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Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom - Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop Reprint Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801485732
ISBN-10: 0801485738
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"No other author has delved so deeply into the life and work of this complex, influential, and tragic figure of the fourth century and produced such a far-ranging but precise, solidly researched, and eminently readable account. . . . Chrysostom emerges as a sympathetic and tragic figure of great integrity, whose human failings contributed and perhaps led to his downfall. . . . Kelly has used a careful analysis of many of John's writings and sermons to present new insights and to confirm details of Chrysostom's life previously considered doubtful; his comments and summaries stimulate one to turn to the originals. Those who are interested in Chrysostom or in this historical period must read this book."—Catholic Historical Review

"A rewarding . . . read as well as a rich mine of historical information. . . . The book is peppered with new, revisionist insights about . . . Chrysostom's life."—Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"A monumental achievement, which examines with fairness and thoroughness both the primary sources and continuing scholarship on John and his often-stormy episcopacy in Constantinople."—Christian Century

"In Golden Mouth, Kelly displays an outstanding command of the primary sources, using Chrysostom's homilies to shed light on hitherto obscured events in his life. The author, refreshingly to this reader, does not fall victim to the extreme skepticism of many modern Church historians and is willing to accept that many of Chrysostom's statements actually mean what they say. Kelly gives concise summaries of all the major works and of many of the homilies; so sprightly, in fact, are his renderings from Chrysostom and others that one occasionally wishes to see the Greek originals. . . . This book is an outstanding achievement and a most welcome addition to patristic scholarship in English. Golden Mouth often reads like a good, suspenseful novel, and combines readability with open-handed scholarship."—Tim Vivian, Cistercian Studies Quarterly

From the Publisher

A Choice magazine "Outstanding Academic Book" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; Reprint edition (November 5, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801485738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801485732
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,195,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 24, 2006
Verified Purchase
Kelly is easily recognized as our time's authority on early church matters. Here in similar fashion as his worthy work on Jerome he tackles Chrysostom.

He breaks it down nicely into three major components of his life: ascetic, preacher, bishop.

The politics of the church and interaction with secular authorities dominate his life, as it does most. John certainly had his prinicples and he chose not to break them. It got him into disfavor with many, thus cumulating at the end in action taken against him. That easily summarizes his end, the buildup of resentment and hatred catches up.

He certainly exhibited a passion for the underpriviledged and sick and devoted his preaching and resources to this. His ascetic beginning permeated this and fueled much of his preacher/bishop energies. This will bring enemy retaliation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ike12stones on April 15, 2013
I gave it four stars not because I terribly enjoyed the book, but because it was very well done.
This is a good historically biography, amazingly well researched, and actually quite interesting. It was also fairly dry so for enjoyment alone I probably would have given this three stars, but as I appreciate quality as well and the book was very educational I think four is appropriate.
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J.N.D. Kelly presents a faithful portrait of the great Bishop of Antioch. He highlights John as a solid expositional preacher who rejected the allegorical method of intepretation as popularized by Origen. You learn of Chrysostom's reservations about being worthy enough to be ordained, and his initial interest in the monastic life.

You also learn of how long periods of harsh fasting ruined his digestive system, and how for this reason, he preferred to eat alone. You learn of the turbulent and divisive times in which he served as a bishop in Antioch and then in Constantinople.

You also read of his strict views about the role of women in the church and of how strict he was with the monastic communities and with the priests in Antioch and later in Constantinople.

Chrysostom's sermons were powerful and held the attention of the people, even though some of them were fairly lengthy. You also learn of his friendship with Olympias, a godly woman also given to virginity and asceticism.

Finally, you learn about Chrysostom's enemies from within Arianism, and from his fellow clergy, especially Severinus, Eudoxia, Theophilus, and others.

We see that Chrysostom's spicy sermons sometimes got him into trouble, ie. exile.

We also read of his sad death.

The book is occasionally bogged down in historical minutiae, but I thought Kelly did a good job of showing how Chrysostom was affected by the times in which he lived and how he himself affected the times. I also appreciated how Kelly was able to defend the historical reliability of much of the material that we have about Chrysostom from that time period. A very good book.
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A comprehensive treatment of this Eastern Father of the Church. We have not had a study like that of J. N. D. Kelly, unless you count the originally German 2 vol study of C. Baur, translated in 1959. An eminent historian writes about an eminent (and tragic?) personality of the late fourth and early fifth century. Kelly succeeds in making real the (imperial and episcopal) politics of the early 5th century. In addition there is enough of the theology of the time which will influence later christological developments.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on October 6, 2005
***
"John's career ended in failure. ... The tragic episcopate of John Chrysostom opened the struggle of supremacy in the East..." W.H.C. Frend

St. John Chrysostom:
Recognized to be among the most powerful orators of Christianity, John Chrysostom was the most prolific of the Fathers, leaving us with many sermons, letters, treatises and apologetic works. An incredible orator, his sermons often moved his audience to tears or applause.
"Although not a formal polemicist, John Chrysostom influenced Christian thought notably. He wrote brilliant homilies, interpreting the Bible literally and historically rather than allegorically. His accomplishments as a preacher and theologian are marred by a virulent anti-Semitism." The Columbia Encyclopedia

J.C., Golden Mouth:
The eminent author, described his book as, 'the Story of J.C.,' defining his selected offices as, 'Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop.' In the words of Fr. Sydney Griffith, one of the foremost Patristic scholars, "One does not mean to complain immoderately, nor to appear ungrateful for what is on its own terms a good study of an important topic; nor does one want to review a book the author never intended to write." But here is the place to plead for a broadening of perspective on the part of students of the early fathers.
Kelly recomposed the life of John Chrysostom in chronological order from his youth andascetic stage to his further development as a prolific preacher, that supported his pick as Archbishop of Constantinople and his career therein the capital. He remained a great orator and moralist preacher of literal exegesis, with social and political orientation.
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