CAPPADOCIAN LEGACY

ACriticalAppraisal
Editedby
DoruCostacheandPhilipKariatlis
StAndrew’sOrthodoxPress
Sydney,2013
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 1 5/09/13 12:10 AM
Textcopyright©2013remainswiththeauthors
Allrightsreserved.ExceptforanyfairdealingpermittedundertheCopyrightAct,
nopartofthisbookmaybereproducedbyanymeanswithoutpriorpermission.
Inquiriesshouldbemadetothepublisher.
NationalLibraryofAustraliaCataloguing-in-Publicationentry
Title: Cappadocianlegacy/DoruCostacheandPhilipKariatlis(eds).
ISBN: 978-0-9775974-9-9(paperback)
Notes: Includesbibliographicalreferencesandindex.
Subjects: Gregory,ofNazianzus,Saint.
Basil,Saint,BishopofCaesarea,
approximately329-379.
Gregory,ofNyssa,Saint,
approximately335-approximately394
Theology--Earlyworksto1800
Christiansaints--Biography--Earlyworksto1800.
OtherAuthors/Contributors:
Costache,Doru,editor.
Kariatlis,Philip,editor.
DeweyNumber:230
StAndrew’sOrthodoxPress
242ClevelandStreet,Redfern,NSW,2016
www.standrewsorthodoxpress.com.au
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 2 5/09/13 12:10 AM
Contents
PREFACE..................................................................................................................................................5
1.THECAPPADOCIANSWITHINTRADITION
TheCappadocianFathersasFoundersofByzantineThought
DavidBradshaw.....................................................................................................................................11
WeretheFathersProponentsofaFamilialImagoTrinitatis?
AdamG.Cooper.................................................................................................................................. 23
2.THELEGACYOFSTBASILTHEGREAT
StBasiltheGreat’sExpositionofNiceneOrthodoxy
JohnAnthonyMcGuckin......................................................................................................................47
WhyDidn’tStBasilWriteinNewTestamentGreek?
JohnA.L.Lee............................................................................................................................................61
Light(ɔᛟɑ/ɔȽᛒɐɇɑ)anditsLiturgicalFoundationintheTeaching
ofStBasiltheGreat
AdrianMarinescu..................................................................................................................................77
ChristianWorldview:UnderstandingsfromStBasiltheGreat
DoruCostache.........................................................................................................................................97
StBasil’sTrinitarianDoctrine:AHarmoniousSynthesisof
GreekPaideiaandtheScripturalWorldview
PhilipKariatlis..................................................................................................................................... 127
TheRecapitulationofHistoryandthe“EighthDay”:
AspectsofStBasiltheGreat’sEschatologicalVision
MarioBaghos........................................................................................................................................ 151
StBasiltheGreatasEducator:ImplicationsfromtheAddresstoYouth
DimitriKepreotes................................................................................................................................ 169
3.THELEGACYOFSTGREGORYTHETHEOLOGIAN
TheTeachingsofGregoryofNazianzusontheTrinity
ArchbishopStylianosofAustralia................................................................................................ 187
Self-KnowledgeandKnowledgeofGod
accordingtoStGregorytheTheologian
GeorgiosMantzarides....................................................................................................................... 203
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 3 5/09/13 12:10 AM
GregorytheTheologian–ASpiritualPortrait
ArchbishopStylianosofAustralia................................................................................................ 215
SeekingOuttheAntecedentsoftheMaximian
TheoryofEverything:StGregorytheTheologian’sOration28.
DoruCostache...................................................................................................................................... 225
“Whatthen?IstheSpiritGod?Certainly!”StGregory’sTeaching
ontheHolySpiritastheBasisoftheWorld’sSalvation
PhilipKariatlis..................................................................................................................................... 243
ScriptureintheWorksofStGregorytheTheologian
MargaretBeirne.................................................................................................................................. 261
StGregorytheTheologian’sExistentialMetanarrativeofHistory
MarioBaghos........................................................................................................................................ 275
FeaturesoftheTheandricMysteryofChristin
theChristologyofStGregorytheTheologian
AnthonyPapantoniou....................................................................................................................... 299
4.THELEGACYOFSTGREGORYOFNYSSA
DivineProvidenceandFreeWillinGregoryofNyssa
andhisTheologicalMilieu
BronwenNeil........................................................................................................................................ 315
“DazzlingDarkness”TheMysticalorTheophanic
TheologyofStGregoryofNyssa
PhilipKariatlis..................................................................................................................................... 329
ApproachingAnApologyfortheHexaemeron:
ItsAims,MethodandDiscourse
DoruCostache...................................................................................................................................... 349
SpiritualEnrichmentthroughExegesis:StGregoryofNyssa
andtheScriptures
MargaretBeirne.................................................................................................................................. 373
ReconsideringApokatastasisinStGregoryofNyssa’s
OnTheSoulandResurrectionandtheCatecheticalOration
MarioBaghos........................................................................................................................................ 387
INFORMATIONABOUTTHECONTRIBUTORS.................................................................. 417
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97
ChristianWorldview:UnderstandingsfromStBasil
theGreat
DoruCostache
Abstract:ThisarticleexploresaspectspertainingtoStBasil’scontri-
butionstotheChristianworldvieworcosmology.Lessresearchedin
recent times, at least from this viewpoint Basilian thinking can sur-
prise contemporary readers by its fresh and balanced approach. In
fact,itofferssolutionstocurrentinterests,inthewaythatitbridges
the scientiϐic anu theological woiluviewsǡ anu uepicts a univeise full
ofdivinepresenceandmeaning.Theanalysisproceedsbydiscussing
St Basil’s contributions to science and theology, followed by his vi-
sion of the cosmos as a theological schoolǡ anu ϐinally his vision of the
world as a synergetic framework where divine and cosmic energies
creativelyinteract.
In recent times, when not simply pushed into a cone of shadow, St Basil
the uieatǯs legacy is ieuuceu to his signiϐicant contiibutions to uoctiineǡ
ecclesiastical politics, asceticism, ethics and exegesis. Within this almost
general indifference, three monographs by Philip Rousseau,
1
Anna Silvas
2

andStephenHildebrand
3
standaloneintheirattemptstohighlight–forthe
Idedicatethisarticletothememoryofmylatementor,RevdProfessorDumitruPopescu
(1929-2010;UniversityofBucharestandRomanianAcademy),apassionateresearcherof
St Basil’s thought and the inspiration for my interest in Christian cosmology. A previous
version of this article was published in Phronema 25 (2010): 21-56. The text below rep-
resentsarevisedandexpandedversion.Atvariousstagesofitselaboration,thispaperhas
qreotly beneϔiteJ from tbe observotions of Anno Silvosǡ }obn leeǡ AJrion Horinescuǡ Pbilip
KariatlisandthePhronemareviewers,towhomIamdeeplygrateful.MarioBaghosrecti-
ϔieJ my stylistic sbortcominqsǢ mony tbonksǤ
1
PhilipRousseau,BasilofCaesarea(Berkeley-LosAngeles-London:UniversityofCali-
forniaPress,1998).
2
Anna M. Silvas, The Asketikon of St Basil the Great, The Oxford Early Christian Studies
Series(Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress,2005).
3
Stephen M. Hildebrand, The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea: A Synthesis of
GreekThoughtandBiblicalTruth(Washington:TheCatholicUniversityofAmericaPress,
2007).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 97 5/09/13 12:10 AM
98
Englishspeakingreadership–thecomplexityofhispersonalityandwork,
beyondthevarietyoftheirrespectiveapproaches.Evenso,andquitesur-
piisingly within contempoiaiy tienus to biiuge tiauition anu scientiϐic cul-
ture, his contributions to the Christian worldview – herein, Weltanschau-
ung,representationofreality,orcosmologyinaverybroadsense–donot
elicit much inteiestǤ Foi exampleǡ when his elaboiations in this ϐielu come
under the scholarly scope, they are readily abandoned for the sake of the
ethical connotations that can be inferred from it.
4
Very recently, however,
Peter Bouteneff addressed St Basil’s contributions to the Christian worl-
dviewinrelationwiththefamousHomiliesontheHexaemeron.
5
Muchhas
yet to be discussed. In the following, I shall try to articulate the Basilian
approachtoworldview,whichisofrelevancetotheongoingconversations
betweentheologiansandscientists,andtothemoregeneralthemeofthe
Christianexperienceintheworld.
Withoutclaimingtobeexhaustive,thispaperwilladdressthreemain
topicsǣ St Basilǯs attituue towaius scienceǡ the signiϐicance of the woilu as a
theologicalschool(teaching-ground)andtheinteractivenatureofreality.
Bridging Scientiϐic Knowledge and Cbristian Worldview
It is peihaps a tiuism to afϐiim thatǡ beyonu its impeifectionsǡ
6
StBasilof-
feredinhisHomiliesontheHexaemeron(whosedateofpublicationisstill
disputed)
7
agemofChristianscholarshipthatremainednormativethrough-
out the medieval period.
8
Indeed, whilst the opinion that he attempted a
completecosmology
9
shouldbetakencarefully,thegreatCappadociandis-
4
Seee.g.Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,320-37.
5
PeterC.Bouteneff,Beginnings:AncientChristianReadingsoftheBiblicalCreationNarra-
tives(GrandRapids:BakerAcademic,2008),133-36.
6
See e.g. the famous passage in Hexaemeron 8.2 (PG 29, 168BC) where St Basil had to
interrupthisdiscourseinordertoreturntoapreviouslyoverlookedtopic.
7
CfǤ Paul }Ǥ Feuwickǡ ǮA Chionology of the Life anu Woiks of Basil of Caesaieaǡǯ in PǤ }Ǥ Feu-
wick (ed.), Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Asceticǡ pait one ȋToiontoǣ Pontiϐical
Institute of Neuiaeval Stuuiesǡ ͳͻͺͳȌǣ ͵ǦʹͳǢ Stanislas uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǯ to Basile de
Césarée,Homéliessurl’Hexaéméron,Greektext,intro.andtrad.byS.Giet,SourcesChré-
tiennes(Paris:Cerf,1949):5-84,esp.6-7;JohannesQuasten,Patrology,Vol.3(Westmin-
ster:ChristianClassicsInc.,1986),216;Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,363.
8
CfǤ uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͹ͲǦͳǢ }ohn Neyenuoiffǡ ByzantineTheology:HistoricalTrendsand
DoctrinalThemes(NewYork:FordhamUniversityPress,1979),133.
9
CfǤ Emmanuel Clapsisǡ ǮSt Basilǯs Cosmologyǡǯ Diakonia 17:3 (1982): 215-23, esp. 216;
}ohn Anthony Ncuuckinǡ ǮPatteins of Biblical Exegesis in the Cappauocian Fatheisǣ Basil
the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa,’ in S. T. Kimbrough, Jr. (ed.),
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 98 5/09/13 12:10 AM
99
playeu a bieauth of woiluly knowleugeǡ mainly scientiϐic in natuieǡ
10
which
hesuccessfullyinterpretedwithinagenuineChristianframework,scriptur-
al,liturgicalandspiritual.Insodoing,hegreatlycontributedtoaprocess
thathadbeeninitiatedbytheapostoliceffortstodisseminatethegospelin
theHellenisticworld,aprocessthatcontinuedlongafterthefourthcentury.
FollowinginthefootstepsoftheearlyChristianapologists,andprom-
inentlythesecondcenturyeruditebishopTheophilusofAntioch,
11
StBasil
aimed to provide his congregation and readership with a comprehensive
explanationofthecreatedrealm,heavenlyandearthly,humanandbiologi-
cal,astronomicalandmineral.Thislaboriousdepictionstemmedfrom,and
unfolded around, the Genesis creation narrative. In contrast with earlier
approaches–whichengagedancientcultureinapolemicalmanner–and
althoughtheargumentativenotesofhisdiscoursearefarfromremaining
inaudible,whatmotivatedStBasil’seffortwereprimarilypastoralandsalv-
iϐic conceinsǡ
12
aspointedoutbyBouteneff.
13
Beingacaringpastor,heun-
dertook to depict for his congregation a meaningful universe, marked by
divinewisdomandpresence,yetauniversethatcouldalsobedescribedby
theavailable sciences.Thisappraisal wasinoppositiontothepessimistic
worldviewoftheManichaeanmyths,whichelicitedtheconjugatereaction
ofStBasil,hisfriend,StGregorytheTheologian,andhisyoungersibling,St
GregoryofNyssa.TheircontributionstofourthcenturyChristiantheodicy,
focusedondismantlingtheconceptofevilasanontologicalcategory,can-
notbediscussedhere;however,IshallreturntotheManichaeanchallenge
andStBasil’sresponsetoit.Likewise,thelatter’ssavantdigressionsabout
OrthodoxandWesleyanScripturalUnderstandingandPractice(Crestwood,NY:StVladi-
mir’sSeminaryPress,2005):37-54,esp.46;Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,320.
10
Cf.Hildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,114-17,121-22;Quasten,
Patrologyǡ volǤ ͵ǡ ʹͳ͹Ǣ Anuiew Louthǡ ǮThe Cappauociansǡǯ in Fiances Youngǡ Lewis Ayiesǡ
Andrew Louth (eds.), The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2004): 289-301, esp. 294. Against the common opinion,
uiet ȋǮIntiouuctionǡǯ Ͷ͵ǡ ͸ͶǦ͸ͻȌ believeu that St Basilǯs awaieness of the natuial sciences
wasmediocreandlargelymediatedbyhandbooks.
11
0n Theophilus as a souice foi St Basilǡ see uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͵ͷǡ ͷʹǦ͸Ǣ Constantin voi-
cuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuiadespreCreareaLumiilaSf.VasilecelMare,’inEmilianPopescuandAdri-
an Marinescu (eds.), Sfântul Vasile cel Mare: Închinare la 1630 de ani, second edition,
Stuuia Basiliana ȋBucuie,tiǣ Basilicaǡ ʹͲͲͻȌǣ ͳ͹ͻǦͻͻǡ espǤ ͳͺʹǡ ͳͺͶǦͺͷǤ Foi uetails on
Theophilus’approachtoGenesisandcosmology,seeBouteneff,Beginnings,68-72.
12
Thisaspectisshownattheendoftheprologue;cf.Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,5C).Seealso
Hexaemeron ʹǤͳ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ʹͻAȌǡ which speaks of the euiϐication of the Chuich by the out-
comesoftheinterpretiveeffort.InHexaemeron3.10(PG29,77AB),StBasilinvitedthe
auuience to ponuei what was saiu by the pieachei foi the beneϐit of theii livesǤ
13
Cf.Bouteneff,Beginnings,133.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 99 5/09/13 12:10 AM
100
the natural realm where directed against remnants of paganism like the
interestofmanyChristiansinastrology.Indeed,againstastrologicalbeliefs,
St Basil invokeu both Sciiptuie anu the accepteu scientiϐic uesciiption of
reality.
As impiessive as it might have been foi the ϐiist auuience anu up until
thedawnofmodernity,thisdescriptiveapproachcouldnotbemaintained
asStBasil’smajorcontributiontotheChristianworldview.Likemanyother
aspectsofancientculture,thesciencesonwhichhisHexaemerondepended
had become obsolete.
14
Nevertheless, before moving to discuss the more
importantcontributionofStBasiltothisarea,weshouldnotethattherel-
evanceofhishomiliestoChristiantraditionandexperiencewasnotdimin-
isheu by theii scientiϐic basis iunning out of uateǤ Illustiating a genuinely
Christianconstrualofthecosmos,theBasilianhomiliesshareintheinde-
pendentcharacteroftheChristianworldview,which,asshownbyVladimir
Lossky,
15
builds upon the ecclesial mindset and theoretically remains un-
affectedbyanyculturalparadigmitengages.Thus,itistheChristiansub-
stancethatmakestheHexaemeronmeaningful.Forinstance,anyChristian
fromthepast,presentorthefuture,canbeinspiredbyStBasil’ssenseof
wonuei befoie the ϐineǦtuning of the univeiseǯs paiameteisǡ taken as a sign
ofGod’swisdom,
16
therealisticassessmentofthenaturalmortalityofcre-
ation,
17
andtheethical paradigmsinferredfromvariousanimal andplant
behaviours.
18
Furthermore, when considered through the lens of the an-
thropiccosmologicalprinciple,
19
StBasil’sinsistenceontheontologicaland
14
CfǤ Colin uuntonǡ ǮBetween Allegoiy anu Nythǣ The Legacy of the Spiiitualising of uene-
sis,’inTheDoctrineofCreation(Edinburgh:T&TClark,1997):47-62,esp.58-9;Clapsis,
ǮSt Basilǯs Cosmologyǡǯ ʹͳͷǤ
15
Cf.VladimirLossky,TheMysticalTheologyoftheEasternChurch(Crestwood,NY:StVlad-
imir’sSeminaryPress,2002),104-106.
16
Heexplainsthisstateofcoherenceofthevisiblerealminlightofthedivinesourceofor-
der,ᙳɏɖ᚝ɋɒ᚞ɑɒᛟɋᚾɏɘɊᚒɋɘɋɁɇȽɈɍɐɊ᚜ɐɂɘɑ(literally“theoriginoftheorderofvisible
things”).Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,4A).
17
Cf.Hexaemeron ͳǤ͵ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ͻCȌǤ See an analysis of this theme in Clapsisǡ ǮSt Basilǯs Cos-
mology,’217-18.
18
Seee.g.Hexaemeron5.6(PG29,108BC);9.3(PG29,192B-196B).Cf.Bouteneff,Begin-
nings,136;Hildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,117;PhilipRous-
seauǡ ǮHumanNatureandItsMaterialSettinginBasilofCaesarea’sSermonsontheCre-
ation’TheHeythropJournal49(2008):222-39,esp.ʹʹ͹Ǧʹͺǡ ʹ͵ͳǦ͵ʹǢ voicuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuia
despreCreareaLumii,’186.
19
Cf.JohnD.BarrowandFrankJ.Tipler,TheAnthropicCosmologicalPrinciple(Oxfordand
NewYork:ClarendonPressandOxfordUniversityPress,1986),16-20;TrinhXuanThu-
an,Lamélodiesecrète:EtL’Hommecréal’Universe(France:Fayard,1988),287-88,292-
96; JohnD. Barrow, The Constants of Nature:FromAlphatoOmega – the Numbers that
EncodetheDeepestSecretsoftheUniverse(NewYork:PantheonBooks,2002),141-76.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 100 5/09/13 12:10 AM
101
teleologicalinterconnectivityofhumanandcosmicrealms
20
remainsvery
much valiuǡ both scientiϐically anu theologicallyǤ
Cbristion worlJview onJ scientiϔic poroJiqms
There are, nevertheless, other important aspects in the Basilian Hexaem-
eron which should not be overlooked given their relevance to the ecclesi-
al experience, and the current conversations in science and theology. An
outstandingcontributionishisproofthattheChristianworldviewcancre-
ativelyintersectwiththeculturalpatternsandcosmologicalparadigmsof
a given time. St Basil’s understanding of this matter, perfectly epitomised
bythepolygonal characterofhiseducation, Christianand Classical,
21
was
baseu on the conviction that the positive inteiaction of the scientiϐic anu
theologicalworldviewsisonlypossiblewhenthetwopartiesacknowledge
both their own epistemological limitations and each other’s competen-
cies. The Hexaemeron abundantly illustrates this principle. The homilies
display both an expert use of the available sciences in explaining natural
phenomena anu a masteiful inteipietation of the scientiϐic uata within the
scriptural and theological framework.
22
This remarkable accomplishment
suggeststhatStBasilwasfullyawareoftheanalyticalanddescriptivechar-
actei of the scientiϐic enueavoui anuǡ iespectivelyǡ the heimeneutical anu
interpretive character of the theological approach. Thus, in contrast with
the unswerving rejection of pagan culture by earlier authors such as Ter-
tullian,
23
andapartfromhisownrhetoricalturns,
24
heaccommodatedboth
appioaches Ȃ that isǡ theological anu scientiϐic Ȃ in his unueitaking to map
thecontoursofreality.Thisnuancedsynthesisgivesproperaccountforthe
tensions noticed by Stanislas Giet in both St Basil’s appreciation for and
reticence toward science, tensions which the former considered as point-
ingtouncertaintyandoscillation
25
yetwhich,fromtheperspectiveofthis
synthesis,witnesstheCappadocian’sefforttodiscernthecompetenciesof
thetwoworldviews.Giet’simpassecouldhavebeenavoidedifhemadea
20
Cf.Hexaemeron1.4(PG29,12BC).
21
Foi St Basilǯs euucationǡ see }ohn AǤ LǤ Leeǡ ǮWhy Biunǯt St Basil Wiite in New Testament
Greek?’Phronema25(2010):3-20,esp.10-13.
22
CfǤ Baviu CǤ Linubeigǡ ǮEaily Chiistian Attituues towaiu Natuieǡǯ in uaiy BǤ Feingien
(ed.),ScienceandReligion:AHistoricalIntroduction(BaltimoreandLondon:TheJohns
HopkinsUniversityPress,2002):47-56,at51.
23
CfǤ Linubeigǡ ǮEaily Chiistian Attituues towaiu Natuieǡǯ ͶͻǦͷͲǢ Quastenǡ Patrology,vol.2,
247,320-21.
24
CfǤ Linubeigǡ ǮEaily Chiistian Attituues towaiu Natuieǡǯ ͷͲǦͳǤ
25
CfǤ uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͶͶǦ͸ǡ ͹ʹǦ͵Ǥ
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 101 5/09/13 12:10 AM
102
further distinction, between the sciences so much appreciated by St Basil
andtheatheistideologiesheabhorred,anuancetowhichIshallreturnin
duecourse.
St Basil uisplayeu amazement foi anu appioval of the scientiϐic iep-
resentation of the world, as pointed out by scholars,
26
implicitly dismiss-
ing such facile generalisations as the perception of a patristic worldview
that developed “wholly at odds with the cosmology and anthropology of
the Greek ancients.”
27
Be consiueieu the geneial scientiϐic knowleuge of
LateAntiquityasalegitimatedescriptionofreality.Heneverobjected,for
instance, to the geocentric model or any other feature pertaining to the
Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmography.
28
Furthermore, whilst repudiating
on theological grounds the atheist convictions of some ancient sages, he
showeu no ieal intention to uebate the valiuity of theii scientiϐic theoiiesǤ
Togivejustoneexample,inafamouspassageinwhichheconsideredthe
iamiϐications of atomismǡ
29
headvocatedtheideaofapurposefuluniverse
without questioning the scientiϐic woith of the theoiyǤ St Basilǯs conciete
appreciationforsciencecanbeperceivedmoresoinhispenchantfornat-
uralistic explanations. Without becoming oblivious of God’s ever-creative
andall-pervadingenergy,heelaboratedatlengthonthenaturalcharacter
– as presented by the various sciences – of human, biological and cosmic
phenomena. This interest in, and acknowledgment of, nature, which he
26
CfǤ ȋAichbishopȌ Chiysostomos anu ȋBieiomonkȌ Patapiosǡ ǮScience anu Knowleuge in
the Patristic and Monastic Traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church,’ Transdiscipli-
narity in Science and Religion 2 (2007): 183-94, at 190; Emmanuel Danezis, Efstratios
Theouossiou anu Nilan Bimitiijevicǡ ǮThe Bexaemeion of St Basil the uieat anu the Cos-
mologicalViewsofHisTime,’inBasarabNicolescuandMagdaStavinschi(eds.),Science
and Orthodoxy, a Necessary Dialogue (Bucharest: Curtea Veche, 2006): 103-109, esp.
ͳͲͶǦͳͲͷǢ Louthǡ ǮThe Cappauociansǡǯ ʹͻͶǢ Auiian Naiinescuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuia uespie luminá
ȋɔᛟɑȀɔȽᛒɐɇɑȌ ,i func(ia ei lituigicá în lume la SfǤ vasile cel Naieǣ Be la Sfânta Sciiptuiá
la SfǤ uiigoiie Palama ,i Páiintele Bumitiu Stániloaeǡǯ in PǤ Semen anu LǤ Petcu ȋeusǤȌǡ
Pórin(i CopoJocieni ȋIa,iǣ Publishing Bouse of AǤ IǤ Cuza 0niveisityǡ ʹͲͲͻȌǣ ʹʹ͵Ǧʹͻͷǡ espǤ
ʹ͵ͺǦͶʹǢ Baniel FǤ Stiamaiaǡ ǮSuiveying the Beavensǣ Eaily Chiistian Wiiteis on Astiono-
my,’StVladimir’sSeminaryQuarterly46:2-3(2002):147-62,esp.147,152.
27
CfǤ uiegoiy Telepneff anu Bishop Chiysostomosǡ ǮThe Tiansfoimation of Bellenistic
ThoughtontheCosmosandManintheGreekFathers,’ThePatristicandByzantineRe-
view9:2-3(1990):123-34,at123.
28
Seee.g.Hexaemeron1.3-4(PG29,9A-12C);3.3(PG29,56C-60A)etc.Lossky,TheMys-
tical Theology, 105, suggested that in modern times the geocentric paradigm could be
justiϐieu in teims of the geocentiic conuition of uivine ievelationǤ Alsoǡ he maintaineu
that our vision of the universe is geocentrically and anthropocentrically conditioned,
giventhathumankindisthecentreofperspectiveandthesourceofanyrepresentation
ofreality.Inthelightofhisappreciationforthesciences,wecaninferthathadhelived
inourtimesaliteralgeocentrismwouldhaveseemedunacceptabletoStBasil.
29
Hexaemeron1.2(PG29,5C-9A);cf.Hexaemeron1.11(PG29,25A-28B).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 102 5/09/13 12:10 AM
103
sharedwiththeothertwoCappadocianfathers
30
andsuccessfullyhanded
on to future generations of Byzantine theologians,
31
emerges with clarity
through the following examples. He believed for instance that Moses re-
ceived from nature itself (ᚌɌ Ƚᛅɒ᚞ɑ ɒ᚞ɑ ɔɠɐɂɘɑ) his love of justice (ɒ᚝ɋ
Ɏɏᛂɑ ɒᛂ ɁɜɈȽɇɍɋ ɔɇɉɜȽɋ),
32
whilst maintaining that the Holy Spirit pre-
pares(ɎȽɏȽɐɈɂɓəɃɍɋɒɍɑ)oractivatesthewater’snature(ɒ᚝ɋɒɍᛒ ᛊɁȽɒɍɑ
ɔɠɐɇɋ),itsnaturalcapacity,forthegerminationoflife(ɎɏᛂɑɃɘɍɀɍɋɜȽɋ);
33

likewise,heexhibitedtheconvictionthattheheat(ɒ᚝ɋ Ɏɠɏɘɐɇɋ)produced
bythesunpertainstoitsnature,sincethesunisnaturallyhot(ᚌɈɔɠɐɂɘɑ
ɂᚮɋȽɇ ɅɂɏɊɟɋ),andisnotreceivedfromelsewhere.
34
TheHexaemeronisfull
of similar naturalistic illustrations; I shall return to the topic of St Basil’s
understandingofnatureinthelastsectionofthisarticle.
Dissociatingsciencefromideology
The appreciation of nature and science is nevertheless but one virtue of
the Hexaemeron. Taking on the previous discussion of St Basil’s approach
toatomism,itshouldbenotedthatwhilstpresentingtheologyandscience
as two complementaiy ϐielus of knowleugeǡ the saint ielentlessly attackeu
the iueological wiaps in which scientiϐic infoimation wasǡ as it still isǡ pio-
moted to the broad public.
35
For this purpose, he adopted an intelligent
strategy in relation to the sciences and their associated ideologies, which
evokes the similar efforts undertaken by the early Christian apologists to
bridge theology, science and philosophy, by criticising pagan religiosity.
36

Moreprecisely,heendeavouredtodismantletheatheistpresuppositionsof
somephilosophicalschoolsofLateAntiquity,likethematerialisticone,and
aimeu at counteiacting the attempts to uepict scientiϐic enquiiy Ȃ othei-
wisetheologicallyneutral–asantagonistictotheChristianworldview.This
30
Cf. Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural
Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (NewHavenandLondon:Yale Uni-
versityPress,1993),100,105etc.
31
Forinstance,asimilarapproachtonaturewasreiteratedinthefourteenthcenturyby
St Gregory Palamas, who explicitly borrowed from St Basil. Cf. Doru Costache, ǮQueen
oftheSciences?TheologyandNaturalKnowledgeinStGregoryPalamas’OneHundred
andFiftyChapters,’TransdisciplinarityinScienceandReligion3(2008):27-46,esp.32-3,
38-9etc.SeemoreexamplesinMeyendorff,ByzantineTheology,132-34.
32
Cf.Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,5B).
33
Cf.Hexaemeron2.6(PG29,44B).
34
Cf.Hexaemeron3.7(PG29,69C).
35
Cf.Pelikan,ChristianityandClassicalCulture,100.
36
CfǤ Richaiu AǤ Noiiisǡ ǮThe Apologistsǡǯ in Youngǡ Ayies anu Louth ȋeusǤȌǡ TheCambridge
HistoryofEarlyChristianLiterature(citedaboven.10):36-44,esp.36-7,39,42-3.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 103 5/09/13 12:10 AM
104
appioach is typiϐieu by his commentǡ iepiouuceu belowǡ about the haimful
impact of atheistic iueologies upon scientiϐic uiscouiseǤ St Basil was actu-
ally convinced that the inconsistencies he traced within and between the
vaiious scientiϐic theoiies oiiginateu in the iueological anu iiieligious as-
sumptionsofmanyoftheirauthors.
ThesagesamongtheGreekshavestruggled[toelaborate]many[the-
ories]aboutnature(Ɏɂɏᚷɔᛐɐɂɘɑ),butnotoneidea(ɉᛁɀɍɑ)oftheirs
remainedunmovedandunshaken,thelatteroverthrowingtheprevi-
ousone.[…]IgnoringGod,theycouldnotconceivethatanintelligent
cause (ȽᚫɒᚶȽɋ ᚍɊɔɏɍɋȽ) preceded the genesis of all (ɒ᚞ɑ ɀɂɋᚒɐɂɘɑ
ɒᛟɋ ᚿɉɘɋ), drawing their conclusions from their initial ignorance
[concerningGod].
37
Atthispoint,heseemstohavefollowedTheophilus,
38
eitherdirectly,which
is not unlikely given the afϐinities between the above textǡ consiueieu in
itsentirety,
39
andthediscourseoftheAntiochenebishop,or,alternatively,
through the mediation of St Athanasius the Great.
40
One way or the oth-
eiǡ it is signiϐicant that in his appioach to science St Basil was conceineu
neitherwithremediatingtheinconsistenciesofthepaganworldviewsnor
with piouucing a supposeuly moie ieliable scientiϐic cosmogiaphyǤ
41
This
37
Hexaemeron1.2(PG29,8A).SeeasimilarcriticisminHexaemeron3.3(PG29,57AB).
38
Cf.Theophilus,ToAutolycus3.3(PG6,1124B):“yearningforvainandemptyglory,all
[the Greek sages] neither have themselves known the truth nor have they guided oth-
ers to the truth. Precisely the things they said demonstrate their utter inconsistencies
(ᙳɐɠɊɔɘɋȽȌandmanyamongthemdemolishedtheirownopinions(ɒᙼ ᚬɁɇȽ ɁɟɀɊȽɒȽȌ.
Fornotonlydidtheyrefuteoneanother,butsomeevenmadenulltheirownopinions.
Thus,theirreputationresultedinembarrassmentandfolly,beingdespisedbythosewho
understand.Foreithertheyspokeofthegodsandthentaughtatheism(ᙳɅɂɟɒɄɒȽȌ,or
whilst speaking of the making of the woilu ȋɎɂɏᚷɈɟɐɊɍɓɀɂɋɚɐɂɘɑ)theysaidintheend
thatallthingsemergespontaneously(ȽᛅɒɍɊȽɒɇɐɊᛂɋ...ɂᚮɋȽɇ ɒᛟɋ Ɏəɋɒɘɋ).Andwhilst
speaking of pioviuence ȋɎɂɏᚷ ɎɏɍɋɍɜȽɑȌ, again it seemed to them that the cosmos is
withoutprovidence(ᙳɎɏɍɋɟɄɒɍɋɂᚮɋȽɇ ɈɟɐɊɍɋᚌɁɍɀɊəɒɇɐȽɋȌ.”Forabriefreferenceto
thispassageseeGiet’snoteinBasildeCésarée,Homéliessurl’Hexaéméron(citedabove
n.7),92,n.3.
39
See paiticulaily the sentenceǣ DzThe cieation ȋɎɍᚶɄɐɇɑ)oftheskyandearthmustbecon-
veyeu not as having happeneu spontaneously ȋȽᛅɒɍɊəɒɘɑ),assomehaveimagined,but
as having its cause ȋȽᚫɒɜȽɋȌfromGod.”Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,6A).
40
InOntheIncarnation2(PG25,97C-100A),StAthanasiusnoted:“somesaythatallthings
areself-originated(ȽᛅɒɍɊəɒɘɑɒᙼ ɎəɋɒȽ ɀɂɀɂɋ᚞ɐɅȽɇ),sotospeak.TheEpicureansare
among these; they deny that there is any providence (ɎɏɟɋɍɇȽɋ) behind the evident
and visible things. […] Others take the view expressed by Plato […]. He said that God
had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter (ᚌɈ ɎɏɍɡɎɍɈɂɇɊɚɋɄɑ ɈȽᚷ
ᙳɀɂɋɛɒɍɓᛊɉɄɑ).”
41
Seee.g.Hexaemeron3.8(PG29,73C);9.1(PG29,188C-189A).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 104 5/09/13 12:10 AM
105
conclusionbringsusbacktothepastoralmotivationsbehindtheHexaem-
eronǤ Inueeuǡ St Basilǯs scholaily pioϐiciency anu scientiϐic expeitise uiu not
takeprecedenceinhispositionasashepherdoftheChurch,nomatterhow
passionate about general knowledge he was.
42
His point against ignoring
God’scontinuousactivitywithincreationandthereductionofthecosmic
algoiithm to what we call touay Ǯnatuialǯ factois ultimately iemaineu theo-
logical.Thisconsistentapproachundoubtedlydrawsonhisunderstanding
of uenesis as a theologicalǡ not scientiϐicǡ naiiativeǤ
43

Beforeproceedinganyfurther,onemoreaspecthastobeaddressed.
Aujacent to his effoit to uisentangle the scientiϐic enueavoui fiom atheistic
ideologies,StBasilrepeatedlydenouncedtheillegitimatealliancebetween
them as a factor causing the fading of values and meanings in society. He
pointedout,forinstance,thefailureofsomeancientcosmologies–likethat
of the Stoicsǡ with its iecuiient cycles of conϐlagiation anu iebiith
44
– to
appreciate the beauty of creation as indicative of the divine wisdom that
pervadesrealitytogetherwiththeuniverse’svocationtopermanenceand
fulϐilmentǤ
45
Beautycannotbetheoutcomeofrandomforcesoranaccident;
forthisreason,StBasilcouldacceptneithertheprospectofitsdisappear-
ancenortheideaofaneschatologicaldissolutionoftheuniverse.Against
theweaknesscharacterisingancientcosmologies,fromtheoutsethenoted
withclarity–yetavoidingpolemicalovertones–thatthenotionofrenewal
anuȀoi peifection as a ϐinal puipose of the cosmos is entiencheu in the veiy
ϐiist woius of the cieation naiiativeǤ
The anticipated statement of the dogmas concerning the world’s
consummation (ɐɓɋɒɂɉɂɜȽɑȌ anu tiansfoimation ȋɊɂɒȽɎɍɇɛɐɂɘɑ) is
nowhandedonasanutterancethroughtheelementsoftheinspired
teaching:“InthebeginningGodmade.”
46
42
InhisanalysisoftheBasilianHexaemeronǡ Clapsis ȋǮSt Basilǯs Cosmologyǡǯ ʹͳͷǦͳ͸Ȍ has
excellentlypointedoutthesaint’scarenottoimposeonthecongregationasdogmacon-
ceptsborrowedfromthe“outerwisdom.”
43
Cf.Hexaemeron1.2(PG29,8B);1.11(PG29,28B);6.2(PG29,120D);9.1(PG29,188D);
On the Origin of Humanity 1.4 (PG 30, 13CD; for an English version of this homily, see
St Basil the Great, On the Human Condition, trans. and intro. by Nonna Verna Harrison
(Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005), 31-48, at 33). A similar attitude
occurredagenerationlaterinStJohnChrysostom’sHomiliesonGenesis2.2(PG53,28).
SeealsoBouteneff,Beginningsǡ ͳ͵ʹǡ ͳ͵ͷǢ Stiamaiaǡ ǮSuiveying the Beavensǡǯ ͳͷ͵Ǥ
44
Cf.Hexaemeron3.8(PG29,73C).
45
Seee.g.Hexaemeron3.10(PG29,73CD).
46
Hexaemeron 1.3 (PG 29, 9B). St Basil’s unwavering commitment to the dogma of cre-
ationleavesnoroomforspeculationslikethoseofDanezis,TheodossiouandDimitrije-
vic ȋǮThe Bexaemeion of St Basil the uieatǡǯ ͳͲͷǦͳͲ͸Ȍǡ which suggest that he enteitaineu
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 105 5/09/13 12:10 AM
106
ThisdeclarationshowsasinaccurateRousseau’sviewoftheeschatological
fulϐilment of cieation as Dza ietuin to a woilu that was invisible anu eteinalǡdz
an “ancient fatherland” which he construed as a heavenly, disembodied
paradise.
47
OversteppingtheBasiliandependenceonthePlatonicandOri-
genisttraditions,anaspectthatwillbeaddressedshortly,Rousseaufailed
tonoticetheCappadocian’sprudentuseofthesesources.Whatmattersat
thisstage,however,isthatthephrase“ancientfatherland”(infactnotused
intheHexaemeron)
48
referstothescripturalparadiseasdepictedinGene-
sis2andnotaheavenlyrealm.Moreover,theinterpretationoftheeschaton
intermsofadisembodiedandinvisibleconditionwouldquestionthecon-
sistencyofStBasil’scritiqueoftheStoicworldview.
49
Toconcludethisdiscussion,itisnoteworthythatStBasildemonstrat-
ed throughout his Homilies on the Hexaemeron wisdom and discernment,
abundantly(yetwithoutpedanticreferences)integratingfeaturesofClas-
sicalandLateAntiquecultureinhisinterpretiveapproachtoGenesisand
likewiseinhisarticulationoftheChristianworldview.Moreprecisely,un-
dertakingtoretelltheGenesisstoryforanaudienceconditionedbytheHel-
lenisticparadigm,heplacedthewholenarrativewithintheculturalsetting
of the time and made skilful use of its powerful tools. In the process, as
a result of his dissociation of science from its ideological entanglements,
hemanagedtoreinterpretwithinagenuineChristianframeworksomeas-
pects peitaining to the scientiϐic uimension of the paiauigmǡ making ioom
for values, meaning and the perspective of a purposeful universe. Correl-
ativelyǡ whilst valiuating some aspects of scientiϐic cosmogiaphy as useful
vehiclesfortheecclesialviewofreality,StBasilcoulddistancehimselffrom
thequestionableaspectsoftheculturalcontextandanyemotionalattach-
menttoitsfragilecertainties.
theideaofaneternalmatter.TheirinterpretationiscontradictedbytheBasilianrefuta-
tionoftheconceptoftheuncreatedmatterinHexaemeron2.2(PG29,29C-32B).ForSt
Basil’sviewsonmatter,seeBouteneff,Beginningsǡ ͳ͵͵Ǣ uuntonǡ ǮBetween Allegoiy anu
Nythǡǯ ͷͻǢ voicuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuiadespreCreareaLumii,’189.
47
Cf.Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,320.
48
Cf.OntheHolySpirit27.66(PG32,192A).Theonlyparallelinthehomiliesistherefer-
encetothe“Jerusalemabove”astruefatherland(ᙳɉɄɅɇɋɛ ɐɍɓ ɎȽɒɏᚷɑ ᚘ ᙴɋɘ ᘾɂɏɍɓɐȽɉɛɊ;
an image evoking Revelation 21-22). Cf. Hexaemeron 9.2 (PG 29, 192B). Nevertheless,
thisᙴɋɘ ᘾɂɏɍɓɐȽɉɛɊcannotbetakenasaheavenlyordisembodiedreality.
49
Foi a iefutation of such possibilityǡ see }ohannes Zachhubeiǡ ǮStoic Substanceǡ NonǦEx-
isting Matter? Some Passages in Basil of Caesarea Reconsidered,’ Studia Patristica 41
(Leuven-Paris-Dudley:Peeters,2006):425-30.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 106 5/09/13 12:10 AM
107
Biawing on a coheient anu efϐicient ǮknowǦhowǡǯ such achievements
caninspirethecontemporaryconversationsbetweenscientistsandtheolo-
gians.Itisremarkableinfacthowthisapproachhasbeenfruitfullyreiter-
atedinthelastcenturybyaseriesofOrthodoxscholarsintheirattemptsto
engage the new scientiϐic paiauigmǤ
50
TheWorldasaTheologicalSchool
AnotherpointofinterestisStBasil’sassessmentoftheworldintermsofa
schoolorateaching-ground(ɁɇɁȽɐɈȽɉɂᚸɍɋ ɈȽᚷ ɎȽɇɁɂɓɒɛɏɇɍɋ),
51
wherean
instruction about God is supplied. This theme appears to be a theological
corollaryoftheanthropicprinciple,referredtoabove,towhichStBasilwas
committed like any other reader of the Scriptures: the cosmos was fash-
ionedforusandinawaythatfacilitatesourknowingGod.Hisconviction
thatthecosmosasawholeandtheterrestrialecosysteminparticularhave
many things to Ǯteachǯ us
52
comesasnosurprise,sincetheuniverseiscreat-
edforhumanityandshapedaccordingtotheparametersofitsexistence.
53

Incontrastwithearlierapproaches,illustratede.g.byGiet,
54
recentscholars
havenotoverlookedthetopicoftheworldasaschool.Nevertheless,whilst
quoting the phrase “teaching-ground” both Rousseau
55
and Bouteneff
56

retained its common ethical sense yet payed attention to neither its her-
meneutical function within the Hexaemeron nor the liturgical nuances it
entails.Iproposethethemeoftheschoolasthethemeandthehermeneu-
ticalcentreoftheBasilianworkconsideredhere,andnotmerelyapaideu-
ticdigression.AstheunderlyingthemeoftheHexaemeron,theideaofthe
schoolshapestheentirediscourseofthehomilies,explainingforinstance
whytheexplorationofthecosmos–andtheGenesisnarrative–ultimately
50
CfǤ Clapsisǡ ǮSt Basilǯs Cosmologyǡǯ ʹͳ͸Ǧͳ͹Ǣ Losskyǡ The Mystical Theology, 106; Mey-
endorff,ByzantineTheology,134;PanayiotisNellas, Beiϔicotion in Cbristǣ 0rtboJox Per-
spectives on the Nature of the Human Person (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary
Press, 1997), 97-9, 102-103; Christos Yannaras, Elements of Faith: An Introduction to
OrthodoxTheology(Edinburgh:T&TClark,1991),46.
51
Cf.Hexaemeron1.5(PG29,13B).
52
Hexaemeron9.3(PG29,196B)speaksofthemediationofthe“untaughtlawofnature”
(ɒ᛫ ᙳɁɇɁəɈɒᛠɒ᚞ɑɔɠɐɂɘɑɋɟɊᛠ).“Untaught”meansnotacquiredbyformaleducation.
53
See e.g. Hexaemeron ͶǤͳ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ͺͲCȌǤ Foi the scientiϐic unueistanuing of this aspectǡ
see Barrow, The Constants of Nature, 160-65; Basarab Nicolescu, Nous, la particule et
lemonde,2
nd
edition(Monaco:ÉditionsduRocher,2002),101-105;Thuan,Lamélodie
secrète,294.
54
SeeBasiledeCésarée,Homéliessurl’Hexaéméron(citedaboven.7),106-107.
55
Cf.Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,334.
56
Cf.Bouteneff,Beginnings,133,136.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 107 5/09/13 12:10 AM
108
becameforStBasilaquestforthemarksoftheCreator’swisdomandthe
theologicalmeaningofhumanlife.Thisaspectissuggestedfromtheoutset
bytheprologueoftheHexaemeron,bywayofasuccinctdepictionofMoses’
journey,towhichIshallreturn.Attheendofthisdiscussion,therichnessof
theBasilianconceptofatheologicallymeaningfulandpurposefulcreation
willbecomeevident.
AwayofreadingtheScriptures
The topic of the world as a teaching-ground seems to derive from St Ba-
sil’s understanding of the scriptural narratives, like the Genesis accounts
of creation and paradise, as teachings or pedagogical parables; an aspect
discussed by Bouteneff.
57
In a text attributed to the great Cappadocian, it
isstated:“thestoryofthefashioningofmanisalesson[ɎȽɜɁɂɓɐɇɑ]forour
life.”
58
Thevalueofthisstatementcanbechallengedonthegroundsofits
doubtfulBasilianauthorship;
59
however,itostensiblyrehearsesthesaint’s
elaborationsonthesymbolicshapeofthehumanbeing,
60
whichheoffered
asaninterpretationforGenesis1:24(LXX).Givenatleasttheconcordbe-
tweenthesetwotexts,onecaninferbywayofgeneralisationthatStBasil
construedthecreationnarrativeasinspiringapedagogicalviewoftheuni-
verse, and that in turn this construct conditioned his idea of the cosmos
asatheologicalschool.Thisassumptionwillleadusthroughthefollowing
analysis.
57
Cf.Ibidem,135.
58
OntheOriginofHumanity1.17(PG30,33A).Forthebinomialconstructofhistoria(nar-
rative) and theologia ȋsalviϐic teachingȌ in St Basilǡ see Rousseauǡ ǮHuman Nature and
ItsMaterialSetting,’225-26,232.ForthemeaningofhistoriaortohistorikoninStBasil
and other early Christian authors, see Hildebrand, The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of
Caesarea,107-109.WithoutreferencetoStBasil,seethetopicofhistoriaaspresentedby
Fiances Youngǡ ǮAlexanuiian anu Antiochene Exegesisǡǯ in Alan }Ǥ Bausei anu Buane Fieu-
erickWatson(eds.),AHistoryofBiblicalInterpretation,Vol.1:TheAncientPeriod(Grand
RapidsandCambridge:WilliamB.EerdmansPublishingCompany,2003):334-54,esp.
341-47.
59
Cf.Quasten,Patrology,Vol.3,217.Foralittlemorethanasentenceconcerningtheau-
thenticityofthehomiliesOntheOriginofHumanityǡ see Nonna veina Baiiisonǡ ǮIntio-
duction’toOntheHumanCondition(quotedaboven.43),14-5.Rousseau(BasilofCaes-
area,318etc.)speaksofthe“elevengreatsermonsonthecreationoftheworld,”thatis,
theHomiliesontheHexaemeron,thustacitlyaddingthetwosupposedlyspurioushomi-
liestothenineauthenticones.Cf.idem,ǮHumanNatureandItsMaterialSetting,’222.
60
Cf.Hexaemeron9.2(PG29,192AB).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 108 5/09/13 12:10 AM
109
TheBasilianapproachtothecosmosviascripturalinterpretationvery
likely drew on Origen the Alexandrian.
61
For Origen, theology primarily
consistedinbiblicalexegesis,
62
anaspectwellillustratedbyhisarticulation
ofɔɓɐɇɈɛ–contemplationofthephysicalreality,astageintheprocessof
spiritual formation
63
– as mediated by the ethical and spiritual interpre-
tation of the Bible.
64
For example, Origen’s First Homily on Genesis
65
goes
as far as to propound that at some interpretive level the narrative of cre-
ation speaks of the mystical remaking of the human being, all the details
of the cosmic environs having anthropological correspondents. Somehow
in a similar manner, as an outcome of his pedagogical approach to the
same Genesis account St Basil presented the world – which includes the
terrestrial ecosystem and the far reaches of space alike – as a privileged
place wheie people aie given inueϐinite possibilities to leain about uou anu
themselves.
66
BetweenOrigenandStBasil’srespectiveapproachesthereis
a range of continuities and discontinuities that cannot be addressed here
infull.
67
Nevertheless,apartfromitsemphaticallycosmologicaldimension
whichcontrastswiththealmostacosmisticOrigenianviewofthecreation
61
Foi St Basilǯs heimeneutical afϐiliation with 0iigenǡ see Bouteneffǡ Beginnings,124-25;
uuntonǡ ǮBetween Allegoiy anu Nythǡǯ ͷͺǢ Chailes Kannengiesseiǡ HandbookofPatristic
Exegesis:TheBibleinAncientChristianity(LeidenandBoston:Brill,2006),740;Andrew
Louth,TheOriginsoftheChristianMysticalTradition:FromPlatotoDenys(Oxford:Clar-
enuon Piessǡ ͳͻͺ͵Ȍǡ ʹǦ͸ǡ ͸ͲǦͳǢ Ncuuckinǡ ǮPatteins of Biblical Exegesis in the Cappa-
docian Fathers,’ 44-5; Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, 320; Norman Russell, The Doctrine
of Beiϔicotion in tbe 6reek Potristic TroJition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004),
206-207.
62
Cf. John Behr, The Formation of Christian Theology, Vol. 1: The Way to Nicaea (Crest-
wood,NY:StVladimir’sSeminaryPress,2001),169;Bouteneff,Beginnings,96;Fearghus
0 Feaighailǡ ǮPhilo anu the Fatheisǣ The Lettei anu the Spiiitǡǯ in Thomas Finan anu vin-
cent Twomey (eds.), Scriptural Interpretation in the Fathers: Letter and Spirit (Dublin
andPortland:FourCourtsPress,1995):39-59,at56;AndrewLouth,TheOriginsofthe
ChristianMysticalTradition,54.
63
Cf.Louth,TheOriginsoftheChristianMysticalTradition,59-61.
64
Muchlater,yetinthesamevein,StMaximustheConfessoraddedthatthemediationof
Scripturetowardanaccuratenaturalcontemplationispossiblegiventhattherespective
ɉɟɀɍɇǡ uivine piinciplesǡ of Sciiptuie anu cieation coinciueǤ See eǤgǤ his Book of Bifϔicul-
ties,10.17(PG91,1128CD).
65
Origen, Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, The Fathers of the Church Series, trans. R. E.
Heine(Washington,DC:TheCatholicUniversityofAmericaPress,1982),47-71.Seealso
Origen,Omilii,Comentarii,i AJnotóri lo 6enezó,bilingualedition,intro.,trans.andnotes
by Auiian Nuiaiu ȋIa,iǣ Poliiomǡ ʹͲͲ͸Ȍǡ ͳʹͲǦ͸͹Ǥ Foi ielevant notes to the oiigins of St
Basilǯs iuea of the schoolǡ see Allan EǤ }ohnsonǡ ǮConstiucting a Naiiative 0niveiseǣ 0ii-
gen’sHomily1onGenesis,’StudiaPatristica41(citedaboven.49):175-79.
66
Seee.g.Hexaemeron3.10(PG29,77B).Cf.Bouteneff,Beginnings,136.
67
Forfurtherdetails,seeBouteneff,Beginnings,121,124-131.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 109 5/09/13 12:10 AM
110
narrative,
68
StBasil’sdiscourseisnotaltogetherdeprivedofspiritualcon-
notations.
69
TheprologueoftheHexaemeron,forinstance,takesasastart-
ingpointthetraditionalparametersofthemysticalapproach.
70
Indeed,theprologueofthehomiliessharesintheconventionaltraits
of mystical literature, to which Rousseau seems to have hinted when an-
alysing the connections between the Spirit, Moses, Genesis and the in-
terpreter.
71
But let us have a closer look at the text. Indirectly, by way of
rhetorical interrogations, the passage of interest
72
exhorts the reader of
uenesis to walk the ascetic path to the extent that his oi hei soul is puiiϐieu
ȋɈȽɅȽɏɂɠɍɓɐȽɋȌǤ It likewise implies that only puiiϐication enables one to
be a piopei iecipient of the supeiioi teachings suggesteu oi signiϐieu ȋɒᙼ
ɐɄɊȽɇɋɟɊɂɋȽȌ by the otherwiseunsophisticatedphraseology(ɒᛟɋɊɇɈɏᛟɋ
ɔɘɋᛟɋ, “small voices”) of the narrative. For the impure ones, the high-
er message of the account would remain elusive.
73
Surprisingly, however,
theprologuedoesnotpromise,asonewouldexpectaftersuchimportant
statements,eitheraspiritualinterpretationofGenesisoramysticalsurvey
of the woiluǤ In factǡ alongsiue theii oveiall uesciiptive anu scientiϐicǦlike
character,thesermonsdonotdisplaymorethandoxologicalexpressionsof
awebeforethewisearchitectureofcreationandtobesurefrequentethical
digressions
74
(touchingontheformativescopeofthehomiliesandconverg-
ingtowardsthethemeoftheschool).
68
Asdiscretelysuggested,withoutmentioningOrigen,inHexaemeron3.9(PG29,73CD).
69
Seee.g.Hexaemeron2.1(PG29,28C),asacomplementtotheprologue,discussedbelow.
70
TheingeniousBasilianreiterationofOrigen’shermeneuticalmethodwithinthecanon-
ical framework of mainstream fourth century Orthodoxy seems to have inaugurated
a process of critical yet positive reception that – despite the sixth century anathemas
againstOrigen–reachedcompletionwithStMaximustheConfessorintheseventhcen-
tury.Cf.AndrewLouth,MaximustheConfessor(LondonandNewYork:Routledge,1996),
24-5.
71
CfǤ Rousseauǡ ǮHumanNatureandItsMaterialSetting,’226.
72
Cf.Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,4A-5A).
73
Onthecompatibilitybetweenreaderandthespiritualmeaningofthetext,seeHildeb-
rand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,111.
74
0n such ethical uigiessions in the tenth anu eleventh homiliesǡ see Rousseauǡ ǮHuman
NatureandItsMaterialSetting,’223.Itisunfortunatethatwhilstdiscussingtheethical
dimensionofStBasil’sthinking,Hildebrand(TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesar-
ea, 117-21) makes no reference to the Hexaemeron. The ethical digressions of St Basil
coiiesponu to 0iigenǯs seconu Ǯhighei senseǯ of the biblical naiiativesǤ See Elizabeth AǤ
Bively Lauioǡ ǮReconsiueiing 0iigenǯs Two Bighei Senses of Sciiptuial Neaningǣ Iuenti-
fying the Psychic and Pneumatic Senses,’ Studia Patristica 34 (Leuven: Peeters, 2001):
306-17.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 110 5/09/13 12:10 AM
111
We ϐinu heieǡ theiefoieǡ a uisciepancy within the economy of the woikǡ
namely,atensionbetweenthespiritualisingprologueandtheprimarilyde-
scriptive content of the homilies. This challenging incongruity, overall ig-
noredbyrecentscholarsoftheHexaemeron,cannotbeunintentional.The
saint’ssilencewithreferencetotheloftiercontemplationsalludedtointhe
prologue (and related texts like Hexaemeron 2.1, mentioned above),
75
to-
getherwithhistiradeagainstallegory,
76
mayhavebeenrequiredbythein-
tentiontoaccommodatehislesseducatedaudiencesandreaders,asnoted
inscholarship.
77
Itisnotimpossible,however,thatthisapproachillustrated
StBasil’sadherencetothedisciplinaarcani.
78
Ifthiswerethecase,bydelib-
eratelyrefrainingfromincursionsintobroadersemantichorizonshewould
havebuiltabarrieragainstindiscretionsregardingmysticalteachings.Fur-
thermore, in a positive rehearsal of the disciplina within the practice of
spiritualguidance,bynotprovidingalltheanswershewouldhaveintend-
edtoincitethereadertowardfurtherenquiry,oraspiritualexaminationof
thecosmosandthescripturalnarrative.
79
Inhisownwords,“bythissilence
[concerning the formation of the elements], [the Genesis] history enticed
oui minu to exeicise oui aptituue in oiuei to ieϐlect on the iestǤdz
80
Hemay
havealsoimpliedtheneedofasimilarapproachforthereaderofhisown
homiliesǡ which weie meant as a tool to woik with anu not a ϐinal answei to
theconundrumsofGenesis.
81
StBasil’scommitmenttothedisciplinamight
elucidatethemysteryofthediscrepancybetweentheprologueandtherest
oftheHexaemeron.
75
SeealsothecommentsbyHildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,110-
11.
76
Cf.Hexaemeron9.1(PG29,188BC).OnStBasil’scomplexattitudetowardsallegory,see
Hildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,133-39.
77
Cf.Bouteneff,Beginnings,130;Hildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,
139-41.
78
See }uliette Bayǡ ǮAuheience to the Bisciplina Aicani in the Fouith Centuiyǡǯ StudiaPatris-
tica35(Leuven:Peeters,2001):266-70,esp.269,withaclearreferenceStBasil’suseof
thedisciplineofsecrecyinOntheHolySpirit,27.66.SeealsomyarticleǮThe Innei Siue of
theVisible:ApostolicCriteriaandSpiritintheOrthodoxTradition,’inTeodosiePetrescu
(ed.), 0moqiu Profesorului Nicoloe vǤ Buró lo ͼͶ Je oni ȋConstan(aǣ Euituia Aihiepisco-
piei Tomisului, 2006): 386-91, esp. 387-88. This aspect is likewise ignored by recent
researchersoftheHexaemeron,maybedeceivedbythestrongexpressionsofitsauthor’s
commitmenttotheliteralinterpretation.
79
ApointmadebyHildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,112,yetwith-
outreferencetothedisciplinaarcani.
80
Hexaemeron2.3(PG29,33C).
81
Cf.Hexaemeron3.10(PG29,77AB).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 111 5/09/13 12:10 AM
112
Approachingthecreation
All things considered, only now can we make sense of St Basil’s indirect
invitation, suggested by the sketched picture of the spiritual journey of
Moses,
82
to undertake the three-stage course of perfection which leads,
through ascetic detachment and natural contemplation, to the mystical
vision of God. Such spiritual exigencies, evocative of the Origenian path-
waytoperfection,
83
wouldbeutterlymisplacediftheintentofthehomilies
wereonlytheliteralinterpretationofGenesistogetherwithanempiricex-
plorationoftheworld.Bythisstrangeprologuetherefore,StBasilimplies
thatinemulatingthetransformativejourneyofMosesthereadercanreach
mysticalvisionandaccesstheinneraspectsofbothScriptureandnature.
Withintheplotoftheprologue,Moses’personaltrajectoryappearstohave
become not only an inspirational paradigm but also a hermeneutical key
necessarytounlocktheinnermeaningsofboththescripturalandcosmic
narratives.Aspointedoutinthebeginningofthissection,wecansurmise
that, together with the tradition of the spiritual exegesis of Genesis as a
starting point for natural contemplation, what inspired the saint to refer
totheworldasaschoolwaspreciselyMoses’experienceinthewilderness.
In his own words, after “dedicating forty full years to the contemplation
of the things that are (ɒᚪ Ʌɂɘɏɜ  ɒᛟɋ ᚼɋɒɘɋ)” Moses eventually reached
the climax of the mystical life and “saw God.”
84
The prophet’s experience
pioves the possibility of ϐinuing uou within his cieationǤ This leau seems to
conϐiim my asseition conceining the maik of the disciplinaarcaniuponthe
Hexaemeron. The homilies are meant to stir in the reader the desire for a
similarcontemplativeapproachtowardGod’screationthroughthelensof
thescripturalaccount,forwhichtheuniverseappearsasamanifestationof
divinewisdom.
As epitomised by the experience of Moses, St Basil’s commitment to
a spiritual hermeneutic explains why both the cosmos and the scriptural
narrativeonthecosmogenesisaretakenintheHexaemeronassourcesfor
a Christian pedagogy rooted within a holistic worldview. One step clos-
82
Cf. Hexaemeron 1.1 (PG 29, 5ABC). This passage, and not only the homonymous work
by Philo, might have inspired St Gregory of Nyssa to write his Life of Moses, where he
expandsonsimilarideas.SeeTheLifeofMoses2.22-6,2.157,inTheClassicsofWestern
SpiritualitySeries,trans.,intro.andnotesbyAbrahamJ.MalherbeandEverettFerguson
(NewYork-Ramsey-Toronto:PaulistPress,1978),59-60,93.Forthereiterationofthis
imageintheNyssen’swork,seeGiet’snoteinBasiledeCésarée,Homéliessurl’Hexaémé-
ron(citedaboven.7),90-1,n.2.
83
SeeadescriptioninLouth,TheOriginsoftheChristianMysticalTradition,54-5.
84
Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,5B).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 112 5/09/13 12:10 AM
113
ei to oui topicǡ a signiϐicant aspect emeiges fiom the pievious consiuei-
ations,namelythatpreciselybytakingthespiritualapproachStBasilwas
abletoascribepositiveconnotationstothethemeoftheworldasateach-
ing-ground. He offered a new and balanced version of the concept, thor-
oughly extricated from any pessimistic – Origenist-like – appraisal of the
cosmos as a transitory place of learning through the pain and misery so
relatedtomateriality.
Along with its scriptural inspiration, this positive approach might
oncemoreindicatethesaint’srelianceonthecanonicalversionofAlexan-
drinetradition,representedforexamplebyStAthanasiustheGreat.
85
For
StAthanasius,intruth,creationembodiesadivinesyntax,eachthing,living
or not, representing a written character. Given their syntactic coherence,
theensembleofalltheselettersconveysthroughthecolossaltomeofthe
universe–invastomundivolumine,tousetheCartesiancoinage–onetheo-
logical message. In itself an ingenious version of the so-called cosmologi-
cal proofofGod’sexistence,thisunderstandingpresentscreatedorderin
teims of a theologically signiϐicant stiuctuieǤ In St Athanasiusǯ own woiusǡ
The knowledge of God (ɒ᚝ɋ Ɏɂɏᚷ ɒɍᛒ ȣɂɍᛒ ɀɋᛟɐɇɋ) can be also
reachedfromthevisiblethings(ᙳɎᛂ ɒᛟɋ ɔȽɇɋɍɊɚɋɘɋ),giventhatby
itsorderandharmony(Ɂɇᙼɒ᚞ɑɒəɌɂɘɑ ɈȽᚷ ᙷɏɊɍɋɜȽɑ)creationpoints
to,andloudlydeclares,itsLordandCreator,asthoughthroughletters
(ᛚɐɎɂɏɀɏəɊɊȽɐɇ).
86
Creation appears here as an implicit Scripture,
87
a Ǯbookǯ oi witness of
the divine revelation, a complex web of theophanies which plays an anal-
85
0n the Athanasian inϐluence upon St Basilǯs thoughtǡ see Kannengiesseiǡ Handbook of
PatristicExegesis,741;NormanRussell, Tbe Boctrine of Beiϔicotion,207-208.
86
Against the Pagans 34 (PG 25, 69A); see also Against the Pagans 35 (PG 25, 69B). St
Athanasius himself seems to have depended on the identical elaborations of Origen in
hisCommentaryonGenesis1.1-9and3.20.SeeOrigen,Omilii,Comentarii,i AJnotóri lo
6enezó,464-69,506-509.
87
The symmetry between the world as a scripture and Scripture as a world was more
intensely pondered by St Maximus the Confessor; cf. Book of Bifϔiculties, 10.17-8 (PG
ͻͳǡ ͳͳʹͷBǦͳͳ͵͵AȌǤ The phiase Ǯimplicit Sciiptuieǯ is inspiieu by Fi Bumitiu Stániloaeǯs
ruminationsonScriptureandnature.SeehisTeoloqio Boqmoticó 0rtoJoxó,Vol.1,third
euition ȋBucuie,tiǣ Institutul Biblic ,i ue Nisiune al Biseiicii 0itouoxe Româneǡ ʹͲͲ͵Ȍǡ
ʹ͸ǡ ͵ͳǡ anu his scholia on the Naximian text in Sfântul Naxim Náituiisitoiulǡ Ambigua,
Páiin(i ,i Sciiitoii Biseiice,ti ͺͲ ȋBucuie,tiǣ Institutul Biblic ,i ue Nisiune al Biseiicii
OrtodoxeRomâne,1983),126-29,n.132-38.Thetextualnatureofcreationisvariously
auuiesseu by contempoiaiy Romanian thinkeisǡ such asǣ Anuiei Ple,uǡ limbo pósórilor
ȋBucuie,tiǣ Bumanitasǡ ͳͻͻͶȌǡ ͷͷǢ Anuié Sciimaǡ TimpulRuguluiAprins:Maestrulspiri-
tuol în troJi(io rósóriteonóǡ seconu euition ȋBucuie,tiǣ Bumanitasǡ ʹͲͲͲȌǡ ͹ͷǤ See also my
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 113 5/09/13 12:10 AM
114
ogous role to St Basil’s metaphor of the teaching-ground. The Hexaemer-
on commences on a similar note, by reiterating the possibility of know-
ing God through the order of the visible realities (ɒ᚞ɑ ɒᛟɋ ᚾɏɘɊɚɋɘɋ
ɁɇȽɈɍɐɊɛɐɂɘɑ).
88
It is apparent therefore that, possibly inspired by the
metaphor of a meaningful cosmos in Psalm 18:1-4 (LXX)
89
and the reve-
latory world as sketched by Romans 1:19-20,
90
the fathers never reduced
cieation to eithei the state of a Ǯnatuieǯ uepiiveu of uivine piesence oi a
hollowspacemarkedbypointlessness.Asmateriasignata,toparaphraseSt
ThomasAquinas,
91
cosmicexistencebearstheimprint,orsignature,ofthe
cieatoi Logos anu is theiefoie theologically signiϐicantǤ This tenet has been
defended by the Church fathers in utter contrast to the dualistic systems
of late antiquity, like Gnosticism and Manichaeism – characterised by the
oppositionofspiritandmatter–whichconstruedthematerialworldasan
irrationalandworthlessdomain.
92
Thecosmosasaschool
Before continuing our analysis of the topic of the world as a theological
school,itisworthpointingtootherfactorsthatequallycontributedtothe
arrangement of the hexaemeronic homilies around this theme. Contrary
to Rousseau’s opinion, that the Hexaemeron “had little to do with circum-
stance” and that St Basil was in fact interested in expounding the human
jouiney fiom oiigins to fulϐilmentǡ
93
the importance ofthesefactors– po-
lemicalinnatureandoutsidethescopeofthespirituallife–shouldnotbe
articleǮColocviul fáiá sfâi,itǣ Ra(iunea ue a ϐi a ciea(iei în cugetaiea páiintelui Bumitiu
Stániloaeǡǯ in Teouoi Bakonsky anu Boguan TátaiuǦCazaban ȋeusǤȌǡ Bumitru Stónilooe
sauparadoxulteologieiȋBucuie,tiǣ Anastasia,2003):183-241.
88
Hexaemeron1.1(PG29,4A).Inrejectingfromtheoutsettheideaofaspontaneousgen-
eration,StBasilemployedsimilartermstothoseusedbyStAthanasiusinOntheIncar-
nation ʹ ȋPu ʹͷǡ ͻ͹CǦͳͲͲAȌǤ See also Naiinescuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuia uespie lumináǡǯ ʹͷͳǤ
89
QuotedinHexaemeron3.9(PG29,76B).
90
QuotedinHexaemeron1.6(PG29,16C).
91
Cf. De Ente et Essentia 2. Whereas for St Thomas the phrase refers to matter “as con-
sideredunderdetermineddimensions”(Jico moteriom siqnotomǡ quoe sub Jeterminotis
dimensionibus consideratur) or individualised as a concrete being, for me, taking as a
pretextthemetaphorinJohn8:6,8,itdesignatestheaspectofmatterasimprintedand
shapedbytheLogos.
92
On Gnostic dualism and its dilemmas, see Ioan P. Couliano, The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic
Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism, trans. by H. S. Wiesner and the
author(NewYork:HarperSanFrancisco,1992),135-37.
93
Cf.BasilofCaesarea,319.Althoughthisassessmenthassomemerittoit,itisneverthe-
lessobviousthatasaconcernedshepherdStBasilwasnotinsensibletocontext.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 114 5/09/13 12:10 AM
115
overlooked.Sofar,wehavedeterminedthatStBasildrewonOrigen’sand
St Athanasiusǯ ieϐlections on the oiuei of cieation as a souice foi the knowl-
edgeofGod;also,thatnaturalcontemplationisconsequentlyusefulinthe
processofone’sspiritualformation,asintheexampleofMoses.Neverthe-
lessǡ the iuea of the school likewise playeu a signiϐicant iole in St Basilǯs
refutationoftheManicheanmythofcreation,whichpresentedtheworldas
broughtintobeingbyanevildeityandthereforevoidofpositivequalities.
94

ThisexplicitreferencetotheManicheanmythandotherdualismspointsto
theseworldviewsasStBasil’smainpolemicaltargetandnottheArianher-
esy, as maintained by both Bouteneff
95
and Rousseau.
96
Indeed, Arianism
togetherwithJudaismwerequestionedbythesaint,butfortheirfailureto
interpretGenesis1:26asaTrinitarianreference
97
andnotinrelationtothe
underlyingthemeandfocusofthehomilies.
Another external factor is the popularity of astrological fairy tales,
which imagineu humanity as goveineu by the skyǯs conϐiguiation iathei
than ueϐineu by fiee choiceǤ Such beliefs came to be uncompiomisingly ie-
futed by St Basil, who asserted – in accordance with Genesis 1:14 – that
thecelestialbodiesservepeople(theanthropicprinciple,again)insteadof
ruling their lives. Furthermore, he skilfully pointed out the inadvertences
rootedinthepseudoscienceofastrology.
98
Finally,thethemeoftheschool
seemstohaveaimedatcounteracting,asshownintheprevioussection,the
atheistic ideologies that hijacked ancient cosmology and denied the idea
of a purposeful universe. In the homilies, indeed, the theme of the school
seemstobeintegratedintoStBasil’seffortstodemonstratethepurpose-
fulnessthatpervadescreation.Thefollowingpassageendorsesthisunder-
standing.
…the cosmos has not been conceived vainly and without reason
99

given that it is assembleu foi some beneϐicial puipose anu the gieat
use of all beings. Thus, since it truly is a teaching-ground for con-
94
Cf.Hexaemeron 2.4(PG29,36BCD);cf. the note by Quasten,Patrology, Vol. 3, 217.On
Manichaeism,seeCouliano,TheTreeofGnosis,161-88.
95
Cf.Beginnings,131.
96
Cf.BasilofCaesarea,321.
97
Cf.Hexaemeron9.6(PG29,204C-208C).
98
Cf.Hexaemeron6.5(PG29,128B-129B);seealso6.6-6.7(PG29,129C-133C).OnStBa-
sil’sattitudetowardsastrology,seeRousseau,BasilofCaesareaǡ ͵͵͵Ǣ Stiamaiaǡ ǮSuivey-
ing the Beavensǡǯ ͳͷʹǢ uuntonǡ ǮBetween Allegoiy anu Nythǡǯ ͸ͲǤ
99
He reiterates this statement in Hexaemeron 5.8 (PG 29, 113A): “nothing is without a
cause, nothing is there spontaneously. There is an ineffable wisdom in all” (ɍɠɁᚓɋ
ᙳɋȽɜɒɇɍɋ,ɍᛅɁᚓɋ ᙳɎᛂ ɒȽɓɒɍɊəɒɍɓ ɎəɋɒȽ ᚎɖɂɇɒɇɋᙼɐɍɔɜȽɋ ᙳɎɟᛃᛄɄɒɍɋ).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 115 5/09/13 12:10 AM
116
scious souls (ɗɓɖᛟɋ ɉɍɀɇɈᛟɋ ɁɇɁȽɐɈȽɉɂᚸɍɋ) and a school of divine
knowledge (ɅɂɍɀɋɘɐᚶȽɑ ɎȽɇɁɂɓɒ᚜ɏɇɍɋ), through the guidance (Ɂɇᙼ
ɖɂɇɏȽɀɘɀᚶȽɋ)ofthevisibleandsensiblethingsthemindisledtothe
contemplationoftheinvisibleones.
100
TogetherwiththeOrigenistandPlatonicovertonesofthisphraseology,such
astheperceptionofthevisiblerealmasguidingsoulstowardtheinvisible,
the logic of the quoted passage cannot escape us. Elaborating within the
scripturalsetting,StBasilrejectedanypossibilityofinterpretingtheworld
outsidetheperspectiveofGodastheoriginofallthatis;weobservedmore
ofthisaspectintheprevioussection.Consequently,giventhewisdomre-
ϐlecteu in the inteiconnecteuness of the iealmsǡ he ieacheu the conclusion
thattheuniverseisteleologicallyconditionedandthereforeendowedwith
purpose.
101
These two stances, however, are not readily digestible within
ourtimes.Evencontemporarycosmologistswhoseerationalityasthein-
frastructure of reality address the teleological condition only reluctantly,
and,remainingentrappedbythenaturalismofpreviouscenturies,donot
daretogazeuponthedivinesourceofthisrationality,i.e.theLogosofGod.
In turn, the assertion concerning purpose outrages many contemporary
minds,accustomedtoperceivetheworldasanaxiologicallyneutralspace
tobeexperimentedwithorareservoirofresourcestobegreedilyexploited
forthesakeofourcomfort–orthirstforpower,forthatmatter.Neverthe-
less,workingfromwithintheecclesialtraditionandhavingbeenexposed
tothemysticalteachingsofthesaints,
102
StBasilproposedaverydifferent
pictureoftheworldasGod’screation.
Guidedbythescripturalnarrative,theeyesoffaithinGodascreator
exploie the univeise in ways that have nothing in common with scientiϐic
inquisitiveness, economic interests (which can suffocate souls, depriving
them of the sense of awe for the meaningful beauty of things)
103
and lei-
surelypursuits,whicharesowidespreadtoday.StBasil’sapproachdenotes
aprofoundsensitivityfortheworld’scorollaofwonders–toechoLucian
Blaga’s verse – entailing a careful respect and an apophatic reverence for
100
Hexaemeron1.6(PG29,16BC).Elsewhereinthisvolume,IhaveshownthatStGregory
ofNyssareiteratedthesameunderstandinginhisApologyfortheHexaemeron.Without
referencetoStBasil,similarideasemergeinNicolescu’sunueitaking to biiuge scientiϐic
worldviewandtradition,Nous,laparticuleetlemonde,185-90.
101
uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͸ͳǦʹǡ founu in St Basilǯs aiticulation of teleology tiaces of Aiistote-
lianism.
102
SeeOntheHolySpirit27.66,citedabove.
103
Cf.Yannaras,ElementsofFaith,50-2.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 116 5/09/13 12:10 AM
117
bothnatureanditsmaker.
104
Thisdeferentialapproachisillustratedforin-
stancebythesaint’sconsistentreferencetoGodassupremebeautyanda
skilfulartisan,correspondingtothedesignationoftheuniverseasastruc-
turedorder,ɈɟɐɊɍɑ(literally,ornamentorbeauty).
105
Asanexpressionof
divine wisdom, the world is not therefore to be treated with sang-froid,
anatomically,withoutregardforitsintrinsicvalueanditscontinuousrela-
tionshipwiththecreator.Symptomatically,whenfacingthereductionisms
ofhistime,StBasilexclaimed:“letusceasetalkingabouttheessence(Ɏɂɏᚷ
ɒ᚞ɑ ɍᛅɐᚶȽɑ) [of things], since we have been convinced by Moses that God
hascreatedtheskyandtheearth.”
106
Indoingsoheinfacturgedhisaudi-
encesandreadershiptoceaselookingforabstractconcepts–whichcanso
easily mislead by oversimplifying reality – and to rejoice at the sight of a
complexworldthatspeaksofitscreatorthroughtheconcretebeautyofits
makeup.Heurged,
Iwantyoutoimprintinyourselfanutmostsenseofwonderforwhat
is made (ɒ᚞ɑ Ɉɒɜɐɂɘɑ), so that irrespective of where you are, the
presenceofsomeofthosebelongingtothegenusofgrowingthings
(ɀɚɋɂɇɒᛟɋɔɓɍɊɚɋɘɋ;plants)clearlyremindsyouofthecreator(ɒɍᛒ
ɎɍɇɛɐȽɋɒɍɑ).
107
Thus,aswellasbeingourmaternalabode,tothecontemplativeeyetheuni-
verseunfoldsasanartisticstructure(ɒɂɖɋɇɈᛂɋ ɈȽɒȽɐɈɂᛐȽɐɊȽ),symphonic
andharmonious,
108
anepiphanyofGod’swisdomandbeauty.Evokingthe
experienceofGod’speople,StBasildesignatedtheworldascreation’slitur-
gical“common/general”choir(ɒ᚝ɋɈɍɇɋ᚝ɋɒ᚞ɑɈɒɜɐɂɘɑɖɍɏɍɐɒȽɐɜȽɋ)that
104
CfǤ uuntonǡ ǮBetween Allegoiy anu Nythǡǯ ͷͻǦ͸ͲǢ Losskyǡ TheMysticalTheology,33,50;
idem,OrthodoxTheology:AnIntroduction(Crestwood,NY:StVladimir’sSeminaryPress,
1978),51;Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea323.
105
Forinstance,inHexaemeron1.2(PG29,9A)hedesignatedGodasthe“muchyearnedfor
beauty”(ɒᛂ ɎɍɉɓɎᛁɅɄɒɍɋɈᙻɉɉɍɑ),whereasinHexaemeron1.11(PG29,28A)hemen-
tionedthe“beautyofthevisiblethings”(ɒɍᛒɈᙻɉɉɍɓɑɒᛟɋᚾɏɘɊᚒɋɘɋ).Theuseofsuch
categorieswasmadelegitimatebytherepeateduseofᚿɒɇ ɈȽɉᛁɋintheSeptuagint(cf.
uenesis ͳǣͶǡ ͺǡ ͳͲǡ ͳ͵ǡ ͳͺǡ ʹͳǡ ʹͷǡ ͵ͳȌǤ uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͷͺǦͻǡ tiaces the use of beauty
intheHexaemeronbacktoPlato’sTimaeus.OnthefunctionofbeautyinStBasil,seemy
article ǮApologeticǡ Noial ,i Nisticǣ Tiei Nouuii ale viziunii Eclesiale asupia Cieaጔieiǡǯ
Noua Reprezentare a Lumii: Studii Interdisciplinare ͳ ȋBucuie,tiǣ XXI Eonul Bogmaticǡ
ʹͲͲʹȌǡ ͵ͺǦͷͻǡ mainly ͶʹǦ͵Ǥ CfǤ Naiinescuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuia uespie lumináǡǯ ʹ͵ͲǦ͵ʹǤ
106
Hexaemeron1.11(PG29,28A).SeealsoBouteneff,Beginnings,33,andRousseau,Basil
ofCaesarea,322.
107
Hexaemeron5.2(PG29,97C).
108
Cf.Hexaemeron1.7(PG29,17B,20A);Hexaemeron4.1(PG29,80B).Withoutreferring
tothethemeoftheschool,Rousseau,BasilofCaesareaǡ ͵ʹͳǡ ͵ʹͶǦʹ͸ǡ anu Clapsisǡ ǮSt Ba-
sil’sCosmology,’218-19,cametosimilarconclusions.
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118
continually intones the hymn to its maker.
109
Better than any theological
school,bydoxologicallyreferringtoGodinanunceasingmannercreation
teachesus,inwordlessways,toacknowledgehimandtointerpretevery-
thinginthelightofhispresenceandintention.Therevelationofthistruth
caninspireus,bringingbackjoyandhopetoasocietywhich,byfunction-
inglikea“commonandpublicschoolofindecency”(Ɉɍɇɋᛂɋ ɈȽᚷ ɁɄɊᛁɐɇɍɋ
ɁɇɁȽɐɈȽɉɂᚸɍɋᙳɐɂɉɀɂᚶȽɑ),
110
hasfallenintoadeepstateofdepression,con-
sideringbothlifeandtheworldaspointless.Whenlearningthewisdomof
cieationǡ the innei ueseit of faithless souls can be tiansϐiguieu thiough the
acknowledgmentoflifeasagift,whichhastobeembracedwitheucharistic
giatituueǤ In this veinǡ at the enu of his ϐiist homilyǡ St Basil bioke out in
doxology,whilstshowinghowthecosmicschoolworksbywayofvertical
analogies.
Let us glorify the noble artist (ɒᛂɋ ᙳɏɇɐɒɍɒᚒɖɋɄɋ) for all that wisely
andartistically(ɐɍɔᛟɑ ɈȽᚷ ᚌɋɒᚒɖɋɘɑ)hasbeenaccomplished.From
thebeautyofthevisiblethings(ɒɍᛒɈᙻɉɉɍɓɑɒᛟɋᚾɏɘɊᚒɋɘɋ)letus
formanideaoftheonethatissupremelybeautiful(ɒᛂɋ ᛉɎᚒɏɈȽɉɍɋ),
and from the majesty of these delimited bodies that are accessible
throughsenses(ɒᛟɋ ȽᚫɐɅɄɒᛟɋɒɍᛐɒɘɋ ɈȽᚷ ɎɂɏɇɀɏȽɎɒᛟɋɐɘɊᙻɒɘɋ)
let us make an analogy for him who is boundless, supremely mag-
niϐicent ȋɒᛂɋ ᙴɎɂɇɏɍɋ ɈȽᚷ ᛉɎɂɏɊɂɀᚒɅɄ)andwhosurpassesallunder-
standingbythefullnessofhispower.
111
St Basilǯs exposition of the woilu as a school has vaiious iamiϐications foi
thecurrentChristianexperience,amongwhichthebestrepresentedinthe
Hexaemeron are the ethical paradigms and the numerous invitations to a
doxologicalacknowledgmentofGod’sgifts.OnefurtheraspectIshallmen-
tionhere.Giventhattheschoolofcreationisopentoall,theCappadocian
stronglybelieved–togetherwithStPaul(cf.Romans1:19-20;2:14)–that
virtue could be achieved both in the lives of unbelievers and people sep-
arated from the Church.
112
Drawing on the early Christian approaches to
paganphilosophy,thisconviction(alreadyillustratedbyhisAddresstothe
YouthȌ conϐiims the efϐicacy of cieation as a teachingǦgiounuǡ in its poten-
tial to prepare all nations and cultures for the encounter with Christ, the
Logosofeverything.Hiselaborationsontheworldasatheologicalschool
109
Cf.Hexaemeron3.9(PG29,76C).
110
Hexaemeron4.1(PG29,80A).SeefurthercommentsinRousseau,BasilofCaesarea,234.
111
Hexaemeron1.11(PG29,28AB).Concerningtheattitudeofwonderleadingtoworship
inStBasil’sHexaemeron,seeRousseau,BasilofCaesarea329;cf.Bouteneff,Beginnings,
136.
112
Cf.Hexaemeron5.7(PG29,112BC).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 118 5/09/13 12:10 AM
119
witnessthereforetoanall-embracing,pan-Christianhumanismthattran-
scendsreligiousandculturalboundaries.
TheInteractiveAspectofReality
From the many themes pertaining to the ecclesial worldview addressed
byStBasil,Iturntoatopiclargelyignoredbycontemporaryscholarship,
namelytheinteractiveorsynergeticaspectofnature.ForthegreatCappa-
docian, rather than representing a self-contained reality, closed within it-
self,theuniverse–“thisgreatandvariedworkshopofthedivinefashioning
action”(ɒᛂɊᚒɀȽ ɒɍᛒɒɍ ɈȽᚷ ɎɍɇɈᚶɉɍɋɒ᚞ɑɅɂᚶȽɑ ɁɄɊɇɍɓɏɀᚶȽɑ ᚌɏɀȽɐɒ᚜ɏɇɍɋ)
113

Ȃ constitutes a vast anu open ϐielu in which both uivine anu cosmic iays cie-
ativelyconverge,synergising.Toagreatextent,apartfromitsparameters,
theconceptofsynergyisrelatedtothatoftheworldasatheologicalschool.
Indeed,itisonthelevelofthisinteractionthattheuniversemanifestsits
characterasanepiphanyofGod.Withoutreferencetothetopicoftheschool,
thisaspectwasalreadypointedoutbyLossky
114
whencommentingonthe
Basilian iuea of the uivine eneigies as belonging to the iealm of Ǯeconomyǯ
and therefore as mediating God’s accessibility to us. Although this detail
is signiϐicant foi the unueistanuing of the cosmos as a teachingǦgiounu of
divineknowledge,Iwillnotexplorethisconnectionanyfurther.
I have already mentioned the saint’s realistic assessment of created
nature in terms of an inconsistent, bounded and perishable reality. Be-
ing ontologically contingent and fragile by its very nature,
115
the universe
canneithersurvivenorevolvewithouttheconstantsupportofthevivify-
ing waves of divine energy, that is, “the creator’s power” (ɒᚪ ɁɓɋəɊɂɇ ɒɍᛒ
ɈɒɜɐȽɋɒɍɑ).
116
In stating this, St Basil seems to have reiterated St Athana-
sius’ exposition of the cosmos as depending on the permanent and per-
vadingactivityofGod.ForStAthanasius,indeed,giventhattheuniverseis
funuamentally Dzϐluiu anu moitaldz ȋᛄɂɓɐɒ᚝ɋ ǤǤǤ ɈȽᚷ ɁɇȽɉɓɍɊɚɋɄɋ)bynature,
itnecessarilyreliesuponthe“lordship,providenceandorganisingworkof
113
Hexaemeron4.1(PG29,80B).
114
Cf.TheMysticalTheology,82.
115
Seeaboven.17.
116
Cf.Hexaemeron1.9(PG29,24B);infact,thewholechapterisofinteresthere.Heoften
returnedtothisaspectofdependence,likeinHexaemeron8.1(PG29,164C).Formore
examples,seeRousseau,BasilofCaesarea ͵͵ͺǦ͵ͻǢ Clapsisǡ ǮSt Basilǯs Cosmologyǡǯ ʹͳ͹Ǥ
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 119 5/09/13 12:10 AM
120
theLogos”(ɒᚪɒɍᛒȦɟɀɍɓᚘɀɂɊɍɋɜ  ɈȽᚷ Ɏɏɍɋɍɜ  ɈȽᚷ ɁɇȽɈɍɐɊɛɐɂɇ)tomain-
tainitsbeing.
117

NotwithstandinghisagreementwiththegreatAlexandrian,bystrong-
lypointingtotheinteractivecharacterofrealityStBasilmanagedtogobe-
yondtheclassicalconceptofadivinepowerunilaterallyexertedupon,and
within, the universe. He repeatedly noted, it is true, that the physical lim-
itationsofthecosmosareobviousonthelevelofitsgenerativecapacities,
whichwouldremainlatentifnotactivatedbythedivinewillandpower.For
instance, he spoke of a soil that is cold, sterile and in continuous labours,
whosefertilityisactivatedonlybythewordofGodwhichmakesitactive
for the generation of living beings.
118
That said, although still struggling
withtheancientconceptofinertmatteractivatedmechanicallybyexterior
foicesǡ he was convinceu that the cosmic oi natuial eneigies have a ueϐinite
roletoplaywithintheunfoldinghistoryoftheuniverseandlife.Forexam-
ple, he asserted the earth to have been endowed with germinating pow-
ers which function without the assistance of external factors;

likewise, he
presentedthewatersasnotbeingidleandinfactplayingtheirpartinthe
origination of life.
119
These different and even opposing statements, some
pointingtotheuniverse’sdependenceonGodandsometonature’sinner
poweisǡ ϐit well togethei when consiueieu fiom the vantage point of the
principleofsynergy.StBasil’sbeliefinnatureasadynamicandinteractive
eventissuperiortoanyreductionistideologieswhich,forinstance,consid-
ercreationassupernaturalandevolutionasnatural,andbothasinherently
antagonistic. There is nothing in St Basil that echoes either the naturalist
evolutionismorthesupernaturalistcreationismofourtimes.Commenting
on a selection of passages from Hexaemeron 5,
120
John Meyendorff perti-
nentlyobservedthat,followinginthefootstepsofthegreatAthanasius,St
Basilbelievedinthenaturalgenerativecapacityofcreatedreality.
ǥafϐiiming cieation in timeǡ Basil maintains the ieality of a cieateu
movementanddynamismincreatures.Thecreaturesdonotsimply
receive their form and diversity from God; they possess an energy,
certainlyalsoGod-given,butauthenticallytheirown.
121

117
Cf.AgainsttheHeathen,41(PG25,84AB).Seecommentsonhisideaofcreation,provi-
denceandthefragilityoftheuniverse,inAlvynPettersen,Athanasius(London:Geoffrey
Chapman,1995),24-6.
118
Cf.Hexaemeron5.2(PG29,97B);8.1(PG29,164CD).
119
Cf.Hexameron5.1(PG29,96A);7.1(PG29,148B).
120
ErroneouslyrenderedasPG29,1160D.Infact,itisareferenceto97Bandsomeother
portionofthetextwhichIcouldnotidentify.
121
Meyendorff,ByzantineTheology,133.
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 120 5/09/13 12:10 AM
121
Meyendorffcontinuedbyaddingthat,ascanbefoundearlierinStAthana-
siusandlaterinStMaximus,theCappadocianfatherbelievedinacontinu-
ousexertionofdivineprovidencethatbothbringsintobeingandmaintains
theuniverseinexistence,“butnotattheexpenseoftheworld’sowncreat-
eddynamism,whichispartofthecreativeplanitself.”
122
Withinthesame
context,Meyendorffreachedtheimportantconclusionthatthenaturaldy-
namism of cieation makes possible the scientiϐic enquiiy anu alsoǡ fiom a
different angle, legitimises the theological interpretation of reality, given
thatthedesignofthecosmospointstoGod.Gietreachedindependentlya
similar conclusion, that neither St Basil nor St Gregory of Nyssa found an
irreduciblecontradictionbetweenscienceandfaith.
123
Thesecrucialnotes
inuiiectly conϐiim my ϐinuings uiscusseu in the pievious two sections of the
paper.
Now, returning to the generative capacities latent within the world
andtheirdivineactivation,thebestillustrationofthesynergeticprinciple
isperhapsStBasil’smusingonthephrase“theearthwasinvisibleandun-
organised”fromGenesis1:2(LXX).
[The earth] was in painful labours (ᛕɁᚶɋɍɓɐȽ) with the genera-
tion of all things through the power stored in it (ᚌɋȽɎɍɒɂɅɂᚸɐȽɋ
ǥ ɁᛐɋȽɊɇɋ)
124
by the demiurge, waiting for the auspicious times
(ɈȽɅ᚜ɈɍɋɒȽɑ ɖɏᛁɋɍɓɑ) when, by a divine call, it would bring out
intotheopen(ɎɏɍȽɀᙻɀ᚟…ɂᚫɑ ɔȽɋɂɏᛂɋ)thethingsengendered(ɒᙼ
Ɉɓ᚜ɊȽɒȽ)withinit.
125
This poweiful metaphoi both evokes anu tiansϐiguies the ancient mythical
imageryoftheweddingofskyandearth,
126
infactstillbearingitspower-
ful erotic connotations. In St Basil’s plastic depiction, God, somehow rep-
122
Cf.Ibidem,134.
123
uietǡ ǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͵͵Ǥ
124
The term ɁᛐɋȽɊɇɋ may alsoǡ anu peihaps piefeiablyǡ be ienueieu as Ǯlatent potential-
ity,’ as previously suggested. See its various meanings in H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A
Greek-EnglishLexicon,witharevisedsupplement,revisedbyH.S.JonesandR.McKenzie
(Oxford:OxfordUniversityPressandClarendonPress,1996),452.
125
Hexaemeron2.3(PG29,36B).Whenhighlightingthecharacterofthegenerativecapac-
ityoftheearthasadivinegift,Rousseau(BasilofCaesareaǡ ͵͵ͻȌ uiu not see the signiϐi-
cantnoteonsynergyintroducedbythismetaphor.
126
Seealsotheimageryoftheintercourseoftheelements(earth,waterandair),asexplic-
itlyreferredtoinHexaemeron4.5(PG29,89C).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 121 5/09/13 12:10 AM
122
resented as a masculine principle, lovingly impregnates created matter
127

andthusactivatesitsmaternalorgenerativecapacity.
128
Asaresultofthis
unfathomable interaction – which cannot be properly addressed with-
out recourse to such poetical devices – matter’s metaphorical pregnancy
becomes the origin of the terrestrial ecosystem and the entire cosmos as
well.
129
With oi without metaphoisǡ the Ǯpiegnantǯ mattei was enuoweu
bytheCreatorwithagenerativepotentialwhichwouldremaininertifde-
prived of God’s discrete energy. We encounter the same idea in the very
beginningofthechapter,withinanewrefutationofwhattheauthorheld
to be NanichaeismǤ Theieǡ St Basil suggesteu that the Dzefϐicacious powei
ofGod” ȋᚘ ɁɏȽɐɒɇɈɛɒɍᛒȣɂɍᛒɁɠɋȽɊɇɑ)inconjunctionwiththe“receptive
characterofmatter” ȋᚘ ɎȽɅɄɒɇɈ᚝ɔɠɐɇɑɒ᚞ɑᛊɉɄɑ)
130
arethetwonecessary
factorscontributingtotheestablishmentofthewholeorderofcreation.As
alreadypointedout,thesearenotisolatedstatements.Presentedbywayof
a different metaphor, the dynamic interaction between divine and cosmic
energies recurs in the ninth homily,
131
to which I shall soon turn, with an
emphasisonthecontinuouscharacterofthisongoingphenomenon.Never-
theless,beforeadvancingtothisdifferentsetting–whichreferstothesixth
day–afurtherremarkisinorder,tostrengthenthepositionoftheprinciple
ofsynergywithintradition.Thepretextforthisnoteisofferedbythefact
thatitdealswiththesamecontextinthenarrativeofcreation.Ageneration
afterStBasil,StJohnChrysostomdisplayedasimilarunderstandingofGen-
esis1:2yetwithreferencetothemetaphoroftheSpirithoveringoverthe
waters.Forhim,the“moving”(ɈɇɋɍɠɊɂɋɍɋ)primordialwater,vibratingand
fullofa“livingpowerofsomesort”(ɃɘɒɇɈɛɋɒɇɋȽ ɁɠɋȽɊɇɋ)couldnotbeget
life of itself, being in need of the “vivifying energy” (ᚌɋɚɏɀɂɇə ɒɇɑ ɃɘɒɇɈɛ)
oftheSpirit.
132
Theconsensusbetweenthetwofathersisobvious.Infact,
whenaddressingthesamemetaphor,StBasilappliedanidenticalinterpre-
tation,onlysupportedbyhispreferenceforaSyriacversionthatpictured
theSpiritasanecosystemicagentwho
127
Lossky, Mystical Theology, 214, referred to a work whose title he did not indicate (he
mentioned though PG 31, 908CD), where St Basil spoke of a “loving potential/power”
(ᙳɀȽɎɄɒɇɈ᚝ɁɠɋȽɊɇɑ)oranaturalpropensityofcreationtobelovedbyGod.
128
ThisimageryispossiblysuggestedbythewordsofStPaulinRomans8:22.
129
Forfurthernotesonthispassage,seeCostache,ǮApologeticǡ Noial ,iMistic,’44.
130
Cf.Hexaemeron ʹǤ͵ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ͵͵BȌǤ The teim ɎȽɅɄɒɇɈɛ can be also ienueieu by Ǯpassiveǯ
yet in this context Ǯieceptiveǯ seems moie appiopiiateǡ given St Basilǯs iuea of a woilu
opentotheworkofGod.
131
Cf.Hexaemeron9.2(PG29,189B-D).Theconceptofpermanencehasbeenalreadysug-
gested by Hexaemeron ͷǤͳ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ͻ͸AȌǡ with the Ǯinitialǯ woius of uou continuing to
functionasaninherentlawofnaturefortheearth.
132
SeehisHomiliesonGenesis3.1(PG53,33C).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 122 5/09/13 12:10 AM
123
…thoroughlywarmedup(ɐɓɋᚒɅȽɉɎɂȌ anu viviϐieu the natuie of the
waters(ᚌɃɘɍɀᛁɋɂɇɒ᚝ɋɒᛟɋᛉɁᙻɒɘɋɔᛐɐɇɋ),likeintheimageofabird
hatching the eggs, endowing them with some sort of living power
(ɃɘɒɇɈ᚜ɋɒɇɋȽ ɁᛐɋȽɊɇɋ).
133
TogetherwithfollowingStBasil’slineofthought,Chrysostomclearlyincor-
poratedBasilianterminology(e.g.,ɃɘɒɇɈ᚜ɋɒɇɋȽ ɁᛐɋȽɊɇɋ)inhisowninter-
pretationofthescripturaltext.Inthelightofandbeyondthesemetaphors,
themessageconveyedbyStsBasilandJohnisthattheentireformationof
theworldunfoldsasacontinuoussynergeticact,adynamicconvergenceof
created and uncreated factors.
134
Returning to St Basil, there is indication
thathehastakenbothdepictions–oftheearth’spregnancyandtheSpirit
hoveringoverthewaters–asapplicabletoanystagewithintheuniverse’s
complex unfolding between the Alpha and the Omega. If this is the case,
then Genesis does not only depict past events. Instead, it points to a uni-
verse still in the making, still journeying towards its eschatological hori-
zon,theeighthdayofcreation.
135
StBasilrehearsedthisthemeintheninth
homily:
ThinkofthewordofGodrunningthroughcreation[Ɂɇᙼɒ᚞ɑɈɒᚶɐɂɘɑ
ɒɏᚒɖɍɋ],stillactive(ᚌɋɂɏɀɍᛒɋ)nowasithasbeenfromthebeginning
(ᙳɏɌᙻɊɂɋɍɋȌǡ anu efϐicient until the enu in oiuei to biing the woilu to
fulϐilment ȋᚐɘɑᙵɋ ᚾ ɈᛁɐɊɍɑɐɓɊɎɉɄɏɘɅᚪ).
136
Thetextleavesnoroomfordoubt:StBasildepictedthedivinewordoren-
ergyasanuninterruptedwavethatpervadestheentirespace-timecontin-
uum, thus playing a vital yet discrete role in the universe’s evolution. We
can infer that for him the metaphors in Genesis 1:2 referred to a chaotic
133
Hexaemeron ʹǤ͸ ȋPu ʹͻǡ ͶͶBȌǤ uiet ȋǮIntiouuctionǡǯ ͷͶȌ believeu this imageiy to be boi-
rowedfromTheophilusofAntioch.Forfurthernotesonthisimagery,seeMoniqueAle-
xandre,le Commencement Ju livre 6enese lǦvǣ le version qrecque Je lo Septonte et so ré-
ception,ChristianismeAntique3(Paris:Beauchesne,1988),86-7;Costache,ǮApologeticǡ
Moral,iMistic,’45;Hildebrand,TheTrinitarianTheologyofBasilofCaesarea,113.
134
Later,StMaximusendorsedthisperceptionwhenspeakingoftheparticipationofcre-
ationinGodbyitsverynaturalmovement:ɊɚɋɍɋɒȽɈȽᚷɈɇɋɍɠɊɂɋȽ ȋɒᙼ ɎəɋɒȽȌ Ɋɂɒɚɖɂɇ
Ʌɂɍᛒ;Book of Bifϔiculties,7(PG91,1080B).
135
OfwhichhespeaksmoreinOntheHolySpirit27.66(PG32,192AB);thetopicisanalysed
indetailelsewhereinthisvolume,byMarioBaghos.Forapatristicdevelopmentofthe
eschatologicalinterpretationofGenesis,seeStSymeontheNewTheologian,FirstEthical
Discourse,inOntheMysticalLife:TheEthicalDiscourses,vol.1:TheChurchandtheLast
Things,trans.fromtheGreekandintro.byA.Golitzin(Crestwood,NY:StVladimir’sSem-
inaryPress,1995),21-80.
136
Hexaemeron9.2(PG29,189B).
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 123 5/09/13 12:10 AM
124
stateofthecosmosonitswaytoorganisation,implyingtheexistenceofa
reservoir of potentialities whose content is actualised or realised gradu-
ally–throughoutthehistoryofcreationfrombeginningtoend.Allthings
considered,weareledsofartoadoubleconclusion:thatStBasilbelieved
inahumbleorkenoticGodwhocondescendstoworkthroughthenatural
possibilitiesoftheuniverse,withwhichhehimselfendowsthelatter,and
atthesametime,thatthecosmosexistsandthrivesonlybybeingsustained
byGod’screativepower.
Thecontentofthisongoingprocess,interpretedasaninteractiveex-
perience, came to be more thoroughly explored by St Basil in his treatise
OntheHolySpirit,hislastmajorpublishedtext(in376)
137
anu a signiϐicant
work on the sense of tradition. According to St Basil, and given the pneu-
matologicalfocusofthework,thedivineoikonomiaconcerningtheworld
ieaches fulϐilment by means of the Boly Spiiitǡ piesenteu as a souice of
both life anu holinessǤ Theie is no space within the conϐines of cieation that
isdeprivedoftheSpirit’spresence;thereisnocreaturethatdoesnothave
itsoriginintheworkoftheSpirit;thereisnoperfectionofcreationoutside
thelife-givingandenlighteningenergyoftheSpirit.Co-workerwiththeLo-
gosinthemakingoftheuniverse,theSpiritimmediatelyanswerscreation’s
thirstforthefullnessofbeing,forlifeandholiness.
138
This,inturn,indicates
thatnothingcanattainnaturalperfectionwithoutthedivinegiftoftheSpir-
it;theinteractiveorsynergeticprinciplethatpervadestheBasilianworks
is thus conϐiimeuǤ Inueeuǡ foi St Basilǡ the oiganisation of the univeiseǡ of
our earth and the life on it, is possible only in the active presence of the
LogosandtheHolySpirit.Representinginitselfasuccincttreatiseonthe
identity and economy of the Spirit, the ninth chapter of the work depicts
themultitudeofgraceshebestowsuponcreation:
[All things are] watered by his breath and helped on to reach their
properandnaturalpurpose(ɒᛂɍᚫɈɂᚸɍɋ ɈȽᚷ ɈȽɒᙼɔɠɐɇɋɒɚɉɍɑ).Per-
fectingallotherthings,[…]heisthegiveroflife(Ƀɘ᚞ɑɖɍɏɄɀɟɋ)[…]
andomnipresent.[…]Bynatureunapproachable,heisapprehended
throughgoodness(ɖɘɏɄɒᛂɋɁɇីᙳɀȽɅɟɒɄɒȽȌǡ ϐilling all things with his
137
Cf.Rousseau,BasilofCaesarea,318.Quasten(Patrology,Vol.3,210)gave“about375”as
a piobable uate of publicationǤ See also Feuwickǡ ǮA Chionology of the Life anu Woiks of
BasilofCaesarea,’3-21.
138
Rousseau(BasilofCaesarea,337,343)linkedtheworkoftheSpiritmostlytothesote-
riologicalandsacramentalteachingsofStBasil,ignoringitsecosystemicfunction.Fora
morenuancedandcomprehensiveapproach,seeLossky,TheMysticalTheology,100-101
(referring to On the Holy Spirit 16.38), 157 (referring to On the Holy Spirit 19.49), 163
(referringtoOntheHolySpirit16.37),166(referringtoOntheHolySpirit9.22).Seealso
Naiinescuǡ ǮÎnvá(átuia uespie lumináǡǯ ʹͷͳǦͷ͵Ǥ
StAndrewsBook2013_R.indd 124 5/09/13 12:10 AM
125
power(ɎəɋɒȽ ɎɉɄɏɍᛒɋɒᚪɁɓɋəɊɂɇ),[…]inessencesimple,inpowers
various,whollypresentineachandwhollyeverywhere…
139
The immense variety of the Spirit’s manifestations, energies (ᚌɋɚɏɀɂɇȽɇ)
orgraces(ɖəɏɇɒɂɑ)
140
throughwhichhispresenceincreationcomestobe
manifested,isreiteratedinchapter19.48-49.
141
Again,StBasiladoptedhere
theapophaticapproach,pointingtotheinexhaustibilityoftheHolySpirit’s
gifts. He maintained that if we cannot know the many blessings currently
bestowedbytheSpirit,wecouldevenlessanticipatethepower(ɁɠɋȽɊɇɑ)
throughwhichhewilloperateintheagestocome.
142
Althoughtheempha-
sisofthetreatisefallsmainlyontheeschatologicaldimensionsofrenewal
anu fulϐilmentǡ
143
itisobviousthatforStBasiltheuniversedependsonthe
HolySpirit’ssupportthroughoutitsentireduration.
144
Thethemeofthesynergeticcharacterofrealityopensupinteresting
avenues.Forinstance,itinvitesareassessmentofthepopularrepresenta-
tion of divine activity in the world, the meaning of the philosophical con-
stiuct of Ǯnatuieǡǯ anu the oiigin of the pointless conϐlict of cieationism vsǤ
evolutionismǤ By way of concluuingǡ let us biieϐly auuiess these matteisǡ
onebyone.
SomeChristianworldviewsimagineGodasanomnipotententitysitu-
ateu Ǯoutsiueǯ cieationǡ absolutely tianscenuent anu wholly uetacheu fiom
both the universe and us. Furthermore, they accept as the only signs of
this entity the creation of the world and a series of arbitrary manifesta-
tionsexmachina,thatis,miracles,takenaseventsthroughwhichthelaws
ofnatureareabrogated.Thecomplicationsentailedbythisunderstanding
cannot be treated here. What we learn from St Basil, however, is that, al-
though apophatic, the mode of God’s activity in the world is not episodic
butcontinuous;itdoesnotsuspendthelawsofnaturebutisanessential
partofthem;itisnotanostentatiousmanifestationofpowerbutahumble
139
OntheHolySpirit9.22(PG32,108BC).SeeabriefnoteonthisinRussell,TheDoctrineof
‡‹ϔ‹…ƒ–‹‘,209.
140
Cf.PG32,156D.
141
MostlytheparagraphsinPG32,156D-157C.
142
Cf.PG32,156D.
143
SeePG32,157BC.
144
For a more detailed presentation of the treatise’s teaching on worldview and related
topicsǡ see my aiticle ǮExpeiienጔa Buhului Sfânt în viziunea Sϐinጔiloi vasile cel Naie ,i
Grigorie Palamas,’ in Emilian Popescu and Adrian Marinescu (eds.), Sfântul Vasile cel
Mare:Închinarela1630deaniǡ ieviseu seconu euition ȋBucuie,tiǣ Basilicaǡ ʹͲͲͻȌǣ ͳͶͷǦ
61,esp.146-53.
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126
(or kenotic) expression of a God that adapts himself to the limitations of
hiscreation.Fromthisreinterpretationemergesadifferentunderstanding
of natuieǤ 0sually iepiesenteu as an autonomous ieality existing Ǯoutsiueǯ
God, nature is for St Basil a created entity, indeed, but by no means sepa-
ratedfromitscreator.Natureistheoutcomeofcontinuousinteractionsbe-
tweencreatedanduncreatedenergies;thesupernaturalisattheverycore
ofthenatural.Itistrue,thewavesofdivineenergythatpervadecreation
elude our measuring devices, but so are many of the subatomic ingredi-
entsofrealityastheorisedbycontemporaryphysicists.Nevertheless,these
wavesarenotaselusiveasweusuallythinktheyare:StBasil’sdepictionof
thetransformativeexperiencesofthesaints
145
allowsforanunderstanding
of theii bouies as accuiate Ǯmeasuiement toolsǯ of uivine piesenceǤ The ϐiist
two points lead at last to a reconsideration of the premises of the painful
waifaie of cieationism anu evolutionismǤ At the oiigin of the conϐlict lie two
basic concepts: the idea of a Deus ex machina that sporadically suspends
theorderofnature,defendedbycreationists,andtheideaofanaturecom-
pletely autonomous anu selfǦsufϐicientǡ uefenueu by evolutionistsǤ St Basil
pointedtoadifferentportrayalofreality,forwhichthehumbleGodisper-
manentlyatworkwithinandthroughthenaturalpossibilitiesofauniverse
that ultimately remains open to, and dependent on, him. Both ideologies,
therefore,namelycreationismandevolutionism,buildonpremisesthatdo
notdrawontheecclesialworldview.
***
Mostly ignored and forgotten by contemporary scholars, St Basil’s
contributions to Christian cosmology remain a source of inspiration. The
purposeofthisarticlewastomakeobvioustheperennialandchallenging
characterofhiselaborations,whichcanencourageafreshapproachinthe
questformeaningandpurposewithinaculturesuffocatedbynihilismand
atheism.Indeed,hispassionateapproachtolife,theworldandreality–not
tomentionthepowerfultopicoftheworldasatheologicalschool–might
serve as an implicit exhortation for our culture to acknowledge creation
as God’s gift and to adopt a corresponding lifestyle. Finally, it can only be
hoped that his contributions concerning the interactive aspect of reality
willbefurtherandseriouslyconsideredintheunfoldingconversationsbe-
tweenscientistsandtheologians.
145
Cf.OntheHolySpirit9.23(PG32,109ABC).
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