Paul's therapy of the soul: a new approach to John Chrysostom and anti-Judaism
Wilson VanVeller, Courtney
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Since the mid 20th century, scholars have paid increasing attention to the anti-Judaism inherent in early Christian writings, identifying John Chrysostom's fourth-century homilies as a particularly hostile example of that heritage. As a "doctor of the church" and an important contributor to Christian orthodoxy as it developed in late antiquity, John is particularly well known for his eight sermons "Against the Jews," which invoke the apostle Paul as a central voice of authority for his thoroughly anti-Judaic Christianity. Yet, as is clear from his broader corpus, he encountered in Paul not only a fellow preacher who warned against Judaizing Christians, but also a self-identified Israelite who preached in Jewish places, observed elements of the Jewish law, and cried out for the salvation of Israel. In this dissertation, I argue that John's engagement with Paul's complex relationship to Judaism offers an especially productive, yet untapped, source for insight into John's anti-Judaic rhetoric. By offering a fresh analysis of John's sermons on Acts and the Pauline epistles, I place John's interpretation of Paul within a trajectory of classical moral philosophy wherein rhetoric was perceived as philosophical therapy for the soul. John frames Paul's persistent participation in Jewish places and practices and amiable rhetoric about his fellow Jews as strategic therapies deployed in order to manage Jewish emotions (pathe) and thus to guide diseased Jewish souls out of Judaism. Paul's own Jewishness is therefore mobilized to bolster a characterization of Jews as diseased and of Paul himself as an exemplary model of non-Jewish Christian orthodoxy. Attention to John's interpretations of Paul's "therapy of the soul" points to a more subtle and pervasive anti-Judaism than previously detected, one that stakes a claim to Christian orthodoxy, and therefore Christian identity more broadly, on the purportedly loving disavowal of Judaism by the apostle himself.