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The Spirituality of Athanasius

A Key for Proper Understanding of this Important Church Father

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Ng Kwok-Kit

This book presents a thorough study of the life and thought of St Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (AD 328-373). In recent decades Athanasian studies have enjoyed a revival among scholars. Some praise him; others denounce him: opinions are very often diverse and a confused situation has developed. This book addresses the problem by means of a new key-spirituality.
This study argues that, because of the partial nature of our extant historical sources, it is almost impossible to reconstruct a true picture of Athanasius using the traditional methodology without making subjective presuppositions. To obtain a balanced judgement, it is necessary to examine the saint simultaneously from different viewpoints – his cultural background, theological convictions, ascetic teachings, and personal behaviour. By doing so, the author tries to show that the spirituality expressed in his writings is an important key to a proper understanding of Athanasius. It helps to explain his life and his behaviour in the Arian controversy.
Contents: Reviewing modern scholarly studies of Athanasius – Investigating key factors affecting the formation of Athanasius’ spirituality – Extracting spirituality from the theology of Athanasius – Probing spirituality from the ascetic teachings of Athanasius – Exploring the spirituality of Athanasius’ most important monastic work, the Life of Antony – Examining the relationship between Athanasius’ spirituality and his life – Showing how Athanasius’ spirituality influences his decisions and behaviour in the Arian controversy.