Structures and Administration

Michael Angold and Michael Whitby

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Structures and Administration

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In Byzantium, bishops were central to ecclesiastical administration, leading the worship of their communities and performing a variety of functions such as the interpretation of Scripture to resolve disputes and regular preaching. Each bishop had his own administration which somewhat resembled that of the patriarchal church. By the end of the fourth century, the network of bishops closely mirrored the secular urban structure on which imperial administration depended. The administrative structures of the Byzantine Church as systematized under Justinian's reign survived without radical change down to the end of the Byzantine Empire. It is not clear how the Church was financed, but the most important source of revenues probably derived from landed and house property. At the Council of Chalcedon (451), monasteries were placed under the authority of the local bishop, but the richest and most powerful ones were able to elude episcopal supervision. At a time when the empire was in decline, the Byzantine Church's authority continued to grow, as reflected by the emergence of Mt Athos as a powerhouse of the Church after 1261.

Keywords: Byzantium; bishops; Byzantine Church; ecclesiastical administration; Byzantine Empire; monasteries; Mt Athos

Article.  5413 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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