Two days ago I posted on a strong expression attributed to John Chrysostom:
The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.
Commenters united to say that the ‘quote’ is bogus, and has long been known as such. T.J. Buckton in Notes & Queries ser.1.V.117 (1852) p.92 (online here) writes as follows:
Hell paved with the Skulls of Priests (Vol. iv., p. 484.). — The French priest referred to in this Query had most probably quoted, at second or third hand, and with rhetorical embellishment — certainly not from the original direct — an expression of St. Chrysostom, m his third homily on the Acts of the Apostles :
“οὐκ οῖμαι εῖναι πόλλους ἐν τοῖς ἰερευσι τοὺς σωζομένους, ἀλλὰ πολλῳ πλείους τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους”
I know not if there be many in the priesthood, who are saved, but I know that many more perish.”
Gibbon has also quoted this passage at second hand (v. 399. note z.), for he says :
“Chrysostom declares his free opinion (tom. ix. hom. iii. in Act. Apostol. p. 29.) that the number of bishops who might be saved, bore a very small proportion to those who would be damned.”
It may be safely asserted that the above expression of Chrysostom is the strongest against the priesthood to be found in any of the Christian Fathers of authority in the Church.
T. J. Buckton.
Well! A fairly definite opinion, that. Can anyone find “vol. 4, p.484” in Google books? I’d like to see the context, as this must be a reply.
On to Chrysostom’s Sermon III on Acts. In the NPNF translation we find this:
I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish;
Which is undoubtedly the same sentence. I would tend to call that a mistranslation, except that Chrysostom is definitely talking about bishops, in context, and trying to deter men from corruptly obtaining high ecclesiastical office.