Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Hellen Dayton: John Chrysostom on katanuxis as the Source of Spiritual Healing

In Sermon 19 on the Epistles of Paul 1, John Chrysostom made an arduous exercise in Spirituality, finding the explanation for one of the most difficult Biblical passages, and developing the healing concept of κατάνυξις.He had already interpreted what κατάνυξις means in Romans 29:10 and Psalm 29:11-12, over which Ir. Hausherr puzzled (because of judging it through the Latin translation by Abila, according to Athanasius the Great). Chrysostom defines κατανυγῶ in Psalm 29:11-12 as “to withdraw oneself” and “to modify oneself.” He also compares κατάνυξις to a crucifixion, as raising and nailing oneself up, but in reverence or in wickedness? Chrysostom characterizes the situation as a strong custom of the soul, which holds it incurably and immutably: one is addicted to a custom so greatly as to be unable to change one’s style of life or behavior, and therefore it turns into pain. John characterizes κατάνυξις with words by which one ordinarily characterizes a mortal illness, or a pain or hardship related to sorrow. Chrysostom suggests why κατάνυξις occurs, saying that κατάνυξις is a sort of an antidote or inoculation by God against the reaction of self-preservation . . . from God, which bears inner idolatry within the soul and conceives hypocrisy. It is directed against the habit of displaying ostensible righteousness before God instead of maintaining an inner affinity with God. Such justification gains authority and advantages in a society where righteousness is respected and rewarded, but it creates the exact illnesses which κατάνυξις heals.

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