Author Topic: Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"  (Read 4259 times)

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Offline erracht

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Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"
« on: August 25, 2005, 05:37:22 PM »
I am not intending to make this another "are the toll houses real" thread, but rather to ask for your opinion on a text that is often quoted in that debate.

"The Life of St. Basil the New" is a text allegedly by St. Basil the New's student, a monk called Gregory, and contains two very detailed accounts of "life after death" visions. One is the aforementioned vision by Gregory of another of St. Basil's students, a "St. Theodora", who had died and told Gregory of the 20 "toll houses", each staffed by demons for examining the sould fo a particular kind of sin. The other vision is one that Gregory had, allegedly because St. Basil had prayed to God that this be revealed to him when he was thinking that Jewish faiith was righteous enough or something along those lines, of Judgement Day. In this long and detailed vision, Gregory is shown the righteous being accepted into the New Jerusalem, in groups according to the kind of virtuous life they lead. He is also shown the unrighteous being damned, and the vision very specifically shows the damned as being not only this or that kind of sinner, but also the starters of heresies AND (apparently) all adherents of the heresy, including followers of Origen, Arius etc. There seems Adherents of the Jewish faith who have not accepted Christ are also damned, as is Mohammed. Finally, Gregory is personally given a mission by God to preach to people. He begs people to accept his vision as being true, even if hard to understand.

There are some who say this text is authentically Orthodox, others who believe it to be a heresy, not a true vision etc. Do you have an opinion (and with what can you substantiate your opinion) on it?
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Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2005, 11:12:32 PM »
vision by Gregory of another of St. Basil's students, a "St. Theodora", who had died and told Gregory of the 20 "toll houses", each staffed by demons for examining the sould fo a particular kind of sin. The other vision is one that Gregory had, allegedly because St. Basil had prayed to God that this be revealed to him when he was thinking that Jewish faiith was righteous enough or something along those lines, of Judgement Day. In this long and detailed vision, Gregory is shown the righteous being accepted into the New Jerusalem, in groups according to the kind of virtuous life they lead. He is also shown the unrighteous being damned, and the vision very specifically shows the damned as being not only this or that kind of sinner, but also the starters of heresies AND (apparently) all adherents of the heresy, including followers of Origen, Arius etc. There seems Adherents of the Jewish faith who have not accepted Christ are also damned, as is Mohammed. Finally, Gregory is personally given a mission by God to preach to people. He begs people to accept his vision as being true, even if hard to understand.

There are some who say this text is authentically Orthodox, others who believe it to be a heresy, not a true vision etc. Do you have an opinion (and with what can you substantiate your opinion) on it?
Are you aware that there are other sections in the toll house dream of Gregory of Thrace which were all edited out of the Greek text when it came to be translated into Russian?  In fact the major part of the text was sliced off by the Russians because of its blasphemy, heresy and sheer craziness!

Three quarters of the "Life of the Elder Basil the New" is filled with the bizarre visions seen by Gregory. Also the verbal portrait of Saint Basil is anomalous, describing many of his strange, irrational actions and words. Saint Theodora, Basil's servant, also makes statements contrary to Church doctrine.  This work was rejected and condemned by the Byzantine Church because of its many errors and delusions, notably about the Second Coming, and its obvious Bogomil/Paulician influence.  It entered Orthodoxy through the Russian Church-which has listed Basil and Theodora among the Saints-but only after *two-thirds* of the narrative was deleted and the rest reworked in order to make it less objectionable.  Conclusively, this novel description of the toll-houses has no legitimate Church source.
 
The narrative of Saint Theodora speaks of an "excess of virtues" which Saint Basil gives somehow to Theodora and Gregory to pay off and expunge their sins, even though many were not confessed.  This not only introduces the doctrine of meritorious works, but the even more heinous doctrine of "works of supererogation." On account of this vision, Roman Catholic writers have claimed that the Orthodox Church also teaches the doctrine of purgatory but in a somewhat primitive manner, since it has no pope to distribute the merits more efficiently.
 
This narrative written by Gregory abounds in blasphemous content (These sections of the "Life of Basil the New" have been bowdlerised/censored out of the Russian version of the text, so you won't see them in English translations made from Russian books.)  For example, Gregory is rescued from the chasm of death by the recitation of names and formulas with which he has been instructed; then he is anointed with Basil's grace to become a son of God. Furthermore, Gregory is not sure whether the Christians or Jews are right until he looks upon the actual face of God the Father. 
 
The text is hopelessly flawed. 


Offline Aindriú

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Re: Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 07:07:37 PM »

I'm going to need this.