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John Chrysostom and the Rebirth of Antiochene Mission in Late Antiquity

  • Jonathan P. Stanfill


There is surprisingly little evidence to suggest that bishops played a major role in initiating and overseeing missionary endeavors between the second and fourth centuries CE. John Chrysostom (d. 407), who directed a number of missionary enterprises as the bishop of Constantinople, represents one well-established exception. This article argues that Chrysostom cultivated his distinctive approach to mission during his formative years in Antioch by tracing the key features of Chrysostom's mission strategy back to the activities of his episcopal mentors in Antioch, especially their efforts to promote the Christianization of the surrounding rural areas and their assertion of jurisdictional claims over regions beyond the Roman Empire. In conjunction with these activities, Chrysostom developed his own scriptural justification for mission during this period in which he advocated for emulation of the apostle Paul, who was, in his estimation, Christianity's missionary exemplar.



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I am especially grateful to Wendy Mayer, George Demacopoulos, Tera Lee Hendrick, Andrea Sterk, and two anonymous Church History reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions at various stages of this essay's evolution. I must also thank Catherine Osborne for her editorial support. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are my own. And, of course, any remaining shortcomings are my own as well.



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1 Matt. 10:5–15; Mark 6:7–13; and Luke 9:1–6.

2 Matt. 28:19–20; and Mark 16:15.

3 For an example of unnamed missionaries, see Acts 19:11–12. For the subsequent appeal to the missionary efforts of the apostles to justify claims of apostolic foundations by Syriac churches, see Saint-Laurent, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon, Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), 1771.

4 For example, see Thompson, E. A., “Christianity and the Northern Barbarians,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 1, no. 1 (1957): 321; Frend, W. H. C., “The Missions of the Early Church, 180–700 AD,” in Miscellanea historiae ecclesiasticae 3: Colloque de Cambridge, 24–28 septembre 1968, ed. Baker, Derek (Louvain: Publications Universitaires de Louvain, 1970), 323; Molland, Einar, “Besaß die Alte Kirche ein Missionsprogramm und bewußte Missionsmethod?” in Die Alte Kirche, ed. Frohnes, Heinzgünter and Knorr, Uwe W. (München: Kaiser, 1974), 5167; Goodman, Martin, Mission and Conversion: Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994); Curran, John, “The Conversion of Rome Revisited,” in Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity, ed. Mitchell, Stephen and Greatrex, Geoffrey (London: Duckworth, 2000), 103115; Ivanov, Sergey A., “Religious Missions,” in The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire c. 500–1492, ed. Shepard, Jonathan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 305332; and Ivanov, Sergey A., “Pearls Before Swine”: Missionary Work in Byzantium, trans. Hoffman, Deborah (Paris: Association des amis du Centre d'histoire et de Civilization de Byzance, 2015), 2142.

5 I define episcopally organized mission as an intentional and organized effort, overseen by a bishop, to promote the Christianization of a specific people. These undertakings would have encompassed a wide range of activities, such as the evangelization of non-Christians, the discipleship of Christians, and the maintenance of orthodoxy (Allen, Pauline and Mayer, Wendy, “Through a Bishop's Eyes: Towards a Definition of Pastoral Care in Late Antiquity,” Augustinianum 40, no. 2 [2000]: 345397, esp. 377–378). But I also argue that what constitutes these activities as “mission” is their employment in a setting that entails a degree of boundary crossing (e.g., geographical, ethnic, linguistic, or cultural). I am influenced here by the trend in missiology to frame “mission” in terms of contextualization (i.e., accommodating the Christian faith to a local culture). See Prince, Andrew James, Contextualization of the Gospel: Towards an Evangelical Approach in the Light of Scripture and the Church Fathers (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf and Stock, 2017). For similar definitions of “mission” in late antiquity, see Wood, Ian N., The Missionary Life: Saints and the Evangelisation of Europe, 400–1050 (Harlow: Longman, 2001), 34; Andrea Sterk, “Mission from Below: Captive Women and Conversion on the East Roman Frontiers,” Church History 79, no. 1 (March 2010): 2n3; and Ivanov, Pearls Before Swine, 9.

6 On the absence of missionary undertakings, especially to the barbarians, see Thompson, “Christianity and the Northern Barbarians,” 9–10; Frend, “Missions of the Early Church,” 13; and Burns, Thomas S., Rome and the Barbarians, 100 B.C.–A.D. 400 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 369.

7 On “mission from below,” see Haas, Christopher, “Mountain Constantines: The Christianization of Aksum and Iberia,” Journal of Late Antiquity 1, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 101126; and Sterk, “Mission from Below,” 1–39. Ivanov characterizes these freelance individuals as accidental missionaries in “Religious Missions,” 307.

8 See Jonathan Stanfill, “Embracing the Barbarian: John Chrysostom's Pastoral Care of the Goths,” (PhD diss., Fordham University, 2015), 146–275.

9 John Chrysostom, Epistle 9.5 (hereafter all epistles are abbreviated Ep.); ps-Martyrius, Oratio funebris in laudem sancti Iohannis Chrysostomi 25 (hereafter cited as Orat. funeb.); and Theodoret, Sermones quinque in Iohannem Chrysostomum hom. 5.

10 This is addressed further below in section VI.

11 On the challenges of using “mission” and “missionary” in the context of earliest Christianity, see Hvalvik, Reidar, “In Word and Deed: The Expansion of the Church in the Pre-Constantinian Era,” in The Mission of the Early Church to Jews and Gentiles, ed. Ådna, Jostein and Kvalbein, Hans (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 265273.

12 For Chrysostom's expectations of what mission work entailed, see pages 922–923. He uses “manager” in reference to the Phoenician mission twice: Chrysostom, Ep. 51 (Patrologiae cursus completus, series graeca, 161 vols. [Paris: Migne, 1857–1866], 52:636.46–47 [hereafter cited as PG]); and Chrysostom, Ep. 221 (PG 52:732.46–47). The missionaries in Phoenicia are variously described as monks, presbyters, and brothers: Ep. 123 (PG 52:676–78); and Ep. 126 (PG 52:685.43–45, 686.7–8).

13 Baur, Chrysostomus, John Chrysostom and His Time, trans. Gonzaga, M. (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1959), 2:388; Kelly, J. N. D., Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom-Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995), 143; and Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G., Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), 169. Some studies, however, simply do not discuss his motivation, e.g., Stevenson, Walt, “John Chrysostom, Maruthas and Christian Evangelism in Sasanian Iran,” Studia Patristica 47 (2010): 301306.

14 Liebeschuetz, Barbarians and Bishops, 170.

15 Acts 11:19–30, 13:1–3, 14:21–28, and 18:23.

16 John Chrysostom, De statuis hom. 17.10 (hereafter cited as De stat.) (PG 49:176.17–177.19).

17 Regarding the Christianization of the Syrian countryside, Frans van de Paverd claims it was not “a purely missionary situation” in St. John Chrysostom, The Homilies on the Statues: An Introduction (Rome: Pontificio Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1991), 278. But a construal of mission and pastoral care as separate categories is unwarranted. Rather, as noted above, “mission” should be understood as a variety of pastoral activities employed in situations that require some kind of boundary crossing. By this definition, the efforts of Chrysostom's Antiochene bishops to promote the Christianization of the rural Syrian population surely constitute a mission.

18 Throughout this essay, I refer to these activities as representing an “Antiochene” approach to mission without presuming (or seeking to establish) that it was an intentionally unified strategy and entirely distinctive to this see. Rather, it suffices as a shorthand descriptor of the collective pastoral efforts of Chrysostom's bishops.

19 The divisions began after Eudoxius, the city's bishop, was transferred to Constantinople in 360. Meletius, who hailed from Armenia, was installed as his successor. But he was abruptly exiled once the Homoian imperial court discovered his sympathies for the Nicene cause. The Homoian Euzoius then assumed the episcopal throne, while the Eustathian separatist faction consecrated Paulinus. Meletius returned in 362 and, with the exception of the Eustathians, enjoyed the support of the Nicene Christians in Antioch. However, the Meletian faction was forced to meet outside of the city during Chrysostom's early years because it did not gain control of the city's churches until 378. In the 370s, the city even briefly gained a fourth bishop, Vitalis, who led an Apollinarist faction.

20 Palladius, Dialogus de vita s. Iohannis Chrysostomi 5 (hereafter cited as Dial.). The responsibilities that came with this position remain unknown.

21 Palladius, Dial. 5.

22 Kelly, Golden Mouth, 37–38.

23 Chrysostom's role as a deacon entailed both liturgical and administrative responsibilities (Baur, John Chrysostom, 1:152–160) and required working in intimate proximity to his bishop (Constitutiones Apostolorum 2.44).

24 Flavian was ordained to the priesthood by Meletius in the early 360s and, along with Diodore (another teacher of Chrysostom), served as the “soul and backbone” of the Meletian community in Antioch (Baur, John Chrysostom, 1:92).

25 John Chrysostom, De s. Meletio 3.

26 For Chrysostom's relationship with Flavian, see Baur, John Chrysostom, 1:390–395.

27 Kelly, Golden Mouth, 57; however, Mayer, Wendy and Allen, Pauline, John Chrysostom (London: Routledge, 2000), 67 calls attention to the speculative nature of this claim.

28 For a thorough discussion of this possibility, along with other possible explanations for Chrysostom's involvement with this mission, see pages 919–920.

29 der Maur, Ivo Auf, Mönchtum und Glaubensverkündigung in den Schriften des hl. Johannes Chrysostomus (Freiburg: Universitäts, 1959), esp. 124141.

30 Frend, W. H. C., “The Winning of the Countryside,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 18, no. 1 (April 1967): 114; and Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G., “Problems Arising from the Conversion of Syria,” in The Church in Town and Countryside, ed. Baker, Derek (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979), 1724.

31 Auf der Maur, Mönchtum und Glaubensverkündigung, 142–179, 180–181.

32 For the traditional dating of the canons, see Hefele, Charles Joseph, A History of the Councils of the Church: From the Original Documents (1896; repr., New York: AMS, 1972), 2:5666. For the consensus view, which maintains that the canons belong to a synod in Antioch around 330, see Hess, Hamilton, The Canons of the Council of Sardica A.D. 343: A Landmark in the Early Development of Canon Law (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 145150. Stephens, Christopher W. B., however, has argued the canons belong to an Antiochene synod in 338 in Canon Law and Episcopal Authority: The Canons of Antioch and Serdica (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 1182. The reception of the canons is discussed in Hefele, Councils of the Church, 2:59. It is significant that, regardless of the creedal affinities of the bishops in attendance at the council, the canons were widely recognized as authoritative in antiquity.

33 The presence of country bishops is well attested throughout the eastern half of the empire during this period. See, for example, Kirsten, E., “Chorbischof,” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 2 (1954): 11051114; and Scholten, Clemens, “Der Chorbischof bei Basilius,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 103, no. 2 (1992): 149173.

34 Canon 9 (translated in Hefele, Councils of the Church, 2:69).

35 Van de Paverd, Homilies on the Statues, 277–288. See also John Chrysostom, Catecheses ad illuminandos 8 (hereafter cited as Cat.); and Chrysostom, De stat. 19.

36 Chrysostom, Cat. 8.1–4, translated in Harkins, Paul W., Baptismal Instructions, Ancient Christian Writers 31 (New York: Paulist, 1963), 119121.

37 Chrysostom, Cat. 8.1.

38 Van de Paverd, Homilies on the Statues, 281–288.

39 Van de Paverd, Homilies on the Statues, 286.

40 These missionaries were loyal insofar as they maintained a relationship with the bishop and, more importantly, followed his directives. In other words, they were not operating as freelance ascetics.

41 While Auf der Maur downplayed the significance of ordination for Chrysostom's missionary monks (Mönchtum und Glaubensverkündigung, 181), the fact remains that many of the monks involved in Chrysostom's Phoenician and Gothic missions were also ordained, which further highlights the connection between Antioch's use of ascetics as rural clergy and Chrysostom's later practice.

42 Ps-Martyrius, Orat. funeb. 26; and Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica 5.29 (hereafter cited as Hist. eccl.). Proclus of Constantinople also attests to Chrysostom's involvement with the destruction of temples as the bishop of Constantinople in Oration 20.3 (PG 65:832).

43 See, for example, Sulpicius Severus, “On the Life of St. Martin,” trans. Alexander Roberts in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, 2nd ser., vol. 11 (repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997); Besa, The Life of Shenoute, trans. David N. Bell (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian, 1983); and Mark the Deacon, The Life of Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza, trans. G. F. Hill (Oxford: Clarendon, 1913).

44 See, for example, Fowden, Garth, “Bishops and Temples in the Eastern Roman Empire AD 320–435,” Journal of Theological Studies 29, no. 1 (April 1978): 5378; Trombley, Frank R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization: c. 370–529, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1993); Sauer, Eberhard W., The Archaeology of Religious Hatred in the Roman and Early Medieval World (Charleston, S.C.: Tempus, 2003); Gaddis, Michael, There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); and Sizgorich, Thomas, Violence and Belief in Late Antiquity: Militant Devotion in Christianity and Islam (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

45 On the alienation of pagan temples, see Lavan, Luke and Mulryan, Michael, eds., The Archaeology of Late Antique “Paganism” (Leiden: Brill, 2011). For the lack of archaeological evidence for temple destruction by Christians, including subsequent conversion to churches, see Bayliss, Richard, Provincial Cilicia and the Archaeology of Temple Conversion (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2004); Hahn, Johannes, Emmel, Stephen, and Gotter, Ulrich, eds., From Temple to Church: Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity (Boston: Brill, 2008); and Ward-Perkins, Bryan, “The End of Temples: An Archaeological Problem,” in Spätantiker Staat und religiöser Konflikt: imperiale und lokale Verwaltung und die Gewalt gegen Heiligtümer, ed. Hahn, Johannes (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011), 187199. This is not to say that Christians in the fourth century never attacked pagan temples, but rather, the archaeological record has significantly undermined the narrative of a widespread campaign. There were certainly instances of this destructive behavior, as we shall see shortly. Moreover, this revisionist assessment still needs to be reconciled with the evidence of increased hostility toward pagans and their temples during Constantine's reign provided by Palladas, whose epigrams have been convincingly redated to ca. 259–340 in Wilkinson, Kevin W., “Palladas and the Age of Constantine,” Journal of Roman Studies 99 (2009): 3660, esp. 51–54.

46 The veracity of Libanius's account of destruction continues to be widely accepted. See, for example, Hahn, Emmel, and Gotter, From Temple to Church, 9; Sizgorich, Violence and Belief, 86–91; and Luke Lavan, “The End of the Temples: Towards a New Narrative?,” in Lavan and Mulryan, The Archaeology of Late Antique “Paganism,” xxi. Douglas Watson rejects the historicity of the campaign on the basis of his analysis of archaeological surveys carried out in the twentieth century in “Black-Robed Fury: Libanius’ Oration 30 and Temple Destruction in the Antiochene Countryside in Late Antiquity” (master's thesis, University of Ottowa, 2012), 51–60; but he fails to address the recently discovered archaeological evidence that attests to six temple conversions in the Antiochene countryside dating from the late fourth and early fifth centuries, discussed in Trombley, Frank R., “Christian Demography in the territorium of Antioch (4th–5th c.): Observations on Epigraphy,” in Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch: Papers from a Colloquium London, 15th December 2001, ed. Sandwell, Isabella and Huskinson, Janet (Oxford: Oxbow, 2004), 6364.

47 Libanius, Oration 30.12 (hereafter cited as Or.); on σωφρονισταί, see Norman, A. F., Libanius: Selected Orations, Loeb Classical Library 452 (hereafter cited as LCL 452) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977), 112.

48 Libanius, Or. 30.8.

49 Libanius, Or. 30.9–11.

50 Libanius, Or. 30.46–50. The “scoundrel” is most often identified as Cynegius, who sought the closure of temples during his tenure as the praetorian prefect of the East: van Loy, Rene, “Le ‘Pro Templis’ de Libanius,” Byzantion 8 (1933): 19, 403; Petit, Paul, “Sur la date du ‘Pro Templis’ de Libanius,” Byzantion 21, no. 2 (1951): 294309; Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G., Antioch: City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), 238; Norman, Libanius, 143; and Cribiore, Raffaella, Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2013), 196n65. Alternatively, Neil McLynn proposes Libanius was referring to “a lower-ranking official who could nevertheless claim to enjoy the emperor's friendship . . . [possibly] a provincial administrator of the res privata,” in his chapter “‘Genere Hispanus’: Theodosius, Spain and Nicene Orthodoxy,” in Hispania in Late Antiquity: Current Perspectives, ed. Kimberly Diane Bowes and Michael Kulikowski (Boston: Brill, 2005), 111–113; followed by van Nuffelen, Pater, “Not the Last Pagan: Libanius Between Elite Rhetoric and Religion,” in Libanius: A Critical Introduction, ed. Hoof, Lieve Van (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 308. On the confiscation of land, especially temple lands, by the res privata, see Jones, A. H. M., The Later Roman Empire, 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 411427.

51 This is not to say that the see of Antioch alone supported the destruction of temples. However, given the archaeological reassessment of this activity across the empire, it appears to stand out as unusual.

52 Libanius, Or. 30.11, 15.

53 Libanius, Or. 30.8–9, 12.

54 Raymond Van Dam, “From Paganism to Christianity at Late Antique Gaza,” Viator 16, no. 1 (1985): 19.

55 Libanius, Or. 30.9 (LCL 452:109).

56 Panteleimon Rodopoulos, “Primacy of Honor and Jurisdiction (Canons Two and Three of the Second Ecumenical Synod),” in La Signification et l'actualité du IIe Concile Oecuménique pour le monde chrétien d'aujourd'hui, ed. Centre orthodoxe du Patriarcat oecuménique (Chambésy: Éditions du Centre orthodoxe du Patriarcat oecuménique, 1982), 382.

57 There is nothing in the third canon to insinuate any new missionary prerogatives. Rather, it addresses the evolving influence of the see of Constantinople in the post-Constantinian age. The danger of Rodopoulos's hypothesis is anachronistically reading the third canon in light of the twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon (ca. 451), which placed the barbarian bishops in the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace under the bishop of Constantinople.

58 For an anti-Alexandrian reading of the canons, see Peter L'Huillier, The Church of the Ancient Councils: The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996), 118; and Rodopoulos, “Primacy of Honor and Jurisdiction,” 379–381. However, Neil McLynn disputes the anti-Alexandrian thesis in “Two Romes, Beacons of the Whole World,” in Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity, ed. Lucy Grig and Gavin Kelly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 351–352. But even if the canon was not initially designed to censure the bishop of Alexandria, Chrysostom did level this same accusation at Theophilus of Alexandria in Ep. 1 ad Innocentum; see also Palladius, Dial. 2.

59 On the principle of accommodation, see Dvornik, Francis, The Idea of Apostolicity in Byzantium and the Legend of the Apostle Andrew (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), 338; and Dvornik, Francis, Byzantium and the Roman Primacy (New York: Fordham University Press, 1966), 3136.

60 “Constantinople I: 381,” trans. Robert Butterworth, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner, vol. 1, Nicaea I to Lateran V (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1990), 31–32. Since this matter was not addressed at Nicaea, the reference to “the fathers” seems to appeal to whatever precedent existed in each situation: Mathisen, Ralph W., “Barbarian Bishops and the Churches ‘in Barbaricis Gentibus’ during Late Antiquity,” Speculum 72, no. 3 (July 1997): 668669.

61 Wiles, Maurice, Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 45; and Doležal, Stanislav, “Joannes Chrysostomos and the Goths,” Graecolatina Pragensia 21 (2006): 170.

62 Stanfill, “Embracing the Barbarian,” 78–145.

63 Vlassios Pheidas, “Les critères canoniques des décisions administratives du IIe Concile oecuménique,” in Centre orthodoxe du Patriarcat oecuménique, IIe Concile Oecuménique, 394–396.

64 Mathisen, “Barbarian Bishops,” 668.

65 Mathisen, “Barbarian Bishops,” 669.

66 For example, see Elvira (306) Canon 19; Ancyra (314) Canon 18; Nicaea (325) Canon 16; Antioch (338) Canon 13; and Serdica (343) Canon 11, 15, 18 (Latin).

67 It is worth noting that these relations often seem to have been cultivated only after freelance missionaries converted a foreign ruler (who then requested a bishop) rather than by proactive efforts initiated by bishops within the empire. See, for example, the anonymous captive woman who converted the king of Iberia and then advised him to request clerics from Constantine (Rufinus, Historia eccl esiastica 10.11) and similar situations in Armenia, Axum, and Yemen (Sterk, “Mission from Below,” 8–11).

68 On their publication, see Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787): Their History and Theology (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical, 1990), 120.

69 Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 5.8 (hereafter cited as Hist. eccl.). The likelihood of Meletius's involvement in drafting the second canon is further supported by Davis's argument that the bishop was also responsible for crafting the fourth canon in The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, 128.

70 The Antiochene claim over Persia is widely recognized, but little studied. See, for example, Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, 127–128; Mathisen, “Barbarian Bishops,” 669; and Stevenson, “Christian Evangelism in Sasanian Iran,” 301–306. Chrysostom recognizes Antiochene jurisdiction over Arabia in Ep. 221 (PG 52:733.20–23), which is striking because he does not view it as a new development but rather a reflection of the status quo at that time.

71 For brief treatments of Chrysostom's view of Paul as a missionary, see Piédagnel, Auguste, Panégyriques de S. Paul, Sources chrétiennes 300 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1982), 3943; and Mitchell, Margaret, The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 7578. On Chrysostom's overall fascination with Paul, see also Pak-Wah Lai, “John Chrysostom and the Hermeneutics of Exemplar Portraits” (PhD diss., Durham University, 2010), 130–172; Heiser, Andreas, Die Paulusinszenierung des Johannes Chrysostomus: Epitheta und ihre Vorgeschichte (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012); and Rylaarsdam, David, John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy: The Coherence of His Theology and Preaching (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 157193.

72 While the origins of the “Great Commission” (that is, reading Matt. 28:18–20 as a command for all Christians to engage in evangelism) remains debated, this interpretation has been popularized by Protestant evangelical missions: Klauber, Martin and Manetsch, Scott M., eds., The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions (Nashville, Tenn.: B and H, 2008); see also Green, Michael, Evangelism in the Early Church, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003), 278.

73 See, for example, Kerygma Petrou 4; Justin Martyr, 1 Apologeticus 39.3; Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 3.1.1; Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 5.19; Tertullian De praescriptione haereticorum 20; Tertullian Adversus Judaeos 5; 7; and Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus 8.

74 Goodman, Mission and Conversion, 106–107; see also Reidar Hvalvik, “In Word and Deed,” 277–279, who argues that the apostolic commission texts were never used to encourage missionary activity during this period. This is not to say that Chrysostom's episcopal contemporaries did not engage in mission precisely because there was no scriptural mandate. Instead, early Christian biblical interpretation had not produced a universal mandate for mission.

75 John Chrysostom, In Acta apostolorum hom. 1 (hereafter cited as In Act. apost. hom.) (PG 60:19.28–29): δώδεκα πτωχῶν καὶ ἀγραμμάτων ἀνθρώπων. See also Chrysostom, In Matthaeum hom. 75 (hereafter cited as In Mattaeum hom.); Chrysostom, In Matt. hom. 90; and Chrysostom, In Act. apost. hom. 5.

76 John Chrysostom, In epistulam ad Ephesios hom. 4.

77 John Chrysostom, In epistulam II ad Thessalonicenses hom. 5 (hereafter cited as In 2 Thess. hom.). See also Chrysostom, In Matt. hom. 25; and John Chrysostom, In epistulam ad Romanos hom. 1 (hereafter cited as In Rom. hom.).

78 Chrysostom, In Matt. hom. 69.

79 Chrysostom, In Rom. hom. 2.

80 Chrysostom, In Matt. hom. 75 (PG 58:689.1–4): Καὶ ὁρᾷς αὐτὸν ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ εἰς Σπανίαν τρέχοντα. Εἰ δὲ εἷς τοσοῦτον μέρος κατέλαβεν, ἐννόησον καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ πόσα εἰργάσαντο.

81 De laudibus sancti Pauli hom. 1–7 (PG 50:473–514).

82 Piédagnel proposes that these homilies were likely delivered over a span of several years due to the noticeable development of the rhetoric in the later homilies, but still near the beginning of his presbyterate in Antioch (thus ca. 390): Panégyriques de S. Paul, 19–20.

83 John Chrysostom, De laudibus s. Pauli hom. 2.8 (hereafter cited as De laud. Paul. hom.), translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 451.

84 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.4, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 443.

85 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.13, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 446; see also Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.15.

86 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 4.10, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 462.

87 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 4.13.

88 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.6, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 444.

89 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.4, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 443.

90 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 2.10, 3.10.

91 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 1.3–4. Even John Mark had been left behind because he lacked the sufficient, presumably ascetical, training to handle the suffering that was part and parcel of mission work: Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 6.12.

92 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 3.10, translated in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 456–457. Chrysostom does, on occasion, still emphasize the importance of Paul's miraculous ministry: Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 291–295.

93 Chrysostom, De laud. Paul. hom. 3.10.

94 Piédagnel, Panégyriques de S. Paul, 19.

95 Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet.

96 On his recruitment efforts for the Phoenician mission, see pages 920–921. For Chrysostom's efforts to generate support for the Gothic mission, see Chrysostom, Ep. 9.5, 206–207. See also his aforementioned admonishment to become involved in mission in Chrysostom, In 2 Thess. hom. 5.

97 Although Chrysostom was deposed from his episcopal see during his oversight of this mission, he still conducted himself as if he were the rightful bishop. For this reason, his behavior can be viewed as representative of his conduct when he occupied the see of Constantinople.

98 Theodoret, Hist. eccl. 5.29. There is no evidence for any imperial decree for this endeavor.

99 Chrysostom did enlist women to fund other projects (Wendy Mayer, “Constantinopolitan Women in Chrysostom's Circle,” Vigiliae Christianae 53, no. 3 [August 1999]: 265–288), but his correspondence related to this mission mentions only male patrons. In fact, these letters are addressed exclusively to men.

100 In this letter, Chrysostom charges Constantius with supervising not only Phoenicia, but also the diocese of the Orient, Arabia, and Cyprus. Curiously, he does not mention Persia. Since these regions belong to the jurisdiction of the see of Antioch, it seems as though Chrysostom is effectively treating Constantius as the rightful bishop of Antioch, without naming him as such.

101 Palladius, Dial. 16.

102 Baur, John Chrysostom, 2:388. Phoenicia had its own bishops, as twelve were listed at Nicaea. The hostility between Chrysostom (and his allies) and the bishops of Phoenicia appears to have been a recent development, since the latter had backed Flavian as the rightful bishop of Antioch in 381 (Socrates, Hist. eccl. 5.10; and Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica 7.11). We have no knowledge about whether any Phoenician bishops had previously assisted with this Antiochene mission.

103 Such action tellingly mirrors Chrysostom's efforts to prevent his own successor in Constantinople from “corrupting” (i.e., taking over) the Gothic mission in Ep. 9.5.

104 Mayer and Allen, John Chrysostom, 45. Wendy, Mayer, “Patronage, Pastoral Care and the Role of the Bishop at Antioch,” Vigiliae Christianae 55, no. 1 (2001): 69 also notes this possibility. This scenario would make Chrysostom's later instructions to Constantius even more significant. That is, Chrysostom's expectation that Constantius would facilitate the delivery of supplies and coordinate the deployment of missionaries to the region may have stemmed from the possibility that Flavian had tasked him with these responsibilities as well.

105 Chrysostom, Ep. 221 (PG 52:732–733). For its date (4 July 404), see Delmaire, Roland, “Les ‘lettres d'exil’ de Jean Chrysostome, etudes de chronologie et de prosopographie,” Recherches Augustiniennes 25 (1991): 120.

106 Chrysostom, Ep. 221 (PG 52:733.31–34).

107 Chrysostom, Ep. 53 (PG 52:637–638). For its date (mid-September 404), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 144. While Nicolaos is only referred to as a presbyter in this letter, he is addressed as a “monk and presbyter” (along with Theodotus and Chaereas) in Chrysostom, Ep. 146 (PG 52:698–699).

108 Chrysostom, Ep. 54 (PG 52:638–639). For its date (early September 404), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 130.

109 Chrysostom, Ep. 123 (PG 52:676–678). For its date (beginning of September 404), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 121. For another letter of encouragement to carry out mission work, see Ep. 28 (PG 52:627), dated to fall or early winter 404 in Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 114. In this letter, Chrysostom applauds the presbyter Basilius for his enthusiasm for converting pagans, but it is unclear where Basilius was located.

110 Chrysostom, Ep. 123 (PG 52:678.6–9).

111 Chrysostom, Ep. 21 (PG 52:624). For its date (early winter 404/405), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 106.

112 Chrysostom, Ep. 55 (PG 52:639–640). For its date (winter 404/405), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 160.

113 Chrysostom, Ep. 126 (PG 52:685.43–45).

114 Chrysostom, Ep. 126 (PG 52:685–687). For its date (near the end of 405), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 136, 157.

115 Chrysostom, Ep. 51 (PG 52:636–637). For its date (sometime in 405), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 124.

116 On John's return, see Chrysostom, Ep. 148 (PG 52:700.14–19). For its date (beginning of 406), see Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 88–89. Concerning his gratitude toward Nicoloas, see Chrysostom, Ep. 69 (PG 52:646.52–55), dated to spring of 406 in Delmaire, “Les ‘lettres d'exil,’” 144.

117 Interestingly, Frend posited a connection between Chrysostom's use of ascetics for the Phoenician mission and the Syrian monks involved in the aforementioned anti-temple campaign of the 380s in “Winning of the Countryside,” 7–8. But he did not elaborate further on it. This connection between Chrysostom's own practice and that of his episcopal mentor also helps to explain why he would depend so heavily on monks as missionaries even after his considerable conflict with the monks of Constantinople.

118 See, for example, Homilia habita postquam presbyter Gothus (PG 63:499.54–56); and Theodoret, Hist. eccl. 5.30.

119 Chrysostom, Ep. 221 (PG 52:733.1–2).

120 Chrysostom, Ep. 51 (PG 52:636.53); and Chrysostom, Ep. 126 (PG 52:687.18–19).

121 Chrysostom, Ep. 126 (PG 52:687.8–15). The identity of these relics remains unknown: Mayer, Wendy, The Cult of the Saints: Select Homilies and Letters, Popular Patristics Series 31(Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006), 259260. Before Chrysostom arrived in the Armenian village of Arabissos on his exilic trek, he sent the presbyter Terentius ahead to facilitate their shipment to Phoenicia (PG 52:687.10–13). Moreover, it is unclear why he sought these relics—unless Otreius had previously offered them—because there should have been sufficient relics from the martyred missionaries in Phoenicia.

122 Chrysostom, Ep. 221 (PG 52:732.47–733.1): τοῦ Ἑλληνισμοῦ τὴν καθαίρεσιν.

123 Ps-Martyrius, Orat. funeb. 26, translated in Barnes, Timothy David and Bevan, George, The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom, Translated Texts for Historians 60 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), 54. While the identity of ps-Martyrius has been debated, he is widely believed to have been a close companion of Chrysostom: Barnes, Timothy D., “The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom (BHG3 871 = CPG 6517),” Studia Patristica 37 (2001): 328345 (argues for Cosmas, one of the bishop's deacons); and Wallraff, Martin, ed., Oratio funebris in laudem sancti Iohannis Chrysostomi: Epitaffio attribuito a Martirio di Antiochia (BHG 871, CPG 6517) (Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 2007), 1317 (argues for Philip of Side, a priest and close associate of the bishop).

124 See, for example, Mayer, Wendy, “John Chrysostom as Bishop: The View from Antioch,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 55, no. 3 (July 2004): 455466; and Stephens, Justin, “Religion and Power in the Early Thought of John Chrysostom,” in The Power of Religion in Late Antiquity, ed. Cain, Andrew and Lenski, Noel (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2009), 181188.

I am especially grateful to Wendy Mayer, George Demacopoulos, Tera Lee Hendrick, Andrea Sterk, and two anonymous Church History reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions at various stages of this essay's evolution. I must also thank Catherine Osborne for her editorial support. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are my own. And, of course, any remaining shortcomings are my own as well.

John Chrysostom and the Rebirth of Antiochene Mission in Late Antiquity

  • Jonathan P. Stanfill


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