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John of Damascus, Saint

Saint John of Damascus, or Saint John Damascene (dăm´əsēn), c.675–c.749, Syrian theologian, Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church. He was brought up at the court of the caliph in Damascus, where his father was an official, and he was educated by a Sicilian monk. John inherited his father's office but resigned it (c.726) and entered a monastery in Palestine. His life was spent largely in fighting with his pen for orthodoxy against iconoclasm. His fame rests on his theological masterpiece, The Fountain of Wisdom, a Greek work in three parts—a theological study of Aristotle's categories; a history of heresies, based on Epiphanius and Theodoret, with supplementary material on iconoclasm and Islam; and a formal exposition of the Christian faith (De fide orthodoxa, tr. by F. N. Chase, 1958). This last work was extensively used by the scholastics and is still a prime source for the dogmatic opinions of the principal Eastern Fathers. John also wrote hymns and regulated the choral parts of the Byzantine liturgy. He stimulated the production of Byzantine painting. The elegance of his Greek brought him the epithet Chrysorrhoas [gold-pouring]. His name appears also as John Damascenus. Feast: in Western calendars, Mar. 27.

See F. P. Cassidy, Molders of the Medieval Mind (1944).

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John of Damascus, St

John of Damascus, St (c.675–c.749). E. Christian theologian, known as Chrusorroas, ‘gold-flowing’. After holding a high official position in the Muslim government in Damascus for ten or twenty years, he moved to the monastery of St Sabas near Jerusalem, and became a priest. He came to prominence there after 726 on account of his Three Apologies against those who Attack the Divine Images (see ICONOCLASM). His other most important work, the Fount of Wisdom, was an important source for subsequent writers, including Aquinas. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1890, with a feast day on 27 Mar.; 4 Dec. in the E.

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