St. Basil’s homilies on the subject of wealth and poverty, although delivered in the fourth century, remain utterly fresh and contemporary. Whether you possess great wealth or have modest means, at the heart of St. Basil’s message stands the maxim: simplify your life, so you have something to share with others.
While some patristic texts relate to obscure and highly philosophical questions, St. Basil’s teachings on social issues are immediately understood and applicable. At a time when vast income disparity and overuse of limited environmental resources are becoming matters of increasing concern, St. Basil’s message is more relevant now than ever before.
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
“It befits those who possess sound judgment to recognize that they have received wealth as a stewardship, and not for their own enjoyment; thus, when they are parted from it, they rejoice as those who relinquish what is not really theirs, instead of becoming downcast like those who are stripped of their own.” (Pages 46–47)
“‘But whom do I treat unjustly,’ you say, ‘by keeping what is my own?’ Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common—this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.” (Page 69)
“O mortal, recognize your Benefactor! Consider yourself, who you are, what resources have been entrusted to you, from whom you received them, and why you received more than others. You have been made a minister of God’s goodness, a steward of your fellow servants. Do not suppose that all this was furnished for your own gullet! Resolve to treat the things in your possession as belonging to others. After all, they bring pleasure for only a little while, then fade away and disappear, but afterwards a strict accounting of their disbursement will be demanded from you.” (Page 61)
There is no way to describe the power, simplicity, wisdom, and freedom of his words . . . you will think they were written yesterday—not 1,600 years ago! Precisely he describes our modern struggle with material wealth, our responsibility to our fellow man, and how to live a life in balance.
—Gregory P. Yova, from the foreword
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, (330 – January 1, 379) was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor. He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian and monastic. Theologically, Basil was a supporter of the Nicene faction of the church, in opposition to Arianism on one side and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea on the other.
C. Paul Schroeder is an independent scholar and translator of early patristic texts. He resides in Portland, Oregon and is Proistamenos of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral there.