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Who Wrote Basil’s Epistula 38? A Possible Answer through Quantitative Analysis

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Chapter Summary

Epistula 38 is a perfect "authorship attribution problem", because it is already known that the work either belongs to Basil of Caesarea or Gregory of Nyssa. It seems reasonable to suppose that extensive works from Basil and Gregory serve as effective benchmarks to analyze Ep. 38. In fact, if one applies statistical methods and develops a kind of "distance" between different texts, the differences between Ep. 38 and Basil's or Gregory's works to confute Eunomius should be due primarily to their personal styles, because the contents are homogeneous. Ep. 38 was very probably written by Gregory of Nyssa. This seems even more trustworthy because Ep. 38 possesses dogmatic content and the method was designed to be most effective for this kind of work. Looking at the overall analysis, one can say that the statistical probability of error in this attribution is less than 5.

Keywords: Basil of Caesarea; dogmatic content; Epistula 38; Eunomius; Gregory of Nyssa; statistical methods



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