An Exploration of Athanasius’ Strategies for Reading Genesis 1-3

Mark Baddeley
Lecturer, Queensland Theological College
& PhD Candidate, Oxford University

Abstract: Recently Leithart has argued that for Athanasius, “Christ is the substance of Scripture and the criterion of correct interpretation.” Global assessments of this kind are best calibrated by attention to examples of the actual practice of interpreting specific Scriptural texts. Accordingly, this paper will discuss several examples of Athanasius’ reading of Genesis 1-3 from various works within his corpus. In the process some of the distinctive differences and commonalities in Athanasius’ readings of the Bible will be highlighted. From this it should become apparent that one of the characteristics of Athanasius’ interpretive approach is its diversity; that Athanasius’ confidence in Scripture is reflected in the wide-ranging techniques he utilises in bringing Scripture to bear on the questions of the day. This does not overturn, but rather complements, the idea of a Christological centre in descriptions of Athanasius’ hermeneutical approach.