ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ and John Chrysostom (part 2)

This post is part of a series. Parts: one, three.

I’ve continued to work carefully through the relevant πίστις Χριστοῦ texts. Romans 3 was the next in the list. Quite interestingly, Chrysostom’s text doesn’t appear to have Jesus in it! Here’s how it reads:

Εἰπὼν γοῦν, ∆ικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ, ἐπήγαγε, ∆ιὰ τῆς πίστεως, εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας.

The NA27 reads:

δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας.

I assume that makes a “faithfulness of Jesus” rendering impossible here, and that seems consistent with the rest of the passage. Right before quoting quoting v. 22, he says,
“So that no one may say, ‘and how are we saved, as those who have not accomplished any of these great things [the great deeds of the OT saints]?’ He shows that we who enter in [ie, the Gentiles?] have no small place in this matter. I’m speaking of faith.”

Later he says, “Therefore do not doubt! It [righteousness] is not from works (εξ εργων), but with faith (απο πιστεως). Do not flee the righteousness of God! Its goodness is two-fold, as it is easy to attain and always available. Do not be ashamed or blush.

Apparently (as John goes on to explain) some where making fun of justification by faith, claiming it was an “easy” or “feminine” doctrine. Overall, John’s focus here is on righteousness. Faith doesn’t get much mention. It comes up a few times in contrast with works, but John spends much more time explicating God’s righteousness as manifested in Jesus. He wants particularly to defray the claim that Christianity is an innovation. He spends a lot of time showing the “types” in the Old Testament, and how they were fulfilled in Christ.

So, there’s quite a bit going on in his homily, but not much directly referring to faith. The omission of “of Jesus Christ” in his text is quite curious, but otherwise it’s fairly evident that the faith in view here is human faith. That’s also clear in Romans 1:16-17, which I didn’t mention. The next post will look at Philippians 3, and then I’ll move onto Ephesians, where it really gets interesting!

ἐν πίστει Χριστοῦ,

Chrysostom and Paul

Currently, I’m trying to puzzle through what I want to write about for my final paper in my Paul class. I know that I want to write about some aspect of John Chrysostom’s exegesis on Paul, but I’m not sure what to write about. I’d thought about discussing John’s analysis of Paul’s “image” language (Col 1:15, 3:10, etc). I’m shying away from that, as he doesn’t seem to have much to say in his commentaries on “image” except for some polemic against Arianism in Col 1.

I could also do some comparative study on some of the early exegetes. I could do some comparison of the Antiochene interpretation versus Alexandrian by comparing Origen and John for example. Romans 7 might be worth examining, as it’s a tricky passage where opinions abound. I could also pull in some of the other Antiochene exegetes like Theodoret.

In the mean time, I’ve been reading John and reading about him. I particularly enjoyed working through his comments on the end of 2 Corinthians 3, with its notoriously tricky, “ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν.” (Either “The Lord is Spirit,” or “the Spirit is Lord”). I’ve also been reading through J.N.D. Kelley’s excellent biography: Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom-Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop. I’m almost 200 pages in, and I’ve immensely enjoyed the work. I’ve also worked through a good bit of Margaret Mitchell’s The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation. (Which is still $4.99 as of this date at CBD!). I really enjoyed this one early on, but I’ve become slightly blogged down in the middle though.

Any ideas? Or even some good background reading?

A quick look at my front pages shows me that I haven’t posted here in over a month. Inspired by the infallible Nick Norelli (or am I confusing him with Moises Silva?), I’ve decided to post again. Hopefully I can get back to the rhythm of regular posts. For the moment, I’ll skim over what I’ve been studying over since school started.

My one religion class this fall is on the “Life and Letters of the Apostle Paul.” Naturally I love the class, all the more so since I have an excellent professor. We’re working through Romans now, and then we’ll move on to the disputed letters. I’ve written several shorter papers for the class:

  • Paul and the Greco-Roman World: Basically an examination of Acts 17. (I largely assumed that Luke gives us an accurate picture of Paul, since the question of Paul in his own letters and Paul in Acts was out of scope for that topic).
  • A letter as one of Paul’s opponents in Galatia: This was quite a bit of fun. Based on my reading of Galatians, I had to write a response (or a pre-emptive) letter to the Galatian churches expounding a Lawful Gospel. I even translated some of it into Greek. Writing letters in an ancient style is fun!
  • Marriage and Celibacy in 1 Corinthians: This was another fun paper (and apropos considering the period of my life). We had to analyze Paul’s teaching on marriage and sex, and also compare Paul’s teaching with Jesus’ teaching. Looking at the difference between the divorce passages in Mark and Matthew (Mk 10, Mt 19) makes me excited for my Gospel’s class this Spring.
  • “Sin” in Romans 1-8: Here I traced out the argument of Romans 1-8, with a particular focus on how Paul uses the word “sin,” (or more precisely, ἁμαρτία and its cognates). This was difficult (Romans is deep, especially in Greek!), but very rewarding.

I have one more short paper to write on the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, and then a long paper (upper limit 20 pages) that we get to choose. I’ve been thinking about doing something like suffering in Paul or Pauline eschatology more broadly (I argued, for instance, that the backdrop for 1 Cor 7 was a famine and not the impending return of the Messiah). Right now I’m leaning toward examining unity in Paul’s letters (or a specific letter), though I’m tempted to do something more connected with the Fathers, like Chrysostom’s exegesis of Paul.

I’ve also been part of a Greek reading group. We’ve read through Ignatius’ letters to the Romans and Philadelphians so far, and are now into his letter to the Ephesians. This has been fantastic Greek practice, and it’s also helped me see Ignatius more clearly. I’m still pondering if it’s worth reworking the paper I wrote in the Spring into a potential journal article. I would probably argue (contra Theodor Preiss), that Ignatian participatory theology lines up with Paul instead of missing him completely. Preiss’s article is old (1938), but I give the man credit: he wrote a fantastic and thorough piece on Ignatius. I have a much more favorable opinion on Ignatius than he does, but one can’t write off Preiss willy-nilly.

Finally, I’m going to get to work on a book project with Dr Adler (who teaches my Paul class). It will just be indexing work (citation and general) for a book he’s editing, but I’ll get paid for it and I know that I’ll learn quite a bit. ευχαριστω σοι, κυριε μου!

Church Fathers (in French!)

I got a few books from the library today. Among them was a sources chrétiennes edition of Origen’s Commentary on Romans. This is a critical text with French translation, and loads of helpful commentary. I’m pleasantly surprised at my French. I’m able to follow along quite nicely and get the gist of what’s being said. Reading in a foreign language can be a mystical experience at times… Now, if only I could read Greek like I do French ;-).

Oh, and I must say, the “source chrétiennes” series is phenomenal, if this work is any indicator. I hope to get my hands on more.