Thursday, 5 February 2015

Chris de Wet: Religious Conflict, Zealotism, and Masculinity in John Chrysostom

This paper forms part of the proposed workshop entitled: "Religious Conflict and Diplomacy." The purpose of this paper is to investigate the dynamic between the discourse of masculinity and zealotism in the works of John Chrysostom, specifically in how it pertains to understanding religious conflict in late antiquity. It argues that formations of masculinity are crucial to understanding the underpinnings of religious conflict even before it transforms into physical violence. Rather than focusing simply on instances of effeminization of opposing religious identities, as is often the case in some studies, this paper rather approaches masculinization as a complex discursive formation in Chrysostom, one that utilizes a potent religious zealotism in its operation. Therefore, it is asked: how did Chrysostom spur on men (and women, for that matter) in his audience to be religious purists and perhaps even fanatics? Who were the models of religious zealotism for Chrysostom, and how did he use these models to construct a type of Christian subjectivity that, principally, does not allow for any heterodox or non-Christian influence? The paper is therefore an exploration into the rhetoric of religious conflict and its subsets of masculinization in the sermons of John Chrysostom, which contributed to some exhibiting an almost habitual intolerance for any opposing religious views; an intolerance some considered a crucial characteristic of being a Christian ‘man’ in the late ancient world.

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