Basil the Lesser on Spiritual Gifts

Below I transcribe and translate marginalia from Codex Monacensis Graecus 204, a Greek manuscript of the 13th century.  It contains orations of Gregory of Nazianzus with marginal notes from Basil the Lesser.  The note is similar in nature to the note given by Nicetas (see here for Nicetas’ text).  Both identify the “type of gift which requires another” as either prophecy or speaking in tongues.  However Basil identifies a source: Maximus the Confessor.  I had not thought to look at Maximus, even though he wrote quite a bit about Gregory.  Unfortunately I’ve yet to find Basil’s source in Maximus.  Perhaps a further search will turn something up, or perhaps Basil confused Maximus with someone else.  

Text and Translation

[folio 19r] τὴν διαφορὰν ταύτην τῶν χαρισμάτων, τοῖς (sic?) ἄλλου δεομένη χαρίσματος, τὴν προφητείαν φησι ὁ ἅγιος μάξιμος· καὶ τὸ λαλεῖν γλώσσαις. ἀλλ᾽ ἡ μὲν προφητεία δεῖται τοῦ τῆς  διακρίσεως χαρίσματος· τὸ διακρίνειν πνεύματων διαφορὰς τοῦ ἁγίου. ἡ τοῦ πονηροῦ καὶ δαιμονιώδης ἐστὶ πνεύματος. τοῦ δὲ χαρίσματος τῆς ἑρμηνείας δεῖται τὸ τῶν γλωσσῶν· ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ μαίνεσθαι ὁ γλώσσαις λαλῶν. ἐν δὲ τῇ διακρίσει τοῦ βελτίονος ὑπερτίθησι τὸ τῆς πορφητείας, καὶ τῶν γλωσσῶν ἐκείνων τῶν ὧν χρήζουσι πρὸς τὴν σφῶν αὐτῶν διάκρισιν, τῆς τὰς διακρίσεως τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ τῆς τῶν γλωσσῶν διακρίσεως.

The Holy Maximus says that this type of gift, which requires another, refers to both prophecy and speaking in tongues.  For prophecy requires the gift of discernment, to discern the different types of spirits of the Holy One, as demonic prophecy comes from the Evil Spirit.  But the gift of tongues requires the gift of interpretation, lest the speaker in tongues seem insane.  When distinguishing the better gift, both prophecy and tongues are superior to those which lack a complementary gift of their own for interpreting, like the discernment of spirits and the discernment  of tongues.  


There is not much to note beyond the introduction.  However, I have noticed that both Nicetas and Basil do not seem to treat the types of spiritual gifts as technical terms.  In modern charismatic/pentecostal parlance (at least that to which I’m accustomed), the different types of spiritual gifts have technical names.  The gifts most often listed this way are those in 1 Cor 12 (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, interpretation of tongues, etc.)  Both of these scholiasts lump “interpretation of tongues” and “discernment of spirits” under one heading which might be called “illumination gifts” or “interpretation gifts.”  In Greek Nicetas uses the terms “διάκρισις” (discernment, echoing Gregory and Paul) and “διασάφησις” (explanation or interpretation).  From what I can tell, they do imagine a catalogue of sorts for the different types of gifts, but the particular terminology is less important.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


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