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Title: John Chrysostom and the hermeneutics of exemplar portraits
Author: Lai, Pak-Wah
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 8378
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2010
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One of the most prevalent features in John Chrysostom’s writings is his numerous portrayals of exemplar figures. In this thesis, we will argue that these exemplar portraits are largely determined by the literary strategies and analytical frameworks propounded by two major traditions: the Greco-Roman tradition of paideia, philosophical ethics, biography and rhetoric, and the Christian tradition. When due attention is paid to the strategies of exemplar discourse in both traditions, a hermeneutics of exemplar portraits may be developed. Such a hermeneutical approach will not only elucidate Chrysostom’s pedagogical and ideological objectives for these portraits, but, more importantly, deepen our understanding of his ethics and theology as a whole. As our analysis of his portrayals of King David, the apostle Paul, Christian ascetics and martyrs show us, Chrysostom’s ethical framework is greatly indebted to the Greco-Roman tradition of virtue ethics. Furthermore, the approaches that Chrysostom adopts to present his exemplars also rely heavily on the narrative strategies and rhetorical techniques bequeathed to him by the Late Antique biographical and rhetorical traditions. Having said this, the forms that his exemplar portraits take are also distinctively Christian because they declare powerfully Chrysostom’s soteriological convictions, namely, that Christian salvation is nothing less than the transcendence of one’s human limitations by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that one can participate in Christ’s deified life in the human body and live a life that is not dissimilar to the angels. In the case of his martyr portraits, the articulation of this soteriological and ethical vision would compel Chrysostom to introduce two innovations to his rhetorical approach, namely, the reconception of the martyr as an icon of God’s grace and power, and a new emphasis on his audiences’ identification, imitation and veneration of the martyr.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available