Chrysostom’s description of the episcopacy does not appear as an entirely new form, but as an adaptation of old ones, including Greco-Roman philosopher–kings and Christian monks. Paul embodied the ideal priest—an ascetic, culturally engaged, adaptable philosopher–rhetor. With the apostle as a precedent, Chrysostom encourages priests to adapt to ordinary people embedded in a rhetorical culture, despite the inherent danger of listeners getting stuck on the rhetoric rather than rising to the spiritual realities which it represented. Chrysostom believed it was consistent with divine adaptability to decry the seductions of secular culture, including classical rhetoric, even while drawing heavily on them. The goal of priestly adaptation was to equip all Christians to live as urban ascetics, philosophers who by their adaptive teaching and example would transform the city into a metropolis not on earth, but in heaven.
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