We have an astonishing number of extant writings by St. John Chrysostom. One source says:

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers: 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant. He was not a speculative theologian.

And I don't think I've ever encountered uncertainty about attribution. We're talking about someone who lived in the second half of the 4th century! How in the world do so many of his writings survive? Were they kept in a monastery/cathedral/library/etc.?

1 Answer 1

  1. He lived after Christianity became legal; whereas many of the writings of his predecessors were burned in state-sponsored persecution (source) his were much less targeted for destruction.

  2. He lived in Constantinople, which would serve as a bastion/protector of Greek Christian writings until it fell in the 15th century. This meant that his writings stayed in circulation long enough to be copied many, many, many times. See further discussion on the Great Library of Constantinople here.

Contrast the relative safety (at the time) of Constantinople with Rome (conquered multiple times in the following century) or Carthage, which was devastated by siege and captured by Vandals in 439 (source).

(Chrysostom was also just a very prolific writer)

  • 1
    Would love specific sources if you have any!
    – Alex
    Apr 20 at 16:32
  • @Alex sure thing, I added some citations. Constantinople was one of the best places to be if you wanted your work to survive. Apr 20 at 17:40
  • Sorry, I mis-worderd this–the fact that Constantinople was relatively stable for hundreds of years after Rome is not really in doubt! However if we had the name of a specific church/library/monastery that was known to have holdings of his writings I'd appreciate that.
    – Alex
    Apr 28 at 14:28
  • Per the "Were they kept in a monastery/cathedral/library/etc.?" part of the question
    – Alex
    Apr 28 at 14:28
  • @Alex sure, there were numerous records in the Great Library of Constantinople. There was a scriptorium (name unknown) thought to have produced the original Constantine bibles, and there were numerous private collections belonging to the wealthy. Codex Vaticanus is believed to have been smuggled from Constantinople to Rome shortly before Constantinople fell to the Ottomans. Apr 28 at 15:58

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