The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus

The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus

The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus

The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus


Athanasius (c. 295-373) Bishop of Alexandria, spiritual master and theologian, was a major figure of 4th-century Christendom. The Life of Antony is one of the foremost classics of asceticism. The Letter to Marcellinus is an introduction to the spiritual sense of the Psalms.


Athanasius (c. 295-373) was an Alexandrian whose life was committed at an early age to the fortunes of the Christian community there, and particularly to the theological and administrative programs of the episcopate. An advisor to Bishop Alexander, Athanasius attended the synod at Nicaea in 325, and three years later succeeded Alexander in the episcopal office. From that position he waged, for nearly a half-century, a vigorous and ultimately effective battle against his opponents within the Church—most notably Arius and his followers. The vehemence with which Athanasius advanced his cause (and resisted compromise) resulted in five periods of exile from Alexandria. He was absent from the city for more than a third of his term of office.

Athanasius's thought reveals a shift from the speculative and venturesome Alexandrian theology forged before him by Clement and Origen; it is incisive in that it succeeds in giving the keenest possible edge to the faith approved at Nicaea, and it is versatile in its manifold literary expressions.

It was during his third exile (from 355-362), after the noted monk's death in 356, that Athanasius composed the Life of Antony. The date of his Letter to Marcellinus concerning the interpretation of the Psalms cannot be fixed.

Born to an age of controversy, Athanasius thrived in it, a nemesis to his adversaries within the Church and to . . .

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