An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


(c. 296-373). Bishop and theologian. He was born in Egypt and educated at the catechetical school in Alexandria, where he was profoundly influenced by Bishop Alexander. Athanasius was ordained deacon in 319, and immediately became an opponent of the presbyter Arius, who taught that the second person of the Trinity was not fully divine. Bishop Alexander took Athanasius as his secretary and adviser to the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325, which dealt with the Arian conflict. Athanasius defended the full divinity of the second person at Nicaea, insisting that the Son is “of one Being with the Father.” When Bishop Alexander died in 328, Athanasius became Bishop of Alexandria. He spent the rest of his life defending the Nicene position and fighting the Arians. His major writing was On the Incarnation of the Word of God. Athanasius is recognized as “the theologian of the Incarnation.” He wrote a biography of the monk Antony, which helped to spread monasticism in the west. Athanasius is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on May 2.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.