St. John Chrysostom (c. 347 - September 14, 407)

John Chrysostom was known for his eloquence; hence, his name Chrysostom (golden mouth). John was born at Antioch, the second city of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. John became bishop in Constantinople, but his preaching against corruption led to his exile.

John was born in Antioch of Syria around 347 or 349 to Greek parents. It is unclear if his mother Anthusa was a pagan or a Christian. His father was a high-ranking military officer who died soon after his birth. John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius, a Greek teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school. From Libanius, John acquired skills in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature. According to the Christian historian Sozomen, Libanius was supposed to have said on his deathbed that John would have been his successor "if the Christians had not taken him from us (/a>)".

As he grew older, however, John became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch. 

John was baptised in 368 or 373 and ordained a reader (one of the minor orders of the Church).

John lived in extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375; he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and committing the Bible to memory. As a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch.


The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is the litergy of much of the Byzantine Church to this day. 

Writings fall into three categories: the smaller works called the "opuscula", the "homilies", and the "letters".

(1) The chief "opuscula" all date from the earlier days of his literary activity and deal with monastical subjects:

Title Reference Comment
"Comparatio Regis cum Monacho" "Opera", I, 387-93, in P.G., XLVII-LXIII  
Adhortatio ad Theodorum (Mopsuestensem?) lapsum (ibid., 277-319)  
"Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae" (ibid., 319-87).  
Those dealing with ascetical subjects in general are the treatise "De Compunctione" in two books ibid., 393-423)  
"Adhortatio ad Stagirium" in three books ibid., 433-94  
"Adversus Subintroductas" (ibid., 495-532  
De Virginitate ibid., 533-93  
"De Sacerdotio" ibid., 623-93  


(2) Among the "homilies" we have to distinguish commentaries on books of Holy Scripture, groups of homilies (sermons) on special subjects, and a great number of single homilies.

(a) The chief "commentaries" on the Old Testament are

the sixty-seven homilies "On Genesis" (with eight sermons on Genesis, which are probably a first recension) (IV, 21 sqq., and ibid., 607 sqq.);

fifty-nine homilies "On the Psalms" (4-12, 41, 43-49, 108-117, 119-150) (V, 39-498), concerning which see Chrys. Baur, "Der ursprangliche Umfang des Kommentars des hl. Joh. Chrysostomus zu den Psalmen" in Chrysostomika, fase. i (Rome, 1908), 235-42,

a commentary on the first chapters of "Isaias" (VI, 11 sqq.).

The fragments on Job (XIII, 503-65) are spurious (see Haidacher, "Chrysostomus Fragmente" in Chrysostomika, I, 217 sq.);

the authenticity of the fragments on the Proverbs (XIII, 659-740), on Jeremias and Daniel (VI, 193-246), and the Synopsis of the Old and the New Testament (ibid., 313 sqq.), is doubtful.

The chief commentaries on the New Testament are first the ninety homilies on "St. Matthew" (about the year 390; VII),

eighty-eight homilies on "St. John" (c. 389; VIII, 23 sqq. — probably from a later edition),

fifty-five homilies on "the Acts" (as preserved by stenographers, IX, 13 sqq.), and

homilies "On all Epistles of St. Paul" (IX, 391 sqq.). The best and most important commentaries are those on the Psalms, on St. Matthew, and on the Epistle to the Romans (written c. 391). The thirty-four homilies on the Epistle to the Galatians also very probably comes to us from the hand of a second editor.

(b) Among the "homilies forming connected groups", we may especially mention the five homilies"On Anna" (IV, 631-76), three "On David" (ibid., 675-708), six "On Ozias" (VI, 97-142), eight "Against the Jews" (II, 843-942), twelve "De Incomprehensibili Dei Naturæ" (ibid., 701-812), and the seven famous homilies "On St. Paul" (III, 473-514). (c) A great number of "single homilies" deal with moral subjects, with certain feasts or saints.

(3) The "Letters" of Chrysostom (about 238 in number: III, 547 sqq.) were all written during his exile. Of special value for their contents and intimate nature are the seventeen letters to the deaconess Olympias. Among the numerous "Apocrypha" we may mention the liturgy attributed to Chrysostom, who perhaps modified, but did not compose the ancient text. The most famous apocryphon is the "Letter to Cæsarius" (III, 755-760). It contains a passage on the holy Eucharist which seems to favour the theory of "impanatio", and the disputes about it have continued for more than two centuries. The most important spurious work in Latin is the "Opus imperfectum", written by an Arian in the first half of the fifth century (see Th. Paas, "Das Opus imperfectum in Matthæum", Tübingen, 1907).


I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us...I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. 2014 8/7/18 8/7/18