I have often remarked about how I am surprised by the wealth of knowledge found in the Church Fathers. This may seem obvious to the lifelong Orthodox, but to someone who grew up as a Lutheran and served as a Baptist pastor, little more than lip service was given to the Early Church unless a ‘super-spiritual’ quote was needed to supplement an otherwise bland sermon illustration.
I’ve heard many people recommend I read On The Incarnation by St. Athanasius. In it, I’m told, I will find the best exposition on Orthodox soteriology, as well as a very early testimony to what Christians believe about Man, sin, the fall, and redemption. I’ve been trying to move through the Church Fathers chronologically, but as readers of this blog know, St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures have taken me already the better part of a year.
Naturally, I’ve taken to jumping around the timeline a bit. As I’m reading through St. Cyril’s lectures about the Godhead, I figured it may be a good idea to read the book that so many have recommended by one of the most beloved Early Church Fathers. With that in mind, I dug in to On The Incarnation.
Within pages, I was struck by how clearly St. Athanasius made his case, the authority with which he spoke, yet how plainly he was able to explain a subject that has, quite frankly, eluded most modern Christians. It’s a short book, and I’m nowhere near done with it, but from the first 30% or so, I’ve already made a mess of highlights. I plan on sharing a few of my favorite quotes in the coming days and weeks. Indeed, with the brevity and gravity of this work, I may add it to my “To read each year” list.