Athanasius of Alexandria : studies in the theological contents and structure of the Contra Arianos, with special reference to method
This thesis presents an inductive study of the theological method of Athanasius exhibited in Contra Arianos 1-3. It proceeds as a commentary on that work, following its structure and giving attention to its argumentation and actual semantical expressions as Athanasius attempts to define orthodoxy vis a vis Arianism. Following this approach, the purpose of the thesis is to set forth Athanasius' view of the foundational structures which make theology possible, the nature and bearing of explicit sources in the discernment and articulation of doctrine, and the method of theological reasoning. In the course of the commentary, attention has been given to various critical issues much discussed in the modern study of Athanasius. These include, for example, the structure and integrity of Contra Arianos 1-3, the integrity of the Arian citations in the work (including the Thalia citations, the role of certain Arian theses anathematized at Nicea, citations from Asterius, and other dialectical and expositional fragments), the hermeneutics of Athanasius, and the question of explicit philosophical sources for Arian and Athanasian ideas and expressions. Also, as much as possible, Athanasius' theological ideas have been examined as they appear in the Contra Arianos in order to set forth the epistemological structures of his theology and to provide the necessary context for understanding his theological argumentation. Particularly evident in Athanasius' theological method is the personal communion of the theologian with the triune God through the grace of the Incarnate Son effectuated by the Holy Spirit. This communion is set in the context of the Church and informs hermeneutics and tradition. Theological language is framed within the semantics of Scripture, shaped by the teaching of the church and rethought and reconfessed by the orthodox theologian in his personal, faithful communion with the Referent of that language.