Calvin’s Preface to Chrysostom’s Homilies as a Window into Calvin’s Own Priorities and Perspectives

Perichoresis 17 (4):57-71 (2019)
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Abstract

John Calvin drew from patristic authors in a selective manner. His preference for the theological perspectives of Augustine is readily evident. Nevertheless, while he resonated with the doctrine of Augustine, he touted the interpretive and homiletic labors of John Chrysostom. Even though Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion critiqued Chrysostom’s understanding of grace and free will, the Antiochene bishop is the most frequently referenced patristic author within Calvin’s commentaries. Calvin composed a preface to a projected edition of Chrysostom’s homilies. This preface argued for the necessity of reaching the general public with secondary aids along with the scriptures, explained Calvin’s esteem for Chrysostom’s homilies above other patristic texts, and acknowledged the theological dissimilarities that separated his views from Chrysostom’s. The Praefatio’s assessments reveal Calvin’s own hermeneutical, pastoral, and theological priorities. Calvin’s evaluations of Chrysostom and the other fathers are a window into his own interpretive concerns, homiletical aims, and dogmatic emphases.

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