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On the Holy Spirit

(Popular Patristics Series #42)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  632 ratings  ·  41 reviews
This classic exposition of Trinitarian doctrine eloquently sets forth the distinction yet perpetual communion of the divine Persons. Without explicitly calling the Spirit "God, " St Basil demonstrates that He, like the Son, is of the same nature with the Father. ...more
Paperback, 118 pages
Published October 1st 1980 by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
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Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-holy-fathers
St Basil, much like St Gregory of Nazianzen, begins his work with a dense discussion of the terminology. It is easy for today's reader to miss what is important in the debate. St Basil spends the first few chapters sparring over the use of prepositions as they are applied to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He makes the point that since all of the prepositions his opponents use (or use to say that because ______ is not applied to the Holy Spirit; therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God), he shows tha ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
I respect St. Basil personally and as a major figure in the Christian Tradition, but reading this book made me wish our Fathers spent as much time demonstrating a compassionate attitude toward their opponents as they did demolishing their arguments. Yes, I understand the role of dogma in the Christian Faith, I really do. But at this stage in my life, I look around and think that if we had laid foundations of "Compassion at any cost!" rather than "Correctness at any cost!" we could still have dev ...more
Dan Glover
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This ought be a must-read for every pastor, student...actually, every Christian. This is one of the best works of theology I've ever read. It is not only St. Basil's clear, careful arguments for the full divinity of the Holy Spirit (contra 2nd wave Arianism) and in passing, also the full divinity of the Son that makes this work truly great. It is the broad basis for his arguments: Scripture carefully handled, right down to grammar and individual words; tradition as handed down from previous gene ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Basil is one of the Cappadocian fathers and this work on the Holy Spirit was hugely influential in the Council of Constantinople’s editing and affirmation of the Nicene Creed, including stronger language on the deity of the Spirit. This work is also one of those works that I believe any Christian interested in learning about the Holy Spirit, reading some Christian classics, or simply reading something that will help them grow in their faith, could read and enjoy.

Below are some quotes that I foun
Wes Durrwachter
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Great book for those wanting to learn more about the person, deity, and work of the Holy Spirit. Basil has a lot of interesting and helpful thoughts, but much of the writing can be confusing and seemingly disordered for modern readers.

Much of the work is devoted to specific Trinitarian concerns of the early church debates (semantical concerns related to words like "in" and "and"), and therefore difficult to comprehend. But Basil has certain sections that were extremely enlightening and helpful.
Christopher Moellering
G. K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy, "The long words are not the hard words, is is the short words that are hard." This work by St. Basil is a testament to the truth of Chesterton's observation. It is primarily a defense of the Holy Spirit as being the third person of the Trinity, without subordination, or of a lesser degree. The controversy Basil was reacting to centered onto he use of "in" or "with" in the doxology; "Praise be to the Father, and the Son in/with the Holy Spirit."

It may seem nit
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm loving the Fathers, how they use scripture and how they argue. ...more
Andrew Tucker
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Remarking this because it isn't showing up on my read list. ...more
Misael G
Feels weird to give a patristic book 3/5 stars, but here we are. I think this work would better be titled “A Defense of the Trinity,” which gets pretty technical in its arguments (using prepositions to defend the divinity of the Son/Spirit). While I think there are some good sections and I did enjoy it, this is less of a devotional read than other Popular Patristics I’ve read. Maybe that’s my fault for expecting that. Still, it has some passages that are worth the effort, most especially the hig ...more
Troy Nevitt
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not usually a fan of the patristic writings, but Basil's writing was easier to understand than a lot of the ones I have read before, and his thoughts are phenomenal. I wouldn't agree with every one of them, but noting the deity of the Holy Spirit through verses like 2 Thessalonians 3:5 were brilliant insights that are simple once seen, but profound when noticed for the first time. ...more
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important and helpfully accessible piece of great theology from a great theologian. A great defence of the deity of the Holy Spirit, woven together through careful attention to biblical texts. Although some aspects require careful and critical reading, this text is a must read for all theologians (aka all Christians.)
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the first books on the Holy Spirit by a man who guided the way to our understanding of the third person of the Godhead
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Foundational for Christian theology for a reason.
Cilas Menezes
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good place to have access to the mature thought of this important Cappadocian father.

Basil had a pivotal role in laying down the theological foundation for the Creed of Constantinople, this making this work important, especially for one who appreciates the study of primary sources in the development of the orthodox theological thought.
Ryan Linkous
This books packs a powerful punch on a few issues, mainly that of using language with regard to the Trinity, particularly the person of the Holy Spirit. However, Basil's organization is confusing and sometimes the point he is making is not very clear. ...more
David Withun
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Apart from his question begging appeals to secret, unwritten traditions, this work is a very good defence of the deity and person-hood of the Holy Spirit.
Howard Gordon
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Basil the Great was a Trinitarian who studied with Gregory Nazianzus. He was against what he called "Jewish literalism" (his words), while stressing the need for reserve in interpreting doctrine and the sacrements. He did not embrace allegory to the extent his contemporaries did. He saw them as fantasists. In this way he was virtually a Platonist. The Spirit is a part of the Trinity but not its essence, so he did not wrestle with the apparent paradoxes of later Trinitarians.

Luke Merrell
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read from a great theologian. What makes this book so enjoyable is the writing skill of the author and his use of language. Although most of his arguments still adequately defend the deity of the Holy Spirit, there is also some flawed logic found within these pages and needs to be analyzed carefully. Overall, this book is worth the read for all Christians.
Caleb Batchelor
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While Basil is addressing particular concerns in his 4th century context, his explanations on the role of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's divine nature are incredibly relevant and encouraging for today. ...more
Ike Unger
Wow, there is so much support in this book on the equality of the Holy Spirit as part of the triune God. Many of the questions addressed I had never even considered asking. A short book that I will definitely revisit many times.
Wyatt Graham
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't delay. Buy this. ...more
Derek Brown
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Sometimes funny.
Kevin O’Connor
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A seminal treatise on the Holy Spirit. A worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in the Patristic era or in pneumatology.
Yonathan Tekeste
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: patristics
In the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Basil’s treatise was “written by a pen borrowed from the Holy Spirit’s store”.
Samuel Bierig
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
You'll be blessed real good through this one. Tolle lege. ...more
Very thoughtful review of the Holy Spirit and its action in our life. While there were bits where he got into some minute grammatical details, the way he fleshed these ideas out was brilliant.
Shane Williamson
Lovely edition of Basil of Caesarea’s ‘On the Holy Spirit’ from the folks at St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

They have over forty patristic writings freshly edited with welcoming introductions.

I’m always struck but the immense thoughtfulness that characterizes the patristics and their theological reflection.

Grant us patience and wisdom as we meditate on your word, Lord!
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read this treatise twice, once in the older, Anglo-Catholic Victorian translation, and once (most recently) in this translation. This book is the classic exposition of why we can call the Holy Spirit 'God'. St Basil begins with a liturgical complaint, which he deals with using all of his grammatical skills, then moves along to demonstrate through the Scriptures using logic as well as the life of the Church, why it is that we can call the Holy Spirit 'God' alongside God the Father and God ...more
Kristofer Carlson
I remember the Academic Dean of a prominent seminary once saying that scholastic theology is contained in the prepositions. The opening chapters of this book provide a wonderful antidote to scholastic theology, to the endless categorization of doctrine and quibbling over the distinction between different prepositions. Basil goes to great lengths to show the theological equivalence of various prepositions. In later chapters he also shows how propositions and conjunctions are sometimes interchange ...more
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Basil of Caesarea (Arabic: باسيليوس الكبير; Greek: Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας, Ágios Basíleios o Mégas; Coptic: Ⲡⲓⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ), also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian and monastic. Theologically, Basil was a supporter of the Nicene faction of the church, in opposition ...more

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