The Homilies on St. John’s Gospel come from the period in which Chrysostom attained his greatest fame as pulpit orator, the years of his simple priesthood at Antioch (386-397). This was the peaceful period in Chrysostom’s life that preceded his elevation to the episcopacy as patriarch of Constantinople (398), wherein adverse imperial and ecclesiastical reaction to his program of moral reform led to his deposition, banishment, and all by martyr’s death (407). The 88 Homilies, which date from about 390, work systematically through the text of St. John’s Gospel and thus form a commentary upon it. In his exposition Chrysostom reflects his youthful Antiochene training in the interpretation of Holy Scripture through his emphasis upon the literal or historical meaning of the sacred text. The exposition focuses sharply on practical morality and thus often supplies telling information about fourth-century life and times. The homilies show the flowering of Chrysostom’s intensive study of rhetoric and are especially commendable for their command of imagery. The first 47 Homilies carry Chrysostom’s commentary through Chap. 6.54-72; the remaining 41, extending the commentary through to the end of the Gospel, are contained in Vol. 41 of this series.
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