John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

John Chrysostom, priest of Antioch and bishop of Constantinople (398-404), is perhaps best known for his homilies and treatises, which earned him the sobriquet of 'the Golden Mouth (Gk Chrysostomos)'. His training as a rhetorician occurred in his birthplace, Antioch, under a pagan orator, who has been identified with some certainty as Libanius.40 Following his graduation from these studies at the age of eighteen, he was baptised and attached himself to the pro-Nicene Bishop Meletius as an aide. He undertook ascetic instruction at an asketerion, and then spent six years in the mountains following rigorous ascetic practice. He was ordained in 386, and spent the next eleven years as presbyter to the then-dominant Nicene faction. During397 he was removed from this see to take up the patriarchate in Constantinople. His pastoral and political agenda in Constantinople antagonised members of various powerful cliques in addition to the bishop of Alexandria, Theophilus. John was deposed from his see in 403 through the intrigues of Theophilus, and exiled but recalled at once by the emperor Arcadius. Less than a year later he was banished to Armenia. He died in 407, while being transported further afield to Iberia. All of his surviving letters date from the period of his exile, to which we return below.41

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c. 383-c. 460) Theodoret of Cyrrhus, 'the last apologist', was born at Antioch, and received his education in a monastic school there under John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia.42 He entered a monastery at Nicerte upon the death of his parents, and seven years later became bishop of Cyrrhus, a Syrian town. Thus it was that Theodoret left the solitude of the monastery to undertake the busy life of a diocese. He was active in self-funding public works in the pagan tradition of philanthropia,43 and in the persecution of heretics, who were flourishing in his diocese.44 Theodoret is best known for his involvement in the Christologi-cal controversies that engulfed him in his later years. At the 'Robber' Synod of Ephesus (449), he was deposed and forced into exile by the Miaphysite party led by Dioscorus of Alexandria. Recalled by the emperor Marcian, he was finally re-instated by the Council of Chalcedon (451), upon his condemnation of Nestorius. During this time he composed a Christological dialogue in the

40 This brief account of John's life is based on Wendy Mayer and Pauline Allen, John Chrysostom, 5-11.

42 Sr M. Monica Wagner, 'A chapter in Byzantine epistolography', i25.

43 P. Allen, 'The Syrian church through bishop's eyes'.

44 See for example Theodoret, Letter 8i (SC 98: i96-8).

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