Author Topic: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?  (Read 480 times)

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Offline Cyrillic

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The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« on: December 27, 2012, 10:35:16 AM »
In St. Basil's Adversus Eunomium book 3 I read this:

Quote from: Patrologia Graeca 29:653-656
Τίς γὰρ ἀνάγκη, εἰ τῷ ἀξιώματι καὶ τῇ τάξει τρίτον ὑπάρχει τὸ Πνεῦμα, τρίτον εἶναι αὐτὸ καὶ τῇ φύσει; Ἀξιώματι μὲν γὰρ δευτερεύειν τοῦ Υἱοῦ παραδίδωσιν ἴσως ὁ τῆς εὐσεβείας λόγος etc.

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Why then is it necessary, if the Spirit is third in order and dignity, that He is third in nature as well? Because that He is second in dignity to the Son pious tradition in like manner recounts etc.

So, is the Spirit really third in dignity? Did St. Basil really believe this or is this a rhetorical concession to Eunomius?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 10:36:43 AM by Cyrillic »
At nunc desertis cessant sacraria lucis:
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Offline IoanC

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 10:46:55 AM »
In St. Basil's Adversus Eunomium book 3 I read this:

Quote from: Patrologia Graeca 29:653-656
Τίς γὰρ ἀνάγκη, εἰ τῷ ἀξιώματι καὶ τῇ τάξει τρίτον ὑπάρχει τὸ Πνεῦμα, τρίτον εἶναι αὐτὸ καὶ τῇ φύσει; Ἀξιώματι μὲν γὰρ δευτερεύειν τοῦ Υἱοῦ παραδίδωσιν ἴσως ὁ τῆς εὐσεβείας λόγος etc.

Quote
Why then is it necessary, if the Spirit is third in order and dignity, that He is third in nature as well? Because that He is second in dignity to the Son pious tradition in like manner recounts etc.

So, is the Spirit really third in dignity? Did St. Basil really believe this or is this a rhetorical concession to Eunomius?

Isn't he sort of quoting what he is trying to disprove? Maybe more of the context would clarify. Otherwise, it is totally against Orthodox dogma to not consider The Three Persons of The Holy Trinity equal in dignity and everything else.

Offline Cyrillic

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 10:54:22 AM »
On the same page:

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Ὡς γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τάξει μὲν, δεύτερος τοῦ Πατρὸς, ὅτι ἀπ' ἐκείνου· καὶ ἀξιώματι, ὅτι ἀρχὴ καὶ αἰτία


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Because in such manner the Son is second in order to the Father, since He is from Him: and in dignity, since [He is] the principle and source.

Mmmm, a little bit strange.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 10:56:33 AM by Cyrillic »
At nunc desertis cessant sacraria lucis:
aurum omnes victa iam pietate colunt.
-Propertius, Elegies III.XIII:47-48

νίκας τοῖς Βασιλεῦσι κατὰ βαρβάρων δωρούμενος

Offline vamrat

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 11:06:08 AM »
I always thought the Holy Spirit came third in order because we found out about Him third.  The Father was always there in the Old Testament giving the Ten Commandments and such.  The Son was around but He was not revealed to us until His birth as the God-Man.  The Holy Spirit is also unoriginate but we humans first saw Him descend as the dove at the Baptism but didn't really show all His glory until Pentecost after the Son had ascended.

That's my take on the matter and if I speak heresy I renounce it.
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Offline IoanC

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 11:17:28 AM »
On the same page:

Quote
Ὡς γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τάξει μὲν, δεύτερος τοῦ Πατρὸς, ὅτι ἀπ' ἐκείνου· καὶ ἀξιώματι, ὅτι ἀρχὴ καὶ αἰτία


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Because in such manner the Son is second in order to the Father, since He is from Him: and in dignity, since [He is] the principle and source.

Mmmm, a little bit strange.

Unfortunately, I can't read Latin or Greek. Anyway, he shouldn't be implying anything more than the hierarchic manner in which the action of The Holy Trinity propagates. Starts from The Father, accomplished by The Son, perfected by The Holy Spirit. This hierarchy should not be interpreted in earthly terms; it is simply an order, all three Persons being equal. We are tempted to say that because The Father is the source, He is the "most important". Not true. The Father is complete as a part of The Trinity. Same can be said about the other two Persons; they are only complete together with The Father. Yet, The Father does remain Father; His being worshiped together with the other two doesn't mean that He becomes something other than a father. Same can be said about The Son remaining a son, and The Spirit remaining spirit. Or, The Son and The Spirit are not like another two fathers so to speak; they are not just repetitions of The Father, but each have a unique mode of existence in relation to The Father. They are all very much like a perfect community in which each person practices and owes to the others the same love and respect. And, that's why our God, The Holy Trinity, is so wonderful. Together they are the source, the principle and a perfect example of how we should be as a community, each in our own way.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 11:18:33 AM by IoanC »

Offline IoanC

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 11:23:44 AM »
Oh, actually, I am still not sure what St. Basil really means by the use of the word "dignity"; what context. If it means anything other than the persons being equal, then it can't be true, but if it means the order in which we found out about them (as vamrat said), or some other context of that type, then it's an entirely different thing.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 11:30:04 AM »
You might want to do a search for "dignity" in his work On the Holy Spirit and read the relevant parts, as he uses the word there as well. An example:

"It is, however, asked by our opponents, how it is that Scripture nowhere describes the Spirit as glorified together with the Father and the Son, but carefully avoids the use of the expression 'with the Spirit,' while it everywhere prefers to ascribe glory 'in Him' as being the fitter phrase. I should, for my own part, deny that the word in [or by] implies lower dignity than the word 'with;' I should maintain on the contrary that, rightly understood, it leads us up to the highest possible meaning." - Chapter 25


Offline Cavaradossi

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 02:44:37 AM »
Modem scholars seem to agree that St. Basil makes a rhetorical concession in the passage in question, something to the effect of: "even if the Spirit were third and dignity, and the Son second, why should this necessitate that the Spirit is of another essence?" There is absolutely no passage that I am aware of where St. Basil argues that the Son is second in dignity to the Father.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 02:46:44 AM by Cavaradossi »
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Offline akimel

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 11:52:47 AM »
St Basil's Contra Eunomius has only very recently been translated into English.  I have not yet read it.  I have recently re-read St Basil's On the Holy Spirit though.  Two provisional thoughts:

First, we need to remember that Basil was profoundly influenced by the theological writings of Origen and is writing from that tradition, as were so many of his Asia Minor contemporaries.  Hence we probably need to read up on Origen if we are to really get a handle on Basil's language and to understand his arguments and the development of his thought.  Alas, I have not done this reading.

Second, scholars do see a development in Basil's thought on the Holy Spirit between the Contra Eunomius (c. 360-364) and On the Holy Spirit (c. 375).   At the time that he wrote the third book of the Contra Eunomius he was still friends and allies with the pneumatomachian Eustathius of Sebaste.  He would not break with him until the early 370s.  On the Holy Spirit thus represents a maturing of his theological reflections on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  In this work Basil is clear that the Spirit is not a creature and must be ranked with the Father and the Son.  Yet even still, St Gregory the Theologian found Basil's refusal to explicitly confess the Spirit as God, of one essence with the Father, quite frustrating.

Offline Severian

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Re: The Holy Spirit: third in dignity?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 01:27:00 PM »
I just wanted to say that St. Justin Martyr uses similar language:

"We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is the Son of the true God himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of prophecy a third. For this they accuse us of madness, saying that we attribute to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all things; but they are ignorant of the mystery which lies therein." --First Apology

Whether or not St. Justin Martyr and some of the other ante-Nicene Fathers held to some form of subordinationism is a topic of debate among some scholars. But, I highly doubt St. Basil meant anything un-Orthodox in this particular passage.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 01:31:17 PM by Severian »
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