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Title: The spirituality of Athanasius : a key for proper understanding of his life and thought
Author: Ng, Nathan Kwok-kit
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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In the last few decades, a revival of Athanasian studies has appeared amongst scholars. While some praise the Alexandrian bishop, some denounce him. Their views are very often diverse, or even opposite, and a confusing situation thus formed. Because of the partial nature of our extant historical sources, it is almost impossible to solve this problem by following the traditional way of reconstructing the historical picture of Athanasius. This thesis tries to deal with the problem with a new key - spirituality. Since we do not have sufficient information about the formative factors of Athanasius' spirituality, and the intention of his spiritual teachings is being questioned by some scholars, we begin our study with his theological conviction. Chapter One 'Spirituality and Theology' analyses the theology of Athanasius through our understanding of the factors affecting his spirituality. Here, we find that his theological system was deeply influenced and controlled by his personal background. Besides, this chapter also explores the theological base of his spiritual teachings by investigating his soteriology, especially his doctrine about spiritual advancement. Here, we find that in Athanasius' mind what a Christian needs to do is to try their best to walk on the way to God by contemplating God with a pure soul through virtuous life. In Chapter Two 'Spirituality and Asceticism' we illustrate how Athanasius' spiritual ideal developed in his theology is concretised in his ascetic teachings. Here, the major concepts of Athanasius' asceticism are traced. Responding to the modern scholarly challenge, we also evaluate the sincerity of these ascetic teachings by investigating their consistence and coherence with his theological system and the contemporary ideology. In addition to Athanasius' general views on asceticism, this chapter also includes his special advice to the female virgins and the desert monks. All these teachings are shown to be natural inheritances of the ecclesiastical tradition and are governed by Athanasius' theology and spirituality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available