Basil of Caesarea II: Concepts, Reality, and Reading

Andrew Radde‐Gallwitz

in Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574117
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722110 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Basil of Caesarea II: Concepts, Reality, and Reading

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Chapter 6 is the second of two chapters on Basil of Caesarea. The chapter first focuses on the way Basil reclaims the idea that at least some theological terms are devised through human conceptualization. Through conceptualization, we refine our thinking without suggesting that the object being thought about is inherently more complex. Hence, conceptualization can be used for thinking about God and developing more nuanced concepts of God without this implying that God is not simple. For Basil, ingeneracy is itself a concept devised through conceptualization. A second section examines Basil's account of the simple divine essence. For Basil, Father and Son share in this essence in the sense that they share a common formula of being. That is, titles such as ‘light’ and ‘life’ are applied equally and in the same sense to both. Basil views these titles as inherent in the divine nature in the way propria are inherent in mundane natures. Basil attempts to explain how this can be true without thinking of the divine attributes as parts of the essence, that is, as essential complements. A final section examines how Basil's account of simplicity influences his exegesis of disputed biblical texts, focusing on John 14:28.

Keywords: Basil of Caesarea; conceptualization; divine simplicity; propria; formula of being; exegesis; essential complements

Chapter.  12785 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity ; Christian Theology

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