Sunday, October 25, 2009

Notes On Some of St. Basil's Hexaemeron

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Basil's Hexaemeron: Homilies 2, 3, & 5

Septuagint (sep-too-ah-jint) – 3rd century B.C. translation of Old Testament into Greek – Christ quotes the Septuagint in the New Testament
None of the 20,000 medieval NT manuscripts are identical – there are only two identical manuscripts of the NT at all – textual criticism: attempt to guess what the original words were based on manuscript family trees – most people rely on Nestle-Olan edition (not the answer, but the best) – we have first century BC manuscript of Septuagint – before discovery Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew OT manuscript was from the 11th century A.D. – thousands of textual variants between the two – conclusively shown that the Septuagint was far more reliable, even in translation, than the 11th century Hebrew manuscripts that provide basis for all Old Testaments we have every read - Gospel authors quote the Septuagint
Unparalleled look into the way Basil's mind works – oldest extant thorough Christian commentary on creation – Ambrose does the same thing in Latin ten years later
Ephrem and Basil are contemporaries – might have had access
Motivation behind the homilies: Eight services a day in monastic -Eastern Christian liturgical cycle: beginning of Lent begins with Genesis – expected to preach on the daily readings – scribes in the audience thought his insights were worth saving for posterity – no way of knowing if they quote him verbatim
Lesson in exegesis: how to apply sciences to what the Bible says;
Basil does speculate on what the firmament is: goal is to condemn pagan errors about matter being eternal/uncreated
Basil's answer was that the first days are figures of speech: thousands of years; after day four, we get the 24-hour days
In sixth homily he says, before sun was created, God marked day and night in His own way
Before the Fall, nothing would die (true for Chrysostom, true for Basil if memory serves) – sin brings in death not just for humanity, for the universe – Chrysostom: no tidal waves/hurricanes
Chrysostom said it never rains until Noah; firmament breaks and there is enough water – Chrysostom: progressively worse until Christ’s First Coming
Gregory of Nyssa says that the physical markings of gender were not present until after the Fall
Evil = absence of goodness; we are the ones who are responsible for injecting evil into the world
Pastoral device: look to prevent sin within yourself

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