Basil of Caesarea's Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names

Christian Theology and Late-Antique Philosophy in the Fourth Century Trinitarian Controversy


Basil of Caesarea’s debate with Eunomius of Cyzicus in the early 360s marks a turning point in the fourth-century Trinitarian controversies. It shifted focus to methodological and epistemological disputes underlying theological differences. This monograph explores one of these fundamental points of contention: the proper theory of names. It offers a revisionist interpretation of Eunomius’s theory as a corrective to previous approaches, contesting the widespread assumption that it is indebted to Platonist sources and showing that it was developed by drawing upon proximate Christian sources. While Eunomius held that names uniquely predicated of God communicated the divine essence, in response Basil developed a “notionalist” theory wherein all names signify primarily notions and secondarily properties, not essence.

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Mark DelCogliano, Ph.D. (2009) in Historical Theology, Emory University, teaches at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has published articles on fourth-century Trinitarian theology and collaborated on a forthcoming translation of Basil of Caesarea’s Against Eunomius.
All those interested in the history of Christian theology, especially the development of Trinitarian theology, as well as historians of late-antique philosophy and ancient grammar.
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