Saturday, 2 May 2015

Maria Verhoeff: John Chrysostom's David: Exemplar of Spiritual Friendship

The current resurgence of interest in friendship studies has not failed to affect research on John Chrysostom. Rather well-known is Chrysostom's integration and transformation of classical friendship conventions in his own thought on spiritual friendship (e.g. Zincone, 1984; White, 1992; Willien, 2005). Less attention has been given to his frequent adoption of the language of friendship to give expression to the human-divine relation (Poon, 1984; Sherwin, 2004).
This paper seeks to further elucidate Chrysostom's use of friendship imagery by focusing on his various portrayals of David. Of particular interest is his portrayal of the friendship between David and Jonathan, related in what is itself a complex biblical narrative. Chrysostom gives a central place to the commandment of Christ to love one's enemies, and thus the narrative motif of friendship appears as a dominant motif in Chrysostom portrait of David in contrast to Saul.
Since Chrysostom's theology is presented in graphical or narrative-typological ways, rather than in abstract conceptual ways, a close analysis of Chrysostom's portrayal of David as the archetypal friend will provide deeper insights into his theological and ethical concerns.

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