I have begun my reading of On the Incarnation by St Athanasius. I read it for the first time back in the late 70s when I was in seminary and then re-read it again in the late 80s on the encouragement of T. F. Thomas, followed by his Against the Arians. Suffice it to say, I have forgotten most of what I once “knew” about Athanasian theology. It is a pleasure to finally return to it.
I am reading through it quickly (I’m about half-way through) and then will read it again a second time much more slowly. I also intend to read some secondary literature on Athanasius, particularly John Behr’s discussion of the De Incarnatione Verbi Dei in his Nicene Faith and Khaled Anatolios’s discussion of Athanasius in his book Retrieving Nicaea. I mention this because all of this reading means that I will not be able to start blogging on Athanasius for at least a week, if not longer. It takes me time to read, reflect, and then to write. I ask you to please be patient. In the meantime I will continue to provide, every other day or so, theological and spiritual citations for your meditation.
I come to De Incarnatione with a number of questions. I am particularly interested in comparing St Athanasius with St Gregory Nazianzen, in whose orations I was immersed for over nine months. I note one difference already–the absence of Eunomius. The Eunomian heresy compelled the Cappadocians to emphasize the incomprehensibility of God; but Athanasius did not have to respond to this heresy. As a result, he emphasizes the renewal of our knowledge of God through the Incarnation: Jesus has come to make his Father known.
Much, much more later …