Athanasius vs. the philosophers

Last year, I posted on the difference between ancient Christian leaders’ and ancient Greek philosophers’ views on the possibility of the moral transformation of people’s lives, noting that Christians believed that anyone, even commoners, could live a changed life through God’s grace.

Athanasius, in his treatise On the Incarnation, reflects this point of view:

As for Greek wisdom and the grandiloquence of the philosophers, I think that no one needs our argument, as the wonder is before the sight of all, that while the wise among the Greeks had written so much, and were unable to persuade even a few from their neighborhood about immortality and the virtuous life, Christ alone by means of simple words and by means of humans not wise in speech has throughout the inhabited world persuaded whole churches full of human beings to despise death but to think rather of things immortal, and to disregard what is temporal but to consider rather things eternal, and to think nothing of earthly glory but to seek rather only immortality.

Section 47, page 100-101 in St.Vladimir’s Seminary Press’ 2nd edition


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