This work was composed partly to explain Athanasius's thoughts on Jesus Christ and the nature of the Holy Spirit, and partly to refute the views of Arius, a rival deacon within the Egyptian church. According to Athanasius, God arrived on Earth as Christ to show humans a pure example of divinity - through this illustration, humans may themselves aspire to immortality.
Written sometime prior to 319 A.D., this text by Athanasius is cited as one of the most influential of early Christianity. As the Pope of the Coptic Christians of Egypt, Athanasius was both renowned by his fellow early Christians and reviled by the ruling Roman Empire who sought to exile him numerous times. His church considered these writings valuable, preserving and passing on the teachings for future Christian generations.
This translation in this edition was accomplished by Sister Penelope Lawson, a nun who spent her entire life in study of various ancient Christian texts. Since originally appearing in 1944, Lawson's translation has been applauded as an authentic presentation of Athanasius's thoughts in English.