Homilies on Genesis, 1–17 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 74)

Homilies on Genesis, 1–17 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 74)

Translated by ROBERT C. HILL
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Homilies on Genesis, 1–17 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 74)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1174-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-19)

    This is the first of several volumes containing the series of 67 homilies composed by St John Chrysostom on the entire book of Genesis. Before the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when those editions of the homilies appeared on which our present text rests, the Genesis series had been thought to contain only 61 homilies, but fortunately the missing ones have been recovered.¹ This first volume, for reasons of length, contains the first seventeen homilies, bringing Chrysostom’s commentary up to Gn chapter 3 verse 19, a significant enough moment but so early in his text as to suggest that, as often...

  6. HOMILY 1
    (pp. 20-28)

    I am pleased (21a) and delighted to see the church of God adorned today with the throng of her own children, and to see you all coming together with great joy. I mean, whenever I look upon your beaming faces, I take it as an infallible sign of the satisfaction you feel at heart.—As the wise man said, “The face betrays the joy of the heart.”¹ So naturally I myself arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I was to share with you this spiritual happiness and I wanted to become a herald for you of...

  7. HOMILY 2
    (pp. 29-38)

    Today, looking at your dear faces, I am filled with great happiness. (26c) My happiness is not simply that of doting parents who are pleased to have their children milling around them and bringing them pleasure by some other nice behavior or attention to them. My joy and satisfaction now is keener than that, to see the way you have come together here in a spiritual assembly with such propriety, ardent in your desire to hear the divine sayings, spurning nourishment and longing for spiritual feasting, thus demonstrating in deed that word of the Lord which reads: (26d) “Human beings...

  8. HOMILY 3
    (pp. 39-50)

    Reading (32c) the holy Scriptures is like a treasure.³ With a treasure, you see, anyone able to find a tiny nugget gains for himself great wealth; likewise in the case of Sacred Scripture, you can get from a small phrase a great wealth of thought and immense riches. The Word of God is not only like a treasure, but is also like a spring gushing with everflowing waters in a mighty flood; this we all perceived from what we did yesterday. We began, remember, at the opening of the book of Genesis on the words, “In the beginning God made...

  9. HOMILY 4
    (pp. 51-65)

    Witnessing as i do, dearly beloved, your daily gathering here with such enthusiasm, I am filled with deep satisfaction, and I do not fail to praise the loving God for your progress. I mean, just as hunger is a sign of bodily health, (39d) so, too, interest in listening to the divine sayings would be taken by anyone as a sure pointer to spiritual wellbeing. Accordingly, our Lord Jesus Christ too, in the Beatitudes pronounced on the Mount, declared, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will have their fill.”² So who could adequately commend you,...

  10. HOMILY 5
    (pp. 66-76)

    Some now, dearly beloved, (48b) today also let us set before you the feast that comes from the words of the blessed Moses, and observe carefully what was created by the Lord on the third day. To begin with an example: men digging in gold-bearing soil, when they spy some seams of gold dust, don’t stop until they have broken the seams open, got right to the very bottom of it and taken from the spot great wealth.² So much the more should we, who have no intention of searching for gold dust but are expecting to find ineffable treasure,...

  11. HOMILY 6
    (pp. 77-90)

    I want to take up the usual line of teaching, yet I hesitate and hang back: a cloud of despair has settled upon me, and has confused and upset my train of thought—not simply despair but anger as well. I’m not sure what I should do; uncertainty is paralyzing my brain. I mean, when I consider that at the merest suggestion from the devil you have put out of your mind all that unremitting teaching of ours and the daily exhortations, and have all rushed off to that diabolical concourse and been absorbed in horse racing, what sort of...

  12. HOMILY 7
    (pp. 91-104)

    Yesterday we sufficiently upbraided those who deserted us for the horse racing. We showed them how great was the harm they suffered, and how in one fell swoop they had squandered the spiritual riches accruing to them from fasting, and (62a) how from great wealth they had at one stroke cast themselves into utter indigence. Come now, then, today let us make use of a milder remedy, and bind up the wounds of their souls just as if they were our own limbs, because even yesterday when we applied harsher remedies, it was not simply to cause them pain and...

  13. HOMILY 8
    (pp. 105-116)

    Come now. Yesterday you listened with great enthusiasm to the words we had for you. So today, too, let us propose for your consideration (70a), my dear people, the text just read, first exhorting you to attend carefully to what is said, and to place within the recesses of your mind what was said before, lest we go to all this trouble idly and to no purpose. This, after all, is the object of our earnest effort, that you would know precisely the power of the Scriptures so as not merely to understand them yourselves but also to become teachers...

  14. HOMILY 9
    (pp. 117-126)

    To begin (76b) by an analogy with hardworking farmers. Whenever they see a rich pasture with great depth of soil, they sow the seed liberally and give it their constant and undivided attention, surveying the scene each day in case somewhere some useless thing capable of damaging the seeds should thwart the efforts they have put into it. Now, in exactly the same way we too have seen your spiritual hunger and your great readiness to listen, and each day we have been exerting ourselves to have the thinking of the Holy Scriptures enter your mind; we have also shown...

  15. HOMILY 10
    (pp. 127-142)

    Our congregation today is smaller, and the participants in the action less numerous. Why is this, and what is responsible for it? Perhaps some people are ashamed to attend this spiritual banquet after their material repast, and this is responsible for their absence. Let them, however, heed the words of the wise man: “Shame it is that leads to sin, and shame it is that is glory and grace.”² It is not cause for shame for a person to have partaken of (82a) a material repast and then come to spiritual food. You see, spiritual affairs are not divided into...

  16. HOMILY 11
    (pp. 143-155)

    I am aware that in these past days I have challenged your thinking with some quite profound notions, (91a) hence today I intend to put to you a simpler instruction. You see, just as the body wasted by fasting needs a slight respite so that once more to the same degree it may gird itself for the rigors of fasting at the prompting of a renewed enthusiasm, so too the soul needs to stop and rest. After all, you can’t always be straining or always resting; instead, you must do one at this time, the other at that time, and...

  17. HOMILY 12
    (pp. 156-168)

    Come now, today let us fulfil our promise and move on to the accustomed instruction, connecting what we are about to say with the thread of the sermons given so far. (98c) You remember, of course, that when we were all set on one or two occasions and quite intent on following that course, concern for our brethren changed the direction of our speech towards encouragement of them. You see, sometimes those of the brethren who are ailing, who habitually absent themselves from this spiritual gathering, and who spoil the joy coming to them from this holy festival, we persuade...

  18. HOMILY 13
    (pp. 169-179)

    I see your insatiable interest, your great enthusiasm and eager attention, and the way you are all coming to spiritual teaching expectant and impatient. On the other hand, I am conscious of my own great inadequacy. (105b) Still, I am anxious to lay before you this mean and paltry table frequently, and in fact daily, trusting that you will readily receive what is said, stimulated as you are with your own enthusiasm. One can see this happening in the case of material nourishment: whenever guests come to dinner with keen appetite, they eat with great relish whatever is placed before...

  19. HOMILY 14
    (pp. 180-193)

    Today again, if you don’t mind, we will continue in the direction of yesterday’s sermon, and apply ourselves to the task of drawing out from there the thread of spiritual teaching for your benefit. There is, you see, great force concealed in the words read just now; we need to go into them at great depth and study them all with precision so as to reap the benefit they offer. To make a comparison with people trying to discover gems in the sea: they submit to such toil and trouble and expose themselves to the buffeting of the waves in...

  20. HOMILY 15
    (pp. 194-206)

    I am very gratified by you for the fact that yesterday you received with great enthusiasm the exhortation we gave and, far from being upset at the length of the discourse, you followed it to the very end (118c) in such a way that your desire for listening reached great heights and continued at that level. Hence the sound hopes communicated to us that you would translate our advice into practice. I mean, the person who listens with such relish would clearly be prepared for practice of good works; and in a particular way your attendance today would provide a...

  21. HOMILY 16
    (pp. 207-221)

    I would like today, dearly beloved, to open up for you spiritual treasure, which though distributed is never fully exhausted, (126a) which though bringing riches to everyone is in no way diminished but even increased. You see, just as in the case of material treasure people able to collect even a tiny nugget acquire for themselves great wealth, so too in the case of Sacred Scripture you can find in even a brief phrase great power of thought and wealth beyond telling. Such, after all, is the nature of this treasure: it enriches those receiving it without itself ever failing,...

  22. HOMILY 17
    (pp. 222-246)

    We have said enough, I would think, as far as our abilities lie, in giving our explanation lately of the tree, to teach you, dearly beloved, what was the reason why Sacred Scripture called it the knowledge of good and evil. So today I want to proceed to what follows, so that you may learn God’s unspeakable love and the degree of considerateness he employs in his care for our race. Everything, you see, he made and arranged so that this rational being created by him had the good fortune to be of the greatest importance, and far from being...