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The Sacred Writings of Clement of Rome.
The Sacred Writings Of Another lasting contribution to church writings is his Life of St. Anthony , c. The book, an early best seller, widely disseminated information on monasticism.
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It had been customary after Epiphany each year [the Christian festival held twelve days after Christmas] for the bishops of Alexandria to write a letter in which the dates of Lent and Easter were fixed, and thus, all other festivals of the church in that year. These letters were also used to discuss other matters of general interest. Athanasius wrote forty-five festal letters; thirteen have survived complete in Syriac translation. It contains a list of the books of the Old and New Testaments, which Athanasius describes as being canonical.
No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.
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It would thus predate the festal letter. Even though Athanasius was probably not far away when the Codex Vaticanus was written, one realizes that the establishment of the canon was not a sudden decision made unilaterally by a bishop in Alexandria, but a process of careful investigation and deliberation, documented in a codex of the Greek Bible and, twenty-seven years later, in a festal letter. Some twenty years after that Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter was written, the Alexandrian scholar Didymus the Blind did not accept 2 and 3 John as canonical, but he fully backed and quoted 2 Peter, which still was occasionally disputed by others.
Didymus also apparently regarded the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, and even Didache and 1 Clement to be equally authoritative. And there were many such examples of divergence of opinion all over the Empire, both in the East and in the West. However, after the end of the fourth century, such occasional divergences of opinion have not altered the received tradition. Gnostic, theologically unsound writings like the Gospel of Thomas might have crept in, diluting the historical message of Christ with what we would now call New Age elements.
Or later pressure groups might have excluded writings that did not suit their purpose—Revelation, for example, or 2 Peter a book the Syriac churches attempted to exclude. Later, Martin Luther would dearly have loved to have excluded James, which he regarded as contradicting Paul. Theologians came up with interpretations of the faith that contradicted Scripture.
Athanasius of Alexandria
With the scarcity of hand-copied Bibles, it was easy for these theories to gain acceptance. One such doctrine was called Arianism, named after the priest Arius of Alexandria A. Arianism came after a second century heresy called Modalism. Modalism contended that God the Father , God the Son , and the Holy Spirit were only modes, or masks that God used on various occasions. In other words, sometimes God would appear as the Father, other times as the Son, and yet other times as the Spirit.
However, these were only disguises of one God.
Arianism, on the other hand, denied the divine nature of Jesus Christ, claiming he was a created being, and although higher than humans as the "firstborn," he was not God. Bishop Alexander and Athanasius saw the danger in this doctrine.
It denied the Trinity and eroded God's plan of salvation , as detailed in the New Testament. They knew that only a man could serve as a suitable sacrifice for the salvation of humanity, but that the sacrifice also had to be perfect and sinless, which was impossible for human beings. God the Father's answer was Jesus, fully human and fully divine at the same time.
The doctrine of the Incarnation was necessary to make salvation work. Alexander and Athanasius began to fight the growing popularity of Arianism because they knew where it would lead. A bitter fight broke out between supporters and opponents of Arianism. Letters from the time are filled with false accusations, insults, and character assassination. Front and center at the meeting was the question: Who is Jesus Christ? Arius presented his view that Jesus was created by the Father and therefore not divine.
Alexander and Athanasius argued the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Constantine pushed for a vote. The plus bishops reaffirmed the Trinity, rejecting the Arian heresy. The Nicene Creed , produced at the council, defines each Person of the Trinity and summarizes Christian beliefs in a clear, concise statement.