January 27, 2020

The Style of St. John Chrysostom According to an English Classical Scholar

The Rev. Anthony Blackwall, an English classical scholar and schoolmaster, published An Introduction to the Classics in 1718, where  he writes as follows on the style of St. John Chrysostom:

“I would fain beg room among the classics for three primitive writers of the church, St. Chrysostom, Minutius Felix, and Lactantius. St. Chrysostom is easy and pleasant to new beginners; and has written with a purity and eloquence which have been the admiration of all ages. This wondrous man in a great measure possesses all the excellencies of the most valuable Greek and Roman classics. He has the invention, copiousness, and perspicuity of Cicero; and all the elegance and accuracy of composition which is admired in Isocrates, with much greater variety and freedom. According as his subject requires, he has the easiness and sweetness of Xenophon, and the pathetic force and rapid simplicity of Demosthenes. His judgment is exquisite, his images noble, his morality sensible and beautiful. No man understands human nature to greater perfection, nor has a happier power of persuasion. He is always clear and intelligible upon the loftiest and greatest subjects, and sublime and noble upon the least.”