Augustine of Hippo and John Chrysostom Biography | Church History

Though the lives of saints such as Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory the Theologian have been addressed, one cannot conclude the fourth century without mentioning the greatest Christian orator of Eastern Christianity, John Chrysostom and the greatest Christian author of Western Christianity, Augustine of Hippo.

John Chrysostom:

John was born in Antioch in 374 and died in exile in 407. He was raised by his widowed mother and educated to become a rhetorician then later a theologian after becoming committed to Christianity. John was a reader in the Church for several years before becoming an ascetic, opposing all offers of priesthood. Against his will, he was ordained a deacon, then a presbyter and finally Archbishop of Constantinople in 398 AD. Because of his vocal critique of the emperor’s behavior, his popularity in the palace deteriorated precipitously. His fame inflamed jealousy in the heart of Theophilus of Alexandria who would later conspire with the empress against John Chrysostom that the latter was exiled twice. During the second exile, John was not assigned a place of exile. This meant that he was to walk with no determined destination until his soul left his body. Having died excommunicated by Alexandria, John’s name was later reinstated in the diptychs of Alexandria by Cyril of Alexandria, Theophilus’s nephew who would succeed him in his papacy. John left behind him a collection of Six Books on the Priesthood, several letters and countless homilies ranging from commentaries on the Scripture to Christian morals and ethics such as marriage, fasting and giving alms.

Augustine of Hippo:

Augustine was born in 354 in Algeria to a middle-class family and died there in 430 before the siege of Hippo at the hands of Barbarians who extinguished Christianity in the 6th century. Augustine received first class education through his parents who borrowed money to ensure that he received proper education. Augustine had immense interest in philosophy but lived a hedonistic lifestyle, indulging in sensual pleasures, which resulted in a child born out of wedlock, and sorrows and tears for his mother Monica who desired his repentance. Eventually, Augustine would repent and become an ascetic then later a bishop in 395. Though Augustine composed numerous theological writings and commentaries on Scripture, it should be noted that he did not know Hebrew and Greek. As such, he relied exclusively on the Vulgate, which is the Latin translation of Scripture, which as some scholars suggest contains inaccuracies in its translation that would eventually influence Augustinian theology and his perception of ancestral sin, purgatory and the filioque. Augustine’s bequest includes treatises such as On Christian Doctrine, On the Trinity, The Confessions, City of God and numerous other commentaries on Scripture.