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(1,368 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
[German Version] Athanasius (299?, Alexandria – May 2, 373, Alexandria) I. Life – II. Works – III. Influence I. Life Athanasius was one of the most influential figures in the 4th-century Christian church. It is likely that he came from a relatively humble background, as he shows few signs of classical education. He seems to have been taken into the episcopal household at Alexandria at a young age, and he first emerged as assistant and deacon to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria at the start of the controversy around the teachings of Arius. The encyclical letter, the “Henós sṓmatos” (ἑνὸς σώματος, named after its opening words), sent out under the name of Bishop Alexander shortly before the Council of Nicea,…


(26,944 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin | Williams, Rowan D. | Hauschild, Wolf Dieter | Flogaus, Reinhard | Gunton, Colin | Et al.
[German Version] I. Primitive Christianity – II. History of Doctrine – III. Dogmatics – IV. Forms of Extra-ecclesial Christology I. Primitive Christianity 1. History of research and preliminary questions a.  The term Christology, which originated in the early 17th century, was coined for systematic reflection concerning Jesus Christ. Initially, conceptions and Christologies dealing with the salvation history of the whole Bible beginning with the Old Testament were as highly valued as the New Testament (cf. e.g. G.F. Händel's Messiah). NT Christology went its own way only in the late 18th century. It did not detach itself from the theological task, but, through historical methods, from service to dogmatic theology. To the extent that shoots of OT Christology continued in the 20th century, they served to bring to mind the relevance of the OT (e.g. Vischer, 1934/1942). b.  From the 18th/19th century, the decision to give a historical account has entailed the problem of delineating epochs

Alexander of Alexandria

(240 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
[German Version] Bishop of Alexandria from 312 or 313 until his death in 328. His date of birth is not recorded, but sources imply that he was an elderly man by the time of his election. During his episcopate he had to contend with the effects of the Melitian schism (Melitius of Lycopolis) as well as with another schism initiated by a local presbyter, Colluthus, who claimed the right to ordain. The major controversy of his episcopate, however, was that associated with Arius/Arianism. Arius came into open opposition with Alexander between 318 and 321. He was condemned by a local synod, and Alexander wrote a letter, addressed in the first instance to the bishop of Byzantium, rebutting Arius's theology and attacking his supporters among bishops outside Egypt. A further and larger synod of Egyptian and Libyan bishops repeated the condemnation, and a second letter was sent out. The Council of Nicea not only confirmed the condemnation of Arius, it also proposed a reconciliation with Melitius and his following. This was moderately successful, but after Alexander's death the hostilities resumed. The letters suggest that Alexander followed an essen…