Discourses against Judaizing Christians

By Saint John Chrysostom; Paul W. Harkins | Go to book overview
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Against the Jews and the trumpets1of their Pasch

Delivered at Antioch in the Great Church 2

A GAIN 3 THE JEWS, [871] the most miserable and wretched of all men, 4 are going to fast, 5 and again we must make secure the flock of Christ. As long as no wild beast disturbs the flock, shepherds, as they stretch out under an oak or pine tree and play their flutes, let their sheep go off to graze with full freedom. But when the shepherds feel that the

The title presents a problem when it speaks of the "trumpets of their Pasch," since Montfaucon and others seem to prove that Discourses IV-VIII form a series relating to the September feasts and fasts of 387. The Passover (which fell on April 25 in 387) or its continuation, the feast of unleavened bread, are mentioned several times in this Discourse (e.g., 4.4.3-8; 4.5.2-4) but always in a generic sense in support of the sermon's main thrust against the Judaizers, who would now observe the Law so exactly but at the wrong time and place. Fasting is also frequently mentioned (e.g. 4.1.1; 4.1.3; 4.1.5; 4.5.2-4; 4.5.6). The opening three paragraphs anticipate by ten days or more the coming of the fast as it was anticipated by fifteen or more in Disc. 1 (see Disc. 2.1.1) and by five in Disc. 2 (ibid.). This seems to favor Montfaucon's argument and indicate the September fasts on the Day of Atonement and the Ten Days of Penitence following Rosh Ha-Shanah (EJ 15.1001), as also does Chrysostom's clear statement that the Jews were not permitted to fast during the feast of the unleavened bread, which included Passover (Disc. 4.5.3). Furthermore, we find in the present sermon several echoes of Discourses I and II which were certainly aimed at the September feasts and fasts. Trumpets did have a cultic use. The NAB note on Nm 10.10 says they were blown at the great annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost (see below, n. 36), and Tabernacles. There is no mention of trumpets or trumpeters until toward the end of this Discourse (4.7.4-5). The title does not appear in all MSS or editions and may be a later intrusion.
The Great Church,octagonal in shape, and with a gilded roof, was begun by Constantine in 327, completed by his son Constantius, and dedicated in 341. It was closed by Julian the Apostate in 362, in reprisal for the burning of Apollo's temple at Daphne. The Arians later occupied it until Bishop Meletius, who had acknowledged the Nicene creed, recovered it in 364 (cf. Downey, History 342-46, 388, 396, 399).
Montfaucon interprets this as marking the beginning of a new series (Monitum, PG 48.841).
The adjectives echo "the pitiful and miserable Jews" of Disc. 1.1.5 and 1.2.1.
The Ten Days of Penitence between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. See Disc. 1.1.5.


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