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John Chrysostom on Divine PedagogyThe Coherence of his Theology and Preaching$
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David Rylaarsdam

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198715382

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198715382.001.0001

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The Divine Teacher

The Divine Teacher

(p.13) 1 The Divine Teacher
John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy

David Rylaarsdam

Oxford University Press

Chrysostom’s depictions of God as a teacher of philosophy are rooted both in the Christian theological tradition and philosophical rhetoric. In a culture that still prized its Hellenistic past, Chrysostom describes God as a persuasive guide of souls, a psychagogue who teaches a wiser way of life than any philosophical school offered. Chrysostom is reconstructing classical paideia along Christian lines. Therefore, even while he energetically denigrates Greek philosophy and sophists, he also uses their categories to articulate God’s characteristics as a teacher. The classical tradition assumed that adaptability is an important attribute of any persuasive speaker. Chrysostom argues theologically that the attribute is indispensible for the Divine Teacher, for God’s nature cannot be comprehended with precision by students who are limited by creaturely finitude and sin. Therefore, God adapts by making himself known not as he is, but in a manner which enables humans with varying capacities to perceive him.

Keywords:   teacher, philosophy, rhetoric, adaptability, adaptation, character, psychagogue, paideia

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