Home / BOOK REVIEWS / Book Review – Popular Patristic Series, Number 38: “On Social Justice” Author: St Basil the Great

Book Review – Popular Patristic Series, Number 38: “On Social Justice” Author: St Basil the Great

St Basil the Great, On Social Justice, Translated by: C. Paul Schroeder (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2009), 9-111.

This book is another fine example of the success of SVS Press’ series of patristic writings in providing an accessible translation to a wider audience, rather than specifically catering to the needs of theological scholars and students.

Even the choices and selections of works utilised in the series have been of great spiritual import for the English speaking world.

In more specific terms this particular translation entitled On Social Justice, is a collection of various sermons and teachings of St Basil the Great on matters of social responsibility, the considerate use of wealth and how it can be best utilised for establishing a stable and more equitable community/society.

It does this predominately from the perspective of examining our intention and desire for generating wealth and how we use that wealth or become attached to it.

However from an Orthodox perspective, one may question the accuracy of the title “On Social Justice”, in that this catch phrase of our own era seems to miss the point which St Basil or other Apostolic-Patristic teachers sought to ground us in.

For what we call today social justice, would be more accurately termed as “works of prayer” or “expressions of daily Christian life”.

Those of you who read this wonderful and accessible work which is not bombarding the reader with high theology or dogmatics, will agree that what the world calls social justice, is for us Orthodox an effort of our prayer life.

It is the daily ideal by which we seek to bring the joy and comfort of prayer and communion with God into the world, thus setting an alternate reality to which the world can witness and learn from.

Nevertheless this book is a credit to the excellent work of the translator, C. Paul Schroeder,

who also provides an interesting introduction to St. Basil’s formation within this aspect of ministry towards the world.

by V. M.

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