Homilies on Genesis, 1–17 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 74)
This translation makes available for the first time in English one of the most significant Old Testament commentaries of the patristic period. St. John Chrysostom's extant works outnumber those of any other Father of the East; in the West, only Augustine produced a larger corpus. Of Chrysostom's more than 600 exegetical homilies, however, only those on the New Testament have previously been translated into English.
The Genesis homilies, his richest Old Testament series, reveal a theologian, pastor, and moralist struggling to explain some of the most challenging biblical material to his congregation in Antioch. He admonishes them to "apply yourself diligently to the reading of Sacred Scripture, not only when you come along here, but at home," encourages spiritual discourse, and frequently envisages them leaving church reminiscing on the day's sermon. While critical exegetical details go without mention and Chrysostom was limited to the Greek version of the Old Testament in his studies, his oratory has been judged golden and his theology profound. He was a preacher satisfied with commenting on Scripture with his moral purpose always to the fore.
Chrysostom studied the Scriptures with Diodore of Tarsus, a distinguished exegete known from fragments of his commentaries on Genesis and Psalms, and a polemic style developed from his pastoral concern to protect his congregation from the dangerous influences of fourth-century Antioch. Most importantly, he shared the Antiochene school's insistence on the literal sense of Scripture and their unwillingness to engage in allegorical interpretation. As such, his Genesis homilies constitute a milestone in the history of biblical interpretation.
This first of several volumes on Genesis contains homilies 1-17, delivered in Antioch before Chrysostom moved to Constantinople in 398. Robert C. Hill's thorough introduction highlights Chrysostom's significance as a scriptural commentator and provides the basis for an interesting comparison with modern commentators, such as Von Rad and Speiser.