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Acta Theologica

versión On-line ISSN 2309-9089
versión impresa ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.34  supl.19 Bloemfontein  2014


Identity-formation and alterity In John Chrysostom's in Epistulam ad Galatas commentarius



Chris L. de Wet

University of South Africa. E-mail address:




The purpose of this study is to give account of the dynamics between Christian identity-formation and the problem of alterity in John Chrysostom's In epistulam ad Galatas commentarius, one of the earliest extant commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. The study shows that Chrysostom envisions Christian identity-formation as a subset of Paulinomorphism, to become like Christ one should also become like Paul. Chrysostom views Paulinomorphism as the operation of four interrelated discourses, namely the discourse of: a) transformation and mimesis; b) virtue and masculinisation; c) the zealotic, and; d) medicalisation. In order to examine how Paulinomorphism is applied to the problem of alterity, Chrysostom's homilies In epistulam ad Galatas, especially the first homily in the series, are examined. Chrysostom opposes Judaizers, "Greeks", Marcionites, Arians and Manichees in this commentary. The study therefore also represents an analysis of the Wirkungsgeschichte of Galatians.

Keywords: John Chrysostom, Religious identity, Alterity, Galatians

Sleutelwoorde: Johannes Chrysostomus, Godsdienstige identiteit, Andersheid, Galasiërs




The aim of this historical enquiry is to examine the discursive formations of identity-formation and the problem of alterity in the social reproduction of late ancient Christian subjectivity, specifically with a focus on John Chrysostom (347-407 CE).1 In particular, I will examine the first homily of his homilies In epistulam ad Galatas commentarius (Comm. Gal.) for three reasons: firstly, the object of the commentary, namely Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, represents an excellent example of the coercive management of identity-crises in early Christianity,2 a theme that is mirrored in the commentary by Chrysostom, mirrored not only in content but also in authorial performance (Chrysostom imitates Paul). Secondly, by examining Chrysostom's Comm. Gal. we can also account for the power of an authoritative scriptural economy in late ancient Christian identity-formation and alterity.3 Thirdly, the first homily of the commentary provides nothing short of a polemic heresiography, what could even be called a heterography, listing numerous alterities Chrysostom's opposes solely from the text that is Galatians. Moreover, I will attempt to elucidate three matters pertaining to the former purpose: Firstly, I will show that identity-formation in the Chrysostomic sense is seen as an indirect Christomorphism autocatalysed by a potent and highly discursive Paulinomorphism. I am neither concerned with how Chrysostom "understood" Christian identity nor how Paul "influenced" this subjectivity; rather, I am interested in how this process of Paulinomorphism discursively expressed and constituted itself in Chrysostom, and, perhaps more importantly, what the effects were of this strategic discursive conglomeration and finally, since it was an immensely somatic operation of producing docile and productive subjectivities, how it was resisted and the resistance, in turn, suppressed. I have shown in a different study that Chrysostom's Paulinomorphism operates by means of four interrelated discourses. Having examined Chrysostom's seven homilies De laudibus sancti Pauli apostoli (Laud.) (De Wet 2013:34-46), it was concluded that, firstly, Chrysostom uses the discourse of transformation and mimesis to show that Paul is in fact worthy of imitation, and that the imitation of Paul is also isomorphic to the imitation of Christ. Secondly, Chrysostom also uses the discourse of virtue-formation and masculinisation - that is, to become like Paul is to become both virtuous, and a man. Virtue and masculinity were key discourses in the formation and operation of late ancient society and identity politics. Thirdly, it was also demonstrated that Chrysostom utilises a discourse of the zealotic in this operation of Paulinomorphism. He constantly highlights Paul's zeal, and installs into identity-formation a sense of zeal - an excess of power which serves not only to copy Paul's personal characteristics, but also his vision and drive. Finally, the discourse of curativity and medicalisation was present in Chrysostom's teaching on becoming like Paul. Paul's love is especially highlighted here, but this love is curative - it serves the purpose of spiritual healing, correction, normalisation and sometimes even punishes. The remarks on Paul's love is often interwoven with a discourse of medicalisation. Becoming like Paul cures the spiritual health of a Christian, hence we often see the metaphor of Paul the physician, with his teaching being compared to the medicine of the soul and spirit. Heresy is now seen as an illness, especially linked to demon possession and moral delinquency - an illness that can be cured by means of Paulinomorphism.

In this paper, I will attempt to see how these discourses of Paulino-morphism operate practically in Chrysostom's commentary of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. The main issue here is that Chrysostom aims to address the problem of alterity in the homilies. While Chrysostom wants his audience to become like Paul and Christ, they also resist this type of identity-engineering in their own religious habitus. This interlocutional point of resistance is then the point I wish to develop, namely alterity as a somatic mode of resistance and, in turn, how this resistance is suppressed by Chrysostom. The alterities addressed by the first homily of the commentary include the Jews (and other non-Christians), Greeks, Marcionites, Arians and Manichees. So how does Chrysostom use Paulinomorphism to address the problem of alterity in his Comm. Gal.?



I have mentioned above that Chrysostom develops a strategy for Paulinomorphism as an operation for normalising alterities. I have listed his use of the discourses of imitation and transformation, masculinisation, the zealotic and medicalisation as conceptual tools for Paulinomorphism. But how did this take place? How are these discourses put into action? In order to demonstrate this, I will take Chrysostom's Comm. Gal. as a test case, with a special focus on the first homily of the series, since we find in this homily a type of heresiography, in which Chrysostom links Paul's opponents with alterior religious identities of his own time.4 In this homily he discusses Galatians 1:1-24 and interprets the exordium of Galatians, and he does so in his own typical style by means of a verse-by-verse commentary.5 Chrysostom is fully aware of the fact that Paul is wrestling with his own opponents, the Judaizers, in this homily (Comm. Gal. 1.3). But Chrysostom himself also begins to confront heretical movements of his own time, including the Arians, Marcionites and the Manichaeans, as well as the Judaizers. I will now demonstrate how Chrysostom applies the above-mentioned discourses in his polemic against the groups mentioned above. This section will also give account of one of the earliest commentative readings of Galatians, and therefore also represents a study of its Wirkungsgeschichte (see also Riches 2008:18-22).

2.1 Against the Judaizers, Greeks, Arians, and Marcionites

In the first homily in the Comm. Gal., most of Chrysostom's polemic is reserved for Judaizers6 (and those Christians who uphold Jewish and Greek customs), although other alterities are also discussed. Scripture played a central role in religious conflict between Jews and Christians (see especially Rutgers 1998:287-303). While Chrysostom is opposed to religious interaction between Jews and Christians, it seems that in Antioch some people did not share his sentiments (Kinzig 1991:27-53; Van der Horst 2000:228-238; Sandwell 2007:121-180). Boyarin (2004:1) posits the view that the "borders" between Christianity and Judaism are social constructs, imposed by nodes of power, like Chrysostom, but that the habitual life of these two religions was probably much closer than previously thought. Chrysostom imposes a puristic categorisation of "Jew" and "Christian" which was probably not as clear in the everyday life of citizens of Antioch. Like Paul, Chrysostom also felt he had to oppose Judaizers of his own time (Wilken 1983:116-123).7 In his interpretation of Galatians 1:7, which reads: "Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ,"8 Chrysostom draws on all of the discourses mentioned above to reproach not only the Judaizers, but also Christians who are sympathetic to them; he also expands the polemic to include Christians who adopt gentile practices (Comm. Gal. 1.5-6; I have marked the relevant sections from A to C for the sake of easier discussion):

[A] That is to say, you will not recognise another Gospel, so long as your mind is sane, so long as your vision remains healthy, and free from distorted and imaginary phantoms. For as the disordered eye mistakes the object presented to it, so does the mind when made turbid by the confusion of evil thoughts. Thus the madman confounds objects; but this insanity is more dangerous than a physical malady, for it works injury not in the regions of sense, but of the mind; it creates confusion not in the organ of bodily vision, but in the eye of the understanding. [B] 'And would pervert the Gospel of Christ' [Gal. 1:7]. They had, in fact, only introduced one or two commandments, circumcision and the observance of days, but he says that the Gospel was subverted, in order to show that a slight adulteration vitiates the whole ... A want of zeal in small matters is the cause of all our calamities; and because slight errors escape fitting correction, greater ones creep in. As in the body, a neglect of wounds generates fever, mortification, and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones ... Thus a thousand similar errors are daily introduced into the Church, and we have become a laughing-stock to Jews and Greeks, seeing that the Church is divided into a thousand parties. But if a proper rebuke had at first been given to those who attempted slight perversions, and a deflection from the divine oracles, such a pestilence would not have been generated, nor such a storm have seized upon the Churches. [C] You will now understand why Paul calls circumcision a subversion of the Gospel. There are many among us now, who fast on the same day as the Jews, and keep the sabbaths in the same manner; and we endure it nobly or rather ignobly and basely. And why do I speak of Jews seeing that many Gentile customs are observed by some among us; omens, auguries, presages, distinctions of days, a curious attention to the circumstances of their children's birth, and, as soon as they are born, tablets with impious inscriptions are placed upon their unhappy heads, thereby teaching them from the first to lay aside virtuous endeavors, and drawing part of them at least under the false domination of fate. But if Christ in no way profits those that are circumcised, what shall faith hereafter avail to the salvation of those who have introduced such corruptions? Although circumcision was given by God, yet Paul used every effort to abolish it, because its unseasonable observance was injurious to the Gospel. If then he was so earnest against the undue maintenance of Jewish customs, what excuse can we have for not abrogating Gentile ones?9

It is important to mention here, again, that the discourses I highlighted in the section above, namely transformation, masculinisation/virtue, the zealotic and medicalisation, do not necessarily operate independently of each other, but they rather work simultaneously. The discourses overlap and interlock, which is what makes them so potent. In his interpretation of Galatians 1:7, Chrysostom himself mimics Paul by also addressing Judaizers and those Christian heresies that he believes subvert and pervert the gospel of Christ.

In the section above we see that Chrysostom is faced with the problem of the habitual nature of religious identity. In her study on religious identity in late antiquity, with a special focus on Chrysostom and Libanius, Isabella Sandwell (2007) has argued that religious identity in late antiquity should be understood as a habitus. The notion of habitus, coined by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, is crucial to understanding religious identity and also to comprehend the discursivities of the citation above. Bourdieu (1977) states that social and governmental systems are never able to fully govern an individual's life. While dominant systems of power promulgate rules and norms for identity and behaviour, Bourdieu (1977:10-15) rather opines, convincingly, that the actual operation of identity-practices rarely function according to these juridical codes, but rather according to their habitus. What is meant by habitus? While various juridical codes and norms are created by power structures to govern society, it is by means of practice that a society defines, reproduces and regulates itself - it is also how it promotes its social and ethical dispositions. Bourdieu (1992:52) refers to the habitus as a "system of structured, structuring dispositions." When we speak of religious identity then, we find individuals not strictly obeying rules and complying to juridical codes, but rather living and operating in a natural and habitual sense, according to the precepts of custom instead of juridical codes (Bourdieu 1977:10). While structures of religious governance, like that of Chrysostom, proclaim a discursive purity of religious identity (for instance, what it means to be "authentically" Christian), the habitus is shaped by several discourses, practices and traditions at the same time (for instance, Christians in late antiquity would also adopt Jewish customs). Not that these codes have no influence on identity, but it is rather the transmission from code to practice where we find the dynamics of habitualisation. The habitus of religious identity often resists and/or negotiates with the norms and juridical codes of religious systems of power, and in turn, such mixed, "syncretistic" religious identities are branded by the dominant pastoral systems of power as alterities and/ or heresies.

This is exactly the dynamic present in this commentary. Chrysostom is upset with others perverting the gospel of Christ, as he believes the Judaizers did in Paul's time. We immediately see the discourse of medicalisation being utilised, and he refers, in section [A], to heresy as being insanity, a malady of the mind (µανία). As I mentioned in the previous section, we see a direct link between insanity and heresy.10 We see here the notion of heretical blindness and deafness (cf. also Chrysostom, Laud. 4.1-5), those traits of the pre-conversion 'insane' Paul/Saul, as Chrysostom would have it:

It is therefore clear that he [Paul], whose conversion is sudden, and who has been sobered in the very height of his madness, must have been vouchsafed a divine revelation and teaching, and so have at once arrived at complete sanity (Comm. Gal. 1.7).11

The post-Damascus Pauline teaching is now equated with sanity (ὑγεία), and heresy becomes madness, and there are discursive links between heresy, insanity and blindness. The greatest problem for Chrysostom, is that this type of insanity influences one's knowledge and understanding, and this would have psychic power ramifications. In a different section of the homily, while elaborating on Galatians 1:1 where Paul states that the Father raised Jesus, Chrysostom uses the notion of deafness to describe the Arians (Comm. Gal. 1.3):

But here the heretics insultingly exclaim, 'Lo, the Father raises the Son!' [the concept of subordinationism]. For when once infected, they are willfully deaf to all sublimer doctrines; and taking by itself and insisting on what is of a less exalted nature, and expressed in less exalted terms, either on account of the Son's humanity, or in honour of the Father, or for some other temporary purpose, they outrage, I will not say the Scripture, but themselves ... Is not this manifest madness, a great stretch of folly?12

Here we also see the accusation that the Arians are deliberately deaf (ἐθελοωφέω) to the reasonable and sane voice of Scripture. They are infected (νοσέω) with heresy. In his refutation of the Marcionites, he uses more or less the same rhetoric. While Chrysostom expounds Galatians 1:7, the section where it states that the gospel of Christ "... is not another gospel," he refers to the Marcionites who only gave authority to the Pauline tradition and not to the evangelists' account. Chrysostom states (Comm. Gal. 1.6):

'Which is not another gospel' [Gal. 1:7]. And justly, for there is not another. Nevertheless the Marcionites are misled by this phrase, as diseased persons are injured even by healthy food, for they have seized upon it, and exclaim, 'So Paul himself has declared there is no other gospel.' For they do not allow all the Evangelists, but only one, and him mutilated and confused according to their pleasure ... let them cease being senseless and pretending to be ignorant of these things which are plain to the very children.13

Here, as in many of the instances I will highlight, Chrysostom points out the wrong interpretations of Galatians by the heretics, and accuses the Marcionites of being like diseased persons (οἱ νοσοῦντες) that cannot even consume healthy food (the Pauline Scriptures) - they are likened to being senseless and even more ignorant than children - they are spiritually and psychically puerile.14 Like the Judaizers, they also mutilate (περιόπτω), in this case, Paul himself. In section [B], Chrysostom then continues to elaborate on the heresies. The greatest cause of this heretical insanity is a lack of zeal: "A want of zeal in small matters is the cause of all our calamities" (section [B]; literally, "Not being vexed by the small things"; τὸ µὴ αὶ ὑπὲρ τῶν µιρῶν τούτων ἀγανατεῖν). The discourse of the zealotic is seen here, not allowing for even a minor deviation from the superscribed norm. This is especially the problem Chrysostom faces with the habitus of religious identity. Chrysostom believes that there is something like a "pure" Christian subjectivity, and any form of deviation, no matter how minute, is also deviancy. One is either fully Christian or not. All Christian subjectivities are supposed to follow the same rules, codes and practices of religious identity. But from this section it is very clear that this was not the case. Chrysostom resents the ephemeral grammar of religious identity, that habitus which is so complex and influenced by many traditions. The problem that heresy creates, in Chrysostom's mind, is that of incongruency of religious identity. He refers to small deviations, or "slight errors" (µιρά), which I believe are those unconscious ephemeral habitualisations of religious identity. As Maxwell (2006:144-168) has shown, Chrysostom's sermons, and I would argue more specifically, his discourses of Paulinomorphism I delineated above, then also become instances of (re)habitualisation. Chrysostom does not want to allow for many expressions of Christianity. He wants it to be monolithic. Again we see the discourse of medicalisation repeated here in section [B]: "As in the body, a neglect of wounds generates fever, mortification, and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones." Heresy is not only a sickness of the soul of the individual, but also a sickness of the soul of the church. The lack of those psychic technologies of control mentioned above, has now led to psychic illness and disorder.

Chrysostom effectively creates and sustains several alterities in this text. We have those broad categories of "Jew" and "Greek", which Sandwell (2007:121-154) has effectively discussed, but also authentic and non-authentic, or heretical, Christians. He now continues to elaborate on these manifestations of, or deviations from, pure Christian (perhaps Pauline) religious identity. He specifically refers to syncretistic rituals and religious practices. This is probably where the habitus of religious identity manifests itself most visibly - in the religious rituals of late antiquity. It has been demonstrated by Leyerle (2012) that Chrysostom wants to turn the households of his audiences into "little churches" by having them perform characteristically Christian rituals in their homes, like the reading of scripture, the establishment of a poor-box, and various prayers during the day and at night (Gen. Serm. 6; Inan. 39-42). Although in practice it seems that household religious rituals were much less rigid and normative, and more habitual. In section [C] he takes the example of Paul and the problem he had with the circumcision, a very common motif in the Epistle to the Galatians, and aims to show that Paul himself was a religious purist, he did not allow a Judaistic ritual like circumcision to be part of Christian religious identity, and therefore Paul's example should be followed. He uses this example to chastise Christians who were following both Jewish and "Greek" customs. Some Christians in the city also celebrated the Sabbath and other feasts. In the second homily of the Comm. Gal., in his discussion of Galatians 2:15-17, Chrysostom states (Comm. Gal. 2.6):

For though few [Christians] are now circumcised, yet, by fasting and observing the Sabbath with the Jews, they equally exclude themselves from grace. If Christ avails not to those who are only circumcised, much more is peril to be feared where fasting and sabbatising are observed, and thus two commandments of the Law are kept in the place of one ... Wherefore do you keep the Sabbath with the Jews? ... If you keep the Sabbath, why not be circumcised?15

Chrysostom does not allow for partial religious observance - it is either all or nothing. Chrysostom states it even more vehemently in Adversus Judaeos (3.4.2):

Hear what Paul has to say. And when I speak of Paul, I mean Christ; for it is Christ who moved Paul's soul to speak. What, then, did Paul say? 'You are observing days, and months, and seasons, and years. I fear for you, lest perhaps I have laboured in vain among you' [Gal. 4:10-11]. And again: 'As often as you shall eat this bread and drink this cup, you shall proclaim the death of the Lord' [1 Cor. 11:26]. 'As often as,' Paul gave the right and power to decide this to those who approach the mysteries and freed them from any obligation to observe the fesitival days.16

Again, we see that when Paul speaks, it is Christ, and as in all three of the citations above, it is not only Paul who disapproves of syncretistic religious identity, but also Christ. It is not only Jewish festivals, but also the "Greek" practices mentioned in section [C] above that are a problem. All these practices go against authentic Christian identity formation, especially as it is embodied in Paulinomorphism.

Further on in the commentary we see that Chrysostom also employs the discourse of love and curativity along with imitation when discussing the problem of the Judaizers. He states (Comm. Gal. 4.1; again, sections are marked D and E):

[D] This is addressed to his Jewish disciples, and he brings his own example forward, to induce them thereby to abandon their old customs. Though you had none other for a pattern, he says, to look at me only would have sufficed for such a change, and for your taking courage. Therefore gaze on me; I too was once in your state of mind, especially so; I had a burning zeal for the Law; yet afterwards I feared not to abandon the Law, to withdraw from that rule of life. And this you know full well how obstinately I clung hold of Judaism, and how with yet greater force I let it go ... [E] Having chid them seriously, and brought things together from all quarters, and shown their violations of the Law, and hit them on many sides, he gives in and conciliates them speaking more tenderly ... After giving them a deep cut, he pours in this encouragement like oil; and, showing that his words were not words of hate or enmity, he reminds them of the love which they had evinced toward him, mixing his self-vindication with praises.17

In this ekphrasis of Paul (section [D]), Chrysostoto uses the apostle as a model of imitation again by which the Jews need to live and so abandon their own customs. Chrysostom makes it clear that before Paul there was no one else to imitate (except Christ). Paul is the new transformation of Judaism. The discourse of medicalisation and the zealotic is present once again. But now, the zeal of the Jews is misplaced, and needs therefore to be corrected. Paul becomes a model of habitualisation, a "pattern" (ὑπόδειγµα) so to speak, which they should imitate instead of the rules and juridical norms of the Law or "rule of life" (πολιτεία). They need to inspect Paul (διαβλέπω). In section [E] the discourse of love and curativity surfaces again within the discourse of medicalisation. Paul's rebukes are done out of love, in the same way that a physician cuts and soothes.

Related to this discourse of love, we also find another very curious image of Paul in this homily, namely Paul the weeping mother along with the image of Paul the physician (Comm. Gal. 4.2-3):

[F] Observe his perplexity and perturbation, 'Brethren, I beseech you: My little children, of whom I am again in travail'. He resembles a mother trembling for her children. 'Until Christ be formed in you.' Behold his paternal tenderness, behold this despondency worthy of an Apostle. Observe what a wail he utters, far more piercing than of a woman in travail - you have defaced the likeness, you have destroyed the kinship, you have changed the form, you need another regeneration and refashioning; nevertheless I call you children, abortions and monsters though you be. [G] However, he does not express himself in this way, but spares them, unwilling to strike, and to inflict wound upon wound. Wise physicians do not cure those who have fallen into a long sickness all at once, but little by little, lest they should faint and die. And so is it with this blessed man; for these pangs were more severe in proportion as the force of his affection was stronger. And the offense was of no trivial kind. And as I have ever said and ever will say, even a slight fault mars the appearance and distorts the figure of the whole.18

Chrysostom often refers to Paul as a father (see Chrysostom, Laud. 3.2; Hom. I Cor. 12.2; Hom. Ac. 9.1 4.5, Hom. Phlm. 2.2), but here in section [F] Paul mimicks a weeping mother (µητέρα µιµεῖται) - but only for a brief second. Chrysostom immediately switches to paternal language ("paternal tenderness"; σπλάγχνα πατριά). Here we see the convergence of the discourse of masculinisation with the discourse of love. While these opponents of Paul (and Chrysostom) are still his/their children, they are also "abortions and monsters" (τὰ ἀµβλωθρίδια, τά ἐτρώµατα), degenerate children. They are deformed and abnormal, distorted figures - the language of abnormality, so similar to those descriptions of psychiatrists regarding "insane" people in the eighteenth century (Foucault 2003:109-136). The zealotic is functional here again, since even a small mark distorts the entire appearance. The link between the zealotic and medicalisation is this: the Chrysostomic zealotism becomes the norm, and the absence thereof is a deviancy, an abnormality. Furthermore, there is a tension between the maternal and female care of the mother Paul for her children, and the masculine corrective care of the paternal Paul and the abortions and monsters he faces. And yet again, along with these discourses we see the dominant discourse of medicalisation (section [G]), in which Paul is the wise physician who shows affection by means of caring, correcting and curing. This process is here described again in terms of rebirth (ἀναγεννήσεως), which links up again with the mother metaphor, but also in terms of self-fashioning (ἀναπλάσεως) by implication to the likeness of Paul.

I have attempted to show in this section how the four discourses delineated from the homilies in Laud. operate practically in Chrysostom's Comm. Gal., specifically in how he addresses alterities in his own day. I have stated above that these discourses function for the sake of identity formation. But one of Chrysostom's major frustrations is that Christians of his own day do not seem to follow the puristic guidelines he sets forth. Chrysostom subscribes to an idea of religious identity that is puristic and based on an authenticism of identity, but if Bourdieu (and Sandwell) are correct, and I believe they are, religious identity does not function according to juridical codes and norms, but according to habitualisations. Not that these codes did not influence identity-formation. Chrysostom therefore uses these discourses of Paulinomorphism to not only construct his ideal version of Christian identity, but also, as Maxwell has shown, to rehabituate those alterior identities. The discourses are used to not only shame and slander Judaizers and rival Christian groups, but they also serve in the construction and appraisal of orthodoxy and, most importantly, then act as technologies of reform and rehabitualisation of alterior identities -they aim to correct bodies and to make them docile. In the next section I will examine how Chrysostom refutes and aims to correct the Manichees.


2.2 Against the Manichees

Added to Chrysostom's heresiographical list in Comm. Gal. 1 is Manichaeism. This was a very complex movement in antiquity, and we see many manifestations of Manichaeism (it would probably be better to speak of "Manichaeisms"). Far from being an exhaustive account of Manichaean beliefs and practices, in this section I will relate Chrysostom's discourses against the Manichees to their own practices, and then also try to give account of how Chrysostom attempts to subvert and modify Manichaean identity. It should be remembered in this instance that Chrysostom speaks as an opponent of Manichaeism, and his descriptions of this group should be approached with care.19 I have separated the discussion of Manichaeism from the other alterities above in that Chrysostom's rhetoric against the Manichees is distinctly unique and differs in some respects from the polemic extrapolated above.

Manichaeism is seen by many as the last manifestation of Gnosticism, especially exhibiting traits of Valentinianism (Lieu 2008:225; Coyle 2009:51-140). As in most Gnostic systems of thought, Manichaeism understands that humans experience hardship and suffering due to the soul's enslavement to the present, material world, especially its enslavement to the body. Souls are seen as being part of the divine Light, but they have fallen and become entrapped in an evil, material existence (Heuser & Klimkeit 1998:3-110). Mani himself attests to the notion that human beings in general are instruments of evil, and he imposed a rather complex anatomy of the body in his teachings. There are five "fleshes" and five "senses" in the human body, and they are brought together by the forces of fire and lust in the body (see Mani's Kephalaion 4 and his Säbuhragän 1204-1273; in BeDuhn 2001:5-7), and the soul must purify and liberate itself from this prison of flesh. Manichaean cosmology and anthropology should, however, not be deduced to a simplistic dualism. It is much more complicated. In his classic study on Manichaeism, BeDuhn (2000; see also 2001) has shown that Manichaean views of the body and the material world are subject to understanding Manichaean asceticism and discipline. The Manichees understood their bodies as vessels for refining the divine Light, and liberation is achieved by means of disciplining the body (BeDuhn 2000:66-68). Hence we see that Manichaean communities are highly cultic and thus quite regulatory. This is important for understanding Manichaeism and will also be relevant when discussing Chrysostom's comments below.

So how does Chrysostom oppose and alterise the Manichees? In Comm. Gal. 1, Chrysostom discusses Galatians 1:4:

[Christ] who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father20

and states that this verse has become perverted by the Manichees, especially the words 'this present evil world' ('... ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ ...'). He starts by refuting Manichaean cosmology (Mara 2008:195-199), specifically the meaning of the word αί'ων and the goodness that creation exhibits (Comm. Gal. 1.4; marked in sections H to J):

[H] Another class of heretics seize upon these words of Paul, and pervert his testimony to an accusation of the present life. 'Lo', say they, 'he has called this present world evil,' and pray tell me what does 'world' [age/αϊων] mean but time measured by days and seasons? Is then the distinction of days and the course of the sun evil? No one would assert this even if he be carried away to the extreme of unreasonableness. 'But,' they say, 'it is not the "time," but the present "life," which he has called evil.' Now the words themselves do not in fact say this; but the heretics do not rest in the words, and frame their charge from them, but propose to themselves a new mode of interpretation. At least therefore they must allow us to produce our interpretation, and this rather in that it is both pious and rational. We assert then that evil cannot be the cause of good, yet that the present life is productive of a thousand prizes and rewards. And so the blessed Paul himself extols it abundantly in the words, 'But if to live in the flesh, if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I wont not' [Phil. 1:22]; and then placing before himself the alternative of living upon earth, and departing and being with Christ, he decides for the former. But were this life evil, he would not have thus spoken of it, nor could any one, however strenuous his endeavor, draw it aside into the service of virtue. For no one would ever use evil for good, fornication for chastity, envy for benevolence. And so, when he says, that 'the mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be' [Rom. 8:7], he means that vice, as such, cannot become virtue; and the expression, 'evil world,' must be understood to mean evil actions, and a depraved moral principle ... [I] Besides this, they are caught by their own words, for in that they place the sun in the first, and the moon in the second rank of their deities, and worship them as the givers of many goods, their statements are contradictory. For the use of these and the other heavenly bodies, is none other than to contribute to our present life, which they say is evil, by nourishing and giving light to the bodies of men and animals and bringing plants to maturity. How is it then that the constitution of this 'evil life' is so ministered to by those, who according to you are gods? Gods indeed they are not, far from it, but works of God created for our use; nor is this world evil... [J] And let me not be told that good men are rare, for natural necessity is insuperable by all, so that as long as one virtuous man shall be found, my argument will in no way be invalidated. Miserable, wretched man! What is it you say? Is this life evil, wherein we have learned to know God, and meditate on things to come, and have become angels instead of men, and take part in the choirs of the heavenly powers? What other proof do we need of an evil and depraved mind?21

Chrysostom starts in section [H] by showing that Paul did not consider this age (αἴων) or world (όσµος) evil and base. He draws mostly from a discourse of virtuosity, in essence Paul's masculinity, to refute the Manichees. The fact that Paul was such a virtuous man, who had good works and benefits on earth, implies that this age is not evil within itself, but because it generated the virtuous Paul, it is good. He interprets Galatians 1:4 to refer not to an evil α'ων, but rather to "evil actions, and a depraved moral principle" (... τὰς πράεις νόει τάς πονηράς, τὴν προαίρεσιν τὴν διεθαρµένην ...). The Manichaean cosmology is now refuted by means of a virtue discourse, in that evil is not inherent in creation, but sprouts from evil actions. Chrysostom seems to be somewhat acquainted with Manichaean rhetoric. Also in section [I] he refers to those deities of the sun and the moon. In Manichaean cosmology, the sun and the moon are positive entities, formed by the Living Spirit out of purified light, and they are in conflict with the Archons, that is, the planets and signs of the zodiac (Lieu 2008:226). The sun and moon have important roles in the migration and restoration of Light-particles to their origin, and they serve as "receiving stations for Light-Particles as well as vessels for their conveyance" (Lieu 2008:226). The sun serves as the point from which the Light-particles travel to the New Earth or Paradise. Hence, as Chrysostom also knows, the sun is ranked above the moon. But Chrysostom aims to subvert this cosmology by simply stating that the sun and moon actually give light rather than serve as transit points - they provide light to the material world, to humans, animals and plants (all have their distinct roles in Manichaean cosmology), and therefore the material world cannot be evil. Finally, in section [J], Chrysostom relies again on the importance of virtue to show that the present world is not evil. Chrysostom incorporates a psychogeographical argument in this instance - he understands that virtue is directly related to and shaped by one's surroundings, and if the surroundings are inherently evil, virtue cannot be achieved. The fact that this world then produced virtuosos like Paul proves Manichaeism wrong. Virtue, especially Pauline virtue (note again the angelomorphic statement in section [J]), is proof of the goodness of creation, and therefore Galatians 1:4 could only refer to evil deeds within a temporal space (Chrysostom interprets αἴων in a temporal and not a local sense). Finally, Manichaeism is also labeled as ironically being conceived by an "evil and depraved mind" (Chrysostom states: Καὶ ποίαν έτέραν ζητήσωµεν τῆς πονηρᾶς ὑµῶν γνώµης αὶ διεστραµµένης ἀπόδειιν;). This is the discourse of medicalisation at work alongside virtuosity. In a polemical pun, many anti-Manichaean authors like Eusebius (Hist. eccl. 7.31; see Dubois 1993:336-339; Coyle 2009:14) and Augustine (Haer. 46.1; see Van Oort 2000:457-461; Coyle 2009:10) would relate the name of the founder of Manichaeism, Mani (Μανής) with the Greek word for "madman" (µανείς), which, in some instances, caused the Manichees to double the Greek nu in their name, to Μαννιχαῖος (see especially Coyle 2009:10-12). Chrysostom does not do this directly.

Furthermore, Chrysostom also feels that he has to rescue the body and the flesh from Manichaean cosmology. While discussing that very sensitive verse in Galatians 5:12: "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves,"22 Chrysostom uses Paul's nuance to castration to illustrate the "insanity" and self-mutilation of the Manichees. He links circumcision, the Manichees' negative view of the body, and insanity of self-mutilation, and stretches Paul's harsh words to also be applicable to the Manichaean disciplinary regiment. Chrysostom states (Comm. Gal. 5.3-4; marked as sections K to L):

[K] If they will, let them not only be circumcised, but mutilated. Where then are those who dare to mutilate themselves; seeing that they draw down the Apostolic curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees? For the latter call the body a treacherous thing, and from the evil principle; and the former by their acts give countenance to these wretched doctrines, cutting off the member as being hostile and treacherous. Ought they not much rather to put out the eyes, for it is through the eyes that desire enters the soul? But in truth neither the eye nor any other part of us is to blame, but the depraved will only. But if you will not allow this, why do you not mutilate the tongue for blasphemy, the hands for rapine, the feet for their evil courses, in short, the whole body? For the ear enchanted by the sound of a flute has often enervated the soul; and the perception of a sweet perfume by the nostrils has bewitched the mind, and made it frantic for pleasure. [L] Yet this would be extreme wickedness and satanic madness. The evil spirit, ever delighting in slaughter, has seduced them to crush the instrument, as if its Maker had erred, whereas it was only necessary to correct the unruly passion of the soul. How then does it happen, one may say, that when the body is pampered, lust is inflamed? Observe here too that it is the sin of the soul, for to pamper the flesh is not an act of the flesh but of the soul, for if the soul choose to mortify it, it would possess absolute power over it . [M] These remarks I have not made at random, but as a prelude to a dispute, as skirmishing against those who assert that the workmanship of God is evil, and who neglecting the sloth of the soul, madly inveigh against the body, and traduce our flesh, whereof Paul afterwards discourses, accusing not the flesh, but devilish thoughts.23

By linking the circumcision (and, effectively, castration) with Manichaean anti-corporealism (in section [K]), Chrysostom opens up the possibility for using several discourses for refuting and alterising the Manichees. Once again the discourse of the zealotic is present. If they are so negative about the body, why do they not also cut out the eyes, since lust and envy come via sight? Again he shows that it is not the body itself, but the "depraved will" (ἡ πονηρὰ προαίρεσις) that causes evil. We are reminded of Chrysostom's statements above on Paul's will, which was pure and virtuous, enflamed with righteous zeal. In order to refute Manichaean anti-corporealism, Chrysostom resorts to the psychic technologies of the soul (section [L]). He uses the same argument against the Manichees in his Hom. Matt. 58.3 (see Salem 2010:42). I have shown above that self-mastery is very important for Chrysostom, and that Paul was seen as a model of self-mastery. Paul did not destroy his body, but he mastered his passions. It is evil to destroy the body, which is a good creation from God. Just as Chrysostom carnalised Paul in Laud. 7.3, he now needs to resort to a universal positive carnalisation of the body to refute the Manichees. For Chrysostom, the soul should have absolute power over the body, and if the body is performing evil vices, then it is the fault of the soul. Psychic technologies of the soul, according to Chrysostom, should entail mastery and not destruction. This seems to have been common in anti-Manichaean Christian rhetoric; Maier (1996:441-460) has shown that exactly the same rhetoric and strategies of power were present with Leo the Great. While the Manichees did exhibit a firm anti-corporealism, Chrysostom's statement that the Manichees lack real psychic discipline here may be somewhat unfair, since BeDuhn (2000:25-125) has shown that the Manichaeans did incorporate a rigid disciplinary regime in the religious practice. Their practices were especially purificatory, since this would assist souls in their migration to the divine realm (BeDuhn 2001:18-33). Curiously, Chrysostom does mention that the Manichees castrate themselves, hence the link with the Judaizers. While this may be a possibility, it is quite difficult to verify since no other author, from what I have found, refer to Manichaean castration. The Manichees were very much against having sex, and it was forbidden for the Manichaean elect (Coyle 2009:284-285), so there is a possibility that Chrysostom is actually correct. Augustine (Ep. 182.6) also appealed to Galatians 5:12 in his rhetoric against the Manichees (Edwards 2011:321). Chrysostom, in section [M] above, remains with the point that evil comes from degenerate psychic technologies, and is not nestled in the flesh.

I have shown in this section how Chrysostom uses the Paulinomorphic discourses of virtuosity and masculinisation in conjunction with medicalisation and the zealotic to refute Manichaean cosmology and anti-corporealism. He criticises their reading of various passages in Galatians to show that it is not creation that is evil, but evil actions taking place in creation. By incorporating a psychogeographical argument, Chrysostom proposes that virtue is produced by this material world, and therefore the world cannot be evil in itself. Then he refutes Manichaean anti-corporealism by again referring to the psychic technologies of the soul, which are meant to master the body, and not destroy it. Paul never destroyed his body, on the contrary, by preaching against circumcision and "self-mutilation," Paul in fact affirms the goodness of the body. The Paulinomorphic discourse of virtuosity, discipline and, in effect, masculinisation, functioned as a common anti-Manichaean strategy.



Chrysostom envisions Christomorphism, the foundation of Christian dynamics of identity, as a catalysed Paulinomorphism. In other words, to become like Christ, one should become like Paul. This Chrysostomic Paulinomorphism operates by means of four interrelated discourses, namely a) transformation and mimesis; b) virtue and masculinisation; c) the zealotic, and; d) medicalisation. This is the key dynamic of Christian identity-formation. Identity, however, especially religious identity, does not necessarily operate according to rules and juridical norms as seen in Chrysostomic Paulinomorphism. Identities are complex expressions of subjectivation, and religious identity rather functioned as a habitus. This is where the problem of alterity presents itself, when Christian identities do not resemble the "pure" image desired by religious authorities like Chrysostom, but operate in conjuction with other identities, or, negotiate those juridical norms and adjust them accordingly. In this latter case we find the development of what those in positions of religious power call "heresies". Chrysostom uses his presupposed strategy of Paulinomorphism to both promote Christian identity-formation and to address the problem of alterity. I referred to Chrysostom's Comm. Gal., especially the first homily in the commentary, as an example of how Chrysostom confronts alterior identities with Paulinomorphic discourses. These discourses were not utilised separately, but function together, forming an interlocking of discursive pastoral power. Chrysostom attacked the Judaizers of both his own and Paul's day, as well as those he calls "Greeks", Marcionites, Arians and the Manichees. Chrysostom's is one of the earliest commentaries on Galatians that we have. This study, as a Wirkungsgeschichte of Galatians, also illustrated how a text like Galatians was utilised as an authoritative scriptural apparatus in the early church to promote "authentic" or orthodox Christian identity-formation, and to attack alterities like Judaism, "Greeks" and various Christian heresies.



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1 For some biographical studies on John Chrysostom, see especially Kelly (1995) and Mayer and Allen (1999).
2 This aspect has been demonstrated quite extensive by several scholars from various methodological trajectories. Some like Longenecker (1998; see also Dunn 1993) have argued from a theologico-ethical viewpoint for the divine transformative dimension in Galatians, while others like Kahl (2010; 2011) have read Galatians in a critical theoretical and especially postcolonial perspective. While these approaches differ in some instances quite extensively, the issue of identity dominates the interpretative discourse. This issue is only a small part of a much wider scholarly debate on the religio-cultural dynamics between various groups in Mediterranean antiquity, groups that are somewhat difficult to classify, especially since broad categories like "Christian", "Jewish" and "Graeco-Roman" tend to obfuscate those crucial differences in these categories themselves as well as the cross-pollination of identity between these groups. Borderlines between these groups were much more opaque. Much attention has especially been given to the problem of blurred boundaries between these categories, with contemporary scholarship utilising as many critical theoretical tools as possible, for instance those postcolonial theories of difference and hybridity, etc.; some influential studies include those of Sanders (1980), Neusner and Frerichs (1985), Lieu (2004), Boyarin (2004) and Gruen (2011).
3 I use the term "alterities" here in the plural to denote groups who are designated as being "other" by Chrysostom, and not the concept of "otherness" per se. Hence the verb "alterise" here refers to the process of othering an individual and/or a group. Alterising discourses inevitably shape the identity of the subject producing them. This metamethodology has its roots in both anthropological studies and postmodern critical theory. As Docherty (1996) confirms, critique from the trajectory of alterity has proven to be a useful intervention in cultural debates, especially in the understanding and problematisation of identity and subjectivity; see also: Baumann and Gingrich (2004), Nealon (1998) and Bowman (2003:500-501). For more on the links between alterity, identity and heresy, see Iricinschi and Zellentin (2008).
4 The Comm. Gal. is unique in that it is labeled exactly that, a commentarius, in other words, a verse-by-verse commentary of the biblical text similar to modern day commentaries. It originated, however, from the pulpit and may have been edited afterwards by Chrysostom himself or a scribe. The commentary is still very "oral" or colloquial. This is of course a very curious aspect of homilies, which are in essence oral productions, when they are written down and edited into literary form. While theological tracts and sermons (especially as they were assembled in codices) do represent a move to what we could call a Christian culture of writing (Harris 1989:305-306), the colloquial style is not changed to what we would call "reading style" or prose today. It should be remembered that despite the transition from homily to text, reading was still an oral performance in antiquity, and hence it was in fact quite important for the homilies to retain their colloquial rhetoric. While there is always uncertainty with the provenance of these homilies, it is widely accepted that the initial homilies were preached in Antioch perhaps after 390 CE (Quasten 1950:446-447; Mayer 2005:142, 175).
5 For discussions on Chrysostom's use of ancient rhetoric in Comm. Gal., see Mitchell (2001:333-355) and Heath (2004:369-400).
6 He is especially against proselytism and Judeo-Christian syncretism (see section [C] below of Comm. Gal. 1.6; see also Feldman 1994:1-58, for the issue of Jewish proselytism in late antiquity).
7 Chrysostom has become infamous for his treatises against Judaizers (although he was openly opposed to most religions other than Christianity). Some, like Wilken (1983:95-127), have argued that Chrysostom's "rhetoric of abuse" was commonplace in antiquity and part and parcel of religio-cultural interaction and competition, and that Chrysostom is not that unique in his utilisation thereof (for a somewhat amended view of this, see Ritter 1998:141-154), while others like Dolezal (2010:15-29) believes that homilies like Adversus Judaeos caused tremendous social upheaval for the Jews in the empire which required legal and political imperial intervention.
8 Gal. 1:7; translation: ESV.
9 Comm. Gal. 1.5-6 [PG 61.622.16-33, 623.2-10, 623.17-49]; translation: NPNF. Translations used in this study are taken from Schaff's Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers [NPNF] due to its literalness, and the location of the Greek text in Migne's Patrologia Graeca [PG] are indicated in brackets.
10 Both Salem (2010:7-73) and Kalleres (2011:257-275) has also shown that demonising rhetoric was also commonplace with Chrysostom in his attacks against the Judaizers.
11 Comm. Gal. 1.7 [PG 61.626.38-41]; translation: NPNF.
12 Comm. Gal. 1.3 [PG 61.616.3-10, 19-20]; translation: NPNF.
13 Comm. Gal. 1.6 [PG 61.621.37-45, 622.12-14]; translation: NPNF.
14 While interpreting Galatians 4:1-3, Chrysostom explains what Paul meant with the phrase "child", and links spiritual puerility with a lack of understanding and a need to participate in rituals of Judaism. Thus, spiritual puerility and the practice of Judaistic rituals are synonymous to Chrysostom (Comm. Gal. 4.1 [PG 61.657.10-18]; translation: NPNF): "The word 'child' in this place denotes not age but understanding; meaning that God had from the beginning designed for us these gifts, but, as we yet continued childish, He let us be under the elements of the world, that is, new moons and sabbaths, for these days are regulated by the course of sun and moon. If then also now they bring you under law they do nothing else but lead you backward now in the time of your perfect age and maturity."
15 Comm. Gal. 2.6 [PG 61.643.50-61.644.3, 17-18, 27-28]; translation: NPNF
16 Adv. Jud. 3.4.2 [PG 48.866.49-867.2]; translation: Harkins (1979:59).
17 Comm. Gal. 4.1 [PG 61.658.30-41, 658.49-52, 659.1-3]; translation: NPNF.
18 Comm. Gal. 4.2-3 [PG 61.660.28-48]; translation: NPNF.
19 For a brief overview of Chrysostom's anti-Manichaean polemic, see Mara (2008:195-199).
20 Gal. 1:4; translation: ESV.
21 Comm. Gal. 1.4 [PG 61.617.58-618.31, 618.50-619.8, 619.23-33]; translation: NPNF.
22 Gal. 5:12; translation: ESV.
23 Comm. Gal. 5.3-4 [PG 61.668.40-669.9, 669.26-34]; translation: NPNF.

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