CHRYSOSTOMUS, JOANNES (generally known as St. Chrysostom):

Patriarch of Constantinople, one of the most celebrated of the Church Fathers, and the most eminent orator of the early Christian period; born in 347 at Antioch; died Sept. 14, 407, near Comana, in Pontus. Chrysostom originally devoted himself to the law, but soon felt dissatisfied with this vocation, and at the age of twenty-three was made a deacon. About fifteen years later (386) he advanced to the rank of presbyter, and in 398 was appointed by the emperor Bishop of Constantinople. Having attacked the empress Eudoxia in his sermons, he was banished (403), but was recalled soon after, upon the unanimous demand of his congregation. He repeated his attacks upon the empress, and was again banished in 404, first to Nicæa, then to Cucusus in the desert of the Taurus, and finally to Pityos on the Black Sea; but he died while on the way to the last-named place.

The name "Chrysostomus" ("golden-mouthed"; χρυσός "gold," and στόμα "mouth") is a title of honor conferred on this Church father only. It was first used by Isidore of Seville (636), and is significant of the importance of the man, whose sermons, of which one thousand have been preserved, are among the very best products of Christian rhetoric. As a teacher of dogmatics and exegesis Chrysostom is not of so much importance, although much space in his works is devoted to these two branches. Among his sermons, the "Orationes VIII. Adversus Judæos" (ed. Migne, i. 843-944) deserve special notice, inasmuch as they mark a turning-point in anti-Jewish polemics. While up to that time the Church aspired merely to attack the dogmas of Judaism, and did that in a manner intended only for the learned, with Chrysostom there began the endeavor, which eventually brought so much suffering upon the Jews, to prejudice the whole of Christendom against the latter, and to erect hitherto unknown barriers between Jews and Christians.

Attack on Jews.

It was the existing friendly intercourse between Jews and Christians which impelled Chrysostom to his furious attacks upon the former. Religious motives were not lacking, for many Christians were in the habit of celebrating the Feast of the Blowing of the Shofar, or New-Year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles ("Adversus Judæos," i.; ed. Migne, i. 848). "What forgiveness can we expect," he exclaimed, "when we run to their synagogues, merely following an impulse or a habit, and call their physicians and conjurers to our houses?" (ib. viii.). In another place Chrysostom. says: "I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you if any one of you should go to attend the Feast of the Blowing of the Trumpets, or participate in the fasts, or the observance of the Sabbath, or observe an important or unimportant rite of the Jews, and I will be innocent of your blood" (ib. i. 8; ed. Migne, i. 855). Not only had Chrysostom to combat the pro-Jewish inclinations of the Antiochians in religious matters, but the Jews were held in so much respect at that time, that Christians preferred to bring their lawsuits before Jewish judges, because the form of the Jewish oath seemed to them more impressive and binding than their own (ib. i. 3; ed. Migne, i. 847).

Arguments Against Judaism.

Chrysostom further argues at length in his writings that Judaism has been overcome and displaced by Christianity. He attempts to prove this by showing that the Jewish religion can not exist without a temple and sacrifice and a religious center in Jerusalem, and that none of the later religious institutions can fill the place of the ancient ones. Chrysostom derides the Patriarchs, who, he declares, were no priests, but gave themselves the appearance of such, and merely played their parts like actors. He adds: "The holy Ark, which the Jews now have in their synagogues, appears to be no better than any wooden box offered for sale in the market" (ib. vi. 7; ed. Migne, i. 614).

But he is not satisfied with the derision of all things sacred to the Jews. He tries to convince his hearers that it is the duty of all Christians to hate the Jews (ib. vi. 7; ed. Migne, i. 854), and declaresit a sin for Christians to treat them with respect. In spite of his hatred of the Jews and Judaism, Chrysostom—as, indeed, the whole Antiochian school in their Bible exegesis—shows a dependence upon the Haggadah, which at the time predominated among the Palestinian Jews. A few parallels with the Haggadists have been given by Weiss, but they could be easily increased; and even in instances not directly taken from the Haggadah, its influence can be noticed in the writings of Chrysostom.

  • The best edition of Chrysostom's works is by Montfaucon, 13 vols., in Patrologiœ Cursus Completus, ed. Migne, Greek series, Paris, 1718-38;
  • Böhringer, Die Kirche Christi und Ihre Zeugen, ix.;
  • Bush, Life and Times of Chrysostomus, 1875;
  • Lutz, Chrysostomus und die Berühmtesten Redner, 1859,
  • Cassel, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. xxvii.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, iv. 356-357;
  • Perles, Chrysostomus and the Jews, in Ben Chananja, iii. 569-571;
  • Weiss, Dor, iii. 128-129.
K. L. G.
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