KABASILAS, ka-ba'si-las: Two metropolitans
of Thessalonica during the fourteenth century.
Nilos, the elder, lived about 1340 under John
Cantacuzenus, and belonged to the strict anti-Roman
party, so that his writings were first noticed among
the Protestants (e.g., De primatu papae, ed. M.
Flacius Illyricus, Frankfort, 1553). Far more important
was his nephew Nikolaos (d. 1371). Of his
life the only details known are that he was originally
bursar at Constantinople and sided with the
Palaeologi, but afterward became a friend of John
Cantacuzenus, who used him on political missions.
In the Hesyohastic controversy (see
he sided with the monks of Athos, and was later
appointed metropolitan of Thessalonica. Nikolaos
is known as a philosopher, but more especially as
a theologian. Among his philosophical writings
special mention may be made of one directed against
skepticism (ed. Elter and Radermacher in Analecta
, Bonn, 1899.) The most important of his
theological writings was his "Seven Books concerning
the Life in Christ" (ed. W. Gass, Greifswald,
1849). The line of thought is briefly this.
True to the development of Greek theology, Kabasilas
regards the summum bonum
above the sensual, the introduction into life and
immortality, as given through Christ. Man is to
be transplanted from the present world to the future.
This transfer is made by Christ himself.
The life in Christ which transfers man to the other
world is perfected through the sacraments and the
human will. Baptism means to man the beginning
of a new existence. The second sacrament,
that of unction, is unction of the spirit, and initiates
man into the true Christian calling. The
Eucharist adds the third degree of perfection, and
produces an inward change, causing a mystic kinship
with Christ. By the side of this physiological
mysticism stands a non-monastic system of ethics.
Kabasilas teaches that the will must conform unreservedly
to the sacramental influences, being
thereby supplied with a train of pious thoughts.
Through joy and sadness it becomes purified.
Finally the climax of love is reached, and with it
perfect altruism. Kabasilas indulges in lofty expressions
when he describes the power of love, declaring
that as once it had caused God to descend
to man, so now it breaks the bonds of selfish isolation
and constrains man to live for God, and not
for self. This power of love rises to complete self-renunciation
and self-forgetfulness, and this is the
state of him in whom sacrament and will work to
gether in perfect harmony.
The Works are in MPG, cl. Consult:
Fabricius-Harles, Bibliotheca Graeca, x. 20-30; Demetrakopulos,
Graecia orthodoxia, pp. 76 sqq., 83 sqq., Leipsic,
1872; Krumbacher Geschichte, pp 109-110, 158-159;
W. Gass, Die Mystik des Nakolaos Kabasilas, Leipsic, 1899.