In this article Benjamin D. Wayman examines two representative approaches to education in late antiquity—one by the pagan emperor Julian, the other by the Christian bishop Basil—and brings these approaches to bear on Christian higher education today. Engaging the work of Arthur Holmes, Wayman suggests that contemporary Christian liberal arts institutions exemplify Basil’s view of a proper education and the best of the Christian tradition in that they presume both the unity of God’s truth and that there is a requisite character for the discovery of such truth. Wayman argues that Christians who are suspicious of the Christian liberal arts tradition fall short of the courageous approach to education modeled by Basil as that which is most becoming of Christian living and learning. Fear of a broad education indicates the loss of confidence in the church and home in the religious formation of Christian youth. This article issues a challenge for the church to recover its determinative role in the training and education of young Christians. It thus calls for the recovery of an educating church that insists upon the courageous and critical pursuit of God’s truth, wherever it may be found.
The ‘Constantinian shift’ names the transition of fourth-century Christians from the margins of Roman society to the seat of Roman power. Constantine’s political support of Christianity was maintained by his sons who succeeded him, but repudiated by his nephew Julian. Despite Julian’s Christian upbringing and service in the church as a lector, when he became sole emperor in 361 he publicly discarded the faith of his family and instead “fervently embraced the gods of Greece and Rome.”1 In his short tenure as emperor, Julian instituted a rigorous program for reviving paganism (polytheism) in the empire by attacking what he referred to as the “religion for the uneducated.”2 One means by which Julian sought to undermine Christian influence in the empire was to issue an edict on education. Julian sharpened this seemingly innocuous edict when he soon clarified that educators must advocate religious and moral values congruent with those transmitted by Greek literature and so, must “strive after the ancients’ reverence towards the gods.”3 Julian thus made clear that Christian educators had no place in the ‘schools’ of the empire, which were the required training grounds for participation and position in elite Roman society.4
As “antiquity’s most notable pagan convert” from Christianity,5 Julian understood clearly Christianity’s threat to his program to restore paganism to the empire. In fact, Julian ‘the Apostate’ may have seen more clearly than his Christian contemporaries the subversive influence Christian educators had on his imperial program. But the difference between Julian’s view of education and that of fourth-century Christians such as Basil of Caesarea can be explained on account of the latters’ more fundamental focus on the church as the locus of moral and religious formation. Whereas for Julian the school system was the critical site for moral and religious formation, for Christians such as Basil it was the site for preliminary moral formation and intellectual exercise, and so it served for Christians a more preparatory and limited role in the education of young people.
To demonstrate this I will first outline Julian’s view of a proper Greek education as presented in his edict and rescript on education as well as his Against the Galilaeans. I will then contrast Julian’s view with that espoused by Basil in his Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature and show that for Basil, Greek literature is useful to Christians only insofar as it can be culled and selectively employed to hone one’s critical faculties in the service of Christian virtue. I will thus demonstrate that Julian’s objection to Christian educators indicates a contrasting view of the role of the school system in the formation of the young, a view that puts Christian education and Greek paideia (that is, the classical learning which cultivated a common culture of an educated elite) at loggerheads. Finally, I will draw some conclusions about what this historical episode has to offer Christian educators and the church today.
To be sure, late antique Christian and pagan views on the purpose of education were varied and more complex than the dichotomy above seems to suggest.6 One recent study posits a three-tiered categorization comprised of Christians who opposed Greek education, Christians who conceded that Greek education could not be avoided, and Christians who advocated Greek education.7 Still more nuance is required to distinguish between those Christians and pagans alike who opposed, presumed, or championed Greek education as an essentially religious process of conversion and enculturation. Basil and Julian offer us representative examples of how Christians today might view the purpose of education, and more specifically, the role of a Christian educator. Basil may be described as a Christian who advocated Greek education, but without its polytheist presumptions; whereas Julian fits the bill as a pagan who opposed any teaching or learning of Greek education without the requisite modeling and imitation of the ancients’ devotion to the gods of Greece and Rome. Basil and Julian thus provide Christians today with two options for considering the purpose of education and the role of a Christian educator, the implications of which will be explored at the conclusion of the essay.
Julian on Greek Education
On 17 June 362, either before settling in Antioch or shortly after his arrival, Julian issued his infamous edict on education. The opening injunction reads, “School teachers and professors ought to be distinguished, first by character, and, second, by eloquence.”8 Other than the emphasis on character and the proviso that the emperor be the final arbiter on the city councils’ nominations for educators, the edict seems innocuous enough. But Christians were incensed by the decree. One scholar notes that the “edict aroused the fury of the leaders of the Christian Church…The Christian historical tradition, hostile to Julian, always counts this law as the principal among his crimes.”9 Even the pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus decried the edict and declared it “inhumane.”10 Christians interpreted Julian’s attention to character as an indictment of educators who taught pagan literature without advocating pagan worship. Robert Wilken explains,
By ‘character’ Julian did not mean that teachers should exhibit the generally accepted virtues of integrity, uprightness, honesty, and so on, but that they should believe in the specific religious and moral values that were transmitted through Greek literature.11
Julian’s edict not only implied that no Christian would be approved for a teaching post, but also forced Christians educators to choose between “God and profession.”12
The adversarial intent of the edict was confirmed shortly thereafter when Julian issued a rescript on education that same summer, perhaps in response to a request for clarification on the edict’s aim. The rescript not only amplified the original edict, but also made clear that Christian educators were the target audience. In his explanatory letter, Julian states his view on a “proper education” (παιδείαν ὀρθὴν),13 and explains why Christians are fundamentally incapable of providing such learning. He states that a proper education can only result “in a healthy condition of mind…a mind that has understanding and true opinions about things good and evil, honorable and base.”14 For Julian, only those who worship the Greek gods possess healthy minds and true opinions. Working with the metaphors of health and sickness, Julian indicates that Christians are diseased madmen altogether unfit for the education of the young. Julian will thus insist at the close of his letter that Christian youth are not to be barred from the school system because they are “too ignorant to know which way to turn…For we ought, I think, to teach, not punish, the demented.”15
The bulk of Julian’s rescript on education unpacks the nature of the Christian disease, and calls attention to such educators’ vicious character. Christian educators are guilty of “thinking one thing and teaching their pupils another.” Julian continues,
What! Was it not the gods who revealed all their learning [παιδείας] to Homer, Hesiod, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Isocrates and Lysias? Did not these men think that they were consecrated [ἱερούς], some to Hermes, others to the Muses? I think it is absurd that men who expound the works of these writers should dishonor the gods whom they used to honor.16
Three points can be made. First, Julian accuses Christian educators of dishonesty and hypocrisy. Such immoral professors deceive their students by teaching texts opposed to how they themselves think. Second, Julian here underlines the divine and inspired nature of Greek literature.17 Why would those who disbelieve the divinely inspired sacred literature of Greece and who refuse to worship the gods celebrated in such texts concern themselves with their exposition? Julian thought the only explanation was greed. On Julian’s view, Christian educators are mercenaries of Greek paideia “for the sake of a few drachmae.”18 By so belittling Christian instructors of Greek paideia, Julian drives a wedge between the aims of the Greek school system and those of Christian educators. But finally, and perhaps most significantly, Julian underlines the fundamentally religious aim of Greek education. Edward Watts rightly observes that Julian’s law against Christian teachers, “for the first time, specifically defined education in religious terms – in pagan religious terms.”19 Julian positioned the professors and their respective students at the center of imperial moral and religious formation. In doing this, Julian enacted a revolutionary approach to education that made explicit the religious formation of pagan education, which until then had been implicit.
To understand better Julian’s view of education, one must realize that for him culture, religion, and Greek paideia were all inextricably connected. Scholars such as G. W. Bowersock, Robert Browning, Averil Cameron, Rowland Smith, Vasiliki Limberis, and more recently Susanna Elm, have argued in various ways that the confluence of religion and Greek paideia comprised fourth-century dominant culture; and that what had been achieved by Constantine for Christians, Julian sought to undo and replace with a uniform pagan imperial culture.20 Whoever controlled Greek paideia controlled the culture. Limberis, for example, has sought to show “how the concepts of religion and learning were brokered as cultural commodities” for cultural control.21 I do not wish to further this thesis or its counterparts as, it 2is clear, has been done by others. My aim instead is to investigate the respective views of education held by representative figures like Julian and Basil. Doing so reveals the deep difference between two prevailing late antique views of the role of Greek paideia in the formation of the young.
Concerning this difference, one modern biographer of Julian explains,
By his educational policy Julian made the whole Hellenic tradition and its great literature the exclusive preserve of the pagans. Educated Christians, whose classical learning was palpably inferior to no one’s, were confronted with the identification of Hellenism with paganism.22
Julian’s policy equates Greek paideia with the worship of Greek and Roman gods, and this view of education and truth was irreconcilable with that held by late antique Christians and was a novelty even in the traditional education of the empire. Julian’s action against Christian teachers decisively changed the goal of imperial education. Indeed,
In Julian’s redefined system, education was supposed to teach students about the pagan gods and convince them of the correctness of pagan religion. Education became a tool to promote religious conversions. This obliterated the religious inclusiveness of the old system.23
Julian not only sought to remake imperial education as the premier vehicle of religious formation, but also for the Christians of the empire, as the principal site of religious conversion.
Before moving on to what scholars consider the complement to Julian’s edict on education, his Against the Galilaeans, I want to return briefly to his rescript to underline its explicitly anti-Christian policy. Julian makes clear that who the empire endorses as authorized interpreters of Greece’s sacred writings is the essential concern. He states,
If they are real interpreters [ἐξηγηταὶ] of the ancient classics, let them first strive after the ancients’ reverence towards the gods. If, however, they think that those writers were in error with respect to the most honored gods, then let them go to the churches of the Galilaeans to expound Matthew and Luke, since you Galilaeans are obeying them when you ordain that men should refrain from temple worship.24
Julian underscores that Christian interpreters (ἐξηγηταὶ) demonstrate impiety towards the gods and lack sound judgment.25 Julian also contrasts the sacred writings of Christianity with those of Greek literature and contends that their content is utterly incompatible. What is most important to glean from this statement and Julian’s view of education on the whole is its intrinsically religious character. For him, Greek education is intrinsically religious, and so it matters all the more that teachers exhibit religious piety and commitments consistent with that presented in the ancient classics. Indeed, the pagan character of the teacher is essential for a proper interpretation of, and a proper education in, Greek literature.
Thus far we have seen that in his view of Greek education, Julian tightly connects pagan worship to Greek literature, at the exclusion of Christianity.26 Christians are impious and immoral and so are unfit to teach in the Greek school system. Now I wish to draw from his Against the Galilaeans to underline further how for Julian, Greek paideia is the locus of moral and religious formation in the empire.
Julian likely composed his Against the Galilaeans while still occupied in Antioch (late 362), but the work appears to have been made available for the public in early 363. The treatise is lost, but has been partially preserved (albeit by a hostile recorder) in Cyril of Alexandria’s Against Julian.27 Scholars have maintained that “one of the strongest themes in Against the Galilaeans is Julian’s belief that Christianity is antithetical to the civilized life,”28 and that “At the heart of Against the Galilaeans there lay a compelling sense that Christianity was damaging the fabric of civilized life.”29 For Julian, Christianity posed a threat to Greek culture because Christians like Basil, as we will soon see, threatened to secularize Greek education by dismissing and underestimating its religious and moral commitments.
Karl Sandnes maintains that the essence of Christianity’s threat to Greek civilized life is to be found in its fundamentally different view of moral formation. Sandnes argues, “For Julian, baptism is a mockery of the purity and morality offered by paideia and philosophy.”30 Focusing first on Julian’s work The Caesars, Sandnes demonstrates that at the core of Julian’s objection to Christian baptism is its claim to cure a sick soul instantaneously. But for Julian, curing a sick soul is something only a Greek education can do, and even then, the healing occurs after prolonged engagement in the arduous exercises and disciplines of Greek paideia.31
Sandnes develops his argument further by way of Against the Galilaeans, which in many respects “reiterates the main points made in The Caesares.”32 In his discussion of 1 Cor 6.9-11, Julian states his disdain for Paul’s claim that baptism can expunge and correct immoral actions. He scoffs,
Do you not see that [Paul] admits the men…were ‘washed’ and they were ‘sanctified,’ as though water itself had acquired the power to cleanse and purify not the body only, but even the soul! But baptism does not take the sores away from the leper, or the scabs and boils, the wens and disfigurations, or gout or dysentery or dropsy, or a whitlow – in fact, <water> takes away no disorder of the body however great or small: so shall it then do away with adultery, theft, and all of the sins of the soul?33
In his commentary on this passage, Sandnes rightly underlines Julian’s concern with the “purifying effect of the bath.”34 How can Christian baptism possibly affect the reform that only a proper Greek paideia can achieve? Julian’s derision of Christian baptism, and by implication, the church as the locus of moral formation, presents a direct link to Julian’s rescript on education circulated earlier that same year. Immediately following his view that Christian educators should restrict themselves to the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Julian states, “For my part, I wish that your ears and your tongues might be ‘born anew,’ [ἐξαναγεννηθῆναι] as you would say, as regards these things.”35 Here Julian directly references (and mocks) Christian baptism.36
At stake here is a fundamental contrast between the pagan religion of Julian and Christianity. Sandnes asserts, “[A]s a religion of grace,” Christianity “furthered a dangerous irresponsibility which, in fact, jeopardised the society at large.”37 The ‘dangerous irresponsibility’ was earlier expressed in Julian’s rescript on education: that
The cure available to the insane, the ἀνόηται suffering from disease, in short the Christians, is proper education [παιδεία ὀρθή]. To Julian, the Christians claimed for their water ritual what truly belonged to the hard work of paideia only … the only remedy for the sickness of Christianity is Greek education.38
Christian educators posed a real threat to Julian’s program to restore paganism to the empire, and they did so by undermining the imperial training grounds for the moral and religious formation of its citizens.39
Basil on Greek Education
Basil’s view of Greek education constitutes a real danger to Julian’s imperial program. Indeed, Basil’s Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature (hereafter: Address) confirms the charges Julian lodged against Christian educators. While Basil’s focus is on Greek literature and not Greek education specifically, the two are inextricably linked and so the connection can be reasonably drawn.40
In his recent study of education in early Christianity, Karl Sandnes identifies three forms of teaching and education among early Christians: religious education at home, religious education in the church (especially for preparing candidates for baptism), and education at the common “pagan schools.”41 Note the absence of the expectation of religious training in Greek education. Herein lies a critical difference between the conflicting views of education held by Julian and Basil. For Julian, Greek education was the principal vehicle of religious and moral formation (and, as we have seen, conversion). Alternatively for Basil, Greek education offered literary and philosophical training and even preliminary moral instruction, but not religious training. The grammatical, rhetorical, philosophical, and moral training provided by Greek education accordingly supplemented the religious education Christians received in the home and from the church. Basil’s Address thus assumes this tertiary and limited role of Greek education in the formation of Christian youth.
The dating of Basil’s Address is contested among modern scholars.42 Whenever the Address was composed, Basil’s view of Greek education here presented became the norm for the Christian tradition from the 4th century and following, albeit while coexisting among minority views.43 Here I sketch three main characteristics of Basil’s approach to Greek paideia, which comprise a conflicting view of Greek education to that held by Julian.
First, Basil critically appropriates Greek literature. He assumes that there are riches to be plundered in the Greek classics, but that such riches require careful plucking as one would a rose from among thorns.44 Thus, Basil opens his Address by instructing his students not to surrender to pagan teachers or even the ancients themselves
the rudders of your mind, as if of a ship, and follow them whithersoever they lead; rather, accepting from them only what is useful [χρήσιμον], you should know that which ought to be overlooked. What therefore, these things are, and how we shall distinguish between them [διακρινοῦμεν], is the lesson which I shall teach you from this point on.45
Basil advocates a critical posture toward the teachers and teachings of Greek literature.46 Such judiciousness requires the recognition of ‘thorns’ to be avoided, but as well, that such thorns should not deter Christians from the profits of Greek learning. Note also that for such study to be ‘useful’ (χρήσιμον) for young Christians, they must develop a critical eye for that which is beneficial and that which is harmful. Basil intends to inculcate in his students such judgment.
Second, Basil’s approach to Greek literature is selective, preliminary, and idiosyncratic.47 These qualities are all invested toward Basil’s twin goals of developing the moral character of Christian youth and preparing them to read Scripture. Basil likens the Christian’s approach to Greek literature to a bee’s approach to a flower. Of all the creatures that can see and smell flowers, only bees can extract nectar and so acquire a greater benefit therein. Basil explains,
For [bees] neither approach all flowers equally, nor in truth do they attempt to carry off entire those upon which they alight, but taking only so much of them as is suitable for their work, they suffer the rest to go untouched. We ourselves too, if we are wise, having appropriated [κομισάμενοι] from this literature what is suitable to us and akin to the truth [συγγενὲς τῇ ἀληθείᾳ], will pass over the remainder.48
This selective approach to Greek literature requires the careful discrimination and modeling of the teacher, who can train the student in discerning what is suitable and ‘akin to the truth’ (συγγενὲς τῇ ἀληθείᾳ). Basil will not explicate what he means by συγγενής, but the whole of his letter implies that the ἀλήθεια contained in Greek literature is a vestige of the more fully revealed truth perceived by Christians.
For example, Greek literature conveys partial truth and so serves as a kind of preliminary training in the shadows to prepare readers for the brilliant light of Scripture. For Basil, Greek literature is shortsighted: it focuses on the present life, while Scripture’s gaze is fixed on eternal life. Basil states,
Now to that other life the Holy Scriptures lead the way, teaching [ἐκπαιδεύοντες] us through mysteries. Yet so long as, by reason of your age, it is impossible for you to understand the depth of the meaning of these, in the meantime, by means of other analogies which are not entirely different [οὐ πάντη διεστηκόσιν], we give, as it were in shadows and reflections, a preliminary training [προγυμναζόμεθα] to the eye of the soul.49
Again, Basil insists that such ‘preliminary training’ (προγύμνασμα) is ‘not entirely different’ (οὐ πάντη διεστηκόσιν) than the skills required to read Scripture, and hence advises Christians to use Greek literature as a kind of preparatory exercise for the more taxing reading of Scripture.50 Indeed, Basil likens the relationship of Greek literature to Scripture to those who practice military drills in training for actual combat or to gymnasts who exercise their bodies in preparation for an athletic contest.51
Thus, the second difference in Basil’s view of Greek education is the selective, preliminary approach Christians take to such learning. Greek literature’s usefulness for Christians is dependent upon their trained judgments.52 One scholar describes the culminating effect of Basil’s moral formation of Christian youth in the following way:
The young, thus, read philosophy and approach it as Basil has. They inherit his spirit. This is the heart of Basil’s tolerance; for he is not quick to condemn what is different from his faith, but is always seeking to find in it something useful for the Christian life.53
To be sure, Julian has cause for concern because the critical judgments of a Christian interpreter are idiosyncratic and intimately related to his distinctive commitments to Christ, the cross, and eternal life with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Basil’s treatment of pagan morality presumes its essential compatibility with Christian morality, the difference being only one of degree rather than kind.54 In so doing, Basil refuses to attribute to Greek literature the distinctiveness or incompatibility with Christianity on which Julian insisted.
Even more significantly, Basil and Christians like him who advocated the potential value of Greek education “refused to either demonize or to deify the literature taught in the schools. This was really a troublesome position for the Emperor, for this position involved in effect a secularization of Homer and education.”55 Basil’s unapologetically Christian use and exposition of Greek literature had the culminating effect of inoculating Christians from the moral and religious potency of the Greek texts that Julian presumed and adamantly sought to actualize.
But Basil is careful to reject the poets’ and philosophers’ piety toward the gods. This third difference in Basil’s view of Greek education can be seen in his counsel to Christians to turn a deaf ear when the Greeks speak of their gods. He advises, “But least of all shall we give attention to them when they narrate anything about the gods, and especially when they speak of them as being many, and these too not even in accord with one another.”56 Basil disputes the polytheism of the Greeks and draws attention to their own disagreement on the nature of the divine. Basil next brings an array of charges against pagans, calling them “stage-folk” (σκηνῆς), accusing Greek writers of “fabricating tales” (ψυχαγωγίας), and styling orators as advanced in the “art of lying” (ψεύδεσθαι τέχνην).57 Above we saw Julian advancing similar charges against Christians: attacking their lack of education, hypocrisy, and deceitfulness. Given that Julian employs these same character flaws at the heart of his critique of Christians, he would have thoroughly disapproved Basil’s undermining what he saw to be the foundation of Greek civilization, and doing so with the very weapons he wielded in his attack.
The lasting contribution of Basil’s Address is that it established the dominant Christian approach to Greek learning and culture from the 4th century and thereafter. Minority views persisted then and remain today, but what is most worth underlining is Basil’s fearless appropriation and engagement with Greek education and literature, in preparation for a life of virtue and discipleship. For Basil a proper education required discriminating judgments, instilled first by church leaders like himself, and then developed and sharpened under the tutelage of educators who saw clearly the flowers worthy of attention and who, with the skill of bees, knew how to extract nectar and teach others to do the same. Basil’s embrace of Greek education may be understood as a “religious formation” insofar as the approach was shaped by the critical judgments and commitments of Christianity, but it was much different from Julian’s view that Greek paideia contained the truth concerning the gods. Indeed, Basil’s pastoral approach to education trained young Christians to embrace Greek paideia courageously and critically. The aim of Greek education was thus for Basil nothing more than preliminary training for the more demanding education and formation necessary for a life of faithful discipleship.
The educational program of Julian ‘the Apostate’ is strikingly reminiscent of some Christian approaches to education today. His insistence that Greek literature is intrinsically religious, that educators cannot bracket its religious elements (nor should they try), and his character requirement for educators is a paganized precursor to some contemporary philosophies of Christian higher education. Christians should be concerned when modern Christian universities are more in line with Julian’s view of education than that of Basil. In this final section I will show that contemporary Christian liberal arts institutions exemplify Basil’s view of a proper education – and hence, the best of the Christian tradition – insofar as they presume the unity of God’s truth. But some Christians today are reluctant about a broad education in the liberal arts tradition and so fall short of Basil’s fearless approach to Greek paideia. I posit that such reluctance indicates that Christians have lost hope in the more determinative work of the church and home in the religious formation of their young, and so lack the courage to embrace a liberal education pursuing God’s truth, wherever it may be found.
Christian liberal arts educators today acknowledge with Basil and other early Christian leaders and teachers – like Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, and Origen of Alexandria – that truth is one. In the early 2nd century, Tertullian posed the question that would arrest the Christian imagination even to the present day: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”58 Tertullian’s protest against secular learning elicited a strong counter by Christians soon after, whose engagement with Greek learning implied the response: “Very much, insofar as Athens can prepare one for eternal friendship with God.” Christianity’s longstanding commitment to a broad education stems from a theological assumption espoused by early church leaders like Clement of Alexandria that “Truth is one.”59 Modern philosophers such as William Hasker recast the axiom as the unity of truth or, in Arthur Holmes’s case, the maxim that “all truth is God’s truth.”60 The early Christian conviction that God is the source of all truth did not imply an uncritical embrace of Greek literature and the gods it espouses, as Basil clearly demonstrated. Rather, early Christians discerned truth from falsehood in their pagan sources.
For Basil and Christians like him, because all truth finds its source in God, there is no learning that should be exempted from the reach of Christian investigation. If all creation gives witness to the grandeur of God’s creative and sustaining power, then Christians should utilize as many vantage points and angles of inquiry as possible. This implication surely strikes against some present-day views of education that see the Christian college or university as a site for insulation or indoctrination, as Julian would have it.61 Julian’s approach to education proved too narrow and fearful to capture the grand and courageous vision of the broader Christian tradition and its approach to Greek learning that we see so clearly represented in Basil.62
Arthur Holmes positions this ancient tradition of Christian engagement with Greek learning in a decisively religious frame, with the Christian college at the center. Holmes’ proposal is partially akin to that of Julian, who underlined the essentially religious character of Greek paideia.63 But a key difference is that Christian liberal arts institutions engage Greek and Christian literature, whereas Julian defended an exclusively pagan curriculum. To be sure, Basil’s Address concerned the use of Greek literature in the public education of late antiquity, rather than in the Christian college. But despite the dissimilar context, Holmes relocates the religious education Basil would have assumed Christian youth received in the home and by the church to the site of the school.
Nowhere in Holmes’ Idea of a Christian College does he emphasize the essentially supplemental nature of religious education at the Christian college. In fact, Holmes gives little attention to the church (or home) as sites of Christian education and when he does, it is clear that both church and home have failed to educate properly Christians today. Consider, for example, his contrast between “training” and “education.” Training is for Holmes the “central…educational work of the church,” whereas education is the proper work of the college.64 Holmes underlines the inadequacy of such training when he later states,
[Liberal education] is not synonymous with training which develops skills; nor is it the same as indoctrination, which imposes information with a view of unquestioning assent. Training
and indoctrination seek to determine student behavior, but liberal education prepares for the wise exercise of freedom through the development of understanding.65
By speaking of the college as “an extended arm of the church” and repeatedly reminding us that the college is not the church, Holmes underscores the unique place of the church in Christian formation.66 But Holmes’ description of church training as seeking to “determine student behavior” in a way similar to indoctrination is a far cry from Basil’s pastoral guidance to Christian youth to embrace critically the public education of his day. The way Holmes describes the formation of students who have been shaped by the church suggests that he has lost faith in its capacity as an educating community. Holmes’ skepticism of the religious training of the home and church is underlined when he states, “Students are often raised on credulity, sometimes told it is dangerous to think and to question what they are taught. Their view of Christianity is oversimplified, their faith a response to the stimuli of parents and pastors.”67 If Holmes’ assessment is accurate, who can blame him for relying upon the college as the central site for Christian education today? The educational failure of the church is the heart of the problem.
It sometimes appears that for Holmes, the teacher has replaced the pastor as the theological educator par excellence. For example, Holmes credits such “university men” as Wycliffe, Huss, and Luther with the Reformation’s hard-fought freedom from the “ruts worn by tradition, superstition and ignorance [of the church].”68 Holmes accordingly places a disproportionate, but perhaps needed, responsibility on the Christian college to deliver the moral and religious education that formerly belonged to the church.69 Has the Christian college become a contemporary necessity because Christians no longer have an educating church?
Indeed, it seems Christians today have lost hope in an educating church. In his Classical Christian Doctrine, Ronald Heine presents a lucid introduction to the development of essential Christian teachings. Heine self-identifies as a Christian educator and states he has written his book for “undergraduate classes.”70 Heine’s book is a primer in Christian doctrine and does not presume theological training, and so it is all the more significant to note his tentative proposal that, “It might also be found useful for church groups interested in coming to grips with the roots of the Christian faith.”71 That the ‘market’ for books such as his is the college rather than the church is ecclesiologically significant. Heine’s cautious suggestion indicates that the Christian college has replaced the church as the primary site for religious education.
Many of the issues that surface in juxtaposing the educational approaches of the pagan emperor Julian and the Christian bishop Basil remain salient today. Julian insisted, for example, that the imperial school system censure certain texts, while Basil instructed his young pupils to consider critically all literature.72 The pagan emperor embraced a narrow, censured education while the Christian bishop embraced broad, inclusive learning. But for both Julian and Basil, the educator plays a determining role in the converting power of education.73 For Julian, the interpreter of the Greek classics must be a thoroughgoing pagan, and a devotee of the gods.74 Conversely for Basil, the Christian interpreter must exercise a discerning and critical appropriation of Greek literature, picking the roses from the thorns or lighting upon the flowers of the classics like a bee extracting nectar.75
For Basil and Julian alike, then, education is about the formation of judgment and virtue, but each to different ends. For Basil, and what would become the normative approach of Christians thereafter, education is shaped by one’s commitment to Christ who has made possible eternal friendship with God. Basil’s education of youth is much broader and more far-reaching than that of Julian because it culled from all sources and was not limited to the sacred literature of the church. Basil’s capacious approach to learning accordingly subverted Julian’s pagan curriculum because it secularized and pluralized his educational system, subordinating it to the more decisively religious education that took place in the home and the church. Basil’s approach thus produced Christian educators and students that threatened Julian’s program to restore paganism to the empire, where the public school system was the training grounds for the religious and moral formation of its citizens.
For Christians like Basil, Greek education was a preliminary means by which Christians were further prepared for the more rigorous religious education of the church and home, through which they became citizens of the kingdom of God.76 But if it is now indeed the case that the Christian college has supplanted the church as the primary site of religious education, then much has been lost in the education of Christians today. Basil saw the school as one site among others for educating Christians in truth and virtue and given this view, he fearlessly and critically embraced Greek learning. His presumption that the church was the central site for religious education accordingly highlighted the inextricable connection between the church’s worship, education, and service and so instilled in his students the bold, broad, creative, and critical posture of the Christian learner.
Basil’s intrepid approach to Greek education underlines the value of multiple sites of education, reserving the religious training of the young, in large part, for the church and home. Such fearlessness in the face of a public, polytheistic education derives from an ecclesiological confidence in these more determinative educational sites as well as an epistemological conviction that truth and virtue are not the sole preserve of Christians. For Basil, when Christian youth are trained well in skills of Christian discernment by the church, they have much to gain from a courageous and critical approach to Greek education. But such benefits pale in comparison to the religious education proper to the home and an educating church. When considered alongside Basil’s view of a proper education, it is evident that both Holmes’ exclusive faith in the educating capacity of the Christian college as well as the reluctance and fear of Christians today to embrace a broad education in the liberal arts are indicative of a negligent church.
Given Julian’s view of Greek paideia as a thoroughgoing system of enculturation, encompassing religious, political, and cultural commitments, it is not at all surprising that he would see Christian educators as a threat to his program to restore the empire to its earlier paganism. For Julian, the religious, political, social, and linguistic are all of a piece. Greek paideia is for him nothing if it is not Greek. And it is Greek paideia alone that can form and shape the youth of the empire in character befitting the gods.
Fourth-century Christians such as Basil did not acknowledge the danger Christian educators posed to Julian’s imperial program. Their seeming inability to understand the rationale of Julian’s educational policy may have been strategic, in an effort to control late antique culture. But open admittance of such a strategy is not to be found in the literature.77 Instead, it appears Christians believed that an approach to Greek literature such as that sketched by Basil in his Address was not only appropriate for the moral and intellectual formation of their young, but also that even pagans such as Julian should welcome it in the empire’s school system. Basil’s approach to education reveals his confidence in the religious formation of Christian youth both at home and by the church, safeguarding them from the potentially converting elements of the pagan school system and equipping them to read Homer as Christians rather than pagans. Basil’s approach to Greek paideia would, as Julian suspected, effectively subvert the religious potency of his educational program. Previous educational policy resumed when he died. Thus, a proper education for Christians like Basil was in Julian’s view not merely diseased but dangerous, and ultimately proved a devastating education for the Empire. But for Christians today, Basil’s approach to education sounds a clarion call for the church to recover its determinative role in the education of its young, inspiring them to pursue truth fearlessly and critically, wherever it may be found.
Cite this article
- Robert L. Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 165.
- Julian, Ep. 55, in The Works of the Emperor Julian, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, LCL 157, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1962), 188. Translations are my own unless otherwise noted. I recognize that ‘pagan’ is a problematic category. In this essay I mean for the term to refer to the polytheism of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Moreover, by ‘Greek school system’ such polytheistic subject matter is implied.
- Julian, Ep. 36, 423D (LCL 157:120).
- Note that the ‘Greek school system,’ as I refer to it in this essay, is not to be equated with educational systems today. Karl Sandnes rightly underlines the “local variations” and differences among ancient schools and clarifies that in antiquity, ‘school’ is best understood as “the activity performed by teachers who taught their students. School was more or less identical with the teacher. This means that ‘school’ as a fellowship of teachers, together providing a curriculum of various subjects at different levels, was rarely found in the ancient world.” Karl Olav Sandnes, The Challenge of Homer: School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity (London: T&T Clark International, 2009), 16-17.
- Rowland Smith, Julian’s Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (London: Routledge, 1995), xii.
- Edward Watts explains, “Christians and pagans had dramatically different views of the religious significance of classical education. For Christians, the pagan religious elements present in the schools conflicted with their own beliefs. … [Conversely, many pagans] wanted to express freely the religious teachings that, while inherent in the educational system, were prudently downplayed under Christian emperors. Just as pagans and Christians agreed upon the utility of paideia as a common culture, they disagreed about how its religious elements were to be perceived.” Edward J. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 21. Watts notes, however, that “more moderate pagans” were uncomfortable emphasizing the religious nature of Homer and championed instead the “practical utility of the common cultural values of paideia.” Watts, City and School, 20.
- Sandnes, Challenge of Homer, 233-243.
- Codex Theodosianus 13.3.5 (vol. 1, pt. 2, 2nd ed., eds. T. Mommsen and P. T. Meyer [Berlin: Weidmann, 1990], 741). Translation from Glenn W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 83.
- Robert Browning, The Emperor Julian (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978), 169. Gregory Nazianzen states, for example, “Where did you (Julian) get this idea, you the most vain and greedy of men, to rob the Christians of (Greek) literature?” Gregory of Nazianzus, Discours 4.101 (SC 309:248). See Gregory Nazianzen’s two invectives against Julian, composed shortly after Julian died: Grégoire de Nazianze: Discours 4-5, Contre Julien, Sources Chrétiennes 309, trans. and ed. Jean Bernardi (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1983). See esp. Discours 4.5-6 (SC 309:92-96) and 4.100-109 (SC 309:248-264).
- Ammianus Marcellinus states, “But this one thing was inhumane, and ought to be buried in eternal silence, namely, that he forbade teachers of rhetoric and literature to practise their profession, if they were followers of the Christian religion.” Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum gestarum libri qui supersunt 22.10.7 (LCL 331:256). Translation from Ammianus Marcellinus, LCL 331, trans. John C. Rolfe, ed. T. E. Page et al., 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963), 2:257.
- Wilken, Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 173 (see also Watts, City and School, 68-78).
- Watts, City and School, 70.
- Julian, Ep. 36, 422A (LCL 157:116). Translation from Julian, LCL 157, trans. Wilmer C. Wright, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962), 3:117.
- Julian, Ep. 36, 422A (LCL 157:116; Wright, Julian, 3:117, translation modified).
- Julian, Ep. 36, 424A (LCL 157:120-122; Wright, Julian, 3:121-123).
- Julian, Ep. 36, 422D-423A (LCL 157:118; Wright, Julian, 3:119, translation modified).
- Vasiliki Limberis maintains, “As Porphyry’s successor, Iamblichus became famous for turning the Chaldaean Oracles into sacred literature, and…he was successful at disseminating the idea that all Greek culture (paideia) was a ‘product of divine inspiration and therefore sacred in character.’” Vasiliki Limberis, “‘Religion’ as the Cipher for Identity: The Cases of Emperor Julian, Libanius, and Gregory Nazianzus,” Harvard Theological Review 93.4 (2000): 373-400, here p. 381. See also Polymnia Athanassiadi-Fowden, Julian and Hellenism: An Intel- lectual Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 8-9.
- Julian, Ep. 36, 423B (LCL 157:120; Wright, Julian, 3:121).
- Watts, City and School, 77.
- See Bowersock, Julian the Apostate, 83-85; Browning, Emperor Julian, 174-177; Averil Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1994), 130-135; Smith, Julian’s Gods, 213-214; Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2012), 7.
- Limberis, “‘Religion’ as the Cipher,” 374. Regarding Julian’s edict on education, Limberis argues, “By prohibiting Christians from teaching the classics, Julian effectively reinforced the notion that paideia was still a way to display one’s status, for paideia had always been a mark of class identity. But Julian was doing much more than this, and what he sought to achieve with his legislation was indeed quite new. Paideia, when connected to one’s religious identity, became a commodity used not primarily as a marker to identify social status, but rather as a tool to keep Christians on the periphery of Roman society.” Limberis, “‘Religion’ as the Cipher,” 385.
- Bowersock, Julian the Apostate, 84.
- Watts, City and School, 77. Watts expands on the nature of this change: “Eunapius [a pa- gan], Gregory, and Basil [both Christians], like most people of the time, clearly thought that education had no defined religious identity” (78).
- Julian, Ep. 36, 423C-D (LCL 157:120). Modified translation of Wright, Julian, 3:121 and Browning, Emperor Julian, 171.
- Robert Browning explains, “The conflict between faith and teaching might arise in…the most important…of the grammarian’s tasks, ‘krinein poiemata’ (to judge poems). This ‘judgment’ or ‘evaluation’ of works of literature was for the ancient world not so much a matter of aesthetics as of ethics. The tradition that the poet was a teacher and that literature, to be good, must be edifying, still dominated educational theory and practice.” Browning, Emperor Julian, 171.
- Thus, Jean Bouffartigue rightly states, “Julian’s religion develops resolutely out of the constraints of the paideia.” Jean Bouffartigue, L’Empereur Julien et la Culture de son Temps, Collection des Études Augustiniennes, Série Antiquité 133 (Paris: Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 1992), 653.
- In his edition of the fragments of Contra Galilaeos, Emanuela Masaracchia states, “The work does not come to us by direct tradition. We possess fragments, most of which come from Cyril of Alexandria’s fifth-century refutation, contra Iulianum, [written] about seventy years after Julian’s death. Cyril preserves only the first ten books in full, where he discusses what is likely the first book of Julian’s work. Some fragments of books 11-20 [survive], perhaps relating to a second book by Julian, while the rest is completely lost.” Emanuela Masaracchia, Contra Galilaeos, Texts and Commentaries 9 (Rome: Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1990), 11-12. In his study of Cyril’s Against Julian, Robert Wilken contends, “It is clear from the preface to the Contra Iulianum that Cyril is responding to a contemporary challenge by pagan thinkers, not to a dead and defeated foe who lived seventy-five years earlier. Julian’s Contra Galilaeos was still being read in Alexandria during Cyril’s lifetime, and from it pagan thinkers drew arguments to buttress their case against Christianity.” Robert L. Wilken, “Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum,” in The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Late Antique Thought and Culture in Honor of R. A. Markus, eds. William E. Klingshirn and Mark Vessey (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2002), 46.
- Limberis, “‘Religion’ as the Cipher,” 385.
- Smith, Julian’s Gods, 209.
- Karl Olav Sandnes, “Christian Baptism As Seen by Outsiders: Julian the Apostate As an Example,” Vigiliae Christianae 66 (2012): 503-526, here p. 513.
- Ibid., 503 states, “The claim that sins and mischief could simply be washed away by merely being immersed in a bath was appalling to [Julian]. The simplicity involved in Christian baptism was offensive. The only true remedy for a sick soul was the exercise provided for by the toil of Greek education.” And later, Sandnes again underscores the exclusivity of Ju- lian’s claim that Greek paideia alone can bring one to moral perfection: “[Julian] questions a baptismal theology of ‘easy gained purity’, which in fact ruins the idea of proper education as the only viable way to moral perfection.’” Ibid., 513.
- Ibid., 514.
- Julian, Against the Galilaeans, 245C-D (LCL 157:392). Translation from Julian’s Against the Galileans, trans. and ed. R. Joseph Hoffman (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2004), 124.
- Sandnes, “Christian Baptism,” 514.
- Julian, Ep. 36, 423D (LCL 157:120; Wright, Julian, 3:121). Regarding ‘these things,’ Wright clarifies: “i.e. the beliefs of the poets about the gods.” Wright, Julian, 3:120 n. 2.
- Sandnes, “Christian Baptism,” 520.
- Ibid., 522.
- Ibid., 525.
- Julian maximized the influence of Greek paideia in his attempt to recover a consistently Greek empire, and his educational reform cohered with his self-avowed love of reason. Jean Bouffartigue rightly maintains, “Culture remains for [Julian] an end, not a means. He claims to have experienced passion for the paideia itself. He was, he says, a ἐραστὴς λόγων [lover of reason].” Bouffartigue, L’Empereur Julien, 677.
- See as well Sandnes, Challenge of Homer, 172.
- Ibid., 7.
- Philip Rousseau notes its difficulty to date and is agnostic on the matter. See Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 49-57. Robert Winn has argued for an early date (c.355-356), which corresponds to Basil’s time as a teacher of rhetoric at Caesarea, and so challenges the traditional view that the Address is a mature work of Basil in the late 370s. See Robert E. Winn, “Revisiting the Date of Authorship of Basil of Caesarea’s Ad Adolescentes,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 44.1-4 (1999): 291-307.
- Roy Deferrari and Martin McGuire contend, “The essay [Address] … has exercised a unique influence in the history of education, whether through being employed as a guide and defence for the study of pagan literature or through being read for its own worth as a Christian classic, and it is without question the best known and most widely disseminated of Basil’s works.” Roy J. Deferrari and Martin R. P. McGuire, preface to Saint Basil: The Let- ters, LCL 270, trans. Roy J. Deferrari and Martin R. P. McGuire, ed. T. E. Page et al., 4 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961), 4:371.
- Basil writes, “And just as in plucking the blooms from a rose-bed we avoid the thorns, so also in garnering from such writings whatever is useful, let us guard ourselves against what is harmful. At the very outset, therefore, we should examine each of the branches of knowledge and adapt it to our end, according to the Doric proverb, ‘bringing the stone to the line.’” Basil, Address to Young Men on Reading Greek Literature 4.8-10 (LCL 270:390-392; Defer- rari and McGuire, Basil, 4:391-393). John Behr remarks that Origen famously highlighted the “scriptural image which thereafter became the classic reference point for justifying this use of pagan Greek culture – the image of the Israelites plundering the Egyptians.” John Behr, “Plundering the Egyptians: The Use of Classical Paideia in the Early Church,” in Orthodox Christianity, Higher Education, and the University: Theological, Historical, and Contemporary Reflection, eds. A. Bezzerides, V. Shevoz, and E. Prodromou (Notre Dame, forthcoming). But note also that earlier patristic writings, rabbinic writings, and even pre-rabbinic writings addressed this “despoliation of the Egyptians.” Joel S. Allen, The Despoliation of Egypt: in Pre- Rabbinic, Rabbinic and Patristic Traditions, VCS 92, ed. J. den Boeft et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 3.
- Basil, Address, 1.5 (LCL 270:380; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:381).
- Frances Young contends that Basil’s approach to Greek literature in the Address resembles that of Plutarch. Young observes, “Plutarch advocates a kind of moral ‘pruning’ which lays bare the profitable things that are hidden under the prolific foliage of poetic diction and clustering tales” and later concludes that Basil is “drawing upon an ancient commonplace, and not devising some peculiar Christian double-think.” Frances Young, “The Rhetorical Schools and their Influence on Patristic Exegesis,” in The Making of Orthodoxy: Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick, ed. Rowan Williams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 182-199, here p. 187 and p. 188 respectively.
- Here again similarities can be observed with Plutarch. Young notes, “Plutarch is one of many who advised various methods of extracting moral advice from literature and neutral- izing its potentially adverse moral effect. Poetry he regarded as a seductive form of deception: but prospective philosophers he advises to use poetry as an introductory exercise, and to develop their moral sense by exercising critical judgment.” Young, “Rhetorical Schools,” 187, emphasis added.
- Basil, Address 4.8 (LCL 270:390; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:391).
- Basil, Address 2.6 (LCL 270:382; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:383).
- Basil later states, “But although we Christians shall doubtless learn all these things more thoroughly in our own literature, yet for the present, at least, let us trace out a kind of rough sketch, as it were, of what virtue is according to the teaching of the pagans.” Basil, Address 10.1 (LCL 270:428-430; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:429-431).
- See Basil, Address 2.6-7.
- Frances Young’s construal of Antiochene rhetorical exegesis over against Origenist allegory appears to apply as well for Basil; at least in his approach to Greek literature, which displays the marks of the rhetorical approach. Young argues, “Symbolic allegory was characteristic of a philosophical approach to literature; the rival rhetorical approach sought to derive moral principles, useful instruction and ethical models from their study of literature.” Young, “Rhetorical Schools,” 183-184. Young later suggests that the scriptural approach of Basil and the Cappadocians was akin to the Antiochenes due to their common training in the classical paideia (see pp. 195-6). Consider as well Manlio Simonetti’s observation that Basil is sparing in his Christological interpretation of the Psalms. Manlio Simonetti, Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis, trans. J. Hughes, eds. A. Bergquist and M. Bockmuehl (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), 65.
- Sherman Garnett Jr., “The Christian Young and the Secular World: St. Basil’s Letter on Pagan Literature,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 26.3 (1981): 211-223, here p. 223.
- Nigel Wilson observes, “B. states quite explicitly the close agreement between pagan and Christian morality at some points (VII.31-2) and that study of the former is to be regarded as suitable preliminary training for those who are to go on to appreciate the latter (VII.38- 40).” N. G. Wilson, “Introduction,” St. Basil on the Value of Greek Literature, ed. N. G. Wilson (London: Duckworth, 1975), 10. Basil indeed draws close connections between virtuous models in Greek literature and, for example, the teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. See Basil, Address 7.5-10.
- Sandnes, Challenge of Homer, 243.
- Basil, Address 4.4-5 (LCL 270:388; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:389).
- Basil, Address 4.5-6 (LCL 270:388-390; Deferrari and McGuire, Basil, 4:389-391).
- Quoted in Susan VanZanten, Joining the Mission: A Guide for (Mainly) New College Faculty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 17, who cited Arthur F. Holmes, Building the Christian Academy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 8. See also John Behr’s treatment of Tertullian in his essay “Plundering the Egyptians: The Use of Classical Paideia in the Early Church,” in Orthodox Christianity, Higher Education, and the University: Theological, Historical, and Contempo- rary Reflection, eds. A. Bezzerides, V. Shevoz, and E. Prodromou (Notre Dame, forthcoming).
- Quoted in Arthur F. Holmes, All Truth is God’s Truth (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 14.
- Ibid., 8. See also Arthur Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 7; and William Hasker, “Faith-Learning Integration: An Overview,” Christian Scholar’s Review 21.3 (1992): 234-248, esp. 236-237.
- Holmes notes, for example, “A frequent idea people have of the Christian college has been captured in the label ‘defender of the faith’ … a defensive mentality is still common among pastors and parents; many suppose that the Christian college exists to protect young people against sin and heresy in other institutions. The idea therefore is not so much to educate as to indoctrinate.” Holmes, Christian College, 4 (see also p. 73).
- Holmes states, “Yet today the Christian faith is too often seen as a private affair of the heart without reference to the larger scope of human knowledge and cultural affairs. Such a faith is too small to match the understanding which the early church had of the message of Scripture.” Holmes, God’s Truth, 14.
- Similar to Julian, Holmes insists, “Religion cannot be compartmentalized…There can be no effective dichotomy of the secular and the sacred or of culture and faith.” Holmes, Christian College, 16.
- Ibid., 5.
- Ibid., 92.
- Ibid., 45. Holmes insists, “It is essential to recognize that a college is not a local church.”
- Ibid., 74.
- Ibid., 65.
- See especially Holmes’ chapter, “Integrating Faith and Learning” (pp. 45-60), where he presents the Christian college’s responsibility for the intellectual, moral, and religious education of its pupils.
- Ronald Heine, Classical Christian Doctrine: Introducing the Essentials of the Ancient Faith (Baker Academic, 2013), viii.
- Basil’s approach is echoed in the writings of both Hasker, “Faith-Learning,” 238, and Holmes. Holmes, for example, states, “We need not excise dangerous things from the cur- riculum; rather we should build a curriculum and a methodology by means of which anything can be properly interpreted and profitably discussed, in which students progressively make truth and value judgments of their own.” Holmes, Christian College, 71.
- Similarly, see Holmes’s emphasis on the importance of the teacher in The Idea of a Christian College, especially pages 82-83. He insists, “It is the person of the teacher rather than a par- ticular gimmick or method that counts.” Holmes, Christian College, 83.
- Julian insisted that Greek learning, or paideia, was the proper domain of the Greeks alone and not the Christians. Basil and most early Christians thoroughly disagreed and held instead that God’s truth is ubiquitous. Arthur Holmes accordingly states, “The early church fathers summed this up in what has become a guidepost for Christian scholars every since – all truth is God’s truth wherever it be found. Once we grasp this principle, then the worlds of literature, philosophy, history, science, and art become the Christian’s rightful domain.” Holmes, Christian College, 17, emphasis original.
- See, for example, Ibid., 71.
- Holmes thus rightly states, “Education has to do with the making of persons, Christian education with the making of Christian persons.” Ibid., 25.
- See, for example, Gregory Nazianzen’s invectives against Julian, which criticize Julian and his determination to deny Christians the use of Greek literature. See especially Nazianzen’s Discours 4.100-109 (SC 309:248-264).