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E00822: Basil of Caesarea, in his Letter 204 of 375, to the people of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea in Pontus (northern Asia Minor), refers to *Gregory the Miracle-Worker (bishop of Neocaesarea, S00687) as the founder of the local ecclesiastical tradition, whose doctrines he (Basil) was taught by his own grandmother, Makrina the Elder. Written in Greek at Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor).

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posted on 30.10.2015, 00:00 by erizos
Basil of Caesarea, Letters (CPG 2900), Letter 204

ΤΟΙΣ ΝΕΟΚΑΙΣΑΡΕΥΣΙΝ

(………………)
(2.) Δεύτερον δὲ ὅτι, εἴ τι μέγα συμβάλλεται πρὸς συνάφειαν καὶ τὸ τῶν αὐτῶν μετασχεῖν διδασκάλων, οἱ αὐτοὶ ὑμῖν τε εἰσὶ καὶ ἡμῖν διδάσκαλοί τε τῶν μυστηρίων τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατέρες πνευματικοί, οἱ ἐξ ἀρχῆς τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν τὴν ὑμετέραν θεμελιώσαντες. Γρηγόριον λέγω τὸν πάνυ καὶ ὅσοι ἐφεξῆς ἐκείνῳ τῆς παρ’ ὑμῖν ἐπισκοπῆς τὸν θρόνον διαδεξάμενοι, ἄλλος ἐπ’ ἄλλῳ, ὥσπερ τινὲς ἀστέρες ἐπανατέλλοντες κατὰ τῶν αὐτῶν ἰχνῶν ἐπέβησαν, ὥστε διάγνωστα καταλιπεῖν τῆς κατ’ οὐρανὸν πολιτείας τὰ σημεῖα τοῖς βουλομένοις.
(……………)
(6.) Πίστεως δὲ τῆς ἡμετέρας τίς ἂν καὶ γένοιτο ἐναργεστέρα ἀπόδειξις ἢ ὅτι τραφέντες ἡμεῖς ὑπὸ τήθῃ μακαρίᾳ γυναικὶ παρ’ ὑμῶν ὡρμημένῃ; Μακρίναν λέγω τὴν περιβόητον, παρ’ ἧς ἐδιδάχθημεν τὰ τοῦ μακαριωτάτου Γρηγορίου ῥήματα ὅσα πρὸς αὐτὴν ἀκολουθίᾳ μνήμης διασωθέντα αὐτή τε ἐφύλασσε καὶ ἡμᾶς ἔτι νηπίους ὄντας ἔπλαττε καὶ ἐμόρφου τοῖς τῆς εὐσεβείας δόγμασιν.


‘To the people of Neokaisareia

(…………)
And, secondly, if sharing the same teachers contributes at all greatly to union, both you and we have not only the same teachers of God’s mysteries, but also the same spiritual fathers who from the beginning have laid the foundations of your church. I mean the great Gregory and all who, having succeeded in turn to his chair in your episcopate, one following the other like rising stars, have so walked in the same footsteps as to leave the marks of his heavenly administration visible to any who wish to see them.
(………)
And what indeed could be a clearer proof of our faith than that we were brought up by our grandmother, a blessed woman who came from amongst you? I mean the illustrious Makrina, by whom we were taught the sayings of the most blessed Gregory (as many as she herself retained, preserved to her time in unbroken memory), and who moulded and formed us while still young in the doctrines of piety.’ 


Text: Courtonne, vol. 2, p. 172-181.
Translation: Deferrari, vol. 3, p. 157, 169.

History

Evidence ID

E00822

Saint Name

Gregory the Miracle-Worker (Taumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus : S00687

Saint Name in Source

Γρηγόριος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

375

Evidence not after

375

Activity not before

375

Activity not after

375

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people

Source

Born 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. On the manuscript tradition, editions and translations of this letter, see: Fedwick, P.J., Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis. 5 vols. Vol. I (Corpus Christianorum; Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 514-515. http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/5913/

Discussion

This is one of two letters addressed by Basil to his native area of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea in Pontus Polemoniacus, with whom the bishop clashed in the mid-370s on issues of doctrine and ecclesiastical practices. Unlike Letter 207 (see E00823) which is addressed to the clergy, this one is evidently addressed to the leading laymen of the city. Basil clashed with the clergy of his native community in the mid-370s, on the doctrine concerning the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Neocaesareans also opposed practices like monasticism and antiphonal psalm singing, which were promoted by Basil in his see (see E00823). Basil defends himself before the lay leadership of the city, and, in an effort to capture their sympathy, he stresses that he shares the same faith and traditions with them, which derive from the teachings of *Gregory the Miracle-Worker, and which he received from his own grandmother *Makrina the Elder – apparently already a well-known and respected figure of the local Christian community. Gregory was revered as the founding father of the ecclesiastical see of Neokaisareia and its traditions (see E00823).

Bibliography

Text edition and French Translation: Courtonne, Y., Saint Basile. Lettres. 3 vols (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1957-1966). Text and English Translations: Deferrari, R.J., Saint Basil, the Letters. 4 vols. Vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1928). Way, A.C., Saint Basil. Letters, Volume 2 (186‒368) (Fathers of the Church 28; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1955). Further Reading: Courtonne, Y., Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental: saint Basile et son temps d'après sa correspondance (Collection d'études anciennes; Paris: Les Belles lettres, 1973), esp. 356-359. Radde-Gallwitz, A., "The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea," in: C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, and E. Watts (eds.), Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), 69-80. Rousseau, P., Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

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