Thursday, 7 February 2019
Valentina Marchetto: “One Heart and One Soul” (Acts 4:32). Past and Present Unity in Basil of Caesarea
The case study I mean to present is part of a wider project on the Patristic reception of John 17:21 from the 2nd Century to the Council of Chalcedon. Through a mapping of quotations in the ancient Christian literature, it aims at understand how the Fathers read and interpreted this text, which is strictly linked with the self-definition and self-representation first of all of the group of the disciples, and, consequently, of the future believers in Christ. Within this broader context, this paper intends to analyse the occurrences of this verse in the works of Basil of Caesarea. In fact, this case provides a clear example of a specific exegetical trend, which has its starting point in Origen and is well attested later in the majority of authors involved in the Arian controversy. In this circumstance, the Johannine verse was used several times on grounds of its lexical vagueness, and, on the other hand, of its emphasis on the unity between the Father and the Son. Moreover, John 17:21 was often linked with Acts 4:32, a fact that shifts the heavenly unity between God and Christ to a more concrete and earthly shape of unity. Furthermore, by referring to Acts’ narrative, Basil bases the unity and harmony of his monastic community on the “mythical”, past unity realised by the Apostolic Church. Acts 4:32, at the same time, proves that the oneness for which Christ prayed in John has been fulfilled, and represents the example for Basil’s contemporaries.