I tried to read this book slowly, and think about the various lines, and overall I liked the book. Actually, I consider this book to be required reading for all Christians; if you have read the gospels, and Paul’s epistles, read this book. It is likely the best ancient introduction to Traditional Christianity. The book is very important for current Christians to read, because we too often think about the forgiveness of Sin, and Gods wrath — but we forget the entrapment and brokenness that we live with. We think of salvation from punishment, but we forget that we are already dead in sin and need resurrection.
Athanasius is an important work, because he explains the concept of Incarnation. He explains the saving power of God taking on humanity and living and dying with us. He explains the concept of Paul’s new Adam, so that we can understand the importance of Christ’s vicarious life.
I thought about reviewing each chapter separately, or writing a study guide — and, I may very well write that guide when I have a reading group, but for now there is no need for a discussion aid. Needless to say, the chapters explaining the reason that traditional Christianity looks at Jesus as divine and human are invaluable to all who are afraid to ask “why”. This is not the only book we need to learn to know what Traditional Christians were thinking when they built the doctrines we inherited, but it is short and beautiful written — it is a perfect start.
The last three chapters of this book are historically interesting, but are likely to leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth. After the majority of the book telling the story of fallen man, Christ restoring humanity by life death and resurrection, St. Athanasius begins to talk of Christianity in relation to Judaism and Greek paganism. In this comparison, he argues from silence. Basically, he argues that prophecy and oracles ceased with the incarnation. This evidence is difficult to demonstrate, and is dangerous to insist upon.
Over all, I recommend this book highly. I consider it to be pre-requisite to any more modern theological work. It corrects many deficiencies in modern Christianity, and that alone makes it worthwhile.