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John Norman Davidson Kelly and David M. Gwynn

Athanasius was one of the greatest fathers of the 4th-century Church. As a deacon he attended the council of *Nicaea (1) (325), and in 328 he was appointed bishop of *Alexandria (1). Athanasius faced immediate opposition from the Meletian Schism within Egypt, and particularly from those whom he regarded as supporters of *“Arianism”, the heresy condemned at Nicaea. These conflicts caused Athanasius to be exiled from his see on five separate occasions, but he never ceased to defend his conception of Christian orthodoxy, and became the foremost champion of the Nicene doctrine that Father and Son were consubstantial (homoousios). He also developed the doctrine of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, promoted the spread of monasticism, notably through his Life of Antony, and greatly enhanced the power and prestige of the Alexandrian see. Athanasius’ surviving writings include apologetic, dogmatic, and ascetic treatises, and a number of letters.

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Blossom Stefaniw

Didymus the Blind (c. 313—c. 398) was a textual scholar and ascetic practitioner. He is not associated with any of the major ascetic settlements around Alexandria and appears to have spent his entire life in or near the city. He is most known for his treatises On the Holy Spirit and On the Trinity (although the authorship of the latter is disputed) and for his biblical commentaries.Although the Council of Nicaea in 325 took place when Didymus was still a schoolboy, controversy and competition by the parties involved continued through Didymus’ lifetime. Didymus himself supported the decision of the Council, which the Alexandrian bishop, Athanasius, had promoted. After Didymus’ death, however, he was no longer associated with the orthodoxy of the day and, because of his reception of Origen of Alexandria, was condemned, along with Origen and Evagrius Ponticus, in connection with the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553.

Article

Zachariah rhetor or scholasticus, following an education at Gaza and Alexandria, trained as a lawyer in Beirut (Berytus). A close friend of the future patriarch Severus of Antioch, he wrote a detailed biography of his life until his nomination as patriarch in 512; he also composed biographies of three other anti-Chalcedonian holy men and an Ecclesiastical History. The one biography that survives and the latter work exist only in a Syriac translation because of their anti-Chalcedonian line. Zachariah spent much of his life in Constantinople practising as a lawyer, where he composed two works refuting Manichaeanism and a philosophical dialogue, set in Alexandria, rebutting pagan views. He appears to have accepted the pro-Chalcedonian policies of Justin I and Justinian, becoming metropolitan bishop of Mytilene at some point before 536, the year in which he attended the Council of Constantinople. At this gathering he was absent for the session that condemned Severus and other leading opponents of Chalcedon.

Article

Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople, was deposed and sent into exile in Egypt for opposing the Christological views of Cyril of Alexandria. The theological and ecclesiastical controversy was set in motion soon after Nestorius began to serve as bishop of Constantinople. Interested in eliminating heresy, he proposed to align himself with the emperor Theodosius II. Soon thereafter, Nestorius learned that debates were taking place concerning the appropriate title of devotion for the Virgin Mary. In the use of the title Theotokos that some had proposed, he sensed a deeper Christological question, namely, “Was Mary the bearer of the Godhead”? He reasoned that if Mary was indeed the Theotokos, as some suggested, then God, or rather the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, was born from her. For Nestorius, however, while Mary was the mother of Jesus, she was not the mother of the Logos, and for that reason could not be called Theotokos.

Article

Matthew R. Crawford

Serving as bishop of Alexandria from 412 until his death in 444, Cyril was one of the two most influential episcopal leaders of the city during Late Antiquity, second only to Athanasius in terms of his involvement in ecclesiastical politics and his significance as an authority for later Christian traditions. His career was marked by attempts to oppose Jews, pagans, and Christians whose theology he regarded as contrary to the Nicene faith. In pursuit of this goal he proved to be a politically savvy tactician, as well as a rhetorically and intellectually powerful polemicist in pamphlets, letters, florilegia, and treatises. He was also an effective bishop who exhibited pastoral concern for the organization and vitality of the Egyptian church as well as its unity with other churches throughout the empire.Details of Cyril’s early life are murky. All that survives are much later reports that may not be accurate, such as the claim that he spent five years in the Nitrian desert receiving instruction from the ascetic Serapion (Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, .