Athanasius was born in the later half of AD 299 and died in AD 373. During this time, in 325, one of the most important Church meetings in history took place (second probably only to the Jerusalem Council). Convened by Constantine, the Council of Nicaea’s primary task was seeking unity in all Christendom on the nature of the person of Jesus and his relation to the Father. While we mostly take it for granted today, most of what is now considered orthodox Christian doctrine were once items up for debate. At the council of Nicaea there were two views on the person of Christ being debated. The first was that of Arius, who believed that the Son was a created creature, albeit the first created, and not God. This makes sense if Jesus is “the Son” he must then come after the father. Colossians calls him the “firstborn of all creation.” Arius argued that the Son was created from nothing and then he was the creator of all other things. This made him a finite being as well as a being capable of wrong. The second view, and the one the council decided on, was that of St. Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria. Alexander argued that the Father’s attributes are eternal, even his fatherhood and so he has always had the Son with him. Technically, he said the son was “begotten” and not created. Begotten of the same substance as the Father. This meant he was God and equal with the Father. Alexander had assistants at the council, the most notable of which was a 26 year old deacon by the name of Athanasius. Athanasius would spend the rest of his life fighting the Arian heresy. He did this most notably through his work On the Incarntion. On the Incarnation is the second half of a two part treatise and in it Athanasius covers creation, the fall, and the incarnation and resurrection as well as some refutations to common objections from Jews and Greeks regarding the Son, or as he calls him, the “God Word.”
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Athanasius of Alexandria (b. ca. 296-298 – d. 2 May 373), also referred to as St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and (primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church) St Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. He is considered to be a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century. He is remembered for his role in the conflict with Arius and Arianism. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius had a leading role against the Arians in the First Council of Nicaea. At the time, he was a deacon and personal secretary of the 19th Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander. Nicaea was convoked by Constantine I in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that Jesus of Nazareth is of a distinct substance from the Father. In June 328, at the age of 30, three years after Nicæa and upon the repose of Bishop Alexander, he became archbishop of Alexandria. He continued to lead the conflict against the Arians for the rest of his life and was engaged in theological and political struggles against the Emperors Constantine the Great and Constantius II and powerful and influential Arian churchmen, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia and others. He was known as "Athanasius Contra Mundum". Within a few years of his departure, St. Gregory of Nazianzus called him the "Pillar of the Church". His writings were well regarded by all Church fathers who followed, in both the West and the East. His writings show a rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern, and profound interest in monasticism.
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