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“Basil the Great on Ousia and Hypostasis

Letters, 236. 6

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Relevant books
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TEXTS & TRANSLATIONS

St. Basil the Great on the Holy Spirit

(David Anderson - translator)

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Anna Silvas
The Asketikon of St Basil the Great
(Oxford Early Christian Studies)

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On The Human Condition: St Basil the Great (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press "Popular Patristics" Series)

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Georges Barrois:
The Fathers Speak: St Basil the Great, St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Gregory of Nyssa

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Basil: The Letters, Volume I, Letters 1-58 (Loeb Classical Library No. 190):
Roy J. Deferrari (Translator)

(Search also for other 3 volumes of Basil's letters.)

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On Social Justice: St. Basil the Great (Popular Patristics):

C. Paul Schroeder

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Monica Wagner, trans., Basil of Caesarea: Ascetical Works, Fathers of the Church 9

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Letters, Volume 2 (186-368) [The Fathers of the Church, Volume 28]

Translated by Agnes Clare Way.

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On the Value of Greek Literature (Greek and English Edition)

N.G. Wilson

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STUDIES

P.J. FEDWICK: Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Ascetic

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ROBERT C. GREGG: Consolation Philosophy: Greek and Christian Paideia in Basil and the Two Gregories (Patristic Monograph Series of the North American Patristic Society, 3)

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Stephen M Hildebrand:

The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea: A Synthesis of Greek Thought and Biblical Faith

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Augustine Holmes:

A Life Pleasing to God:

The Spirituality of the Rule of Saint Basil (Cistercian Studies)

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Andrew Radde-Gallwitz:
Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity
(Oxford Early Christian Studies)

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Philip Rousseau:
Basil of Caesarea
(Transformation of the Classical Heritage)

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6. The distinction between “ousia” and “hypostasis” is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man. Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give a variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear. If we have no distinct perception of the separate characteristics, namely, fatherhood, sonship, and sanctification, but form our conception of God from the general idea of existence, we cannot possibly give a sound account of our faith. We must, therefore, confess the faith by adding the particular to the common. The Godhead is common; the fatherhood particular. We must therefore combine the two and say, “I believe in God the Father.” The like course must be pursued in the confession of the Son; we must combine the particular with the common and say “I believe in God the Son,” so in the case of the Holy Ghost we must make our utterance conform to the appellation and say “in God the Holy Ghost.” Hence it results that there is a satisfactory preservation of the unity by the confession of the one Godhead, while in the distinction of the individual properties regarded in each there is the confession of the peculiar properties of the Persons. On the other hand those who identify essence or substance and hypostasis are compelled to confess only three Persons, and, in their hesitation to speak of three hypostases, are convicted of failure to avoid the error of Sabellius, for even Sabellius himself, who in many places confuses the conception, yet, by asserting that the same hypostasis changed its form to meet the needs of the moment, does endeavour to distinguish persons.

 

 

 

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original Greek text
from Letter 236, Epistle 236, Epistle CCXXXVI
an important part of the discussion about the Trinity
Substance and Trinity, persons of the Trinity
An important passage, particularly in the East, for the development in the language used for the Trinity.
Migne Greek Text
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Graeca

 

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