Open Access

The Use and Importance of Biblical References in Vita Antonii


Athanasius the Great succeeded with his Vita Antonii to create a new literary genre, the „biography of a saint“. Through his approach, shaped by his impressive theological knowledge and familiarity with the biblical text, Athanasius unlocked an immense amount of cultural knowledge. The Archbishop of Alexandria structured this hagiographic work on the father of monasticism in a way that allowed the reader to understand and perceive the peculiarities of Saint Anthony in accordance with the Orthodoxy of the Church. The present study examines how Athanasius the Great used about four hundred direct and indirect biblical references to represent a personality of his time, who corresponded to the highest Christian ideals. The main topics of our study are: the importance of the Holy Scripture, how it is highlighted in the Athanasian text; the biblical portrait of Anthony the Great; the speech of the great Anchorite, which accounts for more than a third of this hagiographic work; the representation of the last days of Antonius.

English, German
Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception