On Sinlessness and Mortality

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 297-373

Many for instance have been made holy and clean from all sin; nay, Jeremiah was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, leapt for joy at the voice of Mary Bearer of God; nevertheless ‘death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression Rom. 5:14;’ and thus man remained mortal and corruptible as before, liable to the affections proper to their nature. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 3.33)



  1. St. Cyril of Alexandria makes notable comments about this very same quote:

    And after other matters he [St. Athanasius] says again, “In truth there have been many saints and men cleansed of all sin. For both Jeremiah was sanctified from the womb,and John, as yet unborn, leaped for joy at the voice of Mary, the Mother of God.”

    Athanasius, therefore, is a man worthy of trust and deserving of confidence, since he did not say anything which is not in agreement with Holy Scripture. For how would so brilliant and celebrated a man stray from the truth, one who was so admired by all even in that holy and great council, I mean the one at Nicaea, which was assembled in critical times. He did not yet hold the office of bishop, but rather belonged to the class of clerics and yet, because of his sagacity and gentleness besides, and because of his exceedingly subtle and incomparable mind, he was, at that time, taken as his companion by Alexander, the bishop of happy memory. He was as close to the old man as a son is to his father, leader in everything helpful, and the one who showed the way right well in all things which were to be done. (Letter 1.8-9)

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