results of the synod in Alexandria, as his letter to Rufinianus shows (Ep. ad Rufinianum, transmitted among canonical literature) which he may have written at this time or a little later. Rufinianus, a bishop who probably lived somewhere in the East, wanted to be informed about the synod, and again, Athanasius advises, that an acceptance of the creed of Nicaea is solely necessary for those who signed the homoian creed of Constantinople 359/60 but now wish to get into communion with the “orthodox”.

An interesting exegetical work may be dated in this period as well, the long letter to an unknown Marcellinus (Ep. ad Marcellinum) on the hermeneutic outlines for interpreting the Psalms. It may be understood as a contribution to the discussions on Christian education which emerged, after emperor Julian prohibited using the pagan curriculum for the Christian's education. The Psalter, the core and summary of scripture and a central document for Christian prayer and singing – Athanasius advises singing and gives interesting hints at the effect of singing – leads every Christian, singing and praying Psalms, to an inner harmony of the soul and to a moral improvement because he would identify himself with the Psalmist (first person) and applies its text on himself.

1.11 In Antioch 363-364 and Alexandria 364-365

After Julian died on his warfare against the Persians (26th June 363) and Jovian took over right the next day (h.Ath. 4,1; Socr., h.e. III 22,1; Amm. XXV 5,4; Zos., hist. III 30,1; Philost., h.e. VIII 1), Athanasius traveled back to Alexandria in August 363. But he left the city again soon with some accompanying bishops (h.Ath. 4,3f.) to meet Jovian and to achieve his restauration as bishop of Alexandria, as many others did as well (Socr., h.e. III 25,2f.; Soz., h.e. VI 4,3-5; Philost., h.e. VIII 6). He met the emperor in Hierapolis (Index 35; Socr., h.e. III 24), got his permission (Ep. Joviani ad Athanasium 363) and went to Antioch (Winter 363-364; Index 36). There he tried to overcome the schism of Antioch in person. This is implied in his letter to the Egyptians, written from Antioch (Coptic fr. Camplani), in which he advises the addressees not to mock the former heretics (i.e. Meletians). The background of the letter was the acceptance of Nicaea on a synod of the Meletians in Antioch (Socr., h.e. III 25,10-18; Soz., h.e. VI 4,7-10). But, in addition, there was still strong opposition to Athanasius himself in Egypt as one strange text demonstrates: Petitiones Arianorum. Transmitted among the works of Athanasius, probably collected by himself, it looks like an excerpt from a protocol of several petitions made by Lucius, the successor of Georg in Alexandria, against Athanasius (October/November 363; Socr., h.e. IV 5,2-4; h.Ath. 4,7). However, the emperor Jovian himself now obviously favored Athanasius and his theological direction, as the letter of Athanasius to him (Ep. ad Jovinianum, 363) shows: He recommends this creed again as the only orthodox basis for further theological agreements.

Back in Alexandria (h.Ath. 4,4: 14th February 364), a letter to Orsisius (Epistula 1 ad Orsisium, transmitted in the vitae of Pachomius; proposed dates are 363 or 364-367 or even 368) shows his continuing contact to the monasteries in Egypt. After visiting the Thebais and the Pachomian monasteries Nouoi and Kahior, Athanasius wrote the letter to Orsisius, who was the third leader of the Pachomian monasteries after Pachomius but he resigned from leadership. Athanasius expresses in his letter his appreciation of the Pachomian monasteries as well as of Orsisius himself.

1.12 Fifth Exile under Valens 365-366

The political situation changed again after eight months of Jovians' reign, who died accidentally in 20th of February 364: His successor Valentinian (West) appointed his brother Valens (March 364) as emperor for the East (h.Ath. 5,1), who then continued the homoian church policy of Constantius and again exiled those who had been allowed to return to their seats under Julian (h.Ath. 5,1: edict 5th May 365). This caused some riots, especially in Alexandria. Athanasius' supporters argued that this was not the case with Athanasius, as he was not deposed by Constantius nor recalled by Julian, but persecuted by him, and finally brought back by Jovian (h.Ath. 5,2). Nevertheless, he was banned, but before soldiers were arriving at the Dionysian church again, Athanasius fled and hid in a villa near the Western suburb of the city (h.Ath. 5,5: from 5th of October 365 until 31st of January 366). Perhaps ongoing riots changed this policy and Athanasius was allowed to return and entered the church again on the 1st of February 366 (h.Ath. 5,6f.).

1.13 Last Years in Alexandria 366-373

During this last period, Athanasius was able to stay safely in Alexandria and to keep his episcopate. Meanwhile his reputation was at a peak, even though the official homoian church policy of emperor Valens was contradicting his own Nicene target. His continuing engagement can be detected in his letter to Christians in Africa (Ep. ad Afros, 367). Comparable to decr. from 358, but now even more uncompromisingly, he argues against the homoian creed for the one and only orthodox creed of Nicaea from 325, and tries to hinder further homoian influence in Northern Africa. Nicaea and its slogans “one-in-essence” (ὁμοούσιος) and “out of essence” (ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας) are a shibboleth separating orthodoxy from heresy, and they summarize the teaching of the bible and the church fathers. This letter also indicated Athanasius' continuing contact to the West, especially to Rome, since it mentions (Afr. 10,3) a letter from him to Damasus, bishop of Rome since 366, second, a letter of an Egyptian synod to Rome, which itself answers a letter of a Roman synod under Damasus, sent to Egypt. Although all these letters are lost, one item is mentioned in Afr. 10,3: He warns Damasus not to stay in contact with the homoian bishop of Milan, Auxentius.

In 367 (Index 39), Athanasius also wrote the important 39th festal letter (ep.fest. 39), in which he reflects about the criteria for right and false teaching: In the line of the apostles, clerics are taught by Christ, the true teacher – and his teaching can be found in the canonized writings of the church, which he lists in this letter. This list marks the finalization of the canon of the Old and New Testament as he only refers to accepted or canonized writings besides some recommended texts, in contrast to heretic writings; he also leaves out the category of disputed writings as it can be found in comparable earlier list (Origen; Eusebius of Caesarea).

In 368 he wrote a consolatory letter to Orsisius on the death of the former leader Theodor (Epistula 2 ad Orsisium), a short letter, which expresses his spiritual mentorship for monks as he sees himself.

These last years of Athanasius are less known than the former years. It seems that he did not travel any more. Two aspects were dominant now, the upcoming Christological debate and finally his contact to Basil of Caesarea.

There are four letters of Athanasius which deal with the Christological question (Ep. ad Adelphium; Ep. ad Maximum; Ep. ad Epictetum; Ep. ad Eupsychium fr.). Because his letter to bishop Epictetus of Corinth is dated at 371, the other letters may stem from this later period as well, though this is not certain (cf. above in 1.9 the Tomus ad Antiochenos). His Ep. ad Epictetum is of special importance as it was a reference text in the Christological debate since the controversy between Cyrill of Alexandrian and the Antiochenes (ACO I 1,2,39-41; I 4 91f., quoted by Cyrill in his letters ep. 39,8; 40,25; 44,3; 45,14f. while declaring that he has the authentic unfalsified version of the letter), it is also quoted in the Acts of the council of Ephesus (ACO I 5,2 321-334). The question of ep. Epict. is whether the body of Christ is one in essence with the Godhead of the Son, or, whether the Word has been changed into flesh, and altered his own nature. Obviously, to avoid the idea that Christ's assumption of a body leads to a divine tetrad on the one hand, and to refute an adoptianist Christology on the other hand, some (Apollinarists? but cf. the positive statement of Apollinarius about Ath., ep.Epict. in a letter: fr. 163 Lietzmann and Socr., h.e. II 17,2f.) have stated that Christ's body is eternal and not from Mary, is immortal and of one essence with the Son. But, as Athanasius argues soteriologically, the Son received from Mary a human body with soul and flesh to redeem us, but the Son himself remained unchanged divine.

The Ep. ad Adelphium of Onuphis in Egypt mainly deals with the question of who or what is venerated when Christians venerate the (one) Son: To avoid a veneration of a creature some seem to have argued for a divinity of the flesh of Christ inseparable united with the Godhead of Christ. Otherwise one would venerate two Christs, a divine and a human Christ. Athanasius pleads for a veneration of the flesh united with Christ, as Christ redeemed us through the temple, his flesh.

Ep. ad Eupsychium (fr.) again deals with the question whether the impassible Sohn of God did not turn himself into flesh, but the letter to Maximus, titled as a philosopher, more fundamentally discusses how the Son of God could be crucified, and argues against docetic Christology (Docetism).

Two little letters, written between 370 and 373, show Athanasius' contacts to Palestine and Cappadocia: Ep. ad Palladium and Ep. ad Ioannem et Antiochum. Palladius, who stayed with Innocentius in Jerusalem, informs Athanasius about a conflict between Basilius of Caesarea and some monks in Caesarea, of which Athanasius already had heard through a certain Dianius. Athanasius wants the monks to subordinate under the great bishop Basilius; he had already written a corresponding letter. The other letter refers to a theological dispute in Jerusalem, including a debate on possible emendations or additions to the Nicene creed concerning the incarnation and the Holy Spirit. Again, Basilius of Caesarea is mentioned (probably in connection to Basilius, ep. 258) and defended by Athanasius as orthodox beyond all doubt.

These contacts between Athanasius and Basilius are confirmed by the writings of Basilius. We have two early letters from him to Athanasius (ep. 80, a greeting letter; ep. 61 on a civil governor in Egypt from Cappadocia) which demonstrate an intense contact. Later letters document the efforts of Basilius to get the support of Athanasius for his project to unite the Eastern church, especially the divided church of Antioch (see 1.11), with the West on the basis of Nicaea (ep. 82 and 66 to Athanasius): Athanasius should write corresponding advertising letters, especially to the West. But Athanasius' unwillingness to accept the Meletians in Antioch remained an obstacle, although Basilius strongly advocates it (ep. 67 to Athanasius on Meletius; ep. 67 to Meletius). Probably, in this context, Athanasius received a letter from the West informing him about a synod in Rome led by Damasus, including the Confidimus quidem, which Athanasius forwarded to Basilius who did not agree with this Western position. Finally, the wish of Basilius (and of the Meletians) that Athanasius should distance himself from followers of Marcellus of Ancyra (ep. 69 to Athanasius; cf. ep. 89 to Meletius; ep. 140 to Antioch) hindered a common solution at this moment.

In his last years Athanasius also wrote the Epistula ad virgins (kopt., five fragments). It shows a moderate approval of virginity while at the same time refusing to reject marriage in general and stating that marriage is appropriate to human nature. But, in contrast to the pagan version, real virginity can supposedly only be found among Christians. Interestingly, he quotes a fragment from his predecessor Alexander who orally instructed the virgins. An allegorical interpretation of the Song of the songs describes the virgins as brides of Christ. This letter belongs to a group of writings of Athanasius on virginity which cannot be dated: Sermo de virginitate (syr., armen.); Epistula ad virgins (syr.).

By fragment we know of a letter of Athanasius on the eucharist: Ep. ad Epiphanium (fr.) against judaizing the Pascha feast with azymes.

There are some further fragments of Athanasius writings which were transmitted in Catenae (CPG 2141). These fragments could stem from exegetical works of Athanasius or from other works which are now lost. The short fragments in Acts (CPG 2141.11) for example, are attributed to works of Athanasius against the Novatians. The two sermons, Homilia in illud: Nunc anima mea turbata est (Joh 12,27) and Homilia in illud: Omnia mihi tradita sunt (Mt 11,27), are also fragments, especially the second one may have been taken from a longer exegetical work. Unfortunately, no corpus of sermons of Athanasius was transmitted.

Uncertain is the small tractatus De morbo et valetudine on physical and spiritual health.

Besides these literal activities another subject comes to the fore in these last years: his engagement in building and rebuilding churches. After the heavy earthquake on the 1st of February 366 (Index 37), which caused much damage in Alexandria, and a pagan attack on the Caesarion (fire in June 366), Athanasius rebuilt this church (368; Index 40). The Caesarion, or Great Church, was constructed after Constantius had handed the former area of the temple (which was used for ruler cult since Cleopatra VII.) over to the community under Gregor (Index 11), but later, it was acquired by Athanasius (cf. the accusation that he used this church irregularly early in 1.7). It was probably occupied again by pagans under the reign of Julian (h.Ath. 3,1). Athanasius built a second church in Mendidion (conversion of the temple of Mendis; 22.9.369 begin of construction, 8.7.370 consecrated), which was named after him later on. Therefore, he followed the footsteps of Alexander, who had already built the church of Theonas and the church of Michael (former temple of Kronos) besides the already existing older churches like the church of Dionysius and of Pierius (Epiph., haer. 69,2,2,4 mentions ten churches in Alexandria; Haas, Alexandria, 208-211).

The death of Athanasius is documented for the Mai 2rd 373 (h.Ath. 5,10).

2. Works: Editions and Translations

Many writings of Athanasius are lost; especially the lack of his correspondence, which must have included many partners in the East and the West, is a pity and a huge handicap for research. There is also a gap in exegetical writings (cf. the fragments mostly from catenae) and we have almost no evidence of his preaching. The group of the still available festal letters addressed to his whole dioceses, in which he announced the date of Easter and gives additional theological and pastoral advice, must compensate for this loss.

The works of Athanasius are transmitted in quite a small number of manuscripts with the earliest Greek ones from the 10th and 11th century (there are some older Syriac and Latin ones). In addition, most works are transcribed as collections which also contain many pseudo-Athanasian writings: a-collection (probably from the episcopal archive in Alexandria), x-collection (more historically interesting, probably from Constantinople), y-collection (more theologically interesting). On this item, cf. von Stockhausen, Textüberlieferung, in “Athanasius Handbuch”, 2-8 with further literature, and the introductions to the modern critical editions “Athanasius Werke”. On the pseudepigraphical writings cf. the contributions in “Athanasius Handbuch” (p. 345-415).

2.1 Series

PG 25-28, Montfaucon. – Athanasius Werke (= AW) 1: Dogmatische Schriften, M. Tetz, B/NY 1996-2016 (= AW 1); 2: Historische Schriften, H.G. Opitz, B 1934-1941; H.C. Brennecke / U. Heil / A. von Stockhausen, B/NY 2006 (= AW 2); 3: Dokumente zur Geschichte des arianischen Streites, Hanns Christof Brennecke, Uta Heil, Annette von Stockhausen, Christian Müller, Angelika Wintjes, B/NY/Boston 2007ff. (= AW 3).

2.2 Dogmatic Writings and Letters

gent., R.W. Thomson (OECT, 1971, 2-133, T/engl. Ü). – T. Camelot (SC 18bis, T/frz. Ü/K). – L. Leone (Collana di studi greci 43, T/it. Ü/K). – A. Stegmann (BKV ² 32, 11-81, dt. Ü). – L.A. Sánchez Navarro (Bibliotheca de patrística 19, span. Ü/K). – E.P. Meijering (Philosophia patrum 4, engl. Ü/K). – U. Heil (Verlag der Weltreligionen 2008, 11-73, dt. Ü).

inc., C. Kannengießer (SC 199, T/frz. Ü/K). – R.W. Thomson (OECT, 1971, 134-277, T/engl. Ü). – E. Bellini (Collana di testi Patristici 2, it. Ü/K). – E.P. Meijering, Le 1989 (Ü/K). – F. Guerrero Martínez/ J.C. Fernéndez Sahelices (Biblioteca de patrística 6, span. Ü/K) – U. Heil (Verlag der Weltreligionen 2008, 77-146, dt. Ü).

Ar. 1-3, Tetz (AW 1, 109-381). – A. Stegmann (BKV² 13, 17-387, Ü). – E.P. Meijering, A 1996-1998 (Ü/K von Ar. 3). – A. Rousseau, Les Trois Discours (Bruxelles 2004, franz. Ü). – P. Podalak, Trattati conto gli Ariani (Teti patristici 173, Rom 2003, it. Ü).

ep. Aeg. Lib., Tetz (AW 1, 39-64). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 223-235, engl. Ü).

ep. ad Potamium (fr.), Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 3, 383, T, dt. Ü).

decr., Opitz (AW 2, 1-45). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 150-172, engl. Ü). – U. Heil (Verlag der Weltreligionen 2008, 149-201, dt. Ü). – E. Cattaneo, Il Credo fi Nicea (Rom 2001, it. Ü).

Dion., Opitz (AW 2, 46-67). – U. Heil (PTS 52, Ü/K).

ep. mon., Opitz (AW 2, 181f.). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 563f., engl. Ü).

syn., Opitz (AW 2, 231-278). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 451-480, engl. Ü). – A. Martin / X. Morales (SC 563, franz. Ü).

ep. Serap. 1-4, Tetz/Savvidis (AW 1, 449-600). – J. Lebon, SC 15 (T, frz. Ü). – C.R.B. Shapland, L/NY 1951 (engl. Ü). – E. Cattaneo (Collana di Testi Patristici 55, it. Ü/K). – L. Iammarrone (Classici dello spirito. Patristica, it. Ü/K). – M. DeCogliano, Works on the Spirit (Popular Patristic Series 43, 51-136, engl. Ü).

tom., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 340-351). – Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 3, 592-609, dt. Ü). – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 272, 30-36, syr. T, 273, 25-30, engl. Ü). – E. Revillout, JA 7 (1875) 251f. (kopt. T). – A. Segneri, Lettera agli Antiocheni (Bologna 2010).

ep. Rufin., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 3, 609-613, T, dt. Ü). – P.P. Joannou, Fonti II, 76-80 (franz. Ü).

ep. Jov., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 352-356). – L. Parmentier (GCS Theodoret, 212-216). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 567f., engl. Ü).

ep. Jov. ad Ath., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 357).

ep. Afr., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 322-339). – A. von Stockhausen, PTS 65, B/NY 2002 (dt. Ü/K). – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 272, 16-29, syr. T, 273, 14-24 engl. Ü). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 489-494, engl. Ü).

ep. Epict., Tetz/Savvidis (AW 1, 705-738). – G. Ludwig, Jena 1911. – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 257, 73-85, syr. T, 258, 55-64, engl. Ü). – E. Schwartz, ACO I/5, 321-334 (lat. T). – R.P. Casey, HThR 26 (1933) 127-150 (armen. T). – C. Renoux, in: FS A. Guillaumont, Cahiers d'Orientalisme 20, 167f. (armen. T). – K. Ter-Mekerttschian, Sigillum fidei, Etschmiadsin 1914, 57-70 (armen. T). – J. Lippl (BKV ² 13, 504-517, Ü).

ep. Adelph., Tetz/Savvidis (AW 1, 739-766). – I. Costa, Atti Accad. Pontaniana 42 (1993) 247-252 (lat. T). – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 272, 42-51, syr. T, 273, 35-41, engl. Ü). – C. Renoux, HandAm 103 (1989) 24f. (armen. T). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 575-578, engl. Ü).

ep. Max., Tetz/Savvidis (AW 1, 757-766). – I. Costa, Atti Accad. Pontaniana 42 (1993) 253-255 (lat. T). – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 272, 37-41, syr. T, 273, 31-34, engl. Ü). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 578f., engl. Ü).

Ep. ad Eupsychium fr., PG 26, 1245-1248.

2.3 Historic Apologetic Writings

Index/Historia acephala, A. Martin/ M. Albert (SC 317, syr. u. lat. T/frz.Ü/K). – C.H. Turner (EOMIA I 663-671).

ep. encycl., Opitz (AW 2, 169-177). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 92-96, engl. Ü).

ep. cler. Alex., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 3, 239-243, T, dt. Ü). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 555f., engl. Ü).

ep. Mar., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 3, 246-250, T, dt. Ü). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 554, engl. Ü).

apol. sec., Opitz (AW 2, 87-168). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 100-147, engl. Ü). – W. Portmann, Zwei Schriften gegen die Arianer (BGL 65, 75-188 dt. Ü).

h. Ar., Opitz (AW 2, 183-230). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 270-302, engl. Ü). – W. Portmann, Zwei Schriften gegen die Arianer (BGL 65, 190-268 dt. Ü).

ep. mon., PG 26, 1186-1188. – G. de Jerphanion, in: La voix des monuments II, Rome 1938, 95-110 (gr. T, textus inscriptionis, lat. T). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 564, engl. Ü).

apol. Const., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 279-309). – J.M. Szymusiak (SC 56bis, T/frz. Ü/K). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 238-253, engl. Ü).

fug., Opitz (AW 2, 68-86). – Szymusiak (SC 56bis, 133-167, T/frz. Ü/K) – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 255-265, engl. Ü).

ep. mort. Ar., Opitz (AW II, 178-180). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 564-566, engl. Ü).

Ep. ad Diodorum fr., J.-M. Clément, Facundus (SC 478, 146-149).

pet. Arianorum, Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 358-361).

ep. Pall., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 312-313). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 580 engl. Ü). – U. Heil (Athanasius und Basilius, 104f. dt. Ü).

ep. Io et Ant., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 310-311). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 579f. engl. Ü). – U. Heil (Athanasius und Basilius, 108f. dt. Ü).

2.4 Pastoral and Monastic Writings and Letters

ep. Drac., Brennecke/Heil/von Stockhausen (AW 2, 314-321). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 557-560, engl. Ü). – A. Haase, The Life of Antony (with ep. Drac., Downers Grove, Ill. 2012, engl. Ü)

ep. Amun., P.P. Joannou, Fonti II, 63-71 (T/frz. Ü). – E. Gabidzasvili, Didi Sdzulis­kanoni, Tbilissi 1975, 466 (georg. T). – V.N. Benesevic, Syntagma, Petropoli 1906f., 547-553 (alt-slav. T). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 556f., engl. Ü). – A. Haase, The Life of Antony (with ep. Amun., Downers Grove, Ill. 2012, engl. Ü).

ep. exhort. ad virgines, nach Theodoret, L. Parmentier/F. Scheidweiler, GCS, 127f.

ep. ad virgines (arab., fr.), B. Evetts, History of the Patriarchs, PO 1 (1907) 404f.

s. de virginitate (syr., armen.), J. Lebon, Muséon 40 (1927) 209-218 (syr. T), 219-226 (frz. Ü). – R.P. Casey, SPAW. PH 33 (1935) 1026-1034 (armen. T), 1035-1045 (Ü). – D. Brakke, Asceticism, 303-309 (engl. Ü).

ep. ad virgins (syr.), J. Lebon, Muséon 41 (1928) 169-216 (syr. T). – D. Brakke, Asceticism, 293-302 (engl. Ü).

ep. ad virgins (copt.), L.T. Lefort (CSCO 150, 73-99, kopt. T, 151, 55-80, frz. Ü). – D. Brakke, Asceticism, 274-291 (engl. Ü).

ep. de caritate et temperentia, L.T. Lefort (CSCO 150, 110-120, kopt. T, 151, 88-98, frz. Ü).

tractatus acephalus de virginitate (fr.), L.T. Lefort (CSCO 150, 101-106, kopt. T, 151, 82-84, frz. Ü).

de morbo et valetudine (uncertain), F. Diekamp, Analecta Patristica (OCA 117), 5-9. – D. Brakke, Asceticism, 310-313 (engl. Ü).

ep. Epiph. fr., PG 26, 1257-1260.

ep. Ors. 1-2 (in Vita Pachomii), F. Halkin, Sancti Pachomii vitae graecae, SHG 19, 91 and 95f. – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 569, engl. Ü).

ep. fest., A. Camplani, Lettere festali, Milano 2003. – W. Cureton, L 1848 (syr. T). – J. Lebon (CSCO 101, 293-295, syr. Frgm, 102, 216f., frz. Ü). – L.T. Lefort (CSCO 150, 1-72, kopt. fr., 151, 1-54, frz. Ü). – R.G. Coquin, OLP 13 (1982) 137-142; OLP 15 (1984) 133-158 (kopt. T). – R. Lorenz (BZNW 49, syr. T/Ü/K des 10. Festbriefes). – P.P. Joannou, Fonti II, 71-76 (39. Festbrief). – A. Sakkos, in: I. Mantzarides, Th 1974, 129-196 (39. Festbrief). – D. Brakke, HTR 103 (2010) 57-66 (39. Festbrief, engl. T). – R. Lorenz, Der zehnte Osterfestbrief (BZNW 69, B/NY 1986).

2.5 Exegetical Writings

hom. in Lk 12,10, PG 26, 648-676. – R.W. Thomson (CSCO 272, 1-15, syr. T, 273, 1-13, engl. Ü).

ep. Marcell., PG 27, 12-45. – E. Tayeci, Venetiis 1899, 615-643 (armen. T). – R.C. Gregg, NY 1980 (101-130 engl. Ü).

hom. in Mt 11,27, Tetz/Savvidis (AW 1, 767-778). – A. Robertson (NPNF 2/4, 87-90, engl. Ü).

hom. in Io 12,27, PG 26, 1240-1244.

fragmenta in catenis, PG 27 1217-1221; 1316f.; 1344-1408 and other editions (cf. CPG 2141).

fragmenta/excerpta, L.T. Lefort (CSCO 150, 106-109,121-140, kopt. T, 151, 85-87, 99-111, frz. Ü).

2.6 Vita Antonii

v. Anton., G.J.M. Bartelink (SC 400, T/frz. Ü/K). – C. Mohrmann/G.J.M. Bartelink, Scrittori greci e latini. Vite dei Santi 1 (lat. T/it. Ü/K). – R. Draguet (CSCO 417/418, syr. T). – G. Garitte (CSCO 117/118, kopt. T). – E. Tayeci, Venetiis 1899, 533-614 (armen. T). – V. Imnaisvili, Tbilissi 1970 (georg. T). – H. Mertel (BKV ² 31, 11-101, Ü). – R.T. Meyer (ACW 10, engl. Ü). – R.C. Gregg, NY 1980 (engl. Ü). – T. Vivian (Coptic Church Review 15, 1/2, engl. Ü der kopt. Version). – A. Haase, The Life of Antony (Downers Grove, Ill. 2012, engl. Ü). – D. Baldi, Vita di Antiocio (Testi patristici 241, Rom 2015, it. Ü).

3. Secondary Literature

3.1 Research History

  • Kannengießer, Charles. “The Athanasian Decade 1974–1984: A Bibliographical Report.” TS 46 (1985): 524–541.
  • Arnold, Duane W.H. “Athanasian Historiography: A Century of Revision.” Coptic Church Review 12 (1991): 3–14.
  • Leemans, Johan. “Thirteen Years of Athanasius Research (1985–1998): A Survey and Bibliography.” SacEr 39 (2000): 105–217.
  • Camplani, Alberto. “Studi atanasiani: gli ‘Athanasius Werke,' le ricerche sulla ‘Thalia' e nuovi sussidi bibliografici.” Adamantius 7 (2001): 115–131.
  • Gemeinhardt, Peter, ed. Athanasius Handbuch. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.

3.2 Literature

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  • ––. “Das Theologische Hauptwerk des Athanasius: die drei Bücher gegen die Arianer (Ctr. Arianos I–III).” CV 42 (2000): 5–23.
  • Anatolios, Khaled. “Soteriological Significance of Christ's Humanity in St. Athanasius.” SVTQ 40 (1996): 265–286.
  • ––. Athanasius: the Coherence of His Thought, London: Routledge, 1998.
  • ––. “The influence of Irenaeus on Athanasius.” StPatr 36 (2001): 463–476.
  • ––. Athanasius. ECF. London: Routledge, 2004.
  • ––. “‘When Was God without Wisdom?' Trinitarian Hermeneutics and Rhetorical Strategy in Athanasius.” StPatr 41 (2006): 117–123.
  • ––. “‘Christ the Power and Wisdom of God': Biblical Exegesis and Polemical Intertextuality in Athanasius's Orations against the Arians.” JECS 21/4 (2013): 503–535.
  • Argaráte, Pablo. “The Holy Spirit in Athanasius' Epistles to Serapion.” JCSCS 2 (2011): 23–43.
  • Avagyan, Anahit, Die armenische Athanasius-Überlieferung: Das auf Armenisch unter dem Namen des Athanasius von Alexandrien tradierte Schrifttum, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.
  • Ayres, Lewis. “Athanasius' initial Defense of the Term ὁμοούσιος: Rereading the De decretis.” JECS 12 (2004): 337–359.
  • Baghos, Maijastina. “The Traditional Portrayal of St Athanasius according to Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret.” in Alexandrian Legacy: a Critical Appraisal. Edited by D. Costache, P. Kariatlis, and M. Baghos. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publ., 2015, 139–171.
  • Barnard, Leslie W. “Athanasius and the Meletian Schism in Egypt.” JEA 59 (1973): 181–189.
  • ––. “Athanasius and the Emperor Jovian.” StPatr 21 (1989): 384–389.
  • ––. Studies in Athanasius' Apologia secunda. Europäische Hochschulschriften 23. Theologie 467. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1992.
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  • ––. “Athanasius and the Pachomians.” StPatr 32 (1997): 3–11.
  • Barnes, Timothy D. “Constantine, Athanasius and the Christian Church.” in Constantine: History, Historiography and Legend. Edited by S.N.C. Lieu, and D. Montserrat. London: Routledge, 1998, 7–20.
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  • Bartelink, Gerhard J.M. “Die älteste lateinische Übersetzung der Vita Antonii des Athanasius im Lichte der Lesarten einiger griechischer Handschriften.” Revue d'Histoire des Textes 11 (1981): 397–413.
  • ––. “Die literarische Gattung der Vita Antonii: Struktur und Motive.” VC 36 (1982): 38–62.
  • Bell, Harold I. Jews and Christians in Egypt: the Jewish Troubles in Alexandria and the Athanasian Controversy. London: British Museum u.a., 1924 = Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, ²1976.
  • Böhm, Thomas. “Athanasius, An Marcellinus. Der Psalter als Mitte des Lebens der Kirche.” BL 77 (2004): 155–160.
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  • ––. Pseudo-Athanasius on Virginity. CSCO 592–593. Leuven: Peeters, 2002.
  • ––. “A New Fragment of Athanasius's Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter: Heresy, Apocrypha, and the Canon.” HTR 103 (2010): 47–66.
  • Brennecke, Hanns C. Studien zur Geschichte der Homöer: der Osten bis zum Ende der homöischen Reichskirche. BHT 73. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1988.
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  • ––. “Athanasius von Alexandrien in der abendländischen Rezeption bis zur Frühen Neuzeit.” in Patristic Tradition and Intellectual Paradigms in the 17th Century. Edited by S.-P. Bergjan, and K. Pollmann. Spätmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation 52. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010, 137–157.
  • ––. “Die letzten Jahre des Arius.” in /Von Arius zum Athanasianum: Studien zur Edition der “Athanasius Werke/”. Edited by A. von Stockhausen, and H.C. Brennecke. TUGAL 164. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010, 63–83.
  • Bright, Pamela. “Singing the Psalms: Augustine and Athanasius on the Integration of the Self.” in The Whole and Divided Self: The Bible and Theological Anthropology Edited by D.E. Aune, and J. McCarthy. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997, 115–129.
  • ––. “Antony of Egypt and the Discernment of Spirits: The ‘Vita' of Athanasius and the ‘Letters of Antony'.” in Origeniana nona: Origen and the Religious Practice of his Time: Papers of the 9th International Origen Congress, Pécs, Hungary, 29 August – 2 September 2005. Edited by G. Heidl, and R. Somos. BETL 228. Leuven: Peeters, 2009, 549–556.
  • Cain, Andrew. “The Greek Historia Monachorum in Aegypto and Athanasius' Life of Antony.” VC 67 (2013): 349–363.
  • Češka, Josef. “Die politischen Hintergründe der Homousios-Lehre des Athanasius.” in Die Kirche angesichts der Konstantinischen Wende. Edited by G. Ruhbach, Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchgesellschaft, 1976, 297–321.
  • Chadwick, Henry. “Les deux Traités Contre Apoll/inaire attribués à Athanase.” in /Αλεξανδρινα: Hellénisme, judaïsme et christianisme à Alexandrie. Mélanges offerts au P. Claude Mondésert. Paris: Cerf, 1987, 247–280.
  • Clauss, Manfred. Athanasius der Große: Der unbeugsame Heilige, Darmstadt: Philipp von Zabern, 2016.
  • Contaldo, Anna P.. “Filosofia e filosofi nella riflessione di Atanasio di Alessandria.” StPatr 50/1 (2003): 115–145.
  • DelCogliano, Mark. “The Influence of Athanasius and the Homoiousians on Basil of Caesarea's Decentralization of ‘Unbegotten'.” JECS 19/2 (2011): 197–223.
  • ––, Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, and Lewis Ayres, eds. Works on the Spirit: Athanasius's Letters to Serapion on the Holy Spirit, and, Didymus's On the Holy Spirit. Popular Patristic Series 43. Yonkers, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2011.
  • ––. Review of A. Martin and X. Morales, Athanase d'Alexandrie: Lettre sur les Synodes: Synodale d'Ancyre: Basile d'Ancyre: Traite sur la foi. JTS 65 (2014): 738–746. Available at:
  • ––. “Asterius in Athanasius' Catalogues of Arian Views.” JTS 66/2 (2015): 625–650.
  • Demacopoulos, Georg E. “Ambivalence in Athanasius' Approach to Spiritual Direction.” StPatr 41 (2006): 145–149.
  • Dîncă, Lucian. Le Christ et la Trinité chez Athanase d'Alexandrie. Patrimoines: Christianisme. Paris: Cerf, 2012.
  • Donker, Gerald. “Athanasius's Contribution to the Alexandrian Textual Tradition of the Pauline Epistles: An Initial Exploration.” TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism 13 (2008): 1–25. Available at:
  • ––. The Text of the Apostolos in Athanasius of Alexandria. NTGF 8. Atlanta, Ga.: SBL, 2011. Available at:
  • Doval, Alexis J. “Multiple Models of Atonement in Athanasius' De Incarnatione.” StPatr 41 (2006): 151–156.
  • Dragas, George D. Athanasiana: Essays in the Theology of Saint Athanasius, London: s.n. 1980.
  • ––. St. Athanasius Contra Apollinarem. Church and Theology 6. Athen: Parisianos, 1985.
  • Elliott, Tom. “Was the ‘Tomus ad Antiochenos' a Pacific Document?” JEH 58 (2007): 1–8.
  • Elm, Susanna. “Athanasius of Alexandria's Letter to the Virgins: Who was Its Intended Audience?” Aug 33 (1993): 171–183.
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  • ––. The Bible in Athanasius of Alexandria. Leiden: Brill, 2004.
  • ––. “Patristic Exegesis and the Arithmetic of the Divine from the Apologists to Athanasius.” in God in Early Christian Thought: Essays in Memory of Lloyd G. Patterson. Edited by A.B. McGowan. VCSup 94. Leiden: Brill, 2009, 123–150.
  • Fairbairn, Donald. “Context, Context, Context: Athanasius' Biblical Interpretation in Contra Arianos.” Perichoresis 12/2 (2014): 119–135.
  • ––. “The Sardican Paper, Antiochene Politics, and the Council of Alexandria (362): Developing the ‘Faith of Nicaea.'” JTS 66 (2015): 651–678.
  • Ferguson, Everett. “Athanasius' Epistola ad Marcellinum in interpretationem Psalmorum.” StPatr 16 (1985): 295–308.
  • Fernández, Tomás. “Dos fragmentos inéditos de Atanasio de Alejandría.” Erytheia 32 (2011): 79–94.
  • Fossas, Ignasi. “L'Epistola ad Marcellinum di Sant'Atanasio sull'uso cristiano del Salterio: Studio letterario, liturgico e teologico.” StudMon 39 (1997): 27–74.
  • Frazier, Françoise. “L'Antoine d'Athanase: A propos des chapitres 8–88 de la Vita.” VC 52 (1998): 227–256.
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  • Gwynn, David M. “The Construction of a  ‘Heretical Party' in the  ‘Apologia contra Arianos' of Athanasius of Alexandria.” Prudentia 35 (2003): 161–187.
  • ––. “Hoi peri Eusebion: The Polemic of Athanasius of Alexandria (Bishop AD 328–373) and the Early ‘Arian Controversy'.” StPatr 39 (2006): 53–57.
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  • Hauret, Charles. Comment le “Défenseur de Nicée” a-t-il compris le dogme de Nicée?, Rom: Pontifica Universitas Gregoriana, 1936.
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  • ––. “Early Christian Spirituality.” SwJT 45 (2003): 4–19.
  • ––. “The Dating of Athanasius' Double Apology and Three Treatises Against the Arians.” ZAC 10 (2006): 19–33.
  • Kelly, John N.D. The Athanasian Creed: The Paddock Lectures for 1962–3. London: Black, 1964.
  • Kelly, Patricia H. “Athanasius' Christology in Theory and Practice: a Comparison of the ‘Vita Antonii' and the ‘De incarnatione'.” DRev 124 (2006): 157–168.
  • Kühneweg, Uwe. “Athanasius und das Mönchtum.” StPatr 32 (1997): 25–32.
  • Kwon, Junghoo. “Classification Difficulty: A Case of Athanasius and Hilary. Based upon their Respective ‘De Synodis'.” Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 42 (2010): 145–170.
  • Laminski, Adolf. Der Heilige Geist als Geist Christi und Geist der Gläubigen: Der Beitrag des Athanasios von Alexandrien zur Formulierung des trinitarischen Dogmas im vierten Jahrhundert. ETS 23. Leipzig: St.-Benno-Verlag, 1969.
  • Larentzakis, Gregor. Einheit der Menschheit, Einheit der Kirche bei Athanasius: Vor- und nachchristliche Soteriologie und Ekklesiologie bei Athanasius von Alexandrien. Graz: Institut für Ökumenische Theologie und Patrologie an der Universität Graz, ²1981.
  • Leemans, Johan. “Athanasius and the Book of Wisdom.” ETL 73 (1997): 349–368.
  • ––. “Athanasius and the Book of Wisdom.” ETL 73 (1997): 349–368.
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