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Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity

Ed. by Brennecke, Hanns Christof / Drecoll, Volker Henning / Heil, Uta / Markschies, Christoph

Together with Elm, Susanna / Gemeinhardt, Peter / Meier, Mischa / Perrone, Lorenzo / Pollmann, Karla / Riedweg, Christoph / Schöllgen, Georg / Williams, Rowan / Wischmeyer, Wolfgang

CiteScore 2018: 0.21

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.563

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Volume 22, Issue 3


L’iride e la Trinità: Osservazioni sulle fonti di Basilio, Epistula 38,5

Francesco Verde
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  • Dipartimento di Filosofia, Sapienza Università di Roma, Via Carlo Fea 2 00161 Roma Italy, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Institut für klassische Philologie, Residenzplatz 2, Tor A 97070 Würzburg, Germany
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Published Online: 2018-11-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2018-0036


The focus of this contribution is to examine the section 5 (Courtonne) of Basil’s Letter 38 devoted to the rainbow considered as a physical metaphor of the Trinity. The main purpose is to scrutinize the likely ancient pagan sources of Basil’s description of rainbow’s formation. The present article concludes by pointing out that the sources used by Basil could be traced back to Aristotle’s Meteorology and the Stoics (especially Posidonius), without denying an Epicurean influence too. The most interesting point is that the author of the letter seems to occasionally modify the ancient sources on the rainbow he consults in order to make the explanation of the rainbow consistent with his theological/Trinitarian scope. Since several studies confirmed the deep interest of Basil in the explanation of natural phenomena (always for theological and not scientific goals) on the basis of the theories of the ancient pagan Greek philosophers, it cannot be ruled out the possibility that Basil actually was the author of this epistle. This question is very problematic; it is not resolved but, in my opinion, it should also be reconsidered in the light of the part of the letter devoted to the comparison with the rainbow.

Keywords: Basil’s Letter 38; Rainbow; Trinity; Aristotle; Ancient Meteorology

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Published Online: 2018-11-30

Published in Print: 2018-11-27

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity, Volume 22, Issue 3, Pages 383–399, ISSN (Online) 1612-961X, ISSN (Print) 0949-9571, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2018-0036.

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