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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
Prolegomena.: Liturgical.

Early Church Fathers  Index     


It is beyond the scope of the present work to discuss at length the history and relation of the extant Liturgies, which go by the name of St. Basil.  St. Basil’s precise share in their composition, as we possess them, must be conjectural.

(i)  The Liturgy, which St. Basil himself used and gave to his clergy and monks, preserved the traditional form in use in the archdiocese of Cæsarea. 700   It is mentioned in the xxxiind canon of the council “in Trullo” of 692.  This is no doubt the basis of the Greek Liturgy known as St. Basil’s, and used in the East as well as the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom.  The form in use is contained in Neale’s Primitive Liturgies (1875).  Dr. Swainson (Greek Liturgies chiefly from Oriental Sources, p. 75) printed an edition of it from the Barberini ms. in 1884.

(ii)  There is an Alexandrine Liturgy in Coptic, Arabic, and Greek form, called St. Basil’s, and used on fast days by the Monophysites (Renaudot, Lit. Orient. Collectio, i. 154).  This differs entirely from the first named.

(iii)  Yet again there is a Syriac Liturgy called St. Basil’s, translated by Masius, and given by Renaudot in his second volume. 701



cf. De Sp. Scto. chap. xxvii. p. 41.


cf. Dict. Christ. Ant. s.v. “Liturgy,” and C. Hole, Manual of the Book of Common Prayer, chap. ii.  Fessler notes:  “Extat Liturgia S. Basilii tam fusior quam brevior gr. et lat. in Eucholog. Gr. ed. J. Goar Venetiis 1730 et alia gr. et lat. in E. Renaudot Coll. Lit. Or. Paris, 1716, item alia latine tantum conversa ex Coptico Jacobitarum in eadem collect, ac rursus alia latine tantum ex Syriaco conversa.…De formæ varietate hæc optime monet Renaudot:  ‘Liturgia illa, quod extra dubium est, usurpatur in Græca ecclesia ab annis plus mille ducentis; atque inde originem habuerunt leves aliquot discrepantiæ in precibus præparatoriis aut in aliis orationibus.  Quædam exemplaria cæremoniales rubricas habent, quæ in aliis non reperiuntur; at alicujus momenti discrimen in illis partibus quæ canonem sacræ Actionis constituunt, non reperitur.…Varietates in codicibus omnes prope ad ritus spectant, qui enucleatius in aliquibus, in aliis brevius explicantur, in nonnullis omittuntur, quia aliunde peti debebant.’  Eo autem sensu Liturgiæ hujus auctor dicitur Basilius, non quod proprio ingenio eam excogitaverit, sed quod preces publicas, eisque contiguos ritus, quoad rei essentiam ex communi traditionis Apostolicæ fonte manantes, ordinaverit et in scriptis codicibus ad certam formam redegerit.”

Next: Writings Spurious and Dubious.

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