John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation
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Publisher: JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck)
Number of Pages: 262
Width: 24.1 cm
Height: 16.9 cm
Margaret M. Mitchell argues that all Pauline interpretation depends to a large degree upon the ways in which readers formulate their own mental (and sometimes graphic) images of the author, Paul. John Chrysostom, the most prolific interpreter of the Pauline epistles in the early church (c. 349-407 C.E.), richly exemplifies this phenomenon in his writings and speeches, where he composes word portraits of his beloved Paul, so as to bring his own readers face to face with the saintly figure he commends for their imitation.The author brings together the copious portraits of Paul - of his body, his soul, and his life circumstances - found throughout Chrysostom's immense corpus of writings, and for the first time analyzes them as complex rhetorical compositions built upon well-known conventions and techniques of Greco-Roman rhetoric (epithet, encomium, and ekphrasis). Chrysostom's literary portraiture, by idealizing Paul as 'the archetypal image' of Christian virtue, served as a rhetorical vehicle for social construction and replication of the Pauline model in the now-Christian society of late antiquity. Pauline interpretation as Chrysostom practiced it confounds both the traditional map of patristic exegesis as defined by the dichotomy between Antiochene literalism and Alexandrine allegory, and contemporary hermeneutical claims about 'the death of the author' in the interpretive enterprise. While Chrysostom's Pauline portraiture may reach exalted heights of artistry, it is not unique, as comparisons with Chrysostom's Latin contemporary Augustine and recent Pauline scholarship reveal. Two appendices offer a fresh translation of Chrysostom's seven homilies de laudibus sancti Pauli, and a catalogue and color plates of artistic representations of Chrysostom and Paul that graphically represent the author/exegete dynamic this study explores.