Athanasius of Alexandria (Part 1): The Early Years (The History of Christianity #125)


Many young believers have no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our History of Christianity Scripture Passage today is Numbers 23:19 which reads: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Athanasius of Alexandria. He said: “The results of the incarnation of the Savior are such and so many, that anyone attempting to enumerate them should be compared to a person looking upon the vastness of the sea and attempting to count its waves.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Athanasius of Alexandria (Part 1): The Early Years” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Among those who were present at the Council of Nicea there was a young man, so dark and short that his enemies called him “the black dwarf.” This was Athanasius, Alexander’s secretary, who would soon become one of the central figures in the controversy, and the champion of Nicene orthodoxy. He was one of the great leaders — or “fathers” — of the fourth century, to whose biographies we now turn as the best way to understand the events of that time.

— The Early Years

The time and place of Athanasius’ birth are not known, although it is likely that he had rather obscure origins in a small town or village on the shore of the Nile. Since he spoke Coptic, the language of the original inhabitants of the area who had been successively conquered by the Greeks and the Romans, and his complexion was dark, like that of the Copts, it is very likely that he be-longed to that group, and that therefore he was a member of the lower classes in Egypt. He certainly never claimed to be of high birth, nor to be well versed in the subtleties of Greco-Roman culture.

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