This article demonstrates how Chrysostom’s retelling of certain biblical narratives works to heal the powerful emotion of despondency (ἀθυμία) in the Letters to Olympias. Chrysostom brings together a number of biblical narratives to form a narrative deep structure which is reflective of God’s characteristic way of intervening in the suffering of the saints: namely, God allows the saint’s suffering to reach fever pitch before immediately and radically reversing the fortunes of the saint, so demonstrating his own wisdom and power. Through repeated recitation of the scriptural narratives that form this deep structure (those of Joseph, Job, the Three Confessors, and Lazarus and the Rich Man, especially)—and through Chrysostom’s re-narrations of the same—this narrative structure and associated judgments are appropriated into Olympias’s life, such that her despondency is healed. The distinctive contribution of this article is the relationship elucidated between scriptural narrative and Chrysostom’s psychagogical project.


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pp. 203-231
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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