THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES,
UNDERTHE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D.,
HENRY WACE, D.D,
IN COT&T CLARK
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
G RA ND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
LETTERS AND SELECT WORKS
The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit
Introduction to the Hexaemeron
Homily I.—In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth
Homily II.—"The Earth Was Invisible and Unfinished."
Homily III.—On the Firmament
Homily IV.—Upon the Gathering Together of the Waters
Homily V.—The Germination of the Earth
Homily VI.—The Creation of Luminous Bodies
Homily VII.—The Creation of Moving Creatures
Homily VIII.—The Creation of Fowl and Water Animals
Homily IX.—The Creation of Terrestrial Animals
Letters CCCXVI., CCCXVII., CCCXVIII., CCCXIX
Letters CCCXXX., CCCXXXI., CCCXXXII., CCCXXXIII
This translation of a portion of the works of St. Basil was originally begun under the editorial supervision of Dr. Wace. It was first announced that the translation would comprise the De Spiritu Sancto and Select Letters, but it was ultimately arranged with Dr. Wace that a volume of the series should be devoted to St. Basil, containing, as well as the De Spiritu Sancto , the whole of the Letters, and the Hexaemeron. The De Spiritu Sancto has already appeared in an English form, as have portions of the Letters, but I am not aware of an English translation of the Hexaemeron, or of all the Letters. The De Spiritu Sancto was presumably selected for publication as being at once the most famous, as it is among the most valuable, of the extant works of this Father. The Letters comprise short theological treatises and contain passages of historical and varied biographical interest, as well as valuable specimens of spiritual and consolatory exhortation. The Hexaemeron was added as being the most noted and popular of St. Basil’s compositions in older days, and as illustrating his exegetic method and skill, and his power as an extempore preacher.
The edition used has been that of the Benedictine editors as issued by Migne, with the aid, in the case of the De Spiritu Sancto , of that published by Rev. C. F. H. Johnston.
The editorship of Dr. Wace terminated during the progress of the work, but I am indebted to him, and very gratefully acknowledge the obligation, for valuable counsel and suggestions. I also desire to record my thanks to the Rev. C. Hole, Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at King’s College, London, and to Mr. Reginald Geare, Head Master of the Grammar School, Bishop’s Stortford, to the former for help in the revision of proof-sheets and important suggestions, and to the latter for aid in the translation of several of the Letters.
The works consulted in the process of translation and attempted illustration are sufficiently indicated in thenotes.
London, December, 1894.
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE TO ACCOMPANY THE LIFE OF ST. BASIL
329 or 330. St. Basil born.
Council of Tyre.
Death of Arius.
Death of Constantine.
Death of Constantine II.
Dedication creed at Antioch.
Julian and Gallus relegated to Macellum. Basil probably sent from Annen to school at Cæsarea.
Macrostich, and Council of Sardica.
Basil goes to constantinople.
Death of Constans.
Basil goes to constantinople. 1st Creed of Sirmium.
Death of Magnentius.
Julian goes to Athens (latter part of year).
Basil returns to Cæsarea.
The 2d Creed of Sirmium, or Blasphemy, subscribed by Hosius and Liberius.
Basil baptized, and shortly afterwards ordained reader.
Basil visits monastic establishments in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, and retires to the monastery on the Iris.
The 3d Creed of Sirmium. Dated May 22. Councils of Seleucia and Ariminum.
Acacian synod of Constantinople. Basil, now ordained Deacon, Disputes with Aetius. Dianius subscribes the Creed of Ariminum, and Basil in consequence leaves Cæsarea. He visits Gregory at Nazianzus.
Death of Constantius and accession of Julian. Basil writes the “Moralia.”
Basil returns to Cæsarea. Dianius dies. Eusebius baptized, elected, and consecrated bishop. Lucifer consecrates Paulinus at Antioch. Julian at Cæsarea. Martyrdom of Eupsychius.
Julian dies (June 27). Accession of Jovian.
Jovian dies. Accession of Valentinian and Valens. Basil ordained prieset by Eusebius. Basil writes agains eunomius. Semiarian council of Lampsacus.
Revolt of Procopius. Valens at Cæsarea.
Semiarian deputation to Rome satisfy Liberius of their orthodoxy. Death of Liberius. Damasus bp. of Rome. Procopius defeated.
Gratian Augustus. Valens favours the Arians. Council of Tyana.
Semiarian Council in Caria. Famine in Cappadocia.
Death of emmelia. Basil visits Samosata.
Death of Eusebius of Cæsarea. Election and consecration of Basil to the see of Cæsarea. Basil makes visitation tour.
Basil threatened by arian bishops and by modestus. Valens, travelling slowly from Nicomedia to Cæsarea, arrives at the end of the year.
Valens attends great service at Cæsarea on the Epiphany, Jan. 6. Interviews between basil and valens. Death of Galates. Valens endows Ptochotrophium and quits Cæsarea. Basil visits Eusebius at Samosata. Claim of Anthimus to metropolitan dignity at Tyana. Basil resists Anthimus. Basil Forces Gregory of Nazianzus to be consecrated bishop of Sasima, and consecrated his brother Gregory to Nyssa. Consequent estrangement of Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus. Basil in Armenia. Creed signed by Eustathius.
St. Epiphanius writes the “Anacoratus.” Death of Athanasius. Basil visited by Jovinus of Perrha, and by Sanctissimus of Antioch.
Death of Auxentius and consecration of Ambrose at Milan. Basil writes the “De Spiritu Sancto.” Eusebius of Samosata banished to Thrace. Death of Gregory, bp. of Nazianzus, the elder.
Death of Valentinian. Gratian and Valentinian II. Emperors. Synod of Illyria, and Letter to the Orientals. Semiarian Council of Cyzicus. Demosthenes harasses the Catholics. Gregory of Nyssa deposed.
Synod of Iconium. Open denunciation of Eustathius by Basil.
Death of Valens, Aug. 9. Eusebius of Samosata and Me Prolegomena
Sketch of the Life and Works of Saint Basil
I.—Parentage and Birth
Under the persecution of the second Maximinus, a Christian gentleman of good position and fair estate in Pontus and Macrina his wife, suffered severe hardships. They escaped with their lives, and appear to have retained, or recovered, some of their property. Of their children the names of two only have survived: Gregory and Basil. The former became bishop of one of the sees of Cappadocia. The latter acquired a high reputation in Pontus and the neighboring districts as an advocate of eminence, and as a teacher of rhetoric. His character in the Church for probity and piety stood very high. He married an orphaned gentlewoman named Emmelia, whose father had suffered impoverishment anti death for Christ’s sake, and who was herself a conspicuous example of high-minded and gentle Christian womanhood. Of this happy union were born ten children, five boys and five girls. One of the boys appears to have died in infancy, for on the death of the elder Basil four sons and five daughters were left to share. the considerable wealth which he left behind him. Of the nine survivors the eldest was a daughter, named, after her grandmother, Macrina. The eldest of the sons was Basil, the second Naucratius. and the third Gregory. Peter, the youngest of the whole family, was born shortly before his father’s death. Of this remarkable group the eldest is commemorated as Saint Macrina in the biography written by her brother Gregory. Naucratius died in early manhood, about the time of the ordination of Basil as reader. The three remaining brothers occupied respectively the sees of Caesarea. Nyssa, and Sebasteia.
As to the date of St. Basil’s birth opinions have varied between 316 and 330. The later, which is supported by Gamier, Tillemont, Maran, Fessler, and Böhringer, may probably be accepted as approximately correct. It is true that Basil calls himself an old man in 374, but he was prematurely worn out with work and bad health, and to his friends wrote freely and without concealment of his infirmities. There appears no reason to question the date 329 or 330.
Two cities, Caesarea in Cappadocia and Neocaesarea in Pontus. have both been named as his birthplace. There must be some amount of uncertainty on this point, from the fact that no direct statement exists to clear it up, and that the word patriz was loosely employed to mean not only place of birth, but place of residence and occupation. Basil’s parents had property and interests both in Pontus and Cappadocia and were as likely to be in the one as in the other. The early statement of Gregory of Nazianzus has been held to have weight, inasmuch as he speaks of Basil as a Cappadocian like himself before there was any other reason but that of birth for associating him with this province. Assenting, then, to the considerations which have been held to afford reasonable ground for assigning Caesara as the birthplace, we may adopt the popular estimation of Basil as one of “The Three Cappadocians,” and congratulate Cappadocia on the Christian associations which have rescued her fair fame from the slur of the epigram which described her as constituting with Crete and Cilicia a trinity of unsatisfactoriness. Basil’s birth nearly synchronizes with the transference of the chief seat ofempire from Rome to Byzantium. He is born into a world where the victory already achieved by the Church has been now for sixteen years officially recognized He is born into a Church in which the first great Council has already given official expression to those cardinal doctrines of the faith, of which the final and formal vindication is not to be assured till after the struggles of the next six score of years. Rome, reduced, civilly, to the subordinate rank of a provincial city, is pausing before she realises all her loss, and waits for the crowning outrage of the barbarian invasions, ere she begins to make serious efforts to grasp ecclesiastically, something of her lost imperial prestige. For a time the centre of ecclesiastical and theological interest is to be rather in the East than in the West.
The place most closely connected with St. Basil’s early years is neither Caesarea nor Neocaesarea, but an insignificant village not far from the latter place, where he was brought up by his admirable grandmother Macrina. In this neighbourhood his family had considerable property, and here he afterwards resided. The estate was at Annesi on the river Iris (Jekil-Irmali), and lay in the neighbourhood of scenery of romantic beauty. Basil’s own description of his retreat on the opposite side of the Iris matches the reference of Gregory of Nazianzus to the narrow glen among lofty mountains, which keep it always in shadow and darkness, while far below the river foams and roars in its narrow precipitous bed.
There is some little difficulty in understanding the statement of Basil in Letter Cckvi., that the house of his brother Peter, which he visited in 375, and which we may assume to have been on the family property (cf. Letter CX § I) was “not far from Neocaesarea” As a matter of fact, the Iris nowhere winds nearer to Neocaesarea than at a distance of about twenty miles and Turkhal is not at the nearest point. But it is all a question of degree. Relatively to Caesarea, Basil’s usual place of residence, Annesi is near Neocaesarea An analogy would be found in the statement of a writer usually residing in London, that if he came to Sheffield he would be not far from Doncaster.
At Annesi his mother Emmelia erected a chapel in honour of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste to which their relics were translated. It is possible that Basil was present at the dedication services, lasting all night long, which are related to have sent his brother Gregory to sleep. Here, then, Basil was taught the rudiments of religion by his grandmother, and by his father, in accordance with the teaching of the great Gregory the Wonder-worker. Here he learned the Catholic faith.
At an early age he seems to have been sent to school at Caesarea, and there to have formed the acquaintance of an Eusebius, otherwise unknown, Hesychius, and Gregory of Nazianzus, and to have conceived a boyish admiration for Dianius the archbishop.
From Caesarea Basil went to Constantinople, and there studied rhetoric and philosophy with success. Socrates and Sozomen say that he worked at Antioch under Libanius. It may be that both these writers have confounded Basil of Caesarea with the Basil to whom Chrysostom dedicated his De Sacerdotio, and who was perhaps the bishop of Raphanea, who signed the creed of Constantinople.
There is no corroboration of a sojourn ofof Basil of Caesarea at Antioch. Libanius was at Constantinople in 347, and there Basil may have attended his lectures.
From Constantinople the young Cappadocian student proceeded in 351 to Athens. Of an university town of the 4th century we have a lively picture in the writings of his friend and are reminded that the rough horse-play of the modern undergraduate is a survival of a very ancient barbarism. The lads were affiliated to certain fraternities, and looked out for the arrival of every new student at the city, with the object of attaching him to the classes of this or that teacher. Kinsmen were on the watch for kinsmen and acquaintance!) for acquaintances; sometimes it was mere good-humoured violence which secured the person of the freshman. The first step in this grotesque matriculation was an entertainment then the guest of the day was conducted with ceremonial procession through the agora to the entrance of the baths. There they leaped round him with wild cries, and refused him admission. At last an entry was forced with mock fury, and the neophyte was made free of the mysteries of the baths and of the lecture halls. Gregory of Nazianzus, a student a little senior to Basil, succeeded in sparing him the ordeal of this initiation, and his dignity and sweetness of character seem to have secured him immunity from rough usage without loss of popularity. At Athens the two young Cappadocians were noted among their contemporaries for three things: their diligence and success in work; their stainless and devout life; and their close mutual affection. Everything was common to them. They were as one soul. What formed the closest bond of union was their faith. God and their love of what is best made them one. Himerius, a pagan, and Prohaeresius an Armenian Christian, are mentioned among the well-known professors whose classes Basil attended. Among early friendships, formed possibly during his university career, Basil’s own letters name those with Terentius and Sophronius.