Was Chrysostom Anti-Semitic?

StJohnChrysostomSo says the Rev. James Martin, SJ over at HuffPo: “Saint John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, writing in the fourth century, used Judas as an example of the wickedness of Jews in general.”

In an article gearing up for the Easter season, the Jesuit author reflects on how Judas has been portrayed through the years, noting that a pillar of the church no less than Chrysostom used Judas as an occasion to unfairly portray Jewish people.

Chrysostom (the name means “golden mouth,” a tribute to his skills as a preacher) was one of several saints whose writings were tinged with — and contributed to — the virulent anti-Semitism common at the time. Judas was evil not only because he had betrayed Jesus, but because he was Jewish.

Chrysostom sees the suicide of Judas as foreshadowing the suffering of the Jews, and comments on this approvingly. In his Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, he writes: “This desolation [his fate] was a prelude to that of the Jews, as will appear on looking closely into the facts.” That one of the most influential figures in the patristic era could write so cruelly shows not only the rapid assimilation of anti-Semitism into Christianity, but the hardening of the Christian imagination against Judas.

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Martin goes on to deal with other examples – in the Renaissance and later periods – of Judas being used as cannon fodder.

Is this really an accurate way to handle the data, or is there another angle for reading Chrysostom? Continue reading

British Marriage Equality and Marriage Without Sex

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From The Telegraph:

…Lobbyists naturally believed that all you had to do to allow gay marriage was to extend to same-sex couples exactly the same law as applied to existing, heterosexual marriages.

Too late, they discovered, this cannot be done. Civil servants, confronted with the embarrassing task of working out what defined the consummation of a homosexual relationship, faltered. Since homosexual acts have no existential purpose and no procreative result, consummation is a meaningless concept. From this it followed that the Government could come up with no definition of adultery in a homosexual marriage. A law designed to be equal, is not. Under the Bill, non-consummation will not be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage. Nor will adultery.

By accident, then, the Government is introducing, for the first time, a definition of marriage which has no sexual element. Yet it refuses to face the logical consequence of this surprising innovation. If sexual intercourse is not part of the definition of same-sex marriage, why should blamelessly cohabiting sisters not marry one another in order to avoid inheritance tax? Why should father not marry son? Why shouldn’t heterosexual bachelor chum marry heterosexual bachelor chum? What, come to think about it, is so great about the idea of monogamy, once sex and children are removed from the equation? Does the word “marriage” any longer contain much meaning?

And if Equality is the highest of all moral aims, how can the Government possibly justify not extending the gay right to a civil partnership to heterosexual couples who, at present, have no such privilege? If this Bill becomes law, all these matters will be litigated over, right up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Against such outcomes, as he painfully well knows, Mr Cameron can make no provision.

Possibly the House of Commons, where mere politics reigns and virtually no time has been permitted for debate on the Bill, will fail to think through these issues, although revolt is growing. But precision and fairness in framing our laws are subjects in which the House of Lords rightly claims a key role. The Government faces trouble there. Continue reading