Gold without dross: an assessment of the debt to John Chrysostom in John Calvin's oratory
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:47 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.