Saturday, 2 May 2015

Paschalis Gkortsilas: The Lives of Others: Pagan and Christian role models in John Chrysostom's thought

This paper's intention is to present the prominent role of pagan and Christian figures as archetypes of vices and virtues in the writings of John Chrysostom. In the broader context of Chrysostom’s reception of Hellenism, the martyrs and the saints play a prominent role, serving both as role models and as living proofs of an emergent and victorious Christianity. In his rhetoric, martyrdom becomes a very significant point of divergence from Hellenism, precisely because, according to John, the Hellenes cannot claim any martyrs for their religion. During his time there were many points of contention between pagans and Christians. What we will try to attempt is a preliminary effort to collect and analyse this material, while at the same time trying to contextualise it within the larger context of John's reception of Hellenism. While the lives of the apostles and martyrs are sometimes the object of comparison with the lives of philosophers, these bioi are primarily used as exemplifications of contrasts that John sees as characteristics of Christianity and paganism. These include the antithesis between syllogisms and pistis, the effectiveness of each religion's persuasion, and the attitude of believers under persecution. Finally, the theme of usefulness also appears often in John's comparisons, and one of his major arguments against the most eminent philosophers of Hellenism is that their lives (in some cases) and theories (in other cases) were ultimately worthless, because they either served no purpose at all or plainly failed.

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