Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Prolegomena.: The Writings of Chrysostom.
Chapter XII.—The Writings of Chrysostom.
Chrysostom was the most fruitful author among the Greek Fathers. Suidas makes the extravagant remark that only the omniscient God could recount all his writings. The best have been preserved and have already been noticed in chronological order. They may be divided into five classes: (1) Moral and ascetic treatises, including the work on the Priesthood; (2) About six hundred Homilies and Commentaries; (3) Occasional, festal and panegyrical orations; (4) Letters; (5) Liturgy.
His most important and permanently useful works are his Homilies and Commentaries, which fill eleven of the thirteen folio volumes of the Benedictine edition. They go together; his homilies are expository, and his commentaries are homiletical and practical. Continuous expositions, according to chapter and verse, he wrote only on the first eight chapters of Isaiah, and on the Epistle to the Galatians. All others are arranged in sermons with a moral application at the close. Suidas and Cassiodorus state that he wrote commentaries on the whole Bible. We have from him Homilies on Genesis, the Psalms, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of John, the Acts, the Pauline Epistles including the Hebrews, which he considered Pauline. Besides, he delivered discourses on separate texts of Scripture, on church festivals, eulogies on apostles and martyrs, sermons against the Pagans, against the Jews and Judaizing Christians, against the Arians, and the famous twenty-one orations on the Statues.
He published some of his sermons himself, but most of them were taken down by short-p. 18 hand writers. 24 Written sermons were the exceptions in those days. The preacher usually was seated, the people were standing.
Of the letters of Chrysostom we have already spoken.
The Liturgy of Chrysostom so-called is an abridgment and improvement of the Liturgy of St. Basil (d. 379), and both are descended from the Liturgy of James, which they superseded. They have undergone gradual changes. It is impossible to determine the original text, as no two copies precisely agree. Chrysostom frequently refers to different parts of the divine service customary in his day, but there is no evidence that he composed a liturgy, nor is it probable. 25 The Liturgy which bears his name is still used in the orthodox Greek and Russian church on all Sundays, except those during Lent, and on the eve of Epiphany, Easter and Christmas, when the Liturgy of Basil takes its place.
ὀξυγρ€φοι, Socrates, VI. 5. The term occurs also in the Septuagint (Ps. xlv. 2) and in Philo. The Byzantine writers use the verb ὀξυγραφ™ω, to write fast, and the noun ὀξυγραφία, the art of writing fast.18:25
The liturgical references in Chrysostoms works are carefully collected by Bingham, in Bk. XV. of his Antiquities. Comp. Stephens, p. 419 sqq.
Next: His Theology and Exegesis.
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