"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 Back Cover
John Chrysostom, or "Golden Mouth", was a famous ascetic and preacher of the fourth/fifth century, a controversial bishop of Constantinople, and a brilliant orator - hence the epithet. This is the first comprehensive study of him in the English language in over a century. In the early chapters John Kelly highlights Chrysostom's youthful experiments with asceticism at Antioch in Syria, his six years as a monk and then a recluse in the nearby mountains, and his influential role as Antioch's leading preacher. The central section of the book shows him as a fearlessly outspoken populist bishop of the capital. Kelly focuses on his authoritarian style, his interventions in political crises, and his clashes with the Empress Eudoxia, as well as his efforts to promote the primacy of the see of Constantinople in the east. The final chapters reconstruct the plots that led to Chrysostom's downfall, the drama of his trial, and his exile and death. Golden Mouth also provides fresh analyses of Chrysostom's principal treatises and public addresses, and discussions of his views on monasticism, sexuality and marriage, education, and suffering.