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Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity$
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Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574117.001.0001

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Basil of Caesarea II: Concepts, Reality, and Reading

Basil of Caesarea II: Concepts, Reality, and Reading

(p.143) 6 Basil of Caesarea II: Concepts, Reality, and Reading
Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity

Andrew Radde‐Gallwitz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 is the second of two chapters on Basil of Caesarea. The chapter first focuses on the way Basil reclaims the idea that at least some theological terms are devised through human conceptualization. Through conceptualization, we refine our thinking without suggesting that the object being thought about is inherently more complex. Hence, conceptualization can be used for thinking about God and developing more nuanced concepts of God without this implying that God is not simple. For Basil, ingeneracy is itself a concept devised through conceptualization. A second section examines Basil's account of the simple divine essence. For Basil, Father and Son share in this essence in the sense that they share a common formula of being. That is, titles such as ‘light’ and ‘life’ are applied equally and in the same sense to both. Basil views these titles as inherent in the divine nature in the way propria are inherent in mundane natures. Basil attempts to explain how this can be true without thinking of the divine attributes as parts of the essence, that is, as essential complements. A final section examines how Basil's account of simplicity influences his exegesis of disputed biblical texts, focusing on John 14:28.

Keywords:   Basil of Caesarea, conceptualization, divine simplicity, propria, formula of being, exegesis, essential complements

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