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Illumination in Basil of Caesareas's Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

by Timothy P. McConnell

Publication Year: 2014

If Basil of Caesarea receives mention in a standard course of lectures on Christian theology or history it is as the first person to write a dedicated discourse on the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the primary question about Basil for scholars is whether he fully believed in the divinity of the Holy Spirit himself.

Timothy McConnell argues that Basil did regard the Holy Spirit as fully divine and an equal Person of the Holy Trinity. However, Basil refused to use philosophical terminology to make the point, preferring instead to prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit by what the Spirit himself revealed through divine act and Holy Scripture. Thus, “illumination” becomes the primary paradigm that Basil used to argue the divinity of the Holy Spirit, rather than philosophical rationalism of his time.

What Basil called illumination, later theologians would come to refer to as ‘theology of revelation’ setting the stage for this study’s high relevance for contemporary thought.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Title Page, Copyright Page, Quotes

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

Knowledge of God is a difficult subject in any age. Only with great difficulty did Karl Barth explain to his students his conviction that the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ is nevertheless a God who is hidden. “It is the Deus revelatus who is the Deus absconditus, the God to whom there is no path nor...

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Introduction: Basil and Knowledge of God

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pp. 1-8

If Basil of Caesarea receives mention in a standard course of lectures on Christian theology or history, it is as the first person to write a dedicated discourse on the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the primary question about Basil for scholars is whether he fully believed in the divinity of the Holy Spirit himself...

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1. Illumination and the Holy Spirit

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pp. 9-30

New interest in Basil is the product of a desire to carefully differentiate the voices of the Cappadocian Fathers. It is also borne of the desire to locate and value ideas at their inception, to recognize the moment of initial articulation of an idea in Christian dogmatics, whether or not it is the fullest or clearest...

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2. In Divine Light—Baptism as Illumination

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pp. 31-70

This chapter establishes Basil’s relationship with the tradition of baptism as illumination and demonstrates how he builds upon that tradition. Basil’s theology of baptism is in sharp contrast to that of his opponents on both sides, Eunomius and Eustathius. The experience of illumination for the Christian is...

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3. The Divine Light over Creation

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pp. 71-144

Basil’s doctrine of creation is another means that he used to argue for the divinity of the Holy Spirit on the grounds of the activities of the Holy Spirit as God, rather than by arguing about the nature of God’s essence. As part of the continuing development of Christian thought on the nature of the created...

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4. The Divine Light over Scripture

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pp. 145-214

Having discussed the sacrament of baptism and the doctrine of creation, Basil also used his theology of the inspiration and authority of Holy Scripture to argue for the full divinity of the Spirit. For Basil, there is something the individual believer receives in the engagement with Scripture, and what is...

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5. Conclusion: To Speak of the Spirit of God

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pp. 215-226

With these words, Gregory of Nazianzus closed his oration in 372 accepting episcopal oversight of his father’s church.2 Gregory was tired of keeping the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as God under a bushel, wearied by using metaphors and shadow sketches to gesture toward the doctrine. He wanted to make it clear...

Bibliography

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pp. 227-240

Index of Subjects and Names

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pp. 241-244

Index of Biblical References

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pp. 245-247

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781451484441
E-ISBN-10: 1451484445
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451482775
Print-ISBN-10: 1451482779

Page Count: 250
Illustrations:
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Emerging Scholars
Series Editor Byline: