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Fathers of the Church

Epistle LIX: to Basil


Gregory states that he merely was writing to Basil of a simple and foolish matter, and that he is always ready to assist Basil if needed.


Gregory was the first Greek author to publish a collection of his letters; he did so at the request of Nicobulus, a grandson of his sister Gorgonia. Incidentally, he also sets forth a theory of epistolography; he demands that a good letter should have four characteristics: shortness, clearness, charm and simplicity. Although he refuses to present his own epistles as models, they are carefully written, in many cases not without humor, and most of them are brief and pointed. (Quasten)

The following letter is the reply to Basil's somewhat angry answer to Epistle LVIII.

by Gregory Nazianzen in 375 | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

This was a case which any wiser man would have foreseen; but I who am very simple and foolish did not fear it in writing to you. My letter grieved you; but in my opinion neither rightly nor justly, but quite unreasonably. And whilst you did not acknowledge that you were hurt, neither did you conceal it, or if you did it was with great skill, as with a mask, hiding your vexation under an appearance of respect. But as to myself if I acted in this deceitfully or maliciously, I shall be punished not more by your vexation than by the truth itself; but if in simplicity and with my accustomed goodwill, I will lay the blame on my own sins rather than on your temper. But it would have been better to have set this matter straight, rather than to be angry with those who offer you counsel. But you must see to your own affairs, inasmuch as you are quite capable of giving the same advice to others. You may look upon me as very ready, if God will, both to come to you, and to join you in the conflict, and to contribute all that I can. For who would flinch, who would not rather take courage in speaking and contending for the truth under you and by your side?

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. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.

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