Monday, January 9, 2017

Critiquing John Chrysostom's Anti-Semitic Rant (Second Homily)

Continuing from Part 1 let us continue to look at John Chrysostom's infamous anti-Semitic polemic, Against the Jews.

In AD 387 John Chrysostom, bishop of Antioch, gave a series of homilies to his flock denouncing Judaizers and Jews in the days leading up to the Day of Atonement. Today this series of homilies is viewed as yet another shameful moment in the development of the infamous hatred that is known as anti-Semitism.

Five days before the Day of Atonement he delivered his second homily. At some point a large part of this homily was lost. Since it was noticeably shorter than the other homilies scholars speculated that part of it was lost. It was not until the 1990s that the rest of the second homily was recovered from a Greek manuscript.

Let's take a look.
Against those who fast the fast of the Jews and against the Jews themselves. Delivered after the other homily has been given and five days before the Jewish fast.
HWA and his various imitators tended to insist that it was Sabbath keeping that was a defining sign of the "true church" during the time of Catholicism's ascendancy. But by 387 when John Chrysotum made his vicious denunciation of Judaizing Christians he chose to focus on their observance of the fast on the Day of Atonement. Although he does mention Sabbath keeping in the first homily (VIII, 1) nevertheless Sabbath keeping seemed to be of little concern to him. He seems much more concerned with their observance of the fast on the Day of Atonement and listening to the ram's horn on Rosh Hashanah.

At the end of the first homily John Chrysostom called upon the congregation to seek these Judaizing Christians and get them to stop observing Judaistic practices. In the second homily he encourages these efforts.
I hoped that with the span of many days you might be able to track down with all fearlessness those who are suffering from this disease and restore them to health. ... I have gotten a head start in talking to you, the fishermen, that you may sweep up your weaker brothers in your nets and bring them to hear what I have to say. ... Those of you who did fish and have your catch securely in your nets, remain steadfast and bind them tight with your words of exhortation. Those of you who have not yet taken this goodly catch have time enough in these five days to trap and overcome your prey. So let us spread out the nets of instruction; like a pack of hunting dogs let us circle about and surround our quarry; let us drive them together from every side and bring them into subjection to the laws of the Church. (I, 2-4.)
He then derogatorily compares the Jewish community with a man who refuses a freely given pardon from the Emperor for not converting to Christianity. The Jews described in the Old Testament as observing various Jewish practices are excused but the Jewish community of his time are condemned.

He then complains that the husbands do not control their wives as effectively as he wishes. He viciously insists that those who attend a synagogue while participating in the Feast of Trumpets are possessed by demons.
Yet when the hour set for the services summons you to the church, you fail to rouse your wife from their sluggish indifference. But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. For, as a rule, it is the harlots, the effeminates, and the whole chorus from the theater who rush to that festival. 
And why do I speak of the immorality that goes on there? Are you not afraid that your wife may not come back from there after a demon has possessed her soul? Did you not hear in my previous discourse the argument which clearly proved to us that demons dwell in the very souls of the Jews and in places in which they gather? Tell me, then. How do you Judaizers have the boldness, after dancing with demons, to come back to the assembly of the apostles? After you have gone off and shared with those who shed the blood of Christ, how is it that you do not shudder to come back and share in his sacred banquet, to partake of his precious blood? Do you not shiver, are you not afraid when you commit such outrages? Have you so little respect for that very banquet? (III, 4-5.)
So it would seem these Judaizing Christians of 387 had a practice of attending Jewish synagogues. How very different this is from how Armstrongite authors have described the supposed "true church" in the late Roman Empire.

Even though the crucifixion occurred three and a half centuries beforehand John Chrysostum viciously describes Jews of his time as being guilty of the crucifixion blaming Jews collectively for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This vicious accusation would be used to inflict so much pain and suffering to Jews throughout the centuries.
What greater evidence could there be that a man does not love our Lord than when he participates in the festival with those who slew Christ? (III, 8.)
At this point we go into the rediscovered portion of this homily.

He proceeds to denounce Jews as "abominable and lawless and murderous and enemies of God" for not agreeing with his religion. It is noticeable once again how he focuses on the fast on the Day of Atonement rather than describing them as Sabbath keepers as HWA and Co. would have us expect.
Now then, let me strip down for the fight against the Jews themselves, so that the victory may be more glorious—so that you will learn that they are abominable and lawless and murderous and enemies of God.  For there is no evidence of wickedness I can proclaim that is equal to this.  But, in order to amass forensic-style speeches against them, I shall first demonstrate that even if they had not been deprived of their ancestral way of life, even so their fast would be polluted and impure.... I shall demonstrate that not only the fast, but also all the other practices which they observe—sacrifices and purifications and festivals—are all abominable. (p. 32.)
He then insists that the law was only given because Jews were sinful. Instead of being viewed as a chosen people he twisted their chosenness as something shameful.
When a well-born and free man has a female slave who is licentious and pulls in all the passers-by for immoral relations with her, he does not allow her to go out into the neighborhood, to show herself in the alley-way, to rush into the marketplace; instead, he confines her upstairs in the house, shackles her with iron, and orders her to remain indoors at all times, so that both the spatial restrictions of the place and the compulsion of the chains will be her starting-point for chastity. God acted in the very same way:  the Synagogue being his licentious slave-woman, gaping after every demon and every idol, and rushing to make sacrifices to the idols in every spot and in every place, he confined it in Jerusalem and the temple, as though in the master's house, and ordered it to sacrifice and celebrate festivals at appointed times there only, so that both the spatial restrictions of the place and the observance of the times would keep it, even unwillingly, in the law of piety.  Sit there and be modest, he says; let the place train you, since your character did not. (pp. 36, 38.)
He then hysterically insists that slaughtering the Passover lamb anywhere outside of Jerusalem is like murder.
Therefore, whenever they sacrifice the Passover [lamb] either here or elsewhere, they are manifestly murderers.  For if, when someone does not bring his sacrifice to the doors of the Tent of Witness, the sacrifice is reckoned as blood and murder, and if these people make their sacrifices not only outside the temple, but even outside the city, indeed everywhere on earth, then it is quite obvious that they are enmeshed in the pollution [of murder] to an enormous degree. (p. 40.)
He ridicules their religion and insist that it is not possible for them to observe their religion unless they controlled Jerusalem, a possibility he dismisses not having any hope. He states that Jerusalem is closed off to Jews. Unlike some today he seems to have had no expectation of Jews moving to the holy land as a sign of Christ's return.
And that is why I called their fast impure right from the beginning:  because it is carried out unlawfully.  Indeed, their Passover and Feast of Tabernacles, and whatever else they do, are profane and abominable; what they carry out is not worship, but lawlessness and transgression and outrage committed on God.  You see, if they did not dare to do any of these things during their sojourning in a foreign land (as my discourse has proved), when they expected to recover their ancestral city and return to the temple, then they are obligated much more now to stay idle, to refrain from action, and not to carry out any of these things—now that there is no longer any hope that they will recover Jerusalem.  For that city shall not rise up again in the future, nor will they return to their prior form of worship.  It was to make this clear to them that God opened up the whole world to them, and made that spot alone inaccessible, and thus there are imperial laws keeping them away and not allowing them to set foot in the doorway of the city—that city is and will remain off-limits for them at all times. (p. 42.)
John Chrysostum states that Jerusalem was inaccessible to Jews in his day. He insists that Jews being forbidden to enter Jerusalem and the end of sacrifices at the Temple was a thing caused by God to get them to give up their religion in order to join his religion.
But on the very day of their fast, I will demonstrate that it [i.e., Jerusalem] will not rise again—if you are present again with the same enthusiasm and I see this hall made just as magnificent as it is now with the multitude of the listeners. Today, on the other hand, it is necessary to tell you why God opened the entire world to them, but made that city alone inaccessible to them.  Why, then, did he do this?  He knew their obstinacy and shamelessness, their willfulness and disobedience; he knew that they would not easily choose to give up their former way of life, conducted with sacrifices and burnt offerings, and go toward the higher, more spiritual life of the Gospels.  What, then, did he do?  After tying their worship of him to the necessity of sacrifices, he furthermore confined the sacrifices themselves to the temple, and after doing this, he made the place off-limits for them, so that, from the fact that they were not allowed to set foot in Jerusalem, they would become aware that it was now not permissible for them to sacrifice—and from the absence of sacrifice they would be taught not to cling to the rest of their forms of worship any longer, and would be able to see that it was no longer the proper time for that way of life, that instead, God was calling them to a different and greater philosophy. (p. 42.)
John Chrysostum states it was God's will to visit calamity upon the Jewish community to let the forces of the Roman Empire to sack the Temple in Jerusalem.
In the very same way, God, wanting to lead them to more solid nourishment, but then seeing them constantly running back to Jerusalem and its way of life, walled off the city like a mother's nipple with bile and the bitterest juice—the fear of the Romans—and by means of imperial decrees he made it become off-limits for them.  His intention was that because of the desolation and the soldiers' weapons, they would stand aloof from that homeland and little by little become accustomed to rejecting their desire for milk and slipping into a love and craving for solid nourishment.  For even though emperors caused the desolation, they were moved by God to do so, and this is clear from [a comparison with] the previous periods, when not even the ruler of the whole [world] was strong enough to take the city, since God was favorable to them. (p. 44.)
Curiously John Chrysostom then complains that most of the Judaisers he condemns were women. This raises intriguing possibilities. It is not possible today to verify his claim that most of these Judaizers were women. This raises an intriguing possibility: that his hostility towards Jews and Judaizers was partly motivated by sexism. Could be possible that a misogynistic attitude motivated his production of this infamous attack on Jews?
But not only to men do I address these comments, but also to the women, through their husbands.  For indeed, I know that most of the crowd that is drawn to go there is composed of women.  Now then, the blessed Paul says, "Husbands, love your wives"; and again, "The wife should fear her husband." But I am seeing neither wives' fear nor husbands' love.  For if the wife feared her husband, she would not have dared to go.  If the husband loved his wife, he would never have allowed and tolerated her going.  For what is worse than this outrage, I ask you?  A free and believing woman goes out of the house and goes off to a synagogue?  Does she know any other place at all, apart from the church and the time spent there?  But if she were going off to a lover, would you not have stood up?  Would you not have been inflamed?  Would you not have posted guards on all sides?  But as it is, you do not see her going off to commit adultery with a man, but going off to [be with] demons—and you allow this impiety?   If she commits a transgression against you, you punish her; but if she commits outrage against her Lord, you overlook it?  If she wantonly abuses your marriage, you are a harsh and inexorable judge; but if she tramples on the covenants with God, you are careless and slack?  How can these [offenses] be worthy of forgiveness?   And yet, God does not act that way, but rather in the opposite way:  When he himself is outraged, he overlooks it; when you are treated that way, he punishes.  Do you wish to learn that he honors your affairs more than his own? (p. 45-6.)
And John Chrysostum's second homily came to an end but he still was not finished. He still had more to say to demonize Jews and discourage Judaizers.

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