Basil of Caesarea: A Review

Andrew Radde-Galwitz demonstrated his brilliance with his book on divine simplicity.. Thus our initial pleasure at seeing a new volume by him, and one at an accessible price.  That said, I am not sure it is worth getting.  It is not quite 200 pages and the pages are relatively small.  This makes for easy reading and Galwitz’ style is fairly fluid, but I don’t know if it is $22 good.   Further, if you have actually read Basil or Galwitz’ first book, I am not sure  you would gain much from this one.
Radde-Galwitz will give a biographical chapter followed by two doctrinal chapters. He does a nice (and fair) job showing what both Basil AND Eunomius believed. While Basil had the correct conclusions, Eunomius probably won the exegetical debate (for example, the common Patristic claim that Proverbs 8 referred to the human nature of the Son, thus the createdness. Eunomius made short work of that claim). The problem, as Sergius Bulgakov would point out much later, is that the divine subject is the Logos asarkos, and as such the human nature of Christ didn’t yet exist.

One area that Radde-Galwitz does not develop is the common presupposition shared by both Eunomius and Basil: we can’t know the essence of God. This was the heart of Eunomius’ contention: if we can’t know the essence of God, but we can know the essence of Christ, then…   Or we can say it another way: if we can’t know the essence of God but we can know Christ, then we have a contradiction in doctrine.

Granted, I disagree with Eunomius, but it’s not entirely clear that Basil won the debate satisfactorily.

This is a short, decent biography that covers most of the relevant details.

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