As the great feast of the Resurrection is here, I thought it would be fitting to translate a bit of a paschal homily this morning. John Chrysostom is always a good choice for such an endeavor, so I found a paschal homily of his in the TLG, and I translate the beginning of it below. I must say, I rather like his beginning: it’s quite lovely. This homily appears in PG 52.765. There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the homily: some think it’s not from John himself, though the editors of the PG think it’s most likely authentic. I haven’t done any research to see if it’s been commented on more recently, but it’s lovely Greek nonetheless, even if it doesn’t come from Chrysostom’s pen!
As is my custom, I offer a rather free translation. I try to capture the spirit of the Greek, and the paschal joy it contains. That’s not quite possible in translation, of course, but I try nonetheless.
The Greek text is problematic in a few places, but I wasn’t able to find a manuscript online with which to compare.
Today is the day for all of us to shout David’s words, “who shall speak of the great power of the Lord? Who shall make his praises heard?” (Ps. 106:2/105:2 LXX). For behold, the feast of salvation, for which we have yearned for so long, has finally come. The day of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of peace, and the grounds for reconciliation! The conquest of war itself, the dissolution of death, and the devil’s defeat! Today men have mingled with angels, and those in the body henceforth bring praises along with the angelic powers. Today, death’s tyranny is vanquished! Today, the bonds of death are destroyed, the victory of Hell abolished! Today is the day for us to declare the prophet’s words, “Where, O death, is your sting? Where, O hell, is your victory?” (Hos. 13:14). Today our Lord Christ has crushed the bronze gates of our prison (Ps. 107:16/106:16 LXX), and abolished the role of death itself. Why do I say ‘role’? Because he changed death’s role on the great cosmic stage. This change shall no longer be called ‘death,’ but rather ‘rest,’ or ‘sleep.’ Before Christ’s coming, and the working-out of the cross, the name of death brought great fear. For the first man, instead of receiving great honor, was condemned by hearing, “in the day you eat, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But the blessed Job foresaw this change and said, “death is rest for man” (Job 3:23 LXX). The separation of the soul from the body is not only called ‘death,’ but also ‘Hades,’ as the patriarch Jacob says, “You all will take my old age down into Hades with grief” (Gen. 42:38). Again, the prophet says, “Hades opens wide his mouth,” (Is. 5:14?) and another prophet says, “he delivers me from the lowest depth of Hades” (Ps. 86:13/87:13 LXX). And so you’ll find many places where death and Hades are put together and made equivalent. But since Christ our God has been offered as a sacrifice, with resurrection as the result, our Lord, full of loving-kindness, has completely transformed the roles of death and Hades. He has introduced a new and foreign institution into our life. Henceforth, instead of death, this change at the end of life shall be called ‘rest,’ and ‘sleep.’ How do we know this? Hear the word of Christ himself, “My friend Lazarus is in a state of sleep, but I am coming to wake him” (Jo. 11:11).
 I have added “on the great cosmic stage” to bring out more clearly John’s theatrical metaphor.
αʹ. Εὔκαιρον σήμερον ἅπαντας ἡμᾶς ἀναβοῆσαι τὸ παρὰ τοῦ μακαρίου Δαυῒδ εἰρημένον· Τίς λαλήσει τὰς δυναστείας τοῦ Κυρίου, ἀκουστὰς ποιήσει πάσας τὰς αἰνέσεις αὐτοῦ; Ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἡμῖν παραγέγονεν ἡ ποθεινὴ καὶ σωτήριος ἑορτὴ, ἡ ἀναστάσιμος ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἡ τῆς εἰρήνης ὑπόθεσις, ἡ τῆς καταλλαγῆς ἀφορμὴ, ἡ τῶν πολέμων ἀναίρεσις, ἡ τοῦ θανάτου κατάλυσις, ἡ τοῦ διαβόλου ἧττα. Σήμερον ἄνθρωποι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις ἀνεμίγησαν, καὶ οἱ σῶμα περικείμενοι μετὰ τῶν ἀσωμάτων δυνάμεων λοιπὸν τὰς ὑμνῳδίας ἀναφέρουσι. Σήμερον καταλύεται τοῦ διαβόλου ἡ τυραννίς· σήμερον τὰ δεσμὰ τοῦ θανάτου ἐλύθη, τοῦ ᾅδου τὸ νῖκος ἠφάνισται· σήμερον εὔκαιρον πάλιν εἰπεῖν τὴν προφητικὴν ἐκείνην φωνήν· Ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον; ποῦ σου, ᾅδη, τὸ νῖκος; Σήμερον τὰς χαλκᾶς πύλας συνέθλασεν ὁ Δεσπότης ἡμῶν Χριστὸς, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦ θανάτου τὸ πρόσωπον ἠφάνισε. Τί δὲ λέγω τὸ πρόσωπον; Αὐτοῦ τὴν προσηγορίαν μετέβαλεν· οὐκ ἔτι γὰρ θάνατος λέγεται, ἀλλὰ κοίμησις καὶ ὕπνος· πρὸ μὲν γὰρ τῆς Χριστοῦ παρουσίας, καὶ τῆς τοῦ σταυροῦ οἰκονομίας, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦ θανάτου τὸ ὄνομα φοβερὸν ἐτύγχανε. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος γενόμενος ἀντὶ μεγάλου ἐπιτιμίου τοῦτο κατεδικάζετο ἀκούων· ᾟ δ’ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ φαγῇ, θανάτῳ ἀποθανῇ. Καὶ ὁ μακάριος δὲ Ἰὼβ τούτῳ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτὸν προσηγόρευσε, λέγων· Θάνατος ἀνδρὶ ἀνάπαυσις. Καὶ ὁ προφήτης Δαυῒδ ἔλεγε· Θάνατος ἁμαρτωλῶν πονηρός. Οὐ μόνον δὲ θάνατος ἐκαλεῖτο ἡ διάλυσις τῆς ψυχῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος, ἀλλὰ καὶ ᾅδης. Ἄκουε γὰρ τοῦ μὲν πατριάρχου Ἰακὼβ λέγοντος· Κατάξετε τὸ γῆράς μου μετὰ λύπης εἰς ᾅδου· τοῦ δὲ προφήτου πάλιν· Ἔχανεν ὁ ᾅδης τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ· καὶ πάλιν ἑτέρου προφήτου λέγοντος· Ῥύσεταί με ἐξ ᾅδου κατωτάτου· καὶ πολλαχοῦ εὑρήσεις ἐπὶ τῆς Παλαιᾶς θάνατον καὶ ᾅδην καλουμένην τὴν ἐντεῦθεν μετάστασιν. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν θυσία προσηνέχθη, καὶ τὰ τῆς ἀναστάσεως προεχώρησε, περιῆρε δὲ τὰς προσηγορίας αὐτὰς ὁ φιλάνθρωπος Δεσπότης, καὶ καινὴν καὶ ξένην πολιτείαν εἰς τὸν βίον εἰσήγαγε τὸν ἡμέτερον· ἀντὶ γὰρ θανάτου λοιπὸν κοίμησις καὶ ὕπνος λέγεται ἡ ἐντεῦθεν μετάστασις. Καὶ πόθεν τοῦτο δῆλον; Ἄκουε αὐτοῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ λέγοντος· Λάζαρος ὁ φίλος ἡμῶν κεκοίμηται, ἀλλὰ πορεύομαι ἐξυπνίσαι αὐτόν.
One thought on “St. John Chrysostom On Easter”
A perfect sharing for the day. Thanks.