Homilies on Genesis, 46-67
St. John Chrysostom delivered his Homilies on Genesis sometime between A.D. 385 and A.D. 388, while yet a priest at Antioch. In the homilies in this volume, the last of three, Chrysostom concludes his examination of the lives and virtues of the Old Testament patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph as recounted in the last three chapters of Genesis.
Known for his eloquent preaching, Chrysostom delivered these final twenty-two homilies after Pentecost. His motive for examining the accounts of the lives of the patriarchs is to show how the just forebears of the Israelites, in a time when both the law and the Gospel were yet unpreached, were able to live Christian lives with only simple trust in God and the balanced, almost ingenuous manners of antiquity. His interest in the events and characters of Genesis is largely moral, even moralistic; he tends to see Scripture as hagiography. His style of commentary, although not really thorough exegesis, arises out of his deep conviction of the divine inspiration of Scripture—hence the habitual attention to detail, "not idly or to no purpose" being his frequent comment on the precision of the text.
As an exegete, Chrysostom may seem disappointing to those grounded in the methods of modern biblical scholarship, since he largely ignores any sense of Scripture other than the literal and is generally unaware of how to resolve difficulties and appreciate subtleties that a knowledge of the original text would provide. However, what lacks in scientific accuracy he more than compensates for with his earnest practice of pastoral care.
This final volume of the homilies includes a general index and an index of biblical citations, the latter indicating the rich scriptural diet Chrysostom's congregation—who came daily for his homilies—enjoyed.
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