Friday, 1 May 2015

Constantine Bozinis: Natural Law in John Chrysostom

Already in the early 60’s Stephan Verosta noted the presence of the concept of natural law in John Chrysostom’s homiletics (primäres und sekundäres Naturrecht), while only a few years later Arnold Stötzel would connect it to Chrysostom’s vision of the restoration of justice and equality in humanity within the Church (Kirche als neue Gesellschaft). The assessments of these scholars are supported by a plethora of passages drawn from the corpus Chrysostomicum, as well as from the work of earlier fathers of the Church, such as the Cappadocians and Origen, who undoubtedly exercised an influence upon Chrysostom. In my presentation at this year’s Oxford Patristics Conference I would like to touch upon this particular aspect of Chrysostom’s political thought, in relation to natural law. Within the framework of my presentation Chrysostom’s interpretation of Romans 2:14-15 and the “three types of slavery” that are found scattered here and there throughout his works (see esp. On Gen. IV.2-3), are taken into account. Furthermore, especial emphasis is laid to the natural example – whether taken from the animal kingdom or from the universe in its entirety – that the Church father uses in his ethical appeals to the faithful. I simultaneously attempt to shed some light on the philosophical background of his views on natural law and its close relation to currents of thought originating in Ancient Greece and reaching a climax, mainly, in the Stoic teaching concerning lex naturalis.

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