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Desert ChristiansAn Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism$
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William, S.J. Harmless

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162233

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195162234.001.0001

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The Life of Antony: Themes and Influence

The Life of Antony: Themes and Influence

(p.85) 4 The Life of Antony: Themes and Influence
Desert Christians

William, S.J. Harmless (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Life of Antony’s folktale surface should not lead modern readers to underestimate its sophistication. Athanasius was not only a skilled literary artist, but also a gifted theologian and a prominent politician on the international scene. He brought his formidable theological talents and his partisan political biases to this work, using it as propaganda against Arian and Melitian opponents. This chapter examines three theological themes that wind their way through the text: Christ’s victory over the demons, Antony as an image of deification, and Antony as a model of orthodoxy. At the close, it explores the Life of Antony’s long-term literary influence on lives of the saints and its historical influence on the conversion of Augustine of Hippo.

Keywords:   Athanasius, Antony, Christology, deification, orthodoxy, Arians, Melitians, Augustine of Hippo

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