23 June 2019

Chicken or Egg

I've been reading St. Basil's The Long Rules and just finished his discussion of the great commandment: to love God above all. His argumentation for this is something I'd not encountered in exactly this form before (though it does have similarities to JPII's theology of the body). What captivated me, though, is when he begins unpacking the nature of God's benefactions toward us and it sounded eerily familiar in thought progression. Here are some snippets:

God made man according to His image and likeness, that He deemed him worthy of the knowledge of Himself, that in preference to all the animals He adorned him with rationality, bestowed upon him the opportunity of taking his delight in the unbelievable beauties of paradise, and made him the chief of all the creatures on earth. Then, even after he was seduced by the serpent and fell into sin, and by sin into death and its attendant evils, God did not forsake him. First, He gave to him the Law as an aid, appointed angels to watch over and care for him, sent prophets to refute evil and teach virtue, checked his impulses toward vice by threats, aroused his eagerness for the good by promises, In addition to all these and other favors equally great, He did not turn away from man when he persisted in disobedience. We have not been deserted by the Lord's goodness, nor have we impeded His love for us by our stupidity in treating our Benefactor contumeliously through not comprehending the greatness of the favors bestowed nay, we have even been recalled from death and restored to life again by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Even the manner in which this favor was granted calls for the greatest wonder: 'Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.' He has, moreover, taken upon Himself our infirmities and carried our sorrows. He was crucified for us that we might be healed by His bruises. He also redeemed us from the curse, 'being made a curse for us,' and endured the most ignominious death that He might restore us to the life of glory. Nor was He content with merely bringing back to life those who were dead, but He conferred upon them the dignity of divinity and prepared everlasting rest transcending every human concept in the magnitude of its joy.

Is not that remarkably similar in thought flow and even at points in language to his great Anaphora? It led me to wonder which came first: the Anaphora of St. Basil or his ascetical writing on The Long Rules? Anyone have a clue?

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