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Fathers of the Church

Letter VII: to Gregory My Friend

Description

Basil had a great longing for friendship and loyalty. Thus the letters addressed to friends for the exchange of ideas, for consolation, encouragement and advice are especially numerous. (Quasten) The following is one of many letters to St. Gregory of Nazianzus, with whom he had a lifelong friendship.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

WHEN I wrote to you, I was perfectly well aware that no theological term is adequate to the thought of the speaker, or the want of the questioner, because language is of natural necessity too weak to act in the service of objects of thought. If then our thought is weak, and our tongue weaker than our thought, what was to be expected of me in what I said but that I should be charged with poverty of expression? Still, it was not possible to let your question pass unnoticed. It looks like a betrayal, if we do not readily give an answer about God to them that love the Lord. What has been said, however, whether it seems satisfactory, or requires some further and more careful addition, needs a fit season for correction. For the present I implore you, as I have implored you before, to devote yourself entirely to the advocacy of the truth, and to the intellectual energies God gives you for the establishment of what is good. With this be content, and ask nothing more from me. I am really much less capable than is supposed. and am more likely to do harm to the word by my weakness than to add strength to the truth by my advocacy.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.