Ante Nicene Fathers Timeline

Athanasius of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius, also known as Athanasius the Great and Athanasius the Apostolic, was an Egyptian born around AD 296, either in Alexandria or in the nearby town of Damanhur. We can tell from his very earliest writings that he had a Greek classical education and probably a secular one as there are no mentions of Christianity in those early works. However we understand his family, including his father, aunt and brother, were Christians and that he was brought up on Christian teachings.

As a student, he was influenced by the teachings of Clement and Origen and he began to develop as a Christian and became a brilliant theologian.

He was steadfast in his opposition to the teachings of Arius (an Egyptian bishop) who taught that Jesus Christ was purely the Son of God, lower than God The Father and created by God The Father. This was contrary to the accepted teachings of the Church that Jesus Christ the Son of God was actually God, of the same substance of God, as written in the Gospel of John. This heretical teaching of Arius, called Arianism, was gaining momentum and threatened to split the Church. The threat became so serious that Emperor Constantine had to call a Council of the Church elders in Nicaea in AD325 to debate this issue. Athanasius was only 27 year old deacon but he took a leading role during the council, fighting for Arianism to be abolished. Finally the council agreed to dismiss this Arian teaching as heresy.

Athanasius was made Bishop of Alexandria in AD328 at the age of only 30. He remained in his post for 45 years and during that time he constantly battled against the teaching of Arius that still smouldered in the background.

He was later recognised universally as one of the Pillars of the Church and one of the four great Doctors of the Church.

Athanasius of Alexandria


Early Church Fathers

Clement of Rome Ignatius of Antioch Polycarp of Smyrna
Clement of Alexandria Tertullian of Carthage Cyprian of Carthage
Irenaeus of Lyons Origen of Alexandria Athanasius of Alexandria

The Council of Nicaea AD 325