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John Chrysostom, Against the Jews.  Preface to the online edition.


John Chrysostom preached 8 sermons to his congregation against the Jews.  These were transmitted to us in the Greek manuscripts of his works, but the 2nd sermon was much shorter than the others, leading scholars to suppose that most of that sermon was lost.  This belief was confirmed in the 1990's when German scholar Wendy Pradels discovered a forgotten copy of sermon II in a Greek monastery which contained the missing material.   

The English translation on this site used to reside at Fordham University 1, in the Medieval Sourcebook, where it was placed by Paul Halsall in 1998.  At the foot of the page he wrote:

This translation, here cleaned up for typos, etc, was on an anti-Semitic website [as a justification for current anti-Semitism]. So far I have been unable to track down the translator. There were eight homilies by Chrysostom on the subject. This seems to be the first six.

MELVYL reports a translation C. Mervyn Maxwell, Chrysostom's homilies against the Jews : an English translation, Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Chicago, 1967. I am trying to find out whether these texts are Maxwell's or an earlier translators'.

Homilies 7 and 8 were listed with the note:

[e-text added May 2002]

Homily 2 was incomplete in this translation, wherever it comes from.   

It seemed to me that it was pointless to rediscover the lost material in homily 2, if all the copies in all the libraries, and all the copies on the internet, still did not contain it.  In 2010 I commissioned an English translation with the aim of reuniting the parts of homily 2.  I placed it on the internet, and also posted it on every website or forum which contained the anonymous translation of Chrysostom's anti-Jewish homilies.  As far as I know, no-one has ever claimed ownership of this translation.  

In 2011 I received an email from a stranger enquiring where a translation of the homilies might be found.  This led me to discover that the file on the Fordham site had disappeared, and raised the question of whether this should be remedied.  I knew that Dr Halsall was no longer involved with the site.  

After some thought, it seemed to me undesirable that the text should only be accessible through extremist sites, over which no responsible person had any control, and to which I might not necessarily wish to direct enquirers seeking to learn what Chrysostom really had to say.  Aside from any other consideration, no text is read justly if it is read in the context of urgent contemporary political agitation.

I had always thought that, if the text was indeed public domain, that it should be joined with the other Chrysostomiana on this site.  In the circumstances I retrieved a copy of the Fordham file which I held locally, and divided it into the 8 separate homilies and uploaded it here.  I have not altered the formatting, but at some point I will probably go through it and tidy up the chapters and verses and create anchors for these.

Dr Halsall felt obliged to prefix his page with some introductory material about Chrysostom, and the modern debates.2  I have not included this material here, as all these kinds of issues are outside the scope of this collection.

The only other English translation of the homilies is John Chrysostom, Discourses against Judaizing Christians, translated by Paul W. Harkins. The Fathers of the Church ; v. 68 (Washington : Catholic University of America Press, 1979), which also lacks the Pradels material.  However the translation here is not the Harkins translation.

It should be added that there is a further sermon of Chrysostom against Jews and Pagans, Contra Iudaeos et gentiles quod Christus sit deus, PG 48, which has never been translated, and is said to end abruptly, in such a manner as to lead scholars to suppose that the ending is lost.

Roger Pearse
28th November 2011

1. Url was http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html. I have notified the site that the link is broken, but as the collection is plainly somewhat neglected, I do not know whether this page might reappear.  

2. The explanatory page was formerly at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6-react.html and is still present, curiously, at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6-react.asp


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This material was written by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2011. This file and all material on this page is public domain - copy freely.


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