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Athanasius of Alexandria: Bishop, Theologian, Ascetic, Father (Christian Theology in Context) [Paperback]

David M. Gwynn

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Book Description

7 April 2012 Christian Theology in Context
Athanasius of Alexandria (c.295-373) is one of the greatest and most controversial figures of early Christian history. His life spanned the period of fundamental change for the Roman Empire and the Christian Church that followed the conversion of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor. A bishop and theologian, an ascetic and a pastoral father, Athanasius played a central role in shaping Christianity in these crucial formative years. As bishop of Alexandria (328-73) he fought to unite the divided Egyptian Church and inspired admiration and opposition alike from fellow bishops and the emperor Constantine and his successors. Athanasius attended the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea summoned by Constantine in 325 and as a theologian would be remembered as the defender of the original Nicene Creed against the 'Arian' heresy. He was also a champion of the ascetic movement that transformed Christianity, a patron of monks and virgins and the author of numerous ascetic works including the famous Life of Antony. All these elements played their part in Athanasius' vocation as a pastoral father, responsible for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of his congregations. This book offers the first study in English to draw together these diverse yet inseparable roles that defined Athanasius' life and the influence that he exerted on subsequent Christian tradition. The presentation is accessible to both specialists and non-specialists and is illuminated throughout by extensive quotation from Athanasius' many writings, for it is through his own words that we may best approach this remarkable man.


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...This is a fine introduction with an up-to-date bibliography ... Oxford has done a service in making this available at an affordable price, and I recommend its purchase by university and departmental libraries (David Greenwood, The Expository Times)

Until David Gwynn produced this brilliant and masterly account, there was no single book in which Athanasius' life and varied achievements were reviewed together ... Every expert will learn from this book and, for the uninitiated, this is the best introduction to Athanasius. (Bernard Green, The Tablet)

a qualified success (Michael Slusser, Theological Studies)

David Gwynn offers an admirably learned, fluent and concise introduction to Athanasius of Alexandria, the controversial and colourful church Father. ... This is an introduction as it should beand its evident qualities recommend it to students, scholars and the wider educated public alike. (Winrich Lohr, Journal of Ecclesiastical History)

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to one of the most important figures of early Christianity. It will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable resource for historians and theologians alike. ... benefits from a whole range of recent research into what might once have been treated as too obscure for the student. (Frances Young, Theology)

About the Author

Dr. David M. Gwynn is Lecturer in Ancient and Late Antique History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gwynn's Athanasius 30 April 2012
By Alscribji - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David Gwynn offers a fine biography on the fourth-century Church Father Athanasius of Alexandria. Gwynn offers a fine bibliography as well, and this provides essential reading for research. Much of what Gwynn says about Athanasius' theological positions, Arianism, the homoousios, and ascetism has already been stated elsewhere (and sometimes dealt with in greater depth and detail). I give Gwynn's monograph five stars, however, because he brings together commonly understood positions about Athanasius in a highly readable and succinct manner. Patristic scholars and specialists in the history of Christian theological development during the fourth century cannot go without this biography. However, I am STILL waiting on the definitive biography of Athanasius in the same vein as McGuckin's St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Will we EVER see that book?
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