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The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation [Paperback]

By Margaret M. Mitchell (Author)
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Item description for The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation by Margaret M. Mitchell...

Overview
Arguing that all Pauline interpretation depends significantly upon the ways in which readers formulate their own images of the apostle, Margaret M. Mitchell posits that John Chrysostom, the most profilic interpreter of the Pauline epistles in the early church, exemplifies this phenomenon. Mitchell brings together Chrysostom's copious portraits of Paul - of his body, his soul, and his life circumstances - and for the first time analyzes them as complex rhetorical compositions built open well-known conventions of Greco-Roman rhetoric. Two appendixes offer a fresh translation of Chrysostom's seven homilies de laudibus sancti Pauli and a catalog of color plates of artistic representation that graphically represent the author/exegete dynamic this study explores.

Publishers Description

Arguing that all Pauline interpretation depends significantly on the ways in which readers formulate their own images of the apostle, Margaret M. Mitchell posits that John Chrysostom, the most prolific interpreter of the Pauline epistles in the early church, exemplifies this phenomenon. Mitchell brings together Chrysostom's copious portraits of Paul--of his body, his soul, and his life circumstances--and for the first time analyzes them as complex rhetorical compositions built on well-known conventions of Greco-Roman rhetoric. Two appendices offer a fresh translation of Chrysostom's seven homilies "de laudibus sancti Pauli" and a catalogue of color plates of artistic representations that graphically represent the author/exegete dynamic this study explores.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation by Margaret M. Mitchell has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Choice - 12/01/2002 page 648


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Item Specifications...


Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   563
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.97" Width: 6.03" Height: 1.21"
Weight:   1.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2002
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664225101  
ISBN13  9780664225100  


Availability  107 units.
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More About Margaret M. Mitchell


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Margaret M. Mitchell is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago. Her many publications include Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation (1993).

Margaret M. Mitchell was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Chicago.

Margaret M. Mitchell has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Writings from the Greco-Roman World


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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Mariology
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Saints
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4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation?

from William B. Eerdmans  May 9, 2006
Sure to be a standard resource for scholars in the field, this book, with its accessible style and wealth of information, can be profitably read by a wide range of students as well as by interested general readers. Arguing that all Pauline interpretation depends significantly upon the ways in which readers formulate their own images of the apostle, the author posits that John Chrysostom, the most prolific interpreter of the Pauline epistles in the early church, exemplifies this phenomenon. She brings together Chrysostom's copious portraits of Paul-of his body, his soul, and his life circumstances-and for the first time analyzes them as complex rhetorical compositions built upon well-known conventions of Greco-Roman rhetoric. Two appendices offer a fresh translation of Chrysostom's seven homilies de laudibus sancti Pauli and a catalogue of color plates of artistic representations that graphically represent the author/exegete dynamic this study explores. The author is Associate Professor of New Testament at The Divinity School and Acting Chair of the Department of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in the Division of the Humanities, The University of Chicago.
 
Chrysostom Studies  Mar 23, 2004
With the exacting and tenacious eye of a New Testament scholar, Margaret Mitchell has produced a magisterial study of Chrysostom's "love affair" with the apostle Paul. Gathering together all of Chrysostom's portraits of Paul, she argues persuasively that they must be understood rhetorically as encomia. The bulk of her study is thus devoted to the careful delineation of this traditional pattern and its variants. Not content, however, with the simple tabulation of tropes, Mitchell gracefully examines how a theory of portraiture animates these literary works. Many of the images she discusses make clear the reciprocal quality of Chrysostom's comments on Paul. As the Antiochene preacher reads Paul through the lens of his own experience, he produces portraits that bear as much his own likeness as that of the apostle. In this way, Mitchell's work represents an extended meditation on the act of interpretation, in the past as well as in our own day. Without delving into theories of authorial intent, her work contributes to the question of the role of the author in interpretation and the derivation of textual meaning.

Chapters 1 and 2 orient the reader by providing a critical overview first of Chrysostom's work and his rhetorical setting, and then of the rich background of literary portraiture.

Chapters 3 through 6 present and analyze the various portraits of Paul according to their size and scope, as well as according to the subcategories of ancient encomium. Chapter 3 discusses "the miniatures," that is, the sixty-five different epithets, mostly biblically derived, that Chrysostom uses to describe Paul. Despite their typically Greco-Roman embellishment, Mitchell argues that these are not merely ornamental, but serve to evoke larger scriptural narratives. Chapters 4 and 5 are devoted to full-scale portraits: first Paul's bodily features (which are painted with a notably ascetic cast [100]), and then aspects of his soul (which reveal the apostle's likeness, or even his superiority, to biblical figures [142]). In both instances, Chrysostom's goal is "necromantic," that is, to bring the apostle vividly before his audience's eyes with the aim of effecting "ethical and even political change" (197, 133).

Chapter 6, by far the longest chapter at 180 pages, is devoted to portraits based upon "external circumstances" or biographical material. Here Mitchell makes her most trenchant case against Piedagnel (and others) that Chrysostom did indeed use the encomiastic form, even when "rewriting the table of values upon which it was based" (205, 378). Thus the Antiochene preacher trumpets Paul's low pedigree because its baseness serves to amplify the magnitude of his later achievements (217, 243) and prompts his audience to contemplate the divine power at work in Paul's life (226). This carefully worked section is particularly impressive in its treatment of "variability" in both Paul and John.

The final two chapters set Chrysostom's Pauline interpretation into its larger social context. Chapter 7 contributes to recent efforts to refigure exegetical strategies beyond the traditional polarity between allegory and literalism. Chapter 8 assesses Chrysostom's uniqueness as an interpreter of Paul by comparing his views with those of Augustine as well as those of some late-twentieth-century American Pauline scholars.

Appendix 1 provides a reliable and fresh translation of Chrysostom's de laudibus sancti Paul. Appendix 2 offers a catalogue and set of bibliographic resources for the artistic images of Chrysostom and Paul from the ninth to the fourteenth century invoked throughout the study.

Not least among the many virtues of this book is the sheer breadth of Mitchell's knowledge of Chrysostom's writing, which is all the more astonishing for being held so lightly. She draws far-reaching stylistic conclusions with scant fanfare, noting simply that they are "customary" in his speeches (158). In similar fashion, her footnotes are a model not only of thoroughness but of generosity with their suggestions and pointers for further study, so "that other researchers may take them up in the future" (xxv).

Calling John's hermeneutic a "reading of resuscitation" (1), Mitchell's study raises up the question of the effect of emotional attachment upon interpretation. Entertainment and catechesis were both crucial to his enterprise (32). While these values tend not to be featured in contemporary academic commentaries, Mitchell's prose, like John's, is punctuated with delightfully arresting images, as when she describes Paul's self-portrait as "a kind of 'sidewalk art of the soul'" (55). Nor does her work lack parenetic intent. By bringing the contextually rich framework of John's interpretation to light, she hopes to "foster greater attention to Chrysostom's interpretation by New Testament scholars" (xxi).

It seems churlish to find fault with a book that does so much so thoroughly. Yet one result of the meticulous tracing of forms is that most readers will be persuaded far before the analysis is concluded. Indeed, the organization of the book has a built-in redundancy, as material covered briefly in the discussion of the miniatures, for example, returns in greater detail in the full-scale portraits, and the analysis of the same rhetorical techniques recurs in the homily-by-homily discussion of Paul's body parts.

This reader, furthermore, wished for a fuller treatment of Chrysostom's historical context. For whereas 180 pages delve into the biographical portraits of Paul, the section in chapter 7 devoted to "the social functions of Chrysostom's rhetorical art" covers not quite four pages. There is thus little engagement with the realities of urban life in the midst of which Chrysostom preached, and yet surely this kind of rich detail would have furthered the goal of conjuring up the Antiochene preacher.

Mitchell's thorough investigation of Chrysostom's preaching provokes, but does not finally address, the fascinating and perhaps crucial question of where interpretation ends and inspired speech begins. But perhaps this is a topic for another volume.

Sure to be a standard resource for scholars in the field, this book, with its accessible style and wealth of information, can be profitably read by a wide range of students as well as by interested general readers.

 

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