452 St. Basil's view of slavery is that (a) as regards our relation to God, all created beings are naturally in a condition of subservience to the Creator; (b) as regards our relationship to one another, slaver is not of nature, but of convention and circumstance. How far he is here at variance with the well known account of slavery given by Aristotle in the first book of the Politics will depend upon the interpretation we put upon the word "nature." "Is there," asks Aristotle, "any one intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature? There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and fact. For that some should rule, and others be ruled, is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth some are marked out for subjection, others for rule. . . . Where, then, there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business it is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them, as for all inferiors, that they should be under the rule of a master. . . . It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right." Politics, Bk. 1, Sec. 5. Here by Nature seems to be meant something like Basil's "lack of intelligence," and of the to\ kata\ qu/sin a!rxon, which makes it "profitable" for one man to be the chattel of another (kth=ma is livestock, especially mancipium. cf. Shakspere's K. and Pet., "She is my goods, my chattels." "Chattel" is a doublet of "cattle"). St. Basil and Aristotle are at one as to the advantage to the weak slave of his having a powerful protector; and this, no doubt, is the point of view from which slavery can be best apologized for.
Christianity did indeed do much to better the condition of the slave by asserting his spiritual freedom, but at first it did little more than emphasize the latter philosophy of heathendom, ei' sw=ma dou=lon, a'll0 o 9 nou=j e'leu/qeroj (Soph., frag. incert. xxii.), and gave the highest meaning to such thoughts as those expressed in the late Epigram of Damascius (c. 530) on a dead slave:
Zwsi/mh h 9 pri\n e'ou=sa mo/nw tw= sw/mati dou/lh,
Kai\ tw= sw/mati nu=n eu[ren eleuqeri/hn.
It is thought less of a slave's servitude to fellow man than of the slavery of bond and free alike to evil. cf. Aug., De Civit. Dei. iv. cap. iii. "Bonus etiamsi serviat liber est: malus autem si regnat servus est: nec est unius hominis, sed qod gravins est tot dominorum quot vitiorum." Chrysostom even explains St. Paul's non-condemnation of slavery on the ground that its existence, with that of Christian liberty, was a greater moral triumph than its abolition. (In Genes. Serm. v. 1.) Even so late as the sixth century the legislation of Justinian, though protective, supposed no natural liberty. "Expedit enim respublicae ne quis re sua utatur male." Instit. i. viii. quoted by Milman, Lat. Christ. ii. 14. We must not therefore be surprised at not finding in a Father of the fourth century an anticipation of a later development of Christian sentiment. At the same time it was in the age of St. Basil that "the language of the Fathers assumes a bolder tone" (cf, Dict. Christ. Ant. ii. 1905) and "in the correspondence of Gregory Nazianzen we find him referring to a case where a slave had been made bishop over a small community in the desert. The Christian lady to whom he belonged endeavoured to assert her right of ownership, for which she was severely rebuked by St. Basil (cf. Letter CXV.) After St. Basil's death she again claimed the slave, whereupon Gregory addressed her a letter of grave remonstrance at her unchristian desire to recall his brother bishop from his sphere of duty. Ep. 79," id.
453 II Thess. iii. 5. A note of the Benedictine Editors on this passage says: "It must be admitted that these words are not found in the sacred text and are wanting in three manuscripts of this work. Moreover, in the Regius Quintus they are only inserted by a second hand, but since they are shortly afterwards repeated by Basil, as though taken from the sacred context, I am unwilling to delete them, and it is more probable that they were withdrawn from the manuscripts from which they are wanting because they were not found in the apostle, then added, without any reason at all, to the manuscripts in which they occur."
455 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18, R.V. In Adv. Eunom. iii. 3 St. Basil had quoted v. 17 of the Son, making pneu=maa descriptive of our Lord. "This was written," adds Mr. C. F. H. Johnston, "during St. Basil's presbyterate, at least ten years earlier."
458 St. Basil gives a'po/eign the sense of "by" So Theodoret, Oecum., Theophylact, Bengel. cf. Alford in loc. The German is able to repeat the prep., as in Greek and Latin, "von einer Klarheit zu der andern, als vom Herrn."
Ti/j ce/noj, w\ nauhge/; Deo/ntixoj e'nqa/de nekro\n
eu[re/ e'p0 ai'gialoi=j, xw=se de\ tw=de ta/fw
dakru/saj e'pi/khron eo\n bi/on . ou'de\ ga\r auto\j
h!suxoj, ai'qui/hj d0 i\sa qalassoporei=.
473 Is. xlii. 5, LXX. patou=sin au'thn. So St. Basil's argument requires us to translate the lxx. The "walk therein" of A.V. would not bear out his meaning. For this use of fpatei/. cf. Soph., Ant. 745. ou' ga\r se/beij tima/j ge ta\j qew=n patw=n. So in the vulgate we read "et spiritum clacantibus eam." - calcare bearing the sense of "trample on," as in Juvenal, Sat. x 86, "calcemus Caesaris hostem." The Hebrew bears no such meaning.
474 Here the Benedictine Editors begin Chapter xxiii., remarking that they do so "cum plures mss. codices. tum ipsam sermonis seriem et continuationem secuti. Liquet enim hic Basilium ad aliud argumentum transire." Another division of the text makes Chapter XXIII. begin with the words "But I do not mean by glory."
478 Jer. xx. 2, LXX. ei'j to\n katar'r 9a/ktrn o 9j h'n e'n pu/lh. Katar'r 9a/kthj tw=n pulwn occurs in Dion. Halic. viii 67, in the same sense as the Latin cataracta (Livy xxvii. 27) a portcullis. The Vulgate has in nervum, which may either be gyve or gaol. The Hebrew=stocks, as in A.V. and R.V. katar'r 9a/kthj in the text of Basil and the lxx. may be assumed to mean prison, form the notion of the barred grating over the door. cf. Ducange s.v. cataracta.
498 In 1 Tim. vi. 13, St. Paul writes tou= qeou= tou= zwopoiou=ntoj pa/nta. In the text St. Basil writes ta\ pa/nta zwogonou=ntoj. The latter word is properly distinguished from the former as meaning not to make alive after death, but to engender alive. In Luke xvii. 33, it is rendered in A.V. "preserve." In Acts vii. 19, it is "to the end they might not live." On the meaning of zwogonei=n in the lxx. and the Socinian arguments based on its use in Luke xvii. 33, cf. Pearson, On the Creed, Art. V. note to p. 257 Ed. 1676.