A historical and theological re-evaluation of the polemical writings of Athanasius of Alexandria (bishop 328-73), who would become known to later Christian generations as a saint and a champion of orthodoxy, and as the defender of the original Nicene Creed of 325 against the 'Arian heresy'. For much of his own lifetime, however, Athanasius was an extremely controversial figure, and his writings, although highly influential on modern interpretations of the fourth-century Church and the so-called 'Arian Controversy', display bias and distortion . David M. Gwynn examines Athanasius' polemic in detail, and in particular his construction of those he condemns as 'Arian' as a single 'heretical party', 'the Eusebians'. Gwynn argues that Athanasius' image of the Church polarized between his own 'orthodoxy' and the 'Arianism' of the 'Eusebians' is a polemical construct, which has seriously impaired our knowledge of the development of Christianity in the crucial period in which the Later Roman Empire became ever increasingly a Christian empire.
About the Author
David M. Gwynn is Junior Research Fellow, Christ Church, Oxford.
Table of Contents
1. The polemical writings of Athanasius: chronology and context
2. Athanasius' earliest polemical work: the 'Eusebians' in the Epistula Encyclica of 339
3. The origin of the 'Eusebians' in the polemic of Athanasius
4. The influence of Athanasius' polemic 339-46
5. Who were the 'Eusebians'?
6. The 'Eusebians' in action
7. The 'Arianism' of the 'Eusebians'