The Early Servant Church

John N. Collins

in Diakonia

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780195396027
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852383 | DOI:
The Early Servant Church

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If the instance already discussed in Mark bears but dubious testimony to the existence among early Christians of the modern notion of “diakonia”—and leaves us with an intriguing problem of interpretation—to what extent do the others instances echo, to use Lemaire's phrase, the loving attitude of the master? Since the 12th century, the cardinal deacons of Rome have taken their titles from ancient churches that have the word “diaconia” in their name, as in Diaconia San Teodoro. Much earlier, according to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope Fabian (236–50) had divided the city into seven administrative regions under seven deacons who were responsible for temporal administration and for the implementation of the “frumentatio” or relief of the poor. Because the words “deacon” and “diaconia” are cognate, the opinion was, at least from the time of Baronius and as late as E. Hatch, that the “diaconiae” were the centers from which the deacons had distributed this relief. At the end of the last century, however, L. Duchesne showed that a connection is not sustainable.

Keywords: Rome; deacons; diakonia; diaconiae; diaconia; Liber Pontificalis; relief; poor; service

Chapter.  4685 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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