Bible is the most popular book around the world. It is a collection of sacred scriptures about Christs life. The exploration and interpretation of the Biblical texts was in the focus of many theological schools since ancient times.
The two most popular are Antiochene school and Alexandrian school. The difference between these schools lies in the different approaches to the interpretations of the Old Testament texts and prophetic figures. The Alexandrian school focused on the spiritual sense of the Biblical texts. As opposed to Alexanderian school, the representatives of the Antiochene school focus on the historical context of the texts.
One of the representatives of the Antiochene school is John Chrysostom who made a great contribution to the analysis of the Biblical patriarchal and prophetic figures. His work on the interpretation of the biblical text presents an excellent example of Antiochene exegesis. In this paper, we are going to provide the analysis of the Chrysostoms The Homilies and support an argument that it has all characteristics of Antiochene exegesis.
The School of Antioch was the second major school that provided an independent approach to the study of biblical exegesis. Its study was opposed to the School of Alexandria. The core idea of the Antiochene exegesis was to distinguish the divine and human nature of Jesus Christ.
Antiochenes study and interpretation of the Bible was primarily based on the historical approach and human nature of Jesus, Antiochene School is noted for its Christology (which placed emphasis upon the humanity of Christ) and its method of biblical interpretation (which employed literal methods of exegesis) (McGrath 346).
The representatives of the school were interested in Christs human values and his power of self determination in order to preserve the Jesus human involvement and emphasize the reality of the suffering of the Christ. Attitude to the Christ as to a human and one of us was possible only when maintaining the separation between divine and human nature of Jesus Christ.
Apart from the different interpretation of Christs nature, the Antiochian Theology had other characteristics that separated it from other schools. The major characteristics are: the application of the historic-grammatical method of analysis of the biblical texts, the Dyophyseis (as it has already been mention, they distinguished two natures of Christ), and mans creatureliness.
The Antioch philosophers were not interested in the symbolism, allegories or spirituality of the texts, they focused on rhetoric, literal and historical aspects of the texts, as well as personalities they described. It was considered that a true understanding of the texts and real contexts of biblical stories can be understood only through the analysis of the language of the biblical texts for the purpose of moral and dogmatic teaching (Heen, Krey, and Oden 20). All these features can be found in works by John Chrysostom.
John Chrysostom (c. 354-407 C.E.) was an Antichene fellow student and the preacher. He is famous for his Antiochene exegesis of biblical texts. He made Antiochene exegesis very popular. When analyzing texts, he based his interpretations not only on principles of Antiochene exegesis, but on Aristotelian metaphysics and epistemology and Cappadocian fathers. His sermons were very straightforward description of the Holly Texts.
In fact, he was not a great theologian or writer, but he was a great orator. He is considered to be the representative of the Antiochene school, but in his public sermons, he used as Antiochene exegesis, as Alexandrian allegory. However, in his texts, he tried to relate the biblical knowledge with the real life. Almost every of his writings, he provided a line by line analysis, interpretation and explanation of the texts.
Moreover, his texts show how important were the biblical writings for him. The uniqueness of his texts lies in the fact that he recognized the allegory, but rarely used it in his works. The particularity is that his texts are characterized by rhetorical ornament. Moreover, he used the grammatico-historical exegesis, in other words, he it himself into situation of the reader, his psychological state and the time period when the real text was written.
All his works contain particular moral and social lessons. What is more important, his texts are written with understandable language. Thus, his main aim was to show the main idea of the text with ordinary language that would be easy to understand by every reader.
He worked on both Testaments, but gave a special attention to Epistles of Paul. He was one of the firsts who focused on the literal meaning of the texts. He said, We are not the lords over the rules of interpretation, but must pursue scriptures interpretation of itself and in that way make use of the allegorical method (Dockery 117).
His works still attract attention of the modern scientists and scholarly studies about Chrysostom are largely concerned with the provenance of his writings, with their availability as a historical source, and with their classifications as either homilies or literary tracts (Amirav 25).
One of the most famous works by Chrysostom is Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews. This work presents an in-depth analysis and comprehensive interpretation of the biblical text, and exactly this work, was held in the highest regard through the Reformation, in the East and the West (Heen, Krey, and Oden 20). The Chrysostoms interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews was not the only work, there are also texts by Theodore of Mopsuestia and early comments by Origen.
However, exactly the work by Chrysostom gained the greatest popularity and became the material for many scholarly works. In addition, the Latin translation of the work became the basis for the Western commentary traditions, It is this Latin translation that provides the foundation for the on the Epistle to Hebrew (Heen, Krey, and Oden 20).
This text takes a unique place in the in the interpretation of the Hebrew and this analysis had a great influence on subsequent interpretations of the text. The most interesting and impressive about the text is its rhetorical eloquence, Chrysostoms works and Greek prose is praised as among the from the revival of interest in the Greek language, known as the second sophistic (Heen, Krey, and Oden 30).
The epistle to the Hebrews presents a comparison of the new vision of Christ and his learning with Judaism. The author makes use of comparison to show what was different with the new study and what was constructed as good. The aim was not to show simply that new was better, but persuade the audience to accept new vision like alternative to the previous one and support its rightness, but the listeners could decide by themselves:
What is better is better than something else that is good, From the first, therefore, the Israelites were themselves the cause of Gods being manifested through the flesh They who make comparison elevate the one side more that they may show the other to be far greater (Chrysostom 223).
As opposed to vivid comparisons, the author also makes use of exaggerations in his text. As such, we can see that John Chrysostom was a very skilled rhetor, thus it is no wonder that people were fighting in order to be closer to this man during his speeches. Another important feature of the epistle is that it aims at giving people practical guide to understanding of the Bible.
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