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“Basil the Great on Ousia and Hypostasis”
Letters, 236. 6
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.
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TEXTS & TRANSLATIONS
St. Basil the Great on the Holy Spirit
(David Anderson - translator)
On The Human Condition: St Basil the Great (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press "Popular Patristics" Series)
Basil: The Letters, Volume I, Letters 1-58 (Loeb Classical Library No. 190):
(Search also for other 3 volumes of Basil's letters.)
On Social Justice: St. Basil the Great (Popular Patristics):
C. Paul Schroeder
Monica Wagner, trans., Basil of Caesarea: Ascetical Works, Fathers of the Church 9
Translated by Agnes Clare Way.
Stephen M Hildebrand:
The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea: A Synthesis of Greek Thought and Biblical Faith
A Life Pleasing to God:
The Spirituality of the Rule of Saint Basil (Cistercian Studies)
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
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