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Lesson Twenty: John Chrysostom on Galatians 6:2

  • Page ID
    125060
  • This reading selection comes from St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on Galatians, specifically his comments on 6:2 (“bear one another’s burdens”). Chrysostom (349–407), a Greek Father, was a prolific writer, penning numerous commentaries, and he was a gifted preacher (hence his nickname, “The Golden Mouth”). He was thoroughly educated, having studied rhetoric under Libanius; philosophy under Andragathius; and theology under Meletius, Theodorus, and Diodorus. His Greek writing style is elegant. In his commentaries, he mentions a biblical text portion and then offers brief reflections that are both expository and practical. Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Question if you desire.

    Αλληλων τα βαρη βασταζετε. επειδη γαρ ουκ εστιν ανθρωπον οντα χωρις ελαττωματος ειναι, παραινει μη ακριβεις εξεταστας ειναι των ετεροις πεπλημμελημενων, αλλα και φερειν τα των πλησιον ελαττωματα, ινα και τα αυτου φερηται παρ’ ετερων. Καθαπερ γαρ επι της οικοδομης, ου την αυτην απαντες εδραν εχουσιν οι λιθοι, αλλ’ ο μεν προς γωνιαν επιτηδειος, ουκετι δε προς θεμελιους, ο δε προς θεμελιους μεν, ουκετι δε προς γωνιαν· ουτω δη και επι του σωματος της εκκλησιας. Και επι της σαρκος δε της ημετερας τουτο αυτο ιδοι τις ἂν αλλ’ ομως θατερου θατερον ανεχεται, και ου παρα παντων παντα ζητουμεν. ο γαρ εκ του κοινου γινομενος ερανος, και σωμα και οικοδομην συνιστησι. SBLGNT

    [TN] Αλληλων τα βαρη βασταζετε: Chrysostom here is quoting from Gal 6:2.

    [LN] The conjunction επειδη means “because” or “since.”

    [LN] Ουκ εστιν ανθρωπον . . . ειναι means, “It is not [possible] for a person.”

    [LN] Ελαττωματος (NSG LF: ἐλάττωμα) means “defect” or “error.”

    [LN, GMN] Παραινει (PAI3S LF: παραινέω) means “to urge/exhort.” It is a #contract verb, hence the contraction indicated by the circumflex accent.

    [LN] Ακριβεις (FPA LF: ἀκριβής) means “exacting,” with the sense of being unduly strict.

    [LN] Εξεταστας (FPA LF: ἐξέτασις) means “test” or “scrutiny.”

    [LN] Των . . . πεπλημμελημενων (PPPMPG LF: πλημμελέω) is a #substantival participle meaning “sins” or “trespasses.”

    [LN, SN] Αλλα και has a strong adversative sense here, as the καὶ is acting adverbially (“indeed”).

    MYON[SN]Των πλησιον: How is τῶν functioning syntactically?

    [SN] Παρ’ ετερων expresses #agency (“by others”).

    [SN] Καθαπερ is an emphatic comparative conjunction (“just as”).

    [SN, TN] Επι της οικοδομης is a #spatial expression (“all the stones in the house”), but it may be more helpful to think of it as setting up an analogy (cf. Καθάπερ): “in (the case of) a house . . .”

    [LN] Εδραν (FSA LF: ἕδρα) means “place” or “position.”

    [LN] Γωνιαν (FSA LF: γωνία) means “corner.”

    [LN] Επιτηδειος (MSN) means “designed/suitable/fit.”

    [SN] Ο μεν προς γωνιαν επιτηδειος: The preposition πρός with the accusative expresses #purpose (“the [stone] designed for the corner”).

    [SN] The adverb ουτω is an alternate form of οὕτως (“so/in this way”) that works in conjunction with Καθάπερ to complete Chrysostom’s comparison (“Just as . . . in this way”).

    [SN] Δη is a particle of emphasis, similar to γέ (“indeed”).

    [SN] Της εκκλησιας is an #epexegetical genitive (“the body, which is/namely the Church”).

    [LN] Ιδοι τις literally means “anyone can see/recognize.” The verb ἴδοι is in the #optative mood (AAO3S LF: ὁράω).

    [LN] The adversative conjunction αλλ’ with the particle ομως emphasizes a sense of concession and means something like “but nevertheless.”

    [GMN] Θατερου and θατερον are instances of #crasis (or contraction) of τὸ ἕτερον.

    [GMN] Ανεχεται (PDI3S LF: ἀνέχομαι) takes its object in the genitive case (see 2 Cor 11:19).

    [LN] Ερανος (MSN) refers to a feast or a dinner party to which each guest makes a contribution.

    [TN, LN] Ο . . . εκ του κοινου γινομενος ερανος: In this phrase, Chrysostom evokes the image of a dinner party to which all the attendees make a contribution in order to illustrate the unity of the church community. For translation purposes, it means something like “The feast is contributed to by everyone.”

    [TN] On συνιστησι (PAI3S LF: συνίστημι), see below.

    Discussion Questions (Chrysostom)

    [Chrys] The verb συνίστησι (PAI3S LF: συνίστημι) can have various meanings, with the most probable here being “to combine/form,” “to unite,” or “to demonstrate.” Which meaning seems most likely, and how is our understanding of Chrysostom’s point affected?