Chrysostom slapping the Jews

I realised today that I must be one of the most disadvantaged people on the internet, when it comes to John Chrysostom’s 8 sermons against the Jews. 

The politically correct or Jewish know that we must condemn these, since it Isn’t Allowed to say anything that looks anti-Jewish (although the PC seem to think that trying to destroy Israel is fine).  But I don’t suffer from the most minute particle of PC-ness, and I am not a Jew. 

The Eastern Orthodox know that we must endorse St. John, and if the Jews don’t like it that just shows that the saint was Right Again!  But I don’t feel any lure of Orthodoxy whatever.

The orthodox-haters (often PC) know that these sermons are clear proof that the orthodox need to pay compensation to the Jews.  But I don’t feel any urge to bash the Orthodox.

The anti-semitic know that this is just one more piece of evidence that the Jews plan to take over the world and silence any criticism.  But I don’t feel any urge to promote the new holocaust whatever (except when cornered over breakfast by Jewish nationalists), and I rather think that Israel is a good thing.

It would be easy to decide my attitude to these texts, if I held any of these views.  But I don’t.  Do I need to?  Do I need to sit in judgement over them?  If so, why?

C. Mervyn Maxwell, Chrysostom’s homilies against the Jews : an English translation, Thesis (Ph. D.)–University of Chicago, 1967, exists.  This predates PC, and so just has good old-fashioned revulsion of the holocaust in mind.  I’ve seen it and it’s pretty even-handed.  (I did approach the family about getting this online, but was met with a demand for dollars, sadly).

Online files of a translation also exist, of unknown origin and copyright status.  A volume in the Fathers of the Church series (1979) also exists.

But these translations are incomplete.  Sermon 2 is about a third of the length of the others in all the manuscripts.   Wendy Pradels discovered the lost portion in a previously unknown manuscript at Lesbos, and fortunately for us all described her discovery in accessible English.  A German text and translation exists.  So we need someone to translate the new portion into English, and make it freely available online.

Anyone fancy a go?

1 Response to “Chrysostom slapping the Jews”


  1. mike

    Have you read *John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century*, by Robert L. Wilken? It’s very good, and it just came back into print from Wipf and Stock.