Basil of Caesarea, in his treatise On the Holy Spirit, refers to the life and miracles of *Gregory the Miracle-Worker (bishop of Neocaesarea, S00687) and to a hymn associated with *Athenogenes (martyr and bishop of Pedachthoe, S00065). Written in Greek at Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor) in c. 375.
Literary - Theological works
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, On the Holy Spirit (CPG 2839), 29. 73.44 - 74.38
73 (......) Εἰ δέ τις καὶ τὸν ὕμνον Ἀθηνογένους ἔγνω, ὃν ὥσπερ ἄλλο τι ἐξιτήριον τοῖς συνοῦσιν αὐτῷ καταλέλοιπεν, ὁρμῶν ἤδη πρὸς τὴν διὰ πυρὸς τελείωσιν, οἶδε καὶ τὴν τῶν μαρτύρων γνώμην ὅπως εἶχον περὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος. Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν εἰς τοσοῦτον.
74. Γρηγόριον δὲ τὸν μέγαν καὶ τὰς ἐκείνου φωνὰς ποῦ θήσομεν; ἆρ’ οὐχὶ μετὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν; ἄνδρα τῷ αὐτῷ πνεύματι ἐκείνοις περιπατήσαντα, καὶ τοῖς τῶν ἁγίων ἴχνεσι διὰ παντὸς τοῦ βίου στοιχήσαντα, καὶ τῆς εὐαγγελικῆς πολιτείας τὸ ἀκριβὲς διὰ πάσης αὐτοῦ τῆς ζωῆς κατορθώσαντα. Ἐγὼ μὲν τοῦτό φημι, ἦ ἀδικήσομεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, μὴ τοῖς ᾠκειωμένοις Θεῷ τὴν ψυχὴν ἐκείνην συναριθμοῦντες, οἷόν τινα λαμπτῆρα περιφανῆ μέγαν ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ διαλάμψαντα· ὃς φοβερὸν μὲν εἶχεν ἐκ τῆς τοῦ Πνεύματος συνεργίας κατὰ δαιμόνων τὸ κράτος· τοσαύτην δὲ ἔλαβε τοῦ λόγου τὴν χάριν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, ὥστε ἑπτακαίδεκα μόνους Χριστιανοὺς παραλαβών, ὅλον τὸν λαὸν τόν τε ἀστικὸν καὶ τὸν χωριτικὸν διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως προσήγαγε τῷ Θεῷ. Ἐκεῖνος καὶ ποταμῶν ῥεῖθρα μετέστησεν, ἐπιτάξας αὐτοῖς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τῷ μεγάλῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ· καὶ λίμνην ἐξήρανεν ὑπόθεσιν πολέμου φέρουσαν ἀδελφοῖς πλεονέκταις. Αἱ δὲ τῶν μελλόντων προαγορεύσεις τοιαῦται, ὡς μηδὲν τῶν μεγάλων προφητῶν ἀποδεῖν. Καὶ ὅλως μακρὸν ἂν εἴη τοῦ ἀνδρὸς διηγεῖσθαι τὰ θαύματα, ὃς τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ χαρισμάτων, τῶν ἐνεργουμένων ὑπὸ τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασι, δεύτερος Μωϋσῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐχθρῶν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἀνηγορεύετο. Οὕτως αὐτῷ ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ τῶν ἐπιτελουμένων διὰ τῆς χάριτος οἷόν τι φῶς ἐπέλαμπε, μήνυμα τῆς οὐρανίου δυνάμεως, τῆς ἐκ τοῦ ἀφανοῦς παρεπομένης αὐτῷ. Τούτου μέγα ἔτι καὶ νῦν τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις τὸ θαῦμα, καὶ νεαρὰ καὶ ἀεὶ πρόσφατος ἡ μνήμη ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἐνίδρυται, οὐδενὶ χρόνῳ ἀμαυρουμένη. Οὐκοῦν οὐ πρᾶξίν τινα, οὐ λόγον, οὐ τύπον τινὰ μυστικόν, παρ’ ὃν ἐκεῖνος κατέλιπε τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, προσέθηκαν. Ταύτῃ τοι καὶ πολλὰ τῶν παρ’ αὐτοῖς τελουμένων ἐλλειπῶς ἔχειν δοκεῖ, διὰ τὸ τῆς καταστάσεως ἀρχαιότροπον. Οὐδὲν γὰρ ἠνέσχοντο οἱ κατὰ διαδοχὴν τὰς ἐκκλησίας οἰκονομήσαντες τῶν μετ’ ἐκεῖνον ἐφευρεθέντων παραδέξασθαι εἰς προσθήκην. Ἓν τοίνυν τῶν Γρηγορίου καὶ ὁ νῦν ἀντιλεγόμενος τρόπος τῆς δοξολογίας ἐστίν, ἐκ τῆς ἐκείνου παραδόσεως τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ πεφυλαγμένος. Καὶ οὐ πολὺς ὁ πόνος μικρὸν κινηθέντι τὴν ἐπὶ τούτοις πληροφορίαν λαβεῖν.
‘And if anyone has come across the hymn of Athenogenes, which he left to his associates by way of a farewell writing, while already hastening towards his consummation by fire, this person also knows the view of the martyrs and how they thought with regard to the Spirit. So, with regard to this matter, these things suffice.
But where shall we rank the great Gregory, and the words uttered by him? Not among the Apostles and Prophets? He was a man who walked by the same Spirit as they [2 Corinthians 12:18], and who followed the footprints of the saints throughout his life and maintained, as long as he lived, the exact principles of living according to the Gospel. I do believe that we shall wrong the truth if we do not number that soul with the people of God, shining as it did like a beacon in the Church of God. By the fellow-working of the Spirit his power over demons was tremendous. So gifted was he with the grace of the word for obedience to the faith among the nations [Romans 1:5] that, although he found only seventeen Christians, he brought to God all the people in town and country alike by his teaching. By Christ's great name he even changed the course of rivers, and caused a lake, which afforded a ground of quarrel to some covetous brethren, to dry up. Moreover his predictions of things to come were such as by no means to fall short of those of the great prophets. To recount all his wonderful works in detail would be too long a task. For the superabundance of the gifts in him, performed by the Spirit in all power and in signs and in marvels, he was declared a second Moses even by the enemies of the Church themselves. Thus some short of light shone over every word and deed he performed by the grace, manifesting the heavenly power sent to him from the Unseen One. His admiration among the locals is great to this day, and his memory remains ever fresh and green in the churches, by no means faded by time. They thus have not added any practice or word or sacramental ritual beyond what he left to the Church. For this reason many of their ceremonies appear to be defective, on account of the antiquity of their institution. For his successors in the administration of the churches could not endure to accept addition of any of the practices established after him. Now one of the institutions of Gregory is the very form of the doxology to which objection is now made, preserved by the Church on the authority of his tradition. Anyone who takes the short journey there can find out about these things without great trouble.’
Text: Sieben 1993.
Translation: E. Rizos.
Composing and translating saint-related texts Protagonists in Cult and Narratives
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Ecclesiastics - bishops
SourceBorn around 330 to an aristocratic Christian family of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea of Pontus Polemoniacus (Anatolia), Basil was educated in Kaisareia/Caesarea, Antioch, and Athens. After his studies, he spent time in the monasteries in Egypt, before returning to Pontus, where he organised an ascetic community on his family estate in Pontus. In the 360s, Basil was ordained in Kaisareia/Caesarea, and, on 14 June 370, he was consecrated bishop there. He died on 1 January 379. Basil was a prolific writer, composing homilies, theological, ascetical, and liturgical works. His 369 letters form a major corpus on ecclesiastical politics and the broader history of Anatolia and the Christian East.
Basil wrote his treatise On the Holy Spirit at the request of his friend and fellow bishop Amphilochius of Iconium, in the form of a letter addressed to him. The book responds to the teachings of Eustathius of Sebaste concerning the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
The work is known from 69 manuscripts:
DiscussionThis passage is the earliest attestation of two important figures of the tradition of Pontus, Gregory the Miracle Worker of Neocaesarea and the martyr Athenogenes of Pedachthoe.
This passage comes from chapter 29 of the treatise, which is a survey of quotations from Christian sources of the pre-Constantinian era, striving to prove that the divinity of the Holy Spirit alongside the Father and Son was a doctrine uninterruptedly accepted in the early church – and not a doctrinal innovation as Basil’s opponents maintained. Basil’s survey includes quotations from Clement of Rome, Irenaeus of Lyon, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Sextus Julius Africanus, and references to ancient hymns and the local tradition of Anatolia.
In the passage, Basil first refers to traditions associated with two revered founding fathers of the churches of Pontus, the bishop of Neocaesaera Gregory the Miracle-Worker, and the martyr Athenogenes of Pedachthoe. He first refers to a document he describes as the hymn of Athenogenes. This text has not survived, but it may have one of the sources of the Life and Martyrdom of Athenogenes (E02993).
Basil's extensive reference to Gregory the Miracle Worker is related to the strong opposition of Pontus (central and north Anatolia) to Basil's doctrinal and liturgical views. From his letters 204 and 207 (see E00822, E00823), we know that Basil adopted new liturgical practices, conforming to the practices of Egypt, Syria, South Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. This apparently included the adoption of a new doxology (the phrase 'Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit', first adopted in Antioch, see Philostorgius 3.13; Sozomen 3.20), which caused reactions in Pontus. Basil was accused of altering the traditions established by Gregory the Miracle-Worker. Here Basil acknowledges the validity of the practices of Pontus and their uninterrupted continuity from Gregory, about whom he gives a long hagiographical note. Yet he underplays the doctrinal implications of the Pontic liturgy, presenting it as merely archaic. The personality and extraordinary grace of the figure of Gregory, however, were, according to Basil, proofs of the real presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the this holy man.
This passage is our earliest source recording legends about Gregory, alongside the slightly later Life of Gregory the Miracle Worker, composed by Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa (see E01878).
BibliographyText Editions and Translations:
Sieben H. J. De Spiritu Sancto = Über den Heiligen Geist (Fontes Christiani 12), Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1993.
Pruche P. Basile de Césarée. Sur le Saint-Esprit (Sources chrétiennes 17). Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1968.
Stephen P. Saint Basil, On the Holy Spirit, Yonkers, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, New York, 2011.
Anderson D. St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980.
|ID||Name||Name in Source||Identity||S00065||Athenogenes, bishop and martyr of Pedachthoe||Ἀθηνογένης||Certain||S00687||Gregory the Miracle-Worker (Thaumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus, ob. c. 270||Γρηγόριος||Certain|
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Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E01103 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01103