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Series:

James Cook

Abstract

Recent studies have made a persuasive case that John Chrysostom should be considered a “medico-philosophical psychic therapist” in the classical tradition. Like the philosophers before him, he prescribed a regimen of spiritual exercises to bring the disordered passions under control. This chapter, however, will re-examine the extent of his dependence on the philosophical tradition, and in particular will argue that the scriptures and the Christian tradition exercise a more important influence on the fundamental nature of his diagnosis of spiritual sickness and its therapy. Whilst for the classical philosophers the ultimate goal of therapy was the achievement of happiness or wellbeing in the present, for Chrysostom it was to be found in avoiding God’s judgement for sin and receiving the blessings of eternal life. For him, the sick are those who are facing the judgement of God, and a key part of his therapy of the soul is to awaken in them a fear of hell that they may live more obedient lives and “receive the good things that are to come.” He was therefore in many ways more similar to the prophets of the Old Testament and the Christian preachers of the New: his preaching largely focussed on a message of repentance and obedience to a God who would be his congregation’s judge at the resurrection.

Series:

Yannis Papadogiannakis

Abstract

For all the recent, important contributions to the study of Chrysostom’s homiletics, emotions are rarely addressed directly as a category of analysis even as the whole communication is based on the interplay between the homilist’s emotions, the way he performs them, and the way he seeks to arouse, control, redirect, shape and reshape those of his audience. As an embodied stance in the world, and far from mere neurophysiological events confined to the inner self, emotions are open to observation through their manifestations in action, social structures, and cultural symbols. Chrysostom’s homilies are addressed to an audience (primary or secondary) with the aim to persuade. The very act of persuasion is bound up by appeal to emotions. Homily after homily, page after page or PG-column after PG-column we see a charismatic leader setting emotional standards and norms by word, deed, and example. Chrysostom’s homilies, thus, contain explicit and implicit assumptions about how emotions work, how they should be lived out, and what they mean; they are also tied to underlying concepts of the self, personal agency, and the moral values that flow from them. In light of this they can provide a wealth of material for the development of a method that highlights their workings and a framework for analysing their interrelations and social impact. Because of this, Chrysostom’s homilies form the primary, ideal context for understanding the historical meanings of emotions connected to worship, faith, and moral action.

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Demetrios E. Tonias

Abstract

John Chrysostom believed that Christian philanthropy could transfigure his city and the world beyond it. For this Antiochene priest and preacher, his congregants were the means toward this transformative end. The preacher, however, had to first transform his flock into philanthropic Christians. To convince his community of the virtue of Christian almsgiving, John Chrysostom introduced the Patriarch Abraham to his community as a heroic high priest of philanthropy. In this article, I examine the ways in which Chrysostom portrayed Abraham as the model almsgiver whose charity Christians were called to emulate. This Abrahamic ideal emerges as part of a broad vision in which non-ordained Christians represented a general, lay priesthood whose sacrifice was charity and whose altar was the poor who received it. I also treat the eschatological component of Chrysostom’s pastoral theology. This theology is couched in Greek rhetorical terms, expounding upon the rewards the faithful would receive if they assisted the poor and setting forth the consequences facing them if they neglected their philanthropic responsibilities. I argue that Chrysostom formulated a distinct social theology in which he saw philanthropy as beneficial, not only to his immediate Antiochene congregation but also to the greater society in which he and his congregants lived.

Series:

Benjamin H. Dunning

Abstract

What kind of thing is same-sex eros for John Chrysostom? Where does it come from? Who or what is to blame and in precisely what way for its manifestation? And on Chrysostom’s view, given that such an outrage has come to exist within this fallen world order, how ought it to be characterised as a structure of human desire? Building on the work of Kyle Harper and Chris L. de Wet with respect to similar questions, this article explores these issues through a close analysis of the Homilies on Romans with a focus on Homilies 3, 4, and (to a much lesser degree) 5. Using a methodological perspective drawn primarily from queer theory, the analysis seeks especially to complicate the linearity of Harper’s narrative. It unpacks three important themes that emerge in the relevant portions of Chrysostom’s Homilies on Romans: the theologically fraught role of reason, the tensions in the homilies’ dual (and potentially competing) theorisations of desire, and, pace Harper, the perdurance of traditional concerns with social distinctions, honour, and issues of masculinity—albeit in a partially revised form and deployed to new ends. Together this uneasy alliance of ideas constitutes a richly textured and highly specific moment of theological and anthropological incoherence in the history of Christian thought.

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Courtney Wilson VanVeller

Abstract

Scholarship on John Chrysostom’s anti-Judaic rhetoric has focused on eight sermons in which John violently defames Jews in order to dissuade his congregants from associating with Jewish people, places and practices. In such polemics, John invokes the apostle Paul as a central voice of authority, exalting his beloved apostle as the principal exemplar of a thoroughly non-Jewish Christianity. Yet, in his broader corpus on Acts and the Pauline epistles, John encounters in Paul not only a fellow preacher warning against Christian Judaizers, but also a self-identified Israelite who preaches in Jewish places and observes elements of the Law. In this chapter, I use John’s interpretation of Paul’s rhetoric as philosophic therapy of the soul to illumine John’s interpretations of Paul’s complex identity as a Jew, especially as presented in Acts. Depicting Paul as an exemplary therapist of souls, John frames Paul’s persistent participation in Jewish places and practices as strategic therapies that serve to manage Jewish pathē and thus more effectively guide Jewish souls out of Judaism. John’s framing of Paul’s Jewishness as a strategic therapy for weak Jewish souls bolsters his characterisation of Jews as diseased and of Paul as an exemplary model of non-Jewish Christian orthodoxy. Thus, while John’s explicit invective against Jews has long been recognised for its anti-Judaic legacy, attention to John’s psychagogic interpretations of Paul points to a more subtle and pervasive anti-Judaism undergirding John’s exemplification of Paul and categorisation of Christian orthodoxy.

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Blake Leyerle

Abstract

In the course of his preaching and writing, John Chrysostom often refers to animals. This chapter argues that these references function, in part, to reinforce spatial distinctions. Of these, the most basic is the contrast between wilderness and urban spaces. Creatures of the wilderness are usually represented mimetically. They direct attention to a reality outside the text, and it is their difference from humans that Chrysostom stresses. He cites their behaviour to support theological doctrine, especially the providence of God, the dominion of humans over all other life forms, and the reality of the Fall and of the resurrection. Animals in the urban spaces, on the other hand, function semiotically. They cannot be understood apart from their literary quality, and it is their likeness to humans that Chrysostom underscores. He invokes these similarities to support ethical teachings and, in particular, to advocate certain spatial behaviours implicit to his understanding of almsgiving, obedience to the clerical hierarchy, and proper monastic behaviour.

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Constantine A. Bozinis

Abstract

The topic of this chapter is not unknown to Chrysostom scholars. Already in the early 60s Stephan Verosta considered natural law (primäres und sekundäres Naturrecht) to be the foundation for any examination of John Chrysostom’s political thought, whereas two decades later Arnold Stötzel connects it to the Church Father’s vision of the restoration of equality among all the peoples of earth within the bosom of the Church (Kirche als neue Gesellschaft). The positions of the above scholars constitute the starting point in the line of thought and argument developed in the pages that follow. Through examining the plethora of relevant testimonies in the corpus Chrysostomicum, we attempt to outline John’s general conception of natural law and the significance it has for his argumentation from the pulpit of the Church. At the same time through John’s understanding of natural law, we attempt to highlight the philosophical background of his rhetoric. The way in which this Church Father understands Nature and the law immanent in it demonstrates the affinity of his thought with Stoicism and the cultural/philosophical trends in general that spring from Ancient Greece.

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Leslie Dossey

Abstract

In recent years, there has been a burgeoning scholarship on how nighttime activities and sleep itself changed in the early modern period due to the impact of urbanisation and the first street lighting. The exploration of similar topics in the ancient world is still in its infancy. Even so, it has long been recognised that the closest ancient parallel to modern street lighting was in the porticoed streets of late-antique cities like Antioch. Chrysostom’s sermons offer us a window, albeit a distorted one, into the everyday lives of the people of Antioch and Constantinople. This chapter will explore what his sermons have to tell us about nighttime work, sleep, prayer, and insomnia in an urban environment. The ultimate aim is to answer whether residents of large late-antique cities were closer to the modern or traditional pattern in their experience of the night.

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Chris L. de Wet

Abstract

Relying on recent theoretical advances in Chrysostomic studies pertaining to his views on medicine and the therapy of the soul, the aim of this chapter is to examine John Chrysostom’s views on regimen, thus revisiting his stance on gluttony, and to ask how his stances on diet, eating habits, exercise, but also sleep and bathing, feature in his broader understanding of psycho-somatic health. The chapter investigates how Chrysostom operates as a psychic iatrosophist—a teacher of the health and pathologies of the embodied soul—with a focus on how he understands the physiology of the stomach and the risks of gluttony, and the relation and effect of these on the soul. Additionally, the study aims to append a very minor annotation to the more general cultural history of dietetics, obesity, and bariatrics.

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Isabella Sandwell

Abstract

This chapter seeks to outline and challenge some of the assumptions that have underlain scholarship on Chrysostom’s preaching. Using work from modern communication theory on dialogue and mass communication as competing modes of communication, it argues first that too often Chrysostom scholars have made the mistaken assumption that Chrysostom’s preaching must have acted as a form of dialogue with his audience to have been affected. It then goes on to develop the model of mass communication as more fitting to Chrysostom’s preaching using the findings of cognitive science on how people comprehend verbal discourse and of the cognitive science of religion. Finally, it seeks to apply this new model to a small example from Chrysostom’s first two homilies on Matthew. Overall, this chapter hopes to propose not just a new model for thinking about the reception of Chrysostom’s preaching by his audiences, but also a new way for thinking about preaching’s role in the transmission and success of Christianity in late antiquity.