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“Athanasius on The Beginnings of Heresy about The Holy Spirit

Epistola ad Serapionem, 1.1

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Click here to read at 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.

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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
Migne Greek
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Graeca


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