Item #: 0945-5
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Author: Michael E. Molloy
Copyright: 2003
First Printed: 03-24-2003

Saint Athanasius was one of the great leaders of the early Church. During the fourth century there were many great men and women of faith, but none of them did more to further the cause of Christ than this diminutive bishop from Egypt. Trying times require the best of men and the best from men, and that is exactly what the Church got in Athanasius. At a time when the Church faced the most insidious heresy of all, Arianism, one man rose above all others to combat it — and combat it he did. On several occasions his great struggle for the truth brought him near to martyrdom. But such was not to be God's will. Instead, he was to spend the fifty years of his adult life in a courageous, bloodless, martyrdom tenaciously fighting for the truth. For his life-long defense of the divinity of Christ, Athanasius is called the “Father of Orthodoxy” and “the thirteenth apostle.” During his lifetime Athanasius wrote several books. His work On the Incarnation, written when he was just nineteen years old, is one of the best ever written on the subject. Many of his works were penned to counter the Arian heresy. His biography of Saint Antony, the great desert ascetic, was a “best seller” of the day. This book did much to promote the cause of monasticism in the East. One of the greatest Fathers of the early Church, his legacy, like a beacon, has continued to shine throughout the ages. This is the story of his life.

About the Author: An Orthodox priest, Father Michael E. Molloy is the Assistant Pastor of St. John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska. He and his wife, Rita, have two children: Stephen and Regina. The illustration on the cover was done by Alaskan iconographer Robin Armstrong.

Book: 158 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8189-0945-0
Prod. Code: 0945-5


Reviews

          From his authorship at the tender age of 20 of the profound theological work, On the Incarnation, to his pivotal role in the First Ecumenical Council, Athanasius is one of the most intriguing figures in Constantinian Christianity. This volume provides a sympathetic and winsome introduction to the life of the beloved Saint Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria. The author, Michael Molloy, serves as Assistant Pastor at St. John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska.
          Molloy tells the story of Athanasius' life in a compelling way. So many aspects of Athanasius' life are intriguing -- his influential role at the Council of Nicea; the slander and false accusation he suffered at the hands of the Arians; his on-again, off-again relationship with the Roman emperor Constantine; his persistence through five exiles; his identification with Egyptian monastics such as the well-respected hermit Antony. One cannot help but be struck by the incredible price that Athanasius paid in defending orthodoxy against the Arian heresy. In all, Athanasius spent about 18 years in exile away from his beloved Alexandria.
          In addition to tracing Athanasius' life, the author includes helpful appendices which describe the political, cultural, economic, and ecclesial background of Alexandria and Upper and Lower Egypt in Athanasius' day, as well as articles describing in greater detail the practice of monasticism and the life of the Roman emperor Constantine. Also included are two brief excerpts from Athanasius' Letter to Marcellinus, "A Guide for the Use of the Psalms," and "The Importance of Chanting the Psalms." As the author mentions in the Preface, it is helpful to read the appendices first in order to have a better understanding of the historical background of Athanasius' life and times. In the early pages of the book, Molloy also provides the reader with a helpful chronology of Athanasius' life, along with an excerpt from Saint Gregory Nazianzen's oration in praise of Athanasius, "On the Great Athanasius," and an "Aposticha of Vespers for Saint Athanasius" by a contemporary author.
          Scholars may be disappointed at the paucity of documentation and the lack of application of critical historiographic methodology, but this is an excellent book to introduce Athanasius to a lay audience. --Steve W. Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA in Catholic Studies / CatholicBooksReview.org, January 25, 2005


 

"Michael Molloy, an Orthodox priest, is the assistant pastor of St. John Orthodox Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska. He has admired St. Athanasius for three decades and seeks to remedy the lack of a biography of him. The account describes the tumultuous life of Athanasius, his exiles and the plots against him, and his battles in defense of the true faith against the Arians and their supporters. Included are a chronology, a map, and appendices on the city of Alexandria and on life in Egypt." --W. Charles Heiser in Theology Digest Book Survey, Summer 2004


"Father Michael E. Molloy, an Orthodox priest from Alaska, has published a biography of the great Father of the Church Athanasius in a simple but well-researched book, Champion of Truth: The Life of St. Athanasius. I found it easy to read but fascinating in his depiction of the saint's lifelong struggle with imperial authority and the Arian heresy. The author recommends that the reader begin with the appendices. I did so and found them a good background to the saint's life. A note to the reader: Champion of Truth: The Life of St. Athanasius is a good introduction to the saint, but not a critical study." --Fr. Don Piraro in The Priest, February 2004

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