Chapter

John Chrysostom's View of the Theater

Blake Leyerle

in Theatrical Shows and Ascetic Lives

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780520215580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921634 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520215580.003.0003
John Chrysostom's View of the Theater

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This chapter concentrates on ideology, in particular on John Chrysostom's complex understanding of the theater. Chrysostom's worries about theatrical displays of improper sexuality and gender relations must be set within the broader and arguably more interesting context of his concern over misused power and overturned hierarchies. He insists that being enslaved to reputation made one no less guilty before God than indulging in illicit sexual behaviors. He also makes explicit the connection between displays of social prestige and the spectacles of the theater. Theatergoing had encouraged congregations to regard preaching as a kind of entertainment rather than instruction. Chrysostom's rejection of showy rhetoric finds its most trenchant expression in his commentary on the Gospel of John. The role of sexuality in the display of self-advancement is described. Chrysostom believes in an ideal of virtue understood as a domination of self.

Keywords: theater; John Chrysostom; theatrical displays; sexuality; God; Gospel of John; sexual behaviors

Chapter.  14628 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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