Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Religious Studies

First Advisor

Barnes, Michel R.

Second Advisor

Dempsey, Deirdre

Third Advisor

Zemler-Cizewski, Wanda


This dissertation is a study of John Chrysostom’s demonology as it relates to his theological anthropology and soteriology. Demons run rampant in Chrysostom's thought, though few scholars have taken note of this. Studies of Chrysostom often focus on his exegetical practices, his asceticism, or his social vision and morality. Indeed, many scholars dismiss Chrysostom as unsophisticated and therefore of little value in the landscape of fourth-century theology. In analyzing Chrysostom’s demonology, we see that Chrysostom’s thought is complex and worth further consideration. One cannot treat demons in Chrysostom’s work without treating other theological topics as well. When Chrysostom discusses demons he does so for the sake of bringing his congregation to salvation. Drawing on Stoic categories for discussing “true” versus “apparent” harm, Chrysostom uses rhetoric about demons to highlight humanity’s freedom and self-determination. Each person has a προαίρεσις, which is free and is the locus of moral responsibility, a faculty demons cannot compel. The προαίρεσις is what enables a person to be virtuous. Chrysostom then argues that because each person is able to be virtuous, God expects each person to be virtuous, and this virtue is a necessary aspect of salvation. Though God reconciles humanity to God’s self in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and though Christ continues to help a person be virtuous, the responsibility for virtue, and thus salvation, lies with the human being. In short, Chrysostom's demonology and account of self-determination exert a mutual influence on one another, self-determination is necessary for virtue, and virtue is integral to salvation. Therefore, in order to have a fully developed account of Chrysostom's theological anthropology and soteriology, one must also understand Chrysostom’s demonology. Chrysostom's soteriology is better understood when the role of demonology in his theology is taken into account because Chrysostom's engagements with demonology are an entrance to his soteriology and highlight the depth to which Chrysostom believes humans are responsible for their own salvation.