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“Athanasius on The Beginnings of Heresy about The Holy Spirit”
Epistola ad Serapionem, 1.1
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from Kidd, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church, vol. 2.earlychurchtexts.com
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Athanasius of Alexandria
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The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus
I received your very kind letter in the desert. A bitter
persecution was pressing upon me ; and there were plenty of people anxious to
compass my death. But “the God of mercies and Father of all consolation” cheered
me by your letter. I thought of your kindness and of that of all my firm friends
; and I could not help feeling as if I saw them all present with me. So, on
receiving your letter, I was filled with joy. But I had scarcely read it, when I
began to feel grief as keen, on account of those who once and for all had made
up their minds to fight against the truth. My very dear friend whom I so truly
long to see again, you yourself wrote to me, in much grief, and told me that
some of the followers of the Arians deserted them, on account of the ill words
they used against the Son of God, but themselves held similar opinions about the
Holy Spirit, and said that He was not only a creature but one of the
“ministering spirits,” differing in nothing from the angels but in degree. Now
this is ostensibly a quarrel with Arians, but really an attack on true religion.
For as the one party by denying the Son deny also the Father, so the other, by
speaking in a manner derogatory to the Holy Spirit, necessarily use language
derogatory to the Son. Each party has taken a side in the war against the truth;
the one is guilty of perverse opinions about the Son, the other against the
Spirit; and both are equally guilty of evil-speaking against the Holy Trinity.
As I perceived this and thought much over it, I was grieved to think that the
devil had again found opportunity of making mad sport among his dupes. At first,
I thought that the right course was to say nothing, at a time like this. But
then your holiness urged it upon me; and, by way of meeting their heterodoxy and
their satanical audacity, I am writing a short letter, though under
difficulties, in order that you may take it for a start ; and, with the wisdom
characteristic of you, may add to it and so accomplish a complete refutation.
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original Greek text
from Epistula ad Serapionem, 1.1
Letter to Serapion
Heresy Holy Spirit
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
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