THE POLITICS OF INTERPRETATION IN BASIL OF CAESAREA'S HEXAEMERON* BY RICHARD LIM The Hexaemeron of Basil the Great (t 379), delivered before a Caesarean congregation on three separate days in mid-378 towards the end of his career, is often held up as an example of Basil's opposition to the allegorical method of exegesis.' The locus classicus for this con- clusion is Basil's discussion of the meaning of the creation of the firma- ment, and in the ninth homily where he makes an even more explicit stand against the use of allegorical interpretations and declares that he prefers the literal sense: WS ezpyizott 06<mq In the Hexaemeron and elsewhere, Basil shows a familiarity with the allegorical method. In about 358, he and Gregory of Nazianzus edited the Philocalia, a compilation of the writings of their admired Origen. 3 The first section of the Philocalia is devoted to Origen's exegetical prin- ciples. The selection is concerned with the divine inspiration of scrip- tures, the problems of biblical language and stresses the importance of spiritual exegesis." Therefore, there can be no question that Basil was well acquainted with what is commonly called the "Alexandrian" allegorical method. The fact that he included
Vigiliae Christianae – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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