Basil On Greek Literature

On Greek Literature

To Young Men, on How They Might Derive Profit from Pagan Literature
St. Basil the Great
Reading Year: 2023
Book # 43
Pages: 42
Suggested By: The Lord of Spirits Podcast
Translation by Roy J. Deferrari
Version: Loeb Classical Library
Date Started: November 18, 2023
Date Finished: November 19, 2023
1h 12m 18s
I heard this book mentioned on The Lord of Spirits Podcast where they suggested reading this before proceeding with Greek Literature. St. Basil lived between 329 and 379 AD.

My Thoughts

Should Christians read non-Christian literature? That’s the question St. Basil the Great poses in the 4th Century A.D. He’s writing as an old man who is steeped in the Greek and Roman classics and he’s writing to the next generation. Is there value in reading the great works of old even though they didn’t hold to a Christian worldview? Or should one only read the Holy Scriptures? These are the questions St. Basil addresses in this short, 42 page essay. His basic thesis is yes, there is great value in reading the great works of antiquity, but that one must be careful to hold to the good and virtuous and depart from the opposite. Part of the process is developing the wisdom to identify the difference. He gives fantastic visuals such as a tree not only containing fruit (Holy Scriptures) but also leaves (ancient works). In another spot, he likens a reader of the great works who pulls what is good, true, and beautiful to the bee who instead of taking the entire flower, pulls just what is necessary for producing honey.

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