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of St Andrews School of Divinity Submitted for the Degree of M.Litt in Scripture and Theology

Rendering the Divine: Cosmology and Epistemology in John Chrysostoms Homiliae in Genesim 1-17
By Samuel A. Pomeroy

For James Pomeroy

Who with the single word has made the world, hanging before us the heavens like an unrolled scroll, and the earth old manuscript, and the murmurous sea, each, all-allusive to Thy glory, so that from them we might conjecture and surmise and almost know Thee A.M. Klein, The Stance of the Amidah (1974)


Table of Contents

1 What Lies Before Your Very Eyes: Chrysostoms Theology of Language and the Aesthetics of Creation3-18 2 Human Imagining: Anthropomorphism and Theology in Scripture and Rhetoric..19-34 3 In Shadowy Fashion: John Chrysostoms Theory of Language and the Anomoean Controversy..35-47 Bibliography.49-54

3 I. What Lies Before Your Very Eyes1: Chrysostoms Theology of Language and the Aesthetics of Creation Few groups of literature illustrate the confrontation of Greek philosophy and Christian theology as do the Hexaemera of the fourth century, works seminal for the genre and therefore fundamental to Christianitys engagement with classical culture. Constituent to these projects is the unique presentation of human beginnings conceived in light of LXX Genesis 1 and the repository of Greek thought derived from Platos Timaeus and its commentators.2 Fourth century Christian writers exhibit remarkable philosophical unity despite the varying contexts from which they produced the Hexamera.3 It is perhaps for this reason that figures such as John Chrysostom, when compared to his Cappadocian contemporaries or his western peers, such as St. Augustine and Ambrose of Milan, seems to lack serious engagement with philosophical ideas; his work seems more of a rehearsal of typical pro-Nicene categories.4 Possibly because Chrysostoms work on Genesis is a series of homilies that form a commentary on the whole of Genesis and is therefore not specifically an exposition of the six-day creation per se,5 Robbinss great survey of hexaemeral literature mentions him only in passing.6 His work is often commented on for its

Chrysostom, Hom. Gen. 2.6 (PG 53.28c). Unless indicated, all quotations of primary sources are of Chrysostom. I primarily rely on Hills translation (1986, FOC vol. 74) of the Brepols reprint of Mignes Patrologi Graeca vol. 53-54, itself a reissue of B. De Montfaucons 1718-38 Paris editions. 2 Significant works in the long history of scholarship on this topic include: Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture; Pelikan, What Has Athens to do with Jerusalem; ed., Clark, Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. 3 See the discussion in Robbins, The Hexaemeral Literature, 1-2. Though outdated, his basic argument that most subsequent works are built upon the basis of a few key pioneers, e.g., Philo of Alexandria, has held its ground. 4 Ayres, Nicaea and its Legacy, shows how many fourth-century Christian thinkers were for the sake of Orthodox piety concerned with reiterating what they considered to be the definitive faithful (Nicene) interpretation of Scripture. 5 So Quasten, Patrology 3, 434, refers to the series of 67 homilies in PG 53-54. He confidently dates them at 388, whereas Hill, Reading the Old Testament in Antioch, whom I side with, argues for 386. Kelly, Golden Mouth, 59-61 discusses the second series of Genesis homilies in PG 54.581-620. Following the reminder in Hill, Introduction, 1, that the latter series of only nine homilies is more general and often verbatim of the first, I focus primarily on homilies 1-17 of the larger group of 67. 6 Robbins, Hexaemeral, 37-38. While Pelikan, The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology, focuses exclusively on the Cappadocians, even his later work (Athens) omits Chrysostom from serious consideration. Ed., Armstrong, Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, is another significant work that does omits John Chrysostom.

4 rhetorical merit or used to assess fourth century culture, both religious and pagan.7 The studies in this latter group in particular provide helpful perspectives on the historical context of Johns preaching, but lack serious consideration of his unique theological expression. Without creating a false unity in Chrysostoms Genesis homilies, my purpose in these chapters is to stitch together the articulation of his cosmology and demonstrate its aptitude for a teaching that goes beyond mere moral exhortation. The ethical vision of his preaching provides the impetus for lucid engagement with contemporaneous ideas. I do not argue that his expositions rival the complex presentations of a Gregory of Nyssa, although like John his philosophy involves careful moral application. As a bishop, Chrysostoms aim is to guide his flock to the banquet of Scripture,8 to behold its spiritual treasures,9 to access the implications of the holy writings [ ] and the accuracy () of its teachings (Hom. Gen. 16.1 (PG 53.126a).10 Chrysostom communicates from the hermeneutical framework of what Nassif has rightly called Christological literalism,11 a refinement of the literalist label, his legacy in modern scholarship.12 In this chapter, I shall argue that Chrysostoms 386 Lenten Genesis series not only shows the outworking of his cosmology but also superbly expresses his theology of language.13 For Chrysostom, the contemplation of the creation, and in particular its beauty, leads one to the
7 8

See Maxwell, Christianization and Communication, and Sandwell, Religious Identity. E.g., Hom. Gen. 10.1 (PG 53.82a). 9 E.g., Hom. Gen. 5.1 (PG 53.48b). 10 See discussion in Hill, Akribeia: A Principle of Chrysostoms Exegesis, 32-36. 11 In Nassif, Antiochene in John Chrysostoms Exegesis, 52. 12 Amirav, Rhetoric and Tradition, 3-44 has an excellent account of the scholarship; his own handling of the evidence provides even more subtlety and nuance for Chrysostoms exegetical framework than that of Nassif. 13 I shall demonstrate that theology is indeed the proper term to understand the contours of his thought, distinct from what DelCogliano has in reference to Eunomius and Aetius called a theory of names (in Basil of Caesareas Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names). Both Young, Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture, 141, and Neamtu, Language and Theology in St Gregory of Nyssa, 62, argue that Chrysostoms theory resembles Gregory of Nyssas. We shall note this parallel throughout the work, in the end seeing the clear difference between the two.

5 consideration of processes that confound the categories of human thought. The detailed interrelationship of these concepts, the way in which he avoids denying human knowledge of things altogether yet carefully delineating its boundaries, is scattered throughout the series. Aligning his thought on these matters shall demonstrate that for Chrysostom, God engages human understanding primarily through the beauty of creation and the clarity of Scriptures language. Both are examples of his considerateness ()14 for the ontological and noetic gap between creature and Creator; both actions are analogous to what God did in the Incarnation, namely to accommodate His nature for the understanding, and so for the salvation, of man. Chrysostoms conception of beauty informs his theology of language and words; his theology of words is informed by his theology of the Word. Scripture reveals the beauty (, )15 and significance of creation by describing it with a scrupulous order ().16 The Scriptural presentation of when and by what means matter came into existence is primary. Furthermore, although human capacities can of themselves certainly recognize the beauty of the creation, natural reasoning unaided by the voice of God through the Scriptures could not for Chrysostom furnish the proper knowledge of realitys definitive sequence. He cautions,
Yet those who ignore the sequence [] of the text, caught up as they are in error, and who pay no heed to the words of blessed Moses [] these people say that matter was the basis for creation and that darkness preexisted [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 3.5 [PG 53.34b])


For three instances in the first 17 Genesis homilies alone, see Hom. Gen. 4.11 (PG 53.43c), 10.7 (PG 53.85b), and 17.13 (PG 53.138b). Hill, On Looking again at sunkatabasis, 3-11, argues that translating as condescension denotes a patronizing motive on the divine part and misses the sense of considerate love with which Chrysostom charges it. 15 Chrysostom does not systematically distinguish between the two. Because his style is both Attic and biblically influenced in nearly equal measure, he uses both forms (e.g., Hom. Gen. 6.21 [PG 53.61a]). Riegel, Beauty, , and its Relation to the Good in the Works of Plato, has helpfully shown that in Platos thought there is a distinction between and , and the same holds true for Chrysostom. 16 Hill, Reading, 39 and Introduction, 17-18, has best demonstrated how Chrysostom held together several key terms in his exegesis: Gods love for man () is demonstrated in his considerateness () for human capacities and weaknesses (), specifically shown in the clarity () of Scripture, itself exhibited in its order ().

For him, a unique relationship between matter, Creator, and Scriptural exegesis subsists as a fundamental tenet of the creation event. Greek thinkers found in Plato that what is good [ ] merits description [ ] (Plato Tim. 87c), and is thereby knowable. That is to say, the form () of good and fair ( ) is intelligible because of its symmetry () expressed in matter. Nearly a century prior to Chrysostom, Plotinus refined this thought in Plato, interpreted for him through the Stoics. He reemphasized that the beauty of matter is intelligible proportion because, in Armstrongs words, Beauty is the domination of matter by form.17 The form of the beautiful shed light onto the proportions of creation (), perceivable to human faculties. We first see Chrysostom engaging with a simulacrum of this thought when he exhorts his congregation to move from the beauty of matter to that of the Creator:
I mention [the of the sun] to you [] so that you may not stop short there, dearly beloved, but proceed further and transfer your admiration to the creator []. (Hom. Gen. 6.11 [PG 53.58a])

For Chrysostom the beauty of creation is itself a kind of pedagogical sign, pointing beyond itself to a greater reality. This is more Scriptural than Platonic, at best a unique common ground between the two. He reads in Ps 19:5-6, The sun beams, like a bridegroom emerging from his chamber.18 Creation is invested with higher significance; Scripture reveals [] the enduring beauty of the cosmos and its relationship to the Creator (Hom. Gen. 6.10 [PG 53.57d]). It is important that Chrysostom here employs , indicate, or signify. He often uses the word to recognize passages of Scripture theologically resonant with the one present, intended not necessarily by the human author, but certainly by the Divine

Armstrong, Man and Reality, 234. See Riegel, Beauty, 13-88, who discusses the origin of this thought in Plato. He argues that it is vital to our understanding of Greek culture that Platos be translated beautiful, a distinct but inseparably related concept from . 18 All biblical citations are in accordance with the text as quoted in Chrysostom (PG), translated by Hill, Homilies on Genesis (1986).

7 author.19 In other words, for Chrysostom urges the hearers to read Scripture with Scripture:
Let us follow the direction of Sacred Scripture in the interpretation it gives of itself, provided we dont get completely absorbed in the concreteness of the words. (Hom. Gen. 13.8)

Applying this concept to Gen 1.3, Chrysostom shows that the formal beauty of matter (Gen 1:3, ) has an active role in signifying for readers and drawing into context the greater beauty of the Artificer. This is a noetic activity (),20 an urge towards a kind of contemplation beyond the literal object (creation) and the literal words (Scripture). One verse of Scripture echoes another; the beauty of the finite object resounds with the imprint of the surpassing beauty of the Infinite object. But Chrysostoms understanding of creation is more complex than a simple correlative recognition between Cause and effect, Artificer and image. At first glance, there seems to be a kind of rule of total unknowing, an apophasis even beyond that of the Cappadocians in his thought. First and foremost he can address those whom Hill refers to as the Anomoeans,21 declaring that inquiry into the divine nature is reprehensible:
How is it that you are rash enough to be inquisitive [] about the very being of the Only-begotten [ ]? (Chrysostom, Hom. Gen. 4.13 [PG 53.44d])

But as a pro-Nicene expositor, this is hardly surprising, and we shall consider this statement more specifically in 3. Worth noting for the concerns of this chapter, though, is that he applies this caution to knowledge of matter, labeling enemies of the Church those who lack
The realization that it is beyond the capacity of human nature to plumb Gods creation [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 2.5 [PG 53.28c]).


See his reading of Heb 1:10 (Hom. Heb. 3.2 [PG 63.26d]). Chrysostom not only detracts the views of Arius and Paul of Samosata, but also argues that Scripture signifies () the transformation of the world [ ] expounded in Rom 8.21. 20 Hom. Gen. 12.16 (PG 53.104a-b) links the term with . 21 Hill, Genesis, 60n.18. I shall specifically explore Chrysostoms relation to their thought in 3.

Thus Chrysostoms language about creation begins with a kind of unknowing, a tendency that has its roots not only in biblical literature,22 but also in Aristotle,23 Plato,24 their Hellenistic interpreters,25 and of course, the Cappadocian Fathers.26 Late Antiquity flourished with Christian responses to the Greek philosophy, like that of Chrysostoms contemporary Basil of Caesarea, who wrote that human language was powerless to express the conceptions formed by the mind (Bas. Hex. 2.1 [SC 26:138]). But his concern here is with the Divine nature, a subject I shall address specifically in 3; presently, in order to understand Chrysostoms cosmology and theology of language, we must start with him at the incomprehensible processes that compose the creation. The present beauty of matter calls one to consider the unfathomable nature of its beginnings. Chrysostom sought to draw attention to that which lies before your very eyes, namely the creation and its dramatic portrayal in Scripture. He calls for an understanding not readily available on the surface of the text, and similarly not readily available on the surface of matter, so to speak. Chrysostom later describes this as a kind of vision through the eyes of the spirit:
Those bodily eyes cannot see visible things in the same way that the eyes of the spirit can see things that are not visible [] and things that have no subsistence []. (Hom. Gen. 10.8 [PG 53.86a])

Of course, Scripture is the guide to these unseen things, but it is striking that even Gods language to man through the blessed prophet Moses contains a group of signs, which at critical

Chrysostom understood Rom 11:33 as referring to the works of Gods creation, e.g., Hom. Gen. 4.12 (PG 53.44c). Cf. Incomp. 2.7 (PG 48.717). For the Cappadocian fathers, passages like Ex 33:20 functioned with Rom 11:33 as the grounds for an apophasis that concerned the Divine nature in particular. See Basil of Caesarea, Eun. 1.12 (SC 299:214), Gregory of Nyssa, Eun. 3.1 (Jaeger 2:39). 23 Aristotle, Phys. 191a7-11; Mete. 1028b2-4. 24 Plato, Tim. 51c; cf. Tim. 28a. See the discussion in Clark, Out of Chaos, 11-14. 25 Plotinus, Enn. 5 [32] 13; cf. Sheldon-Williams, Cappadocians, 434. 26 See discussion in Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 55, 301, concerning the use of Rom 11:33 in Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, who show continuity with Chrysostom in their interpretation of Paul. For the later and complete development of apophatic theology in Ps.-Denys and John Scottus Eriugena see Sheldon-Williams, The Pseudo-Dionysius, 457-472 and Hankey, Natural Theology in the Patristic Period, 45-54.

9 junctures mean more than they say. Here we come to another potential contradiction in Chrysostoms thought: if Scripture is the means of Gods revelation to man, and even it can be misleading, how can man be directed aright? It is doubtless that for Chrysostom the answer to this dilemma is proper pedagogy, exegesis sensitive to the words of Scripture that unites the unique contexts of salvation history.27 Notice how his awareness of the Divine subject is the reason why words gain a heightened, if not sometimes elusive, meaning:
After all, what could be more beautiful [] than the thing that gains commendation [ ] from the Creator? [] You will notice the same words used in the case of each created thing [] when you hear that God saw [] and God praised [], take the word in a sense proper to God [ ]. That is to say, the creator knew the beauty of the created thing before he created it, whereas we are human beings and encompassed with such limitations [] that we cannot understand [] it in any other way; accordingly, he directed the tongue of the blessed author to make use of the clumsiness [] of these words for the instruction of the human race [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 4.11 [PG 53.44a])

Clumsy words need attentive listeners (), not just skillful interpreters. Chrysostom does not condescend the language of Scripture, or for that matter the relationship between the natural faculties of understanding and matter as an object of the intellect.28 But insofar as the formation of matter is a part of Gods creative endeavors, Scripture uses human words to convey realities beyond human reasoning. The subject determines the intellectual framework. Inquiry into the precise temporal sequence of creation is not a matter for inquiry; Chrysostom ensures that his congregation does not take the aorist, , he saw, as a window into pre-temporal speculation about the aesthetics of matter and therefore the Divine Artificer.


The argument in Nassif, Antiochene , shows Chrysostoms Christological literalism as a way of uniting the Scriptures around Gods for man, the culmination of which is the Incarnation. 28 There is a distinction in this regard to Gregory of Nyssas understanding of . Chrysostom never calls God , but as Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 316, accounts, this term defined for Gregory of Nyssa the vision of God, the eternal object of contemplation, although man never reaches the point of satiety in yearning (Gr.Nyss., Vit. Mos. 2 [Jaeger 7-I.116-18]).

10 Yet, interestingly, he seems to engage precisely in this kind of speculation, deviating from his beloved attention to the . Indeed, the narration of Gen. 1.3, , follows upon the which signals the onset of the creation of heaven and earth (Gen 1:1), indicating that the quality of beauty was bestowed or recognized on only after its call into being. He goes on to explain that Scripture aims to depict God as an artificer who beholds the image of the finished product in his mind before he creates, and upon seeing its completion, announces the intention of its beauty as contemporaneous with Gods decision to create it. What gives Chrysostom the liberty to assert this is his hermeneutical framework and therein, his theology of language. Gen 1:1-3 is a clear instance of the need for Divine accommodation to human understanding; it depicts processes beyond readily available thought. But Chrysostom does far more than simply appeal to vague notions of mystery that conveniently apply whenever he backs himself into an exegetical corner. Rather, his cosmology is determined Scripturally. There is a specific supposition in his thought that creation involves processes beyond human comprehension (the creation of time, the revelation of beauty):
How your works [ ] are magnified, O Lord; you have made everything in wisdom [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 4.12 [PG 53.44b]; Ps 104.24).

As noted above, Chrysostom understands the of God as His creation of , and he views this process as endowed with a that Paul describes in the apophatic sense of Rom 11:34: ; In other words, Chrysostom sees Scripture itself testify to creation as a process uniquely circumscribed by the divine wisdom (, ) of the Lord and as such incomprehensible to human understanding. Yet in the same passage Chrysostom brings another verse into play that justifies his pretemporal assertion about matter:

From the magnitude and beauty of creatures we can by comparison see the creator [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 4.12 [PG 53.44c]; Wis 13:5)

While Scripture nowhere explicitly states that matter was beautiful before its formation, Chrysostom concludes by implication that since all things () find their origin in God and God is by analogy () beautiful (, ), matter was beautiful when God first conceived to create it. But that very conception, that event and how it relates to the temporality with which Scripture depicts sequences, is beyond human comprehension. We thereby see the limit and the extent Chrysostom is willing to go. When Chrysostom makes a pretemporal assertion about the beauty of matter, he does not contradict his exegetical framework and concern for the , but rather reads intercanonically to firmly establish his uniquely apophatic view of matter. Bearing resemblances to the Platonic framework that ascribes the beauty of matter to its abstraction from the forms,29 Chrysostom turns decisively to a Scriptural sense that the beauty of matter is such because of its unique relationship to the vision of the Artificer. There is then in his thought a disparity between the reality of matter as God saw it () somehow outside of time and the apprehension () of matter as humans experience it within time and the narration of Scripture. For this reason he vigorously rejects the idea that creation came into being from underlying matter:
And immediately all the elements were produced [ ]; his word [] sufficed for the sustenance of all created things [ ], not simply because it was a word but because it was Gods word. You recall the arguments we brought to bear against those saying that existing things [] came into being from underlying matter [ ] and substituting their own folly for the dogmas of the Church.30 (Hom. Gen. 9.3-4 [PG 53.77a-b])

29 30

See 1, n.25. Cf. Hom. Gen. 2.6 (PG 53.28d) and Hom. Jo. 42 (PG 59.242c). Young, Creatio Ex Nihilo, 139 shows that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was not found in the Apostolic Fathers, Philo, Rabbis, and, of course, certainly not the Greeks. Runia, Philo of Alexandria and the Timaeus of Plato, 135 comments that Philo is the first Judeo-Christian


Young cites Theophilus and Tertullian as the first to reject Aristotles classic distinction between the underlying substance of all matter () and the expression of qualities abstracted from form ().31 Thus falling into a distinctly Christian line of interpretation, Chrysostom argues that the craftsmanship of matter is foreign to human comprehension, and as we shall see in greater detail, even contradictory to common human understanding. Therefore, when Chrysostom emphasizes that by the precision of blessed Moses, we might come to know clearly both the sequence of created things and how each thing was created (Hom. Gen. 7.10 [53:65a]), he distinguishes between the of Scripture and philosophical understanding of origins and causes. The of the creation account, which Chrysostom propounds with remarkable consistency,32 is that creation had its origin in God but, as has been made clear, the temporal aspects of creation as well as the physical source from which matter derives are objects of thought beyond the Scriptural witness and the thereby the bounds of human logic. Chrysostom lucidly expounds his position through the use of objects common to society. Works of visual art, blowing glass from sand, and mining gold, all lie before your very eyes, yet consist of an inherent sequence not commonly understood by the typical congregant. Here Chrysostoms rhetoric and reasoning is at its finest. While visual art was a regular component of all levels of Hellenistic society in varying forms, only the artisans specific to the craft actually knew how, for instance, the stained glass windows of the Golden Church33 of Antioch came to

thinker to associate the goodness of Platos creator in the Timaeus with the Jewish creator in Genesis, though for him the cosmos is both created and eternal. For discussion of reception history, see ed., Armstrong, History. 31 Young, Creatio, 142; see Aristotle, Mete. 378b. 32 See the discussion in Young, Exegesis, 183-196 arguing that Chrysostom belonged to a rhetorical school that sought in its exegesis to propound for the given audience a singular, often perspicuous meaning of the text. 33 On the acclaimed Golden Church, or Great Church begun by Constantine in 327 and completed under his son Constantius II, see Sandwell, Identity, 38 and Kelly, Golden, 2.

13 fruition. Such simple analogies are common in Chrysostom.34 His congregation would have recognized with ease the fact that stained glass involved a painstaking process, but of its intricacies few understood. On a grander scale, then, even though, echoing his exegesis of Rom 11:33, Scripture
Sets out for us in detail the orderly arrangement and beauty [ ] of it all, Chrysostom goes on to comment that human nature is limited [] and is not capable of adequately praising the works of God. (Hom. Gen. 5.9-10 [PG 53.50d-51b])

What is clear to Chrysostom is that the creation is a composed artwork, wrought by an artist with means and moulds unrecognizable to human craftsmanship. The complexity of the intelligent process involved in the features of creation is an Intelligence that transcends human thought. To illustrate this transcendence more clearly, Chrysostom turns to the first sequence presented in the Scriptures: In the beginning, God made heaven and earth.35 He takes this to mean that the creation of heaven precedes that of the earth. In light of this, he writes,
[God] executes his creation in a way contrary to human procedures, first stretching out the heavens and then laying out the earth beneath, first the roof and then the foundation. Who has ever seen the like? [] No matter what human beings produce, this could never have happened [] So dont pry too closely with human reasoning [ ] into the works of God. (Hom. Gen. 2.11 [PG 53.30b])

Again, Chrysostoms simple analogy accomplishes a clear purpose: human builders work from the foundation to the roof, but God worked opposite to the norms of human reason. The shapeless mass from which God created all things is the better part of creation [ ], juxtaposed with the earth () so that, in Chrysostoms words,


Maxwell, Identity, 35, points out that Chrysostom used simple images and mnemonic devices to communicate effectively with people of all ages and social ranks in contrast to the deceptive teachers such as Pythagoras, who to veil shallow thought used language difficult to understand. 35 While modern commentators see reason from the MT to take v.1-2 as subordinate and parenthetical clauses, Chrysostom sees no reason for this with his LXX. John joins Theodore in referring to account of Hom. Gen. 1 as , whereas for Diodore, Genesis is . For a discussion of the Old Testament text and transmission in Antioch, see Hill, Reading, 19-24.

You would not attribute the earths gifts to it but to the one who brought it into existence from nothing. For this reason the text reads: The earth was invisible and lacking shape [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 2.12 [PG 53.31a] ;Gen 1:2)

The is this , which suggests that it is superior and that there is an a recognizably Platonic distinction in creation between the higher and lower forms, the invisible and the visible. Chrysostom makes the distinction, however, for primarily pedagogical purposes:
His intention was that you would learn about his craftsmanship [ ] from the better part [ ] of creation, and so have no further doubts or think that it all happened out of a lack of power [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 2.12 [PG 53.31a])

His point is not necessarily to make a philosophical distinction after the fashion of Platonic cosmology,36 but to use the distinction to surmise from the seemingly contrary processes that the Creator is he who rests the earth on the waters as foundation (Hom. Gen. 12.7 [PG 53.100d]), and that the creation did not happen out of necessity.37 One is reminded of Basils words, that created realities were so marvelous as to make the knowledge of the least of the phenomena of the world unattainable to the most penetrating mind (Bas. Hex. 1.11 [SC 26:13436]). In this way, Pelikan makes clear a profound connection between Chrysostom and the Cappadocian fathers, namely in that for the latter, this empirical skepticism had as its corollary a profound metaphysical skepticism about the possibility of comprehending their nature or of seeking out the underlying substance [hypokeimenon] concealed beneath them. Nor was it possible [] to be able to philosophize about the sequence of the realities created in the cosmogony.38 This noteworthy parallel demonstrates that Chrysostoms emphasis on the unknowability of matter is contiguous with the most pronounced and penetrating thinkers of his

Chrysostom departs from the distinction, common in Patristic interpretation, between the higher things of creation (heavens), and the lower (creatures), usually understood to mean that humans comprehended the latter and could only ascend to the former through contemplation. For a discussion of this in Middle and Neo-Platonic thought, see Chadwick, Clement, 170-181 and Sheldon-Williams, Cappadocians, 449-56. 37 I shall address the concept of and creation more thoroughly in 3. 38 Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 53, quoting Gr.Nyss., Eun. 2.71 (Jaeger 1.247-48) and Basil, Hex. 1.8 (SC 26.118-20).

15 time. Like the Cappadocians, Chrysostom was more intent upon reflecting about the fact that matter is, and perhaps what significance this might carry in the story of salvation. But the question of how would require reasoning beyond Scriptures framework. In light of this, and with Chrysostoms emphasis on the contrary processes at the heart of creation, it would seem that he requires one to abandon natural reasoning in order to believe the teaching of Scripture. Indeed, later in Lent 386, he warns about the things that come from our own mind [ ] and urges instead the teachings vouchsafed us by the Lord through the Holy Spirit (Hom. Gen. 11.9 [PG 53.94c]). Just as he praises the process that was contrary to human procedures, Chrysostom marvels here at how Scripture teaches an order that is simply contrary to their own [human] abilities, to the point that the very elements can be seen to perform in a way contrary to their own abilities in compliance with the creators wishes (Hom. Gen. 12.7 [PG 53.100d-c]).39 But Chrysostom is nevertheless confident that
There is nothing which has been created without some reason, even if human nature is incapable of knowing precisely the reason for them all. (Hom. Gen. 7.14 [PG 53.67b])

Indeed, despite his cautions, Chrysostom says that the 40 of Scripture contain
The power of thinking that is adequate and capable, if we were prepared to ponder a little [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 11.12 [PG 53.95c-d])

In light of our considerations thus far, Scripture provides both positive and negative, both apophatic and kataphatic forms of the knowledge of creation: the origins and underlying causes of that which precedes matter in the order of being and becoming are things unknowable to the human mind, but the creation is nevertheless sprawled with purpose and function attainable to the human mind if given the right kind of contemplative guide ( ).

Cf. numerous other instances: Hom. Gen. 2.11 (PG 53.30d; 4.7 (PG 53.42a); 10.16 (PG 53.88c) and 15.7 (PG 53.121). 40 The word for Chrysostom here probably means constitution, teaching, or the manner of life expressed by the Christian religion; see uses in Hom. Matt. 36.3 (PG 57.410d) and Hom. Eph. 5.1 (PG 62.33c).

16 All this presses towards the same pinnacle in Chrysostoms thought, namely his profound intuition to find Gods creation comprehensible in terms of his considerate love for mankind:
After all, it would have been enough following all the acts of creation to say once that everything he had made was good [ ]; but knowing the extent of the limitations [] of our reasoning, he repeats the process each time, to show us that everything was created with a certain inventive wisdom and ineffable love [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 6.18 [PG 53.60c])

Clear is Chrysostoms exegetical connections between the beauty of creation ( , Gen 1:31), the wisdom of the Artificer and Author of Scripture, and the salvation of man. Creation is oriented soteriologically; the beauty of matter, and its emphatic description in Scripture as such, is a cosmic expression of Gods love () for mankind in accommodating () the weakness () of his language capacities. On this note Robert Hill argues that Chrysostoms Old Testament homilies provide a significant locus for his Incarnational theology, commenting, It is when the Old Testament is seen as one further instance of divine love for humankind, however, in which the Word comes clothed in the human limitations which the Word assumed in the Incarnation, that the heights of Antiochs concept of scriptural revelation are reached.41 The culmination of the divine is for Chrysostom the Incarnation, but this action is typified by both the creation itself and its account in the prophet Moses. Written word is incarnate with sacred sequence. It is in the Incarnation that Gods considerateness is most clear, and so Chrysostom seeks throughout the Lenten Genesis series to illuminate the connection between creation, the Incarnation, and Scriptures language. God conceived the salvation of manwhich of course culminates in history at the Incarnationfrom the beginning. Consider the following examples:
The creator did not abandon the human race. Instead, when they then proved unworthy of his converse with them, he wanted to renew his love for them; he sent them letters as you do to people far away from you, and this drew all humankind back to him. (Hom. Gen. 2.4)


Hill, Reading, 36.

Let us not, dearly beloved, pass heedlessly by the words from Sacred Scripture, nor remain at the level of their expression, but consider that the ordinariness of their expression occurs with our limitations in mind and that everything is done in a manner befitting God for the sake of our salvation. (Hom. Gen. 17.3) Do you see how the Lord shows considerateness for our human limitations in all he does and in arranging everything in a way that gives evidence of his characteristic love? [] he came as a guest in the form of a man in the company of angels, foreshadowing for us ahead of time from the beginning that he would one day take human form, and thus free all human nature from the tyranny of the devil and lead them to salvation. [] But when he deigned to take on the form of a slave and receive our first-fruits, he donned our flesh, not in appearance or in seeming, but in reality. (Hom. Gen. 58 [PG 54.509a-510b])

Indeed, the events of creation as recorded in Scripture are accommodations for the understanding of men. God expresses the reality of his creation insofar as it is necessary for salvation and insofar as it is knowable for human reason. Likewise, God expresses Himself in the Incarnation in a form intelligible for human understanding, but by no means reveals his essence. Chrysostom does not shy away from indicating that in creation, God has accommodated Himself to human knowledge, even writing, the divine nature [] shines out of the very manner of creation (Hom. Gen. 2.11 [PG 53.30b]). Chrysostom epistemological vision of matter relies on apophasis only for the purposes of pedagogy and analogy. His use of what seems as a negative understanding of matter is primarily concerned with delineating the bounds of human knowledge and confining it to a Scriptural framework. Furthermore, language about the creation is incarnate, so to speak, with the contours of salvation history; Chrysostom thinks about the ability of language to convey realities in the same manner in which he thought of the Incarnation. Both are instances of his in acting and speaking in the terms of the of humanity. Because of the inseparably related soteriological and exegetical dimensions conveyed in this chapter, it is fitting to call Chrysostoms understanding of language a theology. His argument is not novel in the context of fourth century thought; it bears close resemblance to that of the Cappadocian Fathers. Guided primarily by an Incarnational logic, Chrysostom shows that the word of Scripture is a kind of

18 Divine interpretation: God does not appear in His nature as such, but takes on the form of a slave; Scripture does not convey essences as such, but takes on the form of a language comprehensible for salvation and, significantly, for the purposes of engaging in apophatic recognition. In Nassifs words, history itself "contains a deeper soteriological significance () which has as its foundation the literal sense."42 History and creation, those invested with the Divine , are beyond human comprehension but intelligible for understanding the Divine . The beauty of creation is the primary, but neither the sole nor the paramount example of this for Chrysostom. His cosmogony shows that God worked in a manner opposite to the expectations of human nature, but as such worked decisively for the salvation of human nature. This was shown not for the purposes of discarding human reason, but rather to encourage a kind of contemplative posture in reading Scripture and, so to speak, reading the creation.


Nassif, , 57.

19 II. Human Imagining43: Anthropomorphism and Theology in Scripture and Rhetoric With the Cappadocian Fathers, and as Amirav argues,44 within the wider context of both Antiochene and Alexandrian exegetes, Chrysostom followed his conclusions about the unknowability of the essences and underlying causes of creation to the logical conclusion. As Pelikan puts it, Less possible still was a comprehension of that divine [nature] above them [creation], out of which they have spring.45 That God became flesh in the Incarnation does not for Chrysostom mean that His ousia is on display for the human intellect; that God accommodated human language in Scripture does not mean that human language is meant to delineate the contours of the Creators essence. Yet Scripture is filled with positive anthropomorphic language about God, for example:
They heard the sound of the Lord God as he strolled in the garden in the evening. (Hom. Gen. 17.1; Gen 3:8)

As we saw in 1, for Chrysostom the divine language (Scripture) needs to be interpreted properly, with the caveat understanding that the subject of Scripture is God Himself:
Let us not remain at the level of the words alone, but let us understand everything in a manner proper to God, because applied to God [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 15.8 [PG 53.121b])

Perhaps in light of this Robert Hill argues that for Chrysostom, a pastor and rhetorical virtuoso, The precision of the text requires precision in the commentator.46 M.M. Mitchell likewise shows that Chrysostom understood himself to be a translator of his own mental images,

43 44

Hom. Gen. 8.11 (PG 53.73b), quoting Acts 17:29. Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 37. 45 Ibid., 53, quoting Gr.Nyss., Eun. 1.330 (Jaeger 1.124). 46 So Hill, Reading, 122. This understanding might sharpen Mayers findings in John Chrysostom, 114-122. Given that she seeks to illuminate the relationship between preacher and audience, it is curious that she neglects theological notions that would have certainly influenced the psychological dynamics of the preacher/audience interaction. For instance, Chrysostom consistently includes himself in the exhortation to the feast of Scripture, given in nearly every homily (e.g., Hom. Gen. 5.1 [PG 53.48b] and 14.1 [PG 53.111a]).

20 imprinting his onto the minds of the hearers.47 This imaginative mental picture started with his grasp of the intention of Scriptures language, and moved in his careful and deliberative rhetoric for the right kind of conveyance (Pan. Mart. 1.2 [PG 50:648]).48 But contra Mitchell, it is important to distinguish Chrysostoms preaching,49 from a kind of live radio, commanding the attention of the listeners by their latent unpredictability.50 Chrysostom was less concerned with rhetorical surprise than he was conveying the singular meaning of the text, even if this involved concepts at odds with human reason. Furthermore, his literary corpus is hardly intelligible if viewed through the lens of a religious leader wishing to propagate clerical moods concerning the class struggle between peasant and urban populations as Jones has argued;51 rather, his work, whether performed oratory or organized reflection intended for catechetical use, must be understood in the framework of biblical exegesis and doctrinal formation.52 In this chapter, I demonstrate the unity of Chrysostoms teaching on the precise role of biblical anthropomorphisms in Christian thought. He seeks to answer how God is to be known from Scripture. Error in this would lead to distorted worship. Indeed, as Young has argued,53 the proper understanding of anthropomorphic categories in knowing God is central to Chrysostoms liturgically and Scripturally framed exegetical homilies. To speak about God properly is to render Him proper worship.

47 48

Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 61n.132. Mitchells translation. For further discussion on this point, see Russell, Criticism in Antiquity, 109-110. 49 Mitchell, Trumpet, 196, argues that Chrysostoms surviving corpus often contains writings, not just recorded orations. 50 As Amirav, Tradition, 27-29, argues, it is likely that Chrysostoms homilies in Genesis are a literary product. 51 Jones The Social Background of the Struggle Between Paganism and Christianity, 17-37. 52 This is not to ignore significant sociological factors that must be taken seriously in any engagement with his thought. Rather, I seek to reckon with the decisively theological tone of his homilies. Catechesis and spiritual nourishment was of the utmost concern for John who, as Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews, 10-33, has convincingly demonstrated, lived in a city increasingly saturated with pagan rhetoric and no pliable educational alternative to that of classical forms. 53 Young, Exegesis, 158-160.

21 Despite his pedagogical intuition and concern to denounce the idea that human knowledge can understand essences, Chrysostom does not shy away from a kind of dialectical speech about the divine nature. As in 1, here he also oscillates between his own unique kataphasis and apohphasis, not relying on a systemization of these modes of logic, but seeking to explain the meaning of Scriptures deep resonances with itself. Perhaps because of his emphasis on clear communication and singular argument engrained in him from his teacher Chrysostom is better understood as a rhetorician than a logician. It is not the burden of this paper to locate the Golden Tongue within a school of Hellenistic logic; rather, I seek to show that due to the nature of Scriptures wide variety of anthropomorphic characterizations of God, Chrysostom as an exegete naturally engages in a kind of question and answer format concerning the knowability of the Divine from human images. He addresses objections and errors to navigate the expression of his own doctrine. Ultimately, we shall see that Nassifs characterization of Chrysostoms exegetical impulse to see in Scriptures language a latent soteriological significance can be equally applied to language about God as we saw (1) it applied to language about the creation. In other words, just as the unknowability of creation was an urge to consider the of God in the words of Scripture and the Incarnation, words applied to God, are not intended to create a veil of unknowing around God but to tell us of his action in history and guard his incomprehensible essence from those curious to define it. Chrysostom sifts through the canon to narrowly tailor a spectrum of anthropomorphisms that enable a positive knowledge of the Divineeven if that knowledge falls back on a kind of apophasis and returns to emphasize salvation history and the Divine . Indeed, Chrysostom creates an exegetical

22 tapestry to show that anthropomorphisms communicate the divine will for human understanding in a manner proper to God, a manner coordinate with his will that all men be saved. Anthropomorphic theology starts for Chrysostom with anthropology. Amirav argues that Chrysostom was among exegetes who, wishing to refute the anthropomorphic image of God, would point to the nature of human language as it its also expressed in the Scriptures. Resorting to , exegetes would argue that human language is limited, and that Gods willingness to communicate with human beings in their own primitive way is a token both of consideration and love for mankind.54 Chrysostoms vision of how the primal man, and thus human beings in general, understood and held dialogue with God is formative for his understanding of the current state of human knowledge. While Amirav characterizes Chrysostoms stance toward anthropomorphic theology as characteristically Antiochene and thereby characteristically negative, his account allows also for positive aspects to be gleamed, which shall be considered in the present section. For Chrysostom, the assertion of mankinds freedom nevertheless accompanies his suspicion of anthropomorphic theology. Human freedom serves as an example to guard against the claim that God was wicked and arbitrary.55 Chrysostom would agree with Gregory of Nyssa that the power of understanding and reflection is a gift upon the whole human race as a natural quality inherent in our common nature (Op. 16.17). We see this reflected in Chrysostoms notion of human conscience and the degree of esteem he accords humanity. Consider the following examples:
This is a mark of Gods loving kindness [], which he has shown in the case of human kind, that He has implanted in each of us a conscience that is above distortion [ ], able to distinguish truly evil actions form those that arent; (Hom. Gen. 5.6 [PG 53.50b])

54 55

Amirav, Tradition, 36. See ibid., 133 for discussion.


The loving Lord [ ] from on high, in forming human beings right from the beginning, implanted conscience in them [ ] []. (Hom. Gen. 17.4 [PG 53.135c])

With such a high anthropology that consistently connects Gods love for man () with His giving (, ) of human conscience, it is perhaps not surprising to note that in a different context Chrysostom says,
It were indeed meet for us not at all to require the aid of the written Word, but to exhibit a life so pure, that the grace of the Spirit should be instead of books to our souls, and that as these are inscribed with ink, even so should our hearts be with the Spirit. But, since we have utterly put away from us this grace, come, let us at any rate embrace the second best course. (Hom. Matt. 1.1 [NPNF1 10:1])

We shall deal with the role of Scripture later in the present section, but for now it suffices to say that Chrysostom never blames the fact of human understanding on the event of the fall in Gen 3. He does, however, attribute to its cause the over extending of human understanding. In turn, the violation of the capacities of knowledge is a choice that heretics make, following after the primal sin, the ambition to subvert the proper order (Hom. Gen. 17.18 [PG 53.139c]). Prior to sin, Adam and Eve coexisted as equals with one language,56 through which they recognized and abided by the limits of Gods prescribed intentions. They were not envious of his majesty, the vice that for Chrysostom derives from the devil.57 Neither in this state were they bitter about their occupation, which was endowed by God with an intelligence [], itself a symbol [] of his [mans] dominion (Hom. Gen. 14.19 [PG 53.116c]). Sin was the improper application of [Eves] real capabilities [ ] and (Hom. Gen. 16.11 [PG 53.129d]). Indeed, human language was Gods means for conveying His willful proximity:
God spoke through himself to men just as men were able to hear

56 57

See Proph. obscurit. 2 (PG 56.179). Wis 2:24, by the devils envy death entered the world (Hom. Gen. 16.12 [PG 53.130d]).

[ ].58 (Hom. Gen. 2.4 [PG 53.28a]; my translation)

He cites Adam, Cain, Noah, and Abraham as individuals who listened to God without any kind of mediation other than the means God chose in considering their human infirmity. Whether God addressed them in the speech of human tongue is unclear, although that must be kept open as a distinct possibility for Chrysostom. If Neamtu is right, then with Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom believed that Adam was addressing God in thoughts that needed no vocal utterance whatsoever.59 While this conclusion lacks specific evidence,60 it is clear that Chrysostom imagines direct, personal communication with the Divine (); prior to Scriptures conception, the capacities of human thought and language were fit specifically for Divine communication in human terms ( ). It is significant that Chrysostom does not distinguish between understanding and hearing, noetic language and audible language. He instead imagines a kind of unity in thought and word, a conversational communion with the God, just as men speak to one another. 61 Chrysostom does not enter into discussion about the specific effects of sin upon human language, but it is clear that Adam and Eve forfeited a unique kind of communion with God that involved rational faculties. His point is moreover is to demonstrate the unity in Gods intentions for humankind throughout history. Gods purpose was, and remained, to speak so that, just as the Jewish patriarchs, men might understand the Divine . Chrysostom writes,
58 59

Chrysostom, I depart from Hills rendering, which takes as he used to speak to them personally. Neamtu, Language, 63. Neamtu clarifies that implicitly in Gregory of Nyssa and more explicitly in the above quoted passage of Chrysostom, the gift of language was the last of Adams endowments, prior to his being put in relationship with the living world. 60 The thorough examination in Chase, Chrysostom, 40-48 does not consider it. 61 Chrysostom held with Gregory of Nyssa that no language, not even Hebrew, is God given. See discussion in Young, Exegesis, 141. Cf. Gr.Nyss., Eun. 2.148 (Jaeger 1.298). For Chrysostom, see Proph. obscurit. 2 (PG 56.176180).

The creator of all did not abandon the human race. Instead [] he sent them letters as you do to people far away from you, and this drew all humankind back again to him (Hom. Gen. 2.4 [PG 53.28a])

As Hill demonstrates,62 Chrysostom is at home in his Antiochene context when he holds that the voice of God to the patriarchs is essentially the same, but formally different, as the voice of God through Scripture. Thus in the early anthropology of human speech and communication, Chrysostom shows Gods consideration for the weakness of the human condition just as he does through Scripture in the present. More than this, God demonstrates the will to make Himself understood; integral to the story of the human race is the understanding of the Divine. At each phase in salvation history God conveys His will afresh, with new forms of communicating revelation. For John Chrysostom, salvation history is the story of how God opens His nature (), not his essence as such but his , to humanity by revealing increased knowledge of the providential sequences of His work in the world. Scripture is the new language of God for the Church; preaching is the pedagogy of community for holiness. While the second best course, Scripture became a necessary means of recording Gods dealings with men because of the fragmentation of the human condition; Scripture itself is not a condescending form of communication, but rather the considerate () voice of God to mankind. As Hill63 and Amirav64 convincingly demonstrate, this includes both Old and New Testaments for John Chrysostom. Yet the dynamics of this relationship are nuanced, and they reveal Chrysostoms understanding of progressive knowledge of God, important for translating Chrysostoms teaching to his Antiochene congregation of 386. Paradoxically in light of Chrysostoms word that Scripture is second best, in the New Testament, God has revealed more of Himself, both a
62 63

Hill, Reading, 27-44. Ibid. 64 Amirav, Tradition, 39-41; 228-229. He concludes, the novelty of the New Testament lies not in any change in God himself, but in the higher moral standards of mankind and in the advent of Jesus (229).

26 more accurate account of the processes behind the conception of matter and the oikonomia of his nature, as if the Old Testament was a kind of appetizer to the main course of the literature that clearly and manifestly opens up the Word of God to humanity.65 John the Evangelist, the son of thunder (Hom. Jo. 1.2 [PG:59.24a]) announces for Chrysostom a distinct and praiseworthy revelation in relation to that of the Old Testament writings:
He will speak from the depths of the Spirit, from those secret things which before they came to pass the very Angels knew not; since they too have learned by the voice of John with us, and by us, the things which we know. (Hom. Jo. 1.3 [NPNF1 14:2]).

Therefore as Gods response to wayfaring humanity, Scripture continues Gods intentions of salvation, providing adequate means to understand God in the language that He adapts for the sake of human faculties. The Old Testament is full of riddles, , and as Nassif has argued,66 Chrysostoms response to Origens allegorized solution to the obscure Jewish writings was a kind of Christologically literal dimension that found in history the veiled Word whose exposition was the Incarnation. Gods Word became flesh and revealed the intention of obscure historical figurations, both characters and events. Similar to our consideration of Chrysostoms thought on the pedagogy of creation (1), the Golden Tongue understands that human knowledge of God abided in a kind of contentedness of its own limits while it unknowingly anticipated the advent of Christ. Thus Chrysostom holds that while there is a difference between the modes by which primal humans on the one hand and present congregants on the other communicate with God, Gods purpose is one throughout history. While written words are the second best, Gods considerateness for humanity remained; he still speaks , the key difference that humans ought to apply the words to God. Chase puts the problem like this: [Man] must never

See for instance Hom. Gen. 12.2 (PG 53.98d). Chrysostom echoes 1 Pet 1:12, things the angels desire to look into, also going on to explain with (his) Eph 3:10: To the intent that unto the principalities and powers might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. 66 Nassif, , 54-57.

27 be so rashly presumptuous as to forget that the words of Scripture do not present matters as they are in themselves, but in strict and constant relation to mans power of apprehension.67 For Chrysostom, the language of Scripture needs interpretation and clarification lest individuals imagine God from their own reasoning; Divine communication to the pre-Scriptural humans did not involve this process. With these things clarified, we can move to consider Chrysostoms most pronounced statement of anthropomorphic theology, which takes as its point of departure his doctrine of the of God in man:
Let us, if we think fit, propose to them [those who want to say that man was made after the of God, and not according to ] blessed Pauls words addressed to the citizens of Athens: we ought not think the deity is like gold, silver, or stone, or carving from mans skill or imagination [ ]. Do you notice the wise teacher [] he says not only that the deity is to be distinguished from bodily figure [ ] but that human imagining [ ] could not shape anything of the kind.68 (Hom. Gen. 8.11 [PG 53.73b])

For him, in this specific passage, Scripture cautions anthropocentric theology that capitalizes on the preservation of the image God. Even though God upheld the value and function of human faculties despite corruption by sin, the human being does not serve as an adequate model of analogously () understanding the form () God. Neither does the human mind serve as an adequate factory of mental images. Yet this seems at odds with what Chrysostom says later:
Whenever you ponder [] the extent of this beings intelligence [], marvel at the Creators power. After all, if the visible beauty of heaven prompts a well-disposed onlooker to praise of its Creator, much more readily will this rational being [ ], the human person, be able to reason [] from the manner of its own formation. (Hom. Gen. 14.21 [PG 53.117c])

Chrysostom resolves this tension by his doctrine of the . To preserve the unreachable limits of Gods being and the value of the human form and imagination for attaining
67 68

Chase, Chrysostom, 45. His Acts 17:29 text varies slightly from the Cologny, Bibl. Bodmer XVII manuscript, which encloses a instead of Chrysostoms .

28 () knowledge of the Creator, Chrysostom makes a significant distinction between form () and image ():69
For since it is according to the basis of rule that the image (of God) was received, and not according to the form (of God), man rules all things [ ]. (Hom. Gen. 8.10 [PG 53.73a]; my translation)

Man was not made according to the form of God but to His image; not according to His essence but according to the same function, that of control [] and dominion (Hom. Gen. 8.9 [PG 53.72c]). By , Chrysostom connotes a kind of vice deputy who is responsible for the rule of creation. Chase notes that for Chrysostom, mans likeness to God consists precisely in his sovereignty over creation. On this point there is a partial consensus in the Antiochene School between Chrysostom, Diodore, and Severian, with opposition from Theodore of Mopsuestia.70 But at the culmination of his anthropology, very little has been said about God that might not otherwise have been known. The as gives genuine knowledge of God, but Chrysostom does not develop the notion into understanding aspects of His essence. Chrysostom instead understands from this that God is Lord over all, His dispensations of revelation in history working for mans salvation. Chrysostoms anthropomorphic theology is thus far similar to his cosmogony: names convey soteriological realities, not essences. With Chrysostoms understanding of the role of the in anthropomorphic theology clear, we are situated to consider further statements. Philosophically definitive language

See discussion in Pelikan, The History of the Development of Doctrine 1, 189; 196; 219; 249. In the context of the fourth century, and were of course heavily debated. The former was understood largely as a technical term approximating the ousia of God to Christ via Phil 2:6; with the latter, the term figured prominently in the Logos Christology of Theophilus of Antioch and Origen, which enabled Arian vocabulary to connect Gen 1:26-27, Heb 1:4, and Prov 8:22-31 to hold that the Logos, while chief among the angels, is nevertheless a creation. 70 See Chase, Chrysostom, 43n.4; cf. Theodore, Frag. Gen. 2.7 (PG 66.637a) and the discussion of Irenaeus, influential on Theodore, in Pelikan, Doctrine 1, 282-4.

29 concerning the divine nature is not rare in Chrysostom, often including intriguingly extrascriptural (counter) assertions significant for our exploration. Yet his thought is not decisively apophatic or kataphatic. Rather, he reads Scriptures anthropomorphic language about God with a kind of caveat, namely that human words are referring to a divine subject and thus by definition seeking to bridge an unfathomable gap. He does not engage in explicit comparison between Scriptural revelation and natural knowledge, but rather interprets Scripture in this regard figuratively, which gives him the flexibility to object to common heresies, or compare relevant Scriptural passages. In doing so, he urges his congregation to partake in the spiritual banquet of Gods words to man.
Let us follow the direction of Sacred Scripture in the interpretation it gives of itself [] but realize that our limitations are the reason for the concreteness of the language [ ]. Human senses [ ], you see, would never be able to grasp what is said if they had not the benefit of such great considerateness [] So recognizing our limitations, and the fact that what is said refers to God, let us accept the words as equivalent to speaking about God; let us not reduce the divine to the shape of bodies and structure of limbs, but understand the whole narrative in a manner appropriate to God. For the deity is simple, free of parts and shape [ ]; should we form an impression from ourselves [ ] and want to ascribe an arrangement of limbs to God, we would be in danger of falling into the irreverence of pagans. (Hom. Gen. 13.8-9 [PG 53.107a-b])

Over and against the multiform composite of human limbs and organs, Chrysostom asserts that God is .71 For him this notion is presupposed in Scripture, although it is a characteristic never ascribed to God in the LXX. The doctrine of Gods simplicity, however, where not systematically argued, is a presupposition in the literature of Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nyssa. Maurice Wiles situates the use of the term in fourth century Trinitarian thought, arguing that haplous kai asunthetos was widely held as the resolution to the paradox of the Trinity, How the three were one.72 Central to the Cappadocian dogma of the Trinity was the notion of the simplicity of the divine ousia, which
71 72

Cf. Hom. Rom. 26 (PG 60.641c); Incomp. 1.5 (PG 48.450a). Wiles Eunomius, 162.

30 they derived from the Shema of Israel: (Deut 6:4). As Pelikan makes clear, this move was an apologetic to both Greek philosophy and Christian heretics.73 was a statement of absolute simplicity, beyond compromise. Chrysostom dialectically positions this understanding in tandem with passages that ascribe definitively anthropomorphic traits to God, such as they heard the sound of the Lord God as he strolled in the garden in the evening (Hom. Gen. 17.1 [PG 53.134c]; Gen 3:8). For Chrysostom, Scripture uses created things, like the limbs of a body, for humans to understand His presence and care for creatures while holding in mind Gods nature as and thereby necessarily without human limbs. Anthropomorphisms are not concerned to delineate Gods ousia. As such, the essence of His being is never revealed through created things; His characteristics, and even His nature, on the other hand, certainly are. This he intimates in the previously quoted74 passage: the divine nature [] shines out of the manner of creation. It is clear that the manner of creation is not, humanly speaking, logical; rather, as we saw, it is contrary to human imaginings (he constructed the edifice before the foundation), thereby denying anthropocentric thought a channel of insight into his essence but nevertheless granting a characteristic of Gods nature, his . Thus Chrysostoms anthropomorphic theology, like his language concerning the creation, seems to be uniquely apophatic but is in the end hardly as such. Chrysostoms point is not to teach that God is a succession of nots. Rather, it is to show who He is insofar as He has demonstrated His love for man. Consider another quotation that clarifies the point:
Since the Creator is sufficient of himself [] and needed none of them; instead, it was to show his love for us [] that he created them all [] and it was for us to move from these creatures to bring to him a proper adoration [] afterall, how great would be the folly of stumbling over the beauty of these creatures and remaining at their level, instead of raising the

73 74

See discussion in Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 29 and 94-95. See 1, p.17.

eyes of our minds to their Creator and believing the words of blessed Paul: from the creation of the world what is invisible [] to our eyes in God has through created things become perceptible to our understanding []. (Hom. Gen. 6.20-21 [PG 53.60d-61a])

His earlier assertion of God as is not an isolated instance of philosophizing, but it exhibits Chrysostoms intuition to guard the divine nature from a mode of thought that uses aspects of human nature for a kataphatic explanation of God. Chrysostom says that God is , in need of nothing, rejecting those who might assert that the divine nature created out of necessity, . Pelikans study shows that fourth century theologians waxed polemic on neo-Aristotelian necessitarianism, rejecting a theory of randomness that would have changed the notion of cosmos back into chaos, but against the opposite extreme as well, a theory of cosmic necessity as an iron law over which even the all sovereign Creator was powerless.75 Chrysostom again has an affinity to the Cappadocian thought here, going on to incorporate his notion of the freedom of man in understanding this aspect of Gods character. The image of God is not subject to a kind of mechanic fate. He conveys this through his moral exhortation:
Let us praise him [] by means of a life lived in the best way possible [] you see, in his great love for us he finds it sufficient that we desist from evil; if we make this decision []. (Hom. Gen. 6.22 [PG 53.61b-c])

Here, Chrysostom demonstrates a moment of subtle yet masterful exegesis. He makes clear the freedom of the creator God, who formed things beautiful (), in order to contextualize his conclusion of the homily. He exhorts his flock to exercise the same freedom in choosing a beautiful () life, virtuous in its obedience. While he does not discuss the , the faculty of rule, it is clear that Chrysostom connects the notion of mans freedom from fate in his capacity for moral decision to that of the Divine will for creating.


Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 156 and 256-259. See Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God, 39-50 for further discussion on the relationship in Greek thought between the mankind as intellectual creators amidst a contingent universe.

32 But the specifics of this connection are not clear: does Chrysostom understand human freedom on the basis of the divine, or is there an element of anthropomorphic theology here that gives genuine knowledge of God () from understanding the moral will of humans? It is important to bear in mind that in context, Chrysostoms assertion of God as is in light of a quotation of Rom 1:20, by which he states that the realm of the reveals that of the . He reinforces this movement in another context, with a different yet distinctly transferable vocabulary:
The soul grows up with the body and never sees anything bodiless; it longs for the things of the senses. It needs to be led by the hand from visible to mental entities [ ]. That is why when the prophets spoke about God, they needed to speak of human limbs, not to give that undefiled nature [ ] the shapes of bodily parts, but to educate the soul [] brought up among things of sense to advance from human imagery to truths transcending humanity [ ]. While the activity of God is a concept of the mind [], the psalmist offers a material image [] lest the people of that time should fail to believe. (Exp. Ps. 43 [PG 55.172]; translation from Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society, 491)

Here the shift is not from to but from to . The prophets are made out to be pedagogical instructors, using the anthropomorphic tools at their disposal to convey the realities of God () in strict and constant relation to mans power of apprehension.76 Again not making hard and fast philosophical distinctions, the point for Chrysostom is moral formation. He urges the people to look beyond themselves and the materiality of their condition to the Divine realities not immediately perceivable () to the physical senses. But in this, Chrysostom seems to suggest that knowing the created and even anthropocentric realm of things is ultimately a component of catechetical instruction ( ); as such, human sensory experience is a necessary, albeit elementary, stage on the souls contemplation of the panorama of higher reality ( ). Therefore, anthropocentric objects are endowed with an ontological quality that enables the soul

Chase, Chrysostom, 45.

33 to engage in knowing God through an interconnected series of similitudes (, ), using human aspects not to understand the interworking of Gods essence, but to engage in a kind of noetic contemplation, a spiritual education of the soul from things of human imagery to truths transcending humanity. Chrysostom shows himself to be deeply sympathetic with Gregory of Nyssas doctrine of ascent through matter, of which Pelikan explains that after seeking to understand the divine from the creation, [Cappadocian] speculation had to fall back once more on such negatives as noncomprehensible and incomprehensible.77 For Gregory, humans interact with the aesthetics of creation as the first rung on a kind of contemplative ladder, by which natural reason orders the intellect to the Divine reality:
The more reason shows the greatness of this thing that we are seeking, the higher we have to lift our thoughts and excite them with the greatness of that object. (Gr.Nyss., Virg. 10 [Jaeger 8I.291]).

Chrysostom does not exhibit this kind of journey, the culmination of which von Balthasar has shown to be Gregorys eschatological vision of the consummation of nature in the unity of the bride and groom.78 On the other hand Chrysostom is more occupied with illustrating this pedagogical ascent as a uniquely Scriptural and moralistic journey, not necessarily one that illuminates the capacities of natural reason. For the Golden Tongue, it is the moral vision of the prophets. Humanity ought to live mindful of the invisible realities () of God, not crafts of the imagination such as fate and chance, or even pleasure and possession. To this end Scripture itself employs a pedagogy of the senses. The authorsultimately, the Authorare aware of the weakness of human understanding. Thus anthropomorphic language is used as a positive component for constituting the human imagination towards an obedient lifestyle. But it
77 78

Pelikan, Metamorphosis, 53, quoting Gregory of Nazianzus Or. 28.5 (SC 250.110). See von Balthasar, Presence and Thought, 148.

34 is not intended, so Chrysostom argues, for likening the divine nature to human form, even in the way that Gregory finds humility to be a microcosm of the death and kenosis of Christ, the ultimate posture of the Bride.79 The level of the words alone does not sufficiently account for the level of thought to which God in Scripture raises the mind. For Chrysostom, understanding God involves a noetic ascent through anthropomorphic negations, benefiting chiefly from careful biblical exposition. This puzzle pushes our explication of his thought to a new horizon. Chrysostoms clearest conception of his theology of language occurs in his resolute engagement with heretics who might purport to interpret the level beyond the words alone in accordance with their own reasoning. To the Golden Tongues strident confrontation of the Anomoeans in the Genesis series we now turn.


Von Balthasar, Presence, 149 points to his De. Beat. 1 (PG 44.1200d): Since all the other qualities we perceive in God transcend the measure of human nature, but since humility and humiliation are innate [].

35 III. In Shadowy Fashion80: John Chrysostoms Theory of Language and the Anomoean Controversy Congregants of the Antiochene Golden Church gathered in Lent of 386 to hear the voice of John Chrysostom resound time and again, Let us not remain at the level of the words alone, but let us understand everything in a manner proper to God, because applied to God.81 Each individual of the Church was called to Spiritual contemplation, he believed, not necessarily to as the bishops or ascetics might have practiced it, but to which considered everything from the collective body of the prophets (which included the Torah of Moses) to the organic spirit of the New Testament as witnesses to the drama of redemption. Like the creation, history is guided by the soteriological purposes of the Creator. Serious understanding also brought to bear dialogue with the world, its moral behaviors and axioms, and even for our Antiochene preacher, heresies and forms of philosophy.82 He found in these imbalanced perspectives on the creation and deficient canonical reading. Dom Bauers fond epithet Der Polemiker83 timelessly characterizes the preacher whose massive surviving corpus is replete with engaging opposition. The Genesis Homilies are no exception. Our understanding of Chrysostoms theology of language and the epistemological limits of human reasoning can be clarified and extended if we tilt the kaleidoscope in order to organize his thought as it engaged in a kind of conversation with whom Ayres has called the Heterousians.84 Despite being known in antiquity as the Anomoians (),85 and until
80 81

Chrysostom, Proph. obscurit. 2 (PG 56.176). See 2, p.19. 82 Coleman-Norton, St. Chrysostom and the Greek Philosophers, 305-317 shows that Chrysostom merely adorned aspects of his arguments with applicable quotations, on the whole having a largely negative view of what were for him the misleading presuppositions in philosophy. 83 Bauer, John Chrysostom and His Time, 330. 84 Ayres, Nicaea, 145. 85 E.g., Soc. Hist. 4.7 (PG 67.472b-473a).

36 recently for Wiless neo-Arian,86 I use Ayress term (Heterousian) for precision and clarity, given that Aetius and Eunomius, the two leading exponents of the school of thought, resisted the Arian connection.87 Chrysostoms first 17 homilies on Genesis explicitly mention Arius or Arian thought only twice, and those in the same homily.88 In them he does not name Eunomius or Anomoius. It is the burden of this final chapter, however, to demonstrate that in his theory of names and the language of Scripture exhibited in his pedagogy of the creation account, John Chrysostom dialogues with the contentious fourth century Heterousian thought, which for him was represented in the doctrines of his contemporary, Eunomius.89 Whether or not John had direct access to the writing of Aetius or Eunomius is unclear, and it is not the purpose of this chapter to demonstrate that he did. However, his interaction with distinct notions of their thought throughout his corpus is hardly cryptic. Besides sporadically demonstrating basic familiarity with their doctrines,90 the first half of his sermon series , which likely began as a public debate,91 was subtitled .92 Interestingly, Kelly points out that chronological proximity between this eight-book tome and Chrysostoms first Genesis

Wiles, Eunomius, 160. Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, 243, refers to them as second generation Arians. 87 Furthermore, their Cappadocian opponents never draw formal comparisons between the two, even for the sake of polemic. So argues Ayres, Nicaea, 145n.35: Using the term Arius as a term of abuseas they dois very different from making a detailed attempt to relate one's opponent to Arius own words. 88 Hom. Gen. 8.7-8 (PG 53.71d-72a); 8.12 (PG 53.73c-d). 89 DelCogliano, Names, 24-38, and Ayres, Nicaea, 147, agree that Eunomius takes after Aetius on matters relevant to this paper. Aetius (d. ca. 370) was the teacher of Eunomius (d. after 390), and few are opposed that Chrysostom wrote both his Genesis series (PG 53) and his To the Anomoeans (PG 48.701-812) in the 380s. Hill, Intro, 4-6, outlines the only debate, which concerns 386 and 387 as years of delivery. We can on chronological grounds elicit at least an implicit connection in thought between his cosmology and his Heterousian polemics. 90 E.g., Adv. Jud. 1.1-2 (PG 48.845a); Hom. Jo. 4.1 (PG 59.47); Hom. Heb. 12.3 (PG 63.98a-b). 91 See, e.g., Incomp. 1 (PG 48.705-8). The 12 sermon series, however, is not a contiguous debate. Quasten, Patrology 3, 451, puts the sermons in two groups, dividing them between the first five and the latter seven. However, while in the first sermon he mentions that he came to meet his adversaries in the arena, by the third and fourth, it seems that he is addressing his congregation about the dangers of their thought, rather than debating with Anomoeans present. See Incomp. 3.42-44 (PG 48.722), 4.1-2 (PG 48.727). 92 Quasten, Patrology 3, 451, notes that Migne grouped sermons 1-5 with 6-12, the latter delivered in 397 and not addressed specifically to the Anomoeans. Quasten dates 1-5 to 386-387, and our Genesis homilies in 388 (434).

37 series, nine of which have been preserved,93 may indicate that Chrysostom was motivated to preach his series on the Divine unknowability as a kind of doctrinal refinement, homing in on the propaganda of the Anomoeans.94 If so, there is reason for a connection between Chrysostoms cosmology, his theology of language, and his polemics against Heterousian thought. Aryes aptly summarizes the exegetical framework that typifies many figures of a kind of pro-Nicene Spirituality: the of Scripture intrinsically includes the journey of the soul in Christ towards union with and understanding of the Triune Godhead.95 As we shall see, for Chrysostom, understanding the Divine intent of Scripture is integral to the exercise of Christian virtue and knowledge of God. His theory of (divine) names is fundamental to this process. Rather than unfold essences, the names and narratives of Scripture invite the hearer to participate in the redemptive purposes of God. The divine names render for human understanding different contexts by which to apprehend Gods , not to comprehend () Gods essence () or origin (). In all this Chrysostom, the recipient of a long tradition of Logos-sarx96 theological development, seems a minor, or as Ayres expressed it, typically pro-Nicene97 figure. This is not to say that his exegesis does not have unique emphases. He was primarily concerned with
Those heretics who are always intent on calling everything into question and who hold the opinion that the origin of the Creator of all has been comprehended [ , ]. (Hom. Gen. 15.10 [PG 53.121c])


PG 54.581-620. Curiously, Kelly, Golden, 58, mentions eight and whereas Hill accounts for the ninth, one somewhat different, but because of its patriarchal material has been placed with this short series (Introduction, 1). 94 Kelly, Golden, 60-61. 95 Ayres, Nicaea, 338. 96 Grillmeier, Christ, 218-245, argues that Antioch played an important role in the development of the Logos-sarx Christology (compared with the Logos-anthropos Christology) from Origen to Nicaea. 97 Ayres, Nicaea, 339.

38 Notice how Gregory of Nyssa, at the beginning of his second book addressing Eunomius, presents Anomoean thought along similar lines, addressing the alleged connection between the Greek philosophical term and the nature or origin of the Godhead:
God is named unbegotten []. But that which is divine is simple by nature [ ], and what is simple admits of no composition. So then, if God is uncompounded [] in nature [], and the name unbegotten applies to him [ ], then unbegotten would be the name of his very nature [ ], and his nature is nothing other than unbegottenness [ ].98 (Gr.Nyss., Eun. 2.2324 [Jaeger 1.233])

Above, Chrysostom does not explicitly tailor his remarks to a particular school of thought, but the linguistic and conceptual parallels with what Gregory ascribes to Eunomius indicate that the Heterousians are on the receiving end of his polemic. Furthermore, a significant contextual clue is Chrysostoms use of . When Chrysostom addresses Anomoean thought in the 12 sermon series of 387,99 the most common supposition in his rhetoric is an application of several different forms of to the subject of knowledge of the Divine nature.100 Ayres has skillfully demonstrated that while Anomoean thought has been typically associated with Arianism, the term popularized by Athanasian polemics,101 it is necessary to distinguish between the two. Arianism is itself a misleading title for our understanding, as it was disseminated by those claiming the reception of Orthodox interpretation over and against differing opinions.102 Accounting for the subtle differences in thought that arose between various


Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Thes. 31 (PG 75.445d) and discussion in Vagionne, Works, 180, for a similar representation of their thought. I follow Vaggione (Works, 105) and DelCogliano (Names, 43n.43) who, contra Jaeger and Pottier, view this as Gregorys own summary and not a fragment of Eunomius. 99 See 3, n.12-13. 100 See Incomp. 1 (PG 48.705b), 4 (PG 48.731-2). 101 With Ayres, Nicaea, 107: seems to have originated in Eustathian or Marcellan circles. 102 For instance, Athanasius, C. Ar. 1.910 dichotomizes religious conflict between the Orthodox and the Arians. He includes in the latter Eusebius of Nicomedia and Asterius, theologians distinct from Arius in that they accepted to a point homoiousion.

39 reactionary groups, Ayres follows Hanson103 and opts for the term Homoian to describe those who in the wake of Nicaea resisted using language for understanding the relationship between the of the Father and that of the Son.104 Despite clear insistence on a kind of subordinationism, they were nevertheless willing to admit degrees of likeness, but often did not clarify what this meant.105 One thing for them, though, was certain: the likeness, whatever it was, certainly was not an extension of the substance of the monad.106 Overshadowed by the support Constantius,107 various trajectories of Homoian thought came to a pinnacle of antiNicene language in the doctrines of Aetius and Eunomius, thereby justifying Ayress label Heterousian.108 They refined and extended Ariuss opposition to differentiation in the monad of God.109 Like in Arius, the doctrine of the Logos in later Heterousian thought was determined cosmologically: the Son is known chiefly as the mediator of creation.110 This exercised similar influence on Athanasius, who approached Logos theology with a more Scriptural scope.111 Athanasius argues to uphold Homoouios language in order to preserve the Word as the Fathers


Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, 557. It is worth noting that Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Nicene-Arian Conflicts, has cautioned the use of the term Homoian in reference to groups before the Dated creed of 359; cf. Ayres, Nicaea, 158, who holds his ground to account for the complex and gradual development from the early 350s. 104 Expressed in the Second Creed of Sirmium in 357 and the Nice-Constantinople Ecumenical creed in 360. Homoian Arianism is for Hanson and Ayres the development of the theology of Eusebius of Caesarea. 105 So Hanson, Search, 558. 106 See the condemnation of ousia language Hilarys summary (Synod. 11) of the Council of Sirmium in 357. It is significant to note with Ayres, Nicaea, 139, that this is a lucid statement of the shift from non-Nicene to decidedly anti-Nicene in the 350s. Cf. Hanson, Search, 344345. 107 Ayres, Niceaea, 134-165. 108 Ibid., 139. 109 Grillmeier, Christ, 227. 110 See Grillmeiers representation of Arian thought in Christ, 229. It is on this ground that Arius was a kind of preAnomoian. Although the Son is by analogy , there is an ontological disparity between the sphere of the Son, who is the created demiurge, and the impenetrable divine monad. Thus the Son is alien, dissimilar, . See the fragments preserved in Bardys edition of Lucian of Antioch: Frag. 13-15; cf. Frag. 10. 111 Hansons argument, Search, 422.

40 instrument for creation and as such generated from the essence of God.112 With Grillmeier,113 Hanson,114 and Ayres,115 this is for Athanasius the ground for the ontological affinity between Father and Son and the latters ontological distinction from creation. Thus the language of origin and generation were couched in the collision of biblical and Greek philosophical terms.116 Without entering into the full nuances of the debate, for the purposes of this paper it is enough to note that it is precisely those concepts and implications associated with the application of and to Logos theology that eluded consensus, through Sirmium 357 and into the 360s.117 The Homoian movement sought to bring clarity to this issue. Upholding the Middle Platonic cosmology of the Arians that demanded dissimilarity,118 for them, the Father alone was , and the Son therefore could not know the Father as He is in himself.119 But at this point, over and against the Homoians, Aetius and Eunomius (Heterousians) distinguished themselves in two ways. Both differences are important for contextualizing Chrysostoms thought and measuring his own account of the relationship between names and the understanding of essences.

112 113

See Athan. Decr. 19-26. Grillmeier, Christ, 227. 114 Hanson, Search, 422-423. 115 Ayres, Nicaea, 141-142. 116 See in particular Athanasius, C. Gent. 46 (PG 25.93a). Cf. the argument of Kopecek, A History of Neo-Arianism, that in his Decr., Athanasius addressed specifically the 345 Macrostich Creed (Fifth Arian Confession), which in Ayress words places considerable emphasis on the Father's status as sole ingenerate (and consistently using ) (Nicaea, 144). 117 See Ayress discussion (Nicaea, 140-144), which shows Athanasiuss own difficulty making hard and fast distinctions in the terms as applied to the Son and the Father. See for evidence of this inconsistency Athanasius, Disp. 23 (PG 28.465c) and Dial. Trin. 1.18 (PG 28.1145a). 118 Plato, Tim. 27a-52b. 119 So Grillmeier, Christ, 228.

41 First, for the Heterousians, the Father and the Son were decisively unlike according to essences; Aetius decisively rejects both homoousion and homoiousion ascriptions to their relationship. This is significant for its outright clarity, which had hitherto been rare120:
If the Deity remains everlasting in ingenerate nature [ ], and the offspring is everlasting offspring, then the perverse doctrine of the homoousion and the homoiousion [ ] will be demolished; incomparability in essence [] is established when each nature abides unceasingly in the proper rank of its nature. (Aetius, Synt. 4 [Wickham 541]).

For Eunomius too, the essence of God lies in being ingenerate. As such, he uniquely distinguishes between generation from essence and generation from will.121 A rigid logician like his teacher, Eunomius held that generation from essence was impossible for the one who alone could possess the quality of ingenerateness (). Consequently, he understood the Son as generated by will, and thereby subordinate to the Father who was uniquely .122 It is important to note, however, that when Eunomius insisted that Gods was an unfolding of his essence, these concepts were in his thought not advanced by human conceptualization or by way of privation,123 but essential predications understood strictly through divine revelation. This leads us to our second point, that concerning language and the power of names to render the actual essence of their referents. The second decisive break in the Heterousian vein of the Homoian movement was their theory of names and knowing. Eunomius took for granted Gods simplicity (), which entailed that, in DelCoglianos words, predication of God [must] be essential. As he goes on to say, for Eunomius, if God is has no prior, unbegottenness is the substance of God
120 121

So Ayres, Nicaea, 145. See Eunomius, Apol. 15 (Vagionne 48). 122 See the discussion in Vagionne, Eunomius, 137-139, who shows that Eunomius relied on a standard non-Nicene proof text, Mk 10:18/Lk 18:18: no one is good but the Father alone. When the Son used the name I am, therefore, he did so for Eunomius as the Fathers messenger and privileged one (139). 123 DelCogliano, Names, 42n.40. For evidence in Aetius, see Synt. 12-26 (Wickham 542-3); in Eunomius, see Apol. 8.1-14 (Vagionne 48); see the discussion in Radde-Gallwitz, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity, 117-25.

42 because there is nothing else that unbegotten can name in God.124 The argument of the Apologia is that any non-essential predications of God, the and , are a betrayal of Divine revelation and the capacity of the human intellect to have a genuine encounter with the God revealed in Scripture. If words about the simple nature did not correspond to essence,125 than for Eunomius, theological expression would be futile.126 He is clear:
It is the subsistence itself that his name signifies, since the designation truly applies to the substance [ , ]. (Eunomius, Apol. 12.9-10 [DelCogliano, Names, 40])

The obverse of this, though, is that the Divine nature is per se intelligible to human understanding; His essence is ingenerateness.127 Again, notice how for both Aetius and Eunomius, this circles back in their philosophical exegesis to a component of revelation. Aetius scoffs at those of the opinion that is a term ascribed to God through conceptualization or privation:128
If ingeneracy [] does not represent the substance [] of the Deity, but the incomparable name [ ] is of human imagining [], the Deity is grateful to those who thought the name up, since through the concept [] of ingeneracy [] he has a transcendence of name which he does not bear in essence [ ]. (Aetius, Synt. 12 [Wickham 541-2])

Eunomius takes this a step further arguing that specifically unfolds the divine essence.129 Thus Socrates famously sums up (for him) Anomoean thought:
God does not have greater knowledge of his being any more than we do of ours [ ].130 (Socrates, Hist. 4.7 [PG 67.472b-473a]; my translation])

124 125

DelCogliano, Names, 44. For the sake of self-consistency, I use essence here; but others, like DelCogliano (Names, 39) translate the Lat. substantia and Grk. as substance or subsistence. 126 So DelCogliano, Names, 40; cf. discussion in Radde-Gallwitz, Basil, 114-33, and Vaggione, Works, 245. 127 DelCogliano, Names, 40, has shown that both Aetius and Eunomius use and interchangeably to refer to Divine essence. In this he follows Wickham, Syntagmation, 552, and Vaggione, Euonmius, 165. 128 DelCogliano, Names, 43. 129 See Eunomius, Apol. 8.14-18 (Vaggione 42) and discussion in Radde-Gallwitz, Basil, 125-130.


Now that we have sketched the Heterousian doctrines contemporaneous with Chrysostom, consider the aforementioned polemic within its context:
So who is this to whom he says, Let us make a human being? Who else is it than the Angel of Great Counsel, Wonderful Counsellor, Figure of Authority, Prince of Peace, Father of the age to come, Only-begotten Son of God, like the Father in being [ ], through whom all things were created [ ]? To him is said, Let us make a human being in our image and likeness. This text also deals a mortal blow to those entertaining the position of Arius []. I mean, he did not say by way of command, Make such a creature, as though to a subordinate or to one inferior in being [], but Let us make with great deference to an equal []. And what follows shows us further the equality in being [ ]; [] other heretics arise assailing the dogmas of the Church; they say, Look: he said, In our imageand from these words they want to speak of the divine in human terms [], which is the ultimate error []. (Hom. Gen. 8.7-8 [PG 53.71d72a])

Whereas for Eunomius, the LXXs let us make [] was a clear instance of the three separate entities of the Godhead discoursing in pre-temporal dialogue,131 Chrysostom takes Gen 1:27 as an instance of pre-temporal dialogue with equal () beings. The presence and permeation of pro-Nicene thought, exemplified as we saw in Athanasius, is made clear here in the supposition that likeness in being to the Father ( ) is explicated by his title as the Fathers agent of creation ( ). Chrysostom addresses Eunomius here by drawing out the erroneous doctrine that the language of applies the being of the Father to the form of man (), thereby making his both intelligible to comprehension and unlike the Son.132 His denouncement of Heterousian thought in this regard is imbedded in cosmological terms, saturated by pro-Nicene categories.

Scholars from Wiles (Eunomius, 161) to Ayres (Nicaea, 149n.49) have noted that Socrates does not draw from any specific work of Eunomius, despite his quotation (kata lexin). On this note, Hill (Genesis, 60n.18) notes that Chrysostom clearly understands Anomoean thought in conjunction with those who purport to have comprehended the essence of God. 131 Vaggione, Eunomius, 136 shows how such obscurities in the text provided occasion for various intertextual readings, Eunomius suggesting with Arius Proverbs 8 (wisdom) and Job 38:7 (angels) as plausible answers. 132 Chase makes the observation that Chrysostom addresses here some kind of contemporary sect: Let us [] stretch out our hand to them, reasoning with them in all gentleness (Chrysostom, 43n.3). I take this to be the Heterousians.

44 But Chrysostoms exegesis of Gen 1:27 is far more nuanced, and his engagement with Heterousian thought more penetrating than a simple flourish of Nicene language. In a different passage of the Genesis series, hinted at earlier (3, n.9) but worth quoting at length here, Chrysostom again brings Gen 1:27 to the fore, more clearly confronting the Heterousian theory of names.
God took one of his ribs, the text says. Dont take the words in human fashion; rather, interpret the concreteness of the expressions from the viewpoint of human limitations [] The lord God caused drowsiness to come upon Adam, so that you might know that there is no difference [] between Father and Son in these expressions; instead, on account of both of them having the one essence [ ], Sacred Scripture applies the names indiscriminately [ ]. [] What would be said in this case by those heretics who are always intent on calling everything into question and who hold the opinion that the origin of the Creator of all has been comprehended [ ]? What words can express the full sense [] of this? What mind can comprehend it [ ]? He took one rib, the text saysand how from this single rib did he fashion the complete being? [] So if we dont comprehend [] these things we are familiar with and what has to do with the formation of the being of the same race as ourselves, how much madness and folly does it betray to meddle in what concerns the Creator and to allege that those matters have been comprehended [] []? (Hom. Gen. 15.8-10 [PG 53.121a-121d])

As in his homilies addressing the Anomoeans, Chrysostom here uses the term to express his unique conception of the limits of names and human understanding, and it applies here in lucid contrast to what we have seen in Eunomius. Over and against the Heterousian theory of names, Chrysostoms pro-Nicene Scriptural epistemology admits no dissimilarity in divine essence, and thereby no distinction in names ( ). It is not that Divine names (Son; Prince of Peace) are applied haphazardly; neither does Scripture categorize certain names in accordance with particular members of the Godhead. Rather, Scripture applies names without the intention to unfold the essence of the Divine nature in the first place. Chrysostom argues that instead, the language of Scripture creates a tapestry of understanding Gods through the various contexts of his work in history.

45 The Golden Tongue also shows basic familiarity with the Greek philosophical lexicon (, , ), but deploys the terms only in light of his uniquely conceived hermeneutical paradigm. Divine names, and in this passage Scriptural events, are for Chrysostom figural. Language about the Divine in the Christian form of revelation (Scripture) never conveys logical syllogisms but rather portrayals of events and processes accommodated for the palate of human comprehension and more importantly, soteriological experience. Names do not refer to essences; they refer to higher meaning intended for intellectual and moral formation (spheres indistinct for Chrysostom). Chrysostom thereby counters the Heterousian theory of names with the presupposition that God has accommodated human reason precisely in what is necessary for salvation. As we saw in both 1 and 2, there is no epistemological despair in Chrysostom, as if the world of apprehension and world of reality were two separate things. Rather, he exhorts his congregation to marvel and rejoice at the actual process by which woman came from man is beyond human intelligence, even contrary to ones presupposed categories of reason (). The banquet to which he urges his congregation in nearly every Genesis homily is a feast on the meaning imbedded beneath the surface of the text. Where Eunomius argues that religious experience would be void if human understanding could not grasp essences, Chrysostom argues that religious experience flourishes when the significance of the text requires rumination, meditation, and even failed understanding. Without positing an allegorical unity behind the canon, Chrysostoms theory of names turns back into a theology of exegesis, for him the and mode of Scriptural interpretation by which he relates the parts to the "whole of salvation history with Christ as its origin and

46 goal."133 Scriptural language is the naming of events in human history that themselves refer back to the fundamental link between cosmology and soteriology:
[God] creates everything and arranges it for our salvation. (Hom. Gen. 14.9 [PG 53.113d])

Chrysostom sharpens his Heterousian polemic, and his own theory (theology) of names, by arguing that the genuinely biblical knowledge of God is that which is understood by what He has done in history, not by what he can be understood to be through the instruments of reason and revelation. It is for this reason that he writes,
Gods ways are inscrutable []he did not say incomprehensible [], so that no one could plot them [ ], and Gods ways, in his words, are unsearchable [], meaning the same thing [as inscrutable]. (Hom. Gen. 4.13 [PG 53.44d])

By detracting attention from Heterousian thought concerned with comprehending () the divine nature, Chrysostom refocuses on that which can be known: Gods works in the winding narrative of human salvation. Not that his providential dispensations can be predicted ahead of time (, ), but with the aid of Scriptures latent enchantment of the sequences of history, Chrysostom presents a dynamic contemplation of the soteriological contours of creation. In turn, these things circles back to Gods and , displayed even through the creation of the heavens and earth (1). Likewise, the one who ventures to distinguish between divine natures at the pre-temporal council of Gen 1:26-27 misrepresents a passage intended for an entirely different purpose: orienting history towards renewal in the Son. Chrysostoms engagement with Heterousian thought is on the whole subtle. It is not primarily through the boisterous assertions of the Nicene Creed and its tremendous but tumultuous legacy. It is instead through his theory of names. He does not respond to

Nassif 2007, 54.

47 systematization by drawing increasingly rigid distinctions; he does not respond to the Heterousian theory of names and essences by claiming that unfolds the character or the substance of God, some careful difference that feigns to subvert their logic. Rather, he calls for a discerning mind in regard to language that is applied to God. Such names refer to processes of creation and salvation in history with diverse but mutually illuminating contexts. He regards the language of Scripture as an abundant and perplexing interchange of event and symbol, pointing the eager soul to contemplation of Gods action and thereby his constant . In conclusion of our study, the Golden Tongues theory of names has a completely different point of departure than that of Eunomius. For Chrysostom, names and events applied to God signify participatory realities in that they invite the hearer into Gods soteriological ordering of events. Names are therefore primarily theological. For Eunomius, names objectify essences, signifying the reality of the thing as such so that the world and its Creator are all that they seem to be. Names are for Eunomius primarily philosophical. In a kind of concession to the Eunomiuss point about the importance for genuine religious experience, Chrysostom steers clear of a contradiction between human perception and reality. He says instead that humans are part of a cosmos rich in mystery, and their place in it, and thereby their intellectual comprehension of its totality, is subordinate to that of the Architect who fashioned it from nothing in accordance with his purposes. Reading Scripture and reading creation are participatory journeys in the drama of redemption.




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