John Chrysostom and the Greeks: Hellenism and Greek Philosophy in the Rhetoric of John Chrysostom
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Reason for embargo
Thesis will potentially be reworked into a published monograph.
The aim of the present study is to examine how Hellenism and Greek philosophy were received and used in arguments in the writings of John Chrysostom. The thesis is divided into five chapters of varying lengths, with the fifth chapter being the conclusion of the thesis. Chapter 1 is divided into two major parts. Part A is the story of certain major scholarly works on the topic of Hellenism and Christianity, particularly in late antiquity. Part B turns to previous scholarship on John Chrysostom and Hellenism specifically. We discuss three particular aspects of John’s reception, rhetoric, philosophy, and religious identity while also looking in interpretations from modern scholarship. This part and the chapter conclude with a general overview of the argument and an identification of research gaps. Chapter 2 is divided into five parts. After a discussion of the identity of those called Greeks in John’s corpus we proceed to analyse his extensive criticism of several aspects of Hellenism: philosophy, religion, public attitudes, and the binding power of tradition. The third part goes into the opposite direction and examines instances of John’s positive references to Hellenes and Greek history. In part four we see the reception moving on from the binary of praise and criticism and we discuss examples of both praise and criticism combined, along with indifferent references to Hellenes and John’s practical suggestions on how the Christians should treat the Greeks. In Chapter 3 we examine John’s embodiments of Hellenism and Christianity respectively through his comparisons of individuals. The first three parts consist of major comparisons, which are the most frequent ones in terms of the individuals compared, and minor comparisons, which are smaller treatments and usually group individuals together instead of treating them separately. The fourth part is a close analysis of Chrysostom’s Discourse on Babylas, a treatise that includes a major comparison between Babylas and Diogenes but also provides an opportunity for John to launch a full-scale attack against Hellenism. Finally, in Chapter 4 we will be looking into John’s reception of a specific philosophical school: the Cynics. After situating John’s own texts within previous Christian tradition and assessing differences and similarities, we complete the chapter by a comparison between John and the Cynics and their respective conception of a specific philosophical concept, that of autarkeia.
Arts and Humanities Research Council University of Exeter, College of Humanities
PhD in Theology and Religion