This translation makes available for the first time in English one of the most significant Old Testament commentaries of the patristic period. St. John Chrysostom’s extant works outnumber those of any other Father of the East; in the West, only Augustine produced a larger corpus. Of Chrysostom’s more than 600 exegetical homilies, however, only those on the New Testament have previously been translated into English.
The Genesis homilies, his richest Old Testament series, reveal a theologian, pastor, and moralist struggling to explain some of the most challenging biblical material to his congregation in Antioch. He admonishes them to “apply yourself diligently to the reading of Sacred Scripture, not only when you come along here, but at home,” encourages spiritual discourse, and frequently envisages them leaving church reminiscing on the day's sermon. While critical exegetical details go without mention and Chrysostom was limited to the Greek version of the Old Testament in his studies, his oratory has been judged golden and his theology profound. He was a preacher satisfied with commenting on Scripture with his moral purpose always to the fore.
Chrysostom studied the Scriptures with Diodore of Tarsus, a distinguished exegete known from fragments of his commentaries on Genesis and Psalms, and a polemic style developed from his pastoral concern to protect his congregation from the dangerous influences of fourth-century Antioch. Most importantly, he shared the Antiochene school’s insistence on the literal sense of Scripture and their unwillingness to engage in allegorical interpretation. As such, his Genesis homilies constitute a milestone in the history of biblical interpretation.
This first of several volumes on Genesis contains homilies 1–17, delivered in Antioch before Chrysostom moved to Constantinople in 398. Robert C. Hill’s thorough introduction highlights Chrysostom’s significance as a scriptural commentator and provides the basis for an interesting comparison with modern commentators, such as Von Rad and Speiser.
“The church, you see, is a pharmacy of the spirit, and those who come here ought acquire some appropriate remedies, apply them to their own complaints, and go off the better for it.” (Page 21)
“You see, since our contest is not against flesh and blood but against incorporeal powers, he has accordingly armed us with weapons not of the flesh (38c) but of the spirit, burnished to such an extent that the evil demon is powerless to resist their splendor.” (Pages 48–49)
“When Moses, remember, in the beginning took on the instruction of the human race, he taught his listeners the elements, whereas Paul and John, taking over from Moses, could at that later stage transmit more developed notions.” (Page 34)
“The grace of God, you see, makes us stronger than steel and quite invincible, if we want it so.” (Page 53)
“God, you remember, in forming human beings in the beginning, knew that they had particular need of this remedy for the salvation of their souls, and so from the outset he gave the first human creature this command: ‘ ‘From all the trees in the garden you are to eat your fill, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat.’ ’6 That text about eating and not eating refers figuratively to fasting.” (Page 23)
In the Logos edition, this work becomes enhanced by amazing functionality. Links to the patristic writings of the Early Church Fathers will bring you right to the source—to the very quote—allowing you to see instant context. Footnotes appear on mouseover, as well as references to Scripture and extra-biblical material in your library, and you can perform near-instant searches across these volumes, searching for references to keywords or Scripture passages.