The practice of everyday death: Thanatology and self-fashioning in John Chrysostom’s thirteenth homily on Romans
The purpose of this article is to investigate the relationship between the discourse of death, or thanatology, and self-fashioning, in John Chrysostom’s thirteenth homily In epistulam ad Romanos. The study argues that thanatology became a very important feature in the care of the self in Chrysostom’s thought. The central aim here is to demonstrate the multi-directional flow of death, as a corporeal discourse, between the realms of theology, ethics, and physiology. Firstly, the article investigates the link between the theological concepts of sin and death. Secondly, the study argues that death also becomes a highly paradoxical discourse when it enters the realm of Chrysostomic virtue-ethics, where the mortification of excessive passion leads to life, while ‘living’ in passion only results in death on every level of existence – death as a discourse therefore becomes interiorised, a process functioning as a subset of a more extensive biologisation of the spiritual life-cycle. Finally, Chrysostom also utilises death in a very physiological way, especially in his comments on the relationship between sin and the passions, and one’s physical health and appearance (which is also related to the soul).