When did Alexander die?

Right after Nicea …

A little after this (Council of Nicea), Alexander bishop of Alexandria having died, Athanasius was set over that church.

A little after? How little?

Alexander, that admirable bishop, who had successfully withstood the blasphemies of Arius, died five months after the council of Nicæa, and was succeeded in the episcopate of the church of Alexandria by Athanasius.

Nicea ended in July. Five months means Alexander died in January.

And his successor mentioned five too …

But in the Council of Nicæa, while the heresy was anathematized, and the Arians were cast out, the Meletians on whatever grounds were received. Five months however had not yet passed when, the blessed Alexander having died, the Meletians, who ought to have remained quiet, and to have been grateful that they were received on any terms, like dogs unable to forget their vomit, were again troubling the Churches.

But … Athanasius’ first Festal letter, the missive sent out for easter by the pope of Alexandria, was for easter 329. He wasn’t bishop by easter 328 …

Easter-day xi Pharmuthi; viii Id. April; Ær. Dioclet. 45 (Aug. 29, 328, to Aug. 28, a.d. 329.); Coss. Constantinus Aug. VIII. Constantinus Cæs. IV; Præfect. Septimius Zenius; Indict. II.

And an account of his life written not long after his death sums up a forty year reign that started on June 8th 328 …

From Coss. Gratian and Dagalaifus (366) to the next consulships of Lupicinus and Jovinus (367) and that of [Valentinian II. and] Valens II. on Payni xiv (June 8, 368) in [this] Consulship xl [years of the Bishopric] of Athanasius are finished.

Quite a gap. January 326 to mid 328. No one on the throne of Saint Mark! …

The great heretic spotter, Epiphanius, did have some one keeping that seat warm …

Alexander of Alexandria died after the council in Nicaea. But Athanasius was not there (in Alexandria) after Alexander’s death. … the Melitians seized the opportunity and, since there was no bishop in Alexandria they consecrated a man named Theonas as bishop of Egypt in Alexander’s place.

But not for long …

And three months later he died. Not long after Theonas’ death, Athanasius arrived. And a council of orthodox bishops was summoned from all quarters. And thus Athanasius’ consecration took place …

Let’s go back to Alexander. After Nicea, Arius was exiled but some time later, he convinced Constantine to readmit him to the Church. And victorious great Constantine Augustus wrote to father Alexander, the bishop. This had to be at least a year after Nicea and so Alexander can’t be dead in early 326.

And a later chronicler recorded …

In this year (328) Alexander Bishop of Alexandria died on day 14 before Kalends of May (18 April), on Pharmuthi 22 (17 April, Chronicler doesn’t known his Egyptian Calendar), and Athanasius the great father was elected bishop in his place

So here we have it. All in 328. April death of Alexander, allowing a June coronation of Athanasius. But what about Athanasius own statement about Alexander’s death? Let’s read that again …

But in the Council of Nicæa, … the Meletians on whatever grounds were received. Five months however had not yet passed when, the blessed Alexander having died, the Meletians, … were again troubling the Churches.

This five months refers to Alexander’s death, not to Nicea. 328 is safe. 328 it is.

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