2019 Reading Project: Athanasius of Alexandria and John Murray

I started a tradition this past year of selecting a theologian and attempting to read most of their works over the course of a year, as well as reading some biographies on them and commentaries on their work. I started with St. Anselm of Canterbury. It was incredibly enriching. I am continuing this new tradition into 2019, but am trying something a bit bolder: I am selecting two very different theologians to read. I discovered with Anselm that if I had tried just a bit harder I could have read all his work much faster than I did, without compromising depth of understanding. So to test that theory I am reading two people this year. Another difference is that this year I am actually creating a schedule in order to help that theory prove correct.

The first is Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 293-373), one of the great fathers of the church. Athanasius was a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, throughout the 4th century. He was the most prominent proponent and defender of orthodox christology and trinitarianism. He attended the First Council of Nicaea as a deacon. In Egypt he was sent into and returned from exile multiple times for his orthodox stance. He was the chief defender in the church against Arianism, and the Athanasian Creed, one of the four great ecumenical creeds of the church, is named after him as it reflects the foundational theology he fought to maintain.

For Athanasius’ original works I will be using two books. The first is The Complete Works of St. Athanasius (ASIN B01NBHEKA7; Kindle only). It contains the following works, with his most famous works in bold.

1. Against the Heathen
2. On the Incarnation of the Word
3. Deposition of Arius
4. Statement of Faith
5. On Luke 10:22 (Matthew 11:27)
6. Circular Letter
7. Defense against the Arians
8. Defense of the Nicene Definition
9. Defense of Dionysius
10. Life of St. Anthony
11. Circular to the Bishops of Egypt and Libya
12. Defense to the Emperor
13. Defense of his flight
14. Arian History
15. Four Discourses Against the Arians
16. On the Councils
17. Letter to the people of Antioch
18. Letter to the Bishops of Africa
19. Historia Acephala
20. Letters

The second book is On the Incarnation (ISBN 9780881414271). This work is contained in the other book already, but this edition comes with a famous introduction by C.S. Lewis worth reading in its own right.

The three three biographies and commentaries I have selected are Nicaea and its Legacy (Lewis Ayres, ISBN 0198755058),  Athanasius (Khaled Anatolios, ISBN 0415202035), Athanasius (Peter Leithart, ISBN 0801039428). I owe thanks to Steve Bagby for these recommendations.

The second theologian is John Murray (1898-1975). John Murray was a Scottish systematic theologian who taught briefly at Princeton Seminary, and then spent the majority of his career at Westminster Theological Seminary. Murray was hugely influential in American Presbyterianism in the 20th century, particularly in his theological approach within the confessional system of Reformed theology.

Murray’s original works can be divided into two categories. His major works are:

Other smaller, though still valuable, works include:

I have selected one biography, The Life of John Murray (Iain Murray, ISBN 0851519504). Volume 3 of Collected Writings has a biography as well. Some Pastors and Teachers (Sinclair Ferguson, ISBN 9781848717893) has a biographical summary as well as theological interaction with Murray, but I read that work this past year and don’t need to repeat it so soon.

The general schedule I am following will be this (with major works bolded):


  • Against the Heathen
  • On the Incarnation
  • Volume 1 of Collected Writings


  • Deposition of Arius
  • Statement of Faith
  • On Luke 10:22 (Matthew 11:27)
  • Volume 1 of Collected Writings


  • Circular Letter
  • Defense Against the Arians
  • Volume 1 of Collected Writings
  • Divorce


  • Defense of the Nicene Definition
  • Defense of Dionysius
  • Volume 2 of Collected Writings
  • Principles of Conduct


  • Life of St. Anthony
  • Circular to the Bishops of Egypt and Libya
  • Defense to the Emperor
  • Defense of his flight
  • Volume 2 of Collected Writings
  • The Covenant of Grace


  • Arian History
  • Volume 2 of Collected Writings
  • The Epistle to the Romans (volume 1)
  • Nicaea and its Legacy


  • Four Discourses on the Arians
  • Volume 3 of Collected Writings
  • The Epistle to the Romans (volume 2)


  • Letter to the people of Antioch
  • Letter to the Bishops of Africa
  • Volume 3 of Collected Writings
  • The Imputation of Adam’s Sin
  • Athanasius (Anatolios volume)


  • Historia Acephala
  • Volume 3 of Collected Writings
  • Christian Baptism


  • Letters
  • Volume 4 of Collected Writings
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • Athanasius (Leithart volume)


  • Volume 4 of Collected Writings
  • The Life of John Murray


  • Catch up if needed