image with the sign of Myriobiblos

Main Page | Library | Homage | Seminars | Book Reviews





Internet Dept.



Main page of text | Previous Page
Andrea Sterk

Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church: The Monk-Bishop in Late Antiquity (excerpts)

From "Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church: The Monk-Bishop in Late Antiquity", Harvard University Press.

Asceticism and Leadership in the Thought of Basil of Caesarea

The Moralia - The Letters - The Paradigm of Moses

In a prefatory document known as the Proemium ad hypotyposin Basil introduced a corpus of ascetic texts that included both the Moralia and the Long and Short Rules (100). This letter of Basil's assumes a wide audience and suggests that the accompanying texts were written not only for the faithful as a whole but especially for the benefit of leaders in the church -whether preachers, bishops, or monastic overseers. In the conclusion of the Proemium Basil explained that he was sending these precepts to recipients who should fulfil the word of the Apostle, "Entrust these things to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." He also described his purpose in these works: to give a summary of the distinctive marks of the Christian in accordance with Scripture and in the form of a rule. In like manner he proposed to delineate the attributes of "those who preside in teaching the Word of God, in whom will shine exactness of discipline and extreme purity of conduct"(101).

The Moralia, probably composed quite early in Basil's career and eventually supplemented by two prologues, echoes the goals of this Proemium (102). Α collection of New Testament quotations followed by Basil's commentary, the Moralia focuses on Christian character with an emphasis on the value of ascetic discipline. But in this text Basil also considered a wide range of gifts and callings within the church as a whole, demonstrating his conviction that the ascetic life was the standard for all Christians, those fulfilling diverse vocations in the world as well as those living in monastic communities (103). As promised in the Proemium, he did not neglect to consider the attributes of the Christian leader in particular RM 70, the longest rule in the entire corpus-containing thirty-seven sub points, as opposed to only two and four, respectively, on baptism and the Lord's Supper -is devoted to the theme of leadership in the church (104). In fact, RM 70 and 71 comprise the most systematic treatment of church leadership in Basil's writings.

RM 70 presents biblical references and instruction concerning those who hold church office. RM 71 explicitly addresses the subject of bishops and priests in one sub point and deacons in the other. Like the precepts regarding overseers in the Asceticon, these two rules deal primarily with the irreproachable character demanded of a Christian leader. Priests and deacons are to be chosen prayerfully by those commissioned to proclaim the gospel (105). Ordinations should proceed slowly and with much consideration, for those unproven face serious danger (RM 70.2). As in the selection of monastic leaders, a blameless and proven life is the main qualification for church office (RM 70.1, 2, 9, 10, 15, 24, 27; RM 71)[106]. Obedience to the Gospel must under gird the leader's teaching, and good works ought to be manifest in his life. Basil also called church leaders to demonstrate mercy, sympathy, compassion, affection, and zeal toward those they teach. So important is the leader's character that Basil advised parishioners little versed in Scripture to look for marks of the Spirit in those who instruct them. Teachers who lack such indications should be rejected (RM 72.2).

As in the Asceticon, Basil spoke gravely of the heavy responsibility of those who teach the Word of God. He warned them not to teach false doctrines and called those instructed in the Scriptures "to test the words of those who teach"(107). Preachers must be sure to proclaim the Word of God in its fullness, for omission of some necessary point will render them accountable for the blood of those in peril. They must not seek to flatter or impress their hearers but must speak the truth with liberty and integrity, despite the opposition or even persecution that might ensue. Otherwise they become slaves of those they seek to please (108). The content of the message must be complemented by the preacher's attitude and motivation. He must be humble toward those he instructs and should never preach the gospel out of rivalry or envy (RM 70.24, 25). Well aware of the many demands of church office, Basil called leaders back to their priorities: prayer and the ministry of the Word (RM 70.22, citing Acts 6:2 and 4).

Not only must an intellectual understanding of biblical truth be imparted to the Christian people but also their wills must be transformed. Therefore Christian leaders cannot depend on mere human skill or the power of intellect in instructing the faithful. Ultimately they must trust God to apply to the hearts and lives of their hearers the message that has been taught (RM 70.26, 27). Preaching should be buttressed by visits to parishioners to encourage and affirm them in their faith (RM 70.12, 18). Teachers should aim not only to instruct but also to improve those entrusted to them, to form them to perfection. They must labour tirelessly toward this end, teaching both in public and in private, not neglecting to pray for the spiritual progress of the people they instruct (RM 70.11, 14, 19, 31). RM 80.16-18 also suggests personal and intimate involvement of church leaders with their flocks. This emphasis on personal encouragement and training suggests that Basil considered some form of spiritual direction, common among monks throughout the Christian Fast, to be as much the task of the bishop or priest as that of the monastic
superior (109).

Above all, an ecclesiastical leader, like a monastic overseer, should present to those under his care "an example of every good thing." If he fails in this task he has no right to impose moral obligations on others (RM 70.9, 10, 37). Throughout the Moralia Basil outlined the virtues that ought to mark the follower of Christ. Alongside the call to faith, love, humility, good works, and especially obedience to God's commandments, he included practices more narrowly associated with the monastic vocation. For example, he encouraged self-renunciation for the purpose of purification (RΜ 2 and 80.11). He urged assiduousness in prayers and vigils (RΜ 56), particularly encouraging widows in the practices of prayer and fasting (RM 74). He also emphasized voluntary poverty. This was the subject of two rules and was taken up again in his specific exhortations to leaders, for Basil believed that those entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel ought not to possess more than what was personally necessary (RM 47, 48, 70.28) [110]. in this respect, as with all the qualities and practices that distinguish the faithful Christian life, the leader should serve as "the model and rule of piety" (RΜ 80.14).

The Letters

An emphasis on character and ascetic discipline as crucial requirements for ecclesiastical leadership is no less marked in Basil's letters and sermons. In his correspondence Basil wrote not only of general principles but also of specific individuals or concrete situations in which the importance of moral character was demonstrated. His notion of the ideal Christian leader can be gleaned in large part from those passages of his letters in which he censured the moral abuses or general mediocrity of bishops and Episcopal candidates. On the positive side, however, Basil lauded church leaders in whom he recognized praiseworthy attributes. As might be expected, such adulation often appears in letters of consolation upon the death or removal of a bishop. Four of Basil's nineteen letters of consolation were written to Christian communities grieving such a loss (111). In this context he praised the virtues of Bishops Musonius of Neocaesarea and Athanasius of Ancyra in Letters 28 and 29. He extolled their good works as well as their orthodoxy and exalted the life of Musonius as a model to all who lived around him. Basil enumerated the praiseworthy attributes of Bishop Dianius, whom he counted "among men who are most illustrious for virtue" despite his temporary, unwitting defection from the doctrines of Νicaea (112). Esteem for the high moral character and orthodox teaching of Athanasius of Alexandria and Eusebius of Samosata radiate through his many letters to them. Similarly, he commended Bishop Elpidius for his great progress in virtue and his spiritual training, and Bishop Valerian for his purity and love (113).

Basil's abundant use of standard classical topoi in such acclamations was not intended merely to fulfil a rhetorical requirement or to Christianise, and therefore legitimise, Hellenistic rhetorical techniques. Commenting on the Cappadocian's consolatory letter to the church of Neocaesarea at the demise of their bishop, Robert Gregg describes how the components of the eulogia were carefully crafted for a specific purpose. Basil's intention was to outline the profile of a worthy successor, Gregg suggests, for he "declares by his selection of enkomiastika for the departed bishop just what characteristics should be found in the next occupant of the Episcopal chair"(114).

The exemplary moral qualities of the bishop seemed to be of special concern to Basil. Against a background of evil and oppression of the orthodox he exhorted the priests of Nicopolis: "in the present circumstances strive to give clear examples by deed of whatever you teach by word." Similarly he praised the monastic bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica for his virtue particularly because it was so rarely found in their day (115). Immorality was so rampant and calumny so widespread in the church that Basil commended one priest who had not only maintained his "priestly integrity" but also managed to escape the attacks of the enemies of the Lord. "Ι do not know that any charge has been raised against him by those who are laying their hands upon everyone," Basil remarked with seeming surprise. In fact, he added, "no accusation against this man has even been imagined"(116). Such irreproachable character accords with the high standards that Basil presented in the Moralia. In an environment of suspicion and slander, not only must the bishop be a model of Christian virtue but he must also speak and act with circumspection and prudence. He ought to receive the approbation and favourable testimony of those to whom he ministers (117). Such an exaltation of virtue in the life of the Christian leader contributed to a distinctive conception of church office in Basil's writings. The preacher of the Gospel had to be a model of sanctity and goodness. The Cappadocian left little room for the possibility of God administering grace through unsanctified ministers (118). His understanding of the bishop's function was so intertwined with the call to perfection that he could hardly conceive of the faithful preaching or efficacious acts of an unholy minister. Accordingly he warned his chorepiscopi that their unrighteousness disqualified them from celebrating the sacraments (119).

In his descriptions of worthy church leaders, Basil praised upright living in general and ascetic virtues in particular. In a letter to Bishop Elpidius he commended the priest Meletius, whom he had sent as a messenger. He explained that he had almost determined to spare Meletius this charge, "because of the weakness that he willingly brought upon himself by bringing his body into subjection for the sake of the Gospel." However, he said, he finally resolved to honour Elpidius by sending a man of such high character that he would serve as a type of "living letter."(120) Ascetic ideals are even more prominent in Basil's description of the man he selected in response to a bishop's request for a worthy successor to his see. His choice was an elderly Caesarean priest whom he praised for continence and rigorous ascetic discipline to the point of injuring his flesh. The man was also extremely poor, barely supporting himself by the work of his hands, and he lived in community with other brothers. Such a worthy man, Basil assured his fellow bishop, was "well-suited for this task" of the episcopate (121).

Two letters to Antiochus, the nephew of Basil's friend and highly esteemed colleague Eusebius of Samosata, give further expression to his monastic ideals. He wrote as an older adviser to this young man, who by 374 had been ordained priest and by 381 had succeeded his uncle as bishop of Samosata. Basil counselled him to discipline the lusts of his flesh and to guard the thought of God in his soul, being mindful of the tribunal of Christ in every word and deed (122). In Letter 168, written during
Antiochus's exile together with Eusebius, Basil fittingly upheld the value of withdrawal and solitude. He noted that in the past Eusebius had been preoccupied with an excess of affairs and concerns. Likewise Antiochus himself had been beset by the cares of life. Consequently he had lacked sufficient time to benefit from his uncle's spiritual experience and example. Thus, Basil represented their exile as a privilege for Antiochus and a deliverance from the multiple concerns that had besieged him in Samosata. Occasional periods of solitude were crucial for those in church office. As a bishop Basil recognized the value of such retreats in his own
life (123).

In a similar vein he exhorted the chorepiscopus Timothy, a man who had from childhood pursued an ascetic life. Basil had heard that he was straying from this path and becoming entangled in "the things of this world." "Why are we mixing incompatible things, the disturbances of civil affairs and the exercise of piety?" he asked in Letter 291 to Timothy. He did not imply that contemplation and action were incompatible, nor that church office was somehow inconsistent with ascetic life. He did not suggest that Timothy relinquish his duties as chorepiscopus. The problem was Timothy's preoccupation with worldly affairs. He had become overly concerned with the opinions of others, seeking to help his friends and avoid the ridicule of his enemies, and hence was distracted from what was most important (124). Basil expressed the same concern in his instructions to church leaders in the Moralia. While active service as pastors and teachers need not be incompatible with the maintenance of ascetic discipline, bishops and priests had no business assuming responsibility for secular affairs (125).

Even marriage may have been a hindrance to church leadership in the mind of the Cappadocian. While the celibate life was assumed in the monastic profession, there was not at this time any legislation prohibiting the ordination of married clergy Nonetheless, in an early letter to Gregory Nazianzen Basil described the married state as a definite distraction from the contemplative life (126). Moreover there are few, if any married priests among his correspondents. While Basil said nothing explicit in this regard, one wonders whether his stringency in this matter lay behind the refusal of at least some priests to be ordained (127).

Another notion Basil seems to have adopted from his monastic experience was the function of the bishop as a spiritual director, an aspect of leadership we have seen in the Moralia. The Cappadocian described how as a young man he had sought out holy men as spiritual guides for his own journey to God. Eustathius of Sebaste had played this kind of formative role in his life. Bishop Eusebius of Samosata was also an important mentor and a model for Basil's ecclesiastical career (128). Basil seems to have served in a paternal capacity to monks in the communities under his care, and he urged monks to submit themselves to the training and example of more experienced brothers (129). As bishop of Caesarea he assumed this role of spiritual director for several men. We have already noted his advice to Antiochus, who may well have been one of the earliest collectors of the cherished letters of his second "spiritual father"(130). Basil also served as a mentor to Amphilochius of Iconium, both before and after his consecration to the episcopate. In his first letter to Amphilochius he encouraged the younger man to enter into this relationship despite obligations to his aging father that were preventing him from coming to Basil personally "Instruction in how to lead the Christian life depends less on words than on daily example," he wrote. Amphilochius should therefore impress upon his father the importance of spending time with a man, like Basil, who is both experienced in the spiritual life and able to impart what he has learned to others (131). Basil admired this ability in other bishops as well. Writing to Eusebius of Samosata, he praised God that "your disciples everywhere show the mark of your dignity." Having received from Bishop Vetranius the relics of the recent martyr Sabas the Goth, the Cappadocian praised his venerable colleague, who had trained this "athlete" of Christ (132).

Several of Basil's homilies evince the same emphasis on the ecclesiastical leader as a spiritual guide to his flock. While his sermons were generally directed toward a wider Christian audience, occasionally he referred to the duties of men of authority in the church. Not only should they nourish the souls of the faithful with sound doctrine, he said, but they must also care for their flock with warmth and zeal. The demonstration of such earnest concern would stimulate people to heed the message that is preached. The leader's goal should be to form the faithful to lives of virtue and piety (133) .The spiritual child of such a devoted teacher is "formed by him and brought into existence just as an infant is formed within a pregnant woman"(134).

Not only should a Christian leader guide specific individuals but Basil's ideal bishop also should exercise spiritual oversight of monastic communities. His correspondence suggests that Basil exemplified such engagement with the monks and nuns under his own jurisdiction. We have already mentioned his letters of comfort to monks in exile for their faithfulness to the Nicene faith. As bishop of Caesarea he was eager to keep abreast of affairs in the monasteries and urged the brothers to send information (135). In Letter 258 he praised Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis for his concern about disputes among monks on the Mount of Olives and encouraged him in his efforts to resolve the conflict. In one of his canonical letters to Amphilochius he recommended that the bishop examine the lives of would-be monks and receive a clear profession from them (136). Though it would be long before the church officially sanctioned this relationship, for Basil monastic life and endeavours were clearly the bishop's domain.

While ascetic ideals and practices were of prime concern to the bishop of Caesarea, they were not the only qualifications for church leadership. For example, a bishop ought to be willing and able to collaborate with colleagues, a capability not necessarily connected with the monastic milieu. Basil urged collegiality among bishops time and time again, and he himself frequently sought the counsel of trusted friends in the episcopate (137). When problems arose or suspicions were roused against him, he considered a synod of bishops the means by which to resolve the issue (138). He lamented the loss of that spirit of harmony among Christian leaders that he believed had thrived in the early church and hoped that orthodox bishops would recover this ideal. He encouraged monastic as well as ecclesiastical leaders to meet together regularly (139). Among other no ascetic qualities he sought in prospective priests and bishops were prior experience in lower church office, and discernment and foresight. These latter qualities are vividly depicted in Letter 222, in which Basil described the clergy as the "eyes" of the body, surrounding the members of the body with vigilance (140). Finally, knowledge of Scripture and orthodox doctrine were of prime importance for a leader in the church.

As we have seen in both the Asceticon and the Moralia, Basil emphasized the role of the leader as a teacher of the Word and accordingly stressed biblical education for those who would hold church office. He highly valued the learning of orthodox priests and bishops like Diodore of Tarsus, Amphilochius of Iconium, and his close friend Gregory Nazianzen, for he knew such men were sorely needed in the battle against heresy (141). Yet he never insisted that priests or bishops have a classical education. Moreover, his own sermons are steeped in biblical citations but almost completely bereft of classical allusions. Basil's "Address to young men on reading Greek literature" demonstrates his own education in philosophy, literature, and rhetoric, and his appreciation for the value of such learning when properly used as a propaedeutic for the study of Scripture (142). Accordingly, it was training in Scripture and doctrine that concerned him. We have observed his dismay over the lack of properly trained ministers in the church. He deplored the ignorance of apostolic teaching and the neglect of the canons among the clergy of his region. Knowledgeable, well-trained men seemed to be the exception. Recommending a certain Episcopal candidate, Basil noted that alongside his ascetic qualities the man was "skilled in the canons, scrupulous in the faith"(143). Elsewhere he commended bishops who demonstrated zeal in the study of Scripture or the search for truth(144).

Given such ideals, both ascetic and no ascetic, it is not surprising that many monks were considered to be well qualified for church office. Their daily ascetic regimen formed them in virtue, their communal life instilled in them the value of collaboration and unity, and they also acquired extensive knowledge of the Bible. The totality of Basil's monastic system was founded on Scripture. His Rules themselves were not commands in the strict sense but explanations and applications of New Testament texts. All monks were called to read and meditate on the Scriptures (145). Daily psalmody, the reading of Scripture over meals, and regular teaching fostered familiarity with the biblical text and helped monks to commit many portions to memory (146). Some men were singled out by overseers to devote themselves more intensively to study of the Bible. Those entrusted with this duty made up a kind of elite among monks and were commissioned to instruct the other brothers. The "gift of the Word" was a highly revered monastic gift (147).

In addition to intensive inculcation of the Bible in monastic communities, Basil's correspondence with monks reveals that some were educated and well informed of church affairs. For example, his discussion of contemporary heresies in a letter to ascetics under his care assumes considerable understanding of doctrinal issues on their part (148). Basil was always eager to enlist the brothers in the cause of orthodoxy. After commending a group of persecuted monks for their faithfulness against Arianism, he encouraged them to remain steadfast. "Even if bishops have been driven from their churches," he wrote, "this should not shake you up. If traitors have arisen from among the clerics themselves, let this not undermine your confidence in God." In fact, as this same letter indicates, it was often the monks of Asia Minor whom Basil found to be champions of the Nicene faith when others had succumbed under pressure (149). Such a combination of ascetic virtue, biblical knowledge, and perseverance in the true faith would surely render them able leaders of the ailing eastern church.

The Paradigm of Moses

Perhaps the best model for church leadership in Basil's estimation was that of Moses, a paradigm to which we will return in the writings of his Cappadocian colleagues. In his Asceticon, homilies, and letters Basil presented aspects of Moses' character as examples for emulation. This Old Testament patriarch served as a paragon of self-sacrificial love, contemplation, nearness to God, and the calmness of character and freedom from passion that produces meekness (150). Moses modelled the wise leader who did not fail to heed good counsel (151). Often his virtues were invoked in explicit demonstration of some quality of Episcopal leadership. In this connection Bishop Musonius was said to be like Moses in his faithfulness to tradition, and Bishop Innocent was compared with the patriarch in his desire to see a successor. Eusebius of Samosata was urged to pray more earnestly for the churches, even as Moses had interceded continually for the people of Israel. Gregory Thaumaturgus was dubbed a "second Moses" by the very enemies of the church, Basil explained, on account of the many signs and wonders he performed (152).

The most telling portrayal of Moses as a leader occurs at the beginning of the Homilies on the Hexaemeron, which were delivered toward the very end of Basil's life (153). Introducing Moses as the author of the Hexaemeron, Basil described distinct phases of the patriarch's career. After his adoption by the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses received a royal education under the sages of Egypt. Yet disdaining the pomp and power of royalty he preferred to suffer ill treatment with the people of God. Thus he joyfully renounced the tumult of Egypt and went to Ethiopia, where for a period of forty years he devoted himself to contemplation, culminating in his vision of God at the age of eighty. He was thereby deemed ready to minister to the people. "This man, therefore, whom God judged worthy to behold him face to face like the angels," Basil declared, "speaks to us the things he has heard from God"(154).

This account reveals Basil's conception of both the model exegete and the ideal Christian leader. The description is one of the monk-bishop par excellence -a man who has been trained in the learning and wisdom of the world, rejected it for the contemplative life, and finally emerged from monastic solitude, albeit reluctantly, to lead and instruct the people of God. Basil delineated the first two stages of Moses' career in similar terms in his address "Ad adolescentes", in which he presented the patriarch as an example for young men (155). In the commentary on Isaiah attributed to the Cappadocian, the division of Moses' life into three forty-year periods was even more explicit:

Indeed the first forty years he was instructed in the Egyptian disciplines; the next forty years, under the pretext of tending sheep, he withdrew to deserted places and gave himself to the contemplation of realities. And thus finally, having been judged worthy of the vision of God after the second forty years, unwillingly with a view to the love of God among humans, he descended for the care of humanity. Yet not even then did he remain continually in the active life, but also returned frequently to the contemplative (156).

Here the final stage was passed not in active life alone but combining the responsibilities of leadership with periodic retreats for the sake of contemplation.

This ideal three-stage progression was one that Basil himself embodied. Educated in profane learning, and having committed an important part of his life (his years at Annesi) to solitude and meditation, he devoted the remainder of his career to leading the Christian people entrusted to him. In fact, the three stages of the life of Moses would later be presented by Basil's brother Gregory as a prefiguration of Basil's own career (157). Basil himself not only compared the virtues of great bishops with aspects of Moses' life and career but also seemed to look for the Mosaic pattern in prospective church leaders.

Surveying the situation of eastern Christendom in his day, Basil encountered a church beset by heresy internecine rivalry, and inadequate and incompetent leadership. His writings vividly depict his perception of the plight of the Christian community. In the midst of such an ecclesiastical situation, the Cappadocian formulated, expressed, and modelled his views on leadership in the church. It has been suggested that for Basil the various duties of church leaders could be reduced to two major functions: defence of orthodoxy and proclamation of the Word of God (158). While he certainly placed great weight on these responsibilities, this assessment fails to do justice to Basil's frequent portrayal of the leader as an example to the people, a concern that was paramount in his thinking about Episcopal leadership. His insistence on the moral character of the bishop bears out Peter Brown's discussion of the holy man as an exemplar in late antiquity. Brown describes the tendency to see persons as "classics," to view the character and actions of elites as models for emulation. To illustrate the intensity of the master-pupil relationship he draws specifically from fourth-century Anatolia, where "the force of example was what mattered most"(159). In an early letter to his friend Gregory, Basil himself spelled out the importance of the lives of saints as paradigms for Christian behaviour: "Just as painters, when they are painting an image from another image, frequently look at the model and make every effort to transfer its features to their own work, so too he who seeks to make himself perfect in all aspects of virtue must turn his eyes to the lives of the saints as though to moving and acting statues, and make their virtue his own by imitation"(160). Basil viewed the bishop as having much the same function as these biblical saints. Not only the blessed men of Scripture and the holy ascetics but also, especially, the bishops must serve as exemplars for the Christian community. In this capacity the monastic bishop in particular would excel.

The combination of qualifications and concerns we find in the Cappadocian's writings point to one primary conclusion: monastic virtues ought to reform church office, particularly the office of bishop. Basil did not actively campaign for the ordination of monks qua monks. As Klaus Koschorke has affirmed in his study of Basil's ecclesiology, it was not that the monk should become a priest, but rather that the priest and, Ι would add, the bishop- should live as an ascetic (161). However, in view of the qualities Basil sought in ministers of the Gospel and the difficulty of finding men who met these high standards, it became his natural inclination to consider monks ideal for positions of leadership in the church. This was also the conclusion that others would draw from his life and thought.

Jean Gribomont has attributed Basil's aspiration to the episcopate to his desire "to make the ascetic ideal triumph "(162). Certainly he displayed a dual commitment to the fledgling Cappadocian monastic movement and the enfeebled Eastern Church. But in one sense we should not make so clear a distinction between the two. Although monastic communities epitomized the evangelical way of life for Basil, he considered moral virtue and ascetic discipline to be the norm for all true Christians. Above all, he believed, those who lead and instruct the faithful must serve as models of such a lifestyle. Thus it was perfectly consonant with Basil's perspective on the Christian life as a whole that ascetic ideals should shape his conception of ecclesiastical leadership. Despite the struggles and failures he faced in church office, his theoretical views on the bishop would take practical shape and have lasting influence through his own exercise of Episcopal authority.


100. PG 31, 1509D-1513A. On the nature and dating of this document see Gribomont, Histoire, p. 278f. Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, pp. 354-355, also accepts this prefatory letter as genuine.

101. Proemium ad hypotyposin: PG 31, 1512D-1513A. The reference to those who teach seems to denote bishops, although it may include priests as well. The earlier quote is from 2 Timothy 2:2.

102. On the central place of the Moralia in Basil's ecclesiology see Klaus Koschorke, Spuren der alten Liebe: Studien zum Kirchenbegriff des Basilius von Caesarea (Freiburg: Universitatsverlag, 1991), pp. 39-49. On its dating see Gribomont, Histoire, p. 159f., who argues for its early composition. Fedwick, Church and Charisma, pp. 149-152, suggests that the Moralia represents an accretion of texts and revisions begun as early as 361 that reached their final form during the later years of Basil's episcopate (c. 377). Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, pp. 228-229 and n. 211, proposes an early date for the text, between 359 and 361, during Basil's Pontus retreat. Ι concur with Rousseau for reasons he summarizes. For the text of the Moralia see PG 31, 700B-869C.

103. RM 60-69 (793-816) treat the variety of gifts in the church, showing Basil's conviction that all gifts should be equally respected. RM 70-80 (816D-869C) deal with positions of leadership as well as with the married state, widows, slaves, children, virgins, soldiers, and rulers. Gribomont, SP 2, TU 64 (1957), p. 148, suggests that Basil's approach here reflects a response to problems arising out of the Eustathian ascetic milieu.

104. See RM 70 (816D-845B) in contrast to RM 20 and 21 (736C-741A). Αlmost half of RM 80 (860C-869C), the second longest in the corpus (containing twenty-seven sub points), is also devoted to those who lead in the church. Regarding the relative lack of attention to the cultic or sacerdotal function of the priest or bishop here and throughout Basil's writings see Koschorke, Kirchenbegriff, pp. 210-212.

105. RM 70.1: 816D-820A. Basil did not use the term bishop here but spoke more generally of those commissioned to preach the Gospel. However he made explicit reference to bishops, priests, and deacons in RM 71: 845BD.

106. Regarding qualifications for church office Basil repeatedly cited relevant passages from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 (see especially RM 70.1: 816D820Α; 71: 845BD) as well as passages from the Gospels.

107. RM 72.1: 845D. Cf. RM 70.5: 821C and 40: 760C.

108. See RM 70.5-7: 821Β-824Β, 70.23: 836AC, 70.30: 841Α, 70.36: 844D845Α.

109. On this practice see Irenee Hausherr, Spiritual Direction in the Early Christian East, trans. Antony Ε Gythiel (Kalamazoo, Mich: Cistercian Publications, 1990).
On Basil's views see Pierre Humbertclaude, La doctrine ascétique de Saint Basile de Cesaree (Paris: Beauchesne, 1932), pp. 131144.

110. On this central requirement of Besitzlosigheit (propertylessness) for clergy in the Moralia see Koschorke, Kirchenbegriff, pp. 214-215. This emphasis foreshadows later civil and ecclesiastical legislation regarding the property and possessions of bishops.

111. Robert C. Gregg, Consolation Philosophy: Greek and Christian Paideia in Basil and the Two Gregories (Cambridge, Mass.: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1975), p. 132 with reference to Letters 28, 29, 62, 227.

112. Letter 51: Courtonne 1, 132. Basil wrote this letter in self-defence, seemingly against charges that he had anathematised Bishop Dianius. This may account in part for his protracted adulation of the bishop's character.

113. On Elpidius see Letters 205 and 206; on Valerian, Letter 91. For other commendations of virtue in the lives of bishops see Letter 67 concerning Meletius of Antioch and Letter 161 congratulating Amphilochius of Iconium on his Episcopal consecration.

114. Gregg, Consolation Philosophy, p. 144 regarding Letter 28. This intentionality was not limited to one letter of condolence.

115. Letter 246: Courtonne 3, 85; Letter 154. On this latter letter and the identification of Ascholius as already a bishop despite the lack of direct reference to his Episcopal status, see Pouchet, Basile le Grand, pp. 452-456.

116. Letter 271: Courtonne 3, 143.

117. RM 70.37: 844D-845A.

118. On the integrity and sincerity of the preacher in Basil's thought see Thomas Spidlik, La sophiologie de S. Basile, OCA 162 (Rome: Pontificum institutum orientalium studiorum, 1961), pp. 254-257.

119. Letter 53.2. See also Letter 240.3 to the priests of Nicopolis and Letter 199, canon 27.

120. Letter 205: Courtonne 2, 181. See also Letter 252, in which Basil applauded the Pontic bishops for their lives of rigid discipline.

121. Letter 81: Courtonne 1, 183. For further discussion of this letter see Chapter 3.

122. Letter 146. On Antiochus see Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, ed., Basilius von Caesarea: Briefe (Stuttgart: Α. Hiersemann, 1973), 2, nn. 141 and 187. Similarly, in his sermon In psalmum 33.8 (PG 29, 369D-372B), Basil recommended meditation οn the judgment of Christ as a motivation to subdue evil desires.

123. See Letter 210.1.

124. Letter 291: Courtonne 3, 164.30-31, 163.11-16. Letter 24, at the end of which Basil defended this same chorepiscopus, Timothy, against apparent accusations of calumny, provides some clues about the context of Letter 291. See Pouchet, Basile le Grand, pp. 560-561.

125. RM 70.29: 840D.

126. Letter 2.2. Cf. Ιn ps. 45.8: PG 29, 429Β.

127. This is suggested by Gain, L'Eglise de Cappadoce, p. 108, reflecting on Letter 188, canon 10. Gain's discussion of Basil's views, however, may be making too much of too little evidence. On legislation regarding married clergy see Jean Gaudemet, L'Eglise dans l'Empire Romain (IVe-Ve siècles) (Paris: Sirey, 1958), pp. 140-141. The ordination of married priests has always been permitted in the Eastern Church.

128. On Eustathius see Letters 1, 34, 223.5, and on Basil's search for spiritual guides, Letter 204.6. Jean Robert Pouchet, "Eusèbe de Samosate, père spirituel de Basile le Grand," Bulletin de littérature Ecclésiastique 85/3 (1984): 179-195, examines Basil's use of the term father for Eusebius in Letter 27. Though Eusebius himself was not a monk, the nature of their relationship seems to have been based on a monastic model. See especially Pouchet's comments, p. 193.

129. On Basil's role as a spiritual guide to monks see Proem. in RF: 889Α and Proem. in RB: 1080ΑΒ. For his instruction regarding spiritual direction see RF 15: 853Β, 26: 985D-988A; RB 15: 1092BC, 113: 1157CD, 229: 1236Α. On the need for ascetics to have spiritual trainers see also Letter 23.

130. See Pouchet, Basile le Grand, p. 57, for evidence.

131. Letter 150.4: Courtonne 2, 75. In Letters 161.2 and 176 Basil wrote of his relationship with Amphilochius as being that of a father and a beloved son. After Amphilochius was consecrated bishop of Iconium, he continued to seek Basil's advice, though now particularly on questions of biblical interpretation and canon law For Basil's instructions to Amphilochius see Letters 188, 199, 217, 233-236.

132. Letter 127: Courtonne 2, 37.18-19; Letter 164.1. The recipient of Letter 164 has long been identified as Ascholius of Thessalonica, but Pouchet, Basile le Grand, pp. 460-464, shows that the addressee of both this and Letter 165 is actually Ascholius's close associate, the bishop and confessor Vetranius of Tomi. The context of the letter is the transfer of Sabas's relics from Scythia to Cappadocia.

133. In ps. 44.5: PG 29, 400D, and In ps. 28.2: PG 29, 284Β and 33.8: 369ΑΒ, respectively. See also Hom. 12.15: PG 29, 417Α-420Β, in which the spiritual leader is called to govern well toward the goal of perfection. On the audience, dating, and some themes of Basil's sermons see Jean Bernardi, La predication des pères cappadociens: Le prédicateur et son auditoire (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968), pp. 17-91.

134. In ps. 33.8: PG 29, 369Α. 135. Letters 226 and 262.1. 136. Letter 199, canon 19.

137. For example, Letters 138.2, 201, 213.2.

138. Letters 191 and 204.4; on collegiality see also Letter 70.

139. See RF 54: 1044ΑΒ.

140. Letter 222: Courtonne 3, 7.31-35. This parallels his description of the monastic superior: "One has the power of the eye, having been entrusted with the common care, both testing the things that have been done, and foreseeing and arranging the things that are to be done." RF 24: 984Α; cf. RF 43: 1028AC. On the importance of experience in church office see Letter 81.

141. All three of these men were ascetics as well as bishops. See Fedwick, Church and Charisma, pp. 55-60, on the leader's role as defender of the faith and for discussion of Basil's own example.

142. Ad adolescentes, PG 31, 564-589. Basil said very little about the requisite education of clergy, but it seems that study of Scripture was its central component.

143. Letter 81: Courtonne 1, 183. On ignorance and neglect of the canons among the clergy see Letters 54, 90.2, 92.2.

144. See Letter 260 to Optimus of Antioch, the letters to Amphilochius, and De spiritu sancto 1.1, 2. Compare Letter 159.1 to Eupaterius and his daughter.

145. RB 95: 1148D-1149A, 235: 1240CD; Letter 2.3. RB 303: 1296D-1297D also assumes considerable knowledge of the Bible on the part of monks.

146. On psalmody in Basilian monastic communities see RF 37: 1009C-1016C; RB 43: 1109C, 147: 1180ΑΒ, 281: 1280Β, 307: 1301Β; and Letters 2.6 and 207.3. On mealtime Bible readings see RB 180: 1204Α. For Basil's instruction on the teaching of Scripture see RF 45: 1032C-1033C and RF 15: 953D, where he prescribes biblical education for children in the monastery.

147. RF 32: 996C. Cf. RB 303: 1297Α. This gift was not the domain of the superior alone, but Basil said it is accorded to very few and is associated with those particularly well-versed in the Scriptures. On those commissioned to instruct fellow monks see RF 45: 1032C; AΒ 235: 1240CD, and 236: 1241Α.

148. Letter 226. Regarding ascetics' knowledge of the doctrinal struggles of the church see also Letters 258.1, 262, and Letter 52 to canonesses.

149. Letter 257.2: Courtonne 3, 99. In the East, in Egypt as well as Asia Minor, monks were increasingly perceived as defenders of orthodoxy. Their function as protectors of doctrine caused them to play an ever-expanding role in church politics. See Heinrich Bacht, "Die Rolle des orientalischen Monchtums in den kirchenpolitischen Auseinandersetzungen um Chalkedon (431-519)," in Das Konzil von Chalhedon, ed. Alois Grillmeier and Heinrich Bacht (Wurzburg: Echter, 1953),2, pp. 193-314.

150. RF 3: PG 31, 917C; Ιn ps. 29.5: PG 29, 317Β; Ιn ps. 33.12: 380Α; 44.2: 392BC; Ιn ps. 33.2: 356C.

151. RB 114: 1160Α.

152. See Letter 28.1 for Musonius; Letter 81 for Innocent; Letter 241 for Eusebius; De spiritu sancto 29.73 for Gregory Thaumaturgus.

153. These sermons were probably preached during Lent, 378. Οn the date and occasion see Amand de Mendieta, "La préparation et la composition des neuf 'Homélies sur l'Hexaemeron' de Basile de Cesaree," SP 16, TU 74 (Berlin, 1985): 349-367.

154. Hex. 1: PG 29, SC; Basile de Césarée, Homélies sur l'Hexaemeron, ed. and trans. Stanislas Giet, SC 26 bis (Paris: Éditions du cerf, 1968), p. 90. See Giet's comment, p. 91 n. 4; also the insightful article by Marguerite Harl, "Les trois quarantaines de la vie de Moise, schéma idéal de la vie du moineeveque chez les pères Cappadociens," REG 80 (1967): 407-412.

155. Ad adolescentes 2: PG 31, 568C.

156. PG 30, 129Α. The ascription of this text to Basil is questionable, but Ηarl, "Les trois quarantaines," pp. 409-410, links it unquestionably with the fourth-century Cappadocian monastic milieu, specifically the milieu connected with Basil.

157. The use of Moses as a paradigm for Basil and for Episcopal leadership in the writings of both Nyssan and Nazianzen will be discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, respectively See also Α. Sterk, "On Basil, Moses, and the Model Bishop: The Cappadocian Legacy of Leadership," CH 67/2 (1998): 227-253.

158. Fedwick, Church and Charisma, p. 36; see pp. 37-100 for extensive treatment of these two functions.

159. Peter Brown, "The Saint as Exemplar in Late Antiquity," in Saints and Virtues, ed. John Stratton Hawley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), pp. 9-10. Compare Basil's instructions to Amphilochius in Letter 150.4.

160. Letter 2.3: Courtonne 1, 9.

161. Koschorke, Kirchenbegriff, p. 233.

162. Jean Gribomont, "Un aristocrate révolutionnaire, évêque et moine: Saint Basile," Augustinianum 17 (1977): 184.

Main page of text | Previous Page