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Gold without dross: an assessment of the debt to John Chrysostom in John Calvin's oratory

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:47 authored by Peter Charles Moore
"Overview. The author argues that an assessment of the influence of John Chrysostom on the oratory of John Calvin is needed. After acknowledging methodological difficulties, he carries out a comparative study of aspects of their orations. He also reads Calvin's personal annotations to Calvin's own volumes of Chrysostom's 'complete works'. From this study the author concludes that there is credible evidence that Calvin's method in preaching was influenced by Chrysostom. Detail. In the introduction it is observed that recent scholarship on Calvin's formation as a preacher has commonly misinterpreted the 1981 publication by Ganoczy and Müller of the marginalia to Calvin's personal volumes of Chrysostom. It is argued that in consequence of this misreading, Calvin's debt to Chrysostom has not been properly assessed, and the importance and difficulties of doing so are reviewed. With methodological problems acknowledged, the author makes a comparative study of various aspects of the two preachers' orations, to see if credible evidence of influence can be discerned. In the first major part to the project, the author offers a comparison of the two preachers' debt to classical rhetoric (chapter 2), the structure and genre of their orations (chapter 3) and the key theological principles (chapter 4) that would have shaped these two 'pastor theologians' in their considered preaching method. The author offers a number of conclusions about each of these, and also suggests that Calvin would likely have seen Chrysostom as an appealing preaching mentor. In the second major part, the author studies the two preachers' engagement of emotion for persuasion: their attitude to emotion (chapter 5), their ambitions for emotion (chapter 6) and the closer emotional detail (chapter 7) of their orations. The author concludes that there are profound resonances between their approaches, and in the more superficial aspects of their orations, striking similarities. He suggests that there is credible evidence of influence upon Calvin's preaching. The study concludes with a new interpretation of the marginalia and the suggestion that it is credible that Calvin's method in preaching was influenced by Chrysostom and that Calvin continued to engage with Chrysostom's homilies over a lengthy period.


Table of Contents

1. 'Gold without dross' -- 2. Plain talk with a gilt edge: attitudes to classical rhetoric -- 3. "The interpretation of scripture is their priority': the structure of the orations -- 4. 'To shake them out of their complacency': theological foundations for personal transformation and godliness -- 5. 'God, we know, holds people's hearts in his hands': attitudes to emotion -- 6. 'We must enlarge our affections': ambitions for emotion -- 7. 'Great earnestness used': observations about emotion and the rhetoric of emotion -- 8. 'Digressing into exhortations... of the fathers' -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references "Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the Department of Ancient History, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, Sydney 2013".

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Stuart Piggin

Additional Supervisor 1

Ken Parry


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Peter Charles Moore 2013 Complete version suppressed due to copyright restrictions. However, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Macquarie University's Document Supply, please contact




1 online resource (xiii, 536 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:31150 2128101