St. John Chrysostom,  apse mosaic 

St. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM  (c. 347–407), Bishop of Constantinople and ‘Doctor of the Church’. He studied at Antioch and then became a hermit. Made deacon in 381 and priest in 386, he was specially charged with the task of preaching (the name ‘Chrysostom’ means ‘golden-mouthed’), and during the years 386–98 he delivered at Antioch the series of Homilies on Gen. and various New Testament Books which establish his title as the greatest Christian expositor. These works combine a great facility for seeing the spiritual meaning of an author with an equal ability for immediate practical application. He was, however, opposed to the allegorical exegesis of Scripture and insisted that it must be interpreted literally.

In 398 he was made Patriarch of Constantinople. He incurred the hostility of the Empress Eudoxia and of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, his disappointed rival. At the Synod of the Oak (403) he was condemned and banished. Though recalled by the Court, his plain speaking antagonized the Empress and on a technicality he was exiled first to near Antioch and then to Pontus, where he died.

Based on an article in The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church. ed. E.A. Livingstone, (Oxford, 1996).

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