Athanasius was a major figure of 4th-century Christendom. As Bishop of Alexandria, spiritual master and theologian, he led the Church in its battle against the Arain heresy. Athanasius' The Life of Antony is one of the foremost classics of Christian asceticism. It tells the spiritual story of St. Antony, the founder of Christian monasticism. Written at the request of the desert monks of Egypt to provide 'an ideal pattern of the ascetical life,' it immediately became astonishingly popular. This work contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life in Western Christianity. From a literary perspective, it created a new Christian genre for the lives of saints. William A Clebsch of Standford University, President of the Amercan Academy of Religion.