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The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea

A Synthesis of Greek Thought and Biblical Truth

Basil of Caesarea, the Great, has drawn the admiration of many for centuries. He was a father of eastern coenobitic monasticism, though Benedict of Nursia revered him as well; an author of orthodox Trinitarian theology and eloquent defender of the Spirit; a model of social virtue and concern for the poor; and an erudite preacher and able bishop.

This book explores Basil's Trinitarian thought as the meeting place of the worlds within which he lived, that of ancient Greek culture and learning, and that of Christian faith lived in the liturgy and expressed in the Scripture. His work as a bishop, theologian, and preacher was in large part an effort to make these two worlds one. Basil showed that Christianity had the strength and power to take to itself whatever was good among the Greeks, ennobling their culture with the name of Christ and yet remaining true to itself. He did this not standing outside of Greek culture, but within it.

In spite of his enduring insistence upon the transcendence and simplicity of God, Basil developed a precise Trinitarian vocabulary, which he thought effectively refuted two basic errors in thinking about God: the denial of the divinity of the Son and the Spirit; and the denial of their true and real distinction from the Father. He maintained that the right thinking about God is more than just the right use of words; it is also the right interpretation of the Word, the Scriptures. This book also, then, seeks to explain the scriptural foundations of Basil's Trinitarian theology, which themselves testify to his artful synthesis of Greek culture and Christian truth.


Stephen M. Hildebrand is assistant professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.


"This book will reward patient readers who take their historical theology seriously." — Philip Rousseau, Heythrop Journal

"[A] good discussion of the nature of patristic theology and a solid introduction to Basil's Trinitarian theology." — Mark DelCogliano, Journal of Early Christian Studies

"Hildebrand is unlike most modern theologians as he provides both the academy and the Church with a fresh look at the Trinitarian theology of Basil of Caesarea. . . . This book, a revision of Hildebrand's doctoral dissertation at Fordham University, is a clear and concise exposition of the historical, linguistic, and theological debates that consumed most of the fourth century." — Cistercian Studies Quarterly

"I welcome the publication of Hildebrand's book. . . . Hildebrand provides a useful, well-written account of a highly complex topic. . . . With an extensive acquaintance with primary and secondary sources, Hildebrand is able to discuss both the merits and the shortcomings of Basil's theology in a nuanced and well-grounded fashion." — Pablo Argarate, Theological Studies

"Hildebrand does his readers a service by reconstructing the development of Basil's Trinitarian terminology and providing the historical context for several of Basil's works. . . . Hildebrand demonstrates a firm grasp of current scholarly works while he leads the reader through his own philosophical, theological, and linguistic analysis of Basil's works. . . . I would conclude that The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea: A Synthesis of Greek Thought and Biblical Truth, can serve as a valuable repository of some of Basil's Trinitarian theology to be mined. The section regarding Basil's Greek educational background and scriptural exegesis is especially useful." — Daniel Stramara, Jr., Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies

The Catholic University of America Press

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