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St. Basil the Great on the Holy Spirit Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 118 pages
  • Publisher: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr (November 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913836745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913836743
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Fertig on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reading "On the Holy Spirit" by St. Basil the Great is somewhat like reading two books simultaneously. The title gives the first subject, the Holy Spirit. The second, the state of the fourth century church, occurs inadvertently. Both are educational and enjoyable. St. Basil begins his defense of the divinity of the Holy Spirit by showing the similarities between the language used to describe Jesus and the language used for the Holy Spirit. At the time of his writing, the question of the deity of Jesus is largely settled. (I recommend On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius for a good defense of Jesus' deity.) The argument then progresses to show the distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Father and Son. Several examples are expounded, such as passages dealing with blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's intercession for us. Thus, he articulates the unity and distinction of the Holy Spirit with and within the Godhead. Ultimately, his discussion is persuasive.

The other thread that runs through the book is the state of the fourth century church. I was particularly interested in the role that Scripture played in relation to the teaching of the Fathers. St. Basil acknowledges both, but uses Scripture almost exclusively for his defense--although his Scripture includes several apocryphal books. All of this is being written to a church in turmoil. St. Basil laments, "To what can I compare our present condition? It is like a naval battle, kindled by old quarrels, fought by men who love war, who cultivate hatred for one another...The disorder and confusion is beyond description...." The comfort in all of this is that if we think the faith is in turmoil now, it surely was then too. But the battle did not quench the faith that still prevails today. As G. K. Chesterton says, "Five times in history the faith has had all the appearance of going to the dogs. Five times it has been the dog that died."
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Harrington on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
All too often we in the West tend to forget how influential Christianity has been on shaping and forming our culture. In St. Basil's work on the Holy Spirit we see how exacting the early Christian faith was in articulating its beliefs. St. Basil the great is known in Orthodoxy and one of the fathers of the Christian Church to bear the title, "Great." When you read this seminal work you can feel the passion and intensity that St. Basil has when dealing with the distortions to the faith. Yet, there is always a sense of hope, humility, and compassion for those who were outside of the Orthodox Church. Read this work and see how important a few little words are to the Christian Faith.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
St Basil, much like St Gregory of Nazianzen, begins his work with a dense discussion of the terminology. It is easy for today's reader to miss what is important in the debate. St Basil spends the first few chapters sparring over the use of prepositions as they are applied to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He makes the point that since all of the prepositions his opponents use (or use to say that because ______ is not applied to the Holy Spirit; therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God), he shows that the so-called "less than full deity" prepositions are also used of the Father, the fact that they are used of the Son and Spirit in no way implies that the latter two are lesser in divinity.

Interestingly, one of St Basil's key arguments is the oral tradition of the Fathers. The implications of this for ecclesiology are staggering. Merely going to "the bible alone" is not enough and is sometimes heretical! St Basil writes,

So like the debtors,--of course bona fide debtors--they clamour for written proof, and reject as worthless the unwritten tradition of the Fathers (X.25).

Salvation is found in the regenerating grace of Baptism--baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (X.26). Concerning the sometimes omission of the Holy Spirit in baptism (the supposed contrast between Jesus's command and Peter's command), St Basil says, given the biblical witness, "the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole" (XII.28).

In XVIII St Basil gives a long and pregnant with meaning defense of the monarchia of the Father. Again, this is a crucial moment in the doctrine of the Church. Another key defense of the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit is the "operations of the Spirit.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Philliber on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Reading Basil on the Holy Spirit, and the controversy in the 4th/5th Century helps to put things in perspective. Basil addresses the Holy Spirit more from a pragmatic angle - how the Church has practically approached the person of the Holy Spirit in liturgy (lex orandi, lex credendi est). What is helpul is that this early Church pastor shows loads of wisdom in addressing those who disagree. Reading his sound and solid thinking is a breath of fresh air in this age of hyper-experientialism. The 30th chapter will open the reader's eyes to a very modern picture of the divided, beaten-up Church. A delightful, serious read.
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