Controlling Contested Places: John Chrysostom's Adversus Iudaeos Homilies and the Spatial Politics of Religious Controversy

Fourth-century Antioch was the site of significant religious and political struggles to define and control civic space. By linking religious identity with attendance at particular places, John Chrysostom strove to shape not only his congregants' behavior, but the very definition and political success of Christian "orthodoxy." Spatial rhetoric such as Chrysostom deploys in his Adversus Iudaeos homilies constitutes a significant mechanism by which leaders constructed and wielded power in the fluid political contours of fourth-century Antioch. In a context of rich religious complexity, Chrysostom's spatial rhetoric demonizes "Jewish" and other non-"Christian" places in an effort to make Antioch correctly Christian—not only in beliefs and behavior, but in the very geographical landscape that its citizens inhabited.