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John Chrysostom

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The Homilies against the Judaizers
=== The ''Homilies against the Judaizers'' ===
Chrysostom wrote of the [[Judaism|Jews]] and of Judaizers in eight homilies ''Adversus Judaeos'' (against the Judaizers) [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html]. These quotes are translations posted by Paul Halsall from the original Greek: other researchers give slightly different translations. At the time he delivered these sermons, Chrysostom was a tonsured reader and had not yet been ordained a priest or bishop.
* "The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the [[fast]]s. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now." (Homily I, I, 5)
* "Are you Jews still disputing the question? Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what [[Christ]] and the [[prophet]]s predicted and which the facts have proved? But why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts." (Homily V, XII, 1)
Many researchers believe that the The purpose of these attacks was to prevent Christians from joining with Jewish customs, and thus prevent the erosion of Chrysostom's flock. Others characterize Robert L. Wilken contends that applying the modern label of Anti-Semitism onto St. John Chrysostom is anachronistic. He particularly focuses on the rhetorical genre that St. John employed in these homilies, and points out that St. John was using the genre of psogos (or invective): :"The psogos was supposed to present unrelieved denigration of the subject. As one ancient teacher of rhetoric put it, the psogos is "only condemnation" and sets forth only the "bad things about someone" (Aphthonius Rhet. Graeci 2.40).... In psogos, the rhetor used omission to hide the subject's good traits or amplification to exaggerate his worsts features, and the cardinal rule was never to say anything positive about the subject. Even "when good things are done they are proclaimed in the worst light" (Aristides Rhet. Graeci 2.506). In an encomium, one passes over a man's faults in order to praise him, and in a psogos, one passed over his virtues to defame him. Such principles are explicit in the handbooks of the rhetors, but an interesting passage from the church historian Socrates, writing in the mid fifth century, shows that the rules for invective were simply taken for granted by men and women of the late Roman world. In discussing Libanius's [St. John's Pagan instructor in Rhetoric] orations in praise of the emperor Julian [the Apostate], Socrates explains that Libanius magnifies and exaggerates Julian's virtues because he is an "outstanding sophist" (Hist. eccl. 3.23). The point is that one should not expect a fair presentation in a psagos, for that is not its purpose. The psogos is designed to attack someone, says Socrates, and is taught by the sophist in the schools as one of the rudiments of their skills.... Echoing the same rhetorical background, Augustine said that, in preparing an encomium on the emperor, he intended "that it should include a great many lies," and that the audience would know "how far from the truth they were" (Conf. 6.6)." (p. 112).<ref>''John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century'', by Robert L. Wilken (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1983), p. 112.</ref>  Another important point of context that Wilkens highlights is the reign of Julian the Apostate, and the way he used the Jews (and was used by them) to undercut Christianity. Julian had even planned to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, primarily because he believed it would refute Christ's prophesies about the destruction of the Temple. This happened when St. John was a youngman, and so Christians at this time had no reason to believe that they had a firm position in society that could not be overturned in a short period of time. Thus polemics against the Jews were not the polemics of a group with a firm grip on power, but the polemics of a group that had reason to fear what the future might bring. :"The Roman Empire in the fourth century was not the world of Byzantium or medieval Europe. The institutions of traditional Hellenic culture and society were still very much alive in John Chrysostom's day. The Jews were a vital and visible presence in Antioch and elsewhere in the Roman Empire, and they continued to be a formidable rival to the Christians. Judaizing Christians werewidespread. Christianity was still in the process of establishing its place within the society and was undermined by internal strife and apathetic adherents. Without an appreciation of this setting, we cannot understand why John preached the homilies and why he responds to the Judaizers with such passion and fervor. The medieval image of the Jew should not be imposed on antiquity.Every act of historical understanding is an act of empathy. When I began to study John Chrysostom 's writings on the Jews, I was inclined to judge what he said in light of the unhappy history of Jewish-Christian relations and other Church fathers the sad events in Jewish history in modern times. As much as antiI feel a deep sense of moral responsibility for the attitudes and actions of Christians toward the Jews, I am no longer ready to project these later attitudes unto the events of the fourth century. No matter how outraged Christians feel over the Christian record of dealing with the Jews, we have no license to judge the distant past on the basis of our present perceptions of events of more recent times' <ref>''John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century'', by Robert L. Wilken (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1983), pp. 162-Semitic163. </ref>
See also: [http://web.archive.org/web/20090205002052/http://chrysostom.org/jews.html]
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