You don't understand. He was utilizing a specific method of argument called rhetoric...
So he really didn't mean any of what he said? He just used extreme language to make a point? Tell me, if you knew someone today, say a Catholic priest who used such phrases and vile accusations against a group of people, say Orthodox Christians, and called us swine, harlots, demons, and "worse than the irrational beasts" in a sermon, and then afterwards you were to go up to him and ask him, "hey, do you really believe that about us?"
and he replied, "nah, I just use that sort of language to make a point that Catholics should remain Catholic!
" wouldn't you think the priest had a serious problem? I cannot imagine ANYONE saying such absolutely divisive things and not actually mean it. I can bet that just about anyone would assume a person who did use extreme and divisive language like that, but did not feel that way was simply not in their right mind. (ie: mentally ill)
The 'defense' that St. John didn't really mean what he said is no defense at all and turns him into...well I'm not sure what exactly. He really loved Jews, but used harsh language just to get a point across? That to me mplies that he was either a hypocrite (in classical sense) or was just a mentally disturbed individual. Neither of which I think is actually the case. As I said I believe he was and is a saint, who lived a holy life, but certainly carried the prejudice of his time. Which sadly he did not rise above, as he did in many other areas.
As for rhetoric, Wikipedia's extensive definition begins with this:
Rhetoric is the art of using language to communicate effectively. It involves three audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos, as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Along with grammar and logic or dialectic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, it was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments.
I absolutely agree with you that according to that definition, St. John indeed was using rhetoric. He is one of the greatest rhetoricians in human history, no doubt. Rhetoric is indeed exagerrated language that plays on people's emotions to make a point. But the idea that the message of the rhetoric used is not believed by the individual is a new one on me. To put it into a modern context, Christopher Hitchens is an atheist who uses extreme rhetoric to make his points about religion. He admits he uses extreme language and examples to make a point....but no one would take that to mean he really doesn't believe the message he is speaking.
I believe that the Church fathers must be taken on their own terms, which includes much good, insight, wisdom, but also includes some bad or weird things too.
The 'Jews' he spoke against also used the same methods against the Christians to voice their own points.
First, what is your evidence of that? Second, who cares?
Just because one group misbehaves, that means we too can them misbehave seeing as how they did it first? Not a very spiritually mature position to take IMO. And in fact I don't think that is what St. John Chrysostom was doing at all. He had legitimate concerns about Judaizing, and legitimate concerns about people attending Synogogue services instead of attending Church. But the reality is, his legit concerns and points were also influenced by his "hang ups" when it came to Jews. That's that. I don't really see the need to make anymore out of than it is. The tendency to try and "defend" these homilies at all costs is just the flip side of calling him a racist or a Nazi. Neither is correct, at least in my view and study of the issue.
Do you see the 'Jews' of today going out of their way to condemn the anti-Christian language which they used in their own rhetoric (and in fact still use)?
Actually, yes! But then even if they didn't, so what? We're back to the "they called us names first" argument which is . . . just a bit immature.
St. John Chrysostom certainly wasn't 'anti-Semitic'... The race of the 'Jews' had nothing to do with it!
No, technically he wasn't anti-Semitic. Which is why I say he had "hang ups" about Jews, because it is inaccurate to say he was anti-Semitic...maybe proto anti-Semitic would be an historical way of saying it, but I don't think that is exactly right either. But mainly for technical reasons. First, there were and still are non Jewish Semitic peoples. And he clearly didn't hate Semitic Christians. But even using anti-Semitic in the modern sense, as hating the Jews as a race of people, of course he wasn't that either. Then again, NO ONE was anti-Semitic in the 5th century because the modern concepts of race didn't quite exist back then.
So-called 'Anti-Semitism' is a modern construct. If you read other of Chrysostom's writings - you see prayers and praise for the 'Jews' that had come to become his brothers in Christ...
You mean he was Christian enough to pray for fellow Christians? How nice! What about praying and loving one's enemies? You should seriously stop trying to defend him, as your "defense" of St. John actually makes him sound WORSE than he was, not better.
If it was a race issue (as today's 'Jews' would have you believe) - then how would their acceptance of the Christ negate that?
In one sense, you're right! It's not about "race" for St. John. But it is about being "Jewish"....for 5th century Christians many fathers divided people up into 3 races...Jews, Pagans and "the Christian race"...so you are absolutely correct about race not being the issue. That doesn't make his feelings about Jews any better or any worse for that matter.
You mention the 'crusaders' in the same breath as the great St. John Chrysostom? They don't even belong in the same paragraph!
Who says? You?!
First of all - Chrysostom was Orthodox... while the 'crusaders' were heretics. Orthodox Christians never participated in 'the crusades' and in fact - the so-called 'crusaders' also sacked and robbed Constantinople.
Thanks for the history lesson! I think I already knew that though!
Second - St. John Chrysostom never killed anyone... the 'crusaders' even murdered the Eastern Orthodox Christians as they pillaged their city! They proved (and they still prove to this day) that we may know them by their fruits.
I used the crusaders as my example for 2 reasons...it's the most commonly thought of Christian atrocity, and I figured you'd respond by saying "oh that doesn't count cuz they weren't Orthodox!"
Well, now if you're open to a history lesson, I suggest you go the library, get some books and start reading!
The Orthodox Church, while often claiming "we never had anything like the crusades" is NOT clean at all. For just a brief primer check out 'The Jesus Wars' by Phillip Jenkins. Then from there you can delve into the Church historians of the 4th-7th centuries and see that the Eastern Byzantine Church has participated in it's fair share of horrors and evils against not just those "evil pagans" but against other Christians. The horrors done by Eastern Christians, while technically "nothing like the crusades" are none the less awful to read about. Don't believe me, just ask the Copts?
She explains it much better than I... Understanding the ancient concept and understanding of 'rhetoric' is the key. I've listened to the whole series - you should too!
What makes you think I haven't? Because I don't agree with you? I've studied this issue quite extensively for the last year...I went from a defender of St. John, to thinking he was anti-semitic, to now seeing the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
You need to separate Orthodox Church history from the history of the post-Schism Roman 'Catholic' church. Since 1054 AD - they are totally distinct! Orthodox Christians need not harbor guilt for the deeds of the Latins.
With all due respect, you seem to be taking a mighty Fundamentalist world view for someone who according to their blog is not even Orthodox yet. If you want to get into the gory details of "Orthodox Church history" I can certainly do that, but I don't think it's a very spiritual endeavor and I'd rather just learn from those mistakes rather than dwell on them.