John Chrysostom: Christian History Timeline

THE DATES of John Chrysostom’s birth and life until 381 are highly disputed. Many of his writings can be traced only to a general period in his life; the dates given here are generally accepted. Not all of his writings could be listed here.

EARLY YEARS 349–371

349 Born in Antioch of Syria to Christian parents Secundus and Anthusa

363–367 Studies rhetoric and literature under pagan teacher Libanius

368 (Easter) Baptized at Antioch

368–371 Studies in a kind of monastic school; may have assisted bishop Meletius of Antioch

c. 368–371 Writes Comparison between a King and a Monk and several other works in favor of monastic life

c. 371 Ordained lector and serves the church of Antioch

LECTOR & DEACON 372–385

372–378 Lives in a semi-isolated state and then as a hermit until bad health forces him to give up this way of life

378–381 Lector (reads Scripture in worship) at Antioch

380 or 381 Ordained deacon (assists with sacraments); writes treatise of consolation to a young widow

381–385 Writes On the Priesthood

380 or 382 Two treatises condemning the cohabitation of clerics and virgins

PRIEST OF ANTIOCH 386–397

385 or 386 Ordained priest by Bishop Flavian of Antioch

386–387 Preaches homilies (sermons) I–X On the Incomprehensible Nature of God and Against the Jews (i.e., Christians who follow Jewish religious practices)

387 Antioch riots; John preaches sermons On the Statues

388 or 389 Eight instructions for baptismal candidates

390–397 Homilies on Genesis, Matthew, John, and 6 NT letters

397 Homilies on selected Psalms and on Isaiah

ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE 398–403

398 Consecrated bishop of Constantinople. Takes steps to reform imperial court, clergy, and people; homilies XI–XII On the Incomprehensible Nature of God

398–402 Homilies on Philippians and Colossians

399 Gives Eutropius sanctuary and preaches two homilies on the vanity of human power

400 Homilies on the Book of Acts

402 Group of Egyptian monks (the “Tall Brothers") appeal to John for help

403 John tried at the Synod of the Oak; convicted, deposed, and exiled; immediately recalled

403–404 Homilies on Hebrews

EXILE 404–407

404 Deposed and exiled to Cucusus (in eastern Turkey)

404–407 Writes more than 200 letters to friends

407 Sent to Pityus on the Black Sea and dies en route, at Comana in Pontus (in northeast Turkey)

State Falls, Church Rises

360–363 Emperor Julian ("the Apostate") attempts to restore pagan religion

379–395 Emperor Theodosius I ("the Great") gradually makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire

381 Council of Constantinople declares the Holy Spirit divine; Constantinople becomes second seat of Christendom (after Rome)

390 Theodosius orders massacre in Thessalonica; confronted by Ambrose of Milan, he publicly repents

394 Bishop Ninian sets out from Rome to convert Scotland

407 Roman legions in Britain withdraw to protect Italy

410 Visigoths under Alric sack Rome; empire is psychologically shaken

413 Augustine begins writing City of God, the classic philosophy of history, in response to Rome’s sack

By Gerard H. Ettlinger

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #44 in 1994]

Gerard H. Ettlinger is professor of theology at St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York. He is editor of a critical edition of the Greek text of Saint Jean Chrysostome: A’ une Jeune Veuve Sur le Mariage Unique (Sources Chrtiennes, 1968), and of Theodoret of Cyrus: Eranistes (Clarendon, 1975).
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