The Witness of Scripture and Creation – an Excerpt from Basil of Caesarea

The following is an excerpt from Basil of Caesarea, by Stephen M. Hildebrand.

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Basil sees the Bible and the world as two principal instruments whereby God teaches and forms man. Mindfulness of God is a most important concept for him, and it well expresses the role of the physical creation as well as the Scriptures in our salvation. “I want the marvel of creation,” Basils preaches to his people, “to gain such complete acceptance from you that, wherever you may be found and whatever kind of plant you may chance upon, you may receive a clear reminder of the Creator” (Hex. 5.2; 69).

Cover ArtOr, again, Basil writes that “when the day is ended, a mere glance at the starlit heavens is sufficient to call forth from the heart a fervent prayer of thanksgiving and adoration to the Mighty Architect of the universe” (Hom. Mart. Jul. 3). Of course, it is not just plants or stars that will remind us of God but any creature whatsoever.

However, the Scriptures for Basil clearly have a greater power than creation to remind us of God. First, there is the fact that the book that is the Bible is itself a guide to the book of creation: God instructs us in the former how to read the latter. Even more, Basil does not speak of creation itself bringing us to a knowledge of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; only the Bible does so, and not just in the New Testament. We have seen how Basil takes the “Let us make” of Genesis 1:26 (Hex. 10.4).

We see another example in the third homily on creation, wherein Basil points out that God could have simply reported the creation of the world. Instead of a simple report, however, we get the hint of a co-worker. God speaks and commands, and this speaking and commanding implies that there is someone commanded, someone spoken to. “This way of speaking has been wisely and skillfully employed so as to rouse our mind to an inquiry of the Person to whom these words are directed” (Hex. 3.2; 39).

That is to say, God is inviting us to wonder about his Son and raising our minds to a consideration of the divine life; God introduces theology (Hex. 10.4).

©2014 by Stephen M. Hildebrand. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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