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St. Athanasius the Great: On the Incarnation

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  3,922 ratings  ·  196 reviews

"This is a good translation of a very great book.

"St Athanasius stood contra mundum for the Trinitarian doctrine 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius, into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which then, as now, included among th

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Published June 1st 1987 by Eastern Orthodox Books (first published 318)
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Joseph Louthan
Am I giving this extra stars because it was written in the 4th century and thus, getting some sort of extra credit for a very readable translation? Perhaps.

But it is what it is and what it is, is this: a simple, wonderful, foundational, Biblically-doctrinal book of great importance.

Easy to read.

Thick with Biblical truth.

Glorifies Christ in the highest.

I read this at the same time as Advent and I can't think of a better book to read during the holidays.

There is a lot of books that Christians sho
I read this book with others in a lunchtime discussion group. Our meetings were led by a local Orthodox minister.

This book, at first glance, is easier to read than you might expect. The sentences (a translation from Greek) are in simple structures. The vocabulary is fairly ordinary, and the chapters are short - but the content goes much, much deeper.

This book is a logical, reasoned proof for the incarnation of the Creator God in the person of Jesus Christ. Athanasius moves through the objections
Patrick Williams
Outstanding! Athanasius wrote "On the Incarnation" to explain why Christ became a human (thus,it was the earliest writing we have soley dedicated to answer this question - it is like Anselm's "Cur Deo Homo" but about 700 years earlier!). Athansius explains that humans fell into death, through sin, because of the deception of the devil. God, who loves humankind, could not idly sit by and watch His creation crumble and be subject to the bondage of death so He sent His son, to become a human, and t ...more
C. S. Lewis had it right in his introduction to this spiritual classic dating from the 4th century. He pointed out how our fear causes us to shy away from reading these classics directly and instead we read commentaries on them and what other people "think" they mean. According to Lewis, "It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more ...more
The Chestertonian (Sarah G)
Jan 22, 2012 The Chestertonian (Sarah G) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every Christian
I cannot speak highly enough of this great work on the Incarnation of Christ. The doctrine and the mystery of Word become flesh, God become man, and Creator taking the form of His creation to restore it unto Himself is presented by Athanasius in a form that is short, direct, and overflowing with insight conveyed in simple language.

"Now, Macarius, true lover of Christ, we must take a step further in the faith of our holy religion, and consider also the Word's becoming Man and His divine Appearin
An early apologetic on the divinity of Christ, written in the 4th century by St. Athanasius around the time of the Arian controversy. My favorite section in this book was the refutation of the Jews and the Gentiles (the part labeled "skip if you want" -- don't skip it!), as it sheds some light on early objections to Christianity - some which are the same as today, some which are no longer raised. It helped me see the continuing relevance of Christ, from the 4th century (and before) until now. Ev ...more
Amy Hughes
I think this is my third time through but Athanasius never ceases to amaze with his clarity and pinpoint theology of why the Incarnation was necessary. His prose bleeds with passion to express the love of God for humanity and swaggers with a confidence in the Christian hope that is so shocking in its purity that it breezes over the hurdles of cynicism that we have placed unawares.

Not to mention C. S. Lewis's introduction. I have dedicated my life to "reading old books" but he makes me want to r
Dan Glover
C.S. Lewis's introductory essay on the reading of old books is excellent and worth the price of this little book several times over. I have read this essay several times over the years and it just keeps getting truer.

As for De Incarnatione, it was very good and one is glad of the gift God gave the church in St. Athanasius at just the right time to defend the deity of Christ and thereby a robust view of the Trinity. It is repetitive, however, but this is fitting for someone who repeatedly had to
I never expected a work on the incarnation written in the 4th century to be so accessible. I guess a good bit of credit goes to the translator; it felt like I was reading a contemporary author, excepting the arguments that wouldn't necessarily seem pertinent today. I think this should be the first read for anyone wanting to understand the reasoning behind Christ's incarnation. I found a few arguments to have a bit of faulty logic, but as a whole the work is excellent, and paints a vivid picture ...more
If you're looking on a little primer about why God became flesh in Jesus Christ, you could do alot worse than this 1700 year old book.

While some of it hasn't aged well (e.g. his anti-Semetic "refutations" of the Jews and Greeks), overall Athanasius succinctly describes the nature of the incarnation.

"He assumed humanity that we might become (like) God. He manifested Himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the Mind of the unseen Father. he endured shame from men that we might in
A brilliant exposition of why Christ:
1. Has always existed as part of the God-head
2. Is the agent through whom God created the universe
3. Had to be born in the flesh as a man
4. Had to die
5. Had to die on the cross
6. Had to be resurrected

This particular edition includes Athanasius’ letter to his good friend Marcellinus on the importance of the Psalms, and an introduction by CS Lewis which, alone, is worth the price of the book.

"On the Incarnation of the Word of God" should be required reading for
This was a much easier read than I anticipated. I love how much I was impacted by words written in the 4th century. C.S. Lewis says "only a mastermind could have written so deeply on a subject with such classical simplicity." Thanks Athanasius.
John Yelverton
An amazing book from the brilliant mind of St. Athanasius. His arguments are so clear, and this allows the reader to grasp incredibly profound concepts in the course of a couple of paragraphs.
J.E. Jr.
A vital and central work on understanding the incarnation. A must-read for any pastor thinking through the incarnation— maybe one to repeat every year during Advent.
Brett Mclaughlin
This book suffered far more from my expectation than anything else. It's a wonderful, sound, important work of theology, and does much to cement the early church's steady belief in the deity of Christ. Athanasius does little to suggest his ideas regarding Christ's deity are innovative, new, or even particularly controversial (although they would be in opposing Arius); in fact, he seems to be simply writing a treatise of instruction for Macarius, instructing him in some basic tenets of the faith. ...more
"A brief statement of the faith of Christ and of the manifestation of His Godhead to us."

Like many others on this site, I was surprised and delighted by the simplicity and the directness of not only the writing style but the content, as well. The Early Church, much like early Greek philosophy, was still developing the theological vocabulary for what had been revealed by Christ and experienced by the Apostle's generation, and so, as Lewis notes in the preface, source documents are generally more
You can't build a theology of the Incarnation without first looking at the New Testament, and early Church documents to understand what they were fighting at the time and why we have formulated the doctrine in such a way today. It definitely was a helpful read, and at times very mystical, and yet at the same time clear for readers to understand. I appreciate Athansius' view of Christ, and helping readers to understand early Christology. The one thing we need to remember is that some of what he s ...more
Emmanuel Boston
"And, in a word, the achievements of the Saviour, resulting from his becoming man are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves. For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by ...more
Athanasius, a 4th century Christian, wrote this as a long letter to a recent convert in order to help him understand Christ's Incarnation. It is ripe with orthodox Christian doctrine and one of the more powerful sections of the book is how he ties the passage in 1 Cor. 15:55 (O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?) to the martyrdom of the early Christian church. That in Christ's conquest of death He not only provided reconciliation with the Father culminating in eternal li ...more
Magnus Itland
St Athanasius was born just before the year 300, when Christianity was still a young religion but rapidly expanding. This book is a distillation of that era, giving a fascinating view into the young, energetic, optimistic Christianity, so different from the pseudo-ethnicity that Christianity has become in much of the western world. Athanasius could say: Look for yourself! See the lives of the Christians! See the effect of our religion on society! Compare this with your philosophies and see where ...more
Chris Mclain
A fascinating look at early Nicene Christology from one of its greatest thinkers. Athanasius gives us a glimpse of the 4th century Christian perspective in On the Incarnation. He discusses Christ's appearing in human form from the perspective of creation and the Fall, the dilemma this creates for God, the death and resurrection of Christ, and spends substantial space in the book writing apologetically to convince Jews, Greeks, and Gentiles of the truth of Christ. This is a relatively easy read a ...more
Ryan Adair
C.S. Lewis got it right: St. Athanasius wrote "so deeply on such a subject with classical simplicity." St. Athanasius lays out the doctrine of the Incarnation (God taking on human flesh in Jesus Christ) very clearly, being easily understood (though I had to reread many parts), while systematically building line upon line. I thoroughly enjoyed absorbing this classic book while letting it ruminate in the recesses of my mind and heart. I will definitely read this again--I doubt I scratched the surf ...more
My 3 stars are given to the edition, not the work, which is beyond doubt a priceless Christian classic. The translation is good, but the introduction by Lewis does not really introduce the work, and there is no critical commentary to speak of. So, the edition is fine for pleasure reading, but insufficient for academic work.
Jason Farley
Can I get a Woop Woop? What surprised me about this was not how odd it was, but how at home I felt.
Chris Linebarger
One of the most important books a Christian can read. C.S. Lewis' introduction is priceless.
Gwen Burrow
Good. Need to reread.
This book was pretty good but I am not exactly sure why it is so popular. Maybe it is because I have read books on this topic and this one seems to basically recap whatever those other ones said. It is a pretty straightforward book. But more than anything else, I believe it sparked me to want to read books by other early church fathers.

If you are interested in hitting the topic of Jesus coming to earth as a man then this book will help you out on that journey. Don't be scared of the old languag
On the Incarnation, though short and at times helpfully repetitive, was not a quick read. Taking a few notes was helpful. Several of his emphases were fresh to me, which I found rewarding.

I don't know whether his "Refutation of the Jews" or "Refutation of the Gentiles" persuaded any Jews or Gentiles, but they certainly bolstered my confidence in Christ.

Just a couple of glimpses. In arguing that Jesus was divine, the very Son of God, Athanasius points to some of his accomplishments:
--He has put t
David Carlson
Just starting, as Athanasius is my candidate for the Theologian of the year sermon. The Introduction by C. S. Lewis is great on the value of reading books from other eras to help escape the unseen bias of our present age. It would be nice to read books of the future, he says, but they are not available.

I like the illustrations he uses for his points - good stuff for preachers.

The translation is a bit stilted - like reading the New American Standard Bible

His two main points is that the incarnatio
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Athanasius of Alexandria (Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías)(Arabic: البابا أثناسيوس الرسولي) (b. ca. 296-298 – d. 2 May 373), also referred to as St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and (primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church) St Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 ...more
More about Athanasius of Alexandria...
The Life of St. Anthony Works on the Spirit Against The Heathen Contra Gentes; And, De Incarnatione Vol 4: St Athanasius Selected Works and Letters-Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2 (Early Church Fathers)

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“I believe that many who find that "nothing happens" when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” 39 likes
“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death's defeat.” 21 likes
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