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Chapter III.—Birth and Education of John Bishop of Constantinople.
John was a native of Antioch in
Syria-Cœle, son of Secundus and Anthusa, and scion of a noble
family in that country. He studied rhetoric under Libanius the sophist,
and philosophy under Andragathius the philosopher.831831
Sozomen (VIII. 2) also says that Chrysostom went
from the school of Libanius to a private life instead of the legal
profession as was expected of him, but from some utterances of
Libanius, as well as from Chrysostom’s own representation, de
Sacerdot. I. 1. 4, it appears that he had spent some time in the
practice of the law.
Being on the point of entering the practice of civil law, and
reflecting on the restless and unjust course of those who devote
themselves to the practice of the forensic courts, he was turned to the
more tranquil mode of life, which he adopted, following the example of
It is not certain who this Evagrius was. Valesius
thinks he was the presbyter of that name mentioned by Jerome, de
Evagrius 139himself had been educated
under the same masters, and had some time before retired to a private
mode of life. Accordingly he laid aside his legal habit, and applied
his mind to the reading of the sacred scriptures, frequenting the
church with great assiduity. He moreover induced Theodore and Maximus,
who had been his fellow-students under Libanius the sophist, to forsake
a profession whose primary object was gain, and embrace a life of
greater simplicity. Of these two persons, Theodore afterwards became
bishop of Mopsuestia833833
It has been supposed by some that this was the
Theodore addressed in II. 1, VI. Int. and VII. 47; but not with good
reason. Cf. note 4, p. xii. of Int. On Theodore of Mopsuestia, the
great ‘Exegete’ and theologian, see Smith & Wace; also
Sieffert, Theodor. Mopsuestenus Vet. Test. Sobrie Interpret.
Vindex and H. B. Swete, Theodori Episc. Mopsuestiæ in Epp.
B. Pauli. Commentarii.
in Cilicia, and Maximus of Seleucia in Isauria. At that time being
ardent aspirants after perfection, they entered upon the ascetic life,
under the guidance of Diodorus834834
Sozomen also attests the simplicity of
Diodorus’ interpretations of the Old Testament. The principle
which he adopted, of seeking for a literal and historical meaning in
preference to the allegorical and mystical interpretations attached to
the Old Testament by Origen and the Alexandrians, became the
corner-stone of the Antiochian system of interpretation as elaborated
by his pupils Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret.
and Carterius, who then presided over a monastic institution. The
former of these was subsequently elevated to the bishopric of Tarsus,
and wrote many treatises, in which he limited his attention to the
literal sense of scripture, avoiding that which was mystical.835835
‘speculations’ by which are evidently meant the allegorical
and subjective or contemplative explanations of the Alexandrians.
But enough respecting these persons. Now John was then living on the
most intimate terms with Basil,836836
‘Socrates and Kurtz (in the tenth edition of
his Kirchengeschichte, I. 223) confound this Basil with Basil
the Great of Cappadocia, who was eighteen years older than Chrysostom,
and died in 379. Chrysostom’s friend was probably (as Baronius
and Montfaucon conjecture) identical with Basil, bishop of Raphanea in
Syria, near Antioch, who attended the Council of Constantinople in
381.’ Comp. Venables in Smith and Wace; Schaff in Prolegomena to
Vol. IX. of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, p. 6, note 2.
The conjecture of Baronius is assented to also by Valesius.
at that time constituted a deacon by Meletius, but afterwards ordained
bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. Accordingly Zeno837837
According to Baronius, this Zeno was bishop of Tyre,
but Valesius makes an ingenious objection to this view, and asserts
that some other city must have been the real see of Zeno.
the bishop on his return from Jerusalem, appointed him a reader in the
church at Antioch. While he continued in the capacity of a reader he
composed the book Against the Jews. Meletius having not long
after conferred on him the rank of deacon, he produced his work On
This treatise, commonly termed de Sacerdotio,
and the Homilies are the most famous of Chrysostom’s
works; for a full account, as well as translation, of these works, see
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IX.
and those Against Stagirius; and moreover those also On the
Incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature, and On the Women839839
These were women who lived in the houses of the
clergy as sisters, and exercised themselves in works of piety and
charity. At a very early period, however, scandal seems to have arisen
from this practice, and strong measures were repeatedly adopted by the
Church for their suppression. Paul of Samosata was, according to
Eusebius (H. E. VII. 30), deposed partly for keeping these
sisters in his house. They were called Syneisactæ (Συνείσακτοι
). Cf. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. XVII. 5. 20, and Council of
Nicæa, Can. 3. Hefele, Hist. of Ch. Councils, Vol. I. p.
who lived with the Ecclesiastics. Afterwards, upon the death of
Meletius at Constantinople,—for there he had gone on account of
Gregory Nazianzen’s ordination,—John separated himself from
the Meletians, without entering into communion with Paulinus, and spent
three whole years in retirement. Later, when Paulinus was dead, he was
ordained a presbyter by Evagrius the successor of Paulinus. Such is a
brief outline of John’s career previous to his call to the
episcopal office. It is said that on account of his zeal for temperance
he was stern and severe; and one of his early friends has said
‘that in his youth he manifested a proneness to irritability,
rather than to modesty.’ Because of the rectitude of his life, he
was free from anxiety about the future, and his simplicity of character
rendered him open and ingenuous; nevertheless the liberty of speech he
allowed himself was offensive to very many. In public teaching he was
powerful in reforming the morals of his auditors; but in private
conversation he was frequently thought haughty and assuming by those
who did not know him.
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