Basil of Caesarea Criticism - Essay

North American Review (essay date 1860)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Letters and Times of Basil of Caesarea, ART. IV," The North American Review, Vol. XC, No. 187, January-April, 1860, pp. 365-95.

[In the following, essay, the reviewer characterizes the collected letters of Basil as the most authentic surviving account of the late fourth-century Eastern church. The critic also discusses important aspects of Basil's life, including the period of his seclusion in Pontus and his tenure as Bishop of Caesarea. The abbreviation "Ep." used throughout stands for "epistle."]

The elder Pitt is said, in the later years of his life, to have deplored his elevation to the peerage, since he perceived that it had withdrawn him from the...

(The entire section is 15236 words.)

Edmund Venables (essay date 1877)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Basilius of Caesareia" in A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Vol. I, A-D, Little Brown, and Company, 1877, pp. 282-97.

[In the excerpt reprinted below, Venables provides a detailed narrative of Basil's life and career, highlighting the tactics Basil employed to gain the episcopate of Caesarea, consolidate his power and authority, and defend the orthodox faith against a variety of challenges. The abbreviations "Ep." and De Sp. Sancto used throughout stand for "epistle" and De Spiritu Sancto, respectively.]

Basilius, bishop of Caesareia in Cappadocia, commonly called Basil the Great, the strenuous champion of orthodoxy in the East, the restorer...

(The entire section is 14893 words.)

W. M. Ramsay (essay date 1906)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Life in the Days of St. Basil the Great" in Pauline and Other Studies in Early Christian History, Hodder and Stoughton, 1906, pp. 369-406.

[In the essay reprinted belowa revised version of a book review first published in the mid-1890sRamsay focuses on Basil's letters, finding in their style the same contradiction that biographers have discerned in Basil's character: even-handedness and civility toward his friends, yet misleading hyperbole and bitterness toward his critics. Ramsay also points out that the writings of the Cappadocian fathers provide a wealth of detail about social, cultural, and economic life during the late Roman Empire.]


(The entire section is 11891 words.)

Roy J. Deferrari (lecture date 1917)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Classics and the Greek Writers of the Early Church: Saint Basil," The Classical Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 8, May, 1918, pp. 579-91.

[In the following excerpt, originally delivered as a lecture in 1917, Deferrari calls attention to Hellenistic influences in Basil's writings, particularly his "Address to Young Men," the Hexaemeron, the Homilies on the Psalms, and his letters. In the critic's judgment, these works demonstrate the value that Basil placed on classical learning as well as his indebtedness to Aristotle, Plutarch, andmost particularlyPlato.]

The purpose of this paper1 is to serve as a reminder of the...

(The entire section is 3436 words.)

Margaret Mary Fox (essay date 1939)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Christian Society" in The Life and Times of St. Basil the Great as Revealed in His Works, The Catholic University of America Press, 1939, pp. 137-65.

[In the essay reprinted here, Fox surveys the customs and practices of the Caesarean church during Basil's episcopate. Using information derived from his letters, she discusses Basil's innovative establishment of charitable institutions, his veneration of martyrs and their relics, and his relations with congregants as well as clergy.]

A Bishop and His Congregation

Numerous references reveal the informality that existed between St. Basil and the vast congregation that filled the...

(The entire section is 10733 words.)

I. P. Sheldon-Williams (essay date 1967)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Cappadocians" in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, edited by A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge University Press, 1967, pp. 432-39.

[In the excerpt below, Sheldon-Williams explicates the Hexaemeron, noting that Basil views the universe as a hierarchy whose parts are bound together in harmonious sympathy. The critic maintains that Basil's conception of creation, time and motion, and material elements is derived from the writings of Greek natural philosophers such as Aristotle and the Stoics, as well as from scripture.]

The Cappadocians inherited the Alexandrian Gnosis through Origen, though each departed from the position of...

(The entire section is 3080 words.)

Eric Osborn (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Basil the Great" in Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought," Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 84-113.

[In the essay reprinted below, Osborn examines Basil's views on the moral and ethical obligations of a Christian. Drawing especially on the Moralia and the Longer and Shorter Rules, the critic contends that Basil's guidelines for devoting one's life to the glory of God were intended for the laity as well as for members of the monastic community, even though Basil believed that only an ascetic could achieve perfect righteousness.]

Basil was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia about 330 of rich but honest parents.1 His father...

(The entire section is 14012 words.)

Paul Jonathan Fedwick (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Church in the Life and Works of Basil of Caesarea" in The Church and the Charisma of Leadership in Basil of Caesarea, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1979, pp. 1-201.

[In the following excerpt, Fedwick explains Basil's concept of the church as a community of believers drawn together by love of God and each other, and spiritually secluded from those who reject the teachings of Christ. The critic traces the expressions of this idea in Basil's ascetic writings, in the treatises Against Eunomius and On the Holy Spirit, and in several of the homilies.]

The term by which Basil of Caesarea most commonly addresses the communities of...

(The entire section is 17671 words.)

Philip Rousseau (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Basil on the World Stage" in Basil of Caesarea, University of California Press, 1994, pp. 270-317, 365-87.

[In the essay reprinted below, Rousseau describes Basil's efforts to mediate ecclesiastical schisms and doctrinal disputes beyond the boundaries of the see of Caesarea. The critic contends that Basil's attempts to construct a cadre of like-minded bishops who would support the cause of orthodoxy were frequently motivated as much by collegiality and personal vindication as by theological ideology.]

'Lifting his head high and casting the eye of his soul in every direction, he obtained a mental vision of the whole world through which the word of salvation had...

(The entire section is 23202 words.)