I’m taking the opportunity to let you know that I, your newly back-in-business administrator, Matthew Hoskin, teach patristics for Davenant Hall, and this summer I am offering an eight-week course on none other than St Athanasius (my intro post here)! We’ll cover the bits that I missed posting to the site, don’t worry! Here’s the description from the registration website (register here!):
Few individuals in church history stand as tall as St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c.296-373). His legacy to the Church is nothing less than the doctrine of the Trinity–a legacy built in an age when the triumph of Christian orthodoxy was far from certain. His epitaph, Athanasius contra mundum (“Athanasius against the world”) is well-earned. The times were so turbulent that he found himself exiled on five occasions. Throughout, regardless of what position different emperors took on the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius was a defender of the orthodoxy of the council’s creed and articulated the orthodox understanding of the crucial word homoousios.
And yet, the man himself is often obscured by the myth, and many who cite him today have not engaged with his actual writings. This course will explore the life and teachings of Athanasius first-hand. Students will do a deep dive into his thought. After a discussion of the Council of Nicaea and its meaning as understood in conciliar documents and Athanasius’ own thought, students will begin with Athanasius’ early work, On the Incarnation, which sets out Nicene orthodoxy in apostolic and scriptural terms without the controversial homoousion. In The Life of Antony, students will encounter Athanasius’ enduring interest in the monastic movement as well as the playing out of his incarnational theology and human participation in God’s life. Next, we shall study the Apologia contra Arianos where students will encounter not just St Athanasius the polemicist but also his exegesis of key passages of Scripture. De Decretis is a defense of the Nicene Creed. Finally, students will engage with Athanasius’ letters, first with his letter to Epictetus which was a touchstone of orthodoxy in the fifth-century Christological debates, and then with his letters to Serapion which together form a treatise on the Holy Spirit.