John Chrysostom, called the “golden-mouthed” for his eloquent preaching, continues in this second volume of the 67 Genesis homilies to provide instruction for the moral reformation of the Christians of Antioch. He continues in Homily 18 with Genesis 3 and finishes in Homily 45 with Genesis 20. They seem to have been delivered perhaps as early as 385, half just before and during Lent and the remainder, from Homily 33 onward, after Pentecost.
That Chrysostom favored Antiochene exegesis is clear from his exhortation at the beginning of Homily 20 to “take up the thread of the reading and apply. . . the teaching from the passage.” “You see,” he writes, “there is not even a syllable or even one letter contained in Scripture which does not have great treasure concealed in its depth.” He artfully interprets the literal spiritual meaning of this treasure for his congregation through inspiring and colorful exegesis.
It was Chrysostom’s pastoral responsibility to guide his congregation by means of homiletic exegesis. He urged his listeners to take note of the instruction and to give attention to the correction of their own daily lives so as to “proceed to the enjoyment of salvation.” The theme of the good man Noe, who remained unaffected by the universal decline of mankind into wickedness, provides the example for the moral improvement of his listeners in Homilies 23–29, as does the hospitality of Abraham in Homilies 41–45.
The Genesis homilies reveal Chrysostom as commentator, preacher, moralist, and profoundly theological and precise exegete of Scripture, the truth of which he teaches for the betterment of this congregation.
“We, on the other hand, are not called to leave one country for another, but to leave earth for heaven; we don’t display the same enthusiasm about obeying, but rather propose in many cases trifling and pointless excuses, nothing being sufficient to win us over—neither the magnitude of the promises, nor the vileness of visible realities in being earthly and passing, nor the dignity of him who invites us. Instead, we give evidence of such indifference as to prefer these passing realities to those that last forever, earth to heaven, and things that fade even before being espied to those that can never come to an end.” (Page 252)
“That is to say, since they had overturned the laws of nature and had devised novel and illicit forms of intercourse, consequently he imposed a novel form of punishment, rendering sterile the womb of the earth on account of their lawlessness and leaving a perpetual reminder to later generations not to attempt the same crimes in case they encounter the same punishment.” (Pages 429–430)
“The very fact that the patriarch, who lived before the age of grace and before the Law, reached such a degree of virtue of himself from the knowledge innate in his nature is sufficient to deprive us of any excuse.” (Page 418)
“if he himself had not first given evidence of his own goodwill, he would not have enjoyed the Lord’s help” (Page 419)
“This is what the human race has lost in particular, not being prepared to recognize the limitations of their own condition but always lusting after more and entertaining ambitions beyond their capacity. In this regard, too, when people who chase after the things of the world acquire for themselves much wealth and status, they lose sight of their own nature, as it were, and aspire to such heights that they topple into the very depths. You could see this happening every day without others being any the wiser from the sight of it; instead, they pause for a while, but immediately lose all recollection of it and take the same road as the others and fall over the same precipice.” (Pages 222–223)
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.