Yesterday, May 2, marked the death of one of the great Church Fathers, Athanasius, in 373. For those who aren’t familiar with the Church Fathers, I pulled this excerpt from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church regarding Athanasius’ importance in the history of the Church. If you’d like to read Athanasius’ work, as well as many of the early Church Fathers, be sure to check out Early Church Fathers Protestant Edition (37 Vols.).
His (Athanasius) most famous work is the De Incarnatione, the second of two closely linked treatises. In it he expounds how God the Word (Logos), by His union with manhood, restored to fallen man the image of God in which he had been created (Gen. 1:27), and by His death and resurrection met and overcame death, the consequence of sin. Many scholars date the work before c.318, when Athanasius was still in his twenties, but others place it 15–20 years later. As bishop he was the greatest and most consistent theological opponent of Arianism. From 339 to 359 he wrote a series of works in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son. From about 361 onwards he especially sought the reconciliation of the large Semiarian party to the Nicene term homoousios (‘of one substance’), which they were reluctant to accept. The Council of Alexandria (362), under his direction, greatly furthered this end, by clearing up misunderstandings of the terms ὑπόστασις (translated ‘person’) and οὐσία (‘substance’). He also argued for the deity of the Holy Spirit in his Epistles to Serapion.
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 121.