Eight of the most important writings and tracts of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria are published here complete.
Born at the end of the 3rd Century, Athanasius of Alexandria served as the twentieth bishop of Alexandria; city of utmost importance to the early Christians. At the time Athanasius was born, the Roman Empire had not yet converted to the Christian creed and was actively suppressing the faith by persecuting clandestine groups of Christians living and practicing their beliefs throughout its dominion.
As Athanasius came of age however, the Emperor Constantine proclaimed the Edict of Milan. This gave Christians a legal status in the Empire, and formally ordered a conclusion to the persecutions. Despite the decreed cessation however, hostilities between distinct groups of Christians - the Arians and the Trinitarian Christians - would characterize Athanasius's life in the priesthood.
Amid an atmosphere of political and religious upheaval, Athanasius trod a delicate line: nicknamed Athanasius Contra Mundum (Athanasius Against the World), he would attempt to negotiate and parley along the lines of the faith. Renowned for his measured, diplomatic approach to his office of bishop, Athanasius's writings display his careful consideration. Respect, even among those who disagreed with his spiritual views, was widespread and he was praised by those who succeeded him.
This book represents a collection of eight works by Athanasius. The Epistles he delivered against the beliefs of the Arians, and the communiques he issued in response to enactments by the church, are present. Athanasius would write several letters to other, local bishops situated in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in an effort to promote understanding and unity among his fellow Christians. All of these writings offer an evocative impression of the nascent Christianity as it grew into an organized and accepted religion.
The final work in this collection is The History of the Arians, a lengthy tract which outlines the various persecutions that the Arians suffered. Rome's brutality towards the Arian practitioners continued under Constantine's rule, and was present in many of the cities and towns under Roman rule, and Athanasius catalogs this violence in detail.
This edition of Athanasius's tracts is annotated by the celebrated priest and theologian John Henry Newman. Newman, a learned scholar familiar with the era, explains the context for each work, thus allowing the reader to better understand Athanasius's writings.