Author Topic: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?  (Read 237 times)

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Offline Isaiah53IsMessiah

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St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« on: Yesterday at 11:02:00 PM »
I've heard critics accuse St. John Chrysostom of being responsible for anti-semitism in Christendom, particularly that experienced in certain periods of the Byzantine Empire, as well as being a partial influence during the Spanish Inquisition. Though I have not delved deep into Adversus Judaeos , I'd like to hear your thoughts and responses to these critics.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 11:03:30 PM by Isaiah53IsMessiah »
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #1 on: Today at 01:47:40 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
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Offline beebert

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #2 on: Today at 02:55:58 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
1. Sources of EVERYONE doing it?
2. Lol. It is almost like saying that it is unfair to judge a nazi because "everyone" was a nazi during the second world war. Or that "everyone" in the US was a racist before, so why be hard on that 

No I dont agree with all this Christian hypocrisy; John Chrysostom had a criminal and unexcusable (remember that this man was himself an expert on calling out things as unexcusable) view on this point and that is the only way to view it.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:56:46 AM by beebert »
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #3 on: Today at 09:05:41 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
1. Sources of EVERYONE doing it?
2. Lol. It is almost like saying that it is unfair to judge a nazi because "everyone" was a nazi during the second world war. Or that "everyone" in the US was a racist before, so why be hard on that 

No I dont agree with all this Christian hypocrisy; John Chrysostom had a criminal and unexcusable (remember that this man was himself an expert on calling out things as unexcusable) view on this point and that is the only way to view it.

That's just not true.  Have you studied the historical demographics of the Church of Antioch, then and now?  Nearly all ethnic Antiochian and Syriac Orthodox were and are at least partially of Jewish descent; many have Jewish last names.  For example, Mar Dionysius Bar Hebraeus.  Many are named "Yohannan" or "Younan" or "Hanna" or "Zakka" instance,  Or Aramaicizations, Arabizations or Hellenizations of such names, e.g. Cohen becomes Khoury.  DNA studies on Antiochene Christians as well as on Ethiopian Christians have shown the Y chromosome.   St. John Chrysostom himself was probably ethnically Jewish.

Now, there is another aspect to this as well: St. John Chrysostom was objecting in his polemics to the active proselytization of the Christian, ethnically Jewish (therefore Halakhically Jewish) members of his congregation, who were attending the synagogue and participating in Jewish events like the blowing of the Shofar with increasing frequency.  Now, if you know anything about Judaism, you'll know that Jews as a rule do not proselytize; the limit of their actions in this respect consists of negative proselytization targeting Messianic Judaism and Christian missionaries, with a view to keeping Jews from converting to the Christian faith (this is commonly known as "anti-missionary activity.")  Many of the polemics and approaches contemporary Jews use for this are quite harsh and scornful, and to this day the Charedi and Chassidic Jews preserve a polemical tradition very much like that of the 4th century (one which is conducted via brief tractates posted on walls of buildings, known as Pashkevilim: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashkevil

Now, I do not judge or condemn the Jews for any of this; I respect their religious tradition and I think a healthy culture of internal debate and polemic is probably a good thing.

However, from this, we can draw one of two possible conclusions: either the Jewish sect which St. John Chrysostom criticized was not the Rabinnical Judaism of today, but a now-extinct, aggressively proselytizing sect, very possibly a Judeo-Christian "Judaizing" sect such as the Ebionites, or alternately, the Jewish community in Antioch was engaged in the fourth century equivalent of "anti-missionary activity", trying to get Jewish Christians to abandon Christianity, in which case, St. John Chrysostom, as the bishop, had no choice but to respond in kind.

Now, as for the claim made by xOrthodox4Christx that this language was completely normal concerning Patristic polemics, this is completely accurate, and I can give you several examples: the writings of St. Augustine against Pelagius, who he mocks for his stature and refers to derisively as "Brito" owing to his British ethnicity, the polemics of St. Epiphanius of Salamis in the Panarion in which he likens each and every heretical sect or non-Christian religion that he reviews, inclusing Judaism, to a poisonous or venomous animal (the word Panarion literally means Medical Kit), the writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons in which he openly mocks the belief system of the Valentinians and other Gnostic emanationists by replacing the supposed names of divine emanations in their beliefs with the names of various melons, the writings of St. Hippolytus which contain the same, and those of St. John Damascene, Origen, and of course St. Cyril of Alexandria, among others, and finally, in the Bible itself  the extremely polemical treatment of Paganism in the Old Testament, where Pagan sacred idols are mocked by St. Daniel the prophet, where the Pagan deities are called, in Psalm 95:5 LXX "devils" or "demons" (thats in the Septuagint or avulgate, your KJV will read differently on that verse), and most importantly, in the well known polemics against Christianity written by Roman authors, in which we are accused of orgies, or cannibalism and of child sacrifice (there was actually a horrific Gnostic sect in Syria called by St. Epiphanius the "Borborites" or "mud people," who, like some Gnostics, were basically devil-worshippers who engaged in those horrifying activities, and who dared to call their demonic practices "Christianity").

It must also be stressed this culture of polemics continued into the 18th century; it was only in the Enlightenment era where it partially was suppressed, although within the Eastern churches, there are still a few firery Bishops like Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus and Bishop Abanoub of Muqqatim who adopt a direct, forthright and polemical tone in their homilies, rather than the Pietist, Latitudinarian "nice-nice" culture which has allowed the mainline Protestant churches, and by and large, the Roman Catholic Church, to soften on doctrine, morality or praxis, in order to avoid confrontation.

Lastly, let us consider confrontation:  did any violence happen in Antioch as a result of St. John's polemics?  No.

In comtrast, many argue the polemical homilies of St. Cyril of Alexandria a few hears later pressaged sectarian conflict which ultimately led to the exile of Jews and Pagans from that city, or at least, the "incorporated" part of it, and also which some allege inspired the murder of the Pagan priestess Hypatia (I personally disagree on these points; there was severe provocation and violence coming from both sides in that conflict).

St. Epiphanius of Salamis wrote a scathing criticism of Judaism, Jewish sects and Judaizing Christians like the Ebionites in his Panarion at least a decade before St. John Chrysostom's homily "Against the Jews."  St. Epiphanius, being a Cypriot, is somewhat less likely to have been of Jewish descent than St. John Chrysostom.  St. Epiphanius was near the end of his life an enemy of St. John; he died en route to Constantinople in an attempt to depose St. John for embracing Origenism (actually, while in transit, he found out the reports that St. John had received Origenist monks were false and realized he was being manipulated as a political pawn, and in the process of turning around to head back to Cyprus he reposed in the Lord).

As noted earlier, this polemical approach continued well into the Protestant reformation.  The horrible things Martin Luther said about the Jews were far worse than anything any Church Father wrote about them.  For that matter, the polemics between Lutherans, Catholics, Calvinists and Anabaptists were of shocking vitriol even compared to St. Epiphanius.

Lastly, it must be stressed that these firery rhetorics in *no sense* compromised the saintliness of their authors, such as St. John Chrysostom, St. Epiphanius of Salamis, St. Hippolytus, St. Irenaeus, St. Augustine, St. Cyril, St. Severus, and so on; our Lord did warn us "I came not to bring peace but a sword," and our Lord is the Word of God, the very incarnation of Truth.  I am firmly of the opinion that in Christian apologetics, we should pull no punches defending the Orthodox doctrine against the lies of heretics and heathen, except to the extent that modern culture dictates and artificial, unnatural and misleading "sensitivity," for example, in inter-religious dialogue. 

For the same reason, I have no objections to Charedi Jews using polemical pashkevilim in order to talk about important matters of doctrine and praxis.  It seems to me more natural and a clearer form of dialogue, which Socrates showed us, can be a path to truth (in some cases, Orthodoxy represents the middle ground between two rival factions in the early Church, who attacked each other fiercely with polemics, for example, we are clearly in the middle ground between ultra-rigorist groups like the Donatists, and Universalists).

I hope you find this information helpful and illuminating.  God bless you.
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Offline Luke

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #4 on: Today at 10:42:46 AM »
Arachne posted a link in the "Hell forever" thread that I think is worth reading here: https://orthodoxwiki.org/John_Chrysostom#The_Homilies_against_the_Judaizers
This pertains to John Chrysostom's so-called "anti-semitic" remarks.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #5 on: Today at 10:54:35 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
1. Sources of EVERYONE doing it?
2. Lol. It is almost like saying that it is unfair to judge a nazi because "everyone" was a nazi during the second world war. Or that "everyone" in the US was a racist before, so why be hard on that 

No I dont agree with all this Christian hypocrisy; John Chrysostom had a criminal and unexcusable (remember that this man was himself an expert on calling out things as unexcusable) view on this point and that is the only way to view it.

beebert,

The forum rules restrict the participation of non-Orthodox in this section (Faith Issues) as well as prohibiting the posting of non-Orthodox opinions, beliefs, etc.  You are free to do that elsewhere on the forum, according to the rules governing the various sections, but you are not allowed to do that here.

I am being exceedingly lenient in letting this comment go with a warning not to repeat this behaviour.  Any further violation--any at all--will result in a severe penalty. 

If you would like to discuss this further (not that I think there is anything to discuss, the rules are clear), you may PM me.   

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #6 on: Today at 10:55:47 AM »
DNA studies on Antiochene Christians as well as on Ethiopian Christians have shown the Y chromosome.   

One should hope so.
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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #7 on: Today at 11:11:07 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
1. Sources of EVERYONE doing it?
2. Lol. It is almost like saying that it is unfair to judge a nazi because "everyone" was a nazi during the second world war. Or that "everyone" in the US was a racist before, so why be hard on that 

Since I'm allowed to post my remarks here  :angel:, +1
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #8 on: Today at 11:18:45 AM »
Everyone who wrote polemics in the ancient world used the same time of scathing, hyperbolic and insulting language as Chrysostom. It is unfair to judge him alone for doing it, because everyone did it.
1. Sources of EVERYONE doing it?
2. Lol. It is almost like saying that it is unfair to judge a nazi because "everyone" was a nazi during the second world war. Or that "everyone" in the US was a racist before, so why be hard on that 

Since I'm allowed to post my remarks here  :angel:, +1

Nope.
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The erection of one’s rod counts as a form of glory (Theophylaktos of Ohrid, A Defense of Eunuchs, p. 329).

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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: St. John Chrysostom responsible for anti-semitism?
« Reply #9 on: Today at 01:33:45 PM »
Comparing Chrysostom to a Nazi is really stupid, and you should know better. Words and actions are not the same.
“There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.”- St. Ambrose of Milan

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"He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)