Sunday, May 24, 2009

On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius

On the Incarnation was one of two books selected for the May meeting of my book club. Unfortunately I never got around to finishing the second book (Confessions by Saint Augustine), but it remains on my list of books to finish! (Yes, right there with Milton's Paradise Lost.) But I digress. What is important is that I did finish one of the two books. 

On the Incarnation is a little book (97 pages) written by Athanasius, a Greek theologian who lived in the late 3rd and into the early 4th centuries. Athanasius penned On the Incarnation when he was only 19 years old. His purpose was to defend the Biblical truth of the trinity against the heresies that were being spread around the World, and in particular by named Arius.

In spite of the fact this book was written nearly 1,700 years ago it has been translated well and makes for an fast and fairly easy read. Athanasius' writing style is almost poetic and his thoughts and views are interesting and as applicable to readers today as they were in the 4th century. In my opinion, On the Incarnation is a true classic, a must read that should be included in every readers' bucket list of "books to read before I die." If you read Plato, you should be sure to read Athanasius. And if that isn't enough to convince you, maybe this will. Fans of C. S. Lewis may be interested to know that he was an admirer of Athanasius' works, including On the Incarnation, which in turn impacted some of Lewis' own writings. Lewis wrote an introduction for On the Incarnation, but readers should pay attention if purchasing the book as not all printings include this introduction.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate On the Incarnation a 4.5. It's a worthy read. Those unwilling to take the leap and purchase a copy for themselves can read the book in its entirety at


Noel De Vries said...

Mmm, I read Athanasius as a senior in high school... I should get it out again. But you're right, the Lewis intro is a treat, as well.

hopeinbrazil said...

I keep wanting to dip into the Early Church Fathers, but I never know where to start. Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like it would be an interesting and rewarding read.