Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume XIII/On Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians/Preface
Preface [to the Oxford Ed.]
The present Volume completes the commentaries of St. Chrysostom on the shorter Epistles of St. Paul. It consists entirely of Homilies delivered at Constantinople, and one may perhaps remark some indications of a more matured and severe character than in earlier works. He refers several times to his responsibility as presiding in the Church, and sometimes threatens discipline as in that capacity, and from this it is that the date of the Homilies is chiefly to be gathered. The end of Hom. ix. on the Philippians, is sufficient for those Homilies. The close of Hom. iii. on Colossians, is still more express for them. Hom. viii. on 1 Thessalonians, and Hom. iv. on 2 Thessalonians, are to the like purpose.
Hom. viii. on 1 Thessalonians, seems also to be that which is referred to in Hom. iii. on Ep. to Philemon, as it contains a promise to discuss at some future time the subject there taken up.
Philip. ii. 6, and Col. i. 15, &c. give rise to doctrinal discussions. The readiness in argument, which they suppose in hearers, is greater than one would expect. Hom. v. on Colossians goes farther into the system of typical interpretation than is usual with St. Chrysostom; though the system is in fact acknowledged by him frequently, as in the passage on marriage, which closes the Homilies on the Colossians, and which, though scarcely admissible in modern taste, is one of great value, and of a saintly purity. The close of Hom. iv. on Colossians is most instructive with regard to the use of the Historical Books of the Old Testament, and Hom. ix. points out one great use of the Psalms, for moral impression, and at the same time draws the necessary distinction between that and the higher aim of Hymns. In these Homilies he is particularly severe on luxury and display, by his attacks on which he is known to have incurred the displeasure of the Empress Eudoxia, and much persecution from her.
A passage on the Holy Sacraments at the end of Hom. vi. on Colossians, one on Prayers for the departed in Hom. iii. on Philippians, and one in which he urges persons at enmity to immediate reconciliation, Hom. vi. on 1 Thessalonians, as well as that in Hom. iii. in Colossians, on unworthiness of Ministers, and several hints that occur about the order of Divine service, are well worthy of remark.
Savile’s text, with some comparison of others, was used for the Homilies on the Philippians, and that of the new Paris Edition, with Savile always at hand, for the rest. Collations of one ms. in British Museum (Burney 48 here marked B [called C by Field]) were also in hand, but those of mss. at Venice and Florence came too late for part of the work. The want of them is not however very material. The Bodleian ms. referred to, as well as the Catena published by Dr. Cramer, contain only extracts. It is hoped that the Homilies on 2 Cor. will have the benefit of a well-adjusted text before the Translation is published, as they are preparing for publication by Mr. Field, whom the Editor has to thank for information on some particulars, as well as for the benefit of having his accurate edition of the Homilies on St. Matthew to refer to.
For the Translation of the Homilies on the Philippians, the Editors are indebted to the Rev. W. C. Cotton, M.A. of Ch. Ch. Chaplain to the Bishop of New Zealand; for that of the Homilies on the Colossians, to the Rev. J. Ashworth, M.A. Fellow of Brasenose College; and for the rest of the volume, to the Rev. James Tweed, M.A. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the Translator of the Homilies on the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul. The Index to the two former is by the Rev. F. Bowles, M.A. of Exeter College, and to the latter by the Editor, which is noticed in order that the reader may find the less difficulty from any difference in the heads under which similar matter may be placed, as the two were made simultaneously to save time.
A few points on which the Editor was not informed until the sheets were printed are noticed in the Addenda and Corrigenda. [In the Amer. ed. these are inserted in their proper places. For the text followed in Amer. ed., see Preface at the beginning of the volume.]