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De Beneficentia: A Homily on Social Action attributed to Basil of Caesarea*

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AbstractThis paper introduces an anonymous work attributed to Basil of Caesarea entitled, De beneficentia, or “On beneficence.” The text is known from one manuscript dating to the thirteenth or fourteenth century, Berlin, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Phillipps 1467 (gr. 63), a collection of genuine and pseudonymous Basilian homilies. Although pseudonymous and extant (as far as we can determine) only in this sole manuscript, in some quoted fragments from the ninth and twelfth centuries, and in a sixteenth-century Latin translation, De beneficentia, shares a number of characteristics common to social homilies preached in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. This paper discusses the Berlin manuscript text in the context of the known fragments, other spurious, dubious, or pseudonymous homilies attributed to Basil, and its attributed relationship to social preaching in Christian late antiquity, and offers a new edition of the Greek text with its first English translation.


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