Pauline Allen, FBA, FAHA
Centre for Early Christian Studies
Australian Catholic University (Brisbane)
Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria
Sydney College of Divinity
John Chrysostom after Chalcedon: A Useful Ecumenist?
John Chrysostom appears manifold times in the florilegia after Chalcedon, both in those pro- and anti-Chalcedonian. Perhaps because he was not properly speaking a systematic theologian and preached well before the Council of 451, he seemed to be acceptable to both sides. However, the picture is more complicated than that because we see him cited extensively by the anti-Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch, Severus (512-518), in his homilies and letters as well as in the works of post-Chalcedonian Nestorians. Emperor Justinian I, Anastasius of Sinai, and John of Damascus also made grateful use of Chrysostom’s work, leaving the impression that the Golden Mouth was a useful ecumenist and a man for all seasons.
Wendy Mayer, FAHA
Centre for Early Christian Studies
Australian Catholic University (Brisbane)
John Chrysostom: Moral Philosopher and Physician of the Soul
In the past two years a substantial body of scholarship has begun to appear that returns to the question of how in his thought and approach John Chrysostom was shaped by the Greek-speaking eastern Roman world into which he was born. This is a view that seeks to read through his own preaching and writing against ‘pagan’ philosophy and sophistic rhetoric and to move beyond twentieth-century concerns with where he sits within an ‘Antiochene’ theological and exegetical school. Emerging from this scholarship is recognition of the strong influence on John of the philosophical-oratorical tradition of psychagogy (guidance of the soul), with how his admiration for the apostle Paul and urban philosophical asceticism is shaped in response to the admiration among the pagan elites of Antioch for the ascetic-philosopher-emperor Julian, and how Graeco-Roman moral philosophical traditions, both Platonic-Aristotelian and Cynic-Stoic, as well as medical traditions that conceive of moral error as imbalance and therefore sickness of the soul, are dominant in his thought. In this paper we will draw out how together these ideas are producing a more holistic view of John Chrysostom’s own perception of the role of sin as sickness and the priest as physician. In the process we will pay particular attention to the implications of this way of conceiving his ministry for how he treated different categories of the morally sick, in particular Jews, heretics, and the members of his own neo-Nicene Christian community.
University of Sydney
The Reception of John Chrysostom in the Early Medieval West
This paper will discuss the reception of the works of John Chrysostom in the early medieval West, focusing specifically on the knowledge of his works in England up to 1100. There seems to have been no knowledge of John Chrysostom's works in Greek in the early English church, with the possible exception of the so-called “Canterbury School” under Archbishop Theodore, a Greek monk originally from Tarsus (like Diodore, John’s teacher), who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 until his death in 690. In the fragmentary Latin commentaries which survive from this school, John is quoted by name seven times, though the attributions are difficult to trace and many may be dubious. Perhaps more important that the reliability of these citations—which probably depend on Theodore’s memory—is the reputation they suggest for John Chrysostom in England in the late seventh century. Many of John’s works reached the West in Latin translation in the fifth and sixth centuries, and many of these were already dubious. Some of these—authentic and doubtful—made their way into the important Carolingian sermon collection, the Homiliarium of Paul the Deacon (died 799). Many works under the name of John Chrysostom were known to the Venerable Bede (died 735), one of the early English church’s most important writers. This paper will examine the ways in which Chrysostom was known to the early English church—most significantly as a writer on the monastic life, and also as a homilist.
University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney)
Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney
Is a Sacramental Priesthood Disclosed in the Odes of Solomon?
The Odes of Solomon were written in either Greek or Syriac, sometime between the end of the first century and the middle of the second. They are the earliest surviving Christian hymnal. It is suggested that Ode 20 explicitly refers to a sacramental priesthood, and that the “I” who speaks throughout the Odes is quite often, but not always, a priest who exercises a sacramental role. The Odes hail from an environment reflected in the Didache and the Pauline epistles and Acts where prophecy has a major role in the Church. It is also suggested that the manner in which the speaker makes and records his prophecies may stand in the ancient polytheistic Mesopotamian tradition.
Australian Catholic University (Brisbane)
An Ambassador of the Poor? Reshaping the Identity of John Chrysostom
This paper will deal with John Chrysostom’s psychic-therapeutic ideas in relation to almsgiving. Previous poverty studies on Chrysostom have focused mainly on the humanistic aspect in his view of almsgiving. They identified Chrysostom as a champion of the poor who struggled for the wellbeing of disadvantaged groups in society. As a result, this humanistic approach led scholars to ignore Chrysostom’s emphasis on the givers’ benefit in almsgiving. Recently, many scholars demonstrate that the idea of therapy of the soul was a vital element in Chrysostom’s thought. According to them, Chrysostom as a son of Hellenism inherited the heritage of medico-moral ideas in the Greco-Roman world. These recent works give a fresh perspective in approaching Chrysostom’s teaching on almsgiving. Keeping in mind these recent findings, this paper will show that the therapy of the soul was the primary concern in relation to almsgiving in Chrysostom’s thought. It will analyse mainly Chrysostom’s homilies on Matthew since more than half of these homilies deal with poverty, wealth, and almsgiving, and they are key sources for the understanding of his approach to almsgiving. Situating Chrysostom in the tradition of philosophical therapy in the fourth century CE, this paper will investigate his ideas concerning sin as mental illness, almsgiving as spiritual remedy, and the place of almsgiving in his whole program of psychic-therapy. By doing so, it will challenge the conventional construct of Chrysostom’s identity as a supporter of the poor.
The Eloquent Shepherd: Examining the Rationale Behind Chrysostom’s Adoption of the Second Sophistic Style within His Exegetical Homilies
Since the early-twentieth century there have been numerous studies on St John Chrysostom’s adoption of the Second Sophistic style, wherein the Church Father has been likened to the great Attic orators.Chrysostom’s perception and use of rhetoric has also been considered in relation to his interpretation and exposition of the Scriptures, which originally took the form of sermons, delivered in Antioch and Constantinople. Interestingly, a handful of scholars have highlighted what they consider to be St John’s pastoral incentive for imitating the Attic masters, mostly on the basis of De sacerdotio 5. Here, the Church Father suggests that if he and his colleagues fail to produce eloquent sermons their respective congregations will likely tire of them. More precisely, they will resent and betray the preachers, and ultimately God whom the latter represent.In this paper I will attempt to clarify why Chrysostom performed his exegesis using highly refined language, citing examples from the largely ignored argumenta featured in his homilies on the Pauline corpus. To this end, I will also consider De sac. and Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae, wherein the saint’s genuine estimation of rhetoric is most apparent. Moreover, I will endeavour to illustrate how the Second Sophistic Style impacted Chrysostom’s audiences, particularly with regard to their penchant for refined speeches.
Christ and His Saints as Ecosystemic Agents: The Case of St John Chrysostom
Ioan P. Couliano coined the terms “ecosystemic intelligence” in relation to the Gnostic debate concerning the good and intelligent cause of the universe. Since ecosystem can mean ‘ordered home,’ ecosystemic intelligence can be applied to the ordering work of Christ on a cosmic and personal level; the latter unfolding in the lives of his saints within whom He makes His ‘home.’ This paper will explore the ecosystemic agency of both Christ and His saints by consulting a variety of early Christian texts before honing in on the life of the fifth century patriarch of Constantinople, St John Chrysostom, as a case study for this phenomenon. Indeed, the Byzantine historians Sozomen and Palladius describe the exile of St John by the empress Eudoxia as negatively affecting the natural world, the empire, and even the empress herself. All of these aspects will be explored, together with the stabilising significance of the transfer of the saint’s relics to Constantinople by Theodosius II.
Margaret Beirne, RSC
“Breathing with Both Lungs”: East meets West in Christian Biblical scholarship
The paucity of references by current Western biblical scholars to the contribution of those of the East has been noted a number of times, not only from an Orthodox perspective. Is this simply ignorance or is the gap seen to be too wide between their respective attitudes to modern biblical interpretation? This paper will argue the case for the rich benefits to be gained when Western biblical scholarship draws upon Eastern patristic exegesis in general, and the contribution of St John Chrysostom in particular with a focus on his Commentary on the Gospel according to John. It will conclude with some fresh insights on how this East-West dialogue might extend to modern Christian biblical scholarship enabling us all to “breathe with both lungs”.
Padova University (Italy)
National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) (Russia)
Contemplation of the Divine Nature in John Chrysostom and in the Palamite Controversy
The paper analyses John Chrysostom’s doctrine on the contemplation of the divine nature and the way this doctrine was used in the Palamite controversy. In his Contra Anomeos, John Chrysostom argued against the Anomean teaching, according to which the substances of God and the Son can be expressed by human language and can be known. Opposing to the Neo-Arian teaching and following the preceding theological polemics with the Neo-Arians, John Chrysostom maintained that the divine nature was inapproachable and unknowable (Contra Anomeos I, 3–4; III, 2; IV, 3 etc.). At the same time, the doctrine of John Chrysostom also implied that the divine substance can be contemplated in some way. Thus, John Chrysostom pointed out that in His Incarnation, the Son prepared people for contemplating the divine nature to the best of their abilities (Homilies on St John 15.1, cf 82.3). This tendency in the doctrine of John Chrysostom can be paralleled with the doctrine of Gregory of Nazianzus that it will be possible for humans to know the divine nature in the life to come (Oration 28.7). The paper will also consider the interpretation of John Chrysostom’s doctrine in the Palamite controversy, when the above mentioned duality of Chrysostom’s doctrine was manifested. It will be demonstrated that Gregory Palamas referred to the passages from the Contra Anomeos by John Chrysostom to support his doctrine of the unknowability of the divine nature (Antirrhetici contra Acindynum II (10) 37, сf V (3) 8; V (7) 29); Contra Gregoras IV 29; Capita 150, 77), while Gregory Akindynos, an opponent of Palamas, argued for the possibility of contemplating the divine nature (Letter 62, etc.), appealing to the Homilies on the Gospel of St John by the same John Chrysostom.
Iee-ming Paulus Chang
National Cheng-Chi University (Taiwan)
Fu Jen Catholic University (Taiwan)
Prophetic Tradition in the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch and John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Saint Martyr Ignatius the God-bearer
The prophetic tradition of Israel was inherited by the holy Apostles, whose writings the Church has received as canonical, as well as by their successors, i.e. the Apostolic Fathers and the church fathers of the 2nd century onwards. However, given the process of institutionalisation of the Church, the prophetic tradition of Israel was absorbed and superseded by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, especially in the form of the so-called threefold ministry of the bishop. Yet while the prophetic tradition was largely obscured by the hierarchical structures of the Church, it vividly gleamed and influenced the life of the Ecclesia in subsequent centuries. The paper focuses on aspects of the prophetic tradition in the epistles of St Ignatius of Antioch and then the theological discourses on the threefold ministry of the bishop. Finally, it considers St John Chrysostom’s Hom. in Sanctum Martyrem Ignatium Deiferum, especially his pneumatological argument on the unity of the three ‘crowns’ that St Ignatius won through martyrdom, and his strong belief in the apostolic succession guided by the παράκλητος who ‘spoke through the prophets,’ the Sanctifier of the God’s chosen people (Ezekiel 11:19).
Adam G. Cooper
John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne)
Volition in Christ: Would Chrysostom and Maximus have agreed?
Among the patristic authorities quoted in the Florilegia at the Lateran Synod of 649, passages attributed to John Chrysostom featured prominently in support of the Dyothelete Christological case. Recent studies on the Monothelete crisis (by Booth, Price, and Jankowiak), however, have argued for substantial correspondence between the monothelete/monoenergist Christology and that of many earlier orthodox Fathers, including Chrysostom. In this paper I investigate representative selections of Chrysostom’s exegesis of the Gethsemane narrative, and consider to what extent his Christology better supported the opponents of the staunch but brilliant Dyothelete theologian Maximus the Confessor in their concern to uphold singularity of volition in Christ.
The King, the Palace and the Kingdom: Two Patristic Witnesses to Anthropic Cosmology
In an excellent study (“Nature Wild & Tame in St. John Chrysostom” 2002) Christopher A. Hall addressed a range of matters related to the Book of Genesis in Chrysostomian interpretation. On that occasion Hall made reference to a passage in the eighth homily on Genesis, which presents the reason for introducing the human being after everything else as an expression of God organising the cosmos for the use of humankind. Within the passage in question this view is fleshed out, analogically, in the image of the palace, or kingdom, prepared for the arrival of the king. Whereas Hall’s important analysis focused on the usefulness of the environment to humankind throughout the Chrysostomian corpus, here I am particularly interested in the analogy proper. Thus, in this paper I return to the passage of interest, which I explore within its immediate literary context and in relation to what seems to be its original patristic source, namely, a similar image in St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Making of Man 2. My goal is to point out the value of the king - palace - kingdom analogy as an anthropic representation of reality’s consistency and purposefulness.
École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris, France)
Chrysostom: A Model of Father for Latin Medieval Scholasticism?
Latin scholasticism (1150-1350) developed the notion of Western Church fathers. This development and stabilisation of a specific textual corpus and distinct figures of four Latin fathers was linked to the model of the Greek fathers and their interpretation by medieval scholars. Since the 12th century (and even before), Latin scholars translated Greek texts and those translations had a decisive and crucial part in the philosophical and theological development of Latin scholasticism in various ways. Greek patristics became the model of Latin patristics in the Western scholastic world. The figure of John Chrysostom was central in the connections between medieval scholasticism and Greek patristics, as shown by his importance for Thomas Aquinas. John Chrysostom had an important part in the glossa ordinaria and in many biblical commentaries and summae produced by medieval scholars. He had a specific place in the debates in the Franciscan order, especially in the work of the spiritual theologian, Peter John Olivi. John Chrysostom seemed to be one of the fathers of Western scholasticism, on the same level of authority with the Latin fathers, and became a model of ‘the intellectual’ in the Western Middle Ages.
Rifaat Ebied, FAHA
University of Sydney
Quotations from the Works of St John Chrysostom in Peter of Callinicus’ Magnum Opus, Contra Damianum
Everybody who is interested in reading about the controversy between Peter of Callinicus the ‘miaphysite’ patriarch of Antioch (581-591) and Damian (578-605) his counterpart and spiritual superior of Alexandria, will know that they fell out and that the contestants, who were in dispute about the faith, fell out over the doctrine of the Trinity. Damian accused his critic (Peter) of Tritheist sympathies. Peter, in turn, put together his magnum opus: Contra Damianum in which he rebuts the thesis defended by Damian in his refutation of the Tritheists, that the characteristic properties of the divine persons, i.e. fatherhood, sonship and procession are the hypostases themselves. A critical edition of this important work was prepared by Ebied, Van Roey and Wickham and was published by Brepols in the “Corpus Christianorum: Series Graeca”, vols. 29, 32, 35 and 54 (1994-2003). In his magnum opus, Peter rebuts his opponent, Damian, by appealing to patristic proof-texts and patristic theology in order to advance his arguments and augment his thesis. To this end, he employs a large number of quotations from the works of many Church Fathers, e.g. Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril of Alexandria, Eustathius of Antioch, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Severus of Antioch. What this work reveals is that the patristic doctrine of the Trinity inherited by Peter and Damian alike was, if not actually inconsistent, at least expressed in various and genuinely puzzling ways. The purpose of this paper is to identify, enlist and reproduce (together with an English translation and commentary) the seminal quotations, in their Syriac dressing, from the various works of St John Chrysostom, which are contained in Peter’s magnum opus.
R. J. Endresz
Presbyterian Church of Australia
John Chrysostom: A Bridge Between Two Worlds? Exploring Possibilities and Limits of Orthodox-Reformed Dialogue
John Chrysostom has been a highly honoured Church Father across denominations for many centuries and his potential for enhancing interdenominational dialogue among Christians has drawn increasing attention in recent years. This paper explores the influence of Chrysostom in Western Christianity and, more specifically, in Reformed Protestantism. The authors posit that John Calvin's use of Chrysostom is a useful case study in exploring some of the possibilities and limits of Orthodox-Reformed dialogue. In conclusion, the authors suggest that the shared admiration of Chrysostom be considered an opportunity for greater understanding and cooperation between Orthodox and Reformed, rather than in terms of competing claims to patristic authority, while at the same time recognising the limits clearly demarcated by the Reformer that exemplify the distinctiveness of both traditions.
James R. Harrison
Sydney College of Divinity
St John Chrysostom, St Paul and the Jews: A Parting of the Exegetical Ways?
By the fourth century CE Jews had inhabited Antioch for at least six centuries. Christians, too, had lived in the city from the first century (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3), with both groups having strong connections with each other. It is therefore surprising to see the vehemence with which St John Chrysostom attacks those with “Judaising tendencies” within the church at Antioch in eight sermons, popularly designated Against the Jews and delivered in 386-387 CE during his first two years as a presbyter. John Chrysostom urged total separation between Jews and Christians. In Chrysostom’s rhetoric, the Jews are pilloried as (a) murderers possessed by the devil, (b) the assassins of Christ, (c) practitioners of devilish rites in the synagogue, itself a proverbial “den of thieves”, (d) beyond any hope of expiation or forgiveness, and (e) always hated by God. How do we situate this type of rhetoric? Some scholars have labelled Chrysostom’s vitriol as anti-Semitic. Others look for different explanations, pointing to extenuating historical circumstances (e.g. Julian’s recent impact on Jewish-Christian relations), the group against whom the rhetoric was directed (i.e. judaising Christians), or Chrysostom’s identity-constructing rhetorical technique, and so on. This paper will compare the rhetoric of Chrysostom with the epistles of St Paul and ask to what degree the Church Father has strayed from the New Testament. Does Paul himself border on anti-Semitism (e.g. Rom 2:21-24; 1 Thess 2:14-16)? Does the apostle hold out a genuine eschatological hope for the national Jews (Rom 11:25-32)? Or does he opt for supersessionism, with Christians constituting a “third race”? And does Chrysostom exegetically and theologically overreach himself in comparison to the apostle? What light do Chrysostom’s writings on Romans throw on his views about the Jews in comparison to his “darker” sermons?
University of Sydney
A “New and Strange Philosophy” of Forgiveness: Insights from St John Chrysostom on Forgiving the Unrepentant
Certain contemporary philosophers, such as Pamela Hieronymi and Jeffrie Murphy, have argued that it is morally irresponsible to forgive those who have not repented or apologised for their wrongs against us. By forgiving an unrepentant wrongdoer, they argue, we are implicitly denying the wrongness of their mistreatment of us, and thus betraying our own moral value. In this paper, I bring these modern philosophical objections into conversation with the moral writings of St John Chrysostom, particularly his treatise that No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Harm Himself and his various commentaries upon the “love your enemies” passages of the New Testament. I explore what Chrysostom calls a “new and strange philosophy,” on which forgiving and loving one’s enemies, especially the unapologetic ones, is revealed as the height of moral wisdom. More specifically, I discuss three ideas from Chrysostom’s writings which I suggest might make up his response to the modern objections: (1) we are never truly harmed by others’ wrongs, (2) forgiving the unrepentant asserts one’s moral value rather than diminishes it, and (3) forgiving the unrepentant in no way denies the wrongness of their action.
Tokyo Gakugei University (Japan)
Deification and the foundation of Spiritual Progress in John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo
From the beginning of the Patristic period, the discourse of deification (θέωσις or θεοποίησις) played an indispensable role, not only in the articulation of the moral progress of the human soul towards its perfection, but also in that of the transformative union of divinity and humanity. By the late second century the Christian formula of deification language becomes commonplace, for example, with Irenaeus of Lyon who interpreted the ‘gods’ in Psalm 82:6 as the imitators of God who have become gods, with reference to the Pauline ‘adoption’ (Against Heresies 3.6.1). While only in the sixth century the first ‘strict’ definition was given by Dionysius the Areopagite who affirmed that “the assimilation to, and union with, God, as far as attainable, is deification” (Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 1.3), it is possible to map the understanding of deification in the fourth and fifth centuries in eastern and western Mediterranean culture. In this paper, I shall examine in what ways John and Augustine dealt with deification, thereby exploring the foundation of their respective visions.
Pak Wah Lai
Biblical Graduate School of Theology (Singapore)
Chrysostom’s Ascetic Ideals for Monastics and Laity: A Reconsideration
While it is commonly accepted that Chrysostom was an ardent ascetic before his ordination, scholars have differed on how he envisaged the purposes and practice of asceticism. This is hardly surprising since Chrysostom’s writings often present a complex picture of this subject, sometimes affirming the ascetic as living the idyllic Christian life towards which all should aspire, other times chiding the ascetic for not stepping up and preparing himself for priesthood. In her Sons of Hellenism, Susanna Elms has argued persuasively that Gregory of Nazianzus, as understood from his Oration 2, is not the ascetic shoved unwillingly into priesthood, as commonly understood. Rather, he was preparing himself proactively for the priesthood, and Oration 2 is no less than his well-deliberated vision of Christian leadership. Given the strong parallels between Oration 2 and On the Priesthood (OP), it seems likely that OP is also Chrysostom’s attempt to integrate the ascetic and pastoral vocations. Seen in this light, OP is, therefore, unlikely to be an apologia for Chrysostom’s inadequacies, but his means of preparing and, indeed, persuading ascetics to embrace the priesthood. The aim of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, to reexamine Chrysostom’s ascetic ideals in the light of this re-reading of OP, and, secondly, to consider how Chrysostom transposed his ascetic ideals to his teachings for the laity.
Raymond J. Laird
Centre for Early Christian Studies
Australian Catholic University (Brisbane)
John Chrysostom and Oneness with God
A number of scholars have commented on the absence of theosis/deification in John Chrysostom’s vast corpus of homilies and writings. Few comment on why this was so for this concept, and those who do usually refer back to its origin in pagan Greek religious thought and practice as adapted by the philosophical sages of the fifth and fourth Centuries BCE, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and subsequently those philosophers who followed them in Neoplatonic times and later. There is truth in this, but it is a broad brush that tends to hide the details. Something more detailed and truly pervasive is required, especially when other practices and philosophical models of Graeco-Roman origin were accepted by him. In order to see where Chrysostom stood on the issue, there are a number of factors that require consideration: What does he mean by “oneness”? How does he understand the adoption as sons? What does he perceive of the fall of νοῦς, its redemption, and its place in the economy of salvation? In this issue, what is the role of γνώμη (mindset), a feature of human existence that he sees as critical in human psychology? What are his thoughts on union with God?
William (Vasilios) Le Couilliard
Scriptural Interpretation and the Spiritual Life in Chrysostom's Prologue to Homilies on Matthew
Usually considered a literal interpreter of the Scriptures predominately concerned with their ethical dimensions, St John Chrysostom takes the reader by surprise in the prologue to his Homilies on Matthew. Here Chrysostom establishes that the guidance of the Scriptures is needed for the acquisition of the virtues and progress in the spiritual life only because, having not yet been purified, most people cannot draw wisdom from the Holy Spirit directly. After brief reflections on the Antiochene, Second Sophistic, and broader philosophical aspects of Chrysostom's hermeneutical method, this paper will consider the interdependence of scriptural interpretation and the spiritual life within the abovementioned prologue.
West University of Timișoara (Romania)
The Monk as Christian Saint in St John Chrysostom’s Writings
In contrast to earlier centuries, when martyrdom was synonymous with the Christian ideal of holiness, the dominant paradigm for sainthood from the fourth century onwards was that of the saintly monk, established, as most contemporary scholars believe, by the Athanasian Life of Antony. Certainly, the celebrated Athanasian hagiography impacted various monastic and intellectual milieus. That said, I suggest that its influence was not as obvious and widespread as one may believe—at least not in the late fourth century and early fifth century. My proposal is based on the evidence that, given the level of education of most Christians at the time, a text of this caliber could not have immediately impacted wider audiences. Therefore, one should look to an alternative factor that led to the prominence of the monastic paradigm for holiness. I propose that one such factor was the homilies of St John Chrysostom, whose oratorical skills contributed immensely to the dissemination of monastic wisdom. In this paper I explore a range of Chrysostomian writings in search for references to the ascetic experience, which, I offer, must have contributed to the rise to dominance of the paradigm of monastic holiness.
Church and State from Decius to Marcian
The Roman state was a one-time persecutor of the Christian Church, but became, or wanted to become, the Church’s ally from the time of Constantine. Certainly we know that the Roman State’s involvement in the Christian controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries brought difficulties as well as benefits, with the State’s involvement in the dramatic events surrounding the end of John Chrysostom’s bishopric being a case in point. The claim to be made in this paper is that this developing (and troublesome) relationship was a necessary part of God’s plan for the Church.
Chrysostom on proof-texts and problem-texts
The breadth of biblical texts covered in Chrysostom’s surviving homiletic corpus provides a unique opportunity to see how texts that were at the fore-front of the fourth century Trinitarian controversies were handled in a homiletic rather than doctrinal context. Through a treatment of Chrysostom’s comments on several disputed Christological passages, and attention to his exegetical practice, this paper will present some of the key features of Chrysostom’s exegesis in conversation with his Christology, demonstrating how pro-Nicene exegetical features moved into the sphere of preaching and how Chrysostom himself presented the economic and theological Christ, in respect of an emergent two-natures one-person theology of the late fourth century.
Peter John McGregor
Catholic Institute of Sydney
Twelve Legions of Angels and the Human Will of Jesus
In order to refute the Monothelites, Maximus made a distinction between thelema and gnome, arguing that although Christ willed in a natural way, he did not will in a gnomic way. That is, he did not need to deliberate between options, as such deliberation is associated with ignorance and doubt. In order to establish this, Maximus appeals to the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. For Maximus, in the first petition, ‘If it be possible,’ Jesus expresses the fear of death natural to human nature, while in his second petition, ‘Nevertheless,’ he conquers that fear and submits himself to the divine will. However, a resolution to act in a certain way is one thing, while acting is another. It is in acquiescing to his arrest as it occurs that Jesus conforms his human will to the divine will. This being the case, what are we to make of Jesus’ statement, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Does this question imply a gnomic mode of willing in the human will of Jesus? Moreover, does it also imply that the divine will could be conformed to the human will of Jesus? This paper does not question Maximus’ exegesis of the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. Rather, the presenter agrees with Maximus' dyothelitic interpretation of it, and his rejection of a gnomic mode of willing in Jesus. However, Matthew 26:53 seems to contradict the latter distinction. Is this contradiction real or only apparent?
University of Sydney
Fellow-feeling in St John Chrysostom’s On Eutropius
St John Chrysostom’s On Eutropius was a virtuoso performance of oratory executed alongside the liturgical rite of Constantinople. At the climax of his homily, on the occasion of Eutropius’ fall from grace and power, the fountains of tears streaming across the faces of his congregation betokened an emotional contagion of compassion and compunction. In a way that foreshadowed how the performance of Byzantine hymnography would mirror and shape the passions of the singer’s soul, inviting the faithful to become part of the sacred drama unfolding before them, Chrysostom parades the humiliated figure of the consul to arouse pity and fellow-feeling. This paper explores the interpersonal dimension of emotions in Byzantium by looking at how their textual meaning and theological significance were unveiled within liturgical action. After all, it was through homily and hymnography that emotions embedded in a text emerged in history. Thus we will approach Chrysostom’s On Eutropius by reimagining the performance of a text that embodied, mobilised and enacted emotion within the affective field of its relationships—preacher, audience and liturgy.
Peter C. Moore
The Timothy Partnership (Sydney)
Theologian, Exegete, Rhetorician, Physician: reflections by a pastor and theological educator on St John Chrysostom’s program and identity as a congregational leader.
This paper exploits data from the author’s completed Ph.D. program in the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2013 and his thesis entitled: ‘Gold without dross: an assessment of the debt to John Chrysostom in John Calvin’s oratory.’ The author begins by noting the difficulty in 21st century pastoral emulation of Chrysostom given the growing complexity in our understanding of his identity. Scholarship over the centuries has included interest in Chrysostom as Theologian, Exegete, Rhetorician and Physician, and the list still grows. Taking Chrysostom the rhetor as a case study, Moore considers Chrysostom’s use and respect for classical rhetorical theory in the pastoral office, with a special interest in his teaching On the Priesthood, and his homiletical expositions on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and 2 Timothy 4:1- 2. The paper argues that, in the midst of the growing complexity of our understanding of Chrysostom’s identity as a church leader, his primary pastoral use of rhetoric, and his method at large, was to engage the plain folk in his congregation with the plain exposition of biblical truth. Chrysostom’s method in this exposition, and its goals of individual and community transformation, are eminently open to imitation by modern day pastoral leaders, and those who train them.
Brisbane School of Theology (Brisbane)
Bridging the gap: The case for appropriating the Church Fathers for 21st Century Ministry and Practice
The works of the Fathers have significantly contributed to theological discussion and the formation of Christian doctrine over the centuries. It is still an open question, however, as to what degree the works of the Fathers can legitimately contribute to significant contemporary missiological debates−such as contextualisation. This paper will first address the broader question of the place and relevance of the church Fathers in contemporary Christian witness and practice in general, and the contextualisation debate specifically. Second, it will establish a set of criteria by which the suitability of a church Father to inform the contextualisation debate can be measured. Third, it will consider the possibility and legitimacy of the works of one church Father, John Chrysostom, to inform the contextualisation debate through evaluating his potential contributions against these established criteria and through an evaluation of various historical, hermeneutical, and contextual issues in his homilies.
University of Eastern Finland (Oulu, Finland)
Charitable Service? The Tasks of Female Deacons in the Apostolic Constitutions
Saint John Chrysostom lived in Antioch from 386 to 397 AD. Meanwhile in the same area originated a document called Apostolic Constitutions (AC). Apart from the equivalence in date and region, both John and AC deal with deaconesses. John wrote letters to Olympia, Pentadia and Amproukla. The compiler of AC, in turn, gave instructions to anonymous female deacons. In the presentation I focus on AC III, 19. In this passage the female deacons are instructed to perform several tasks, most of which could be translated as “service.” Traditionally they have been associated with the role of deacons in charitable works. However, the findings of John N. Collins challenge me to study more carefully the tasks in question. Collins has analysed the term διάκονος in various early Christian sources, concluding that it should be primarily understood as an agent or middleman instead of a servant. I will compare the tasks of the female deacons in AC III, 19 in connection with the views of John Chrysostom and the scholarly reinterpretation of διακονία.
Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
St Pauls Catholic College Greystanes
John Chrysostom on Marriage and Chastity: An aid to Gregory of Nyssa’s De Virginitate
Writ large in the homilies of John Chrysostom concerning marriage is the importance given to chastity as the foundation of a Christian union between husband and wife. The marital precepts delivered by the great preacher outline the practical requirements necessary to remain spiritually chaste in marriage and mirror the union between Christ and his bride the Church. This paper will explore how Chrysostom’s teachings on marriage can aid in interpreting the seemingly inferior and contentious view of marriage in Gregory of Nyssa’s De Virginitate. The intention is to highlight the emphasis by both Fathers of the Church on the necessity of a certain marital asceticism.
Sofia University ‘St Kliment Ohridsky’ (Bulgaria)
St John Chrysostom in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Traditionally acknowledged as a great preacher, church father (“ecumenical teacher”) and biblical interpreter, St John Chrysostom is less known as one of the authors of the famous ascetic work Sayings of the Desert Fathers. In some Greek manuscripts and editions of the systematic collection of the Sayings, one saying is attributed to him which is not attested in the Chrysostomic corpus (in TLG). This brief communication aims to present that short text, to try to answer the question to what extent it could be considered genuine, and to trace and explain its presence in the Sayings.
University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney)
Called to Attention: Prosochē in John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Genesis
The Stoic concept of prosochē or attention was adopted and adapted by Christian writers of the Patristic era. In opposition to the Gnostic tendency for assuming knowledge of the meaning of the Scriptures before reading them, Origen advocated prosochē. Attention to the text itself was thus an antidote to over-spiritualising Gnostic interpretations of the Scriptures. While Chrysostom’s use of the term in his Homilies on Genesis tends to be reserved for exhortations to attend to one’s salvation, further investigation is warranted to assess the influence of Origen’s exegetical appropriation of the concept on Chrysostom’s homiletical work.