John of Damascus, Saint

John of Damascus, Saint, or Saint John Damascene dămˈəsēn [key], 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Saints