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Congratulations to my Former Professor

May 16, 2007

My very first theology professor, who taught me Theology 101 at Franciscan University, has published a new book on which he had been working for a number of years. Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, a scholar in Patristics and Church history, deserves much praise and gratitude for producing perhaps the most substantial study on St. Basil the Great’s trinitarian theology in English. St. Basil, as many know, was the first Church Father to devote an entire work to pneumentology (theology of the Holy Spirit). He shaped subsequent Eastern and Western trinitarian thought, having his insights incorporated into Catholic and Eastern Orthdox doctrine.

The new book is entitled The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea and is now available for purchase. Here is the book description from the publisher’s website:

Basil of Caesarea, the Great, has drawn the admiration of many for centuries. He was a father of eastern coenobitic monasticism, though Benedict of Nursia revered him as well; an author of orthodox Trinitarian theology and eloquent defender of the Spirit; a model of social virtue and concern for the poor; and an erudite preacher and able bishop.

This book explores Basil’s Trinitarian thought as the meeting place of the worlds within which he lived, that of ancient Greek culture and learning, and that of Christian faith lived in the liturgy and expressed in the Scripture. His work as a bishop, theologian, and preacher was in large part an effort to make these two worlds one. Basil showed that Christianity had the strength and power to take to itself whatever was good among the Greeks, ennobling their culture with the name of Christ and yet remaining true to itself. He did this not standing outside of Greek culture, but within it.

In spite of his enduring insistence upon the transcendence and simplicity of God, Basil developed a precise Trinitarian vocabulary, which he thought effectively refuted two basic errors in thinking about God: the denial of the divinity of the Son and the Spirit; and the denial of their true and real distinction from the Father. He maintained that the right thinking about God is more than just the right use of words; it is also the right interpretation of the Word, the Scriptures. This book also, then, seeks to explain the scriptural foundations of Basil’s Trinitarian theology, which themselves testify to his artful synthesis of Greek culture and Christian truth.

This sort of book is necessary for any Catholic who really wants to get a grip on the theology of the early Church, and Hildebrand is a top-notch authority in Patristics, especially the Eastern Fathers. Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Hildebrand!


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