Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 859
The most prominent theme of this literary work is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, which refers to the Christian teaching based on the Bible that Jesus Christ was sent by his Father, God, to earth and was born of the virgin named Mary through divine conception. While Christ was on earth, He was both fully God and fully man, sinless and, yet, human.
Athanasius refers to God (and Christ as part of the Trinity) as the Word of God, or the Word, based upon John 1:4 which states,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Another theme is the fall of man after creation. Basing his arguments on the Bible, Athanasius references the fall of Adam and Eve, when they sinned in the garden and introduced sin into the world; from that point on, he states that there was a need for a Redeemer who would cleanse them of their sins and all future sins of mankind.
Athanasius asserts that the same Word (God) who created the world would also save the world from sin:
We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this : the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation ; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same ,Word Who made it in the beginning.
Tied to this theme of the fall, Athanasius clearly establishes the theme of salvation throughout his piece, as he proclaims that Christ came and died for mankind:
It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body. For God had made man thus (that is, as an embodied spirit), and had willed that he should remain in incorruption. But men, having turned from the contemplation of God to evil of their own devising, had come inevitably under the law of death. Instead of remaining in the state in which God had created them, they were in process of becoming corrupted entirely, and death had them completely under its dominion.
Throughout his work, he describes the need of man, as well as the perfect love and salvation of Christ:
"For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world."
Another theme in this piece is that of resurrection. Athanasius describes in length that it is only because Christ is holy that He could die and be raised from the dead to conquer death for all mankind who accept His sacrifice.
The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father's Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection.
Throughout the work also lies the theme of the goodness of God. Athanasius argues that God's divine plan for sending Christ down to earth to save people from their sins clearly points to His pure love and mercy towards mankind. Athanasius both explains and defends the character of God.
For the human race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death.
This great work was, indeed, supremely worthy of the goodness of God.
Additionally, Athanasius provides a theme of hope and...
(The entire section contains 1285 words.)
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