Cover image for Christians at Home: John Chrysostom and Domestic Rituals in Fourth-Century Antioch By Blake Leyerle

Christians at Home

John Chrysostom and Domestic Rituals in Fourth-Century Antioch

Blake Leyerle

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$99.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09738-1

164 pages
6" × 9"
9 b&w illustrations
2024

Inventing Christianity

Christians at Home

John Chrysostom and Domestic Rituals in Fourth-Century Antioch

Blake Leyerle

“It is not very often that one has the privilege to read a work such as this—so well argued, so beautifully written, and making such a crucial contribution to scholarship. This book beautifully presents and critically analyzes the apparent tension between John Chrysostom and his audience regarding his expectations for their domestic religious devotion.”

 

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What did it mean for ordinary believers to live a Christian life in late antiquity? In Christians at Home, Blake Leyerle explores this question through the writings, teachings, and reception of John Chrysostom—a priest of Antioch who went on to become the bishop of Constantinople in AD 397.

Through elaborate spatial and ritual recommendations, Chrysostom advised listeners to turn their houses into churches. Influenced by New Testament descriptions of the Pauline communities, he preached that prayer and chant, scriptural discussion and hospitality, and even domestic furnishings would have a transformational effect on a home’s inhabitants. But as Leyerle shows, Chrysostom’s lay listeners had different views. They were focused not on personal ethical change or on the afterlife but on the immediate, tangible needs of their households. They were committed to Christianity and defended the legitimacy of their views, even citing precedents from scripture in support of their practices

By reading these perspectives on early Christian life through one another, Leyerle clarifies the points of disagreement between Chrysostom and his lay listeners and, at the same time, highlights their shared understanding. For both the preacher and his congregations, the household formed a vital ritual arena, and lived religion was necessarily rooted in practice. Elegantly written and convincingly argued, this study will appeal to scholars of theology, classics, and the history of Christianity in particular.

“It is not very often that one has the privilege to read a work such as this—so well argued, so beautifully written, and making such a crucial contribution to scholarship. This book beautifully presents and critically analyzes the apparent tension between John Chrysostom and his audience regarding his expectations for their domestic religious devotion.”
“In beautiful prose and with brilliant insights, Blake Leyerle lays open the domestic world of an ancient urban Christianity as it struggled to accept or resist John Chrysostom’s strange teachings.”

Blake Leyerle is Professor of Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of The Narrative Shape of Emotion in the Preaching of John Chrysostom and Theatrical Shows and Ascetic Lives: John Chrysostom’s Attack on Spiritual Marriage.