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Late Antique Letter CollectionsA Critical Introduction and Reference Guide$
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Cristiana Sogno, Bradley K. Storin, and Edward J. Watts

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281448

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281448.001.0001

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The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea

The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea

(p.69) Four The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea
Late Antique Letter Collections

Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

University of California Press

In a recent article, Roy Gibson has underscored the differences between ancient letter collections and their modern presentations. The latter, Gibson shows, tend to arrange letters in chronological order, subordinating the question of the collection’s original form and purpose to the interests of the modern biographer. The corpus of letters of Basil of Caesarea exemplifies Gibson’s theme well. When, in 1730, the Benedictine editors of St. Maur imposed order on the seeming incoherence of the arrangement in the manuscripts available to him, they did so by placing the letters in a putative chronological order. All subsequent editions and translations have followed suit, and thus the study of Basil’s letters has served a largely biographical purpose. This chapter disentangles, as much as possible, the original collection or collections of Basil’s letters from the modern reception of them. There is evidence for the circulation of small collections of Basil’s letters during his lifetime, collections arranged by addressee for purposes ranging from apologetic to polemical. This chapter examines the history of the collection’s formation, arrangement, and content.

Keywords:   Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Congregation of St. Maur, apologetic, polemic, Greek letters

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