St. Basil Book Report

1214 words - 5 pages

In the teaching on the Holy Trinity, St. Basil was a student of Alexandrian theology and its main representatives—Origen and Athanasius of Alexandria. The reason St. Basil wrote this teaching is that the Church was waging a war against heresies of Pneumatomachoi and Neo-Arians. St. Basil wrote the work On the Holy Spirit between 373 and 375 AD. It was written to “Your desire for information, my right well-beloved and most deeply respected brother Amphilochius, I highly commend, and not less your industrious energy.” The author commends his brother’s eagerness to find knowledge. When the Apostle Paul writes, “There is one God and Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things,” it does not mean that a writer is trying “to introduce the diversity of nature, but to exhibit the notion of Father and of Son as unconfounded.”
In order to substantiate Orthodox triadology, there was an emergent necessity for St. Basil to develop a clear and understandable terminology. The most plausible of historical and philosophical sources that the saint used in the doctrine of differentiating between “essence” and “hypostases” by the so-called generic principle, is the “Introduction” of Porphyry of Tyre, who was a Neoplatonic philosopher, and “Categories” of Aristotle. In the understanding of “essence” (as opposed to the terms Aristotle used, while this term was used by Gregory of Nyssa), there is a place for orthodox stoic character. St. Basil characterized God’s essence using the ideas of community, identity, unity and simplicity, and yet God’s essence is still not comprehensible. The prelate says that the Father’s “hypostasis” has a distinctive characteristic—“fatherhood,” Son—“sonship,” and Holy Spirit—“sanctification.”
The prelate talks so much about “of whom,” “through whom,” and “by whom” in order to make it clear to Amphilochius that these phrases are applied to all three hypostases of the Trinity. He gives clear examples from the Bible so that people would not fall, or even stay, in heresy. The saint writes about those who talk about the Son as subordinate to the Father. “They further assert that the Spirit is not to be ranked along with the Father and the Son, but under the Son and the Father; not coordinated, but subordinated; not connumerated, but subnumerated.” This heresy is wrong because the Son and the Spirit are not “after the Father” in time, dignity, or in order. Furthermore, it is because the Son and the Spirit are not created. Basil wrote, “It follows that, even if you can conceive of anything beyond the ages, you will find the Spirit yet further above and beyond.” They are just as much God as the Father. The prelate then concludes, “True religion, therefore, thus teaches us to think of the Son together with the Father.” By this, he ascribes equal honor to the Spirit, the Father, and the Son. Basil established homotimia for Father and Son to show that the Spirit is at the same level of glory and...

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