Article

The Episcopal Councils in the East

Clarence Gallagher

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199252466.013.0053

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 The Episcopal Councils in the East

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In 313, Constantine reached an agreement with Licinius on a policy of religious toleration, at a time when Christians were deeply divided on the Person of Jesus Christ. The controversy arose when Arius (d. 336), a popular preacher in Alexandria, taught that the Son of God was not eternal but created before the ages by the Father. In an attempt to restore unity to the Church, Constantine convoked a council of bishops from all over Byzantium. This article focuses on the assemblies of bishops and other church representatives that took place in the East. These universal synods came to be called ecumenical councils. There were also regional councils attended by the bishops of a region to decide questions of discipline. The article examines the first of all the seven ecumenical councils that took place between 325 and 787 during the Byzantine Era, and also considers the canons on church discipline promulgated by both ecumenical and regional councils. These canons formed the basis for church law in the East and in the West.

Keywords: religious toleration; Jesus Christ; Arius; bishops; synods; ecumenical councils; regional councils; Byzantium; canons; church discipline

Article.  4367 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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