Temptation and Trial in Vita Antonii: The Shift from Origen to Athanasius
Nathan K. NG

Vita Antonii is a Christian classic on monasticism. Its view on temptation and trial was followed by many Coptic monastic societies. This article aims to demonstrate how the hagiography reflected the Athanasian instead of the Origenist tradition.

The article first reviews the cosmology and soteriology of Origen and Athanasius and hence points out the difference in their spiritual ideals. For Origen, Christian spiritual effort is a journey from one’s distorted divine image to the pure likeness of God in which the essence of a human soul is enhanced. Although there will be temptations in the spiritual journey, they are actually trials from God and are good for Christians.

However, for Athanasius, Christians should keep focus on God so as to maintain their own goodness. The function of demonic temptations is to disturb and mislead one’s soul from divine contemplation. Although the devil and its demons have been weakened by Christ, they can still hinder those Christians who yield to them and cause them to fail. Those temptations are evil in nature and should always be handled with caution. Such view of temptation and trial was not only reflected but also expounded in details in Vita Antonii.