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JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AS A RHETORICAL CRITIC: THE HERMENEUTICS OF AN EARLY FATHER

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image of Biblical Interpretation

Modern rhetorical investigations of the New Testament are based on either ancient or modern rhetorical textbooks, but pursued without due consideration of the way in which the early Christian writers, who were trained in rhetoric, studied the texts of the New Testament. Thus it is useful to ask, how did John Chrysostom understand the biblical rhetoric, and how did he utilize his own rhetorical education in the exegesis? He was well trained in rhetoric and thus probably had a natural way of reading the texts, without misinterpreting the persuasive elements. This provides us with a critical perspective on modern rhetorical and theological analyses. Do they match with the reading of Chrysostom? If not, it is important to lay bare the reasons for the difference. It turns out that Chrysostom sees the text as a means of persuading the addressees more than just displaying static dogmatic ideas. The theology must be sought through comprehension of the devices and tactics. Surprisingly, Chrysostom provides a strictly text-based interpretation. For example, he emphasizes Paul's sharp message condemning any positive use of the Law. Moreover, Chrysostom utilizes his knowledge in order to clarify the interactive functions of the author's expressions, instead of focussing on technical details. Compared with most exegetes of the past millennium, Chrysostom's comments on the communicative aspect in Galatians display a fresh perspective on the text.

Affiliations: 1: University of Joensuu

10.1163/156851501300139291
/content/journals/10.1163/156851501300139291
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/content/journals/10.1163/156851501300139291
2001-04-01
2016-12-08

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